The big news in Angolan politics this weekend was the final retirement of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the country’s long-serving president and also the assumption of full control of government and party by incumbent Joao Lourenco.
There was, however, another key development that saw a woman take the position of deputy president of the ruling party – the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, MPLA.
“Luisa Damiao is the new Deputy President of Angola’s ruling party MPLA, following election on Saturday night. She is an MP and former journalist,” a journalist and researcher with Human Rights Watch, Zenaida Machado, posted on Twitter.
She becomes topmost female official of the party. The top echelons had previously being largely dominated by men. “I was told that she is also a strong supporter of women’s rights. We will judge her by her actions,” Machado added.
Lourenco, who received 98.59 percent of the vote, vowed in his closing speech that members of the party would not be immune in his drive to stamp out graft.
“In this crusade (against corruption), the MPLA should take the lead, occupy the first trench, and be at the vanguard, even if the first to fall are party members or other leaders of the party,” he said to loud applause.
Lourenco faces numerous challenges. Angola’s economy has still not recovered from the oil price slump in 2014, with falling production eroding the benefit of higher prices.
The currency has fallen over 40 percent against the dollar since a dollar peg was abandoned in January, and attempts to diversify the economy away from oil are yet to show success.
Luanda has requested IMF help, totaling an expected $4.5 billion over three years.