‘Dos Santos a solid politician’

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has described the late Angolan former leader Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who was buried in Luanda yesterday, as a solid politician who was pronounced in his stance against sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The President said this upon arrival at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare last night after having joined other Heads of State and Government at the Antonio Agostinho Neto memorial in Luanda where former President Dos Santos was buried.

Addressing journalists, the President said: “I met the late President of the Republic of Angola in 1978 with our late President Robert Mugabe seeking armaments for our revolution and we were given Land Rovers and other war materials, that is when we began our relationship.

“He was a solid member of the Frontline States. During our war of liberation, he supported us throughout, and even after our independence President Dos Santos was very pronounced against sanctions on Zimbabwe by Western countries.

“He went through hard times after the independence of Angola. There was UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola), which was Western- sponsored, we had MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola), which was Russian-backed and 25 years of war pursued under the leadership of Dos Santos.

“In the end, he was a man of peace. He managed to negotiate peace between UNITA and MPLA and then approached Zimbabwe through President Mugabe to have our people in the agriculture sector come to Angola and grow crops.

“There has been this silence, but a robust friendship exists between Zimbabwe and Angola, MPLA and Zanu PF. So it was extremely important that we be represented at the interment of this Pan-Africanist and icon of our region.

Earlier, President Mnangagwa joined other regional leaders including South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique, and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the burial of the late Dos Santos.

Also in attendance were past presidents comprising Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Joachim Chissano from Mozambique and Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, and thousands of Angolans.

Speaking on behalf of the foreign dignitaries, former President Nujoma said the late former President Dos Santos was instrumental in the freedom of regional countries including Zimbabwe

“It was Angola that helped us towards our freedom,” he said.

“We will forever regard Angola as a home away from home during the fight against apartheid.

“Engineer Jose Eduardo Dos Santos was determined that Angola will not rest until the whole of Southern Africa is free.

“He showed Africa and the world that the revolution in Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa was a continuation of Angola’s struggle.

Former President Nujoma added that the late Dos Santos never weakened in the support of the people of the region

Former President Dos Santos took leadership of Angola in 1979 following the death of President Agostinho Neto.

The late President Neto was Angola’s first president after independence from Portugal in 1975 having led the Peoples Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) to victory.

Following his death, the late President Dos Santos, who joined MPLA and the anti- colonial movement while in school, took over and inherited a civil war that was backed by the West, in an attempt to remove the elected government.

The late leader managed to bring an end to the decades-long conflict in 2002.

As MPLA and Angola president, former President Dos Santos became a towering figure in one of the top oil producers in Africa after emerging victorious from the Western sponsored distabilisation bid.

He was also instrumental in establishing a multi-party system in Angola, attracting significant foreign investments.

The late leader presided over liberalisation of Angola’s economy and the development of the country’s oil sector.

Former President Dos Santos is recognised internationally for his anti-colonialism stance and promotion of peace negotiations to end conflicts in the region.

The late leader retired from the presidency in 2017. He was succeeded by an MPLA party-mate and former Defence Minister Joao Lourenco.

President Mnangagwa who was accompanied to Angola by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Fredrick Shava and other senior Government officials was welcomed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Cabinet ministers, service chiefs and senior Government officials.

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