Ten years of peace in Angola
After decades of civil war, Angola is today a country on the rise. The Olof Palme International Center and the Swedish Social Democrats are working together with the country's Social Democratic Party, MPLA, in a project called From Bullets to Ballots. Other parties that are participating in this cooperation are the South African ANC and the Palestinian Fatah, all of whom share a common history of continued struggle against oppression and occupation.
Years of conflict may result in strict party organizations. For that reason, the Olof Palme International Center and the Swedish Social Democrats support the MPLA in their work to promote internal democracy and strengthen the ties between the grass roots and the party leadership.
Rui Miguêns de Oliveira, who is a member of the MPLA, recently visited Sweden for this year’s Anna Lindh Seminar. The MPLA won 175 out of 220 seats in the parliamentary elections in August 2012. Today new challenges await in a country that is currently being rebuilt.
– We’ve worked a lot with the country’s infrastructure, with sanitation and hospitals. Now we plan to continue that work, says de Oliveira.
Another important part in the development of the country is education.
– We understand that it’s impossible for a country to grow and to achieve a decent standard of living if there’s not a genuine will to raise the level of education, he says. Education is the foundation of development.
“We must keep the peace that we gained after the end of the war”
Angola has had peace for ten years. Following the declaration of independence in 1975, a long civil war broke out between the MPLA and the current opposition party Unita. It lasted until 2002.
– Our conflict goes back in history, really all the way back to the first stage of our struggle for independence. That makes our reconciliation process difficult, says de Oliveira.
The scars of the conflict remain, but since 2002, when both sides laid down their arms, there has been a relative stability in the country.
– We must keep the peace that we gained from the end of the war. We were at war for more than 42 years and there has only been ten years of peace. Therefore our relationship is not as good as it should be, but I think that we’re on the right track.
New trade agreements needed for Africa
The theme of this year’s Anna Lindh Seminar was A new global deal between capital and labour. Among other things, the participants discussed what type of organization that is needed for future negotiations of bilateral agreements. It was made clear, that states no longer can provide for their prosperity entirely on their own.
– Decisions on a national level must be made under the consideration that they are no longer completely national or even regional. From a political point of view, we must therefore make sure we find a way to better coordinate our programs, says de Oliveira.
For Angola, being rich in natural resources, the export of, for example oil and agricultural produce, accounts for a big part of the country’s revenues. For that reason, Rui Miguêns de Oliveira emphasizes the importance of new trade agreements for Angola and other African countries.
– Of course, we already have an agreement with the EU, an APC-agreement (a programme for development cooperation between the EU and former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific) which allows us to export some goods to the EU. But I believe that we still have a lot left to do when it comes to the EU subsidizing its own agricultural produce. I think that this is something we can work out together with the EU, so that African countries, including the SADC region (Southern African Development Community is a cooperative organization including, among other countries, South Africa, Angola and Zimbabwe) can export to the EU. A more free and fair trade, he says.
Whatever agreements that will be made, the ambition must be to ensure that the revenues are distributed equally among the people.
– We’re trying to achieve a growth the citizens will notice. You mentioned we’re a rich country, I’d say we’re a potentially rich country. We have minerals, fertile soil and water resources. All which should be spread among the people to turn the potential wealth into true prosperity.
Text: MARTIN KARLSSON
Photo: ANDERS LÖWDIN
Translation from Swedish: JOHN RUNESSON