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Dealing with Savimbi’s Ghost: The Security and Humanitarian Challenges in Angola
Dealing with Savimbi’s Ghost: The Security and Humanitarian Challenges in Angola
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Angola’s Choice: Reform Or Regress
Angola’s Choice: Reform Or Regress
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Report 58 / Africa

Dealing with Savimbi’s Ghost: The Security and Humanitarian Challenges in Angola

Emerging slowly from decades of civil war, Angola stands at a crossroads between a spectacular recovery or further cycles of instability and crisis. The government that won the fighting must now move on a number of fronts – with international support – to win the peace.

Executive Summary

Emerging slowly from decades of civil war, Angola stands at a crossroads between a spectacular recovery or further cycles of instability and crisis. The government that won the fighting must now move on a number of fronts – with international support – to win the peace.

Although there are critical longer term political and economic issues (to be considered in a subsequent report), several immediate security and humanitarian challenges must be addressed to avoid laying the foundations for a return to conflict. The late rebel leader Jonas Savimbi’s ghost, the legacy of a war that killed a million people and uprooted a third of the population, will haunt the country for years. Millions who are either internally displaced or refugees in neighbouring countries must be resettled in their areas of origin. 105,000 fighters of the former rebel organisation UNITA – each with an average of six civilian dependents – must be reintegrated into civilian life on an urgent basis. The removal of millions of mines laid over the past half-century has to be accelerated.

If the government addresses these challenges responsibly and is helped by the international community, Angola can stabilise. If it ignores or minimises them, at best banditry and organised crime will intensify insecurity in the provinces; at worst, resentments will build, intersect with remnants of potential organised and armed resistance, and form the nucleus for future instability.

Reintegrating the UNITA rank-and-file back into civilian life is first priority. There are reports of their increasing disenchantment, as government promises of support do not materialise and camp conditions remain poor. The related problems – security, economic, psychosocial, capacity and political – are enormous. How they are met will be a major determinant of whether or not, five years down the line, the country has succeeded in building peace.

The scope of population flows in Angola has few equals. Approximately two million of a total displaced population of over three million have been, are, or soon will be on the move, most seeking to go home. These massive movements ensure the continuation of at least a low-grade humanitarian emergency. Indeed, a year after the death of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi and the de facto end of the war, mortality rates remain at emergency levels. The rainy season, landmines, and the regional food crisis limit access for aid agencies and mean the situation could worsen considerably over the several months before the next harvest. Already, aid officials in five different provinces have reported acute levels of malnutrition.

Landmine infestation – among the worst encountered in any post-conflict situation globally – is the biggest challenge to resettlement. Injuries have increased particularly on the Planalto, the central highlands. This is happening as the hungry season is at its height and the rains have reached their peak. Nascent commercial traffic has been inhibited by the incidents, which, if they do not decrease, and especially if it is determined that new mines are being laid, will seriously affect aid agency operations. This would both impact deliveries to current populations – which in a number of provinces are highly dependent on such deliveries – and prevent assessments for post-harvest aid.

In the context of forthcoming democratisation efforts, the government needs to recognise that it is in its strategic self-interest to become more responsive and accountable. A good start would be to redirect some of its oil money to social services and public investment in order to build wider support for its policies. State building should be understood as a conflict prevention strategy, and service delivery as a peace consolidation strategy.

Luanda/Brussels, 26 February 2003

Report 61 / Africa

Angola’s Choice: Reform Or Regress

One year after more than four decades of internationally fuelled civil conflict came to an end, Angola is faced with a stark choice.

Executive Summary

One year after more than four decades of internationally fuelled civil conflict came to an end, Angola is faced with a stark choice. If the government undertakes and sustains meaningful political and economic reforms, peace and prosperity would be assured. If it delays and obfuscates on fundamental issues of transparency, diversification and pluralism, the country will likely be condemned to further decades of poor governance and localised violence.

ICG’s first report on Angola dealt with the humanitarian and security challenges to peace building.[fn]ICG Africa Report N°58, Dealing with Savimbi’s Ghost: The Security and Humanitarian Challenges in Angola, 26 February 2003.Hide Footnote Economic and political issues are equally important. Good governance in the context of a war that left so many destructive legacies faces many obstacles. Regional and ethnic inequalities that intersect with an inadequate governmental response to the needs of the displaced and the former UNITA insurgents can sow the seeds for future instability and warlordism. Interests entrenched in the political and economic system undermine reform tendencies at every turn. Decades of atrocities make reconciliation much more difficult. A history of external intervention and exploitation leaves the government resistant to meeting some international preconditions for engagement and aid.

Nevertheless, there are elements within the government and, more broadly, throughout civil society, that want to increase international engagement, make economic policy more transparent, and liberalise the political system. Battles within the government – and between the government and opposition parties and civil society – over basic policy directions are intensifying, and the outcomes are uncertain.

For a host of reasons, it is increasingly in the Angolan government’s interest to move down the economic and political reform path. Upcoming elections require the ruling party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), to seek electoral support, and the most direct way is to improve the state’s capacity to deliver goods and services. The government’s desire to enhance its international image and project itself on continental and world stages also creates a reform logic, as does President dos Santos’s wish to enhance his legacy.

Political and economic reform – combined with a commitment to begin to address some social ills and inequities – would ensure more broad-based economic growth, allow a genuine private sector to develop, free up hundreds of millions of dollars for social investment through a more transparent budget process, transform the political system into a more pluralistic one that promotes human rights and lay the groundwork for long-term stability.

However, there are numerous obstacles. The benefits derived from wholesale diversion of oil revenues to individual accounts will be the most difficult to overcome, particularly in an environment of rising oil prices and discoveries of new reserves. Genuine reform would threaten the concentration of power in the presidency, or Futungo, the unimpeded annual diversion of an estimated U.S.$1 billion in oil revenues, and the patronage network and private accounts supported by that diversion. Leadership by progressive elements in the government and a fundamental decision by President dos Santos that reform is in the strategic interest of the country and the MPLA are needed.

Luanda/Brussels, 7 April 2003