Council of Ministers

Council of Ministers

In late 1988, the Council of Ministers comprised twenty-one ministers and ministers of state. The seventeen ministerial portfolios included agriculture, construction, defense, domestic and foreign trade, education, finance, fisheries, foreign relations, health, industry, interior, justice, labor and social security, petroleum and energy, planning, state security, and transport and communications. Ministers were empowered to prepare the national budget and to make laws by decree, under authority designated by the national legislature, the People's Assembly, but most of the ministers' time was spent administering policy set by the MPLA-PT.

In February 1986, dos Santos appointed four ministers of state (who came to be known as "superministers") and assigned them responsibility for coordinating the activities of the Council of Ministers. Their portfolios were for the productive sphere; economic and social spheres; inspection and control; and town planning, housing, and water. Twelve ministries were placed under superministry oversight; the ministers of defense, foreign relations, interior, justice, and state security continued to report directly to the president. This change was part of an effort to coordinate policy, reduce overlapping responsibilities, eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic procedures, and bolster the government's reputation for efficiency in general. Most ministers and three of the four ministers of state were also high officials in the MPLA-PT, and their policy-making influence was exercised through the party rather than through the government.

Defense and Security Council

In May 1986, the president appointed eight respected advisers to the Defense and Security Council, including the ministers of defense, interior, and state security; the ministers of state for the economic and social spheres, inspection and control, and the productive sphere; the FAPLA chief of the general staff; and the MPLA-PT Central Committee secretary for ideology, information, and culture. The president chaired the council and gave it a broad mandate, including oversight and administration in military, economic, and diplomatic affairs. He strengthened this authority during the council's first five years by treating the council as an inner circle of close advisers. By 1988 the Defense and Security Council and the Political Bureau, both chaired by the president, were the most powerful decision-making bodies within the government and party, respectively.

 

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