By Selam Adugna
Almost eight years ago you came to U.S.A leading a delegation of representatives of The Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM). Minnesota was one of your stops, and I had the opportunity to listen to your stump speech. As I recall the purpose of the trip was to meet with Ethiopians who were born in southern Part of Ethiopia and identified to be non-Amhara, non-Oromo, non-Tigriyan, non-Afar or Somali. You and your entourage wanted to meet those individuals who, in your divisive EPRDFISH thinking, felt the way you feel about the “dominance of the so called Amhara regime” as if the Amhara people had been the chosen, favored and privileged more than the rest of all Ethiopians, as being construed today by some ethnic chauvinists about the Tigray People. True Ethiopians have the keen understanding of the difference between the peoples and political organizations, and separate the peoples from the ethnically pigeonholed political parties. As an Ethiopian with the southern ancestry who grew up in the melting pot of Addis Ababa and having family members in the Oromo speaking part of Ethiopia, I never witnessed any particular social, political and economic privileges granted to a particular ethnic group of Ethiopia. In fact the farmers, day laborers, shoe shiners, working classes, and all members of the underprivileged sectors of all ethnic groups of Ethiopia from North to South and from West to East equally suffered and are still suffering in all sociopolitical and economic aspects of their lives. What has been a common denominator in the governance of Ethiopia from the time of Haile Selassie until now including the current government which you shake and move (I question if you are the real shaker or mover or the one who is shaken and moved by others from behind) is that power greedy, self-serving and self-enriching tyrannical individuals from every ethnic group colluded together to enslave the poor and unfortunate masses of Ethiopia.
Your political machinery has to use venomous, divisive, anti-Ethiopian rhetoric to tear the fabric of Unity which has sustained Ethiopia as a nation. You use divide and rule tactic to stay in power. You and your handlers have become the masters of talking the talk but not walking the walk when Democracy is supposed to be exercised. You succeeded in muzzling your own brothers and sisters, the peoples of Ethiopia, for the sake of power and money. Your cohorts and allies have become the chosen and privileged making themselves millionaires and billionaires by selling the natural resources of the country to cheaper foreign bidders and stealing the foreign aid money as well as the loan money for their own personal benefits.
How in the hell did so many of the party members of EPRDF particularly those in the TPLF become so rich? Let us see who they are, and no doubt that you know them well.
1.Azeb Mesfin – Widow of the late dictator Meles Zenawi, commonly known as the “mother of corruption,” has ownership interests in many of the biggest companies in Ethiopia. Estimated net worth: $4 billion.
- Berhane Gebrekiristos – The closest and most trust friend of Meles and Azeb; launders their loot out of the country. Estimated net worth: $2 billion.
- Sebhat Nega – His fortune has been declining after he was kicked out of the TPLF politburo and the Endowment Fund for the Relief of Tigray (EFFORT) by Melees and Azeb; he is currently rebounding. Estimated net worth $2 billion.
- Seyoum Mesfin – Current Ethiopian ambassador to China, former foreign affairs minister, used his chairmanship of Ethiopian Airlines and diplomatic status to smuggle illegal drugs between Africa and Asia; he is perhaps the biggest drug trader in Africa. Estimated net worth: $1.8 billion.
- Samuel Tafesse – One of Azeb Mesfin’s business partners; their relationship has gone sour over the past couple of years, negatively affecting his construction business. Estimated net worth: $1.6 billion.
- Abay Tsehay – A senior member of the ruling party, has blind partnerships with many of the big companies in Ethiopia. Net worth: $1.5 billion
- Abadi Zemo, TPLF politburo member, former head of EFFORT, currently ambassador to Sudan, net worth: $500 million.
- Girma Birru, – Nephew of Yemiru Nega (#13 in the list) – former TPLF Trade and Industry minister, currently ambassador to Washington DC, owns shares in several large companies, including Dembel Business Center in Addis Ababa, owns several real estate properties, estimated net worth: $300 million
- Tadesse Haile, long-time state minister of Trade and Industry, invests in several large projects that he himself authorizes, owns shares in construction and trading companies, estimated net worth: $250 million
- Tewodros Hagos, TPLF politburo member, owns shares in several of EFFORT companies, estimated net worth: $200 million.
11.Debre-Tsion Gebre-Michael, TPLF politburo member and information technology minister, tasked with jamming radio, TV and web sites, travels regularly to the U.S. and Europe to invest his loot, owns shares in companies that work on projects for his ministry, has several real estate properties in Arizona, estimated net worth: $100 million
- Bereket Simon, TPLF propaganda chief, owns real estate properties, estimated worth: $100 million.
- Yemiru Nega, – the uncle of Girma Birru (#8 in the list) – owner of Dembel City Center, partner with Azeb Mesfin, Girma Birru and Tadesse Haile, estimated net worth: $100 million
Where did these people get the capital to amass so much money in twenty four years unless they looted the coffers of the nation? Look around you the affluent lives of the individuals in power and their close family members and friends. It will be a distortion of the truth if you say that you do not know how the above mentioned billionaires and millionaires got their wealth. God will get disappointed with you if you say that you do not know how EFFORT accumulated so many Companies in six sectors of businesses, Manufacturing, Service, Merchandise, Construction, Agro Processing, and Mining.
