Angola: The President and Kangamba

For the first time in history, an Angolan general has been targeted with an international arrest warrant.

General Bento dos Santos “Kangamba”, a member of the presidential family and a leading figure of the ruling MPLA party, is wanted in Brazil on suspicion of leading a gang involved in the trafficking of women for prostitution, conspiracy and forced confinement.

Kangamba’s case is unprecedented, and the levels of protection that he enjoys from the President beggar belief. Kangamba himself joked that he does not have magical powers.

He made this joke to explain how he manages to deal with millions of dollars at a time, despite having no visible successful businesses. The secret of his success is the presidential favour that he enjoys.

The warrant for Kangamba’s arrest has been met with deafening silence on the part of the Angolan presidency and the attorney general. The case damages the image of the President himself, as well as that of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) and the ruling party.

Kangamba is just the latest in a long line of shady characters whom the President has welcomed into his inner circle. As far as the FAA are concerned, the presence of a small group of corrupt and disreputable officers like Kangamba is bringing shame upon a force that also includes many dedicated and patriotic individuals.

Both the FAA and the MPLA took appropriate punitive action against Kangamba when they were called upon to do so. In 2000, the Supreme Military Court condemned Kangamba to two years and eight months in prison for fraud and for falsifying documents. He went to prison, and the MPLA expelled him from its ranks.

But President Dos Santos overrode everyone and everything by rehabilitating Kangamba and embracing him as an influential member of the family. He made him a three-star general and reappointed him to the MPLA central committee.

During his 34 years in power, the President has displayed an extraordinary talent for getting away with wrong and often illegal decisions, to the point where he appears invulnerable.

But the Kangamba case threatens to embroil him in a political and diplomatic mess like never before. The trafficking of women is a serious international crime and the President has a duty to clear up the accusations as quickly as possible.

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