Country Index: Angola

Country Index: Angola

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Country Index: Angola - History

The Republic of Angola is located in Western Africa, bordered by the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north and northeast, by Zambia in the southeast, by Namibia on the south, and by the Atlantic Ocean on the west. Angola covers over 1.2 million square kilometres and is home to more than 13 million people. The majority of Angolans live in urban centres, and the capital of Luanda contains 4.5 million people alone. The population is fairly diverse. While the largest ethnic group is the Ovimbundu, there are also groups of Kimbundu, Mbundu, Lunda-Tchokwe, Nganguela, Bakongo, Europeans, and mestico (those of mixed native African and European heritage). Most Angolans practice indigenous belief systems, though there is also a strong Christian community. While it is rich in resources and is one of Africa’s largest oil exporters, Angola is one of the world’s poorest countries and is still recovering from a 27 year civil war dating back to its independence from Portugal that ended in 2002.

Angola from past to present

When Angola achieved independence in 1975, a war was raging between competing national liberation movements and their foreign backers. Guus Meijer and David Birmingham revisit Angola’s colonial period and the independence struggle that followed and ask how the resulting social and economic divisions shaped and were manipulated by the warring parties. The article describes the introduction of authoritarian one-party rule under the MPLA and the impact of natural resource development and international and regional powers on the conflict. Tracing the conflict up to the signing of the Luena Memorandum, the authors conclude that Angola’s peace remains incomplete and that the country faces many challenges in achieving social and democratic reconstruction.

Angola from past to present

On 11 November 1975, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) declared Angola's independence and installed Agostinho Neto as its first President in the former Portuguese colony's capital at Luanda. This outcome had long seemed uncertain and indeed even unlikely the MPLA had not only had to deal with its own serious internal troubles and disaffections, but had also had to take on the Portuguese colonial army and the two rival armed movements, each backed by powerful allies. Holden Roberto's National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) had initially been the most powerful of the three competing national liberation movements and in the autumn of 1975 it came close to capturing Luanda from the north, backed by a heavily armed force supplied by President Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). In the south, two armoured columns of a South African invasion force, acting in military coordination with the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas Savimbi, almost reached Luanda before they were stopped by Cuban troops which had been rushed to the assistance of the MPLA. The independent Angolan state was thus born out of turmoil and violence and amid serious national, regional and global rivalries. This heritage with its deep historical roots was to influence the unfolding of events for a long time.

Angola, like most African countries, grew out of a conglomerate of peoples and groups each with its own distinct history and traditions. Gradually small local nations and states came into contact with each other and historical developments drove them to share a common destiny under increasing Portuguese influence. Long before the arrival of the Portuguese, Bantu-speaking communities had established a farming economy over most of the territory. They had absorbed many of the scattered Khoisan-speaking populations and developed a successful pastoral dimension to their agriculture as well as building up trading economies. One of the most successfully diverse market centres became the town of M'banza Kongo around which the Kongo kingdom evolved. Further east the concept of state formation related to the political ideology of the Lunda peoples while in the south later kingdoms took shape in the highlands of the Ovimbundu people.

Angola under Portuguese rule

Although the first Portuguese traders, explorers and soldiers set foot on this part of the African coast from 1483, modern colonisation of the whole territory was only formalised four centuries later after the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. Wide stretches of Angola experienced colonial rule for less than a century, and even after 1900 armed revolts broke out and resistance movements sprang up as among the Ovimbundu and the Bakongo from 1913, until the last northern resistance was put down in 1917. During its century of overrule the colonial regime left crucial marks on Angolan society. Its discriminatory legislation, particularly the Statute of the Portuguese Natives of the Provinces of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea, separated the indigenous population from a tiny elite of 'civilised' individuals (or assimilados) who enjoyed some of the rights of Portuguese citizens. In 1961, after the start of an armed liberation struggle, the statute was revoked but the changes were only cosmetic. The Portuguese policy of racial and cultural discrimination had a profound and lasting impact on the later social and political development of Angola as an independent country. Social divisions created by colonialism continued to exercise a strong influence on the relationships between groups and on the attitudes of individuals. Racial mistrust manifested itself in the conflicts between as well as the tensions within the liberation movements. Deeply entrenched suspicion played a decisive role in Angola's recent political history. The conflicting interests of rural dwellers and people living in urban centres are in part another source of tension which independent Angola inherited from the colonial state.

