ETHIOPIA LEGALLY CORRUPT

 

Ethiopia: Legally corrupt 
By Wondimu Mekonnen
July 25, 2013 



The simplest definition of state corruption is the self-enrichment of government officials through the use of the power bestowed on them and state mechanism. In Ethiopia, the TPLF is a Mafia-type gang that is running its own Mafiosi business empire, not the country as a legitimate, caring government.

The country itself is up for sale, as long as there are buyers out there. That is why people in Gambella[1] were evicted and their land sold to Indian, Arab, Turkish and Pakistani billionaires. Recently, the Ethiopian government refused to cooperate with the World Bank when it was asked to investigate whether the World Bank violated its own policies by funding, in which thousands of people were allegedly relocated to make way for agricultural investors[2]. The British Government actually knowingly or unknowingly funded a programme that evicted the tribes of the Lower Omo Valley in south west Ethiopia – chief among them the Mursi, the Nyangatom, the Bodi and the Daasanach, who depend on a combination of flood retreat cultivation on the banks of the Omo River, rain fed cultivation further back from the river, and cattle on the grass plains[3]again to make way for foreign agricultural investors. The land of the Amaras, Afars, Oromos and all over the country is up for a grab. Even Egypt secured herself 20, 000 acres of farmland[4]. To imagine this, one acre is about 1 football stadium field. The money from the sale of land, in hard currency goes straight either to the pockets of individuals of those in powers or to the coffers of regime’s private money making institutions, such as the “The Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray”, EFFORT.

Ethiopia is full of ironies. Before the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF) became the “Government”, it was separatist rebel force, just like that of Eritrean Liberation Front with the aim of building the Future Republic of Tigray.  After successfully overthrowing the military regime of Lt Col. Mengistu Hailemariam, guerrilla leaders of TPLF helped Eritrea gain its independence but delayed their own, to finish some unfinished task of dismantling Ethiopia. Then they saw, the opportunity to amass any wealth from the South and move up to the North, to prosper their future Republic of Tigray, their ultimate goal. They never felt belongingness to Ethiopia. The mother of all ironies is that they are ruling the country and the people they hated so much at gun point. Therefore, expecting respect for human right from such a bunch of separatists is like expecting dove from a serpent’s egg. What would the British feels, if IRA end up being in charge of the Westminster to decide on the future of The United Kingdom? I leave that to your imagination.

Then another irony follows. Throughout the history of mankind, governments fought with neighbouring countries to expand their territories, but the government of Ethiopia fights with its own people to give land away to anybody outsider as long as the other party pays. The boarder land with the Sudan, including the birth Place of Emperor Theodros, whose son Prince Alemayehu Theodros’s body is lying right here in Britain at Windsor Castle has been given to the Sudanese after forcefully evicting the inhabitants, under gunpoint[5]. That was in return of the Sudanese assistance while they were fighting the previous regime. A fertile farmland had to be taken away from Ethiopian farmers and given to a neighbouring country. When the Sudanese military came to take over the land, the farmers stood up to protect their property, fighting back bravely. However, their own government attacked them from behind in defence of the alien Sudanese military.

More than half of Ethiopia’s economy belongs to EFFORT, the Private property of Tigrian People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). From the remaining 50%, about 25% belongs to the Sheik Al Amoudi, an Ethiopian born Saudi Billionaire, who does business with them, probably stashing millions of dollars away for them in foreign banks. Then about 12.5% belongs to its satellite parties, while only 12:5% belongs to rest of 90 million people. When the regime declares the fast growing economy of the country, one should understand that actually it is meant the fast bulging pocket of the ruling officials, and not the people at all. Our people are poorer than ever. The number of starving has quadrupled. Millions live on the street. The regime itself estimates that “150,000 children live on the streets in Ethiopia, around. 60,000 in Addis Ababamany arriving from rural areas looking for work”[6].

Why are we so poor?

