The Plot to sell Public Enterprises in Ethiopia is plunder by a different name ( By Teshome Debalke )

etairlineUnless the argument is what’s good for the ruling warlords is good for the people of Ethiopia, if anything, the new Prime Minster should seize their assets than sell them more public enterprises

June 11, 2018

 The recent news on the ruling ethnic Apartheid regime’s mouthpiece EBC, Ethiopian Airlines, Ethio Telecom, Ethio Eclectic … and the rest of the public enterprises remaining will be available for ‘foreign and domestic investors’ is not news per say but, advertisement by the ‘minority’ ethnic Mafia TPLF party to gabble up the last remaining “cash cows” it kept holding to consolidate its economic power as it was forced to surrender the political baton for its satellite ‘majority’ Oromo (OPDO) party.

The old guard must stop deceiving the people of Ethiopia and the world with half-truth and come clean to allow reform its corrupt policy and practice after 27 years of lies and corruption in the name of growth and transformation.  The stake is too high for the new Prime Minster few months after he took office to allow TPLF warlords to put out half-truth and expect to get away with their plunder.

The famous MD and a poet at heart Anurag Shourie in his ‘Half A Shadow’  book wrote; “A half-truth is even more dangerous than a lie. A lie, you can detect in some stage, but half the truth is sure to mislead you for long”.

In a nation where the lives and rights of the people means little over unconstrained appetite of the political elites to gabble up anything insight, nothing that won’t benefit them comes in fruition and, plunder of the public assets are no exception.

The new Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed ascendency to power within the Ethnic Apartheid ruling EPDRF collusion party responsible for 100s of thousands of deaths, displacements and sufferings of the people of Ethiopia and unprecedented plunder of the economy was with the expectation he will institute justice for the victims and stop more crimes of atrocities and looting from occurring in preparation to transfer power for democratically elected government.

Though some of his bold moves are impressive, addressing TPLF warlords’ impunity in cover of economic growth and transformation should have been priority as they attempt to sabotage his reform efforts. Among the needed institutional reform priorities, a complete overhaul of the justice, the economic, Media and land management system most of the countless victims paid the ultimate price for — enforced by lawless security apparatus.

 Understandably, the ruling elites long rap sheet of crimes of treachery, atrocities, corruption and collusion of the past can’t be dealt easily. But, to allow business as the usual with hope and promises without justice for one and all will make matter worst to the people on the ‘street’ holding the empty bag.

Recognizing the problem of Ethiopia is the ethnic Apartheid system that produce countless ethnic warlords in suits that believe; the lives and loverhood of the people of Ethiopia are colleterial damage for their national and regional political and economic adventure as they slash-and-burn their way in-and-out of power and plunder is a giant step in the right direction.

Therefore, though the new PM is stuck with his ethnic apartheid ruling EPDRF collusion regime with little options to please all the political elites that want a piece of illegitimate power and privilege in believing; the people of Ethiopia in part or whole are their subjects to be exploited for their ambition not free agents that can exercise their God given democratic rights can’t be expected to be change agents to free the people of Ethiopia from ethnic autocracy.   Unfortunately, the collusion of anti-democracy elites outnumbers their democratic counterpart 10 to 1.

When that wasn’t enough problem within, petrodollar Arab autocrats and the World powers are picking-and-choosing their ‘loudest’ favorite elites for their own geopolitical interest is a double-edged sword.

With all interest groups slagging it out for power, privilege and recognition, PM Abiy Ahmed’s equal opportunity peace and love posturing for one-and-all elites in-and-out the country is a losing proposition for the people of Ethiopia before it begins  as he attempts to please the good, the bad and the ugly elites just because they have access to cyberspace to make enough uproar to be noticed – forgetting; the people of Ethiopia that made the biggest voice of all on the street to their plight for freedom, justice, and democracy with their blood and sweat that propelled him to power becoming a background noise — buried in peace and love frenzy to the benefit of the noisy political elites without notice.

The news, the Woyane regime pass a resolution to sell public enterprises for domestic and foreign investors few months after the new PM came to helm of power shows, TPLF warlords are either sabotaging his leadership or plotting to hold the people of Ethiopia hostage economically.

Instead of calling freeze on all public enterprises from being sold or bought until the new PM Administration establishes independent commission to root out corrupt warlords from the Boards of public enterprises and government agencies to figure out the illegally owned enterprises that dominate the economy, signing on the selling of more public assets in a cover of ‘domestic and foreign’ investors indicates, he either have no control or want to sustain the status qua against the interest of the people of Ethiopia.

The reality is, TPLF operatives in the diaspora disguised as foreign investors and the ruling TPLF warlords and affiliated enterprises disguised as domestic investors have been buying and selling farms, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, financial and Media companies to name the few for over two decades. According to Capital, “in the past two decades the government has sold 365 enterprises with 18.7 billion birr and collected 12.2 birr”.

Therefore, the most lucrative public enterprises (cash cows) TPLF warlords held hostage for 27 years to be offered for sale in the beginning of the new administration shows who is in control of the economy.

For a high level ‘National’ Intelligence Agency officer of the ethnic Apartheid regime, PM Abiy not to know the reality can only be described; there is more to know than what the people of Ethiopia told. The fact there is no Free Media in Ethiopia to verify the officials line itself says more about the new PM’s priorities to deal with TPLF economic plunder and propaganda apparatus are not in the front burner.

The plot that started in 1995 when TPLF warlords’ officially established EFFORT under the leadership of nonother than the infamous Siye Abraha, a warlord turn General and ‘Defense Minister’ of Ethiopia and Former Chairman of the Board of several public enterprises, including the National Airlines while his brother was the  Director of the Privatization Agency until 1998. The Agency remain under TPLF warlord-Director General Beyene Gebremeskel.

With 100s of billions of dollars embezzled from the people of Ethiopia, no one knows what message the new PM is sending when the same warlords put out another sell order with the remaining public enterprises few months after he took office.

I have been warning for a decade about TPLF Mafia warlords and operatives’ grand conspiracy to systematically cannibalize public enterprises since 1995.

The bigger question that remain unanswered is, why would so many contemporary elites willingly and knowingly involved in the plunder of their nation in a cover of a minority ethic apartheid regime led make-believe Revolutionary Democracy and Developmental State?   The easy answer is greed but, there is more to it than what the eye can see.

photo1Regardless, in the middle of facilitating TPLF warlords’ hostile takeover of public enterprises by legitimizing their economic plunder was the infamous Former Ernest Young East Africa Managing Partner Zemedenhe Negatu (picture left) based in the ruling party TPLF owned Mega Building in Addis Ababa since the mid-90s. After 20 years of service, he left in Feb 2017 to join Fairfax Africa Fund as Chairman, according to Ethio Sport. The firm was established in 2008 in the U.S. by his long-time partner Yarid Berhane (picture right) after he himself left Ernest Young East Africa and began investing in Ethiopia, Kenya as well as other East African countries.

The long-time adviser to the late Charmin of the ruling TPLF party and Prime Minister Melse Zenawi of Ethiopia, Negatu became an exclusive consultant of the National Airlines as EY Managing Partner and oversaw the reorganization of the Airlines in five sectors since mid-90s in what appears in preparation for hostile takeover.

photo2Negatu is also Known to consult and facilitate Expats, Middle Eastern, European and Asian investors’ buyout of public enterprises and, in multiple occasions confess in public to be an investor in Ethiopia himself on undisclosed sector while consulting the public and the ruling party owned enterprises as well as ‘foreign’ including Expat investors.

Thus, selling the national Airlines under CEO Tewolde GebreMariam (picture left), a member of TPLF party that oversaw the reorganization of the Airline on the advice of Zemedenhe Negatu, there was no surprise when he showed up on the Wallstreet Journal to tell the world the sale of the named public enterprises including the Airlines he consulted is kosher.

