Now that the EPRDF has been in power for almost two decades, its leaders have had time to accumulate wealth. We make a roundup – by no means exhaustive - of their activity.
Azeb Mesfin, the wife of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, takes no mean interest in the world of business and sometimes has been highly interventionist in defending the commercial interests of those close to her. She recently put the spoke in the wheels of the firm Nyala Motors over the importing of UD Nissan lorries; conversely she has lobbied in favour of Sunshine Construction whose executives Samuel Tadesse and Fetlework Elala are close to her. Moreover, Azeb Mesfin is believed to have a stake in Alfa University College and in property in Addis Ababa.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Seyoum Mesfin, is for his part at the head of a unit producing ceramics for the construction industry. It is winning all of the contracts, to such an extent that it has pushed some of its rivals to close down. Asefaw Yirga, the manager of Ase Marble, is believed to be one of them. He committed suicide on 20 December. Seyoum Mesfin also owns several tens of lorries registered in his name. Addisu Legese, the Deputy Prime Minister currently on the way out, owns a hotel at Bahr Dar, which is the stopping place for all the officials visiting this town. The State Minister for Public Works, Arkebe Oqubay Mitiku, owns two buildings in the capital, while one advisor to the Prime Minister, Bereket Simon, owns a rental building and a fleet of lorries transporting oil products from Djibouti. The Police Commissioner Workineh Gebreyehu is at the head of an import-export company which has no difficulty in getting foreign currency when it needs it. A band of generals is very active in the property market, buying and selling villas and plots of land, beginning with the army chief of staff, General Samora Younis, who owns a building in the smart neighbourhood of Bole.
The Ethiopian government recently attributed plots of land in Addis Ababa together with money for building, to some generals, mainly Tigrayans. Samora Younis, Yohannes Gebre Meskel and a few others are among the lucky beneficiaries of this scheme.
Source: The Indian Ocean Newsletter