Looking at United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Index, we find Ethiopia at 174 out 187, just ahead of 13 countries from the bottom of the table. Examining World Economic Forum’s Global competitive report, we find Ethiopia at 118 out of 133[7]. Transparency International gives 33 points at Corruption Perception Index. The highest is awarded to New Zealand, Finland and Denmark, which is at 90. United Kingdom scores 74, along with Japan, ahead of United States. The lowest score 8, awarded to Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan. Awarding Ethiopia 33 points out of 90 is totally wrong. I would have put the figure at 2, and that is I if I am too generous in marking. “The country has also lost close to 12 billion dollars since 2000 to illicit financial outflows, according to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), whose statistics are based on official data provided by the Ethiopian government, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)”. The State Corruption index of Ethiopia could have been lower than that of the level of Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan, but the corruption is concealed, because one would never know where the “government” official activities ends and their business activities start. EFFORT is a business as well as the “Government”[8].

When it comes to Natural resources, Ethiopia is not poor at all. We have ample water resources, for example. 8/7th of the Water that passes through the Nile Delta of Egypt comes from Ethiopian Highlands. We have mighty rivers everywhere. Baro, Tekeze, Wabi Shebele, Gibe, Awash, … you name it, are some, not to mention lakes everywhere. Truly speaking, Ethiopia is the water bed of Africa. But we suffer from draught and lack of clean drinking waters.

We have Gold, Precious stones but they all belong either to EFFORT or Al Amoudi. We have unexploited oil reserves, that could turn Ethiopia into the economic power of Sub-Saharan Africa, but we don’t have a responsible government that cares for the people. We have so many fertile lands which would have been able not just feed Ethiopia, but the entire Africa. Given her potential agricultural resources, Ethiopia could easily become the bread-basket of the continent of Africa. If you had followed a BBC Television Programme “From Pole To Pole” by Michael Palin[9], you would truly find why he called Ethiopia the Garden of Eden. From Egypt to the Sudan, it is all desert land. He found life in Ethiopia.

Then what went wrong? To begin with, we have had wars and battles throughout our history. Most of our productive times have been wasted fighting to ward off invaders. Our history tells us that we fought for more than 100 years against the invading Turks, not to mention Italians and other colonialists from Europe. When we are not fighting the invaders then we find ourselves fighting each other as if war was a kind of our national sport. That is all to control power, unlike the incumbent ones, to break up the country. This one is the worst government Ethiopia had ever had. They stand to serve the interest of other countries, rather than their own. One way or another, wars do cost too much and I am not the one to tell you how much it does. You know it firsthand. War on terrorism is mother of all ironies of Ethiopia. The TPLF itself is a terrorist organisation[10]. It is currently bent on terrorising its own people.

To add insult on injury, then there is this occasional draught that used to come every 10 years. We heavily depend on rain water, rather than using the irrigation technology. Have we had peace in the country, even without touching the River Nile, we could have taken out as much water as we wanted for agriculture from the rest of the rivers for irrigation purpose, without igniting the fury of the powerful neighbours and use it to cultivate more than enough crops. The Nile is a controversial river. Whether we like it or not, it may ignite war anytime between Ethiopia and Egypt, if not The Sudan. All the Egyptian Military Might exists, not for anything else, but only one purpose. That is the safeguarding of the free flow of The Nile River. We know that. They know we know that too. That is why Egypt works day and night so that there would be no peace time in Ethiopia.

Then, there is this third element. Everyone that may aspire to come to power is not always just for the sake of seizing power but for the sake of enriching oneself. Yes, we had all corrupt regimes in the past history, but none of them come anywhere near the incumbent regime. Here we are not talking about individual official corruptions, but institutional corruptions, with the mighty force of the government power behind it. Corruptions seems to be legal, it is rather uncorrupted people that are branded as criminals. Ethiopia is full of paradox.

Financial Transparency Coalition[11] recently reported that

An upcoming report by Global Financial Integrity finds that Ethiopia, which has a per-capita GDP of justUS$365, lost US$11.7 billion to illicit financial outflows between 2000 and 2009.  More worrying is that the study shows Ethiopia’s losses due to illicit capital flows are on the rise.  In 2009, illicit money leaving the economy totaled US$3.26 billion, which is double the amount in each of the two previous years.

