Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of Angola’s ex-president, considers running for president in the next election in 2022.
Dos Santos has been named “Africa’s richest woman” by Forbes magazine. She was last year rated at a net worth of $2.2 billion (two billion euros). Her wealth and privileged status are said to have earned her the nickname of “The Princess.”
Dos Santos said it was “possible” to run for the top job in Angola when she was asked in an interview at the Portuguese state broadcaster Radio e Televisao de Portugal (RTP).
Of late,Africa’s Richest Woman has been facing charges under an anti-graft campaign launched by her father’s successor President Joao Lourenco. The Angolan President has vowed to root out corruption and rebuild the economy.
“I will do everything I need to do to defend and serve my country,” Isabel dos Santos said in an interview. She insists that the probes, freezing of her assets are all politically instigated.
Angolan political activist, Rafael Marques, dismissed her worries saying they are meant to divert attention from the “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” Rafael Marques added.
The investigation on dos Santos keys on alleged use of state-owned companies to loot over one billion dollars.
The probe is delving into irregularities involving Angola’s national oil company, Sonangol and Sodiam. Sodiam is a national diamond marketing firm.
Dos Santos’ half-brother Jose Filomeno has been on trial for allegedly embezzling $500 million. This is in connection to Angola’s sovereign fund which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018. He was the first member of the dos Santos family to be prosecuted.
“The selective manner of this so-called fight against corruption (is being used) to neutralise future political candidates. I am shocked by the fabricated allegations” dos Santos told RTP. She says that President Lourenco should ‘do his job’. Dos Santos insists he is unfairly targeting members of the dos Santos family.
“If we want to target corruption in Angola we must look (for it) where it is,” said dos Santos.
Alex Vines of Chatham House says that there has never been any doubt that in the long-term, Isabel dos Santos carries political ambitions. “She has deep pockets and can over time build up a support base, especially if the Angolan economic reforms fail to deliver.”
Her holdings in Angola include private banks, telecoms firm Unitel, a supermarket chain, a cement company and cable television.
On President Lourenco
Lourenco has been falling behind on his promise. He was to diversify Angola to an oil-dependent economy. The promise was hard-hit by the 2014 fall in crude prices. The country is the biggest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa but has been overtaken by Kenya in economic growth. Kenya has become the third-largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa under President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Angola is still reeling from a 1975-2002 civil war. The wealth from its extensive oil, gas and mineral reserves has failed to benefit the majority of the population.
“It’s time President Lourenco focuses on his job,” said dos Santos’ half-sister Welwitschia. She also reminded AFP that the president was hand-picked by her father, the Ex-President.
“We had never seen hunger and even famine like we are seeing in Angola now under Mr. Lourenco’s government” She added.
Critics are also observing that the Angolan President is on a path to neutralize all future potential presidents as he hides under corruption probes.