The Heritage Foundation

Backgrounder #915 on Africa

September 25, 1992

September 25, 1992 | Backgrounder on Africa

Promoting a Prosperous and Peaceful Angola


(Archived document, may contain errors)

915 September 25,1992 PROMOTING A PROSPEROUS AND PEACEFUL ANGOLA INTRODUCTION Angola will hold its fmt democratic elections on September 29 and

30. If free and fair as expected, they will close out an arduous peace process that will end a sixteen-year civil war in the fanner Portuguese colony. The elections will determine which of the waning parties will govern Angola: Jonas Savimbis National Uni o n for the Total Independence of Angola A) rebel movement, which received U.S. military aid, or the Popular Move ment for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government of President Jose Eduardo dos San tos, the ruling regime which enjoyed Soviet backing. Savi m bis UNITA probably will win if there are free elections. The charismatic Savimbi is attracting large and enthusiastic crowds throughout Angola. Regardless of who wins the United States should follow through on its past support for Savimbi and help to cons o lidate a stable democracy in An A stable Angolan democracy could liberalize the countrys socialist economy and be come a more important U.S. trading partner. A democratic and prosperous Angola also would be a stabilizing influence in the turbulent souther n African region. The success of de mky in Angola, for example, could help encourage the efforts of Mozambique, South Africa, and the other southern African countries struggling toward democracy and free market economic development. Moreover, Angolas succe s sful transition to democrady would be a vindication of the Reagan Doctrine, under which the U.S. extended military aid to political movements combatting communist rule. Democratic elections certainly would not be happening if it had not been for the U.S. aid to Savimbi.

To encourage democracy in Angola, and thus to enable that country to play a stabilizing role in southern Africa, the Bush Administration should gola 4 Establish a cutoff date for U.S. development aid to Angola. Doing this would help prevent Angola from becoming overly dependent on foreign aid which historically has not been conducive to fxee market refarms. The cutoff date should be in ten years 4 Be prepared to suspend U.S. development aid if Angolas government cor ruption does not decreas e dramatically. Sending fmign aid to Angola would be pointless unless the cmnt corruption of the MPLA government is stopped. Whichever party controls the government, if corruption continues U.S. aid should be terminated Provide training and professional ad v ice to bolster Angolas fragile demo cratic institutions A small amount of American resources for technical assis tance to Angolas young democracy, for building political parties for example could help stabilize the en& southern region of Africa Hail the f r ee elections in Angola as a vindication of the Reagan Doctrine Democratic elections in Angola would not.be happening had it not been far Ronald Reagans military aid to Savimbi THE REAGAN DOCTRINE: PRELUDE TO DEMOCRACY IN ANGOLA The road to democracy in An gola has been a long one. Angola gained.its independence from Portugal in 19

75. Washington backed Jonas Savimbis National Union for theTotal Independence of Angola (UNITA while Moscow backed the Marxist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA Ignoring its pledge to participate in elections, the MPLA seized power in November 1975, having driven UNITA and thelNational Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) out of Luanda, Angolas capital city. UNITA soon after organized its rural-based politic al and military opposition to the MPLA regime. U.S. oppo sition to that war was intense in the late 1970s: In 1976, for example, Conpss passed the Clark Amendment, which prohibited American aid to any Angolan faction.

Americas policy toward Angola changed dramatically under Ronald Reagan. In 1985 Congress repealed the Clark Amendment, allowing UNITA to join the Nicaraguan contras and the Afghan freedom fighters as recipients of U.S. militaryaid under the so-called Reagan Doctrine. The Reagan Doctrine was t he U.S. policy to extend military aid to politi cal movements combatting communist rule. Some $250 million in U.S. military aid was funneled covertly to UNITA between 1986 and May 19

91. This aid was used to assist Savimbis UNITA in its war against the MPL A regime, which was backed by as many as 50,q Cuban troops and Soviet military aid, which amounted to some $1 billion in 1988 alone. The Soviets also gave the MPLA economic aid, while East German internal secu rity advisors helped mate one of Africas most repressive communist states. Until the MPLAs December 1989 failed offensive against the Angolan town of Mavinga, the MPLA hoped to defeat UNITA militarily. After the Mavinga offensives failm, the MPLA, under intense Soviet pressure, agreed to direct talks with Savimbi.

