Angolan Supreme Court summons President dos Santos over nepotism claims

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Supreme Court of Angola yesterday summoned President José Eduardo dos Santos to explain his decision to appoint his daughter head of the national state-owned oil firm, Sonangol. The pair face claims of nepotism and breach of probity legislation.

José Eduardo dos Santos, from file.
Image: Agência Brasil.

Isabel dos Santos, Africa's richest woman according to Forbes, is also summoned. She took control of Sonangol in June after her father fired the entire board. Angola is now the continent's largest oil producer, surpassing Nigeria after militancy affected production there. The company nonetheless is struggling to cope with reduced prices for oil.

The court's move comes as it accepts a petition by a group of lawyers against the dos Santoses. "It is the first time that the court will examine a decision of the president," said one of them, David Mendes. "The law stipulates that public officials cannot nominate or allow the nomination of family members," he added yesterday.

According to Mendes the dos Santoses have eight days to answer the court. One member of ruling MPLA anonymously told reporters "The constitution of Angola is clear: the president does not have to personally explain actions taken during his term in court or in parliament". He said a representative would appear instead.

José Eduardo dos Santos has ruled for over 30 years, but has expressed an intention to resign in 2018 following elections next year. Three years ago his son Jose Filomeno dos Santos was made head of the national Sovereign Wealth Fund. Isabel dos Santos owns shares in both Angolan and Portuguese businesses, particularly financial and telecoms firms.