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Thieving autocrat: The reign of Haile Selassie in Ethiopia February 13, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist


Selassie bred corruption in Ethiopia; he maintained a backward and inhuman system in which millions of his subject lived in degrading poverty, oppressive misery and ignorance. Nowhere in the world was the gulf between rich and poor greater.

Haile Selassie was not God or a great reformer; but a callous, greedy, thieving autocrat, who should be remembered for the murdering leech that he was.


Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia (full title “His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings and Elect of God”) has almost universally been remembered as a kindly benefactor, yet the evidence suggesting otherwise is overwhelming.

It is argued that he implemented many reforms in his country and Rastafarians believe him to be God incarnate – as prophesied by Marcus Garvey – but how justified are these suggestions?

If we take as starting point Fascist Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia we find Selassie fleeing to Britain in a brave attempt to rally support for his country. Garvey pointed out that he “ran away from his country to England, leaving his people to be massacred by the Italians” (Marcus Garvey, The Failure of Haile Selassie as Emperor, Black Man – London, March/April 1937). He remained in Bath for the duration of the war, but on returning to take his place on the throne he became paranoid about the partisans who had stayed and fought the Italians, fearing their bravery and preferring obsequiousness. Thus, they were gradually removed from positions of authority and replaced with those who had collaborated with the Italians as he knew they could be easily kept in line and would be open to the methods Selassie used to control his dignitaries. Selassie’s methods of asserting and achieving and maintaining power involved breeding an atmosphere of distrust and corruption, where government officials would inform on each other in a constant vying for power, each wanting to be noticed and promoted by the Emperor, as the financial rewards could be great.

Ethiopia had much in common with any other capitalist society. For instance, starving peasants felt themselves privileged to even see a rich person in the flesh (shades of the homeless in Britain grieving over a recently deceased Princess). To achieve this state of affairs, Selassie would throw crumbs to the poor and bribe the rich. An example of this was his practice of throwing coppers to the poor to celebrate his birthday each year.

That is why it is preferable for the Abyssinian Negroes and the Negroes of the world to work for the restoration and freedom of the country without the assistance of Haile Selassie, because at best he is but a slave master. The Negroes of the Western World whose forefathers suffered for three hundred years under the terrors of slavery ought to be able to appreciate what freedom means. Surely they cannot feel justified in supporting any system that would hold their brothers in slavery in another country whilst they are enjoying the benefits of freedom elsewhere. The Africans who are free can also appreciate the position of slaves in Abyssinia. What right has the Emperor to keep slaves when all the democratic sections of the world were free, when men had the right to live, to develop, to expand, to enjoy all the benefits of human liberty[?] (Garvey, 1937)

Always Selassie had to exercise absolute control, punishing those who undermined his authority, two examples being Prince Imru and Tekele Wolda Hawariat. Prince Imru gave some of his lands to the peasantry without the Emperors permission and as a result he was exiled form Ethiopia for twenty years for “disloyalty”. Tekele Hawariat, a celebrated war hero, refused bribes and special privileges and so was imprisoned and finally executed by decapitation. If Selassie couldn’t have someone in the palm of his hand then he would get rid of them.

Progressive
The image Selassie liked to project to the West was always one of being somehow progressive. To this end many youngsters were sent abroad to be educated, though when they returned Selassie’s megalomania and greed meant that this education could never be employed to initiate any reforms in the country. Yet, as we have said, Selassie is remembered by many as a great reformer. Rather than being interested in reform, Selassie was interested in ‘development’. This allowed him to appeal for funds to help this process. To this end hospitals, bridges, factories etc. were built, all bearing the name of the emperor. But as the money poured into Ethiopia much of it was misappropriated by Selassie and hundreds of millions of dollars found their way into his personal bank accounts. The West, however, continued to back Selassie, who they regarded as a bulwark against ‘communism’ in Africa.

In the sixties, when Selassie had begun to lose his grip following an attempted coup d’etat, he found it necessary to pay Army officers and his Police obscene amounts of money to maintain loyalty and order. Thus, in a country of 30 million farmers and 100,000 police and military personnel, 1% of the state budget was allocated to the farmers and 40% to the army and the police.

