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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Angola: Updates/Commentary, 2 Angola: Updates/Commentary, 2
Date distributed (ymd): 020302
Document reposted by Africa Action

Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+


This series of two postings contains a number of short documents concerning the prospects for peace in Angola after the Feb. 22 death of Jonas Savimbi.

In this posting:
(1) a brief excerpt from a Feb. 27 speech in Washington by Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, (2) an article from reporting on the Feb. 26 meeting of Presidents Chissano, dos Santos, and Mogae with President Bush, (3) a statement from Angolan traditional leaders at a Feb. 20 meeting in Luanda hosted by the Open Society Institute, and (4) a UN press briefing on the humanitarian situation in Angola.

In another posting sent out today: (1) a brief introductory note by Africa Action senior research fellow William Minter, (2) excerpts from the most recent issue of the Angola Peace Monitor, reporting on Savimbi's death and international reaction, and (3) a report from the Jesuit Relief Service on the reaction to Savimbi's death and the current situation in Luena, Moxico province, Angola.

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Excerpt from speech by Joaquim Alberto Chissano,
President of the Republic of Mozambique
at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, February 27, 2002.

[The full text of President Chissano's speech is available at:
For more coverage of President Chissano's visit to Washington, see]

Mozambique's experiences in peace building and national reconciliation teach us some lessons fro a successful transition from war to peace and development, some of which I would like to briefly mention:

  • The adoption of an inclusive and comprehensive approach comprising military, economic, and social dimensions in the peace building process is one of the keys to success;
  • The recognition that the search for peace and reconciliation are, per se, a permanent process; thus it is important to promote a culture of peace and tolerance.
  • Preservation of a permanent dialogue is a condition to build up confidence;
  • Permanent learning is important for monitoring new and modified problems;
  • The strengthening of the civil society and community organizations and encouragement of their participation in domestic affairs are an important factor to avoid sentiments of exclusion;
  • Development of partnership with donors based on co-responsbility and recipient ownership is vital;
  • The establishment of a permanent interaction between development, poverty reduction and eradication strategies, and peace building is crucial so as to address the main problems of the country.

This is not a recipe, but rather an attitude we have adopted to raise hope among our people, and make them feel that a better future lies primarily in their hands.

'Seize the Moment', Bush Urges Southern African Leaders February 27, 2002

By Charles Cobb Jr., Washington, DC

[reposted with permission of; an additional article reporting on President dos Santos' speech to the Corporate Council on Africa is at:]

Events in Angola, particularly the death of Unita leader Jonas Savimbi five days ago, dominated an hour-long meeting between President George W. Bush and Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Mozambican President Joaquim Alberto Chissano, and Botswana President Festus Mogae on Tuesday.

The charismatic but tyrannical Unita leader ruled his guerrilla movement, the Union for the Total Independence of Angola, with a rod of iron for 35 years. He repeatedly abandoned peace agreements with the MPLA government and went back to fighting a war against the MPLA government which, some estimates say, has claimed a million lives. Most analysts believe Savimbi's death presents the best chance so far, to reach a lasting agreement.

Bush said he supports calls for a ceasefire and, in a statement issued after the White House meeting with the African leaders, he urged Angola's president to "seize the moment... President Dos Santos has it within his power to end 26 years of fighting by reaching out to all Angolans willing to lay down their arms."

In a wide-ranging interview with after the meeting, Mozambique's President Joaquim Chissano said Dos Santos told Bush that "the situation now brings about a better prospect for peace and reconciliation." However, the Angolan President also cautioned that, while he hopes quickly to achieve a ceasefire, it will depend heavily "on the will of those who are fighting."

Unita has continued fighting and says the government must adopt a unilateral ceasefire. In the first reported Unita attack since Savimbi's death nine people were killed on Monday and 15 wounded, according to Portugal's Lusa news agency.

The Washington meeting was planned before Savimbi's death and is the second "mini summit" President Bush has held with African heads of state. In addition to discussing Angola, said Chissano, the leaders pressed for more help with the Aids crisis besieging Africa, and raised issues of poverty and development, and "capacity-building" in Africa. For his part, Bush said that his policy "was to put Africa as a priority," according to Chissano.

Both U.S. officials and the African Presidents characterized the meeting, which ran for 15 minutes longer than scheduled, as "good." But when asked if Bush had made any specific commitments, Chissano said, "No. We didn't go into details. We spoke of principles."