Portugal, like the other colonial powers, was primarily interested in extracting riches from its colonies, through taxation, forced labour and the compulsory cultivation of marketable crops such as cotton. Under the guise of a 'civilising mission', the colonial state was heavily influenced by its own distinctive variety of Catholic fundamentalism, invented by the semi-fascist dictator António Salazar. An ideology developed under the banner of luso-tropicalism, a supposedly specific Portuguese way of harmonising Portuguese manners with the customs of peoples in the tropics. In Angola economic extraction was later supplemented by migrant influences when Portugal needed to dispose of excess population. In the 1950s and 1960s Angola received many thousands of poor white peasants and entrepreneurial settlers from Portugal. They created a colony of European descent which, although smaller than the Portuguese communities in France or Brazil, was larger than the rival colonial one in Mozambique.

During the colonial period, and particularly under the corporatist 'New State' and its colonial charters perfected by Salazar when he graduated from finance minister to Prime Minister in 1932, Angola's political and economic developments were crucially linked to the motherland. In 1969 Marcelo Caetano succeeded Salazar as Prime Minister and continued to insulate Portugal's colonies, and especially the crown jewel that was Angola, from the winds of change that blew concepts of independence over Africa in the 1960s. Instead of preparing for independence, as the other colonial powers had reluctantly done after the Second World War, Portugal tried to strengthen its imperial grip. As a weak state, politically isolated and economically backward, Portugal resorted to special measures to hold on to its colonies and in 1954 it euphemistically renamed them 'overseas provinces' in an attempt to avoid the attentions of United Nations inspectors. Economically, both Portugal and Angola were always at the mercy of trends and developments in the wider global economy, determined by powers beyond their control. It had been the world economic crisis of the 1930s which had led to the impoverishment of Portugal and to the crystallisation of Salazar's authoritarian regime. In the 1950s, when Portugal aspired to become a member of the United Nations and yet keep its colonies, it was agricultural crises and opportunities that caused impending upheavals. The relative poverty of the southern highlands and the boom in coffee prices in the north drove thousands of Ovimbundu peasants to become migrant workers on the coffee estates. There they were subjected to humiliation by white colonists and to resentment by the Bakongo who lived there.

Continuous rivalries between various elites have played an important role in Angola's recent history. The FNLA embodied the aspirations of the northern elite focused on Kinshasa but with some cultural links with the old Kongo kingdom. The MPLA had its heartland in the territory of the Mbundu people of the Luanda hinterland but included many groups in the urban centres including some who descended from the old assimilated families of black Angolans and others who were the mixed-race children of modern colonisation. UNITA became the expression of a third political tradition and embodied the economic aspirations of the Ovimbundu and their merchant leaders on the southern planalto. To a large extent the ethnic identification of these movements has come about as a result of conscious political manoeuvring by each leadership rather than as a genuine expression of popular sentiment and aspiration. Over time the social and political factors of identity and cohesion have become real.

Angola's historical society can be characterised by a tiny semi-urbanised elite of Portuguese-speaking 'creole' families – many black, some of mixed race, some Catholic and others Protestant, some old-established and others cosmopolitan – who are distinguished from the broad population of black African peasants and farm workers. Until the nineteenth century the great creole merchants and the rural princes dealt in captive slaves, most of whom were exported to Brazil or to the African islands. The black aristocracy and the creole bourgeoisie thrived on the profits of overseas trade and lived in style, consuming large quantities of imported alcoholic beverages and wearing fashionable European costumes. In the early twentieth century, however, their social and economic position was eroded by an influx of petty merchants and bureaucrats from Portugal, who wished to grasp the commercial and employment opportunities created by a new colonial order.

