ANN Staff Writer
Pervasive corruption by Angolan authorities, including the President of the Republic and his inner circle, has robbed the Angolan people of billions in national wealth.
Natural resource and other business concessions have been granted to members of the dos Santos family and other politically-connected elites. Active duty and retired senior officers in the Angolan Armed Forces have become instant millionaires through "sweetheart" business deals. Senior officials of the ruling MPLA political party received millions in phony loans which they could not or would not repay bringing about the Banco Espirito Santo Angola (BESA) banking scandal, the most serious financial scandal in Angolan history.
In addition to the lost billions piled up through these corrupt dealings, billions more have been lost simply because many reputable international businesses are reluctant to do business in such a corrupt environment. A crackdown on corrupt international business dealings by authorities in the European Union and the United States have made many global firms wary of doing business in a nation where bribes and backroom deals are woven into the nation's fabric.
In 2014, Angola was rated 161 out of 175 states and territories measured by Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.
The recent steep slide in the price of crude oil has precipitated a major crisis in Angola's heavily oil-dependent economy. The nation's economic troubles have forced it to go hat-in-hand to international lenders to borrw more than a billion U.S. dollars to finance the government's spending plans.
But wouldn't it be easier to get creditors to lend this money if the Angolan government didn't ahve such a widespread and well-deserved reputation for corruption? Wouldn't it be easier to diversify the Angolan economy if so many successful global enterprises weren't frightened of corrupt Angolan government officials reaching into the pockets of business to skim-off whatever revenues they could get?
A good leader would be able to look at the current economic crisis and see an opportunity to end corruption for once and for all. Perhaps Angola will get such a leader one day soon. We hope so, because Angola's current MPLA leaders can only see as far as their next deal for personal enrichment.