The Estaril Accords were the eventual result. These Accords were signed on May 3 1 1991, in Estoril, Portugal, by Savimbi and dos Santos. They called for ending Angolas civil war, holding free and fair elections, creating a unified and non-p artisan Angolan Armed Farces, and developing a market economy and multiparty political system.

Without this American aid, UNITA might have been crushed by the MPLAs armed farces. If this had happened, democratic elections would not be taking place in Ango la 1 2 The FNLA, in exile in Lisbon throughout most of Angolas civil war, is fielding its founder, Holden Roberto, as a pmidential candidate. FNLA candidates an running for National Assembly seats as well.

Total Soviet military aid to the Angolan governme nt from 1975 to 1990 is estimated at $15 billion 2 Significant Events in Angola Since 1956 December 1956 March 1962 March 1966 January 15,1975 WinterISpring 1975 August 1975 November 11,1975 May 1976 June 30,1976 October 1976 December 1977 July 1985 Janua r y 6,1989 December 1989 April 1990 May 25,1991 May 31,1991 September 2940,1992 The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) is founded The National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) is founded with Holden Roberto as its leader The Natio n al Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) is founded by Jonas Savimbi The Portuguese government signs the Ahror Agreement with the MPLA, UNITA, and the FNLA, calling for democratic elections the following October and independence in November. T he agreement falls apart as fighting erupts, with the MPLA opposing UNITA and the FNLA The U.S. provides covert nlilitary aid to UNITA and the FNLA The MPLA drives UNITA and the FNLA out of Luanda The Alvor Agreement's planned independence day for Angola. The Portuguese High Commissioner and his staff depart Luanda. The MPLA establishes control over Luanda embassies and announces creation of the People's Republic of Angola with Agostinho Net0 as president The River Caunza Manifesto is issued by UNITA It vo w s that UNITA will continue to fiihl against the MPLA, Cuba, and the Soviet Union The Clark Amendment prohibiting American military aid to any Angolan faction is signed into law by President Ford The MPLA government signs a treaty of friendship and coopera t ion with the Soviet Union The MPLA proclaims itsell a Marxist-Leninist pady The Clark Amendment is repealed, allowing for the Reagan Administdon to renew covert U.S. military aid to UNITA as part of the Reagan Dodrine President Bush, in a letterto Savimbi , reaffirms the US. intent to continue providing UNITA with military aid until Angola achieves national reconciliation The MPLA launches an ultimately failed offensive against Mavinga, a UNlTAcontrolled town in southeastern Angola The MPLA and UNITA public l y state their desire to negotiate an end to the war Cuba withdraws the last of its 50,000 troops from Angola, under the terms of the 1988 Angola-Namibia accords The Estoril Accords are signed by Savimbi and dos Santos in Estoril, Portugal. These provide f o r an end to Angola's civil war, the holding of free elections, the creation of a unified and non-partisan Angolan Armed Forces, and the development of a market economy and multiparty politics Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for Ango la 3 Thus, the elections of September 29-30 are, in a very real sense, a vindication of the Reagan Doctrine THE ROCKY ROAD TO ELECTIONS The mere fact that Angolas elections will take place is a great victory for democracy.

Problems remain, however UNlTA an d the MPLA routinely question each others com mitment to democracy, while issuing veiled warnings that hostilities might be Iesumed. This tension has been heightened by the slow-paced demobilization of some 200,000 war veterans many of whom are wander ing the country in search of food.

Clashes between UNITA and MPLA partisans have resulted in dozens of deaths. Malanje, a provincial capital 200 miles east of Luanda, has been particularly plagued by violence.

