Africa’s richest woman – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

No it’s not Grace Mugabe, though Grace is not short of money or farms or houses or cars or diamonds. It’s someone rather younger – 45-year-old Isobel dos Santos who apparently accumulated a fortune of more than $2 billion in her piggy bank while her father was president of Angola.

We doubt that business savy accounted for her financial success. And so does the new administration of former Defence Minister, President Lourenco, who took over when her father retired last year and then sacked her as president of the state oil company Sonangol. She now lives in luxurious exile in Europe.

Her brother Jose who was given a $5 billion sovereign wealth fund to manage, presumably ‘on behalf of the people’, was not so lucky. He is now in custody in connection with a $500 million fraud.

Why should Zimbabweans be interested in this. Well President Lourenco says he is ‘not afraid to play with fire’ in his crusade against corruption in Angola, sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest economy whose people are among the poorest in the world. Ring a bell?

At a time when President Mnangagwa is trying to persuade the world that Zimbabwe is ‘open for business’ and for help in rebuilding the economy, the Vigil would like to see him put some muscle into his promised attack on corruption. How about starting with Grace?

A cautious budget by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is unlikely to be half as persuasive to prospective investors as jail terms for some of the Zanu PF elite – especially in the face of damning evidence of Zanu PF’s manipulation of elections, abductions and torture given to the commission investigating the army shootings in Harare after the elections.

Former Zanu PF provincial youth leader Jim Kunaka told the Commission that one of the Commission’s members, Charity Manyeruke was herself involved in the violence. ‘I am shocked that as commissioners you are sitting with Charity Manyeruke. She is actually one of the architects of violence in Zanu PF. When I was provincial chairman of Zanu PF we actually sat at the same table planning how to attack and beat up MDC supporters. She was my commander and she sent me on errands of violence.’

He went on to assert that the new dispensation of President Mnangagwa had not broken the pattern: ‘Zanu PF devours its own children’, he said. ‘If you refuse to toe the Zanu PF line they will deal with you. The noise that happened in town was sponsored by Zanu PF because they knew they had been defeated in the elections so they sat down and planned the violence to justify bringing in the military and blamed it on the opposition. We used to do this when I was in the party.’ (See:

Other points

  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Jonathan Kariwo, Bianca Mpawaenda, Margaret Munenge, Patience Muyeye and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Bianca, Patience and Margaret for looking after the front table, to Linda Dodzo, Tapiwa Muskwe, Bigboy Sibanda and Simbarashe Jingo for handing out flyers and to Jonathan for taking photos.
  • For latest Vigil pictures check: Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

FOR THE RECORD: 14 signed the register.


  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 15th December from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  •  The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded over the past 15 years as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil for £10. All proceeds will go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
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