Although effective occupation only had a relatively short duration and elements of pre-colonial continuity persisted, colonialism nevertheless brought major social changes in urbanisation, in formal education, in religious practice, in farming techniques and in commercial linkages. These changes affected all sections of society and all parts of the country, albeit to an uneven and variable degree. There is a tendency noted above to view Angolan society, and indeed other African societies, as fundamentally split between a 'modern' sector, influenced by 'Western' (or European) values, and a 'traditional' one governed by pre-modern systems of unchanging norms and historic ritual practices. Such views, expressed in political and public discourse, tend to over-simplify the socio-cultural base of both the MPLA and UNITA when in fact each had to manage its relations with appropriate 'traditional authorities'. Angola presents a rich variety of influences and mixtures all deeply marked by the colonial experience as well as by the so-called Afro-Stalinism of the post-independence years. 'Traditional' concepts are now being transformed to adapt to the challenges of life in the present and the future. There is no part of Angola, however remote, and no sector of Angolan society, however 'traditional', which is not in some way linked to the 'modern' world of a globalised economy and its culture and communication systems.

The struggle for national liberation

While colonial rule never went unresisted, a more focused armed struggle for independence only started in 1961, after the Portuguese had bloodily repressed a mass protest against colonial conditions in the north. Hundreds of white planters and traders (estimates vary between 250 and 1,000) and thousands of black farm workers were killed, and many more fled the country, forming a fertile recruiting ground for an emerging anti-colonial cause.

nationalist political activity and resistance occurred initially under the banner of the Union of the Peoples of Angola (UPA), a predecessor of the FNLA. In Luanda and the coastal cities much older associations had long expressed the nationalist sentiment of Angola's African population. This urban-based nationalism also incorporated assimilados and mestiços of Luanda and Benguela who had organised the Angolan League in the 1910s and the Let's Discover Angola (Vamos Descobrir Angola) movement in the 1940s under leaders such as Viriato da Cruz who later became founders of the MPLA.

The 1960s saw a major military and political confrontation between the Portuguese colonial regime and Angolan nationalism. The country also experienced the early manifestation of divisions within the nationalist movement that were to mark political life in Angola for many years. The protagonists were the FNLA, the MPLA, which subsequently tried to claim responsibility for an attack on a Luanda prison on 4 February 1961, and UNITA which emerged in the mid 1960s. The date of the prison attack was later officially celebrated as the beginning of the armed struggle.

The anti-colonial struggle launched in 1961 was fought with guerrilla tactics, gradually increasing in scope to reach from the north to the east of the country. On the diplomatic front nationalists worked from bases in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa), Conakry and Brazzaville, as well as from Lisbon and Paris. The FNLA received political and military backing from African countries and from China and the US. In 1962 it formed a Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile (GRAE) which the organisation of African Unity (OAU) initially recognised as the legitimate successor to colonial rule. Some African countries later transferred their allegiance to the MPLA which, though its military record was poor and its leadership continuously suffered from internal conflict, gradually outmanoeuvred its rivals politically and diplomatically to gain pre-eminence in 1975.

The FNLA was no freer from internal dissent than the MPLA and in 1964 Jonas Savimbi left the 'government in exile' in which he had served as Minister for Foreign Affairs. He accused the FNLA leaders of being militarily ineffective and heavily dependent on the US. He also denounced nepotism and the authoritarian leadership of Holden Roberto. After visiting a number of mainly communist countries Savimbi founded UNITA in 1966. By exploiting the feelings of exclusion in Angola's largest ethnic group, the Ovimbundu, Savimbi built up his own constituency in the centre and south of the country. Initially he conducted small guerrilla operations inside Angola before establishing a network of supporters abroad.

