Isabel dos Santos considers running for Angola’s presidency

5907702 07.06.2019 Chairman of the Unitel SA Isabel Jose dos Santos attends the "Business Dialogue Russia-Africa" session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) , in St. Petersburg, Russia. Iliya Pitalev / Sputnik

Africa’s richest woman and billionaire daughter of Angola’s ex-president, Isabel dos Santos, has said she would consider running for president in the next election in 2022.

Asked in an interview with Portuguese state broadcaster Radio e Televisao de Portugal (RTP) whether she would run for the top job in Angola, dos Santos said it was “possible”.

“I will do everything I need to do to defend and serve my country,” she said in the interview, which was broadcast late Wednesday, an AFP report said.

Dos Santos has been targeted in an anti-graft campaign led by her father’s successor President Joao Lourenco, who has vowed to fight corruption and rebuild the economy of sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest oil producer.

Prosecutors froze the bank accounts and holdings owned by the 46-year-old businesswoman and her Congolese husband Sindika Dokolo last month.

Dos Santos, reportedly Africa’s richest woman, has denied any wrongdoing and denounced the investigation as “politically motivated”.

The investigation surrounding dos Santos is centred on the alleged use of state-owned companies to siphon off over one billion dollars.

It is delving into irregularities involving Angola’s national oil company Sonangol and Sodiam, a national diamond marketing firm.

Dos Santos was appointed head of Sonangol by her father Jose Eduardo dos Santos in 2016, one year before he stepped down and handed the reins over to Lourenco.

The president forced her out of the position within months of coming to power in 2017.

He has since launched a large-scale purge of the dos Santos 38-year administration, during which top positions were awarded to the ex-president’s cronies.

Dos Santos’s brother Jose Filomeno — nicknamed “Zenu” — went on trial last month for allegedly embezzling $500 million from Angola’s sovereign fund, which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018.

Zenu, who faces a maximum of 12 years in jail if found guilty, is the first member of the dos Santos family to be prosecuted.  

“The selective manner of this so-called fight against corruption (is being used) to neutralise future political candidates,” dos Santos told RTP, adding that she continued to be “shocked” by the allegations.

Dos Santos has been named Africa’s richest woman by Forbes magazine, which last year rated her net worth at $2.2 billion (two billion euros).

She has holdings in two private banks, mobile operator Unitel, a supermarket chain and cable television among others.

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