Sumptuous Banquets
Selassie bred corruption in Ethiopia; he maintained a backward and inhuman system in which millions of his subject lived in degrading poverty, oppressive misery and ignorance. Nowhere in the world was the gulf between rich and poor greater. In 1973 Jonathan Dimbleby visited northern Ethiopia and made the film which was to signal the end for Selassie. The film for the first time showed that people were starving to death in their multitudes, despite the money for ‘development’ which was being pumped into the country. At the Palace the splendour and riches seemed to know no bounds. The juxtapositioning of the two contrasting images in the film was striking; the pigs with their sumptuous banquets were growing fatter on the backs of walking skeletons. Of course this hunger suited Selassie as people could hardly rebel when they were starving to death. There was in fact, however, plenty of grain in Ethiopia. But landowners took the harvest from the peasants, grain prices doubled and the farmers who grew the grain could not afford to buy it.

As the dying continued, western journalists were no longer allowed into Northern Ethiopia. Selassie preferred to show off his great ‘developments’ to the world press. The suffering could not be hidden indefinitely so, as the situation became a bigger and bigger embarrassment to the Emperor, the Police began to kill off the starving en masse.

It is ironic that Selassie liked to project an image of himself to the world of a kind, tolerant and benevolent soul, yet those in his country who detracted from this image were usually executed. Supporters of Selassie could argue that it was his underlings and not he that were responsible for the atrocities and corruption, the Emperor being kept in total ignorance of the situation. A look at the facts shows this to be impossible. Selassie knew what he was doing when he stuffed the money stolen from his subjects under his mattress and encouraged others in his employ to do likewise. Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski wrote of Selassie: “the Emperor himself amassed his great riches. The older he grew, the greater became his greed, his pitiable cupidity…he and his people took millions from the state treasurer and left cemeteries full of people who had died of hunger, cemeteries visible from the windows of the royal palace” (The Emperor (1984) Picador p.160).

When the facts of history are written Haile Selassie of Abyssinia will go down as a great coward who ran away from his country to save his skin and left the millions of his countrymen to struggle through a terrible war that he brought upon them because of his political ignorance and his racial disloyalty. (Garvey, 1937)

Haile Selassie was not God or a great reformer; but a callous, greedy, thieving autocrat, who should be remembered for the murdering leech that he was.

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Ethiopia listed among the most corrupt Countries in the world according to Transparency International 2016 Report February 7, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Corruption, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Illicit financial outflows from Ethiopia, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooThe TPLF Corruption network

The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world. But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption. People across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption.

 José Ugaz,  Chair, Transparency International


 

Ethiopia is listed among the countries in the world where corruption highly prevails. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, Ethiopia ranks 103 out of 168 countries and territories included in this year’s index.This doesn’t come as a surprise to many as Ethiopia has been for two decades under the control of a bunch of corrupt officials who are deafening us with the ‘11% economic growth’ mantra while millions of Ethiopians are starving to death.These corrupt officials are killing, torturing and imprisoning citizens in hundreds and thousands because they challenged their corrupt attitudes and their endless greed for wealth and power.


 

Source: Ethiopia listed among the most corrupt Countries in the world according to Transparency International 2016 Report


 

Related:-

TPLF/EPRDF Ethiopian Regime is a Contra to a Developmental State

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/tplfeprdf-ethiopian-regime-is-a-contra-to-a-developmental-state/

The Conflict between the Ethiopian State and the Oromo People, by Dr. Alemayehu Kumsa

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/the-conflict-between-the-ethiopian-state-and-the-oromo-people-by-dr-alemayehu-kumsa/


 

Oromia: In Ethiopia, anger over corruption and farmland development runs deep. #OromoProtests January 18, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromoprotests-tweet-and-share11

In Ethiopia, anger over corruption and farmland development runs deep
Despite the government ending plans to build on Oromo land around the capital, clashes continue, as lack of transparency and maladministration fuel dissent

William Davison, The Guardian, Global Development, 18 January 2016

 

#OromoProtests  block the road in Wolenkomi, in the Oromia State, Ethiopia. Photograph by William Davison
Protesters block the road in Wolenkomi, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia
Protesters block the road in Wolenkomi, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. All photographs by William Davison

Two years ago, on the edge of Chitu in Ethiopia’s unsettled Oromia region, local officials told Chamara Mamoye his farmland might be developed when the small town expanded. He hasn’t heard anything since.

