Operation Crab: Angola tackles political corruption

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Detainee would have more money than the player Cristiano Ronaldo

Originally published on Global Voices

Corruption in Angola – YouTube: Public Television of Angola, screenshot captured on June 9, 2021

As the latest measure in a national crackdown on corruption in Angola, authorities have ousted a number of high-ranking political figures including the head of the House of Security, Pedro Sebastião, and army Major Pedro Lussaty, who has also been detained following embezzlement accusations.

The officials were fired in May 2021 as part of “Operation Crab” an anti-corruption campaign led by Angola’s State Information and Security Services (SINSE) and Criminal Investigation Service (SIC). The focus of the reports is the army Major Pedro Lussaty, who until now was unknown to the public. He was linked to the Security House of the President of the Angolan Republic.

Much of these dismissals can be traced back to a series of reports by Public Television of Angola (TPA) in 2020, entitled “O Banquete”, which exposed alleged corruption among Angolan political figures.

Corruption in Angola – YouTube: Public Television of Angola, screenshot captured on June 9, 2021

Lussaty had previously worked at the House of Security of the President of the Republic as assistant to the general secretary. He was detained by the Angolan Attorney General's Office (PGR) after reports emerged that he was secretly harboring apartments, houses, and several suitcases containing millions of dollars and kwanzas (Angola currency). As described by TPA:

Só em kwanzas, o suposto milionário tinha no apartamento 800 milhões de kwanzas. O País têm 30 milhões de habitantes e, com 800 milhões de kwanzas dava para pagar quase um salário mínimo à todos os angolanos.

In kwanzas alone, the alleged millionaire had 800 million kwanzas in his apartment. The country has 30 million inhabitants and, with 800 million kwanzas, almost one minimum wage could be paid to all Angolans.

The millionaire revealed in the same article that he did not know the exact value of the money in his possession. “I just took [money],” he said. The TPA report claims that Lussaty had more money than Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo, who is worth more than US $500 million.

Angolans’ Reactions

Since the case was reported, Angolans went to social media to express their indignation. The country is experiencing a major crisis in food prices in urban centers, due to a rise in inflation, especially in the southern provinces of the country. This is the case in the provinces of Cunene and Huíla, as well as the country's capital Luanda, where there are families in extreme poverty.

This led journalist Nok Nogueira to appeal to Angolans to leave the case with the Court, in order to look at what is really happening in Angola, as he mentioned on his Facebook:

Deixem o caso Lussaty com a justiça. Desliguem ainda os televisores e perguntem-se como vai o País real, aquele que esta para além da encenação.

Leave the Lussaty case to justice. Also turn off the televisions and ask yourself how is the real Country, the one that is beyond staging.

Meanwhile, Internet user Tânia Campos wrote on her Facebook profile that if the case had happened in Brazil, it would have taken all Angolans to public protests, especially to demand the exit of the ruling party.

Um acontecimento como o caso Lussaty em rede pública, em outro País, por exemplo, no Brasil, estaríamos todos na rua a exigir a queda do MPLA.

An event like the Lussaty case on public networks, in another country, for example, in Brazil, we would all be on the street demanding the MPLA's downfall.

There were also those who saw in the case of Major Lussaty just one example of what happens in several other cases in Angola:

Essa história desse Major Lussaty está a deixar-me maldisposto, o mais ridículo é que o senhor foi investigado mas está bem pleno porque tem perfeita noção de que não lhe vão prender. Pior, ele não é o único que anda a desviar milhões no país. Angola merece melhor.

— PACIÊNCIA. (@oneligadenouz) June 2, 2021

This story about that Major Lussaty is making me sick, the most ridiculous thing is that he was investigated but is quite peaceful because you he is perfectly aware that he will not be arrested. Worse, he's not the only one who's been embezzling millions in the country. Angola deserves better.

– PATIENCE. (@oneligadenouz) June 2, 2021

The same thought is shared by other users who commented on the case:

Em Angola tem muitos corruptos e gatunos exclusivos, agora o atual caso da semana é o caranguejo do Major Lussaty.

Este caso está envolvido muitas patentes grande neste momento só estão a criticar o mesmo cadê os outros….?

— Carlos Estevão (@carlostestevao) June 3, 2021

In Angola there are many corrupt and exclusive thieves, now the current case of the week is Major Lussaty's crab.

This case is involved a lot of big patents right now are just criticizing the same where are the others….?

— Carlos Estevão (@carlostestevao) June 3, 2021

Corruption in Angola

The 2020 Corruption Perception Index, released by Transparency International (TI), reveals that Angola is perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The country was ranked 142nd, with 27 points, out of 100.

It should be noted that Angola's corruption problems are not a new issue. In fact, during the previous government, led by José Eduardo dos Santos for over 30 years, Angola was seen as a country where politicians close to power always illegally enriched themselves.

An example is the daughter of the then President, José Eduardo dos Santos, Isabel dos Santos, who was accused of corruption involving her father and other policymakers within the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola party (MPLA), the party that has governed the country since independence.

Additioanlly, a series of reports called the ‘Luanda Leaks‘, published in 2020 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), revealed that several public companies in Angola were used for individual benefits during two decades of former President dos Santos’ management.

Following the reports and the arrest of Lussaty by “Operation Crab”, the current President of the Republic, João Lourenço, exonerated the head of the House of Security, Pedro Sebastião, for allegedly being involved in the scandal.

Some aren't certain that João Lourenço will be different from the previous President considering he occupied the position of Vice President when many cases of corruption took place in the country.

Angolans themselves do not believe that corruption will end, as reported in 2020 by the Deutsche Welle (DW).

“The fight against corruption and impunity still has no impact on the lives of residents of poorer areas, who are asking for concrete solutions to chronic problems, analyzed DW, after talking to Luanda residents.”

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