Matina Steves-Grineff of WSJ on her June 6 report from Nairobi quoted Negatu’s expert opinion in the offering of public enterprises. He stated; “the new leadership in Addis Ababa is smartly modifying and adapting policies and strategies that will sustain Ethiopia’s growth,” said Zemenedeh Ngatu, chairman of Fairfax African Fund LLC, a U.S. based investment firm. “I also strongly believe that these enterprises should be privatized by listing their share s in a local stock market, which should be established as soon as possible, he added”.

It isn’t clear why Matina Steves-Grineff of the world renown WSJ didn’t bother to ask how a two month-old  new PM could have enough time to make any decision nor care to investigate how the same Ngatu that consulted the government of Ethiopia and the ruling party thus, the same public enterprises for sale as EY East Africa Managing Partner since the mid-90s before he join a private equity fund of Fairfax African Fund LLC of his Former EY partner can provide reliable recommendation one way or another.

Any person with elementary understanding let alone ‘professionals’ like WSJ’s reporter or Ernest Young investment consultant wouldn’t ignore; the complication of the establishment of a stock exchange for public enterprises offering for ‘investors’ under a ruling party that dominate the economy operating private enterprises. Such bizarre statement by Negatu with direct interest in the offerings is understandable. But, WSJ reporter failure to do background investigation; the only ‘domestic’ investor are the same ruling party owned and operated enterprises Negatu consulted for 20 years before he venture on his own as private equity fund investor says more about WSJ.

Moreover, for Negatu to suggest stock exchange should be established ‘as soon as possible’ just to facilitate the fast selling of dozen public enterprise announced coming from a man closely associated with the lawless ruling party is the very definition of ‘conspiracy to defraud the public’ that would result in major criminal indictments in any self-respecting nation. But, in a nation of the law of the jungle, Negatu is ‘a well-respected investment adviser’ sought out for answers by many publications including the WSJ.

Likewise, Ethio Telcom -`one of the enterprise offered is under Deberzion Gebermariam, Chairman of the ruling ethnic minority TPLF Party, the Deputy Prime Minster and the Minster of Communication and Technology of the Federal Government with many businesses of his own. The de facto Prime Minster of the nation essentially decides which enterprise is sold or bought for who in the country.

It is common practice the ruling TPLF party affiliated enterprises and expat run investor buying public enterprises on favorable price and loans from public Banks in the last 27 years. The party itself owns and operates several private banks to finance profitable projects and use public Banks to swallow public enterprises with little risk.

The proliferation of two dozen private Equity Fund investors run by expats in the last 10 years involving in all kinds of investment and buyout of public enterprises with little regulation and oversight isn’t by accident either. For instance, the latest private equity investors that showed up in the middle of the State of Emergency in Ethiopia with the backing of the European Investment Bank are Cepheus Growth Capital Fund, that claim to be “Ethiopian focused equity fund  led by Kasaye Kebede, the Founder and the Former CEO Panton Wealth Management firm based in New York with nearly a billion dollars private  offshore fund in Cayman Island and Blue Moon Equity Fund led by the infamous Former CEO and Founder of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange and CEO of Eleni LLC, a Nairobi based Private Equity Fund management firm  led by Dr. Eleni Gebermedhin.

The X Panton Private Wealth Management firm Kassaye and X Commodity Exchange CEO Gebermedhin coming to Ethiopia as private equity investors in the middle of the State of Emergency backed by the European Investment Bank was amusing but not surprising. Therefore, in an article titled “Is European Investment Bank Backing Investors or Invaders in Ethiopia” to show; how the regime in Addis Ababa encourage Expat to game the donor community to finance its takedown of the Ethiopian economy with no one asking and investigating .