STATE CORRUPTION IN ETHIOPIA

Al Mariam (2013), a professor of California State University wrote

Recently, the World Bank released its 448-page World Bank (WB) report, “Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia” with evidence galore showing that Ethiopia under the absolute dictatorship of the Meles Zenawiregime has become a full-fledged corruptocracy (a regime controlled and operated by a small clique of corrupt-to-the-core vampire kleptocrats who cling to power to enrich themselves at public expense). Perhaps the report’s findings should not come as surprise to anyone since “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.[12]

 

Al Mariam further explained that In the study of World Bank, the major determinants of corruption are listed as poorly functioning legal and judicial system incontinent with the 1994 Constitution, an overregulated bureaucracy, emphasising regulation rather than service delivery, a low-paid civil service, a new yet rudimentary government, based on federal structure, and weak budgetary and financial control, with an outdated procurement structure, and poorly trained financial staff.

As many as 4.6 million people need food assistance annually, but aid money is not combating hunger. It comes from the front door but returns through the back door.

As I have mentioned in the introduction, 50% of the Ethiopia Economy is run by EFFORT, the TPLF Economic Power House. It is not the Public sector but enjoys every privilege that the Public Sector enjoys because it owners are the dictators in power. It is not required to pay any tax because it is seemingly a Charity Organisation, created to “rehabilitate” the war torn-apart economy of Tigray. However, it has not only just rehabilitated that province of Tigray, but the prosperity of that region has been successfully used to masquerade the pathetic poor state of economy of Ethiopia, elsewhere. EFFORT is a conglomerate of economic empire that amalgamates 66 companies under its control, having two or more giant companies in every sector of the economy. For example, Addis Pharmaceutical Factory controls all the licence of producing, importing and distribution of medicines. Almeda Textiles Factory controls clothing business. Express Transit Service Plc (EXTRAN) dominates the transportation sector[13]. Any donor that brings in food to feed the hungry poor is required to use the service of one of the TPLF transportation companies to move the shipment from the Port of Djibouti to anywhere inside the country. This lucrative business belongs to EFFORT and no one has the right to question that. By the way, the TPLF truly believes that that it is the international communities’ responsibility to feed its own starving population. Begging for food is no more shame. Hunger is needed phenomenon for the TPLFites to amass wealth. It has no time to deal with the provision of food for the hungry, being bent on money making mission mission for itself. Coming back to an example of how EFFORT controls economic sectors, we can mention for instance the supply of cement for government construction. That is entirely EFFORT’s Messebo Cement Factory’s are of business.  The most talked about Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile that is currently an invitation of Egypt into conflict. However the business was actually created for the EFFORT Conglomerates to legally amass wealth. That is where EFFORT makes money. Guna Trading House, Hiwot Agricultural Mechanisation, Mesfin Industrial Engineering are some giant companies under direct control of EFFORT. In April 2009, EFFORT merged with Dejenna Endowment, which brought another set of six companies under the direct ownership of EFFORT. These are Biruhe Tesfa Plastic Factory, Machew Particles Board, Dimma Honey Processing Factory, Alagye Forestry, National Geo-Textile Factory and Aberdelie Cattle Fattening and Exporter. That concluded the dominance of TPLF in every sector of the economy. We can safely conclude that EFFORT is a parasite lynch that is sucking blood out of Ethiopia without giving back nothing, but pain and suffering.

There is this much talked about fast development of the country. That us supported by the number of skyscrapers built in Addis Ababa and the ring roads. The skyscrapers belong to the TPLF officers, to rent it out to the foreign dignitaries. No fair bidding. The roads are meant to transport TPLF products and military personnel. They are built with the aid money donated or borrowed to fund for the purpose, but the job is done by EFFORT companies. Construction of roads and bridges is exclusively EFFORT’s lucrative business that no other business would have had access. It is entirety TPLF’s money making machine amassing billions of pounds. Alright, we have roads. So what? Colonialist Italy built more roads in Ethiopia to transport its military logistics than Emperor Haileselassie built in his 40 years of administration. TPLF’s construction of roads is meant to obtain high way that would enable them to loot from the South and ship to the North effectively and efficiently.

