from PEDRO AGOSTO in Luanda, Angola
LUANDA, (CAJ News) – THE unanimous decision by legislators to strip a beleaguered parliamentary leader of the ruling party of immunities against prosecution is testament there are no sacred cows in the crusade against corruption in Angola.
At the request of the Supreme Court, the Angolan Parliament has approved the lifting of the protections against Manuel Rabelais, the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) Parliamentary Group Deputy.
The 170 members of parliament voted in favour of the Supreme Court.
He faces a myriad of accusations, chief among them embezzlement and money laundering.
These alleged offences date back to 2016 and 2017 when he was director of the former Office of Revitalization of Institutional Communication and Marketing Administration (GRECIMA).
He is also a former social Communication Minister.
The alleged crimes were committed during the presidency of the long serving Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
Current head of state, Joao Lourenco, assumed power in 2017 with a promise to rid the Southern African country of corruption, which was seen as innate during the reign of his predecessor (1979 to 2017).
The lifting of Rabelais’ immunities paves way for his prosecution.
“The unanimous vote for the prosecution of Rabelais, most importantly by fellow MPLA legislators, highlights the commitment of the ruling party to fight graft,” said analyst Miguel Sanz.
“It is an endorsement of the blitz and consistency by the president that there will be no holy cows in ridding the country of this scourge,” Sanz added.
While most of the focus has been on probes against members of Dos Santos family, politicians from within the party have been probed.
Another key figure is Higino Carneiro, the former Minister of Public Works and ex-governor of the provinces of Cuando-Cubango, Luanda and Kwanza Sul.
Allegations include corruption, money laundering and breach of trust.
MPLA noted it subscribed to the notion of innocent until proven guilty.
“We hope our (Rabelais) colleague will present arguments to the judicial authorities that prove his innocence,” MPLA MP, Joao Pinto, told reporters
He maintained the commitment to pre-election pledges.
“It is the MPLA itself that chose the fight against corruption and nepotism as a priority in its 2017 election manifesto,” Pinto reminded.
The 2019 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index gave Angola a score of 26, ranking Angola 146th out of 180 countries. In his State of the Nation Address delivered in Parliament, the President discussed the issue related to fight against corruption.
Lourenco, in his State of the Nation Address in October, said the National Directorate for the Prevention and Combat Corruption (DNPCC) has in the past two years opened 192 cases against corruption.
He disclosed this was ten times the number of probes in the term before he assumed power.
– CAJ News