The MPLA ominously has expanded its national pol ice, ostensibly to keep order, particularly among in creasingly violent separatists of the oil-rich enclave of Cabinda. Fareign embassies have drawn up evacuation plans in case Angola should spin out of control in a replay of 1975 Despite growing tensions , UNITA and the MPLA appear committed to the elections, largely because each thinks it will win. Continued move ment toward peace and democracy however, will require that one party accept political defeat. For this to Will Free Elections Unify Angola Scale 500 miles happen, Angolas elections must be free and fair. To encourage this, the U.N. will dispatch 800 election observers to monitor the elections. With the U.S. adding approximately 50 of its own election observers, and with other countries contributin g additional observers, An gola soon should have close to 1,200 international election observers in place Massive Challenges. The election observers will face a difficult task. There will be some 6,000 polling stations to watch. Massive logistical challeng e s and local political inter ference im likely to keep Angola from conducting model elections. Both the MPLA and UNITA farces have been charged with acts of political intimidation. The MPLA, far exam ple, has been accused of buying votes with money skimmed from the revenues of the state owned oil and diamond companies, Sonangol and Endiama. Election observers probably will overlook a fair amount of such shortcomings in Angolas electoral process. They un derstand that if they were to invalidate the elections , Angolas prospects for achieving de 4 mocracy would be reduced considerably and the possibility of social unrest greatly in creased.

Beyond the hurdle of free and fair elections comes the challenge of governing a deme cratic Angola. At stake in these elec tions will be the Angolan presidency and all seats in the 223 member National Assembly? UNITA or the MPLA might be forced into a coali tion with some of the thirteen smaller partie fielding parliamentary candidates, a difficult prospect for such highly ce n tralized parties. Tribalism also poses a potential problem. To date, UNITA and the MPLA have steered clear of tribal appeals in the election campaign preferringto presentthemselves as-national, rather-than tribal-based, parties. The Ovimbundu and Mbundu, Angolas two major tribes, long have been supporters of UNITA and the MPLA, respectively f ANGOLAS ECONOMIC PROMISE Angolas economy has been on a downtrend since its 350,000 Portuguese colonists abruptly departed in 19

75. Though their colonial rule was gro ssly inequitable, the Portu guese did build an impressive infrastructure, now in decay, that supported a vibrant manu facturing and industrial sector. Economic growth rates of 7 percent per year, some of Africas highest, were registered throughout the 196 0s and early 1970s tuguese exodus, the civil war, and the socialist economic policies of the MPLA regime.

Particularly hard hit has been Angolan agriculture. Once self-sufficient, Angola now must import basic foodstuffs. The cash crop sector also is devastated. Angola produces around 10,000 tons of coffee today, compared to 210,000 tons in 19

73. Except for o il, all eco nomic sectors, including cocoa and diamonds, are in poor shape. Diamond production fell from 1.5 million carats in 1980 to 961,000 carats in 1991 Government cormption is rampant. It is all but certain that at least a large chunk of $320 millio n in proceeds generated from last springs sale of a 10 percent government share in an oil field has disappeared into MPLA pockets. President dos Santos said the money was used to keep the economy going, yet his own finance minister said that he did not kno w what happened to the proceeds or why the sale was made.

Major Change. UNITA and the MPLA now share essentially the same plan for ece nomic dval: create a market-based economy. This is a major change for the MPLA which once nationalized taxis and barbersh ops. The MPLA shift away from a command economy began in 1987 with a series of half-measure economic liberalization programs re laxing price controls and encouraging private enterprise. Both parties now advocate the privatization of state enterprises and the encouragement of foreign investment.

Whichever party wins the elections will seek and probably receive major fareign eco nomic assistance. The World Rank ahady has extended $100 million of loans to Angola Today economic growth is close to zero. Causes of Angolas economic crisis m the Par 3 4 If one of the eleven presidential candidates fails to mive 50 percent of the vote, there will be a second ballot, probably in mid-November.