Refer to EFFORTINVESMENTS.COM for the investments held by above plutocrats of Ethiopia.
EPRDF came to power in 1990. Between 1991 and 1995, EFFORT, established more than 30 businesses with investment of Billions of Ethiopian Birr. One person was appointed CEO of three and four startup companies. And the same individuals are still at the helms of those companies. I do not think that EPRDF was working on a piece of land planted with dollar trees during its guerrilla fighting time against Derg. If there are such trees, please advise the EPRDF elites to teach the Ethiopian people how to cultivate them so they can abolish the never ending poverty. They stole from the peoples of Ethiopia. That is the fact, and that fact is well known by you. Is there anything you can do about it as the leader of the country? It has been an open season of feasting for these shameless bandits while the peoples of Ethiopia are starving and suffering inside the country and some dying on the road in search of a better life somewhere in a foreign land. How much do you care for the peoples you govern?
The children of your conspirators, close family members and friends, ass-kissers, and yes-persons get good education inside and abroad while the children of the masses independent of the ethnic background are languishing in deplorable classrooms where the standard of education is to be ashamed of. Mr. Prime Minister, do you realize that your government (EPRDF) has failed the Ethiopian peoples? It is incumbent upon you as a regular follower of God to speak out loud the truth about the disparity between the masses and the few who have accumulated the wealth taken away from the throat of the poor. If I say that you do not know what your political comrades are doing to that unfortunate peoples of Ethiopia, it will be a travesty of truth.
What was lauded about you seemed to make you a man of faith who could have stood for the truth and righteousness. I said to myself that this man who prays and refers to the Holy Book every day, goes to church every Sunday, holds up the cross with conviction, and received Jesus Christ as his Savior could have learned the one and only one lesson of Sacrifice form the Son of God, and can alleviate the burden of oppression from the shoulders of all Ethiopians. My mind was twirling fantasy of thoughts that you could become the unexpected Messiah to stop and wipe out the continuous misery of our Peoples in Ethiopia and to speak out the truth for those who cannot speak, to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to fight for those who cannot fight, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and to find justice for those justice is denied. I was amazed by your silence and indifference to stand up for Humanity and human dignity. What a big disappointment I felt almost after three years of your ascendancy to the highest position of governmental hierarchy. I am betrayed by my own unrealistic expectations of you to be a different kind of leader who has the fear of God and the invincible courage to stand up against the demonization and dehumanization of the whole nation of peoples. I did not expect you to be the representative of perpetrators of human rights abuse.
As you know Ethiopia is leaking its children like a pot of water with multiple holes from all directions of its boundary. Ethiopia is crying for the pains and sufferings of its children to have an end. I am sure that you are aware of the flurry of bad news regarding the state of Ethiopians in South Africa, Middle East, North Africa, and Mediterranean Sea. We collectively mourn the avoidable loss of our brothers and sisters who vanished in the scorching heat deserts, drowned in the far away deep seas, slaughtered like animals in Libya, abused and dehumanized in the hands of their employees in Middle East, and torched and burnt in South Africa in search of freedom and better life because you and your leadership denied them the opportunity and hope to live, grow and prosper in their own country, Ethiopia. Why do these young men and women of Ethiopia put themselves in harm’s way when they embark on a dangerous journey of migration? Why the future of Ethiopia should be short lived by deaths of these men and women in search of freedom and economic security abroad? The answer is with and within you and your government. I know, Mr. Prime Minister, how limited your power is. You do not give order but take, and I understand that. When a true man stands for the truth and justice, he becomes free of the chain that he puts on himself. A man who does not and cannot stand up for his own right cannot defend and protect the rights of others.
Mr. Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegne, if you are real follower and believer of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, you should not only kiss the Holy Cross but hold it up and come out to talk about the social, political, and economic injustice imposed unfairly on the peoples of Ethiopia, and free yourself. You may feel that you are free. But deep inside you and your God know that you are like a caged bird. Dare to break the cage by denouncing the atrocity exercised by your government on the peoples of Ethiopia. Dare to emulate the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who died for the good of humanity and I suspect that you adore Him with all your heart. Dare to be Free in the name of the Lord.
I respect you as a person, and have a high regard for the office of the Prime Minister. What I do not like and respect about you is your lack of concern and interest to correct the abuse of power by your government and to defend the human dignity and right of the people.
I would like to remind you what you said and considered as one of the best quotes from you:
“IF WE REMAIN COMMITTED TO THE IDEAS OF JUSTICE, LIBERATION AND ABOVE ALL THE SANCTITY OF HUMAN DIGINITY, WE CAN ULTIMATELY PREVAIL OVER EVIL (EPRDF), NO MATTER HOW STACKED THE ODDS ARE AGAINST US (Ethiopia Masses).” What a great saying if you act on it.
Mr. Prime Minister, I will close my letter with the following Prayer:
Father, you have given all peoples one common origin.
It is your will that they be gathered together as one family in yourself.
Fill the hearts of mankind with the fire of your love and with the desire to ensure justice for all.
By sharing the good things you give us, may we secure an equality for all our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
May there be an end to division, strife and war.
May there be a dawning of a truly human society built on love and peace.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord.