This story is the second in a two-part series on limited reforms introduced under João Lourenço (JLO) that affect media freedom and activism in Angola. You can read the first  part here.
When (JLO ) became Angola's president in 2017, he unexpectedly began wide, ongoing  reforms focused on anti-corruption, although with limits , distinguishing himself from his authoritarian predecessor of the same party Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA). While these changes seemed to have improved  the media space, online activists still risk tough reactions from authorities, particularly when connected to offline activism.
Independent media in Angola have an activist aspect , making available criticisms and information challenging abuses of power. The authoritarian government of previous president José Eduardo dos Santos (“JES”) restricted media and controlled traditional media, pushing independent journalists online. In this sense, online media provide a tool to raise awareness of and defend basic rights. The well-known anti-corruption website Maka Angola  is run by journalist Rafael Marques, who has been repeatedly harassed by authorities under the rule JES.
Folha 8  is an outlet which, while Freedom House reported  is primarily a print publication, also has a lively website and social media . Its articles  criticize  and satirize  authorities, for example an editorial called  Angola the “MPLA Republic”, an approach which continues  under JLO. The director  William Tonet  is a former MPLA militant, detained many times.
Club-K , founded in 2000 by Angolans abroad, is another  website with regular publications  and lively social media. Rede Angola  suspended publications in mid-2017 due to funding issues, according to its homepage.
Activist groups began using  online spaces to criticize and organize under the previous president’s more repressive regime. Central Angola 7311  is an activist collective founded in 2011 by protesters, particularly present on social  media , providing space  for documenting  abuses  and discussion. Activist -musician  Luaty Beirão , who is influential on social media , criticizing  corruption and authoritarianism, is a member of the collective.
Social media has been a mobilizing  tool for demonstrations. Rafael Marques recently said  that, under JLO, there is “more freedom and less bread”, evoking the continuing  economic  hardships of recent years, and there have been numerous  protests  in recent  months, particularly in October , against high unemployment  and poverty, recalling JLO’s election promises of job-creation.
The protests, part of an ongoing movement, have been amplified by Central Angola 7311, and others such as the civic association Laulenu . Central Angola 7311 recorded  online the names of detained  protestors, and criticized violent police clampdowns, by sharing videos  and images , including during  protests as they happen. The collective also shares  information on organizing protests on various issues , such as women’s rights , collecting funds to support detainees, or sharing petitions  for example calling  for a hospital’s managers to be fired for poor management.
These tweets are from a protest on October 15, with people seemingly temporarily arrested by police citing public security :
— Central Angola 7311 (@Central7311) October 15, 2019 
“Polícia está agredir os manifestantes q pretendiam protestar na Assembleia Nacional onde o presidente @jlprdeangola  vai discursar.
Há muitos feridos e detidos.
A activista Laurinda Gouveia, q está grávida, foi fortemente espancada.
Jornalistas tb foram intimidados.” B. Ndomba pic.twitter.com/pvcJme36IY 
— Central Angola 7311 (@Central7311) October 15, 2019 
Police are beating the demonstrators intending to protest at the National Assembly where the president will give a speech.
There are many injured and detained.
The activist Laurinda Gouveia, who is pregnant, was heavily beaten.
Journalists were also intimidated
In October, activist Jeremias Benedito told  DW África that, while he felt freedom of expression improved after JLO came to power, the government was increasingly returning to “the same tactics as his predecessor”, with police repression  of protests, using  tear gas, dog-bites, and arrests, for example, protesters were injured  and detained in mid-October in Luanda. Activists have filed  formal complaints against police violence.
The president and others  said  the protests  were linked to corrupt attempts at destabilization, which online Luaty Beirão criticized  for being rhetoric “just like” that of the past. In September, JLO also warned  “the youth to refrain from using social media to misinform and distort” facts to create “social disorder.”
Samussuku ‘s arrest
The arrest  this year of activist “Samussuku”, and his aunt briefly, indicates the authorities’ readiness to act even against content only online. Human Rights Watch reported  that on 10 May “plainclothes police officers violently forced Hitler “Samussuku” Tshikonde into an unidentified car” jailing him “unlawfully for 72 hours without charge or access to a lawyer”. He was investigated for “insulting the president” in a YouTube video  shared on social media on 8 May ” where he said “activists were ready to “oppose [the president] the same way they opposed Dos Santos if he continued to target peaceful activists”. Analyst Sawyer said Angola’s police “should stop treating peaceful activists as a threat to state security,”.
A Radio Angola article  wrote that while some may call such arbitrary arrests “isolated cases” under this government, the previous president said the same. Indeed, Samussuku’s video was reacting to the arrests of fellow  activists at protests against forced evictions.
He was released  on 13 May after  a court hearing, on condition  he reports to police regularly. On 26 September he was summoned  by the Criminal Investigation Service for a hearing — which originally arrested him — and asked if he would apologize to the president, which he declined .
Samussuku is a long-time government critic, calling  it a “rotten structure ”, and supports  UNITA opposition party, who has been detained  before and injured  at protests. He is active on Facebook . and remarked  that the government got more money from fining activists than repatriating ill-gotten wealth, referring to its anti-corruption drive. He is also involved  in running Handeka , a civic rights organization which created “Jiku ”, an online project for citizen-monitoring of the 2017 elections.
Internet access and activist impact
Digital activist spaces have become energetic in recent years, although with accessibility limited. Internet access in Angola was measured by Internet World Stats as 22.3 per cent of the population in 2019 , although less by other sources , and for 2018-2019 DataReportal recorded : 66 per cent urban population; 45 per cent mobile subscriptions; and 11 per cent active social media users, mostly on mobile connections, and social media use grew per cent. Facebook  use dominates  compared  to other platforms.
The Communications Minister, Celso Malavoloneke, said  in November 2019 that Angola has the lowest access  to TV and radio in the Southern African Development Community, particularly in rural areas, reflecting urban/ rural disparities  in infrastructure and media access. Although low internet access  has hindered  its impact, online spaces have become lively , both journalistic and activist.
Social media use noticeably increased, though, which could make it increasingly effective for organizing and galvanizing certain audiences, but maybe less so for reaching new audiences or in areas with lower access, for example regarding serious drought  and land-grabs  in the rural south.
Information online also travels offline, and so low internet access does not necessarily mean people without regular internet connections will not hear about information or protests organized online, thus multiplying the effect. For comparison, though, in Tunisia in 2011, when the Arab Spring protests famously made use  of online platforms, Freedom House reported internet penetration of 39 per cent , notably higher than Angola’s currently, and in a smaller country. Other networks, though, such as unions and foreign mainstream media, were important, showing that online and offline activism complement each other, and how that happens depends on the context.
Despite improvements to media space under JLO’s government, some activists have said that it has increasingly resorted  to tactics of his predecessor against protestors and critics. The government still has restrictive legal  tools, such as vague defamation laws, and Samussuku’s arrest for online content shows that authorities’ inclination to react to challenges on sensitive issues, such as “too much” criticism, also applies to online spaces.