News / Africa

Rights Group: Angola’s Vendor Crackdown Part of Pattern

Hawkers walk past each other in the capital  Luanda, Aug. 28, 2012.
Hawkers walk past each other in the capital Luanda, Aug. 28, 2012.
Anita Powell
A human rights watchdog said police in Angola are cracking down on impoverished street vendors in the capital - attacking them, demanding bribes and moving them out of their spots. Human Rights Watch officials said this is a symptom of wider repression in the oil-rich southern African nation. 
 
For the last year, authorities in Angola’s capital have taken a so-called "clean-up" operation to what rights groups say is an abusive level -- harassing, attacking and brutalizing the poorest of the poor in southern Africa’s biggest oil producer.
 
That operation has impacted a group that has very little say in how things are run in Angola: street vendors who peddle their wares and are too poor to afford permanent structures.
 
Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, said the clean-up itself isn’t the problem -- it’s the way it’s being done.  “Many of these street vendors are women and girls.  They are among Angola’s poorest people, they are selling bags of water, or cookies, or roasted corn, or peanuts, things like this, making very little income -- dollars a day.  And the street vendors are living in fear because the police are mounting almost daily operations; they descend on these street markets and beat everyone in sight, including pregnant women," he said. "Women with girls, and often confiscate their goods or demand bribes to let the women and girls leave.”
 
The governor of Luanda announced the initiative in October 2012.  Officials said the move would reduce the informal sector in a nation still struggling to piece itself together after a 27-year-long civil war that ended in 2002.  Authorities at the time promised to build new markets for the vendors, though those have yet to appear.  

Lefkow said that there are other hurdles that the government seems unwilling to address. “The problem is, is that there are a number of obstacles for these people who are in the informal sector to actually work formally in markets.  Even if they have the money to pay fees to get a license, for example, many of them don’t even have identity documents," he noted. "They’ve been living around Luanda for many years.  Many of them fled the civil war in Angola and came from other areas.  And the government has done virtually nothing to help these people get identity documents which are key for them to be able to work and live legally and enjoy the benefits of working in the formal sector.”
 
The government’s official news portal does not appear to have covered these operations.  No officials or street vendors could be reached, but the Human Rights Watch report includes numerous accounts from vendors.
 
Protests have been simmering on a low level in Angola since 2011, in part inspired by the Arab Spring.  One of the groups protesting is the Angolan Revolutionary Movement, which accuses President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of human rights abuses and mismanaging oil revenues in his 34 years in power.
 
Despite the nation’s vast oil wealth, many Angolans remain desperately poor.  The World Bank said the average life expectancy is just 51 years, and UNICEF said more than half the population lives below the poverty level - set at $1.25 per day.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr. Etuka Obinwa from: U.S
October 05, 2013 2:09 PM
Just like other countries, corruption once more is rearing its ugly head. But its head must to be cut off.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid