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Angola: New challenger won’t dent MPLA oligopoly

By Louise Redvers
Posted on Wednesday, 6 June 2012 09:02

The emergence of a third force under Chivukuvuku in Angola could, however, herald a significant reshaping of the political map.

Among the unknowables about this year’s national elections in Angola – such as the date and the candidates on the party lists – it is a racing certainty that President José Eduardo dos Santos will win another five-year mandate.

Dos Santos has already been in power for nearly 32 years, and his ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) faces no serious challenge from a divided and poorly financed opposition.

Under the terms of the 2010 constitution, Angola’s head of state is chosen from the top of the list of the party that wins the most votes in parliament. Although dos Santos heads the MPLA’s list, the party has not yet revealed who would be his deputy.

Highly tipped for that job is Manuel Vicente, former chief executive of the the state oil company Sonangol. Vicente as heir apparent would give Dos Santos the option of standing down at a time of his choosing – without precipitating a messy transition.

A NEW FORCE

Behind what looks to be the MPLA’s unstoppable victory, a political drama is playing out with the emergence of a new opposition party, the Convergência Ampla de Salvação de Angola – Coligação Eleitoral (CASA-CE).

CASA-CE’s main claim to fame is that it is led by the charismatic Abel Chivukuvuku, a former senior member of one-time rebel group União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA).

Chivukuvuku’s move from UNITA may be the most significant development in opposition politics in Angola since the death of his former leader, Jonas Savimbi, which ended the country’s 27-year civil war.

Chivukuvuku is offering a ‘third way’ in Angola, beyond MPLA and UNITA. “This has really taken the wind out of UNITA’s sails, and it is very dam- aging for them,” explained Markus Weimer of London-based think tank Chatham House.

“Chivukuvuku is a very popular figure with a pedigree in politics, but also with youth on his side to appeal to younger voters and appearing to offer something fresh and new.”

Offering a “third way” for Angolan politics, Chivukuvuku and his 20-point manifesto are making every promise possible, including restoring direct presidential elections, reducing “abject poverty” and giving every household access to water and electricity.

CASA-CE also promises to end “endemic corruption, unbridled theft, the embezzlement of public property, nepotism, and institutionalised poor governance.” It is an ambitious programme. ●

This article was first published in the June, 2012 edition of The Africa Report, on sale at newsstands, via our print subscription or our digital edition.

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