By Keffyalew Gebremedhin, The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
People’s homes are being demolished to make room for the TPLF investments and foreign companies and investors. To understand extent of the cruelty, one only need to consider the plight of tens of thousands of people that suddenly are displaced. They suddenly realize that they are without any roof on their heads, the TPLF’s home demolition crews having demolished their homes, assisted by the police that is supposed to protect citizens.
The TPLF has planned in this five years of the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), according to a copy of the draft plan, the regime leaders have agreed amongst themselves that they must have in their hands 750,000,000 sq. m. (75,000 hectare) of land for development.
The TPLF tells people that they lost their lands for the nation’s national development. How could it be development, when those whose homes are demolished are not only impoverished, bypassed by any development in the future as well or until the end of time? For those who have not thought why this happens, it is extremely difficult to understand under what laws and why a government in power should treat people like trash, at best forcing them into the streets, if they are pushed out of their homes alive!
Perhaps the only way, as an approximation, to fathom or read the degree of the cruelty inside these people nothing is better mirror than the faces of Abay Woldu and Debretsion Gebremichael, TPLF’s chairman and vice-chairman, respectively.
See what is happening in Ethiopia today! Even children in the arms of their mother are killed, when homes are demolished, or when they persecute those they displace from their homes. Their actions have neither excluded a sick person, an old man, a pregnant woman, a woman who has built a roof over the head of her children, having worked as a maid in Arab countries, etc. They have all now found their places demolished and some of them killed. Why are Ethiopians passively looking at this horrendous crime in both human and God’s eyes, and for how long?
Listen to what the people speak about the humiliation of being denied compensation. Those happen to be farmers, the first victims of displacement from around Addis Abeba that to this day have not been paid the appropriate compensation:
Shame on the Western allies of the TPLF regime, which sit with it in the United Nations Human Rights Council, and now in the United Nations Security Council as of January 1, 2017! The right of citizens to shelter is the decency that governments are required to abide by. Isn’t this reason, why many nations have in their laws, the right to security of tenure that guarantees protection against forced evictions? Isn’t this the reason that in many countries affordable houses are being built with taxpayers payments to afford citizens with small incomes to afford decent and affordable housing?
On June 3, 2016 alone in a single day in Addis Abeba the TPLF regime demolished 3,000 homes, some of them the people inside. No place is provided for the people as temporary shelter, or alternative land to build their future homes! As can be seen from the video (below), in Lafto the land is ready for the TPLF jackals to make claim of it, for either to build their villas, or establish businesses!
These have been elements with huge inputs in international law, right from 1948 onwards, especially in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states:
1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Similarly, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which the TPLF ratified on 11 June 1993, in its Article 11 requires the States Parties to the Convention:
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.
There is also The Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing that requires member states “to ensure access to decent, adequate, affordable and healthy housing for all”!
Unfortunately, in Ethiopia the ignoramus in power are people committed to ensuring – not improvements in the lives of Ethiopians – but their own permanence in power, even beyond the Second Coming. In fact, power and the wealth that has followed their way since 1991 have whetted their appetites. Therefore, whatever they are doing now and at every turn in future is to work on their continuity in power.
This, in Ethiopia is an era of a living and walking greed in power that has humiliated Ethiopians, across the nation!
EFFORT as TPLF’s tool in national robbery
The corporation EFFORT (Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray) is the TPLF’s economic means to everything, supplemented by the Ethiopian treasury. In its mundane characteristic, it is their tool for the exploitation of Ethiopia and a source of their enrichment.
Don’t be fooled by the name. It has nothing to do with the rehabilitation of Tigray. That is why today the TPLF Tigreans are leading the charts in their political and economic influences over our country, deciding who eats and starves today.
On July 2nd, last Saturday, we learned that Azeb Mesfin, CEO of EFFORT, was at Wikro, Tigray, to inaugurate the Front’s first Peugeot Assembly plant. The plan is to produce 1,200 cars every year for the markets in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.
When such projects are put and ready to run, going along with it dedicated bank link with the marketer of the cars, that is to provide loans to customers. Without it it would be a one-time fan fare for the wealthy that can only buy, possibly the first 3,500 cars.
