A staggering $24 billion was lost due to fraud and mismanagement during the 38-year reign of former Angolan head of state José Eduardo Dos Santos, according to current president Joao Manuel Lourenço.
Lourenço, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, said a $13.5 billion loss was incurred through contracts awarded by the parastatal oil company Sonangol. The contracts are thought to have been inflated and given out to friends and family of ex-President dos Santos.
Oil-rich Angola holds a nearly $10 billion foreign currency reserve. If President Lourenço’s claims are true, the losses under his predecessor are almost three times as much as the country’s foreign currency reserve.
Although there is no independent confirmation of the amount mentioned by President Lourenço, the WSJ says $24 billion is “consistent with the substantial sums” retrieved by Lourenço’s government. According to the government, more than $5 billion has been retrieved from Isabel Dos Santos, daughter of the former president and Africa’s richest woman.
Both the former head of state and his daughter have denied wrongdoing. Ms. dos Santos, who is facing a potential arrest warrant by the Angolan government, has labeled the accusations as an attack on her integrity having expressed interest in running for the presidency of Angola
Relationship turned soar
President Lourenço is a former defence minister under the ex-Angolan leader. But after handing over power in 2017, former President dos Santos and his family have been on the defensive about his time in office.
President Lourenço’s government is prosecuting the allegations of corruption leveled against the president’s former boss and his family. The ex-president recently resigned as chairman of the party to which the two men are affiliated.
Some in Angola agree with Ms. dos Santos’s assessment of the situation. That section of the Angolan public believes Lourenço has set his political guns blazing so as to neutralize the only credible challenger he could potentially come up against.