Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos on Tuesday 14th September 2021 returned to the Southern Africa nation from Spain, after almost three years of self-imposed exile due to the new government crackdown on his family’s multi-billion dollars business interest
Dos Santos, who ruled Africa’s second-biggest oil producer from 1979 to 2017, arrived Angola’s capital Luanda on Tuesday morning after spending close to thirty months in Barcelona-Spain. The 79-year-old’s return suggest a possible understanding with President Joao Lourenco, who began targeting his predecessor’s children almost immediately after coming to power in 2017.
Critics say corruption was rife during his rule, with wealth amassing in the hands of selected few and billions of dollars allegedly embezzled from state-owned companies. The former leader was severally accused of appointing relatives and friends to top positions during his 38-year presidency of the oil-rich nation.
President Joao Lourenco, who was hand-picked by his predecessor Jose Edwardo Dos-Santos as his successor, took office in 2017 with a pledge to tackle the country’s abject poverty and jobs shortage, and a promise to root out graft and restore the oil-dependent economy.
The former Minister of Defense under Dos Santos, vowed that he would not be a puppet ruler barely a day after the vote “I will have all the powers, this country will not have two presidents”, he said in response to Amnesty International call for Lourenco to “guide the country out of the spiral of oppression” and castigation of Dos Santos’s “appalling human rights record”.
Within months of coming to power in 2017, Lourenco fired Dos Santos’ eldest daughter, Isabel, as chairwoman of state-owned oil company Sonangol, a position she held briefly between 2016 and 2017 during her father’s rule. Two years later, Angolan authorities froze her assets in Angola and abroad, alleging syphoning of state funds into offshore assets, accusations she vehemently denied
Prior to the freeze order, Isabel was worth about $2.4 billion, making her Africa’s wealthiest woman, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Her half-brother, Jose Filomeno Dos Santos, was sentenced to five years in prison in August last year after being found guilty of embezzlement and fraud – a ruling he’s appealing.
Jose Eduardo Dos Santos has not himself been charged in any corruption case. He returns ahead of the ruling MPLA’s party congress in December and presidential elections next year. Angola remains stuck in a five-year long recession, while awaiting the next moves