Isabel Dos Santos during a Reuters interview in London, the UK, on January 9 2020. Picture: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE
Isabel Dos Santos during a Reuters interview in London, the UK, on January 9 2020. Picture: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE

Luanda — The billionaire daughter of Angola’s former president, Isabel dos Santos, has said she would consider running for president in the next election in 2022.

Dos Santos has been targeted in an anti-graft campaign led by her father’s successor President João Lourenço, who has vowed to fight corruption and rebuild the economy of Sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest oil producer.

Prosecutors froze the bank accounts and holdings owned by the businesswoman and her Congolese husband Sindika Dokolo last month.

Dos Santos, reportedly Africa’s richest woman, has denied any wrongdoing and denounced the investigation as “politically motivated”.

Asked in an interview with Portuguese state broadcaster Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP) whether she would run for the top job in Angola, dos Santos said it was “possible”. “I will do everything I need to do to defend and serve my country,” she said in the interview, which was broadcast late on Wednesday.

The investigation surrounding Dos Santos is centred on the alleged use of state-owned companies to siphon off more than $1bn. It is delving into irregularities involving Angola’s national oil company Sonangol and Sodiam, a national diamond marketing firm.

Dos Santos was appointed head of Sonangol by her father José Eduardo dos Santos in 2016, one year before he stepped down and handed the reins over to Lourenço.

Large-scale purge 

The president forced her out of the position within months of coming to power in 2017. He has since launched a large-scale purge of the Dos Santos, 38-year administration, during which top positions were awarded to the former president’s cronies.

Dos Santos’s brother José Filomeno — nicknamed “Zenu” — went on trial last month for allegedly embezzling $500m from Angola’s sovereign fund, which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018.

Zenu, who faces a maximum of 12 years in prison if found guilty, is the first member of the Dos Santos family to be prosecuted.

“The selective manner of this so-called fight against corruption [is being used] to neutralise future political candidates,” Dos Santos told RTP, adding that she continues to be “shocked” by the allegations.

Dos Santos has been named Africa’s richest woman by Forbes magazine, which, last year, rated her net worth at $2.2bn. She has holdings in two private banks, mobile operator Unitel, a supermarket chain, and cable television among others.


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