EFFORT is entirely controlled and run by Azeb Mesfin, the wife of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. She also controls the entire publishing corporation of the country, which is called Mega Publishing Corporation; therefore, she is named as The Queen of Mega! Actually later, this has been promoted to the title of Queen of Corruption. Corruption breeds corruption.

Corruption runs throughout the sectors. There is corruption in Health sector. There is corruption in education sector. There a huge corruption in the construction sector through kickback-deals, winning every bid through either direct order from the ruling separatist party or through what is known as Gursha/Gubboor bribery. There is a huge corruption in telecommunications. The Military as an institution that is the most corrupt. Literally all its high ranking officers have one or two villas to be rented out to foreigners for hard currency. The money is normally deposited in foreign banks. All these were disclosed in the in “Diagnosing Corruption”[14] though not directly, not to upset the TPLF.

VISIBILE INDIVIDUAL CORRUPT OFFICIALS

Every official of the TPLF regime is corrupt to the core. Corruption is a kind of allowed activity by the TPLF to enrich oneself. The TPLF follows the philosophy of “Don’t put a muzzle on an ox while it treads grain” (ሲሾም ያልበላ ሲሻር ይቆጨዋል). If you are an official of the TPLF, you are expected to be corrupt. It is rather suspicious if you are incorruptible and you probably land yourself under scrutiny.  You can amass, not just millions of dollars, but even billions, as long as you don’t fall out with the establishment of the TPLF. You can’t do business on your own. You need to share it with the TPLF officials. In the meantime, you have got to know how to stay within the bounds of TPLF structure. Once Meles Zenwi said to his appointees: “EPRDF’s appointment to aigher office is like sleeping on a tree-branch. If you snooze, you will drop.” (የኢሕአዴግ ሹመት የዛፍ ላይ ዕንቅልፍ ነው። ሽልብ ካልክ ዱብ ነው).

They will ignore any corrupt official until he/she rebels against the establishment of the TPLF. A good example is, the former Defence and Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Tamirat Layne. He was amassing wealth, they looked away. They left him illegally prosper. Then they had to charge him of corruption and throw him into jail for 18 years prison term, when he stepped of the line.  That was not because he just stashed away US $8,000,000[15] (that is nothing) into a Swiss bank, which was in turn obtained “corruptiously” from AlAmoudi, but because he started thinking independently and questioning some of the actions of his masters, the TPLF leaders. Meles Zenawi humiliated him. After coming out of jail, we hear that TamiratLayne has bought himself a petrol station and lives in the USA.

The funniest story that took place was the incident of disappearing 10,000 tones[16] (20 million pounds, or 9 million kilograms) of coffee without trace. How come 420 truckloads of coffee beans disappear without a trace? The late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi threatened to order the launch of an investigation, right there in front of the Members of the Parliament. He knew the outcome would be disastrous for him. Guess what! He dropped the investigation. He knew the culprit. It was his wife, Azeb Mesfin. The Queen of Mega is corrupt to the core, but who would touch her? She is untouchable! Point a finger at her, you are a dead meat.

Fortune magazine reported that once the Ethiopian National Bank exported the “gold” bricks to South Africa for sale where experts there identified the so called “gold” bricks as FAKE and returned them to Ethiopia. Oh dear! That was worth US$96.5 million loss plus embarrassment of the century.  It is a scandal at international level![17]

The Queen of Mega has been declaring on television so many times that her husband was the poorest head of state in the world[18] that made his family live on 4,000 birr payroll based salary per month[19]. Poor me! That was a joke of the century.

Just weeks after the Queen of Mega declared that laughable statement, CELEBRTY NETHOWRTH declared “Meles Zenawi was Ethiopia’s former Prime Minister with a net worth of $3 billion”[20].  It was also mentioned that he was one of the most recent literate and forward thinking leaders of Africa. Zenawihad an MBA from the United Kingdom, but forgot to mention that it was bought from the open market, and a Master of Science in economics from Netherlands.

I think, Celebrity Net Worth, got it entirely all wrong. If that was the case, how come, a check in the name of his elder daughter Semhal Meles Zenawi, for US5 billion[21] was deposited into a bank in New York? We will leave the investigation to Department of Fraud and Money Laundering Investigation of the United States.

 

All these are the tip of the ice-berg, ladies and gentlemen. Probably there are deposit account in the name of their other children at various capital cities of the world. This includes Far East countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and other unsusceptible, places, in addition to the well-secured banks in Switzerland.

We knew about Meles’s embezzlement of resources, way back as far as 2005. When the information on embezzlement and stashing away of millions of dollars came out, Meles and his gang filed suit in a US court against four Ethiopians for making false and defamatory statements. The four Ethiopians were GoshuHabte, Yonas Habte, and Dawit Kebede who live in the United States and Lishan Gizaw who resides in Germany. It is interesting to note what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia said at the time:

“Not only are the defendants fabricated statement damaging to the personal reputations of the plaintiffs, but also seriously risk and undermine Ethiopia’s important international relations, including with its economic development partners.”[22]

Oh dear-dear! Rather than being scared, the Diaspora were so excited about the possibility of bringing the daytime robbery of the TPLF into the open and started to pledge money to cover the legal cost of the four defendants. Had the case gone ahead it would have been opportunity that the BBC and major credible news agencies throughout the world would have had a chance to bring the truth to the open.

According to Ethiopian Review[23], a counter lawsuit was being filed against Meles, Bereket and other top officials of the EPRDF regime by Tensae radio accusing them of torture and murder of Ethiopian civilians. According to the evidences that are being gathered so far, some of victims could be close relatives of Ethiopian Americans. That scared a hell out of them and immediately instructed their lawyers in America to drop the lawsuit against Tensae radio, securing back their own right to immunity. What Embarrassing bunch of Mafiosi running a country, like Ethiopia.

The following table shows a fraction of some money deposited at various places across cities of the world, in the name of high ranking officials of EPRDF/TPLF at the time.

Name Amount in US dollar Bank and place
Meles Zenawi 41 Million Bank of Malaysia, Malaysia
Abadi Zemu 22 Million Swiss Bank, Switzerland
Sibhat Nega 29 Million Deutsche Bank, Germany
Tefera Walwa 9 Million Bank of Canada, Canada
Amb. Birhane G/Kirstos 19 Million New York City Bank, USA
Adisu Legesse 14 Million New York City Bank, USA
Arkebe Equbay 29 Million Bank of Malaysia, Malaysia
Genet Zewdie 6 Million New York City Bank, USA
Prof. Indrias Eshete 7 Million New York City Bank, USA
Shimelis Kifle 12 Million Bank of Canada, Canada
Abay Tsehaye 17 Million Bank of Malaysia, Malaysia
Amb. Mohamod Duri 4 Million New York City Bank, USA
Dr. Maru Yirdaw 11 Million Deutsche Bank, Germany
Bereket Simon 10 Million Deutsche Bank, Germany

Source: http://www.tensae.com/ radio 22.05.05. It is importna to note that these foreign bank account funds are a miniscule compared to the amount of funds that each individual owns using the so-called “shares” of their concocted para-NGOs such as EFFORT.

The Corruption Game

The Ethiopian regime is control freak. It is not just the military, the health, education the entire economy, but also the media, the NGO and even individual lives under control. There is a Constitution to satisfy the wishes of donors. However, there are, the bills and new laws it fabricates every day. To control the media, there is a Press Law that contradicts the constitution. To silence both the local and the International Human Rights Organisations, there is an NGO law. To silence its opposition critics, there is an anti-terrorism law[24]. Just two days ago, it came up with another drafted new intelligence and security bill with various controversial provisions to amend the existing legislation that came into effect in 1995. As per this bill, any security personal may kill anybody on the spot while in duty, and is answerable to no one.