None of the armed movements succeeded in effectively threatening the colonial state in Angola. The end of this 'first Angolan war' was brought about indirectly through domestic pressure in Portugal and the growing dissatisfaction of the Portuguese military fighting the colonial wars in Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. In April 1974, junior officers belonging to the Movement of the Armed Forces (MFA) toppled the Salazar-Caetano regime in Portugal and began the process of decolonisation. In 1974, however, a frenzy of diplomatic and political activity at home and abroad mitigated against a negotiated independence. In 1975, as the will to retain imperial control over Angola dwindled, fighting broke out in many provinces of Angola and also in the capital, Luanda, where the armies of the MPLA, the FNLA and UNITA were intended to maintain the peace with joint patrols. In January 1975, under heavy international pressure, the colonial power and the three movements had signed an agreement in Alvor, Portugal, providing for a transitional government, a constitution, elections and independence. This Alvor Accord soon collapsed, however, and the transitional government scarcely functioned. In the subsequent confrontations the FNLA received military support from Zaire with the backing of China and the US, while under Agostinho Neto the MPLA gained ground in particular in Luanda with support from the Soviet Union and from Cuban troops. On 11 November 1975 Angola became independent. The FNLA and UNITA were excluded from the city and from government and a socialist one-party regime was established which eventually gained international recognition, though not from the United States.

Angola under one-party rule

From 1975 until the late 1980s Angolan society was moulded along 'classical' Marxist-Leninist lines. A dominant, but increasingly corrupt state sector was controlled by the ruling party. Private business, with the exception of the activities of foreign oil companies, was restricted and organised religion, including the Catholic Church, which had held an official place under the colonial regime, was suppressed. No freely organised 'civil society' emerged and the state controlled the media and mass organisations for youth, for women, for workers and for some of the professions.

One event had a crucial impact on the political climate during Angola's socialist era: the failed coup attempt by Nito Alves and his followers on 27 May 1977. Alves was a minister in President Agostinho Neto's government but also had his own constituency of supporters in Luanda's musseques (slums). The nitista crisis was fuelled by personal ambitions but also by ideological battles within the ruling socialist camp. Some leaders were loyal to the 'bureaucratic' line practised in the USSR while others preferred a more 'revolutionary' Chinese approach. The coup itself was bloodily repressed and it is alleged that thousands of supposed sympathisers were jailed or killed in the following days, weeks and months. The episode had a profound effect on the President, and his regime became ever more authoritarian and repressive. Angola's population lost its innocence and henceforth lived in fear.

Subsequent wars

By the end of the 1970s, UNITA took over from the FNLA as the main civil war opponent of the MPLA government. A rapprochement had been achieved between the MPLA and President Mobutu of Zaire. The FNLA's cadres, led by Mobutu's protégé Holden Roberto, were gradually integrated into Angolan society as the free-market acolytes of the one-party state. The FNLA army, once a foreign-armed force with thousands of recruits, disintegrated without being formally disarmed or demobilised.

Agostinho Neto died of cancer in 1979 and was succeeded as President by José Eduardo dos Santos, a young petroleum engineer trained in the Soviet Union. By this time the superpower conflict in Vietnam had ended and Angola became the seat of a new war by proxy between the United States and the Soviet Union. Each side was not so much defending a specific interest in Angola as playing out geo-political rivalry. The regional allies of the US continued to be Zaire and South Africa, while Congo-Brazzaville aligned itself with the Soviet Union. Cuba stepped up both military and civilian support to the MPLA government and contributed significantly to the rehabilitation of social sectors such as health and education.

