Angolan police arrested over a dozen young opposition activists, including rapper Luaty Beirao, who have campaigned against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the interior ministry said Sunday.
Activist groups, among them the Angolan Revolutionary Movement, claimed on social media platforms that as many as 20 people had been arrested when police raided a youth meeting in the heart of the capital Luanda on Saturday. Police invasions of private homes netted more young protestors, according to the Group of Support of Political Prisoners.
The interior ministry said its criminal investigation unit had arrested “13 Angolan citizens who were caught red-handed as they prepared to carry out acts aimed at disrupting public order and security in the country”.
The rapper, who performs under a variety of stage names including Ikonoklasta, Brigadeiro Matrafrakuxa and Nkwa Kobnza, has campaigned for better distribution of the country’s oil wealth and an end to corruption and political intimidation.
“This country is being run by a mob and a mafia,” he said in a press interview. “Everyone knows things aren’t right but people are too scared for their own jobs and families to stand up to what is happening. It’s like a spider’s web of fear and patronage.”
Luaty was born into the country’s revolutionary party – now ruling the country. Like most of the children of the elite, he lived comfortably and had a top class education.
“I started to think about it,” he said, “and decided to go back to Angola and give back to my country what my education and time away had given me.”
Angola has been called one of the world’s most unequal countries with resentment growing against President Eduardo dos Santos, the leader of Africa’s second largest crude oil exporter for the last 36 years.
Opponents also accuse him of using oil funds to enrich his friends and family.
Dos Santos’ billionaire investor daughter Isabel is Africa’s wealthiest woman and his 36-year-old son Jose was made the head of a $5 billion sovereign wealth fund in 2013.
Meanwhile, the Bloomberg Business wire is reporting that Angola spent more on its military last year than any other sub-Saharan African nation even though it’s been at peace since a civil war ended more than a decade ago.
And the emphasis on defense spending has left Angola with less cash available to reduce poverty in a country with the world’s highest child mortality rate.