Billionaire Isabel dos Santos, at war with the justice system and the Angolan government who accuse him of embezzlement, has threatened to take the battle to the political front by raising his candidacy for president.
For the past two weeks, the daughter of ex-president Jose Eduardo dos Santos has denied in all tones that he has looted state coffers and denounces the « political trial » made to him by his father’s successor, Joao Lourenço.
In an interview with the Portuguese public broadcaster RTP, that which the Angolans call the « Princess » rose in tone Wednesday evening by letting go that she planned to seek the supreme magistracy of her country in 2022.
« Joao Lourenço has power but Jose Eduardo dos Santos has more moral authority in the eyes of the Angolans because he made peace (after the civil war) and because in his time the Angolans ate better »
« It’s possible, » said Isabel dos Santos without further details in front of the RTP cameras. « I will do whatever I have to do to defend and serve (…) my country ».
Last month, a court in Luanda threw a stone into the pond by ordering the freezing of the bank accounts and the assets of Mrs. dos Santos in its Angolan companies (banks, mobile telephony, distribution…).
Justice suspects it to have diverted, with its Congolese husband Sindika Dokolo, more than a billion dollars from the accounts of the public companies Sonangol (petroleum) and Endiama (diamonds) to nourish its own businesses.
The woman who is considered by the American magazine Forbes as the richest woman in Africa first stressed that the sanctions of the justice jeopardized its 20,000 Angolan workers. Without much result.
So Wednesday evening, his defense took a more political turn.
« It is not possible to selectively use the so-called fight against corruption to neutralize those who are thought to be future political candidates, » she said.
His father Jose Eduardo dos Santos ruled Angola with an iron fist for thirty-eight years (1979-2017). His critics accuse him of having cut the country’s economy in order to benefit a handful of relatives.
Since succeeding him in 2017, President Joao Lourenço has dismissed the relatives of his predecessor from the country’s institutions, public enterprises and security apparatus in the name of the fight against corruption.
In the front row of this cart were seated Isabel dos Santos, who had headed the national oil company Sonangol for a year, and her half-brother Jose Filomeno dos Santos, who chaired the country’s sovereign wealth funds.
The latter has been on trial since December in Luanda for embezzlement of public funds.
The dos Santos clan denounces since a family vendetta. He underlines in particular that the former vice-president of the country, Manuel Vicente, threatened with a trial for corruption in Portugal saw these prosecutions dropped thanks to a diplomatic agreement signed by Mr. Lourenço …
« If you want to fight corruption in Angola, you have to look where it is, » said Dos Santos.
Morale Moral authority ’
Portuguese justice announced last week the opening of an investigation into the businesswoman, who holds interests in many companies there
In a statement to the AFP, Welwitschia dos Santos supported his half-sister Isabel by reminding President Lourenço that he was only elected in 2017 thanks to the support of their father.
“Joao Lourenço has power but Jose Eduardo dos Santos has more moral authority in the eyes of the Angolans because he made peace (after the civil war) and because in his time the Angolans ate better”, a- she insisted.
« Her short-term chances of playing a political role are negligible but she has the means and can build support over time, » Alex Vines of the British think-tank Chatham House told AFP. President Lourenço fails to reform the economy ”.
Leaded by the fall in black gold prices in 2014, the second oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa is stuck in a serious economic crisis.
A defender of the turmoil of the Dos Santos regime, opposition journalist Rafael Marques brushed aside the hypothesis of an election for Isabel dos Santos.
« We don’t give importance to a comment intended only to divert attention from looting the country, » Marques told AFP.