by Wondimu Mekonnen
July 24, 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 economic 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 were to evicted and their land sold to Indian and Arab, Turkish, 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. 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, 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. 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 (dream map shown below). 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. 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 Ababa, many arriving from rural areas looking for work”.
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. 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”.
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, 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. 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.