If there is a financing arrangement, people could take loans and buy cars. However, to do this a policy-maker must also ensure that in a country where capital for development is short, whether this is an idea who has come for Ethiopia. Interestingly, its contribution to employment must also be assessed not from the Wikro perspective, but nation-wide. In the scheme of things, Peugeot’s contribution to substantially reduce Tigray unemployment is insignificant, much less Ethiopia’s.
Therefore, why is it that the Ethiopian taxpayer subsidizing corrupt TPLF leaders, individual owners of the assembly plant, or the Adigrat Addis Pharmaceutical Factory, for which days ago EFFORT received additional 500,000 hectares of land and substantial financing for expansion?
These days, the TPLF officials harangue the nation with lectures about prudence in using the national budget. Are the TPLF companies not the first to take the largest bites through their various chains, such as the Metals and Engineering Corporation (MeTHEC), Ethiopian Roads Authority, the offices of individual TPLF leaders that push projects to EFFORT companies, or individual TPLFite companies.
Ethiopians have to open their eyes and see what the TPFL is doing in front of their eyes to plunder their country!
I have always admired American diplomats, thanks to WikiLeaks. They have shown they have the eyes, ears and the mind to understand what is happening. Let see what their early assessment was about EFFORT and what has been happening today, as the TPLF people push to the brink to use it as their tool of domination of Ethiopians. Hereunder is its March 19, 1009 content:
1. (C) Upon taking power in 1991, the ruling Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) liquidated non-military assets held by the movement to found a series of companies whose profits would be used as venture capital to rehabilitate the war-torn Tigray region’s economy. The TPLF bestowed a portion of this initial roughly US $100 million to each of the three other component parties in the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition to establish similar endeavors in each of their home regions. While companies were initially established in the names of party loyalists, they were formally transferred to the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) under the “endowment” provisions within the Ethiopian civil code, which prevented individuals from withdrawing money from enterprises for their own gain. Although the Board of Directors of EFFORT closely monitors the finances and business plans for each company under its umbrella, EFFORT’s books themselves are not subject to any transparent external review. Throughout the 1990s, EFFORT commissioned feasibility studies and provided capital for various commercial ventures throughout Tigray. In this decade, however, no new EFFORT ventures have been established despite significant profits, lending credibility to the popular perception that the ruling party and its members are drawing on endowment resources to fund their own interests or for personal gain. End Summary.
LIQUIDATED AID RESOURCES USED TO FOUND THE ENDOWMENTS
2. (C) Seeye Abraha (strictly protect), the Chief Executive Officer of EFFORT from 1995 until his expulsion from the TPLF in 2001, detailed EFFORT’s founding and operations to Pol/Econ Chief in a two-hour discussion on March 17. Seeye noted that the TPLF had received huge amounts of international assistance, particularly from the United States, throughout the 1980s to support its struggle against the Derg government and to provide relief to the Tigrayan people. Whatever food or other in-kind support that they could use or transport into Tigray, they would. They sold the excess food and support items in Sudan for cash. At the end of the struggle, the TPLF incorporated whatever military materiel it held into the Ethiopian military’s inventory, kept all of its more than 100 transport lorries, and liquidated most of the remaining stock held. Seeye estimated that in 1991 the TPLF had roughly $100 million liquidated. Acknowledging that these resources did not belong to individual TPLF members, the party decided to use the funds as a perpetual relief mechanism for the Tigrayan people who suffered the costs of the struggle.
VENTURE CAPITAL TO REHABILITATE TIGRAY
3. (C) Initially, the party allocated a portion of the funds available to assist families of those who died in the struggle directly. The bulk, however, was used as venture capital to establish companies to generate perpetual income sources for new ventures. From 1991 to 1995, these companies were coordinated under the Economic Affairs Department of the TPLF under the leadership of Sebhat Nega. Convinced that party insiders were more loyal to the party than interested in personal gain, the initial companies were established with individual party insiders listed as the owners. Additional resources were used to fund feasibility studies for other local-resource intensive ventures of interest.