“Losing the land would be a big problem for me, but if the government forces us, we can’t do anything,” the father-of-five says outside his compound.

Last month, Chamara, 45, saw the bodies of two protesters lying on the road after demonstrations rocked Chito. The dead were among up to 140 people killed by security forces during region-wide protests triggered by claims of injustice and marginalisation from the nation’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.
Bolstered by US-based social media activists, the protest movement coalesced around opposition to a government plan to integrate the capital, Addis Ababa, with surrounding Oromo towns. After weeks of protests, the ruling coalition in the Oromia region said last week that it was cancelling the planned expansion.

Protests, however, go on, and the roots of popular unease and anger in Oromia run much deeper.

Dissatisfaction with corruption, maladministration and inadequate consultations on investments are fuelling dissent. This patchwork of grievances presents a fundamental challenge to an authoritarian government aiming to rapidly transform Ethiopia from an agrarian society to an industrial powerhouse. And the discontent is a national issue.

Urban expansion is causing clashes across the country as investors, officials and farmers protect their interests, says Seyoum Teshome, a lecturer at Ambo University.

“The villagers who have been asking for basic services and infrastructure rush to sell their farmland at market rate before it is expropriated at low rates of compensation,” he says.

As all land is state-owned in Ethiopia, houses are rapidly built on the edge of towns without official permission, to give plots value, Seyoum says. Investors may bribe corrupt officials to formalise illegal transfers, causing anger among dispossessed farmers, he adds.

 

Workers near Chitu in the Oromia

Workers near Chitu in the Oromia region

Chamara was not among the mostly youthful protesters who took to the streets in Chitu, but he shares their concerns about an unresponsive ruling system. He’s frustrated by repeatedly broken official promises to tarmac the main road that runs through Chitu. Although the area has electricity and a mobile-phone signal, he is disappointed with the rate of progress since the government came to power 25 years ago. “There is no big development considering the time they had,” he says.

 

He is also upset by a lack of information and consultation over land policies, as well as concerned by suspicions of corruption – though officials do not flaunt ill-gotten gains. “The corruption is done in a secret way. It’s a silent killer,” he said.

In elections last May, Ethiopia’s ruling coalition and allied parties won all 547 seats in the federal parliament and 100% of legislative positions in nine regional councils. Despite the result, the government acknowledged widespread dissatisfaction with the quality of public administration and levels of corruption.

“In many areas, personnel said to be involved in massive corruption that led to sudden outbursts of anger are being dismissed,” government spokesman Getachew Reda said in an interview last week.

One of the deadliest incidents last month took place in Woliso town, about113km south-west of Addis Ababa. Six protesters were killed by security forces after thousands of people from surrounding villages took to the streets to protest over planned expansion of the town.

A group of young Oromo, who had gathered next to the Walga river a few miles from Woliso, spoke of community fears of evictions and poor compensation. But nobody seemed to know anything specific about government plans. “The government does not discuss in detail. They do not have consent,” one said.

Ethiopia has long been a darling of the international donor community, which has appeared willing to ignore its poor record on human rights because high growth rates over the past decade have delivered some development goals. But the Oromo protests illustrate the vulnerabilities of this strategy.

To the north of Chitu, at Wenchi, which boasts a spectacular crater lake popular with tourists, grievances are almost tangible. Soldiers are still in town and, as elsewhere, the authorities have arrested people suspected of involvement in the protests. While some seem cowed by the crackdown, Rabuma Terefa is not.

