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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs