The Novo Jornal (NJ) published a special dossier on the elections, of which these are some highlights:
The MPLA issued a declaration of victory in which it assures that will continue to respect the right to the difference and to promote the freedoms of expression and opinion. It also states that will welcome proposals aiming at improving the living conditions of the Angolan people and the launching of the country toward sustainable development, while expecting a constructive and responsible opposition;
The future of Isaias Samakuva as the leader of UNITA might be discussed at a high level party meeting scheduled for next month;
The blank votes, taken as “protest votes”, amounted to 3,26% of the total in this election translating into a third place in the overall results, after the votes for MPLA and UNITA;
Benedito Manuel, campaign director of the PRS claims that “the international observers are conflating the maturity and goodwill of the Angolan people with transparency in the election.” He expressed his party’s concern with the international observers’ almost unanimity in calling the election “fair, free and transparent” because his party has been calling attention to some irregularities since the start of the campaign;
Quintino de Moreira, the leader of the coalition Nova Democracia (ND), the star of this election by emerging in fourth place as a previously virtually unknown political force, explains the secrets of their success: “We worked with humility and took our electoral manifesto and programme to all Angolan citizens in cities, municipalities, communities and big or small villages, while getting in touch with the traditional authorities and community leaders. All this in conjunction with the good performance of our activists led to this result. (…) The ND is not a coalition of elites but of masses, and while many parties focused their campaign on the media airtime spots, we opted for the direct contact with the electors independently of their party allegiances.”
The leader of the FNLA, traditionally the third major party in the country, but emerging in fifth place out of this election, attributes his party’s poor results to two main factors: the blockage of the party’s bank account by the government for the last 10 years and the sabotage of voting intentions on the party by Lucas Ngonda, the leader of a splitting faction of the FNLA barred from contesting the election by the Constitutional Court;
Eight of the fourteen contestants in this election face extinction for not having achieved the minimum 0,5% of votes required by law to continue their activity as political parties, namely: FOFAC - Fórum Fraternal Coligação (0,18%); PPE – Plataforma Política Eleitoral (0,18%); PRD – Partido Renovador Democrático (0,21%); PAJOCA – Partido Aliança da Juventude, Operários e Camponeses de Angola (0.24%), PADEPA – Partido de Apoio Democrático e Progresso de Angola (0,26%); FpD – Frente para a Democracia (0,26%); AD – Angola Democrática – Coligação (0,30%); PLD – Partido Liberal Democrático (0,32%);
Analia de Victoria Pereira, the only female party leader in the Angolan political spectrum, who run for the country’s Presidency in 1992, says that in spite of her party, the PLD, now facing extinction given its poor results in these legislatives, she still has hopes of running again in next year’s presidential elections;
Filomeno Vieira Lopes, president of the FpD, another of the parties facing extinction, says that its militants might form a new party, adding that “Angola lost a great opportunity to overhaul the political system and the FpD in parliament would certainly make the difference”.
The paper also features an interview with an interesting figure of the contemporary Angolan political scene, economist Fatima Roque: Roque could arguably be described as “a coveted war trophy between the MPLA and UNITA”: married to a prominent Portuguese banker and having been Savimbi’s economic adviser, she was expelled from UNITA in 1997 after losing his trust for, as she says, “having insisted on Savimbi taking the position of Angola’s Vice-President offered to him in the aftermath of the 1992 elections.” Then she was away from the political scene and the country until recently when she returned, by MPLA’s invitation, expressly to take a symbolic part in its electoral campaign, having appeared at its closing ceremony dressed in the party colours and wearing its symbols.
As expected, a number of analysts came to the fore to express their opinion on the election results: Noelma d’Abreu, a psychologist, argues that the election results amount to an “Emotional Democracy”: “I’ve been questioning myself whether we can speak among us of a conscious and rational choice of our parliamentary representatives, or if such choice is still based on emotions or purely affective sentiments. With this, I don’t mean to say that affections are necessarily irrational, but that they generally imply a diminution of the judging capacity through reason and logic. After hearing a lady saying of the campaign “the people is tired of truths,… only wants promises”, adding that this phrase was running widely in the city, I’ve interpreted it as the reflection of a defense mechanism of denial of the reality which often happens in immature human beings or that have experienced great pain or suffering. (…) The election result puts us in face of a situation worth pondering about, (…) we might still be at an embryonic stage of this exercise of choice and because of that we might be voting solely on the basis of primary survival instincts and the concretisation of desires that simply reveal the affectivity of primary needs.”
Guilherme Santos, president of the Association for Rural Development and the Environment (ADRA), asserts that the “Massive vote on the MPLA reflects a lack of democratic maturity by Angolan electors”: “I think that from the point of view of expectation, aspiration, interest and conscience of the need for Angolans to vote, to exercise their right to vote, yes we’ve grown, (…) but that doesn’t necessarily translate into maturity. If we talk of maturity we might incorporate various dimensions to it, namely the psychological, political or social. I don’t know if there is any people who is politically mature given that politics is a phenomenon in permanent change, but I believe that this widespread notion of maturity is not a reality, it’s a farce, it’s a trap.”
In its economy pages, the NJ echoes an interview by Angolan Finance Minister, Jose’ Pedro de Morais, to the Portuguese Jornal de Negocios.
In spite of having been awarded at the beginning of this year the accolade of ‘Africa’s Best Finance Minister’ by the British magazine “The Banker”, Pedro de Morais is widely rumoured to be replaced in the new government to come out of these elections and says that his continuation in the role will depend on the MPLA.
“The programme that the MPLA presented to the elections was to continue the process of national reconstruction through a strong investment in the modernisation of infrastructures in order to leverage the non-oil economy. There is also a strong component, both in qualitative and quantitative terms, of the expenditure in social sectors, specially in health and education. The next four years will be of consolidation of this social policy,” he stated. As far as the economic forecasts are concerned, the minister predicts growth rates “of 20% in the non-oil sector and 12% in the oil sector, with a global growth rate of 16% for this year and of 15% for the next.”
He also spoke of the growing investment intentions in Angola by the Portuguese, who he says have a lower risk perception of the country than other European investors, particularly in sectors such as the civil construction and services, including the hospitality industry, where he believes “they will never have competitors from other countries.”
Pedro de Morais also tried to dispel the widespread perceptions of corruption in the country by international investors: “There are various kinds of that type of accusation. There are those which are profoundly imbued of a ideological character, because, some time ago, the MPLA professed a certain ideology and then changed course. Then there is another kind which relates to the lack of transparency in procedures and economic management. There we are perfectly at ease to be confronted with the best practices in the world. For instance, we have transparency rules which have been commended by all oil operators. We have significantly improved our fiscal execution procedures and have been praised by the IMF for that. Today the situation in Angola in terms of economic transparency is much better than it was four or five years ago.”
Still in the economy section, the news that Desiderio Costa, Angola’s Oil Minister, has been named president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for 2009:
Since the start of this year, Angola, currently the biggest Sub-Saharan Africa oil producer, has been subjected by OPEC to a daily production quota of 1,9 million barrels. The Angolan oil production increased by 18% last year to an average 1,61 million barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency. The country is the source of 5% of US oil imports and during the first quarter of this year was the first supplier to China, having surpassed Saudi Arabia in that position, due to a 55%increase of its exports to that country.
[Cartoon: Lito Silva, Semanario Angolense]