The power quartet: Generals Dino (far right), Kopelipa, President Dos Santos and his deputy Manuel Vicente.
In Angola's only open and free election in 1992, the question on the minds of most voters was: Should I vote for the "Killers" or the "Thieves?" The former rebel movement UNITA of today bears no resemblance to the killers of old, but the ruling MPLA has taken stealing to a new and unprecedented level. Once MPLA leaders got a green light and carte blanches from their boss that they could steal with impunity, they plundered the national treasury without fear of punishment.
President José Eduardo dos Santos made a famous speech in 2009 in which he said that he would have "zero tolerance for corruption!" The fact that no senior MPLA leader has been prosecuted suggests that either dos Santos' campaign was successful in shutting down crime altogether or he has an acute case of myopia and is not able to see anything below his nose.
The fact that graft today is at an all-time high suggests that the President is content to make senior MPLA and military leaders happy at home and in their barracks instead of plotting against him. This helps to explain dos Santo's longevity of 36 years in power.
The MPLA is going to have a very difficult time convincing voters in 2017 that they can trust anybody in the party not to continue looting the national treasury. Dos Santos has emerged on numerous lists as the richest president in Africa - at $20 billion, which is 8 times greater than the 2nd richest African President, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, who "only" has $2.5 billion.
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