Despite past antagonisms and the hostile campaign, a victorious UNITA or M PLA probably would invite some opposition party members into their government in an attempt to promote national reconciliation 5 while the International Monetary Fund currently has staff in Luanda preparing a generous loan package A conference of Angolas f oreign aid donors to establish foreign aid commit ments likely will be convened won after a democratically elected government is inaugu rated Promising Economy. In the long run, however, economic development-and not for eign aid-is the key to Angolas econ o mic future. Despite the ravages of the civil war Angolas economy shows 5at promise. Particularly important in this respect are Angolas oil reserves, which are expected to keep oil companies active in Angola well into thenex~~n ngola4 15 billion-oil revenu e s last year provided 90 percent of its hard currency eamings Part of these revenues were used to pay off Angolas $9 billion debt half of which is owed to private creditors and half to foreign governments. These rev enues also give Angola one of sub-Sahara n Africas highest per capita gross domestic prod ucts 620 In addition, Angola is blessed with diamonds, gold, manganese, and high quality marble which could produce high export earnings. Its agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sectors if revived, also co u ld provide valuable exports. Another potential economic asset is the Benguela Railway, which links Zambia and Zaire to the Atlantic Ocean. The railway was put out of commission by Angolas civil war. Angola could attract new foreign investment if it reduce d bureaucratic red tape and further liberalized its foreign investment code.

Heavy taxes and regulation have deterred foreign investment.

Refanning the economy, along with the end of the civil war, could create the stability I and predictability needed to raise Angola out of its current economic doldrums.

THE U.S. INTEREST IN A STABLE ANGOLA The U.S. has been deeply involved in supparting democracy in Angola. Since the U.S. stopped covert military aid to UNITA in 1991, when Angolans stopped fighting, the U.S. has provided Angola with approximately $90 million in foreign aid. This has included at least $70 million in humanitarian assistance. U.S. aid has been used to reconstruct Angolas devastated infrastructure and to assist in the demobilization of UNITA and MPLA armed forces. Washington also has observer status on the Joint Political Military Commission (JPMC), which was created by the Estoril Accords. The JPMCs responsibili ties include monitoring the cease fire and troop demobilization, and mediating d i sputes be tween the rival parties. Moreover, the U.S. has supported the deployment of 500 U.N. per sonnel in Angola to monitor the armed forces and national police, as well as to verify com pliance with the terms of the Estaril Accords. The U.S. contribut ion to U.N. operations has been $28 million.

The reason for this aid is clear: America has an interest in a stable, democratic Angola.

Other southern African counmes like Mozambique and South Africa are struggling toward democracy and free markets. A demo cratic Angola successfully liberalizing its socialist economy could serve as a forceful model for these southern African countries. An econom ically vibrant Angola, which will come about only if it successfully makes the transition to democracy and free m a rkets, also would stimulate the growth of southern Africas regional economy. A political breakdown and possible resumption of the civil war, however, could bring Angola the type of famine Somalia is now experiencing 6 The U.S. also has an economic in tere s t in helping to build a stable Angolan democracy. Angolas oil production, now 535,000 barrels per day, could reach 800,000 barrels a day by the end of the decade.The California-based Chevron Corpora tion, which now produces 30(;,000 barrels of Angolan. oi l per day, is one of several oil companies in creasing their investment in Angola which has large oil reserves and low operating costs. And since Angola is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC the are no limits on how much Angolan oil may be produced and sold. While the Angolan oil in dustry was largely undamaged by the war, Angolas oil production would be adversely affected by po litical instability there.

The Angolan economy offers U.S. firms a potentially expanding marke t. While U.S. trade with An gola and investment there has been limited largely to the oil industry primarily because of Angolas war American firms are aware of Angolas potential. This recognition is reflected by the support U.S. com panies give to the Was h ington based United States-Angola Cham ber of Commerce. The Chamber is one of the few existing bilateral business organizations between an African country and the U.S. U.S. Chamber members, including Pepsi-Cola In ternational and McDonnell Douglas Corpora t ion, believe that the emergence of peace and democracy in Angola will enable them to take advantage of expanded business opportuni ties. Angolas peace, however, already appears to be paying off for the U.S. In 1991, Amex ican exports to Angola were up 26 p ercent over 1990, to $188 million CONSOLIDATING DEMOCRACY IN ANGOLA The U.S. has refused to recognize the MPLA regime. If, however, the September 29-30 elections are free and fair, the U.S. will recognize the government of the winner. Washing ton also wil l repeal some relatively minor trade restrictions on Angola, including the 1986 Grassley Amendment to the 1986 Deficit Reduction Bill, which denies a fareign tax credit to American companies operating in Angola 7 If the elections are free and fair, the U.S . should do more. The Bush Administration should J Establish a cutoff date for U.S. development aid to Angola If Angolas new leadership anticipates an indefinite supply of foreign aid, it may not make the changes needed to create a market economy. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) plans to spend approximately $25 million in Angola next year.

