Africa

Angola: Who's who in the palace?

Louise Redvers

Tipped as a potential successor to his father, Jose Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos, also known as Zen, has kept out of the limelight until now.

José Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos (known as Zenú). (Supplied)

José Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos (Zenú)
Last month the 34-year-old was formally named as one of three board members of Angola's new $5-billion sovereign wealth fund, the Fundo Soberano de Angola.

Some Angolans have questioned how Zenú got his job at the fund, which has no oversight from Parliament.

Zenú has strongly denied the allegations of nepotism and says he has the experience to work at the fund.

In recent weeks he has resigned from his board position at Angolan bank Banco Kwanza Invest, which he co-owns with his friend and business mentor, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais. He has said he is selling his shares in the bank.

Swiss-Angolan Bastos de Morais is president of the advisory board of the Swiss-based Quantum Global Wealth Management, which the wealth fund has appointed as its liquid asset manager.

According to Swiss registry documents, Quantum Global, the wealth management company's parent, is owned by a former president of the German Federal Bank, Ernst Welteke, who is the chairperson of Banco Kwanza Invest in Angola.

Laptop for schools
Since joining the fund, Zenú has also resigned from the board of the African Innovation Foundation, which was founded by Bastos de Morais. Based in Switzerland, the foundation has a remit to promote innovation and social development. It has funded a "laptop for schools" programme in the country's capital, Luanda, and sponsored an anti-money-laundering conference.

Zenú is the son of Filomena de Sousa, who was working at the foreign ministry when his father, President José Eduardo dos Santos, was the first foreign minister after independence from Portugal in 1975. In the early 1990s his mother was transferred to an Angolan embassy in Switzerland, taking Zenú with her. She later moved to the embassy in London, where Zenú did a master's degree in information management and finance at Westminster University.

Zenú's appointment to the wealth fund is his first formal public role. Previously, he held positions at the insurance outfit AAA, part of Angola's powerful state oil company Sonango, and local private transport operator Tura. Prior to that he worked in London for global commodity trader Glencore, although it is not known in what capacity.

It has been reported that Zenú, who is married with three children, had a senior role at China Sonangol, an opaque joint venture between Sonangol and the controversial Hong Kong-based China International Fund. Through his position at China Sonangol Zenú was also reported to have been working with the presidency as an "engineer", planning Luanda's new airport, which is under construction at a China International Fund site, about 40km outside the city centre.

In an interview last month with the Mail & Guardian Zenú denied he had ever worked for China Sonangol or that he was involved in the airport project. He also scotched rumours that he had shares in Movicel, one of Angola's two cellphone operators, which was privatised without public tender in 2009 and to which his sister, Tchize, is also reportedly linked.

"I don't even own a Movicel phone," he said.

Isabel José dos Santos
Dos Santos's first-born, Isabel – often dubbed the richest woman in Africa – is an engineering graduate who has been cited by several magazines as one of the most powerful business figures in Portugal, where she has major stakes in banks, telecoms, television, energy and retail operations.

In Angola she owns restaurants, casinos, cement plants and real estate projects, as well as the country's main cellphone operator, Unitel.

Through her company Sonae she is launching the Continente supermarket chain in Angola. Last month it was reported that she had bought Cape Verde's mobile operator T+ and her reach extends into Mozambique through her shares in Portuguese satellite television company ZON, which also operates in Angola as ZAP.

The London-educated Isabel, who is sometimes dubbed "the princess", has shares in several high-street Angolan banks, including BIC and BESA, plus several board memberships. She is reported to be linked financially to the country's diamond-selling monopoly, Ascorp, which was set up by an Israeli-Russian consortium in the late 1980s.

Her joint-venture business partners include Americo Amorim (claimed to be Portugal's richest man), Sonangol and several senior Angolan generals.

Born in 1973 to Russian Tatiana Kukanova (whom Dos Santos met while he was studying in the former USSR), Isabel married wealthy Congolese businessman and art collector Sindika Dokolo in 2003. Dokolo is the son of Kinshasa millionaire Sanu Dokolo and his art movement, the Sindika Dokolo Foundation – which claims to hold Africa's largest collection of contemporary art – runs the respected Trienal de Luanda exhibition and sponsors most other arts events in the country.

Isabel, who has several children, divides her time between Luanda, Lisbon and Johannesburg, but she is rarely seen in public and avoids the media spotlight. She is the patron of the Angolan Red Cross.

Welwitschia José dos Santos Pego (Tchizé)
Tchizé, who was educated in the United States, has a wide range of business interests, including television, advertising and reportedly diamonds and cellphones. She is president of the Benfica de Luanda football club.

She is best known for her management role at TPA 2, the second channel of state broadcaster Televisão Publica de Angola. Her company, West Side Investments, which she owns with younger brother José Paulino dos Santos (Zedú), appeared to be handed control of the popular youth channel in 2009 without any form of public tender, although the details remain sketchy.

The 35-year-old and her brother also own and run Semba Comunicação, which is the production company behind many of the programmes and much of the advertising on TPA 2. According to the national budget, it was paid $17-million to produce an advertisement about Angola for international broadcaster CNN.

Tchizé is also the executive director of the country's most-read glossy gossip and society magazine, Caras, and founder of a similar publication, called Revista Tropical.

She is the daughter of Maria Luìsa de Abrantes, who heads Angola's overseas investment agency, ANIP. Tchizé is married to Portuguese businessman Hugo Andre Nobre Pego and they have several children.

According to reports by Angolan investigative journalist Rafael Marques, Tchizé holds a number of stakes in Angolan diamond concessions and was given a 10% cut in a joint venture that was due to open a Volkswagen factory in Angola, although that deal later fell through.

Tchizé was elected as an MPLA MP in 2008 but she later resigned from the position over claims that it was incompatible with her role at the television station. She was re-elected as an MP in the 2012 election but is unlikely to take up her seat in Parliament.

José Eduardo Paulino dos Santos (Zedú or Coreon Dú)
José Eduardo Paulino dos Santos is known as "Zedú" (the president is also called Zedú – short for José Eduardo) or by his stage name Coreon Dú. He is a respected singer and performer and runs Semba Comunicação with his sister Tchize, producing television and advertising for popular youth television channel TPA 2. His mother, Maria Luìsa Abrantes, is also reported to be a shareholder in the company.

Coreon Du was the brains behind the popular reality-style dance competition programme Bounce and he is running Os Kuduristas, a roadshow programme promoting Angola's unique kuduro style of rapping and dancing. He is the only one of the four older siblings (the president has several other children) who has a Twitter account, but he uses it to share information about his music projects and never talks politics. 

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