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The realignments of Angola foreign policy

1-Introduction. Angola’s geopolitical repositioning

At the moment, when we finish this report, the President of the Republic of Angola is in Paris with the President of the French Republic. This meeting represents one of the points in the ongoing realignment of Angola’s foreign policy. One has only to remember that in the last days of José Eduardo dos Santos, the French were “punished” due to their role in Angolagate.

Angola is not an indifferent country. It has played a geopolitically relevant role throughout its short but intense history after independence. First, it was one of the violent stages of the Cold War, where Americans and Soviets clashed with the virulence that they could not adopt in other geographic locations. Angola ended up being a Soviet bastion of great nomination, where they in reality won when in confrontation with the United States. After the Soviet phase, Angola was once again innovative and became the first African country to receive the new China that opened up to the world and sought in Africa a continent for its expansion and testing of its ideas. Angola has become a partner par excellence of China.

Obviously, this being a simplification, from the point of view of the major trends, the geopolitical position of Angola started to be aligned with the Soviet Union and after its fall, with China. Not being a country that is enraged anti-Western, very far from that, because Angola has a profound influence of European culture, the country has anchored itself in other places over time.

For several reasons, at this moment, Angola is rehearsing a different geopolitical approach that tends to devalue the role of both Russia and China, and to find new references and political dialogues. This text will focus on this devaluation, the new vectors that influence the Angolan repositioning, the countries that will now play a more relevant role in Angola’s external concerns, in addition to a short note on Portugal. Angola’s influence in southern Africa and its stabilizing role in Congos will not be addressed.

2-The decline of the Angolan relationship with Russia and China

The decline in the Soviet (now Russian) relationship with Angola is easy to describe. The Soviet Union’s commitment to Angola was part of a long-term strategy for the involvement of the North Atlantic through the countries of the South. The incursion into Africa that was accelerated by the “loss” of influence in the Middle East in the 1970s due to the cut promoted by Sadat from Egypt and by the Kissinger’s full exploitation. Suddenly, the Soviet Union found itself without one of the main supports it had in the Middle East and from where it hoped to condition the Americans. What is certain is that this situation led to a deepening of several alternatives, among which Angola later stood out. Naturally, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the end of the Cold War, with the consequent disintegration of the Soviet Union, meant that Russian interest in Africa waned considerably. The Russia that emerged after Gorbachev’s collapse was no longer interested in any global competition with the United States, but in its survival and transformation. He quickly lost interest in Angola.

It is true that at the present time, Putin has recovered some of the imperial dynamics and is looking for some influence in Africa, but it is still of short reach and has resulted in the sending of mercenaries from the Wagner group, which have had little efficiency, namely in Mozambique. In Angola, there is no significant behaviour by Russia, especially as an essential and determining partner. There are obviously contacts and relationships. There is a lot of talk about the Russian influence on Isabel dos Santos, who might be a citizen of that country, but the fact is that there are no visible Russian investments or ties with Luanda with obvious relevance. In 2019, Russian investments in Angola of 9 billion euros were announced, but there is no known sequence of that. In addition, Angola’s external public debt to Russia is zero according to data from the National Bank of Angola (BNA), having been fully settled by 2019.

It is more difficult to wind up the declining relationship with China. In fact, Chinese investment in Angola has been growing, at least until 2020, and the Angolan external public debt vis-à-vis China in 2020 represented US $ 22 billion, equivalent to more than 40% of the total. The Chinese implantation in Angola is profound, suffice to mention in sociological terms the relevance of the City of China.

However, there is evidence that the Chinese preference is decreasing, or at least, being mitigated. The first indication refers to the negotiations for a new loan that took João Lourenço to China at the beginning of his term. The first information for the press reported large amounts to be made available by China, of around 11 billion dollars. The reality is that there were several procrastinations on that loan, which apparently ended up involving a reduced amount of US $ 2 billion that might have suited to make payments of Angolan debt to Chinese companies.

What is certain is that if we observe the evolution of the Angolan public external debt to China, we will see that there was a remarkable leap between 2015 and 2016, from about US $ 11.7 billion to US $ 21.6 billion, which the debt reached the peak in 2017, 23 billion dollars and that since then has been decreasing with a significant cadence. It seems that China does not want to be involved with Angola any more, preferring to go on managing the current involvement.