His friend was shot in the leg on the edge of Chitu as he marched with other protesters from Wenchi.

When an elite military unit told elders the protesters must turn back, the group refused, arguing they had a constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate, said Rabuma. Within minutes, soldiers opened fire, killing people, including Birhanu Dinka, who was leading the crowd at that moment.

“They did not say anything, they just pointed the guns at us. We were begging them not to kill us,” Rabuma, 27, says. While abuses may have occurred, security forces are told to protect civilian lives, according to Getachew.

It is not only lives at stake: around the time of the protests in Wenchi, the property of a Dutch agricultural company, Solagrow, was torched by hundreds of people. Rabuma says the investment angered locals as it fenced off 100 hectares of prime communal grazing land, leased by the government. Solagrow says community relations were healthy and the valley was waterlogged until they drained it.

 

A cow on Solagrow land near property burnt down in a protest in Chitu, Oromia

A cow on Solagrow land near property burnt down in a protest in Chitu

The project was collateral damage of the political dispute, according to manager Jan van de Haar. “[The protesters] became angry and they said there was only one way to continue, and that’s our farm, because we’re the only investment in that place,” he says. The attack destroyed $300,000-worth of machinery and potato seeds.

Rabuma had no sympathy for Solagrow, which he says was complicit in the government’s oppression of the Oromo. He is instead focused on the struggle ahead.

In Chitu, Chamara speaks for many Oromo as he implores the government to better manage investments and urban sprawl. “No one is opposing the development of the city, but it should not be at the expense of farmers’ lives,” he says.

This article was amended on 18 January 2016 to correct the spelling of Chitu.

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/jan/18/ethiopia-anger-over-corruption-farmland-development-runs-deep#_=_

THE DEPTHS OF ETHIOPIA’S CORRUPTION. #Africa March 11, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Colonizing Structure, Corruption, Corruption in Africa, Illicit financial outflows from Ethiopia.
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O

According to the World Bank, companies held by business group the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) account for roughly half of the country’s modern economy. The group is closely allied with the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPDRF), an alliance of four parties.

EFFORT is a conglomerate formed from assets collected in 1991 by the EPRDF to rehabilitate the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia after it had been decimated by poverty and conflict. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is the lead party in the EPDRF coalition.

Tigrayans, however, only account for eight percent of the country’s 90 million people. According to Abebe Gellaw, an exiled Ethiopian journalist and founder of Addis Voice, a web platform that provides news that is otherwise censored by the Ethiopian government, EFFORT has become a business racket for the Tigrayan elite who are monopolising major sources of the country’s wealth.

“The TPLF controls key government institutions and a significant portion of the economy. For over 15 years, EFFORT has been used by the TPLF to channel public resources and funds to the coffers of the TPLF through illegal deals, contracts, tax evasion, kick-backs and all sorts of illegal operations,” he told IPS.

Azeb Mesfin, Zenawi’s widow, currently manages the multi-billion-dollar business empire.

She claims her husband paid himself a modest salary of 250 dollars a month, yet the online website “the Richest.org”, which publishes the net worth of the richest people in the world, recently divulged that Meles was in fact one of Africa’s wealthiest leaders having amassed a personal fortune of three billion dollars.

http://www.africacradle.com/2015/03/11/the-depths-of-ethiopias-corruption/

The TPLF Corruption network

THE DEPTHS OF ETHIOPIA’S CORRUPTION

(Africa cradle, Finfinnee/London) – Ethiopia may be one of the fastest-growing, non-oil producing economies in Africa in recent years, but corruption in this Horn of Africa nation is a deterrent to foreign investors looking for stable long-term partnerships in developing countries.

“Bankers, miners and developers presenting projects to investment committees in countries that fare badly in corruption rankings frequently struggle to get investment. Corruption raises red flags because it makes local markets uncompetitive, unpredictable and therefore largely hostile to these long-term players,” Ed Hobey, the East Africa analyst at the political risk firm Africa Risk Consulting, told us.

