President Jose Eduardo dos Santos swore in a new government yesterday and said Angola would pass a new law to end widespread corruption and embezzlement in one of Africa’s biggest oil producing nations.
The new government was appointed by the president after parliament approved a new constitution last week that critics say will allow dos Santos, who has never won an election, to prolong his 30-year rule without a direct ballot.
The charter also replaces the prime minister with a vice president, enabling dos Santos to be more involved in running day to day affairs of the state and make sure his “zero tolerance” calls are taken seriously.
Dos Santos said in a short speech to his government that the Law of Administrative Probity would be passed by his cabinet today and ensure that public servants carry out their jobs with “honesty, honour and integrity of character.”
The goal is to implement a “strategy to moralise those who provide services to the state,” he said.
“Its implemention will discourage those that want to use public goods as a source of illicit enrichment.”
Consulting firm Ernst & Young will help the Angolan government carry out a complete overhaul of the way public money is managed said dos Santos.
Billions in oil revenues and loans from China to help rebuild infrastructure destroyed by a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 have helped turn Angola into one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
Angola is one of the world’s 18 most corrupt nations according to a survey by Transparency International, and despite its vast oil and mineral wealth, an estimated two-thirds of Angolans live on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.
Rights groups have accused dos Santos and his inner circle of setting a bad example.
The president, his eldest daughter and several key ministers and members of the ruling party featured in a list of Angola’s 12 richest people in a survey carried out by privately owned newspaper Agora late last year.
A senior US senator said last week he planned to refer HSBC Holdings to its US bank regulator in connection with questionable accounts it provided for senior Angolan officials.
But in a sign that Angola is serious about fighting corruption, authorities arrested ten people last week over a $100 million embezzlement probe at Angola’s ministry of finance and central bank.
The International Monetary Fund agreed in November to grant Angola $1.4 billion to shore up its finances and urged the government to continue to implement measures to improve the lives of ordinary Angolans and increase transparency.