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A Capital Under Siege - MPLA's malpractice in Angola election revealed

Following the last election, the concept of democracy in Angola was dealt yet another blow. After three decades of the same ruling party, many question whether the country is little more than a slightly authoritarian state, with key malpractice by MPLA revealed...

 

On 24 August, the election in Angola swung majorly, with the opposition party voters coming out in numbers, and narrowly rejecting the incumbent government, MPLA. The MPLA party, headed by Joao Lourenco has recently been under fire for it's heavy use of propaganda ahead of the recent 2022 election. In our last post about this Propaganda in Luanda, we spoke about the overload of promotional and tactical campaign material across the Angolan capital.



As we know, the opposition party declared the result of the election (where it was announced that the MPLA won again) to be false. UNITA’s parallel vote count suggested it had garnered 49.5% of the vote to the ruling MPLA’s 48.2%, based on 94% of results sheets from 13,200 polling stations. Yet, the electoral commission – which is controlled by the MPLA party – announced that the MPLA had won with 51% to UNITA’s 43.9%.


Exposed


UNITA took the matter to the Constitutional Court, calling for a recount and a comparison of the official results with their own count. To support their claims, they cited widespread irregularities, of which there were many. Some of the irregularities found were as follows:


  • 2.7 million dead voters on the electoral register, giving the MPLA a buffer to play with numbers and justify different results in specific provinces.


  • There were questions around the role of the Spanish election logistics company Indra, which has been accused of facilitating fraud in favour of the MPLA in previous elections.


  • There were also clear cases of creating an unlevel playing field and opacity in the process. The state media, for example, allocated the 90% of its coverage to the MPLA.


  • The electoral commission made two key changes that contravened electoral law just a week before the election. The first was to remove the total number of voters from result sheets, making it easier to alter the numbers.


  • The second was to restrict access to the national tally centre to just five electoral commissioners and a “technical group”, thus denying admission to other commissioners along with the press and civil society.

Angola’s constitutional court – another institution that's heavily influenced by the MPLA – dedicated just two weeks to consider the case. Before dismissing UNITA’s claims, the judges did not ask for a verification of the results nor for the electoral commission to show its result sheets or explain how it tallied the result - basically, there was no investigation carried out.


But the constitutional court failed to respect the most fundamental role - which is the respect for public probity. They violated their own constitution.



A Capital Under Siege


On Thursday 15th September, President João Lourenço was sworn in for a second term. He took the oath in what has been described " a capital under siege". Why this description? Because one of the most shocking outcomes of the election, was UNITA’s victory in the capital city - Luanda. Luanda represents a third of the electorate; urbanites, the educated youth, and even many former MPLA supporters voted for UNITA there.



Now the president and his party fear protests in the capital, and have deployed the military, police, and the presidential guard on the streets of Angola. Interestingly, poll results revealed that voters situated close to army barracks actually voted for the opposition party, implying that much of the security forces’ rank and file have lost their faith in the incumbent party.


Swarming the streets are columns of armoured police vehicles and Russian-made kamaze trucks, stretching to the near suburbs. In neighbourhoods that voted for the opposition UNITA like Rocha Pinto, Samba, Zango, Viana and Cazenga, the presence of security forces is bringing back memories of the civil war and the political massacres of 1977 and 1992. Yet not even in the worst years of the war, did Luanda have the entire security apparatus on display for public intimidation rather than public safety.


More to follow on this story.

 

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