This money will be spent on health, education, and infrastructure construction projects.

Angola needs to become independent of this kind of aid. Th erefore, the U.S. should con vince Luanda and its other aid donors to set a deadline for Angolas independence from foreign aid. Ten years would be a reasonable deadline. Angolas aid donors might guaran tee a certain amount of foreign aid until that date. T he forthcoming conference of Angolas aid donors, expected soon after the election, would be an appropriate forum in which the U.S. could propose this concept J Be prepared to suspend U.S. development aid if Angolas government cor ruption does not decrease dramatically Foreign aid donors are taking increasingly aggressive actions against government cormp tion in mipient countries. A high level of cmption is a reliable indication that a state is wielding too much economic power. When government cmption is dr a ining a countrys development potential foreign aid is unlikely to achieve its intended purpose of promoting economic development. Because corruption has been so rampant, AID should report mu ally on the extent of Angolan government corruption and be prepa red to cut off aid to Lu anda if it continues to thrive.

J Provide training and professional advice to bolster Angolas fragile demo cratic institutions.

There are many threats to Angolan democracy: tribalism, a totalitarian tradition, a bitter civil war legacy, a violent sepzratist movement in Cabinda, and a lack of experience with democratic institutions. The International Republican Institute (IRI) and t he National Dem ocratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI two U.S. government-funded institutions that help promote democracy overseas, have been working to strengthen Angolas political parties and democratic culture through training seminars. Thes e efforts should continue after Angolas election. The U.S. also should offer training and professional advice to Angolas National Assembly and presidency. For example, NDI recently conducted a semi nar on parliamentary procedures and organization for the n e wly elected members of Namibias National Assembly. The same thing should be done in Angola The U.S. enjoys much prestige in Angola because of its democratic traditions. The type of technical assistance that IRI and NDI provide reflects this strength. The NDI project in Namibia cost $54,0

00. This is small price to pay to help Angolas young democracy through its most treacherous early years.

J Hail the free elections in Angola as a vindication of the Reagan Doctrine.

The Reagan Doctrine extended military aid to political movements combatting commu nist rule. In Angola, this was P. remedy to the Clark Amendments dangerous isolationism.

Were it not for the American covert military aid, Savimbis forces would have been crushed on the battlefield. Instead, the Soviet-backed MPLA was farced to negotiate the Estoril Accds, which in all likelihood will bring about a democratic Angola 8 Despite its success during the Cold War, this practice of aiding African rebels like Savimbi happily is no longer necessary. The reason is simple: The Soviet Union no longer exists, and thus no longer can destabilize Africa in a way that threatens U.S. intemts.

Moreover, democracy appears to be on the rise in Zambia,Tanzania, Ghana, and other Af rican nations. If this trend continue s, then the U.S. will have even less of a need to worry about instability in Africa The U.S. acted boldly under the Reagan Doctrine to bring Angola to the kshold of de mocracy. Washington should remain engaged there as Angolans embark upon an era that pro m ises, for the fmt time in its history, not only democracy but economic prosperity A democratic Angola that reaches its considerable economic potential through free mar ket reforms would help to uplift all of southern Africa. But if Angola's experiment wit h de mocracy fails, it could spin out of control, as it did in 1975 when the civil war began This would bring more misery to Angola. It also would establish a bad precedent that could de stabilize the entire southern African region New Promise. To follow t h rough on its earlier commitment to Angola, the U.S. should give the winner of the elections certain types of foreign aid-but only if the elections are tee and fair, and only if the government embarks on a program of democratic and free market reforms. Thi s aid should not be used to foster the kind of dependence that afflicts and perpetuates the poverty of so many other African countries. Angola is blessed with too much economic potential to see its new promise and independence squandered by the cre ation o f a new and equally harmful dependence on fareign patrons.

Thomas P. Sheehy Policy Analyst 9

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