If on the part of China it is possible to glimpse some recalcitrance in the relationship with Angola, on the Angolan side there are also obstacles. The first of them is the nature of the Angolan debt to China. Many claim that a good part of this debt is what is called “odious debt”, that is, it served to benefit corrupt private interests and not the country’s development. There is the impression that the opacity with which doing business with China has allowed the creation of situations of corruption that are too evident and harmful to the country. Thus, China’s debt is partly seen as a debt of corruption. In addition, quality problems have arisen in some Chinese buildings in Angola financed by Chinese debt. It is not clear whether this lack of quality is due to any Chinese negligence or objectionable behaviour on the part of Angolan officials, but it is certain that the image persists.

This means that since China is still a key partner for Angola, it is currently in a kind of reassessment phase. It is necessary to resolve the problem of the debt of the past linked to corruption, of the way of contracting too opaque on the part of China and also issues related to quality. It is a demanding task, but required to reactivate the Chinese and Angolan common interest.

If the relationship with Russia does not have the relevance of the past and with China is in a phase of reevaluation and reconditioning, it is clear that Angola, above all, given the changes as it passes, will have to actively seek new partners.

3-The new vectors of Angolan action: goals and countries

The Angolan relationship with Russia and China concurred with the need to assert its own sovereignty, independent of external interference, and also to obtain funds for war and post-war reconstruction. João Lourenço’s current foreign policy is placed at a slightly different level, in which it is important to gather external support for the two major reforms that are being carried out internally: economic reform and the fight against corruption. Both reforms need external collaboration, without which they may not survive.

Economic reform is based on the so-called Washington consensus proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), although international intellectuals and bureaucrats have already abandoned this designation and refuse it. Even so, it implies the adoption of policies to raise taxes and restrict expenditure with the respective fiscal consolidation. Naturally, this type of policy is recessive, in the short term, it increases the economic crisis in Angola. The great way to overcome this effect is to obtain foreign investment and a lot. In fact, says the theory followed, that with these disciplinary reforms of the IMF, foreign investors start to trust the governments that follow them and feel safe to invest. In short, foreign investment is the necessary counterweight to the IMF reforms and the key to their success. Consequently, it is not surprising that one of the main vectors of Angolan foreign policy is the approach to countries with a remarkable reproductive investment capacity and with proven evidence.

In what concerns the fight against corruption, the panorama that is presented is that, in general, it is the countries with the potential to invest in Angola, those in which judicial collaboration is required to recover assets or trace illegal financial movements. The Angolan oligarchies that diverted public funds sent them to the most advanced countries or those with the greatest financial potential.

Therefore, there is a group of countries that currently are of great interest to Angola: they are those with an efficient investment capacity and with a financial system through which many of the illicit movements of Angolan funds have passed, as well as where assets bought, possibly with these funds. At the moment, neither China nor Russia are countries where more investment is expected, nor were the places chosen, apparently, to park illicit goods or assets. Or if they were, there is no knowledge of what is going on there and it is sheltered.

It is in this context that a number of countries have assumed relevance. A first group is the Western Europe countries that have stood out in visits and announcements of investments in Angola. At the beginning of April 2021, the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, paid a visit to Angola. This visit was accompanied by a great Spanish commitment, affirming Angola as one of Spain’s preferred partners in Africa, and this as a great Spanish bet. It was announced that Angola was the “prow” of a project in Madrid that he called “Focus Africa 2023.” Last year, it was the turn of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit Angola within the framework of an Angola-Germany Economic Forum and more broadly of a German Marshall Plan for Africa. Also, President Macron announced a visit to Angola, which has been postponed due to Covid-19. In turn, the Italian President had already visited Angola in 2019. In relation to the United Kingdom, there have been no visits of such high level, but some interest in Angola is beginning to be noticed due to the impositions of Brexit, which they demand new markets for the UK, although there is a huge lack of knowledge.

Visits have followed several promises of investment from Western Europe. The Italian oil company (ENI) plans to invest seven billion dollars (5.9 billion euros) over the next four years in research, production, refining and solar energy, it announced in early April 2021. Before, British businessmen said they intend to invest around US $ 20 billion in Angola. Germany and France also have several projects underway.

This axis of Western Europe has become vital in Angolan foreign policy, as these countries need new markets and investments, to get out of excessive dependence on China, and in the British case, also to look for post-Brexit alternatives, and being mature markets, they have to find out where the youth and the future is, and that is in Africa.

