CAPE TOWN, Apr 13 – Global watchdog group Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on Angola\’s government to do more to fight corruption, saying Angolans were not benefiting from the state\’s immense oil-riches.
"The government needs to take strong action to combat the corruption and secrecy that undermine Angolans’ rights," said Arvind Ganesan, HRW\’s business and human rights program director, in a statement.
"Here is a nation with a wealth of resources while its people live in poverty."
The 31-page report "Transparency and Accountability in Angola: An Update" said the Angolan government, led by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos for three decades, has not done enough to fight pervasive corruption and mismanagement.
Millions of Angolans had limited basic social services despite Angola being sub-Saharan Africa\’s biggest oil producer with a 400 percent increase in GDP over the past six years, HRW said.
Improved publication of oil revenue figures, recent calls by Dos Santos for "zero tolerance" on corruption, and plans for a new anti-graft law appeared to show a willingness to fight state graft, HRW said.
"However, given that the president and ruling party have been in power for more than three decades, including the entire period in which oil-fuelled corruption has been rampant, sceptics will wait to see whether meaningful action will accompany these statements," it cautioned.
The report also detailed evidence of graft at the central bank with the government unable to account for some 2.4 billion dollars during a previous governer\’s term from 1999 to 2002.
"If the Angolan government is serious about transparency and reform, it should rigorously investigate government officials, publish audits of its expenditures, and act on President dos Santos’ pledge of ‘zero tolerance’ for corruption," it said.
Angola ranks as the world\’s 18th most corrupt state according to Transparency International\’s 2009 graft index is 143 out of 182 countries in the United Nation\’s human development index.