Angola: Isabel dos Santos denounces ‘political persecution’

By Estelle Maussion

Posted on Friday, 25 November 2022 16:34
Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos after the screening of the film "A Little Brother" at the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, 27 May 2022. © Loïc Venance/AFP

Angola’s justice system has requested that an arrest warrant be issued against Isabel dos Santos. But the daughter of former president Eduardo dos Santos is fighting back.

Isabel dos Santos feels it is time for her to launch a counter-offensive.

“I have the intelligence services against me, a public prosecutor against me, a president against me, a state against me in an unjust attack,” said the daughter of Angola’s former president José Eduardo dos Santos in an interview with the Portuguese-language television channel Deutsche Welle (DW) on 24 November.

Breaking her media silence (but not social media one) for the first time in recent months, the Angolan businesswoman – who has been in difficulty since her father’s successor, João Lourenço, came to power in 2017 – has defended herself on all fronts.

Her response comes days after the media reported that an international arrest warrant had been issued against her at the Angolan judiciary’s request.

Although this request was made at the beginning of the month, Interpol has not yet ruled on the case, which led dos Santos to firmly deny such a warrant’s existence.


Employing the vocabulary used when her assets were preventively frozen, which was decreed at the end of 2019 in Angola and early 2020 in Portugal – on the sidelines of the publication of the “Luanda Leaks” – she denounced the “political persecution” and the “cabal” carried out against her by the Angolan authorities.

“The Luanda Leaks were a crude manipulation, an order from the Angolan state to spread a series of false allegations in the newspapers,” said dos Santos. She denies accusations of corruption and embezzlement of public funds linked in particular to her 18 months spent, between 2016 and 2017, as head of the national oil company Sonangol.

“I have never used Sonangol’s money or my position in the company for my own benefit,” she said, explaining that she had made many “enemies” while trying to restructure and clean up the oil company, a behemoth of the Angolan economy.

Asserting that she had always been available to both Angolan and Portuguese justice, dos Santos, who lost her husband Sindika Dokolo at the end of 2020 and then her father in July, asserted her presumption of innocence.

She also insisted that she was the subject of preliminary investigations – of which she was aware there were eight in Portugal – and not of judicial processes.

These investigations have been opened to determine whether or not there are grounds for prosecution.

“Unfortunately, there is no independent justice in our country and Angola is not a country that respects democratic rights,” she said, lamenting that her frozen assets have resulted in her companies losing value and job losses.

MPLA blasted

Crowned the first African billionaire by Forbes in 2013, dos Santos reiterated how successful the companies she runs have been, including the telephone operator Unitel, and her numerous investments in Angola, notably in banking (BIC Bank), retail (Candando) and the media (Zap TV).

When asked about Unitel’s nationalisation, which the Angolan authorities announced at the end of October, its former director – a 25% shareholder via Vidatel – denounced “a theft” and an operation aimed at appropriating the company before selling it to the government’s “friends”.

After this attack on the Angolan justice system and the Lourenço administration, the eldest daughter of ex-president dos Santos slammed the ruling party, the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), which was also that of her late father.

Although she lamented that the party is “corrupt” and full of “vices” and is no longer able to “respond to Angolans’ expectations”, she said she could imagine serving her country and helping make it better, if the opportunity arose one day.

Respecting the struggle of the country’s historical parties, the MPLA and the União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (Unita), now led by Adalberto Costa Júnior, dos Santos finally pleaded for new parties to be created and stressed the need for change in the country.

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