With João Lourenço able to convey the image that governs a competent government and with stable macroeconomic rules and turned to the free market, Spanish, French, British, Italian or German investors will feel safe to invest. At the same time, many of the fortunes out of Angola lay there, so there will be an opportunity to create mechanisms for their recovery or redirection.

It should be noted that, contrary to what one might think, this Westernization of Lourenço’s foreign policy does not pass through Portugal, but indicates a direct approach between European countries and Angola and vice versa.

To this Western European axis it is necessary to add another one, the Gulf axis. The Gulf countries, in which the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia stand out. These countries, previously dependent on oil, have entered into a diversification policy. Dubai for some years now and with tremendous success. Saudi Arabia is still taking its first steps, with the so-called Vision 2030, but what is certain is that they want to invest outside their traditional scope and find new markets. In fact, Dubai already has several investments in Luanda and one of its companies has now taken over the Port of Luanda and in Saudi Arabia, Luanda has now opened an Embassy, ​​which reveals its interest in the kingdom. On the other hand, we know, Dubai is a quite important international financial center and where several Angolan financial movements have gone through, as well as being used in tax evasion schemes in the diamond trade. Allegedly, contrary to what has been its practice, Dubai will be collaborating with requests for Angolan legal aid, representing a typical example of the new geopolitical axis that we are describing, countries with potential for investment and judicial collaboration in the fight against corruption.

In summary, we conclude that a new Angolan geopolitical approach focuses on the countries of Western Europe and the Persian Gulf. But it doesn’t stop there.

4-India’s potential

The amount of trade between Sub-Saharan Africa and India has grown steadily, and today India is a key trading partner for Africa. With regard to Angola, the country is today the third most important exporter in sub-Saharan Africa to India, when in 2005 it was irrelevant. In 2017, the Ambassador of India issued a statement in which he highlighted: “Trade between Angola and India increased 100% to US $ 4.5 billion in 2017, (…) At the end of July, outside the 10th BRICS summit , in Johannesburg, the President of Angola, João Lourenço, met with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and the two reaffirmed the need to increase trade and cooperation in areas such as energy, agriculture, food and pharmaceutical processing. ” As India grows and becomes a very important player worldwide, it is normal for Angola to look at this country with a new vision. It is a millionaire market to which an immensity of Angolan exports can reach.

5- The United States of America. The ultimate prize

The relationship between Angola and the United States has been ambiguous. In fact, even in the days when the US administration supported Jonas Savimbi and UNITA, there was a relationship with Luanda linked to oil and the protection of American multinationals operating in territory dominated by the MPLA government.

Currently, the United States represents everything Angola wants, the country of the dollar with an enviable investment capacity and financial innovation, with a universalizing legal structure that allows it to use multiple legal instruments around the world to pursue the fortunes of corruption. It is also from the United States that Angola needs to raise the various “red flags” that were erected during the time of José Eduardo dos Santos and made Angolan financial life much more difficult. The United States is the key country for this new Angolan phase of foreign investment and fight against corruption, because from here the definitive stimulus for progress can come.

In a way, João Lourenço was unlucky to come across Trump when he needed the USA. It is known that Trump had no interest in Africa, that he only served for his wife to take a trip in colonial style attire. Worse would have been impossible. But American indifference does not have to be an obstacle to a greater Angolan commitment to relations with the superpower. In the early 1970s, Anwar Sadat from Egypt also decided that he wanted to get closer to the United States. These occupied with a thousand and one crises, among which Vietnam stood out, paid no attention to Sadat, who continued to follow his line, expelling Soviet advisers and starting a rapprochement with the Americans.

Historical comparisons and evolutions aside-Sadat ended up murdered for having signed a peace agreement with Israel on American auspices- what seems more logical for Angola at this stage is to accentuate a closer relationship with the United States, even if they are not attentive. And they won’t be, because between Covid-19, China and Russia, and multiple small internal crises have a lot to deal with. However, effective and real US support for the new Angolan policy is essential for the country to come out of the doldrums and no longer have external financial constraints, so a vigorous approach to the US administration would be advisable on the part of Angola, despite of the mutual distrust that exists.

