When an Angolan court froze the assets of Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman it was widely seen as the strongest signal the country’s president, Joao Lourenço’s is intent on cracking down on ending corruption and decades of crony capitalism in the country.
Dos Santos, who has long attributed her wealth to hard work, smart investments and business savvy, dismissed the state’s actions as a “politically motivated witch hunt.” One aimed at tarnishing her father’s legacy and the dos Santos name. Her brother, José Filomeno dos Santos, 42, the former chair of the Angola’s sovereign wealth fund, is on trial for allegedly transferring $500 million out of Angola illegally. Her half-sister, Welwitschia, was suspended from parliament for “unjust enrichment.”
But not many in Angola agree on that point. “The two roots of [dos Santos’s] fortune are diamonds and Unitel and they were given to her by her father,” who ruled Angola for over three decades,” says legal analyst and Angola Research Network founder, Rui Verde.
Their father, José Eduardo dos Santos, was president of the oil and diamond-rich Angola for 38 years. Just before his last year in office, Jose appointed Isabel head of Angola’s state-owned oil firm, Sonangol EP. When Lourenço succeeded him in 2017, the new president fired her from the post.