Following recent reports of her embroilment in an ongoing financial dispute with the current Angolan administration, in a surprising turn of events, Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, on four separate occasions during an interview with the BBC, refused the opportunity to rule out the possibility of her running for the country’s top seat in 2022.
Africa’s richest woman launched a counter-offensive recently against the Angolan government who are said to be trying to recover the USD 1 billion Ms Dos Santos and her associates are alleged to have siphoned from state-owned companies Sonangol and Sodiam to privately-owned companies in which they hold a stake.
Allegations she point-blankly refutes as a ‘politically motivated witch-hunt”.
“President Lourenço is fighting for absolute power. There’s a strong wish to neutralise any influence that [former] President Dos Santos might still have in the MPLA,” Ms Dos Santos said.
“If a different candidate would appear [ahead of the 2022 presidential election] supported by former President Dos Santos or allies linked to him, that would really challenge [Mr. Lourenço’s] position because his current track record is very, very poor,” she added, citing rising unemployment, a stagnant economy and a wave of strikes.
Some believe the recent scrutiny the eldest daughter of the former first family has faced is as a result of her repeated attacks on President Lourenço, who succeeded her father two years ago as president.
Dos Santos herself, in an interview with Portuguese state broadcaster RTP, said that “The selective manner of this so-called fight against corruption (is being used) to neutralise future political candidates”.
When asked in the same interview if she would run for the presidency, she said it was “possible”.
“I will do everything I need to do to defend and serve my country”.
Rafael Marques, an Angolan political activist, is not convinced, however, dismissing her comments as a decoy to take attention away from the alleged “plundering of the country”.
“There are some who want to take refuge under a political cloak to say they are being persecuted for political reasons,” he told AFP.
Despite ascending to power in the same party as the former president, The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, President Lourenço has been hunting down the Dos Santos family as part of a broader anti-corruption drive.
With a net worth of an estimated at USD 2.2 billion, Isabel dos Santos’ holdings include two private banks, mobile operator Unitel, a supermarket chain and cable television among others.
IMAGE: NUNO COIMBRA