6-Portugal is different

Regarding the visit of Pedro Sanchez, Spanish Prime Minister, Angola came up with some criticisms of the Portuguese government, accusing him of inaction and of being overtaken by Spain. This is nonsense. Not even Portugal can think of having a monopoly on relations with Angola, nor is there any danger in Portuguese-Angolan relations. Portugal is always a separate case, its influence comes less from the government and more from soft power, from the umbilical connection that remains between the peoples of both countries. Luanda continues to stop when Sporting wins the championship or Benfica have a very important game, the favorite destination of most Angolans is Portugal, easy personal relationships are established between Portuguese and Angolans. Portuguese businessmen always look to Angola as a possibility for expanding their business. The relations between Angola and Portugal have an underlying relationship between the peoples before the intervention of the governments.

At the official level, the Portuguese government is generally welcoming towards Angola. Around 2005, he welcomed the wishes of Angolan investment, currently he accepted the requests for judicial cooperation from Angola in relation to Isabel dos Santos, as it ended up sending Manuel Vicente’s case to Angola after great pressure from Luanda. Let’s say there is a manifest porosity of the Portuguese position, easily adapting to the positions and needs of Luanda. This position, combined with the interest of the Angolan elites in Portugal, has ended up consolidating a good relationship between the two countries, despite a bump or two. It is clear that after April 25, 1974, Portugal lost interest in Africa, making its accession to Europe and becoming a modern western country its number one priority. This project has been a little tangled since 2000, but it has not led Portugal to a revision of its European focus yet, it only forced it to take a longer look at Africa, after decades of disinterest. Perhaps there is a time when Portugal wants to focus its foreign policy on Portuguese-speaking countries, but this is not the time, as it is not for Angola, which wants to embrace other “voices”, such as the English-speaking and French-speaking countries, thus, the best that governments can to do is to make life as easy as possible for its population who wish to work in common and mutually support each other’s requests, but little else.

Conclusion

The summary of the new Angolan geopolitical position is that Angola is betting on vectors linked to foreign investment and fighting corruption, assuming relevance in foreign policy, partnerships with Western Europe, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, with the Persian Gulf, Emirates and Dubai, and with India. At the same time, a strengthening of relations with the United States is anticipated. Portugal will always have a place apart.

Reference Bibliography:

-Banco Nacional de Angola-Statistics- www.bna.ao

-Douglas Wheeler and René Pélissier, História de Angola, 2011

-Ian Taylor, India’s rise in Africa, International Affairs, 2012

-José Milhazes, Angola – O Princípio do Fim da União Soviética, 2009

-Robert Cooper, The Ambassadors: Thinking about Diplomacy from Machiavelli to Modern Times, 2021

-Rui Verde, Angola at the Crossroads. Between Kleptocracy and Development, 2021

-Saudi Vision 2030- https://www.vision2030.gov.sa/en

-Tom Burgis, The Looting Machine. Warlords, Tycoons, Smugglers and the Systematic Theft of Africa’s Wealth, 2015.

-Public and informational facts taken from Lusa, DW, Jornal de Negócios, Jornal de Angola, Angonotícia and Novo Jornal.

Rule of Law and Corruption in Angola: for a mini-system of justice against corruption

1. Introduction. Fight against corruption in Angola. Goals and facts

Corruption has become such a widespread phenomenon in Angola that it has jeopardized the survival of the state itself and the country’s economic viability. The so-called fight against corruption is not a matter of the police and combating criminal activity. It is something much bigger and much more important. In fact, what is called corruption in Angola is a more widespread phenomenon of large-scale appropriation of national resources and “privatization of sovereignty”[1]. It consists of varied behaviors that fulfill various criminal types such as fraud, abuse of trust, embezzlement, tax fraud, money laundering, among others, and not just the crime of corruption. What this phenomenon entails is the capture of the State and the Economy by the corrupt forces and the use of their mechanisms of power for their own benefit. It is a systemic degradation of the country’s political and economic body. Ultimately, corruption in Angola prevents the functioning of political institutions and the economy in a free market environment[2].

We believe that it was the perception of the seriousness of corruption for the political and economic development of the country that led João Lourenço to determine as one of the fundamental goals of his presidential mandate the fight against it. It is not worth mentioning the numerous speeches and actions initiated on the topic, to confirm that the fight against corruption has effectively become an insurmountable point of the presidential mandate.

If this goal is clear and justified, the questions arise at the level of implementation. Some criticize what they call the selectivity of the cases taken to court, others the slowness and still others the trampling of legal forms.

