A utility crew in Luanda fixes a street lamp.
Maintenance workers surface a length of road.
In many Third World states, the president was the
leader, and in this regard Angola was no exception. Its
José Eduardo dos Santos, combined strong party loyalty
political pragmatism. This loyalty had political and
bases. Dos Santos owed much of his success to the MPLA,
had joined in 1962 at the age of nineteen. The party
study at Baku University in the Soviet Union from 1963 to
1974 MPLA leader Neto appointed dos Santos to the Central
Committee, which elected him to its elite Political
group elected him to succeed Neto, who died in 1979. Dos
traveled to the Soviet Union a few weeks later to confirm
revolutionary agenda as president.
Dos Santos's loyalty to Marxism-Leninism was founded in
student years in the Soviet Union, where he also married a
citizen (who later returned to her homeland). There, he
his belief in the vanguard party as the best strategy for
mobilizing Angola's largely rural population. At the same
however, he professed belief in a mixed economy, some
decentralization, an expanded private sector, and Western
investment. Like many African leaders, he did not equate
eclecticism with internal contradiction, nor did he view
political posture as an invitation to Soviet domination.
Dos Santos did not embrace Marxism for its utopian
view of Angolan society after the envisioned socialist
transformation did not lack internal conflict. Rather, he
Marxist-Leninist organizational tenets as the most
for mobilizing a society in which the majority lacked
educational opportunities. A small vanguard leadership,
motivation and training, could guide the population
early stages of national development, in his view, and
approach could improve the lives of more people than
investment and profit making by a small minority. During
because trade with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
develop and because Western technical expertise appeared
Angola's development, dos Santos favored improved
relations with the West as a step toward peace and greater
prosperity. Although he had scorned his predecessor's
shift in the
same direction in the late 1970s, dos Santos denied that
signaled a weakening commitment to Marxism.
Despite his strong party loyalty, in the late 1980s dos
was known as a political pragmatist. He sometimes spoke
the MPLA-PT's most extreme ideologues and took steps to
influence. He openly criticized the results of the
campaign of the late 1970s, which, in his view, had
many loyal members from the party's rolls. He also
the campaign had alienated much of the nation's peasant
that they remained indifferent toward party programs in
1980s, and that they had not benefited from many MPLA-PT
Political pragmatism was not to be confused with a
style of governing. In response to security crises and
criticism, dos Santos ordered arrests, detentions without
and occasional executions. He concentrated power in his
narrowed his circle of close advisers. He enlarged the
branch of government by appointing new ministers of state
coordinate executive branch activity and convinced the
Central Committee to entrust him with emergency powers.
also persuaded party leaders to empower him to appoint
military councils that had sweeping authority over
military affairs in unstable regions of the country and
answerable only to the president.
Dos Santos further consolidated his hold on executive
in April 1984 by establishing the Defense and Security
(see Executive Branch
, this ch.). In 1985 he enlarged the party
Committee from sixty to ninety members and alternates,
diluting the strength of its staunch ideological faction.
Undermining potential opponents was not dos Santos's
motivation for consolidating power within the executive
government. He was also impatient with bureaucratic "red
even when justified in the name of party discipline.
the primary qualification for his trusted advisers was a
competence, efficiency, and loyalty. Rhetorical skills,
generally lacked, were not given particular priority;
purity was even less important. His advice for economic
was summed up as "produce, repair, and rehabilitate." The
relatively nonideological governing style exemplified by
approach earned dos Santos substantial respect and a few
Economic and security crises worsened during the first
years of dos Santos's presidency, draining resources that
have been used to improve living standards and education.
president rejected advice from party ideologues, whose
was to develop a sophisticated Marxist-Leninist party
Rather than emphasize centralized control and party
Santos embraced a plan to decentralize economic decision
1988. He then appointed Minister of Planning Lopo do
serve as commissioner of Huíla Province in order to
plan in a crucial region of the country.
The 1985 Second Party Congress assented to the
growing power by approving several of his choices for top
government office as party officials. Among these was
Almeida, a member of the Defense and Security Council in
capacity as the MPLA-PT secretary for ideology,
culture and one of dos Santos' close advisers. Party
elected Almeida, a mestiço, to both the MPLA-PT
Committee and the Political Bureau.
Demoted from the top ranks of the party were the
ideologue, Lúcio Lára, and veteran mestiço leaders
Jorge and Henrique Carreira (nom de guerre Iko). The split
ideologues and political moderates did not render the
immobile, in part because of dos Santos's skill at using
internal and external threats to unite MPLA-PT factions.
The everpresent UNITA insurgency provided a constant reminder of
frailty of the nation's security.
Data as of February 1989