Anyway, whenever they try to pin down an opposition, a critic or anyone who falls out with them, they firstly play it on television, from which their court judges learn how to behave in handling such government driven cases, pull out one of the new legislations and cage their opponents. Period!

Recently, there is information about a serious fall outs within the TPLF regime and its satellites after the death of Meles Zenawi. All within the TPLF are trying to control power and fit in the shoes of Meles Zenawi. Those who have got the upper power, particularly control of the military have started playing a “corruption game”. Just like they did on the former Defence Minister, Seye Abraha, those in control have started crack down on their opponents again on the corruption charges. Before taking action though, as usual they started playing it on television. Every arrest had been seen, going as far as the Head of Internal Revenue, which sat at the level of ministerial post have been dramatised and well executed. The International community thought the regime of Hailemariam Dessalegn, the incumbent Prime Minister has been doing something to bring corruption under control, but it is just a game used to tame some officials trying to step out of line.

Conclusion.

Ethiopia is a corrupt state at the highest level, but well concealed. The corruption starts from top and goes straight down to an individual level. Corruption in Ethiopia is the order of the day. How one could bring corruption under control when the corrupt official plays judge and jury at the same time? Corruption bills are used to bring down only those who step out of the line of the ruling Maoist/Albanian type communist party, disguised as democrats. They follow democratic centralism.

A Gambella Region Senior Finance Officer had been on the run with crucial documents to implicate corrupt senior Government Officials of the region and EFFORT for the last two years. The fugitive came out of his hiding after being promised immunity and 24-hour security by the Federal Government until the culprit were brought to justice with the documents in his procession. The fugitive asked audience with head of Corruption Investigation Department, but he couldn’t see him before two weeks because the official claimed that a relative was sick in another part of Ethiopia and he would be going there. He eagerly waited for the two weeks. Then just a day before his appointment he dropped dead after having lunch in a restaurant. They poisoned him. That is a warning shot for any whistle-blower. Everyone has to put up with corruption, shut up and watch as a bystander while TPLF cats eat and fatten themselves.

In a country where the government is not accountable to the people, there is no way of getting rid of the cancerous disease of corruption. The government of Ethiopia lives and breathes corruption as the oxygen. It came to power through corruption, fooling the international donors[25] and maintains its power through intimidation, ballot rigging to the extent of claiming to have won 99.6% of the vote results in election. Who would dare to ask them?

The regime in power got there where it is now with its hands tainted in blood and corruption. It will not leave the post without bloodshed. It will not function properly as a legitimate government, either. Therefore, it has to be pushed out of the power before it pushes the country into a bottomless pit of corruption. The power should be given back to the people, so that the people are able to elect a government that they chose to look after them and the government they could bring down through the ballot when they don’t want. Up until this moment, dictatorship breads corruption and corruption feeds the dictators to stay in power. They are not mutually exclusive. That is a vicious circle that needs to be broken.

Ethiopians are determined to get rid of these human rights abusers. All we ask the United Kingdom and United States is not stand on our way, by financing and sustaining it to exist. A regime that terrorises its people cannot be an ally against terrorism. I know that, the Ethiopian Regime is playing the Chinese card. This is black-mailing. Just abandon it. Trust us. It will collapse. If you, particularly the British Government, take the right action now, you will remain with friends and trustworthy allies forever – the people of Ethiopia. If you keep feeding this corrupt regime to stay in power, then Ethiopia is going to be a breeding ground for elements with grudges against you. That is a reality. You don’t have to look into crystal ball to predict what is coming. You already know it from experience.

Thank you.


[14] Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia Perceptions, Realities, and the Way Forward for Key Sectors

[24] Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No.652/2009 – Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

[25] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8535189.stm

 

 


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Copyright 2012 Ethiomedia.com. Email: editor@ethiomedia.com

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