We are often confronted about the huge amounts of money some Angolan citizens spend in Portugal. We often read about their investments as well. We often tend to think it is a good thing.
As you may know, the Portuguese economy is frozen. We don’t have much money to neither invest nor to consume so any extra help will do.
There’s also the fact that Angola is a sovereign country. If there is money leaving the country against the best interest of the people, it is in first place their problem.
Now imagine there’s this guy who steals gold for living. He robs people on the streets, he robs from houses, whatever. He’s a total thieve. Let’s say he even took a necklace from my grandmother on her way to the supermarket, hurting her knees along the way.
The fact is that there are plenty of places buying gold without any consideration regarding the origin. So this inglorious thieve has the incentive to keep on robbing as he knows there will always be a buyer.
And what do you expect the owner of the place to do? Do you really expect him to say something about it and end up ruinning his beautiful business? With this economy? No way, a man’s gotta eat. I’m sorry for the old lady though, she should start carrying a gun or something.
My point is that laxity is dangerous: when you decide to take the dirty money you are actively incentivating corruption and deviant behaviour. There will always be excuses for doing it though, that’s why it is so dangerous to accept it the first time.
But back to our topic: all this investment from Angola, where does the money come from? Are those personal investments or is the money coming from the government budget? Is there even a difference?
Is it thievery? Or is it good business?
It is common knowledge that bags and bags full of money arrive ‘undercover’ from Luanda to the Lisbon airport. However, nobody (at least nobody with power to do anything) seems to find it weird.
Isabel dos Santos, the daugther of the President Eduardo dos Santos, is according to the Forbes magazine the most powerful woman in Africa. Her first business was Unitel, the biggest mobile operator in Angola, in partnership with Portugal Telecom and the state-owned Sonangol.
With Sonae, Isabel dos Santos took Continente retail stores to Angola.
In Portugal, Isabel dos Santos owns relevant shares on companies such as banks BPI and BIC, Galp Energia and Zon Multimedia, who is expected to acquire Optimus from Sonae.
There are rumours connecting such prodigious daughter to everything from traffic of diamonds to political bias, inside trading and lobbying. Without surprise, it looks like Portuguese elites are all over these schemes.
As companies and economic agents in Portugal try to make a profit out of the situation, they are enduring a regime of oppression in one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 148th on 2013 HDI rankings, behind countries like Pakistan or Bangladesh.
So there is a common struggle after all: responsability.