LUANDA, ANGOLA. The torrential rains that fell in Angola recently have killed scores, destroyed entire neighbourhoods and damaged the infrastructure, including schools, prompting the government to come to the rescue of floods victims by donating houses, an act interpreted by critics as a desperate attempt to score cheap political points.
The rain has killed at least nine people in the capital Luanda, and destroyed several houses, especially in the musseques (informal settlements) of Kilamba Kiaxi and Samba, according to the state-run news agency Angop.
In the province of Cunene (bordering Namibia), at least 170 families displaced by the killer rains have since been sheltering in various reception centres around the province.
Cunene’s heavily-hit towns include Kwanhama, Namacunde, Kuvelai and Ombadja. The rain also destroyed 35 schools and wiped out 338 agricultural fields in these areas.
The government heard the lamentations of people of Cunene and did the unthinkable: it donated over 500 houses to help ease their suffering.
An online publication critical of the MPLA government, Jornal do Povo Angolano (JPA), reported that the displaced families received their houses on Saturday outside the provincial capital Ondjiva, in a ceremony overseen by Provincial Governor Antonio Dawson.
But critics believe the government’s ‘too little and too late’ gesture was an attempt to be seen as caring for the people, while the opposite was the truth.
Angola is Africa’s second-biggest oil producer and an important diamond producer, but at least 60% of its people still live in extreme poverty, with no access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, basic healthcare and adequate housing. Youth unemployment in rife and crime is said to be on the increase as desperate young people resort to violence to survive.
Most Angolans said they wanted change of leadership, as the current leaders – described by critics as corrupt, cruel and reckless – have long overstayed and should step aside.
The ruling MPLA, led by President José Edouardo dos Santos, has been in power since 1975’s independence from Portugal. But dos Santos, in power since 1979, has reportedly said that he is here to stay and is not going anywhere.