The role and the voice of traditional authorities

Presented by His Majesty King Muatchissengue wa Tembo, LundaTchoke (Eastern Provinces of Lunda-Sul and Lunda-Norte), and signed by 65 other chiefs from provinces including Uige, Moxico, Lunda Sul, Lunda Norte, Bie, Malange, Huambo, Kuanza Norte, and Kuanza Sul.

At a conference on "The role of the international community and of civil society in the resolution of the Angolan conflict," hosted by the Open Society Institute Angola, in Luanda, Hotel Tropico, 20 February 2002

Fundacao Open Society, Alameda do Principe Real 41, Miramar, Luanda, Angola; tel/fax: 244-2-343667; e-mail:

Members of the National Assembly
Government representatives
Religious entities
Representatives of the diplomatic community
Representatives of political parties
Distinguished members of civil society
Representative of the Open Society Initiative in Angola

Esteemed colleagues

We would like, first of all, to thank Mr Rafael Marques, Open Society representative in Angola, for the opportunity he has given us to express the ideas of the traditional authorities who met at the headquarters of the Angolan Forum of Traditional Authorities.

Time does not allow us to make a longer input, so we will concentrate on the matter of the armed conflict.

The war in Angola has already touched everyone, and much effort has already been put into the search for a solution. Yet the war never seems to stop. Because the interests and hidden agendas of those who wage and who support the war continue to complicate the process of building a real and lasting peace.

The traditional authorities and local communities are witness, more disgusted on each occasion, to the destruction of peace, to the squandering of their natural resources and the killing of the Angolan people.

The majority of the population has been and continues to be forced to abandon their homelands, their fields - all that they possess.

Angola today is a land of displaced people, people live in inhumane conditions in displaced peoples' camps on the edges of the big cities.

With much sadness, we see that there is little or no political will to transcend this situation. This lack of will is reflected in the behaviours of the parties at war, of the international community and even by some of the Angolan people.

This is all because the interests of particular individuals are, at the moment, still stronger than the will of the people. Why? More than anything else, the international community and the Angolan political parties have done their best to divide and weaken the people. Today, the Angolan people lack direction.

We, the chiefs, have already taken account of the fact that this war is contrary to the interests of Angolan communities. On the contrary, the continuation of the war is destroying lives and cultural identities - customs and costumes - particular to each community, not to mention the dehumanisation to which displaced people have fallen victim.

This war is being fueled by leaders or commanders who appear to be interested in creating a "new man", a new kind of Angolan citizen, with new cultural values and morals unfamiliar to the majority.

Is this the vision that our politicians have for Angola? Doing away with Angolans so as to invent a new people? Are they going to kill all the people, in order to hand over Angola to someone else? Are they going to kill all the people because they hate the people so much, or because they do not identify with the cultural values of Angola?

From the Bible, one of the Proverbs of King Solomon, chapter 11, verse 14, says that "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety."

We, the heirs of the kingdoms that make up Angola, are treated as miserable, backward people who do not know the meaning of civilisation.

So, we the chiefs ask our children, the politicians who govern us or who seek to govern us: To be civilised, does that mean to order and to oversee the death of one's own people? To loot the riches of the country? To destroy one's own country in the name of the enemy? But who is the enemy who deserves the honour of such a sacrifice, the sacrifice of an entire nation?

A father who has no bread to offer his own children, invites the neighbours and their children to a banquet. Can we say that such a father is civilised?

Whenever we have a problem, the first thing we do is to call on a foreigner to solve our problems. So it was at independence, so it was during the various peace processes. So let us consider: We have a snake in the hen-house which is Angola, and we call on a fox to chase the snake away. Let us ask, will the fox be more interested in chasing after the chickens to eat them, or will he be just as concerned about the snake? And if there are not one but three foxes what are they going to do?

We, the chiefs, as the the true heirs to the cultures, the traditions and the riches of our people, do not accept our political leaders' view of themselves as civilised.


We call on all Angolan communities, the youth, the elders, men and women, representatives of the churches and other social institutions, to join together with their traditional leaders in order to devise ways of defending their rights and protecting their cultural heritage in all its diversity, protecting the people's natural resources and their lands.

We, the chiefs, demand the recognition of and respect for the cultural identity of all Angolans.

We, the chiefs decree that peace must be discussed at the level of communities (by means of consultation and debate), in order that all Angolans may make known their ideas on the future of the country. Peace is more than just an order to lay down weapons. What happens after that?

To begin with, we call on communities to cease handing over their sons to those who wage war, for such people are only destroying the country and the people, while they hide their own sons away in Europe or America. And it is also in Europe and America that these gentlemen hide the wealth of Angola and receive support for their policies, which are against the interests of the children of Angola.

