Angola Peace Monitor Issue No. 9, Vol. X

Report
from Action for Southern Africa
Published on 18 Jun 2004
Donor failure leads to cuts in UN appeal
The United Nations Consolidated Appeal for Angola has been cut by almost a third in response to the lack of support from international donors. The UN had calculated at the beginning of the year that Angola needed over $262 million in 2004 to support the country in its transition from emergency to recovery. This has been cut to $181 million, but it looks as if there is no interest in supporting Angola's recovery, as aid continues to focus almost exclusively upon vital humanitarian assistance. Donations now stand at only $69 million.

It had been thought that recent breakthroughs in relations between the Angolan government and the International Monetary Fund would lead to an increased flow of aid to the country as confidence in the government's economic management grew. However, over the last month there have only been a further dozen donations to the appeal, which themselves have been overshadowed by the United States cutting its promised food donation by 21,000 tonnes - at a cost of $11.5 million.

Three quarters of all projects have received no funding, as shown below:

Sector
projects
funded
Agriculture
24
4
Co-ordination and support services
13
5
Economic recovery and infrastructure
5
0
Education
8
1
Family shelter
1
0
Food
1
1
Health
23
4
Mine action
10
2
Multi-sector
10
3
Protection/Human Rights/Rule of Law
11
3
Security
1
1
Unattributed
1
1
Water and sanitation
7
1
Total
114
26

The cuts in the budgets are much heavier in some sectors of the appeal: assistance for agriculture is cut by 55 percent from $19 million to just over $8.4 million; and economic recovery and infrastructure is halved from $1.7 million to $844,237. In most cases the budget is decreased not because of a reduction of need, but simply because there are less months left in the year to be covered. Unless there is a sea-change in donor attitudes there is little doubt that most of the proposed projects will continue to receive nothing.

Review

In its mid-year review the UN stated that "the transitional context in Angola continues to be characterised by high levels of vulnerability within over-stretched communities due to years of internal conflict, the rapid pace of returns to areas of origin and widespread poverty".

It points out that there have been several positive developments: nearly all Internally Displaced Persons have returned to their areas of origin; half of the 450,000 refugees estimated to have fled to bordering countries have returned home since the end of hostilities two years ago; and "emergency pockets" of people with critical needs have been eliminated with only a few exceptions.

However, the review points out that 1.2 million people continue to live in precarious conditions. It warns that public services are missing in many rural areas, with public servants not receiving regular salaries. It laments that "a mere 20.5 percent of the total State Budget is allocated to social sectors", and states that "bilateral and multilateral funds are also required, and have only started to be timidly disbursed".

The review states that initial progress in adopting a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) at the beginning of the year has "not been followed by a pragmatic implementation plan". It continues that "the PRSP will act as a framework to channel support from the Bretton Woods institutions and other bilateral loans and contributions for the Government's reconstruction and recovery efforts". However, the review complains that "the PRSP process was however, not as inclusive as hoped, with complaints from members of the NGO network and civil society of being excluded from consultations".

The review remains optimistic that "while the overall situation in Angola could be described as "frozen", there are unprecedented opportunities to overcome social and economic constraints to begin to achieve development goals".

French government reaches out to Angola

Efforts are underway to improve relations between France and Angola following a period during which the Angolan government has been extremely frosty towards the French.

In the past France has supported efforts to remove the MPLA from power, backing both UNITA rebels and FLEC rebels in the province of Cabinda, as well as the anti-MPLA government in neighbouring Zaire.

It was during the presidency of Francois Mitterand that relations between the two countries began to thaw, with France using its national oil company Elf as an extension of its foreign policy.

This 'détente' between the two countries was shattered after the French judiciary took moves in 2000 against businessman Pierre Falcone for his assistance in sending arms to the Angolan government during the armed uprising by UNITA. Falcone has also been accused by organisations such as Global Witness of being central to operations involving money laundering, overpricing of military procurement, kickbacks and commissions.

In response to continued legal pressures on Falcone, the Angolan government in September appointed him as ambassador plenipotentiary to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, giving Falcone some diplomatic protection against prosecution.

According to the magazine SouthScan the Falcone case has had negative repercussions for relations between the two countries. It states that the new French ambassador in Luanda has been left waiting for several months to present his credentials to President dos Santos.

However, relations may be about to thaw, and the Angolan news agency, ANGOP, announced on 11 June that the French foreign minister, Michel Barnier, is to visit Angola soon.

France has also announced that it is to donate $3.6 million for mine clearing operations and humanitarian projects in the Huambo province of Angola. It has also recently donated 498 million tonnes of maize to Angola, valued at $1 million.

