The 31st Rio Olympiad: Robel The Whale & The Good Doctor Adhanom

25 Aug

Editor’s Note:

    In the wake of Feyisa Lelisa’s thumbs down to the TPLF at the Rio Olympiad and joining the struggle of the Ethiopian people for freedom and democracy, we hear a story that the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Dr. Tedros Adhanom, had sent two messages to the head of Ethiopian delegation at Rio. The content is about the rest of the athletes condemning the famous parting athlete. The logic is that this would protect the regime’s image.

    If the athletes do not oblige, the story goes on, they and the coaches would be in trouble! We do not know if there is any credibility to this story; we have not seen anything on paper, or a source calming its veracity. All the leaders of the Ethiopian delegation being members of the TPLF only, shortsighted as they are that is within the realm of possibility.

    Anyways, given full baptism and past incredulous support and record of lies of Dr. Tedros Adhanom for his murderous regime – also his flippancy as a personality trait – it is very likely that he could have given the go ahead!

    The story in circulation also claims, since most of the successful Ethiopian athletes are from Oromia, past and present, those who are spearheading the struggle in Oromia warned any Oromo athlete collaborating in this is would be making the mistake of collaborating with the murderers.

    The message was clear and that would be collaborators listening to Tedros Adhanom or any other TPLF leader should to not expect to enjoy their practice runs and exercises in Oromia’s fresh air,d lush greens and suitable fields and hills!

 

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by The Mitmita Girls

The tweets were cruel no doubt. Body shaming is an Olympic sport of its own caliber. When Robel Kiros Habte took his place among the other Olympians at the edge of the pool, the image of a less than sculpted body complete with a large belly shocked the world. The ridicule began before he finished his heat—dead last.

The Mitmita Girls did giggle as well. But for a different reason. We knew Robeliye wasn’t the best Ethiopia could offer! Why at least two of the Mitmita Girls were expert swimmers in our hay day! The butterfly was our stroke and given Robeliye’s performance, we are lamenting the fact that we didn’t ask our daddies to head up the swimming committee so that we too can coast to the Olympics with nary a kickboard nor a swim meet in sight!

Our expectation of an Olympian is that of an athlete whose body and abilities exhibit thousands of hours of sacrifice and training. More accurately our expectations are that those attending the Olympics have done the work, put in the time, competed against the best in their country, excelled and have risen to the top to make it to the games. As cynical as we are, sometimes it’s wonderful to be confronted with our naïveté: Robel is an Olympian because his father was president of the Ethiopian Swimming Federation.

This is par for the course in Ethiopia. That’s how the whole thing works. It’s favors, bribery, and corruption. And it’s business as usual. Headed by a mercenary junta which these past two weeks has shut down Internet access, telephone calls including viber and other communications as the government severely cracked down on protestors calling for political reform. At least 100 people have been killed by Ethiopian government forces.

But who cares! Robel represented us at the Olympics! And he was so happy to be there!

Robel and the ruling class’ children are without a doubt some of the biggest threats to Ethiopia. They are apathetic—privileged with access to the best schools, ill begotten funds and no real concern for the direction of the country and the plight of poor. To say they have no social consciousness is to be utterly too kind. Between their concern with importing Italian marble for the veranda, gold from Dubai and many European excursions, they are loathe to consider the basic necessities that are unavailable to 90 million denizens. It’s not that they are clueless to their suffering, it’s that they couldn’t be bothered. Robel’s nonchalance to the outage and ridicule of the world evidences this state of mind. The Ethiopian one percent and their throwaway lines that God will provide—Egziaber Estachew—smacks of self-importance and the worst of kind avarice. They view their assent to the upper echelons of Ethiopia’s society as their birth right. In a country run like a badly managed family company, favors are handed out to relatives and relative incompetents with abandon.

Which brings us to the curious case of Dr. Tedros Adhanom—the Ethiopian candidate who is in the running to become the next Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Avid Mitmita readers may remember the good doctor from when we wrote about the little cholera oooops we mean Acute Water Diarrhea (AWD) incident which occurred in Ethiopia in 2009. If you recall the Ethiopian government outrageously protested what to call the water borne disease instead of actually handling the health crisis. The regime is obsessed with managing its image to the world. Cholera is known and feared but AWD is unknown and therefore doesn’t sound as deadly! So let’s go with that!

At any rate, the person who was in charge of the Minister of Health during that debacle was none other than Dr. Adhanom! It’s like your favorite villain from a novel! You keep counting him out but it’s too early in the story! He is having a second act as the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2012 and now he wants a third one as the Director-General of the WHO because who is more capable of handling a global health crisis than someone who could not even handle a cholera outbreak in Ethiopia! Yes! This is the confidence of corruption! The confidence of mediocrity!