But there are also communities who feed the war by feeding their own children: the soldiers of the Angolan Armed Forces, the police officers, the UNITA guerrillas - all of them children of communities. These same communities are the main victims of the war, for they become reduced to the state of third-class citizens. These are the communities who are suffering in the displaced people's camps, subject to hunger, nakedness, misery and death.

Today, Angola has almost ceased to exist. The country is little more than Luanda. Family has come to mean only those who live in Luanda, since those who live in the provinces are condemned to isolation.

This is why we believe that the peace process needs to start at the bottom and not from the top down, so that those who are at the top may come to understand that their position depends on those who are at the bottom.

The leaves and the branches, however strong or impressive they may be, are completely depending on the roots that support them.

For the good of Angola and of all Angolans who are truly patriotic and who love their nation, the chiefs, meeting in the Angolan Traditional Leaders' Forum, call on the people to demand a sovereign national conference on peace and the future of Angola.

At this conference we must define the roles of the political parties, of civil society, of traditional leaders and of the churches in the resolution of the Angolan conflict. Such a definition will help in the creation of a common understanding of the reconciliation process and of open and patriotic government, and in the reconstruction of the country.

It is at this conference that we will be able, as Angolans, to draw up a vision for the future of Angola, so that tomorrow, new generations may be able to follow the paths of righteousness and prosperity.

Many thanks for your attention

14 February 2002

Press Briefing on Angola
Erik de Mul, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Angola

(Excerpts; full briefing available on

The humanitarian situation in Angola was dramatic, with shocking statistics that were similar to those of Afghanistan, Erik de Mul, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for that country told correspondents at a Headquarters press briefing this afternoon.

Mr. de Mul said that currently in Angola, life expectancy was 44 years, with 33 per cent of all households living below the poverty line. Thirty per cent of all children died before they reached the age of five while one third of the total population--4 million out of 12 million--were displaced. The displacement trend was continuing for two reasons; action by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) that forced people to move; and military "cleaning" operations, which again made people decide to leave their places of origin.

"We basically have an appeal to two parties," Mr. de Mul went on to say. One was to the international community, to try and impress upon them the need to do more, and to do it quickly. The other was to the Government of Angola. The efforts of the Government of Angola in trying to address the needs of the population had been “too little, too late". That was the assessment of the United Nations, the non-governmental organizations, and the international community at large.

That assessment, continued Mr. de Mul, was also shared by the Government and resulted in a meeting of the Angolan Cabinet last Monday, in which they admitted that the situation was bad. The outcome was a statement with a list of actions, which would be undertaken immediately to help alleviate the situation in the country.

When asked to elaborate more about who was most to blame for the present humanitarian disaster in Angola, Mr. de Mul said it would be difficult to be that specific. "We are basically trying to deal with the consequences of actions taken by both UNITA and the Government and it is very difficult to say how many people are on the move as a result of one or the other," he said. Activities by both entities resulted in increased numbers of displaced people. The problem was widespread and not limited only to certain provinces or areas of the country.

When asked how the Government was responsible for the movement of people, Mr. de Mul said that, in principle, when it came to internally displaced persons, the Government should be the first one to respond. But, that had not necessarily been the case and the international community had been trying to pick up the pieces. The point, nevertheless, was that all the non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies were at the end of their rope. There was no longer any flexibility. "They can only do as much as they can,” he said. Hence the idea of appealing more to the donor community and the Angolan Government to do more and to do it fast", he said.

When asked what percentage of the internally displaced persons had access to emergency assistance, Mr. de Mul said the problem was that, for security and logistical reasons, access by the international community to the displaced was limited. The Government had been asked to try and develop systems to bring relief goods to the displaced, and not only military equipment and personnel, if they have access to them.

When asked how many out of the 4 million displaced had access to relief assistance, Mr. de Mul said he would estimate that about half of that figure could be reached by the international community. But, regarding the other half, "there are pockets of people that we think are not reached at all". Others, who could also not be reached, were being held by the Angolan authorities.


Replying to another question about the movement of people, he said UNITA was in a guerilla warfare mode and was carrying out unpredictable actions in areas where it was difficult to judge where the action would take place. Those actions resulted in the movement of people. At the same time, the Government and the army were involved in trying to clean up areas where they thought UNITA elements were located. In that process, people, for reasons of fear and insecurity, went on the move as well. ...

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa Action's information services provide accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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