José Eduardo dos Santos. Picture: REUTERS
José Eduardo dos Santos. Picture: REUTERS

Luanda — Angola’s parliament has suspended a daughter of former president José Eduardo dos Santos for “unjust enrichment” as his successor seeks to crack down on nepotism past and present.

Dos Santos appointed several family members to key economic and political positions during his 38-year rule, which ended after he stepped down in September 2017.

Welwitschia dos Santos, nicknamed “Tchize”, was elected to parliament in 2008 and joined the central committee of the ruling Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in 2016.

Late on Tuesday, the National Assembly voted to suspend Welwitschia — one of the former president’s six children — from parliament, saying her absenteeism from the body amounted to “unjust enrichment”.

Tchize, the former president’s second daughter, moved to Britain last year after claiming Angola’s secret services were threatening her.

Lower profile than her half-sister Isabel — a billionaire businesswoman appointed to head the state oil company during her father’s reign — Tchize was an influential figure in Angolan media and controlled one of the country’s leading advertising agencies.

From Britain, Tchize has repeatedly used WhatsApp to blast her father’s successor João Lourenço. In her latest recording she accused parliament of political persecution and claimed she did not choose to leave Angola.

“I had to flee because I was being threatened with death by the MPLA,” Tchize said via WhatsApp on Tuesday. “I am completely censured by public press and even by most private media [outlets] controlled by people linked to the regime.”

The MPLA had already threatened to suspend Tchize’s mandate in May for spending more than 90 consecutive days abroad.

Lourenço has launched a large-scale purge of the administration and public companies, mainly targeting dos Santos’s relatives. The president dismissed Isabel dos Santos from her position as chair of state oil company Sonangol two months after he took office.

Her brother José Filomeno, who was appointed as head of Angola’s sovereign fund in 2013 by his father, was also dismissed from his post in January 2018. Most members of the dos Santos family have moved abroad.

Lourenço is struggling to wean Angola’s economy off of oil, which accounts for one third of the former Portuguese colony’s GDP and more than 90% of exports.

The country is still recovering from a 27-year civil war, which ended in 2002, and the global fall in oil prices in 2014.

AFP