We do not see that there is selectivity in the fight against corruption. Just observe the judgments that have taken place and we will see that the people who have been sentenced are different. We have in the case of “Thai fraud”, a former Director of the foreign investment office, Norberto Garcia and a former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Nunda. Both were acquitted and now occupy important positions, Garcia in the presidential office and Nunda as Ambassador in London. Then we have Augusto Tomás, former Minister of Transport, who was sentenced to effective imprisonment, José Filomeno dos Santos, son of the former President of the Republic, sentenced to five years in prison and awaiting the result of the appeal in freedom, just like Valter Filipe, former Governor of the National Bank of Angola. Finally, we recently had Manuel Rabelais sentenced to 14 years in prison. Rabelais was the strong man of social communication at the time of José Eduardo dos Santos. He also awaits the outcome of the appeal in freedom. It can be seen that they are not all, not even the majority, of the family of José Eduardo dos Santos, only one is a son; have different prison issues and different results. No selectivity is confirmed.

Different is the procedural slowness and some disruption with legal forms. Even recently, the Attorney General of the Republic in relation to the alleged case related to Isabel dos Santos, which will possibly be the most important and outstanding process in Angola, said that it was overdue because it was too complex[3]. And many other lawsuits drag on and raise legal doubts. Not going into details here, what is worth noting is, at this moment, (April 16, 2021), there is only one very relevant political process that has been res judicata and served time. The other two cases of very relevant people are on appeal, and nothing else has come to trial.

This scenario for a situation of extreme urgency like the one described above is very short. There is no doubt that the fight against corruption was an urgency and priority of the State and that it was assumed as such by the President, what is verified is that the judicial results are still limited. Our opinion is that this lack of results is a consequence of a good faith option of the political power that does not work. This option was to combat corruption with the normal and customary means existing in the Angolan judicial system. The use of the judicial system as it stands to fight corruption is not satisfactory. We will see the reason why such an option does not work and the alternatives.

2. The option to fight corruption within the pre-existing judicial system

When the political power chose the fight against corruption as its main goal, it decided to make this fight through the pre-existing judicial bodies and with the usual regular people. There was no organic or personnel renewal, just mere adjustments, the Vice-AGR moved up to AGR (Pesident), the Presidents of the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court switched positions and some slightly hasty laws on asset recovery were passed. So, few moves to launch the fight against corruption. This option must have corresponded to a formalistic opinion given by the most eminent Angolan jurists according to which, the fight against corruption should be carried out within the rule of law and with the existing legal means. Only in this way would the necessary rights of defense and credibility of the processes be guaranteed. And in the face of foreigners it could always be said that there would be no abuse on the part of the authorities as it was the installed judicial system that was operating within the usual regulations of the rule of law.

This legal normality seems correct, but in reality, it is what prevents a real, swift and effective fight against corruption. What we are watching is the machine and people who were captured in the past by corrupt interests to make this fight against corruption. For this reason, cases are physically lost in the courts, others turn into a mess, others come up with unacceptable decisions and others extend inexplicably. In fact, handing over the existing judicial structure the fight against corruption cases  turns out to be a mistake. If that structure was also corrupt, it cannot, for reasons of elementary logic, be judging corruption, the patronage relations of the past, the favors owed, the usual venality, are too strong, for suddenly a blanket of integrity to remove everything. What we have been seeing is that the judiciary system is unable to fight corruption. Lawsuits with beginning, middle and end are rare. It is as if there is a dysfunctionality between the intentions of the Executive Branch and the concretizations of the Judiciary Branch.

The reality is that we are asking for a structure that collaborated and benefited from the corruption that is now combating it; in the end, to turn against itself. Safeguarding, that in this structure there are agents of change, judges, prosecutors, police, employees, who must be praised for their hard work, the fact is that they are an exception – even if they are large – and do not prevent the judicial structure as a whole from being conservative and risk-averse to fighting yesterday’s allies.

To that extent, the fight against corruption may turn out to be inglorious and not work, given the various existing structural obstacles.

3. Historical examples of overcoming the atavistic magistrates

It is not the first time that magistrates, due to their conservatism and risk aversion, call into question the intentions of new regimes. There are impressive historical examples, which also contribute to solutions to this problem.

Briefly, we will refer to two situations.

