Sonangol Boss Fired as Angola Leader Targets Dos Santos Clan
(Bloomberg) -- Angolan President Joao Lourenco dismissed Isabel dos Santos as chair of state-owned oil company Sonangol as he takes aim at the family of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
Africa’s richest woman was relieved of her post along with the entire board of Sonangol, according to a presidential statement. Later Wednesday the government ordered the state television station to terminate contracts for the management of a local and an international state-owned channel with two of Dos Santos’ younger children, according to a statement from the Ministry of Social Communications.
Since replacing the 75-year-old Dos Santos as president in September, Lourenco has vowed to end monopolies and fight corruption in a country where the former leader’s family and their allies control huge sectors of the economy. Before today’s dismissals, Lourenco fired the governor of the central bank, the head of diamond company Endiama and the boards of all three state-owned media companies.
Dos Santos’ dismissal “wasn’t unexpected given the changes that we saw taking place before today,” Gary van Staden, an analyst at NKC African Economics in Paarl, South Africa, said by phone. “I think this is the start of the end of the Dos Santos’ family influence in Angola.”
Another child, Jose Filomeno, heads Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund, and has come under fire this month following a report by Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche claiming the fund’s assets are being mismanaged.
Wednesday’s decisions mark the first time Lourenco has directly targeted the family of Dos Santos, who ruled Africa’s second-biggest oil producer for 38 years and appointed his eldest daughter to the helm of Sonangol last year.
She will be replaced by Carlos Saturnino, whom she fired from Sonangol last year. Saturnino was recently appointed secretary of state for oil and put in charge of a 30-day review of the sector.
Isabel Dos Santos’ spokesman in Lisbon wasn’t immediately able to comment.
Apart from her former job at Sonangol, Isabel dos Santos also controls Unitel, Angola’s largest mobile-phone company. She owns Candando, a supermarket chain, and has stakes in Angolan lenders Banco BIC and BFA and several companies in Portugal. Bloomberg estimates her net worth at $2.5 billion.
More than a third of Angola’s population of 27 million lives on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank. The country is struggling to recover from a drop in crude prices and the impact of a civil war that ended in 2002.
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