Last week, disgruntled Angolan war veterans threatened to stage yet another round of protests to claim unpaid pensions.
The veterans want a lump sum demobilisation gratuity of around 55 000 kwanzas ($550) and a monthly pension. Thousands of Angola’s war veterans have not been adequately integrated into society, through, for instance, being offered financial guarantees, vocational rehabilitation assistance and post-war trauma counselling. Occupying an important place in Angola’s body politic, the group has become increasingly visible and vocal as a political force. In June, discontented war veterans, though small in number, flexed their muscle and staged protest marches to the presidential palace and the Ministry of Defence.
Set against the backdrop of high levels of graft, unemployment and poverty, as well as a high cost of living and preparations for a general election to be held on 31 August, it is imperative for the Angolan government that it manages to pre-empt the disruptive potential of disenchanted ex-fighters. Indeed, analysts have warned that dissent from the war veterans and a burgeoning youth movement could result in a lower voter turnout or a drop in support for the ruling MPLA.