By CESAR NETO
The world economic crisis, the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine have further weakened Angola’s semi-colonial economy. It fell to the colonial administrator, João Lourenço, to dictate harsh economic measures to save the banks and the big foreign companies. UNITA, the well-behaved opposition party that gets along quite well with the dictatorship, is playing the parliamentary game and refusing to encourage the struggle of the Angolan people. The youth, the rappers, the residents of the popular neighborhoods, and the zungueiras (street vendors) have begun to cry out that enough is enough. They first took to the streets on June 17.
Achieving political independence from Portugal was a great victory. It was a great political victory, but it was not, however, a victory that brought with it independence terms of the economy, finances, and international treaties. Rather, Angola is still tied to the great capitalist powers through these structural mechanisms. As a result, the big companies that exploit oil, diamonds, and other minerals continue to absorb national wealth. The banks continue to charge extortionate interest on loans, and the country’s indebtedness is ongoing.
Therefore, we affirm that Angola is a semi-colony and that it is necessary to continue the struggle for a Second Independence. It is necessary to nationalize the country’s mineral wealth, to suspend the payment of the foreign debt, to break with the international treaties that only favor the great powers and impose misery on the poor people of a rich nation. None of this is possible without putting an end to the country’s rulers who are true colonial administrators.
June 17, the first great cry that “enough is enough”
Young people, teachers, health professionals, zungueiras, and people who live in peripheral neighborhoods, have already been saying, in their own way that they are fed up. They had been making their discontent known, but not with the necessary force, or the clarity with which they expressed it during the week of June 12 to 17. Those days were marked by demonstrations of force, discontent, and shouts of “enough is enough!”
The trigger was increase in the price of fuel from 160 to 300 kwanzas. This resulted in the rise of gasoline prices and an immediate increase in the price of food.
The people directed their anger against the MPLA dictatorship, and they were right to do so. And the people in the street had the support and sympathy of workers and youth from all over the Lusophone world.
The repressive savagery of João Lourenço, dictator and colonial administrator
The MPLA and its dictator João Lourenço felt the impact of the mobilizations, and beginning on Monday, June 12, it authorized the violent repression of demonstrators. Thirteen people were killed, including a 12-year-old boy. It was utter barbarism.
People have wondered: why such barbarism? Why are Angolans killing Angolans?
The explanation is simple. João Lourenço had made an agreement with finance capital that he would pay the interest on the country’s debt, and in order to do that he increased revenues by slashing fuel subsidies. Even so, the money was insufficient so the dictatorship opted to also delay paying the salaries of public employees. The government’s choice is obvious: first take care of the bankers and then the people.
João Lourenço had also made an agreement with foreign capital that he would further destroy the state-run Angolan energy company Sonangol, and authorize the construction of three new refineries. In this scheme, the State would turn over practically all of the country’s sovereignty over the production of oil derivatives to foreign private enterprise.
The dictatorial colonial administrator could not allow the demonstrators to prevent him from handing over the country to foreign capital. This is the reason for the repression and murder of activists.
The well-behaved parliamentary opposition
While the demonstrators were shouting slogans against the dictatorship in the streets, the well-behaved parliamentary opposition of the electoral platform FPU (Frente Patriótico Unido), composed of UNITA, BD (Democratic Bloc), and PRA-JÁ Servir Angola , “appealed” to the president not to allow the repression of the demonstrators. It also urged the government to “take this as a lesson to improve its governance of the country.”
To appeal, in any dictionary, means to ask or to implore. The masses were fighting against Lourenço and the FPU appealed to the government, thus recognizing its authority. And to top it off, they believe that this government can learn lessons on how to better govern the country.
When the police accused UNITA of being responsible for the demonstrations on June 17, instead of being proud of defending the Angolan people, they were offended and admitted they were exploring the possibility of “filing a lawsuit for slander and defamation”.
In fact, the well-behaved opposition led by UNITA does not say a word about the suspension of the payment of the foreign debt. It does not say a word in defense of 100% state-owned oil and, consequently, does not defend national sovereignty. Their statement restricted itself to superficial aspects and did not explain what’s really at stake to the people.
By the way, if João Lourenço is a colonial administrator, the well-behaved opposition is running for the same position. For Lourenço, Angola and the US “are equal partners, with a flourishing direct collaboration at all levels and in all domains”. UNITA president Adalberto Costa Jr. stated in a video that “in recent times we have received a request, very important for us, about what we might share with the [US] Diplomatic Corps” and that the “USA is a loyal country!” . In that sense, he is as open to US capital as Lourenço.
Can we call a country that attempted at least nine coups (and succeeded in at least eight of them) in five West African countries between 2008 and 2020 loyal?
The struggles will continue as long as the economic and political crisis remains alive.
Therefore, we propose three major tasks for the road ahead:
- Enough with 48 years of MPLA rule in the service of big capital, the bankers, and against national sovereignty * No to the dictatorship!
- No confidence in UNITA, since they are the same as MPLA. They defend imperialism, vote for laws against the workers, and are part of the scandal that paid 25,000 dollars to deputies.
- Neither MPLA nor Frente Unido Patriótico/FPU (UNITA, BD and PRA-JA Servir Angola). For a free, democratic, and sovereign Constituent Assembly, which will be the basis for the reconstruction of the country to begin.
And why a Constituent Assembly?
First of all, because all the laws were made during the long 48 years of the MPLA dictatorship. As a result, the Constitution, the most important of laws, responds to the interests of that dictatorship and the foreign capital they represent.
- The Constituent Assembly must be free, democratic, and sovereign. Free means that it must have total partisan freedom and the possibility to elect candidates independent of the parties. It must be democratic since the candidates themselves will have to finance the electoral campaign. Financing by foreign banks and companies is a crime against national sovereignty; and it must be sovereign, since its decisions cannot be revoked by any other power.
- No child out of school. Free public education for all. Snacks and school supplies financed with the profits from mining and oil exploitation.
- No homeless workers. No landless peasants.
- Unrestricted right to organize and strike for all workers.
- Against the oppression of women. Male chauvinism is a crime.
- All land belongs to the people. The State cannot intervene and repress conflicts between small landowners and mining, oil, or land development companies. No more repression of the poor and defense of the rich.
- The oil, diamonds, and natural resources are ours. No more transnationals.
- Reactivate Sonangol controlled by its workers. Out with the thieves and corruption in the main national company.
- Immediate suspension of the payment of the foreign debt. Independent audit of the debt.
- In the Constituent Assembly, all elected members can have their mandates revoked at any time if the voters so desire. No constituent parliamentarian may earn more than a skilled worker.
- For a Constituent Assembly towards the Second Independence. We do not want to continue being a colony disguised as an independent country.
- For a Constituent Assembly that opens the way to a government of the workers and the poor people.
 Position of the leaders of the FPU – UNITA – BD – Pra_Ja Servir Angola on the June 17 Demonstrations – http://www.unitaangola.com/PT/affiartinouv4.awp?pArticle=15838
 UNITA says that the accusations of the Angolan police on the demonstrations are politically motivated – https://www.asemana.publ.cv/?UNITA-diz-que-acusacoes-da-policia-angolana-sobre-manifestacoes-sao&ak=1
 President of the Republic commemorates, in message, the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the U.S. – https://angola.org/presidente-da-republica-assinala-em-mensagem-trigesimo-aniversario- do-estabelecimento-de-relaciones-diplomaticas-con-eua/
 Adalberto Costa Júnior and the U.S. Ambassador to Angola, Tulinabo Mushingi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jylwP4TCnhY
*César Neto is a member of the CSP-Conlutas International Sector.
Article first published at https://cspconlutas.org.b
Photo: Protest against fuel price hikes in June 2023. (Borralho Ndomba / DW)