Dr. Adhanom is squarely from our dearly departed Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s school of governance. You must look the part, you must speak the part and you must act the part. He dresses impeccably; he, like Meles, blithely pontificates that you can separate economic progress from human rights and he even evidently tweets—quite voraciously! (how adoooorable and au courant!)

Like Meles his role model, the good doctor knows how to seduce the West. He is a natural. He is also just not cut out to head up the World Health Organization. As titillating as it would be for “Africa to have a go at it” with a top health post, wouldn’t it make more sense for such an African to have had a rate of success in helping his country overcome their persistent food insecurity problem? How can a person who couldn’t resolve health crises impacting 90 million handle problems facing billions of people? If you have to resort to switching the name of the disease from Cholera to the obscure and benign sounding AWD instead of focusing on ridding Ethiopia of Cholera, you should be in public relations or Hollywood and not heading up the Ministry of Health—much less the WHO!

Robel The Whale & Teddy Adhanom (ECADF)

Robel The Whale & Teddy Adhanom (ECADF)

And then of course there is also the small issue of misappropriation of funds. As it turns out, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria granted monies (some $1,306,035,989) to Dr. Adhanom’s Ministry of Health to be used, we think, ostensibly to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria as the name of the fund would suggest. Well an audit conducted by the Office of the Inspector General (report was filed in April 2012) found that there were misappropriation of funds, that the health facilities constructed without authorization were of substandard quality and that some of the funds were used for “ineligible expenditures.”

As you know the Mitmita Girls like to go to the source for delicious details so let us dig up this audit (look for a report on Ethiopia from April 2012). We want you to get yourself a nice delicious bottle of tej and get ready for some thrilling reading into Adventures in Misappropriation of Funds with the Good Doctor Adhanom!

From the damning pages of the audit we get these interesting tidbits: instead of using monies allocated for the spraying of Malaria, Dr. Adhanom’s Federal Ministry of Health instead diverted “USD 6.97 million … from indoor residual spraying to [Health Center] construction without the necessary formal approvals being obtained.”

Now you might say, well you know, it looks like they built health centers so what’s the harm in that, you silly Mitmita Girls? To begin with, the audit goes on to report how the health centers were of substandard quality. You would think if they “reprogrammed 6.97 million dollars” they would at least build something worthy of that money. But alas! Again it is amateur hour in Ethiopia.

No doubt you think us harbingers of doom and gloom and you are still thinking we are sounding a false alarm about the building of health centers and thinking well at least they built some center and really how bad could they be? As it turns out, the centers were quite bad! The audit tells us what happened when 77 of these constructed health centers were inspected—“71% of the sites visited did not have access to water; 32% did not have functioning toilet facilities; 53% had major cracks in the floors; and 19% had leaking roofs.”

Hmmm. Sounds just like the kind of places we would all like to go to get treatment!

Second, the issue with building these substandard centers is that the money is diverted from its intended purpose which is battling malaria—meaning impacting the lives of Ethiopians—to constructing substandard buildings for which they did not have prior approvals. The audit went on to report that“[t]here was no formal approval from the Global Fund to expand grant activities for the construction of new [health centers]. Further, the TRP did not review and approve this material change to the scope and scale of the proposal originally approved, and the performance frameworks were not revised to reflect this significant reallocation of funds.”

In an almost exasperated tone, the report concludes that “from the audit findings, the OIG could not provide assurance that oversight arrangements ensured that grant funds are used for the purpose intended.” In other words, there is no real way of discerning exactly what is happening to grant monies.

So the Office of the Inspector General recommended that those “reprogramming”, thievin’, misappropriatin’ Minister of Health officials should refund some $7,026,929 to the Global Fund. Tsk tsk, sounds like the good doctor was into some fancy cyphering. For the rest of us lay folk, misappropriation is just another way of saying taking money that doesn’t belong to you. So where exactly was the money spent? What are these ineligible expenditures?

When money is being taken in our name for the sake of fighting diseases impacting our citizens but instead it is diverted to build substandard centers, we have the right to ask what happened. Instead of answers and accountability, we get the person who headed the agency accused of misappropriation asking to head up an even bigger organization! Such is the lunacy that is governance in Ethiopia! No accountability for corruption; rather, the person is rewarded by higher positions of authority within the country and then is paraded out like a prize to the world.

Robel and Dr. Adhanom exemplify what the Ethiopian junta is presenting to the world: a counterfeit Ethiopia—one in which the Addis skylines are lined with hundreds of skyscrapers and scaffolding but on the ground there is still no access to clean water, there are frequent electricity outages and the ever present food shortage. And oh, of course, there is still the regime’s penchant for shooting citizens in broad day light for something as benign as a peaceful protest.

The Ethiopian government and its apparatchiks are offering the world a glittering empty promise which will end in disaster. Just like the good doctor’s candidacy for the Director-General of the World Health Organization.

The Mitmita Girls have one more thing to add to those considering the candidacy of Dr. Adhanom: Caveat emptor, WHO! Buyer beware!
 

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