France has major investments in oil exploration and production in Angola through the company Total (TotalFinaElf). Angola is seen as a central to the French government's strategy of securing oil supplies.

Opposition parties reject need for new constitution

The Campaign for a Democratic Angola - a George Soros-backed coalition of opposition parties and civil society organisations - on 8 June convened a meeting in Luanda of over 200 people. The meeting issued a declaration including the recommendation that the drafting of a new constitution should only take place after the next Angolan elections.

According to a press release issued by the campaign's coordinator, Rafael Marques, "any Constitutional revisions need to be carried out by a legitimately elected Legislature in close consultation with the people. The declaration further questioned the authority of the current Legislature, which was elected in 1992 but continues to function despite the expiration of its four-year mandate, to draft and approve a new Constitution".

The meeting also called for elections to take place next year, and an immediate start to the process of convening an electoral commission.

Currently there is stalemate over this issue. The Angolan government, which includes representatives of the second largest parliamentary party, UNITA, is demanding that a number of minimum conditions must be met before any new elections. In particular, it has demanded a new constitution be adopted along with a new electoral law. The government also points out that the country needs to improve its basic infrastructure and state administration needs to be returned throughout the country. Only then can voters be registered, ready for elections. According to government sources, this process will take at least 24 months.

In contrast, UNITA in its role as opposition, in May walked out of the parliamentary Constitutional Commission, which has the effect of further delaying progress.

UNDP calls for decentralisation

The United Nations Development Programme on 26 May called for a shifting of more power to the local level.

A study carried out by the UNDP and the Ministry of Territorial Administration states that giving local communities more power, such as electing local officials and managing public services, is a priority for Angola.

Whilst the report notes that the Government has taken some steps towards transferring power to localities, it found that 79 percent of local administrative staff actually worked for provincial administrations, 19 percent for municipal administrations and only 1 percent for community administrations.

The study states that there is an enormous need for local level personnel to provide basic services and promote development in areas such as agriculture, commerce, electricity, water, transportation and housing.

The study calls for a shift of functions from the central and provincial governments to municipal administrations and then to future locally elected governments. These include local development, raising and managing local revenues, public investment, education, health care, care of children and the elderly, education, sanitation, agriculture, police, transport, energy and water.

It also recommends setting up a system of accountability for local administrations, including audits, budget preparation and investment and work plans, as well as incentives for attracting skilled staff and promoting gender equity so that at least 30 per cent of positions are held by women by 2005.

One problem which was highlighted in the UN's mid-year review of the Consolidated Appeal for Angola, is that public servants in most provinces do not receive regular salaries in most of the provinces. It states that "in rural areas, service conditions are often harsh and motivation of personnel in the health and education sectors is generally poor".

The UNDP report also calls for more responsibility to be given to traditional authorities, such as the management of communal land, local roads, population census and registration, reform of provincial governments, and conservation of forests, wildlife, natural resources and cultural heritage.

Further efforts to clean up Luanda

The Managing Commission which has been put in temporary charge of Luanda is continuing its efforts to clean up the capital city as it nears the end of its mandate.

In January President Jose Eduardo dos Santos sacked the Governor of Luanda, Simao Paulo, and appointed a group of three senior officials including Higino Carneiro. This Managing Commission was given six months to improve the situation.

On 11 June it announced the second phase of the collection of scrap metal from the roads in the city. Previously many roads and pavements had been blocked by wrecked cars, buses and lamp-posts. The first phase of the campaign took place in February and March.

In another move to improve the environment, the Ecological Youth of Angola (JEA) is working with the provincial government to plant 1,300 trees, including eucalyptus, cedar and American acacias. Planting began on 5 June to mark the World Environment Day.

WFP cuts rations

The World Food Programme continues to be restricted in its operations due to a shortage of food donations to distribute to those still reliant on food aid. WFP is planning to reduce by 18 percent the number of people receiving direct food assistance, from 1.6 million beneficiaries in May to 1.3 million in June. The biggest cuts will be in Kwanza Sul (100,000), Huambo (60,000) and Bié (60,000). It argues that these people have been supported through two harvests and now no longer need support. Despite this reduction in numbers, those left will be receiving only half rations due to shortages.

The situation has worsened with crop failure hitting much of Huambo province. According to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network, FEWS NET, excessive rainfall and inadequate farm inputs have seriously hit crops for 300,000 families in the province. Maize was particularly hit, with initial assessments estimating a reduction of over 60 percent from 77,500 million tonnes to 24,500 million tonnes.

A notice from FEWS NET warns that "many families in Huambo have recently been resettled and are only now beginning to re-establish their livelihoods. This includes reactivating farms, rebuilding household assets through limited labour opportunities and other activities. In this context, crop loss (including maize and beans) threatens the recovery of agricultural production and the restoration of viable livelihoods in Huambo".

