Tensions increase in the Angolan capital as the general elections scheduled for August 2022 approach. Popular Liberation of Angola (MPLA, in power) and Unita (opposition). Not to mention that civil society, already mobilized on the social front, in turn, took up the matter.
A demonstration, which resulted in the arrest of 22 participants, took place on April 9 in Luanda. It’s hard to say whether the slogans resonated 8,000 kilometers away, in Madrid, headquarters of the company whose name crystallized some of the anger that day: Indra.
Specialist in information technologies and defense systems, this company, which generates more than 3 billion euros in revenue and is present in 140 countries, is also a specialist in electoral technologies. Its solutions are used throughout Latin America, Europe… and Angola, where Indra has provided ballot papers, ballot boxes and a set of services related to the holding of ballot boxes since the end of the civil war in Angola and the general elections. . of 2008.
Upon arriving in Angola in 2008, Indra immediately found himself at the center of a controversy
While the government of João Lourenço is accused by the opposition and part of civil society of maneuvering to maintain power (which the executive denies), Indra is the object, by extension, of protests and criticism, becoming a kind of scapegoat. of the latent conflict between the two main political parties in the country, the MPLA, in power since 1975, and Unita, its historic adversary.
The Spanish company arrived in Angola in 2008 through a local company, Valleysoft, which offered to provide ballot papers to the National Electoral Commission (CNE). Valleysoft was founded by relatives of then-President José Eduardo dos Santos and the MPLA. His intervention, to bring Indra and the CNE in contact, puts a flea in the ear of the opposition.
Indra finds himself immediately at the center of a controversy: the CNE had ordered 10 million votes, Indra provided 26. His detractors see in these additional 16 million votes the possibility of manipulating votes in favor of the MPLA.
However, the Angolan government re-appointed Indra to manage the 2012 elections. The Journal of Angola publishes an advertisement informing all potential candidates that they have the weekend to file their application, which must include around fifteen documents.
In addition to Indra, eight companies responded to the announcement, including two South African, one American, one Portuguese and two Angolan shell companies, without any commercial activity. Unsurprisingly, Indra wins the deal.
Unita filed an appeal to cancel the tender, accusing the government of having paid Indra US$130 million (103.6 million euros) for a contract worth 25 euros. But the courts do not follow through. Rebelote in 2017: protesters take to the streets, justice is seized, but nothing helps.
The opposition denounces a tailored competition
For the upcoming elections, Indra was once again tasked with providing electoral material to the CNE, this time through its subsidiary Minsait. Once again, the opposition and civil society did not fail to point out that the public notice was tailor-made for Indra. Unita even publicly accused Indra of having been sanctioned by the Spanish Parliament for fraudulent acts in Angola.
For Indra, it is the last straw. Silent until now, it finally reacted: its spokesperson stressed to the Spanish press that Unita had four representatives within the CNE and that, therefore, it had participated in conducting the call for proposals. The Spanish company also insisted that the investigation against it focused only on tax issues.
This is the first time Indra has publicly refuted the allegations made against her in Angola. I’m not sure this is enough to calm the street and ensure a smooth and transparent vote.