Angolans to vote as Zuma basks in SADC limelight

Following the Kenyan General Election on August 8, Angola is now poised for crucial polls that will see the exit President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, in power since 1979.

Set for August 23, the Angolan General Election will be the third since the country emerged from a long civil war in 2002.

Six parties will be competing for the 220 parliamentary seats, with the ruling MPLA widely viewed as dominant, and its presidential candidate Joao Lourenco as the most likely to succeed the sickly dos Santos.

The poll will come soon after the inauguration of Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame after winning his third term and when the Kenyan presidential vote results have culminated in a tantalising Supreme Court petition.

Filed by the National Super Alliance, the country’s opposition coalition, the case will put institutions like the Judiciary and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission under a major test.

In an unusually eventful weekend, the Angolan General Election will follow the 37th conference of the Southern African Development Community or SADC.

The Summit of Heads of State and Government in Pretoria, South Africa themed “Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional Value-chains”, began Saturday and closes Sunday.

Among the objectives of the forum was “exploring ways of harnessing the public and the private sector to work together to promote sustainable economic development in the region”.

Underpinning the meeting’s deliberations will be the urgency of putting in place mechanisms for attaining industrialisation and sustainable development while bolstering efforts to achieve deeper integration for member states.

A major objective is to safeguard political stability, peace and security in the southern African region with a view to ensuring quality life for citizens and realising the targeted economic development goals.

While appreciating the fact that the region had been spared the vagaries of terrorism that have become rampant on the continent and the world, participants however added that such attacks were unpredictable.

They also expressed concern about the fact that religion is a major contributing factor to terrorist activities reported in recent years.

Amid the general optimism in the SADC region, however, clouds of uncertainly still hang over countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa, with regard to festering succession matters.

Incidentally, Jacob Zuma, the president of the latter country, was hurled to the limelight during the two-day summit even as his 93-year-old Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe’s arrival in Pretoria was clouded by problems surrounding his 52-year-old wife Grace Marufu Mugabe.

Controversial at the best of times, the former secretary was under fire for reportedly assaulting a 20-year-old Johannesburg model, Gabriella Engels, with an electrical extension cord while her 10 bodyguards watched.

According to the victim, the furious Zimbabwean first lady brutally attacked her and two of her friends after finding them in the company of the Mugabe boys, both in their 20s, at the Capital 20 West Hotel in the upmarket business district of Sandton, Johannesburg.

“She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug,” Engels told the News 24 website.

“Over and over. I had no idea what was going on. I was surprised…I needed to crawl out of the room before I could run away.”

The two Mugabe sons — Robert Jr and Chatunga — who live in Johannesburg, reportedly fled the scene as their mother vented her fury on the hapless young woman.

Apparently spoilt rotten, the hedonistic young men are widely viewed as overgrown brats and the latest example of the indiscipline of the progeny of the continent’s political aristocracy.

Summit host Zuma recently survived the eighth no-confidence motion of his controversy-ridden presidency.

Still raring for a good fight, Zuma has now vowed to go after his detractors, particularly from the ruling Africa National Congress who voted against him during the censor motion on the very day Kenyans cast their ballots.

Internal South African political challenges aside, the apparently indomitable Zuma is Sunday expected to assume the rotating SADC chair from King Mswati III of Swaziland.

In Angola, authorities say 9,260,403 citizens have registered to vote in the coming elections amid claims that the government has been attempting to manipulate the electoral process in order to determine the outcome.

Consequently, there have been spirited protests by activists, seven of whom were recently sentenced to 45 days in jail for taking part in a demonstration in capital Luanda.

They were demanding credible elections.

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