The Ethiopian Investment Commission that is responsible for regulating foreign investment happened to have all three successive Directors as well as in the Board of Directors of public enterprises and Directors of the Privatization & Public Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA) filled with core TPLF party members.

The three TPLF members past Directors of the Ethiopian Investment Commission strategically position to takedown the Ethiopian economy with the help of their operatives in the diaspora know more about who comes and stays in the country and where they should invest.

photo3Fitsum Arega move to state minster of the special office of the new Prime Minster replacing Arkebe Oqubay in the new Amidnstriation followed by the announcemnet of the offoring of public enterprises to investors was not by accident either.

The two dozen Private Equity Funds investors that showed up in Ethiopia since 2008 under Fitume leadership are not known to the public whose funds and on which companies they have been investing and its wasn’t by accident either. The Ethiopian Investment Commission responsible to issue permits and regulate foreign investors’ operation in Ethiopia since 1991 conveniently placing three successive TPLF members-Directors was for obvious reasons.

The little known low-profile new Director Dr. Belachew Mokuria promoted from Deputy Director under the new PM will be securitized whether he will open the Commission for public scrutiny to investigate what happened in the last 27 years or not.

No one knows who is investigating the investigator in a rubberstamp Parliament or the toothless Federal Ethics and Corruption Commission led by TPLF longtime Former Commissioner Ali Suliman that few months back was rewarded Ambassadorship to city of love – Paris, France.

photo4 Even more telling was, the only Investment Commission of the government of Ethiopia’website was outsourced by the first Director Abi Woldemeskel for TPLF’s operative in New York by the name Mani Amare (picture) of New York and associate from 1991 to 2010 until he moved to Ethiopia as ModnEthiopia, a technology company closely associated with TPLF Chairman, Deputy PM and Minster of Communication and Technology Deberzion Gebermariam. It is believe, Mani Amare’s ModnEthiopia still run the Commission present website www.investethiopia.gov.et which  was www.investethiopia.orgwhen he run it from New York.

Therefore, it is not mystery for the new PM or anyone else to figure out what to do with the minority political party warlords and its operatives that dominate the government, nongovernment and the private sector as well as the Media establishments he presides over under the watchful eyes of the donor community that finance all sectors in the name of foreign assistance, development, growth and transformation, PPP and whatever acronym comes in handy for the moment.

The new PM also knows well, none of the 100s of TPLF party owned and affiliated companies operate legally. Nor they have ever been audited for taking advantage of public funds, contract and lands… dominated by their own appointed officials and operatives in public agencies. The so-called diaspora investors of all kinds and shapes’ gold rush to Ethiopia in the last decided are directly correlated with the interest of ruling TPLF party warlords own and operated business enterprises.

A dozen of English language business Medias came out of nowhere to populate the cyberspace to prop up the ruling party business interest in the eyes of the donors and foreign investors, its is comical to see them stick with the party line.  The fact, they are so many of them in a nation where Free Press operators are considered terrorist indicates; party affiliated Medias are the ‘right’ Medias in a nation with no Free Press.

So far, the new PM hasn’t spoken what to do about them when the government he is in charge announce the selling of more public enterprises few months after he took office. It is not clear whether his newly appointed state minster of the special office of the Prime Minster, the Former Director of the Investment Commission Fitsum Arega has something to do with it. But his multiple business interest while he was the Director of the Investment Commission speaks for itself.

Therefore, unless the argument is what’s good for the ruling warlords is good for the people of Ethiopia, if anything, the new Prime Minster should seize their assets than sell them more public enterprises.

Just because the PM calls meeting with the ‘opposition’ parties more so from the diaspora than the local parties held hostage in their own ethnic Regions’ localities under the security force he supposedly presides over indicates; pleasing the political elites in the diaspora to tone down their noise from being heard in Western Capitals than amplifying the voice of the people on the ‘street’ he supposedly came to power to raise does not cut it.