It continued that "based on current assessment a gap of 116,500 million tonnes of maize needs to be filled either through markets, expanded production during the May to August season or by food aid. While surplus food stocks are available in other parts of the country, Huambo's poor market infrastructure limits the ability of markets to fill this gap".

Repatriation restarts

The official programme for the repatriation of Angolan refugees in Zambia by the United Nations' High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has restarted after a break for the rainy season, during which time roads became impassable. On 15 June the first group of 363 refugees left Meheba camp heading for Cazombo in eastern Angola.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the re-launching of the repatriation, UNHCR regional representative Ahmed Gubartalla yesterday praised Zambia for keeping its doors open to asylum seekers, stating that "in the true spirit of African generosity, Zambia kept the doors open for people who genuinely needed protection. This great virtue is well recognised by all in the international community who continue to stand with the people of Zambia for their magnanimity".

Last year the programme helped over 18,000 refugees return to Angola from Zambia. This year UNHCR plans to repatriate 40,000 before the rainy season begins in October, with 18,000 from Meheba, 12,000 from Mayukwayukwa, 8,000 from Nangweshi and 2,000 from Ukwimi. This represents more than half of the total Angolan refugee population living in camps and settlements in Zambia, (71,420 refugees).

In all, a total of 145,000 Angolans are expected to return home this year from asylum countries, including 90,000 with UNHCR assistance.

When peace returned to Angola in April 2002 there were around 441,000 refugees in bordering countries. Since then about 218,000 have returned home, of which 76,000 were returned under the UNHCR voluntary repatriation programme.

The UNHCR repatriation programme kicked off in May with the return of 200 refugees from Osire camp in northern Namibia. Namibia is host to 12,000 Angolans who fled over the border to escape heavy fighting and drought conditions.

There are 2,000 Angolan refugees in Botswana, and their repatriation is due to begin in July. Botswana has a much larger refugee problem on its eastern border with Zimbabwe.

The majority of refugees are in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and UNHCR is due to start repatriating people this month.

Economic programme for Cabinda approved

On 2 June the Angolan Government's Council of Ministers approved an economic and social development plan for the province of Cabinda.

The $370 million six-year programme will focus at the beginning on infrastructure, professional training, health and sewage.

This year the Government plans to spend $1.6 million on 35 projects, including the building of 10 schools and three health posts. Funding will come from the Social Action Fund (FAS III).

Cabinda is an enclave to the north of the Angolan mainland, and has been subjected to guerrilla warfare by secessionists around the various FLEC organisations. However, the ending of UNITA's rebellion has also led to the almost complete collapse of military action by FLEC, although human rights organisations have criticised continued abuses by members of the Angolan army.

The conference organised by Campaign for a Democratic Angola on 8 June called for an immediate ceasefire in Cabinda, similar to the one called for by some members of civil society just before the defeat of UNITA in 2002.

South African firm may invest in sugar

In a move to diversify the Angolan economy away from its dependence on oil and to create employment, the Angolan government is inviting international firms to invest in the non-oil sector.

A delegation from the Durban-based Transvaal Suiker Beperk (TSB) visited Angola in June to look at building a sugar factory in Zaire province. The proposed factory could open in 2011 and produce 150,000 tonnes of sugar a year. According to the Angolan Ministry of Finance, TSB was the victor in a public tender to construct the sugar factory.

South African companies have invested in sugar plantations and mills in Mozambique, in competition with Mauritian businessmen who have also invested heavily in the sector.

TSB is a subsidiary of Remgro - formerly Rembrandt - in which the Rupert and Hertzog families are the controlling shareholders.

Second Capanda turbine working

On 8 June the second turbine at the Capanda Hydroelectric Project began to operate. It has the capacity to produce 130 megawatts of electricity which will supply the city of Malanje.

To begin with the turbine will supply 100 megawatts to Luanda, which already receives 80 megawatts from the first turbine.

There are two further turbines to be installed, and the dam will have a total capacity of 520 megawatts. In comparison, the Cahora Bassa dam in Mozambique has five turbines, each capable of generating 415 megawatts with a theoretical maximum generating power of 2,075 megawatts.

Plans are underway to build a dam in the northern province of Uige to produce 600 kilowatts for the province. There is also the construction of a dam at Lukuixi which is nearing completion. Two turbines are currently being tested, and when operational it is planned that the electricity will be made available to the city of Uige.

There are also plans to build a dam with two turbines to produce electricity on the Chicapa river in Lunda-Sul province. The electricity will be for the towns of Saurimo and Catoca. It is estimated that it will take two years to complete the project at a cost of $45 million.