The first to mention occurred after the French Revolution and the establishment of the legal regime that followed, namely at the level of administrative law. This right was considered key to the development of the new regime as it would regulate the activity of the new State and its relations with citizens. Being the revolutionary state and wanting to institute a regime based on new values ​​- Freedom, Equality and Fraternity – feared that the judges, belonging to the privileged classes and one of the pillars of the Ancien Régime, would prevent these demands and become insurmountable obstacles to the new measures. To remedy this danger as early as 1790, an August law would define a code of relations between the judiciary and the administration, prohibiting the courts from participating in the exercise of legislative and executive powers, in particular by preventing the ordinary judge from intervening in the activity of the administration . A year later, a new Penal Code provides for sanctions against judges who rule on the functioning of an administrative body. The logic that presided over administrative law after the French Revolution was a logic of tightness vis-à-vis the judiciary, for the Revolution to move forward, the judges had to be removed. This logic has evolved and has allowed the creation of a new judicial system, autonomous from the ordinary judicial system. Thus, alongside administrative laws, administrative courts and administrative judges emerged, a body foreign to previous judges[4].

Another situation in which there was a need to circumvent the conservatism of judges linked to an old regime, occurred in Austria, after the end of the First World War (1918). There, a Republic replaced the old Habsburg Empire, and a new class of judges was needed to enforce the new Republican values. It is in this context that the Constitutional Court and Hans Kelsen’s new conceptualization on the subject arises. A new court is set up with different judges.

This means that in several historical circumstances, when political power felt that judges and courts did not correspond to new times and values, it became necessary to create new parallel, complementary or supplementary judicial systems. It is a suggestion of this kind that is made in relation to the present time in Angola[5].

4. Rule of law for corruption

Many argue that in Angola there are already adequate mechanisms to fight corruption and that it is imperative to respect the rule of law, considering that this is represented by the systems and laws as they are at the moment. We cannot subscribe to this thesis for two reasons. The first is based on a theoretical point of view, while the second has an eminently practical character.

In theoretical terms, the rule of law is no more, nor less than respect for the law approved according to pre-established criteria, therefore, the opposite of arbitration. The rule of law implies that there is a law and that everyone respects it. Several legal thinkers add to this formal assumption, that the rule of law also contains a substantive element linked to equality – all are equal before the law, and to freedom – there is a presumption in favor of freedom in the implementation of legal norms. Others go even further by equating the rule of law with a range of fundamental rights and democratic principles[6]. We did not follow this last version, staying for the second. However, this is not important, it is important to note that the rule of law admits that there are specific rules for certain situations. A typical example is the constitutional rules for the State of Emergency (see Articles 58 and 204 of the Angolan Constitution), another example is the system of autonomous administrative law as it exists in France or Portugal. In Portugal, we have a very clear situation of a system completely separate from the ordinary judicial system, with its own laws, specific courts, judges with independent careers in what concerns administrative law, the right of state power and its relationship with citizens. Therefore, from a theoretical point of view and the rule of law, it is not difficult to design mini legal systems dedicated to certain matters.

If, from a theoretical point of view, there can be a different rule of law for issues of great economic and financial crime and state capture (alias corruption) with different rules from the normal rule of law, from a practical point of view it is clear that this is the only way they will be able to combat the corruption installed in the sovereign power of the State. Only by establishing a mini-system that is impervious to influence and with its own rules will this be feasible.

The truth is that each national legal system admits several subsystems according to the subjects or properties outlined. This does not violate any conception of the rule of law, on the contrary it creates rules and obligations for all, transparent and clear, in certain areas. In short, there will be a rule of law for normality and a rule of law for corruption.

5. The proposal: creation of the mini-anti-corruption judicial system

The proposal presented here is simple: to create an anti-corruption judicial mini-system from scratch, or more precisely a legal system relating to major crimes of an economic and financial nature and the capture of the State.

This legal system would operate independently of the other judicial bodies and would consist of four parts:

i) A special body with judicial powers for investigation and prosecution. This body would be a mix of judicial police and public prosecutors having powers to investigate, apprehend, search and detain, ask for international judicial cooperation and in the end make an indictment or file a major corruption case. It would only work in these cases and would be composed of a body of agents with focused and dedicated training.

ii) A system of courts dedicated to these crimes. For the judgment and appeal of cases of serious economic-financial crime and capture of the State, there would be a system of courts solely dedicated to this matter. This system of courts would imply a revision of the Constitution with regard to Article 176 nº3 and nº5. Jurisdiction should be allowed for major crimes of an economic and financial nature and also abolish the ban on courts with exclusive jurisdiction to judge certain types of offenses.

iii) An autonomous and dedicated body of judges would be another part of this mini-system against corruption. Certain judges would specialize in these matters who would fill the seats in the courts.

iv) Finally, this system should have a simplified procedural law drafted in the same way as the current American or French law that allows for quick and fair judgments.

