Officials are reluctant to discuss it publicly, but dissatisfaction is growing in the government with the Soviet Union's role in Angola and its meager assistance to Angola's failing economy.
Many Angolans say privately that they believe their country is being shortchanged in its marriage with Moscow. And they add that no divorce is in sight. As long as civil war rages and as long asd guerrillas continue to use Angola as a base to fight for Namibian independence from South Africa, Angola needs its Soviet and Cuban allies to bolster its defenses.
"We can't cope with our problems now, economically, militarily, politically," said an Angolian academic. "So what do you think would happen if we cut our lifeline to the one country that's been an ally from the start? You don't have to be Marx to figure it out."
"It's difficult to find a single government official who is happy with the Russians," a Western ambassador said. "Everyone knows the country is going to hell in a handbasket and they look around and about all they can see the Russians doing is handing out guns and pictures of Marx and Lennin." s
Privately, many officials confirm the ambassador's assessment. A top adviser to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who would neither elaborate nor be identified, said, "I don't think our future is with the Russians."
These officials complain that the massive Soviet Bloc presence, which came here to bolster the current government during the height of the bitter civil war in 1975, has not prevented steady economic deterioration. They grumble that the Soviets are aloof and isolated from the Angolan community -- the Soviets have their own beach in Luanda and do not mix socially -- and many Angolans wonder aloud whether Moscow is really interested in promoting regional stability and economic development.
Intelligence sources estimate that 5,000 Soviets, military and civilian, are stationed in Angola. They put the number of Cubans at 27,000, about 20,000 of them soldiers, and the number of East Europeans at more than 5,000. No attempt is made here to hide the soviet presence.
"We need the help of our friends, and it is difficult for me to understand why some countries keep saying Angola is controlled by the Soviets and Cubans," said the deputy defense minister, ColJuliao Mateus Paulo. "The president here is Angolan, the ministers are Angolan, the troops are Angolan. The reason these countries keep harping about the Soviets and Cubans must be simply that they don't like our politics, which are Marxist."
The ruling party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, is divided into three distinct groups, intelligence sources said. The first and smallest is hard-line pro-Moscow; the second is unhappy with Moscow's grip on Angola and would like to see the emergence of a purely African system that favors neither East nor West; the third and largest group, which includes Dos Santos, flos with the current of the moment and appears to be generally befuddled by the problem facing Angola.
For the Soviet Union, Angola represents an important springboard for trying to influence event in southern Africa. Many diplomats here said Moscow is putting pressure on Angola to divorce itself from the Western proposal for a settlement in Namibia and to return to a policy of confrontation. Angola supported the West's plan to end of the civil war in Zimbabwe and also has backed the West's proposal on Namibia, long known as Southwest Africa.
Despite subsequential Soviet military investment here, Angola's economy is failing badly. The cities are turning into slums, medical care is lacking some of the schools are closed because of the shortage of books, agricultural production has fallen 75 percent since independence from Portugal in 1975, meat is rationed and long food lines form for even essential commodities.
The Soviet Bloc has not been very successful in solving those problems. Czechoslovakia recently sold Angola 1,500 cars but no spare parts. The Cubans have taken over programs in which they have little experience -- such as petroleum distribution -- and have been forced to turn them over to Western experts.
Angola also pays for the bloc's services. It provides the rent and utilities for the Soviets' housing, pays $600 a month for every Cuban school teacher, allows the Soviet Union to keep 75 percent of the fish caught off the Angolan coast and repays its debt for weapons with most of its income from oil and coffee. For each dollar earned, a European economist said, Angola spends 60 cents on the military or on meeting its financial commitments to Moscow.
Largely out of economic necessity, Angola has been gradually reestablishing its contact with the West during the past two years. It recently spent $7 million on a new embassy in Paris. European businessmen and technicians are arriving in substantial numbers; the Portugese who fled at the time of independence are starting to trickle back; the national airline's jet fleet consists of six U.S.-made Boeings, and a U.S. charter company, Trans-International Airlines of Oakland, Calif., has the aviation contract for Angola's diamond industry.
One of Angola's biggest new trading partners is Brazil, which shares a Portuguese colonial heritage and a common language with Angola. Brazilian exports to Angola have increased from $4 million three years ago to an estimated $90 million this year.
The Angolan government is recognized by all black African governments except Senegal and by most Western governments except the United States. Although the daily newspapers are full of virulent attacks on the United States, talks with Washington continue and Angola is eager to win recognition from the Carter administration.