Diamonds, and more especially oil, provided the MPLA with the necessary revenue to function as a government. Foreign income also funded the lifestyle of the ruling elite and financed the ongoing war against UNITA. During the war years economic links between the coastal cities and the agrarian hinterland weakened almost to the point of extinction. Sometimes backed by South African forces, UNITA spasmodically occupied parts of the country, which became inaccessible to both government and merchants. The cities, especially Luanda, survived on imported food rather than home produce. Consumer goods were paid for by oil royalties. The neglected countryside was left to its own subsistence strategies. Over the years many people fleeing the war migrated to the towns. The lack of opportunities in the rural areas made prospects in the urban centres seem more attractive despite the poverty of the great slums. The city of Luanda grew to an estimated population of four million.

The 'second Angolan war' reached its peak in the mid-1980s. One of its enduring ironies concerned the dollar income generated by American oil companies, which paid for Cuban troops to protect the Angolan government and its oil installations from attacks by South African forces working for UNITA and partly financed by the US. In this phase of the war the battle for the small but strategic town of Cuito Cuanavale was a turning point. In 1987-88, South African and UNITA forces were pushed back by MPLA and Cuban troops after a long siege. The South Africans conceded that no military solution to the security of their northern border was possible and they started to explore political alternatives. The ensuing peace initiatives, orchestrated by a Troika of Portugal, America and Russia, finally resulted in the Bicesse Accords of May 1991 between the MPLA and UNITA. The peace was followed by the holding under UN auspices of Angola's first and only general election. Savimbi expected to gain power through the ballot box in September 1992. When he failed to do so he rejected the voting results and returned to war.

The 'third Angolan war' was even more brutal than its predecessors. Whole cities were reduced to ruins, hundreds of thousands of people were killed or died from war-related deprivation and disease, and millions were displaced, some for the second or even the third time. Extended talks in Lusaka finally resulted in another peace agreement, the Lusaka Protocol, signed in October 1994, but even then the war was not over. Despite international sanctions against UNITA's supply networks, Savimbi was reluctant to surrender the military option. After four years of neither peace nor war, the war erupted again with full ferocity in December 1998. The Angolan government, on paper a 'government of national unity and reconciliation' in which some UNITA dissident politicians participated under MPLA domination, pursued an offensive that culminated in the assassination of Jonas Savimbi in February 2002. On 4 April 2002, the Luena Memorandum marked the end of four decades of war and the ultimate defeat of UNITA. In October 2002, UNITA declared itself a fully disarmed and democratic political party and UN sanctions against it were lifted.

Peace has characterised mainland Angola since April 2002, but in Cabinda, the enclave between the two Congo republics which accounts for sixty per cent of Angola's oil production, a war has continued unabated. The government has tried to replicate the strategy of scorched earth and starvation that had proved successful against UNITA. Many Cabindans nevertheless still support the rival movements demanding independence. The Angolan government, determined to preserve major economic assets, could never offer more than some form of provincial autonomy for the enclave. In October 2002, a major offensive against the Liberation Front of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) led to serious accusations of human rights abuses. Towards the end of 2003, after some FLEC defeats and defections, the Luanda government signalled that it was prepared to talk peace or even consider a referendum. So far, however, the silencing of the guns in mainland Angola has not reached Cabinda and the conflict remains unresolved. Peace in Angola remains incomplete. The physical and psychological scars of war are still evident. The democratic deficit has not been remedied. The regime is still marked by its predatory history.

Arbitrary Arrests

Angolan police continued to arbitrarily arrest peaceful protesters and activists. On February 3, police arrested and accused five men of plotting to kill the deputy president, Bornito de Sousa, after they parked their car near his official residence.

On April 4, three youth activists were arrested after allegedly participating in a protest against the governor of Malange province during a visit of the vice president to the province. Police accused them of throwing stones at the vice president’s convoy. On April 9, the Malange Provincial court sentenced the three activists to seven months in prison. In July, the Angola Supreme Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the three were involved in throwing stones at the vice president’s convoy.

On August 10, police arrested 13 separatists agitating for the independence of the oil-rich enclave of Cabinda, during a meeting in Cabinda to organize a public debate on the enclave's autonomy. A week later, a court acquitted the group of charges of crimes against state security, ruling that the meeting was not illegal.

