ANALYSIS: How president Lourenço is stamping his authority on Angola

Angola’s new leader

Felix Janvrin | AFRICAN ARGUMENTS |  On 15 November, as most of southern Africa’s attentions turned to the military takeover ensuing in Zimbabwe, Angola’s President João Lourenço took a set of dramatic steps.

Acting with lightning speed, he fired the entire board of Angola’s state oil company Sonangol, including its chair Isabel dos Santos.

Later that day, he rescinded the affiliation of brothers Welwistchea and José Paulino with the television networks Channel 2 and TPA International respectively. And this was immediately followed by the resignation of José Filomeno, who had already been effectively side-lined earlier this month, from his position as manager of Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund.

The billionaire daughter Isabel, often reported to be Africa’s wealthiest woman, and her lesser known brothers are all the children of Jose Eduardo dos Santos. The totemic former president stepped downfrom office just this August after a long 38 years in power.

A sequence of events such as this would ordinarily have dominated the southern African news headlines for the rest of the week. But dramatic events in Zimbabwe seemingly relegated Isabel and her brothers’ exits to what seemed a dull sideshow.This could not be further from the truth.

Lourenço’s severing of the powerful dos Santos family’s ties to state power marks a momentous and intriguing development in Angola’s political course.

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