4. (C) In 1995, the Defense Minister and long-time confidant of Prime Minister Meles, Seeye Abraha assumed control of the rehabilitation-intended entities. Recognizing the potential liability of having massive resources held in private names, Seeye and the TPLF established EFFORT as a caretaker foundation for the rehabilitation efforts. Seeye acknowledged that some capital had been lost in the years prior to his assuming control, but declined to give details. Having inherited only a relatively primitive civil code, the party decided that the “Endowment” provisions therein offered the best means to secure the resources available for rehabilitation without any loopholes to allow individuals to withdraw capital for personal gain. The TPLF gave a portion of its wealth to each of the other three parties in the EPRDF to establish their own endowment funds. The Amhara National Democratic Movement’s (ANDM) endowment is called Tirit, the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) founded Wendo Trading, and the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) established Dinsho. (Note: While Seeye confirmed that the TPLF provided funds for these other rehabilitation funds, which later became endowments, he never had direct involvement in any of those funds/endowments operations. End Note.)
5. (C) Once established under EFFORT, each company was transformed into a shareholder company. Seeye argued that the TPLF’s intention in the mid-1990s was for EFFORT to study, and then establish, profitable companies that used locally-available resources and provided employment for Tigray. Examples of firms established early include a transportation company to use the trucks used in earlier relief efforts, the Messebo Cement plant outside of Mekele, a trading house, and Almeda Garments outside of Mekele which would use cotton grown in Tigray as an input. Feasibility studies were done for a marble factory, a gold mine (in joint venture with Ghana’s Ashanti Gold), and
construction firms. EFFORT intended to establish companies under a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model offering the sale of established companies to citizens through the sale of shares with the profits and proceeds going to fund new commercial ventures. EFFORT was charged with reviewing each company’s finances and business plans. While EFFORT was controlled by a CEO and Board of Directors drawn solely from TPLF party loyalists, Seeye confirmed that each company it controlled was managed and reviewed by professionals with significant expertise in each company’s relative sector. Managers were expected to keep and provide detailed financial accounting, but to transfer profits not being re-invested to EFFORT. EFFORT accounts were only internally reviewed by the party.
AN APPARENT SHIFT SINCE 2001
6. (C) During the rift within the TPLF in 2001, much of the EFFORT Board of Directors sided with their CEO Seeye and were expelled from the party. One who did not, Sebhat Nega, was rewarded with the CEO position. (Note: As Seeye has not been involved in EFFORT since 2001, and is now in the political opposition, his perceptions of EFFORT dynamics since 2001 may be skewed or intended to influence. Still, his long-term, close relationships with those who do remain in the party’s top echelon and his — and his family’s — attention to Tigray and continued friendships with many still in office, do lend some credibility to his analysis of EFFORT activities since 2001. End Note). According to Seeye, upon Sebhat’s assumption of the CEO position, all EFFORT companies were re-registered from shareholder companies to private limited companies — potentially reflecting a shift in the BOT approach previously pursued. While we do not know how profitable all of the EFFORT companies are, we can assume that government protectionism and excess demand in major sectors such as transportation, cement, and construction has ensured that many of the larger EFFORT companies are reaping large profits. At the same time, Seeye confirms that none of the ventures for which feasibility studies or analyses were conducted while he remained at EFFORT have been established in the interceding years — suggesting that profits are not being rolled over into new Tigray rehabilitation endeavors, but diverted elsewhere.
7. (C) Seeye argued confidently that the business community’s perception that EFFORT’s and similar EPRDF parties endowments’ companies receive preferential access to limited credit and/or foreign exchange stocks, or treatment on government bids and contracts, customs clearance, and import/export license is certainly true. He went so far as to argue that these “party-statals” likely receive preferences even over the special treatment received by state-owned enterprises. Seeye argued that, much like Sebhat Nega’s removal from the TPLF Central Committee in 2006, his removal as CEO of EFFORT in late 2008 likely reflects tensions between Sebhat and Prime Minister Meles’ wife Azeb Mesfin. While former regional Vice President of Tigray Abadi Zemo has taken over the CEO position at EFFORT, Seeye argued that Azeb’s ascendance to the EFFORT Vice Chairmanship reflects an increasing consolidation of influence within the party and control over resources by Meles and Azeb.