Accusing dos Santos of nepotism, Angolan party rejects president’s daughter as oil company chief

The opposition say the country's long-serving ruler is trying to become an "absolute king"

ANGOLA’S main opposition party rejected President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’s decision to name his billionaire daughter Isabel as chairwoman of the state oil company and said it would ask parliament to debate the appointment. 

“The measure confirms once more the practice of nepotism by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos,” the National Union for Total Independence of Angola, known as Unita, said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement.

“Angolans should not accept President dos Santos becoming an absolute king.” Dos Santos made the appointment last week after he fired the board of the company known as Sonangol. It’s part of a wider plan to restrict the company to its primary role as state concessionary, splitting the regulatory arm and management of its range of businesses into separate agencies. 

Angola’s economy has been strained by the slump in the price of oil, which provides about two-thirds of fiscal revenue. 

The country vies with Nigeria as Africa’s biggest producer of crude. 

Court challenge

A group of 12 lawyers said on Sunday that it planned to mount a court challenge to the appointment of 43-year-old Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s wealthiest woman who’s worth $3.2 billion dollars, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index.

The president’s son, Jose Filomeno dos Santos, runs the country’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund. “It can’t be accepted as normal that one son runs the sovereign wealth fund and another manages the company that feeds it,” the group’s spokesman, David Mendes, told reporters in Luanda, the capital. 

The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola holds 175 seats in the 220-seat parliament, and the president appoints the judges to both Supreme and Constitutional courts. 

Unita fought a 27-year civil war against the MPLA that ended in 2002 with the death of its leader, Jonas Savimbi. 

On Monday, Isabel dos Santos announced plans to shake up the company. “Our goal is to increase the profitability of the company, increase efficiency and transparency” and implement international standards of corporate governance, Dos Santos told reporters in Luanda.

“Our challenge in the first 100 days will be to continue carrying out a deep diagnosis” to see what measures can be taken quickly, she said. Dos Santos said she will talk to suppliers and partners, which include Total SA, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and BP Plc, to make operations “better, quicker and cheaper.”

-Bloomberg

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