Book/Printed Material Angola : a country study

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Business is Booming—with China

Angola’s most successful business relationship is also a diplomatic one: China. As President Dos Santos said when the Chinese prime minister visited Angola in 2006, "China needs natural resources, and Angola wants development." Angola is China’s largest trading partner in Africa, and it is also China’s single largest source of oil. Oil exports to China have increased sevenfold since 2002 (twice the growth rate of Angolan oil exports to the United States over the same period). China has extended three multibillion dollar lines of credit to the Angolan government two loans of $2 billion from China Exim Bank, one in 2004, the second in 2007, as well as one loan in 2005 of $2.9 billion from China International Fund Ltd. The two loans from China Exim Bank will finance projects on energy, water, health, education, fisheries, and communications. The $2.9 billion credit line, which is managed by the GRN, not the ministry of finance, is allocated for railway rehabilitation, highway construction, and building a new airport. The Chatham House paper notes that "Unlike projects undertaken by the ministry of finance, it is unclear how much money is directly managed by the GRN, how funds are allocated among projects, and how much money so far has been spent."

Some analysts have expressed concern that the Angolan government has grown closer to China at the expense of its other diplomatic relationships. But Western oil companies have many projects in Angola, and Luanda has sought to expand its ties with a variety of countries—from France to India to the United States. Some of these countries have also offered credit lines to the Angolan government (albeit smaller ones). Angola likes Chinese financing because it offers better conditions than commercial loans, lower interest rates, and longer repayment time. Chinese companies pursue construction deals in Angola because there is limited competition. But there are signs of strain in the relationship rumors of halted construction on the railway to Lobito have abounded, and negotiations with a Chinese petrochemical firm on building a refinery in the same port city collapsed in 2007.

Critics have suggested that Chinese workers are flooding Angola and taking jobs away from Angolans. But Nardin says China’s reputation with the average Angolan is "fantastic. They all think things are starting to work because of the Chinese." Under the China Exim Bank credit lines, 30 percent of contracts are supposed to be Angolan, but the government is having trouble fulfilling its contractual obligations. In a 2006 article in the New York Times Magazine, James Traub recounts visiting a Chinese worksite where the project manager tells him he had to teach the Angolans how to mix concrete, even though it is the only building material used in Angola.

Experts express concern about the government’s ability to maintain Chinese projects after they are completed. "The government will need to focus more attention on planning and organization to ensure the sustainability and transfer of know-how—or risk relying on the Portgueuse and others returning in the near future to rebuild what the Chinese have just completed," write Campos and Vines. But building a more educated and skilled population will take years. "The greatest deficiency in the country is institutional and human capital," says Hare. Angola’s political and economic development will require "patience and forebearance—rebuilding a country after so much destruction, and creating a more equitable society in which Angola’s leaders are politically accountable, will not be achieved quickly," cautions the 2007 report from CFR’s Center for Preventive Action.

Angola: Drought and commercial cattle farming exposes tens of thousands to devastating hunger

Tens of thousands of pastoral farmers who have been driven off their land to make way for commercial cattle ranches have been exposed to a greater risk of hunger and starvation as drought grips southern Angola according to a new report published by Amnesty International today.

The end of cattle’s paradise: How diversion of land for ranches eroded food security in the Gambos calls on the Angolan government to immediately provide emergency food assistance to the communities facing hunger, declare a moratorium on land grants, and appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate how 46 commercial farms ended up with two-thirds of the best grazing land in Tunda dos Gambos and Vale de Chimbolela since the end of civil war in 2002.

“The current drought in Angola has exposed the devastating impact of commercial cattle farming on communities in Gambos. Traditional cattle farmers have lost their best grazing land and now watch helplessly as their children and families go to bed on empty stomachs,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

“The government has failed to protect the rights of these communities - in particular, their right to food. They have been left to scratch a living from infertile, unproductive land – and now as the drought tightens its grip - they have simply been left with nothing to eat.”

