Thirty-eight years seems like a long time to wait for a new leader especially when the old one has been considered by some as serving only the interests of a select elite. Angolans have waited that long and Wednesday as they go to the polls on the long awaited Angola election day, they will finally be replacing President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.
The outgoing President announced that he would be stepping down in December 2016 and the ruling MPLA chose João Lourenço, Angola’s defense minister to seek the Presidency in his stead. MPLA exercises the same dominance in Angola as say the ruling ANC used to exercise in South Africa so Lourenço is expected to win the parliamentary elections.
Still, opposition parties have a real shot for the first time this Angola election day. Where in 2012 the MPLA received 72% of the vote and in 2008, it received 82% of the total votes, a poll commissioned by the presidency predicts the ruling party will only secure 38% of the votes.
It predicted that the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the main opposition party, will receive 32% while CASA-CE, another party, is projected to get 26%. There is also, to consider, the fact that 91% of the more than 9,000 poll respondents said MPLA’s current leadership does not act in the best interest of Angolans.
Lourenço campaigned on anti-corruption measures an image which is easy to corroborate after the late 1980s incident that saw him jailing some members of his own party for corruption while he was governor of Benguela province.
To ensure transparency at the polls this Angola election day, CASA-CE hopes to leverage technology by using a computer program to calculate results based on data from party delegates at polling stations and minimize rigging.
As Angolans vote it is probably pertinent to note that no matter who wins, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his family are still likely to wield an incredible amount of power in Angola.
While President dos Santos will continue as the leader of the MPLA, Isabel dos Santos, his daughter, is still in charge of the state oil company and Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund is still in the charge of Jose Filomeno, dos Santos’ son. The government also passed new laws which prevent the next president from firing the military, police, and intelligence chiefs and in June, President dos Santos was granted a seat on the Council of the Republic, a presidential advisory body whose members enjoy immunity from prosecution.