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In My View

April 20, 2016

When reporters instigate rather than investigate, can we still call it journalism?

I have a lot of respect and faith in the journalism profession because I believe reporters to be powerful agents of change. So when journalists capitalize on sensation to report without integrity, I find it in poor taste at best. When they hit closer to home, as a certain investigative journalist has, it is completely unacceptable. This journalist has used recent leaked material from a law firm overseas as the “sensation” she needed to cast Angola, its leaders and its business community in negative light.

Interestingly, she has used old and unsubstantiated accusations to build her entire story and make them appear as fresh leaks when they are anything but. Is this ethical? I believe that the role of an investigative journalist is to uncover the truth with the goal of influencing positive and just outcomes. Instead this reporter seems to have repackaged uncorroborated allegations that have been repeatedly addressed in the public domain for years and try to pass them off as breaking news.

The allegations that I was convicted for “repeated qualified criminal mismanagement” is distorted news at best, not to mention old news. It is widely known that my colleague and I were acquitted by the courts while the guilty parties were sentenced to imprisonment. I did however have to pay a nominal fine for two salary payments that I had authorized after the decision to liquidate the company in question had been made. I still firmly believe that paying these salaries was the right thing to do in support of my employees who would otherwise have suffered significant and unwarranted personal hardship.

This failure to investigate further and report the truth causes me to wonder how something like this can happen and if there is no quality control. As an Angolan I am offended because I’m very proud of what my country has achieved since we came out of the civil war.

I’m also proud of the Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA) and their Chairman, José Filomeno dos Santos. Under his leadership, the FSDEA was acknowledged in 2015 as a transparent fund by the Linaburg-Maduell Transparency Index administered by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI). Funny how she would go as far as questioning the credibility of an institution recognized globally as the information authority on sovereign wealth funds and pensions.

As an entrepreneur who is committed to innovation-led socio economic growth in Angola and wider Africa, it’s only natural that I have respect and affinity towards someone like José Filomeno who shares my values, vision and dreams for the development of our country and the continent. Together we founded Angola's first investment bank back in 2008.

Back then Angola’s banking sector was fairly young and investment banking was almost not-existent. We wanted to use our experience to develop know-how and elevate expertise in this area and to drive investments in Angola to support growth and development. Now, in his capacity as Chairman of the FSDEA, he continues to focus on elevating capacity in Angola’s financial scene by launching a focused education program to create skilled Angolan asset managers and private equity experts.

And on the matter of the bank, the matter is very straight forward and transparent. When José Filomeno was nominated to the Board of the FSDEA, which at the time was chaired by Armando Manuel, he sold his shares at the bank to avoid any conflict of interest. Exercising my preemption rights, I bought his shares. That’s all.

I place high value in enforcing integrity and ethical practices. My values are reflected in the structure upon which my companies and entities have been built and how they operate. I’m also very meticulous about the entities and individuals I work with and have been known to sever ties with anyone who has compromised this integrity or doesn’t share the same vision to secure Africa’s economic progress. Had this journalist investigated harder, perhaps she would have learnt these facts.

While there is work to be done and challenges to be faced given the oil crisis, I’m one of many Angolans who have utmost pride for our country’s achievements and faith in its leadership. Instead of trying to undermine our country, it is time to showcase the many positive developments that are taking place to speed up economic diversification, accelerate job creation and provide equal economic opportunities for all Angolans.