No one knows why so many dimwitted officials and pseudo professionals affiliated with the ethnic apartheid regime and the opposition parties, particularly in the diaspora believe; the people of Ethiopia are stupid to understand what they are doing is a crime to remind me of ab article by Evelyn Groenink titled African Investigative Journalism Verses the Kleptocrats on Zam Magazine’s based on a 2017 African Investigative Publishing Collective (AIPC) Report: “Plunder Route to Panama -How African Oligarchs steal from their countries”.

The ground breaking investigative report often missing in Africa summarized the frustration of Africans about their corrupt leaders in one sentence than many attempted and fail for long as;

“Our leaders will only listen if our stories are published in the West”

The simple and direct sentence encompass  what is wrong with totalitarian regimes’ hostilities towards the Free Press, civic societies and democratic institutions to raise the issue of leaders’ massive plunder of their countries, check-and-balance on their rule and corruption and to confront and making them accountable and, takes the blame squealy on Western donors/governments to have more leverage on the depots to listen to them more than the people on the receiving end of their atrocities and corruptions… and impunity.

Therefore, unless the new PM believe reform doesn’t include the public right to know (the Free Press) who is selling-and-buying public assets and investing in the country to root out the bad apples as any legitimate regime does, it would be pointless to believe; there is reform worthy of the people of Ethiopia but, peace and love drama with symbolic posturing to replace the old ‘plunderers  with the new.

Thus, it is important gullible domestic or foreign investors understand, investments in Ethiopia for the last 27 years have always been investment on the ruling TPLF party warlords posed as the Government of Ethiopia officials and will remain so until the new PM decides to do it otherwise.  Thus, loss-or-gain; the reform agenda of the new Prime Minster of Ethiopia that doesn’t address dissolving the ruling party owned and operated enterprises and punishing the offenders requires extreme precaution not to jeopardies one’s investment and possibly freedom when legitimate government comes along to clean up house as the new Prime Minster promised to do so.  Putting out more proposal to sell public enterprises before he figure out what was sold and bought before and by whom and why is NOT reform worthy of the people of Ethiopia but a patch work to sustain the status qua the people rejected.

At the meantime, foreign bilateral and multilateral agencies’, investors or donors in Ethiopia must acknowledge; they have been pouring billions of dollars to the ruling TPLF Mafia party’s vault, particularly the People Republic of China that directly supported its dominance of the economy in the name of Chinese Model Developmental State.

The Chinese government must sever its relationship with the ruling TPLF party dominated regime starting with the Ethiopian Ambassador in Beijing Seyoum Mesfin Gebredingel that hoodwink China to invest on TPLF Party owned and operated enterprises. Ambassador Seyoum is not only one of the top 10 notoriously corrupt TPLF warlord but, he is in the Board of several party owned companies including Guna Trading House, the # 1 exporter of agriculture commodities to China in business with China, Malaysia, Indonesia…. And elsewhere. If China expects sustainable relationship in Ethiopia, the last regime it should partner with is the Apartheid regime of Ethiopia led by the biggest corporations’ owner ruling minority party of the Tigray People Liberation Front.

The new Prime Minster could be a reformist partner if he is able to institute accountability of his collusion governing party’s dominant member TPLF party that essentially own the Ethiopia economy. If not, pouring investment in an ethnic Apartheid nation ruled by a minority ethnic oligarchy is not sustainable model for China’s interest in Africa as the people continue to demand reforms.

As the minority ethnic oligarchy attempt to save the last Apartheid regime in the world that served them well economically, the new Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed will do the people and the international community and himself a favor if he brings about accountability on the corrupt TPLF warlords that hoodwink the people of Ethiopia and the world for almost three decades.

The least the new PM should do is rid of the core TPLF operatives in the economic and Media agencies as he began to do in the security and political apparatus and establish independent committee to investigate corruption and racketeering led by TPLF warlords so that the people of Ethiopia and the international community can build confidence in his regime.

 

 

Source: abbaymedia

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