Ethiopia: Dictator appoints wife CEO of largest business chain

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The online Ethiopia Zare said Azeb Mesfin was appointed Deputy CEO of Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), a conglomerate consisting of over 60 companies.

The huge businesses are but to mention a few: Mesfin Industrial Engineering, Sur Construction, Addis Pharmaceutical Factory (APF), Almeda Textiles Factory, Express Transit Service P.L.C. (EXTRAN), Ethiopian Experience Travel (EET), Ezana Mining Development (EMD), Guna Trading House, Hiwot Agricultural Mechanization, Saba Dimensional Stones (SDS), Sheba Tannery Factory, and Trans Ethiopia.

The source didn’t elaborate whether Azeb would replace Abadi Zemu, the current CEO and a Zenawi confidante who a few years ago replaced Sebhat Nega, the 72-year-old TPLF veteran largely credited as the architect for the rise of Meles Zenawi as TPLF leader long before the rebel group toppled the Derg military regime in 1991.

In spite of owning the largest businesses, EFFORT has never been audited since its launch in the mid-90s, and observers say revenue from the multi-billion-dollar business chain is secretly controlled either by Meles Zenawi, or his God father, Sebhat Nega.

“It is a secret, Mafia-type business oligarchy that has gobbled up much of the country’s businesses,” one oberver who asked anonymity told Ethiomedia. “Now the appointment of the prime minister’s wife virtually as CEO signifies how Mr. Zenawi is determined to keep the political, military and business oligarchy firmly in his hand.” He said the number of business establishments under EFFORT has recently reached at least 100.

Little is known about this huge business empire but the observer says it is not hard to understand EFFORT, which has decimated numerous private Ethiopian businesses, is capable of making Mr. Zenawi one of the richest tyrants in charge of the poorest country in the world.

Last week Meles Zenawi was at the G-20 Summit in London as NEPAD chairman. But at the summit of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful leaders, he was virtually ignored that the London-based Black Star News said Zenawi “cowered in the shadows.”

Zenawi never addressed the Summit, and BSN said he abruptly cancelled a news conference fearing he might face serious questions related to his dismal human rights records, other serious crimes as well as corruption charges.

“The warning by German Chancellor Angela Merkel might have scared Zenawi to leave London immediately,” the observer said.

Following the end of the G-20 Summit, BSN quoted German Chancellor Merkel as saying: “World leaders who have abused their country’s financial systems by robbing their central banks and banking the proceeds in private numbered Swiss accounts are in for a shock….The days of secret banking are now over.”

Before he retreated to Addis Ababa, Mr. Zenawi also witnessed hundreds of Ethiopian protesters condemning him as a ruthless tyrant who should stand before the International Criminal Court at The Hague and not at the G-20 Summit in London.

Genocide Watch has already taken the initiative of indicting Mr. Zenawi as perpetrator of crimes against humanity.

“One of the first leaders to defend [Sudan’s leader] Omar al-Bashir and condemn the [arrest] warrant was Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, whose government has also been implicated in a pattern of widespread perpetration of serious human rights atrocities in Ethiopia and in Somalia,” Genocide Watch said in a letter to the United Nations.

“He [Meles Zenawi] and those within his government may be keenly aware of their own vulnerability to similar actions by the ICC in the future that could upend a deeply entrenched system of government-supported impunity that has protected perpetrators from any accountability,” the group fighting to end genocide said.

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