Alternatively, and in case it is not intended to carry out a constitutional review on the subject, instead of creating a system of exclusive courts with its own judges, it could always establish specialized sections to fight corruption in the existing judicial courts. Courts in the provincial capitals or Luanda alone, as well as the Appeal and the Supreme Court, would have specialized sections for corruption. In this case, article 176 was respected when new courts were not created with exclusive powers to judge certain types of infraction, but at the same time we would have sections of ordinary courts or rooms dedicated to the topic. This is already constitutionally possible and the remaining proposed mini-system remained as described.


[1] The expression is characterized by Achille Mbembe, On the postcolony, 2001.

[2] On the impact of corruption in Angola see Rafael Marques, The space of freedom between corruption and justice, 2019, in MakaAngola (https://www.makaangola.org/2019/12/o-espaco-de-liberdade-entre -a-corrupcao-ea-justica /), Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola Since the Civil War, 2015 and Rui Verde, Angola at the Crossroads. Between Kleptocracy and Development, 2021.

[3] https://www.jornaldeangola.ao/ao/noticias/pgr-admite-complexidade-no-caso-isabel-dos-santos-2-2/ 

[4] Jean-Louis Mestre, « Administration, justice et droit administratif », Annales historiques de la Révolution française 328 | avril-juin 2002. http://journals.openedition.org/ahrf/608

[5] Sara Ligi, “Hans Kelsen and the Austrian Constitutional Court (1918-1929)”, June 2012, Co-herenci,a 9(16):273-295. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262430581_Hans_Kelsen_and_the_Austrian_Constitutional_Court_1918-1929

[6] See a detailed analysis of the concepts of the rule of law and their historical and spatial differences in Rui Verde, Brexit. The triumph of chaos? 2019

The African Continental Free Trade Area boosts Angola’s economic growth

1-Introduction: The Free Trade Area and Angola

Angola deposited the ratification of accession to the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) on the 4th of November 2020, after the National Assembly approved for ratification on the 28th of April of this year, and the President of the Republic signed a Letter of Ratification on 6 October.

The agreement is scheduled to enter into force on 1 January 2021.

The ACFTA has so far been ratified by 30 countries and, in the first phase, will lead to the elimination of tariffs on 90% of products. In addition, the agreement commits countries to progressively liberalize trade in services and to deal with a number of other non-tariff barriers, such as long delays at national borders that hinder trade between African countries. Eventually, in the future, the free movement of people and a single African air transport market may emerge within the newly created free trade area.

The goal of this agreement is to create the largest free trade area of ​​its kind in the world, with a gigantic market from Cairo to Cape Town. The ACFTA brings together 1.3 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $ 2 trillion.

Essentially, the agreement’s business goals are:

-Create a single market, deepening the economic integration of the continent;

– Assist the movement of capital and people, facilitating investment;

– Move towards the establishment of a future continental customs union.

As stated, the agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs on 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods and services across the continent.

Table 1 – ACFTA Goals

2- The impact of the FTA on Angola’s foreign trade

Recent modeling by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) projects that the value of intra-African trade will be between 15% and 25% higher in 2040 due to the ACFTA. The analysis also shows that least developed countries are expected to experience the greatest growth in intra-African trade in industrial products by up to 35%[1].

There is no doubt that insertion in a free trade area increases foreign trade in a country, this should happen in Angola, aiming, in view of the United Nations data, for a reinforcement of at least 25% of foreign trade with the rest of Africa until 2031.

This percentage arises from the weighting of the UNECA modeling referred to above with specific factors underway in Angola[2] such as the political commitment to liberalization and diversification of the economy, the operationalization of some international transport structures such as the completion of Luanda International Airport, the entry into operation the deep water port of Caio, as well as the operation of the Lobito Corridor; a rail corridor for international goods traffic starting in Porto do Lobito (Benguela) and integrating three countries – Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia – the government’s wish being one of the main axes of circulation of raw materials and goods in the territories it crosses.

There is a tripartite combination that enhances Angola’s medium-term growth:

i) the liberalization and diversification of the Angolan economy with the manufacture of new products (some of which Angola had specialized in colonial times and later abandoned) and services,

ii) membership of the African free trade area, and

iii) the construction of transport logistics infrastructures.

This interaction is essential for the membership to a free trade area to be successful. The free trade area will be the driver of growth, which in turn is accelerated by the combination of economic diversification and new logistical structures. Tariff reductions can play a significant role in the development of intra-regional trade, but they must be complemented by policies to reduce non-tariff bottlenecks (eg logistics).

3- Increase in foreign trade and economic growth in Angola

The forecast is that the result of this interaction will be an increase in international trade that will lead to a more accelerated growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

As a rule, an increase in international trade leads to an increase in GDP[3].

In the past two centuries, the world economy has experienced sustained positive economic growth and, over the same period, this process of economic growth has been accompanied by an even faster growth in global trade. Similarly, we found that there is also a correlation between economic growth and trade: countries with higher rates of GDP growth also tend to have higher rates of growth in trade.

Among the potential growth factors that can result from greater global economic integration are: Competition (companies that do not adopt new technologies and do not cut costs are more likely to fail and be replaced by more dynamic companies); Economies of scale (companies that can export to the world face greater demand and, under the right conditions, can operate on larger scales where the price per unit of product is lower); Learning and innovation (companies gain more experience and exposure to develop and adopt technologies and industry standards from foreign competitors) [4].

Overall, the available evidence suggests that trade liberalization improves economic efficiency. This evidence comes from different political and economic contexts and includes micro and macro measures of efficiency. This result is important, as it shows that there are gains with trade that imply an increase in GDP.

It is difficult to calculate the impact on GDP of a 25% increase by 2031 in trade between Angola and the rest of Africa. In fact, Angola’s trade with other African countries in 2019 represented only 3% of the country’s total foreign trade[5]. We admit that the ACFTA will increase this number by 25%, causing an increase in the total Angolan trade between 0.75% to 1% compared to the relative weight mentioned.

In this sense, a conservative perspective based on historical data on the relationship between increased trade and GDP growth in other countries with many differences between them points to a possible 1: 1 ratio. (See table below that allows establishing this correlation with some security).

Table 2 – GDP and Trade growth in several countries (sources: those mentioned in the Table)

In this case, the increase in foreign trade until 2031 would imply an average increase in annual GDP to GDP growth between 0.75% to 1% between 2021 and 2031 in Angola due to the operation of the ACFTA. If, for example, for 2022 there was a GDP growth forecast of 2% without ACFTA, with ACFTA that forecast could reach 2.75% to 3% and so on.

It should be noted that this result is only possible if the following conditions are met:

-Effective operation of the free trade zone;

-Liberalization and diversification of the Angolan economy;

-Concretization and operationalization of transport logistics projects (airport, deep water port, and international railway).

The political framework that the Angolan government wants to give to the economy of increasing structural reforms and competition is in line with the advantages that may arise from the increase in trade with the rest of Africa.

In addition, public policies must address the costs of adjusting trade integration:

  • Foster agricultural productivity in less diversified economies;
  • In some countries, mobilize domestic tax revenue to offset losses;
  • Use targeted social and training programs to facilitate worker mobility between industries to mitigate adverse effects on income distribution.

3-Conclusions

In conclusion:

It is possible to foresee a 25% growth in Angola’s external trade with Africa by 2031 if the African Free Trade Area is really implemented and the internal policies are adequate.

This growth may result in an average annual growth of the economy in those years, from 0.75% to 1%.

This is good news for Angola.

Table No. 3 – IMF% GDP growth forecasts adapted[6]


1 Vera Songwe,  Mamadou Biteye, African  Trade  Agreement: Catalyst  for Growth, UNECA, https://www.uneca.org/stories/african-trade-agreement-catalyst-growth

2 The modeling we have adopted assigns a weight of 60% to UNECA’s predictions (which act as a driving mechanism) and 40% to the domestically mentioned internal factors in development (accelerator mechanism), believing that it is the virtuous combination of the two that will make it possible to exponentiate the growth of trade.

3 Frankel, J. A., & Romer, D. H. (1999). Does trade cause growth? American economic review, 89(3), 379-399.

4 Esteban Ortiz-Ospina (2018), Does trade cause growth? https://ourworldindata.org/trade-and-econ-growth

5 Cfr. http://www.expansao.co.ao/artigo/134739/trocas-comerciais-de-angola-com-africa-representam-so-3-do-total-do- comercio-com-o-mundo?seccao=exp_merc

6 https://www.imf.org/en/Countries/AGO / October 2020. FTZ projections are our sole responsibility, although based on the IMF forecasts of October 2020 and imply the verification of all conditions prescribed in the text.