Economy - Development
Corruption still fuels Angola's poverty
afrol News, 13 April - Angola's economy has grown by an impressive 400 percent in the last six years. But lacking efforts to fight corruption and mismanagement has left most Angolans out from this growing wealth, a new report documents.
In the Angolan capital Luanda, poverty is found aside with billion-dollar investment schemes
The US-based group Human Rights Watch today released a report concluding the government of Angola has not done enough to combat pervasive corruption and mismanagement. Angolans were not seeing their lives improve accordingly to the country's oil-driven economic growth, the report said.
The 31-page report documents how the Luanda government took only limited steps to improve transparency after the group in a 2004 report had disclosed that billions of dollars in oil revenue illegally bypassed the central bank and disappeared without explanation. The report details newly disclosed evidence of corruption and mismanagement.
"The government needs to take strong action to combat the corruption and secrecy that undermine Angolans' rights," said Arvind Ganesan, director of the Business and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "Here is a nation with a wealth of resources while its people live in poverty."
The human rights group said that a recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), enacted in the wake of the global financial crisis and drop in the price of oil, however had offered some hope for improvement if its provisions are carried out.
"The government has improved the publication of oil revenue figures," the report says, but human indicators in Angola remained "abysmal and have not been commensurate with the rapid growth in Angola's national wealth." Angola is the largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa, yet millions of Angolans have limited access to basic social services.
Angola ranked 143rd out of 182 countries in the UN Development Programme's Human Development Index. Angola's ranking in Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index is growing worse, from 158th out of 180 countries in 2008 down to 162nd in 2009.
The report also details new evidence of corruption and mismanagement, including that of Aguinaldo Jaime, who served as the governor of the Angolan Central Bank from 1999 to 2002. As documented by a February 2010 US Senate report, Mr Jaime initiated a series of suspicious US$ 50 million transactions with US banks. For each attempt, the banks, concerned about the likelihood of fraud, ultimately rejected the transfer or returned the money shortly after receiving it. During Mr Jaime's three-year tenure as central bank governor, the government could not account for approximately US$ 2.4 billion.
Recent statements by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos seem to indicate a willingness to combat government corruption. He has called for a "zero tolerance" policy against corruption. And as the US Senate conducted its recent investigation into corruption in Angola and elsewhere, he announced a new Law on Administrative Probity, to reduce corruption by government officials.
However, given that the President and ruling party have been in power for more than three decades, including the entire period in which oil-fuelled corruption has been rampant, sceptics are waiting to see whether meaningful action will accompany these statements, Human Rights Watch said. Further, a new constitution was recently enacted that will enable President dos Santos to remain in power for 13 more years.
"Dr Jaime's activities underscore the need for accountability," Mr Ganesan said. "If the Angolan government is serious about transparency and reform, it should rigorously investigate government officials, publish audits of its expenditures, and act on President dos Santos' pledge of 'zero tolerance' for corruption."
By staff writer
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