Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Angola - Beauty and and the Beast

Angola fought an anti-colonial guerilla war against Portugal for 14 years before its political independence in 1975. Right after independence, the three liberation movements involved in the struggle for independence fought each other for control of the country, initiating a civil war that lasted until 2002leaving a death toll of over one million and nearly four million displaced from their homes .
When independence was declared, 95 percent of the Portuguese population—approximately 340,000 people—fled the country, leaving behind houses, apartments, and farms. Most of these abandoned properties were later occupied by Angolan families.The number of houses abandoned was especially high in urban centers, where the majority of Europeans lived. The government process of granting land rights to families that took over abandoned properties was also not completed and many individuals throughout Angola, particularly in Luanda, never received formal titles to housing they occupied after independence. 68% of urban dwellers living below the poverty line.

The Angolan government forcibly evicted 20,000 poor people, including small-scale farmers, and destroyed 3,000 homes between 2002 and 2006 in the capital, Luanda, "to facilitate development and 'beautification' in the public interest".

Research found that evictions of Luanda's poor are not isolated events. A pattern of abuse is laid bare in the study, showing a concerted campaign by government to clear poor areas around the city. Those affected included the elderly, children and female-headed households -- left destitute by evictions that took place without regard for ownership or tenure claims, and in the absence of legal grounds for removal. Most evictees only realised they were being turned out of their homes when bulldozers and trucks arrived, and victims were typically not allowed to gather their possessions. In those cases where residents were informed of an impending eviction, they were not allowed enough time to rescue their belongings. Local government officials and police used violence, intimidation and "excessive force" to remove poor people from informal areas around the city.

The BBC explains the land was cleared to make way for new homes for the new Angolan elite and ruling class .
They are very expensive looking. They're surrounded by high walls and fences, they all have car ports, there are big satellite dishes on many of them and the roads are all paved. Everything is very neat and tidy. Large condominiums - high-quality, gated housing for locals and foreigners - have sprung up; last month the country's first indoor shopping centre, Belas Shopping, was opened, an investment of $35m (£17.7m); a Hugo Boss store for men's clothes has opened in the heart of Luanda

Angola is sub-Saharan Africa's second largest oil producer after Nigeria , presently the largest supplier of crude oil to China and the seventh largest supplier to the United States. About 1.4 million barrels of oil are produced daily, a total that is projected to rise to two million this year. It is also one of the world’s largest diamond producers - with both industries capable of increasing their output. Together with other natural resources such as iron ore, phosphates, copper, bauxite and uranium, Angola should be one of the richest countries of the African continent and even the world. Angola's economy grew 14.3 percent last year and is expected to grow by a whopping 31.4 percent in 2007, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Despite those figures, little of the wealth has trickled down to the great majority of the country's 13 million people. Angola ranked 161 of 177 countries in the U.N. Development Programme's (UNDP) 2006 Human Development Index. The 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International ranked Angola 142 out of 163 countries . The high rate of child mortality [260/1000] has stayed the same from 2002 to 2004

"They say we live in a rich country, but the people don't see any of that wealth" says Killa ,a young rap singer . "We don't blame the international community.The people who should be blamed are those who open the gates and let them in. The foreigners come here to exploit our riches and they are helped by the barons of this country."

No comments: