Is President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ appointment of his daughter to lead the state-owned oil company Sonangol, a political statement? Critics are wondering.
In what is seen as President Jose Eduardo dos Santos move to take control of state’s resources, the leader has appointed his daughter as head of the state-owned oil company Sonangol.
The appointment comes in at a time when the country is faced with a struggling economy as the world experiences a slow-down in oil prices.
The president’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos, 43, is said to be worth some $3.3 billion. According to Forbes research, her assets include 25 percent of Angola’s largest mobile telecommunications company, a 7 percent stake in the Portuguese oil and gas firm, some 19 percent of Banco BIC, the country's fourth-largest bank, as well as a controlling shareholder of Portuguese cable TV, among several other businesses in Angola.
Controlling oil fields in Angola is considered controlling the country. Thus, the recent appointment is seen by critics as another way of dos Santos to control the country. Dos Santos, 73, the second longest-serving head of state in Africa, has been in power for 36 years. He, however, promised that he would step down in 2018.
In the face of the controversial appointment, some Angolan lawyers have moved to block the new appointment of the President’s daughter as a non-executive administrator of Sonangol.
The Thursday appointment of Ms dos Santos to the high position has been dubbed a violation of public probity laws, by the lawyers who said they will hand a petition to the country’s Attorney-General’s Office.
The spokesperson of the team David Mendes said they will design by Wednesday a text to challenge the appointment of Ms Santos, which will then be handed to the country’s Supreme Court on Thursday.
“The law says a public agent must not nominate or allow nominations and agreements when there is an intervention of his wife or his first-degree relatives,” Mr Mendes told VOA.
“The appointment is illegal, and the law is in on our side to halt the nomination.”
Angola’s main opposition party, Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), said the nomination is a clear demonstration of favoritism and corruption inside the ruling party.
“The country’s president is trying to place his sons and relatives in key posts of the country and administration” Alcides Sakala, Unita’s spokesperson, said.
“Ms Isabel dos Santos nomination is wrong in an ethics perspective and also violates the law”.
On its part, Unita said it will analyze the nomination before the country’s law and then decide whether to take the case to court or not, Mr Sakala said.
Another political force in Angola, Casa-CE, Broad Convergence for Angolan Salvation, has also come out to challenge the nomination saying in a statement that the country’s leader must cancel his daughter’s appointment.
“The country’s president has to revoke the decree for not obeying the Administrative Probity Law.”
“The question is not the competence and capacity of his daughter but it exacerbates nepotism,” Casa-CE statement reads in a part.
But Ms Dos Santos argued that she wanted to “ensure transparency” in the management of Sonangol, as well as to improve the Angolan oil sector’s ability to compete globally, she said in a statement.
Through her representatives, she denied that her wealth has any connection to her father, although Forbes research found that the president transferred stakes in several Angolan companies to her.
According to Angola analyst Aslak Orre, being the boss at the state oil company is “next to the presidency... the most powerful position in the country.” Orre told the BBC’s Newsday program.
To many, there is a possible political motive behind the appointment especially given Mr Dos Santos’ age, he said.
Image credit: Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images
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