The first major scalp claimed by Angola’s new president Joao Lourenco in his war on corruption and nepotism was that of his predecessor’s daughter, who was sacked as head of the state oil company.
The next big name linked to former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos was that of his son, Jose Filomeno, who was removed from his post at the top of the African nation’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund.
Quick work for a president with barely 100 days on the job.
Lourenco’s manoeuvering against the nepotistical vestiges of Angola’s last president began in earnest in November with the toppling of Isabel dos Santos – said by Forbes to be Africa’s richest woman.
The shake-up at the Sonangol oil giant marked a watershed moment in Lourenco’s young presidency as he sought to assert his authority and clear out the legacy of his controversial predecessor.
During his presidential campaign, the former defence minister vowed to distance himself from Dos Santos who remains head of the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party.
Just a month after Isabel dos Santos was fired, Sonangol announced it was opening an investigation into “possible misappropriation” of funds during her time as chief executive.
Angolan media outlets have accused her of ordering suspect transfers and payments worth tens of millions of dollars.
But although her sacking caught some Angola watchers off-guard, Lourenco’s dismissal this week of Jose Filomeno as head of the oil-rich country’s vast wealth fund did not.
Lourenco, 63, had hinted he might sack Filomeno during a speech to mark his first 100 days in office after winning August’s election on an anti-graft, reformist platform.
“Lourenco has sidelined all of those over whom he doesn’t have control,” said Benjamin Auge, an analyst at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).
“The members of the Dos Santos family fall into this category, which is why they’ve been cast-off, one by one.”
Like his sister, Jose Filomeno was the embodiment of the political-financial empire built by their father that funnelled the nation’s wealth to friends and relatives of the all-powerful Dos Santos clan.
But the new sheriff in town appears determined to end the family’s grip on the nation’s purse strings.
“No one is above the law,” Lourenco said before being sworn in.
For weeks now, Angolan media have been running stories alleging corruption by the Dos Santos family, which had previously been seen as untouchable.
As well as the corruption probe facing Isabel, her half-brother was implicated in the “Panama Papers” scandal which showed how the world’s wealthy shift profits around the globe to drastically cut tax.
Also this week, state television revealed the lavish terms of a government contract awarded to another of Dos Santos’ daughters, Welwitschia.