The report shows that hunger and starvation are rife among the Vanyaneke and Ovaherero people living in the Gambos. Colloquially this region is known as Angola’s “milk region” because cattle rearing and milk production have been central to the economy and way of life of people here.

Forced to eat leaves to survive

While the semi-arid Gambos region is prone to cyclical droughts, Amnesty International found that traditional cattle breeders and their families are struggling to produce food for themselves after communal grazing land, which once mitigated against the impact of drought, was allocated by the government to commercial cattle farmers.

As a result, pastoralists are left with insufficient and unproductive land for growing food and grazing their cattle. Milk, cheese, yoghurt and meat production is the main source of their livelihoods.

Families told Amnesty International researchers that the situation is now so dire that they had resorted to eating wild leaves. Many said they suffer with sickness and diarrhea and have also developed skin conditions such as scabies due to water scarcity and poor hygienic conditions.

One pastoralist told Amnesty International that: “There is not enough milk anymore. So, we the grown-ups have given up drinking milk so that the children can still have some. As you can see, we do not look healthy and strong as we used to be. We are skinny and weak.”

Another pastoralist said that: “These days many people are becoming very sick because of hunger. Sometimes we go to Chiange to sell firewood so that we can buy some food. There is someone who died here because of hunger.”

Grazing and farming land taken away from communities

According to the government, there are now 46 commercial livestock farms occupying 2,629km 2 of the most fertile land, leaving only 1,299km 2 of grazing land for the traditional cattle breeders. This translates to 67% of the land occupied by commercial farmers, leaving pastoralists with only 33% of the land.

Amnesty International found that the land, used for centuries as communal grazing land by pastoralists from southern Angola’s Cunene, Huila, and Namibe provinces, was taken away from communities without due process.

Despite this, the government has allowed commercial livestock farmers to occupy the Tunda dos Gambos and Vale de Chimbolela without giving local communities any form of compensation, clearly violating the country’s law.

Under the country’s constitution, there must be full consultations with affected communities before their land is taken away. However, the Angolan government allowed commercial farmers to take grazing land from the pastoralists without any consultation.

“In failing to protect this communal grazing land from commercial interests, the Angolan government has failed to protect the very same people that it claims its legitimacy to govern,” said Deprose Muchena.

Angola has ratified regional and international laws that guarantee and protect the right to food for all its people. By ratifying these laws, the country has committed to ensuring the provision of “adequate food and safe drinking water.” This requires the government to take all reasonable measures to help people to access nutrition.

Amnesty International is calling on the Angolan government to issue reparations to affected communities, and to take immediate steps to address food insecurity in the Gambos.

The report (put link here) documents large-scale diversion of land to commercial farmers in the Gambos municipality in Huila province, southern Angola, and its impact on the right to food of the pastoralists’ community.

Amnesty International undertook two research missions to the Gambos in February 2018 and March 2019 and interviewed dozens of women and men who have been directly affected by the diversion of land for commercial cattle farming. The organization also interviewed local civil society groups.

In addition, the organization analyzed satellite images to determine the progressive increase of the land’s use for commercial livestock farming and the resulting shrinking of grazing land for the pastoralists’ livestock at Tunda dos Gambos, between 1990 and 2018.

Human Development Index (HDI) by Country

The Human Development Index – or simply, HDI – is an index used to rank countries based on human development. Human Development Index is scored using indicators including expectancy, per capita income, and education. Nations that rank higher on this index have a higher education level, a higher lifespan, and a higher gross national income per capita than nations with a lower score.

HDI is ranked on a scale from 0 to 1.0, with 1.0 being the highest human development. HDI is broken down into four tiers: very high human development (0.8-1.0), high human development (0.7-0.79), medium human development (0.55-.70), and low human development (below 0.55).

Most developed countries have an HDI score of 0.8 or above (in the very high human development tier). These countries have stable governments, widespread education, healthcare, high life expectancies, and growing, powerful economies.

The least developed countries (LDCs) in the world have HDI scores in the low human development tiers with HDI scores below 0.55. LDCs face unstable governments, widespread poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and poor education. Additionally, these countries have low income and low life expectancies, coupled with high birth rates. The HDI helps the United Nations determine which countries need assistance, specifically LDCs. The UN has held four conferences to assess LDCs and develop strategies to boost them out of the category.

The HDI was first launched in 1990 and has been released annually ever since, except 2012. The last report as of May 2019 was made available in September of 2018. The information in this article is based on that report.

The highest score on the HDI is 1.0. The top nation on this list is Norway, with a score of 0.954. Switzerland is in second place with a score of 0.946. Ireland ranks third with a score of 0.942. The least developed country globally with the lowest HDI is Niger, with an HDI of .377. Niger has widespread malnutrition, and 44.1% of people live below the poverty line.

Country Index: Angola - History

Angola's high growth rate is driven by its oil sector, with record oil prices and rising petroleum production. Oil production and its supporting activities contribute about 85% of GDP. Increased oil production supported growth averaging more than 15% per year from 2004 to 2007. A postwar reconstruction boom and resettlement of displaced persons has led to high rates of growth in construction and agriculture as well. Much of the country's infrastructure is still damaged or undeveloped from the 27-year-long civil war. Remnants of the conflict such as widespread land mines still mar the countryside even though an apparently durable peace was established after the death of rebel leader Jonas SAVIMBI in February 2002. Subsistence agriculture provides the main livelihood for most of the people, but half of the country's food must still be imported. In 2005, the government started using a $2 billion line of credit, since increased to $7 billion, from China to rebuild Angola's public infrastructure, and several large-scale projects were completed in 2006. Angola also has large credit lines from Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and the EU. The central bank in 2003 implemented an exchange rate stabilization program using foreign exchange reserves to buy kwanzas out of circulation. This policy became more sustainable in 2005 because of strong oil export earnings it has significantly reduced inflation. Since 2005, the government has used billions of dollars in credit lines from China, Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and the EU to rebuild Angola's public infrastructure. Although consumer inflation declined from 325% in 2000 to under 13% in 2008, the stabilization policy proved unsustainable and Angola abandoned its currency peg in 2009. Angola became a member of OPEC in late 2006 and in late 2007 was assigned a production quota of 1.9 million barrels a day (bbl), somewhat less than the 2-2.5 million bbl Angola's government had wanted. In November 2009 the IMF announced its approval of Luanda's request for a Stand-By Arrangement the loan of $1.4 billion aims to rebuild Angola's international reserves. Corruption, especially in the extractive sectors, is a major challenge.

Country Index: Angola - History

Angola scores low on human development indexes despite using its large oil reserves to rebuild since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002. Fighting between the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), led by Jose Eduardo DOS SANTOS, and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas SAVIMBI, followed independence from Portugal in 1975. Peace seemed imminent in 1992 when Angola held national elections, but fighting picked up again in 1993. Up to 1.5 million lives may have been lost - and 4 million people displaced - during the more than a quarter century of fighting. SAVIMBI's death in 2002 ended UNITA's insurgency and cemented the MPLA's hold on power. DOS SANTOS stepped down from the presidency in 2017, having led the country since 1979. He pushed through a new constitution in 2010. Joao LOURENCO was elected president in August 2017 and became president of the MPLA in September 2018.

NOTE: 1) The information regarding Angola on this page is re-published from the 2020 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Angola Introduction 2020 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Angola Introduction 2020 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
2) The rank that you see is the CIA reported rank, which may have the following issues:
a) They assign increasing rank number, alphabetically for countries with the same value of the ranked item, whereas we assign them the same rank.
b) The CIA sometimes assigns counterintuitive ranks. For example, it assigns unemployment rates in increasing order, whereas we rank them in decreasing order.


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