On May 11, in the biggest crackdown on corruption in Ethiopia in the last 10 years, authorities arrested more than 50 high profile people including government officials, businessmen and a minister.

Melaku Fanta, the director general of the Revenue and Customs Authority, which is the equivalent rank of a minister, his deputy, Gebrewahid Woldegiorgis, and other officials were apprehended on suspicion of tax evasion.

But the arrests have raised questions about the endemic corruption at the heart of the country’s political elite.

Berhanu Assefa of the Federal Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission of Ethiopia told us that these arrests highlighted how corruption has insinuated itself into the higher levels of officialdom.

“Corruption is a serious problem we are facing. We now see that corruption is occurring in higher places than we had previously expected. Areas vulnerable to corruption are land administration, tax and revenue, the justice system, telecommunications, land procurement, licensing areas and the finance sector,” he said.

Ethiopia ranks 113 out of 176 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International, a global civil society coalition that encourages accountability. 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).

Dr. Getachew Begashaw, a professor of economics at Harper College in the United States, told IPS that there was a fear that the recent high profile arrests were merely political theatre designed to placate major donors such as the World Bank and the IMF, and to give credibility to the new regime’s fight against corruption. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn took over leadership of the country after Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died in August 2012.

“They are using this as a PR stunt to appease not only the donors, but to also dupe the Ethiopian people. Because many non-party affiliated Ethiopians in the business community are complaining, and this complaint is trickling down to the average people on the streets,” he told IPS.

According to the World Bank, companies held by business group the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) account for roughly half of the country’s modern economy. The group is closely allied with the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPDRF), an alliance of four parties.

EFFORT is a conglomerate formed from assets collected in 1991 by the EPRDF to rehabilitate the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia after it had been decimated by poverty and conflict. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is the lead party in the EPDRF coalition.

Tigrayans, however, only account for eight percent of the country’s 90 million people. According to Abebe Gellaw, an exiled Ethiopian journalist and founder of Addis Voice, a web platform that provides news that is otherwise censored by the Ethiopian government, EFFORT has become a business racket for the Tigrayan elite who are monopolising major sources of the country’s wealth.

“The TPLF controls key government institutions and a significant portion of the economy. For over 15 years, EFFORT has been used by the TPLF to channel public resources and funds to the coffers of the TPLF through illegal deals, contracts, tax evasion, kick-backs and all sorts of illegal operations,” he told IPS.

Azeb Mesfin, Zenawi’s widow, currently manages the multi-billion-dollar business empire.

She claims her husband paid himself a modest salary of 250 dollars a month, yet the online website “the Richest.org”, which publishes the net worth of the richest people in the world, recently divulged that Meles was in fact one of Africa’s wealthiest leaders having amassed a personal fortune of three billion dollars. This has led many to question the provenance of the erstwhile leader’s wealth – when he had no known business engagements.

Illicit financial flows as a result of corruption are a major hindrance to a country’s development, undermining institutions, economies and societies. According to the Africa Progress Panel’s Africa Progress Report 2013, the continent is losing more through illicit financial outflows than it receives in aid and foreign direct investment.

A commitment to greater accountability and transparency to curtail illicit financial flows should occur on both the national and international levels, according to E. J. Fagan, deputy communications director at GFI.

“Reforms and policies are needed to strengthen customs enforcement and make governing apparatuses more transparent. The international community can create a multilateral system of automatic exchange of tax information that African countries like Ethiopia can access, so as to make it difficult for illicit actors to hide money and transfer large amounts of illicit money without detection,” he told IPS.

Begashaw added that corruption in the social sphere also breeds social inequality, disenfranchisement and a breakdown in national unity and civil society.

“The very existence of parastatals and TPLF-affiliated endowed business conglomerates like EFFORT is a major source of corruption. The Birr (Ethiopian currency) will depreciate and inflation will skyrocket. The capacity of the state to provide public goods and services will decline. Free market competition will be eroded. Government revenue will be reduced and the budget deficit will rise.

“If they are really serious about combating corruption, they should start doing so from the top,” he said.