September 17, 2011
By Teshome Debalke
Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi, a Saudi national is one of the richest person on earth with billions of dollar investment around the world. Known with his savvy international business dealing with four billion dollar investment in Ethiopia alone he is no t c oming clean with the people. His recent interview on Ethiopian Television praising the rogue ruling regime on the only TV station in the nation under the government control did not help the mogul’s already tarnished image investment dealings.
What possibly motivates Sheikh to coddle up with a distractive tyrant remains the million dollar question? The previously bizarre relationship the Sheikh has with the regime is enough not to add more. But, his interview on ETV (see video) raises more eyebrows and more questions. Why for heavens sake the man that can do many good and invest in countries with legitimate regimes would align with a ruthless and corrupt tyrant?
The Sheikh did not make it a secret his affectation to the tyrant of Addis. He never questioned the regime harsh rule or corruption since he came in the picture as a Saudi…Ethiopian…philanthropic… investor. He has not shy away taking advantage of his relationship with the ruling regime to gabble up properties, mineral rights and public industries that belonged to the public and individuals that lost them for the previous ruthless Derg regime. He never restrained colluding with the regime’s officials providing them with profitable business opportunities and job offering in his companies.
The question is why? Business interest alone cannot explain the whole story. The sheikh is an international businessperson has many choices around the world. It cannot be love of country as he wanted us to believe. He is capable to know lack of good governance is not substitute pouring money to bring about development.
The man is in a potion to influence the regime as a staunch advocate for the people’s political and economic rights, good governance and corruption free policy for betterments of the whole. Instead, he preferred to take advantage of the open season provided for him by the regime to gabble up what his money can buy without questioning the integrity of the regime he is dealing with.
On his interview he mentioned none of the problem the people are facing as we speak but, praises the regime. He sounded like an official of the regime than as independent investor. He spoke as foreigner at times and as an Ethiopian in another. He exalts the interviewer as part of the regime that is doing a wonderful job for the country; confirming his interview was set up purely for propaganda purpose. He talked about his love of country claim to invest billions of dollars without mentioning the benefit he got as privileged investor of the regime. He even picked on the Grand Dam as the solution to problem of poverty and underdevelopment and the Five year Growth and Transformation Plan as a good thing echoing the regime’s propaganda. He went on to say he contributed 1.5 billion birr towards building the Dam as if the country’s development can only be achieved by charity of one thing or another he throw money at. Couldn’t be better if the money used to feed the starving than an imaginary dam we will never see?
But yet, he never mentioned the economic crises and the millions of people starving and poverty and joblessness rampant in the country. He did not bother to raise the issue of corruption the regime affiliated businesses encroaching on independent businesses. He skipped to tell us his privileged status buying up land and public industries pennies on the dollar. He left out how he managed to get an exclusive mineral rights of the country’s Gold reserve without competitive bidding in the backroom deal. He ignored to tell us whether he is doing charity or he is in business to make money and how much, if any he made in the last 20 years of his involvement.
Worst, as officially registered foreign investor with an enormous business holding for any country let alone the poorest, why he chose to interfere in the domestic political and economic affairs of the nation. He, in direct violation of investment laws for foreign investors defying all logic involved in the affair of the people’s business.
What turned the man once admired for his ‘love’ of country and generosity for the poor that preached to see his native land developed for the better turn in to a tyrant admiring foreign investor? Why would an influential international businessperson put his fate and repetition on one of African notorious regime? What motivated the man with access to everything in the world to align with accused genocidal regime with many atrocity and corruption on its hands? And, at a social level, why would a family man behavior goes overboard disrespecting the norms and customs of the religious traditions of the people of Ethiopia? Questions, debates and accusations continued to be the discussion among many Ethiopians around the world.
Public opinion and goodwill of an individual aside; what are the legal ramifications of foreign investors like Al Amoudi interfering in the domestic political and economic affairs of a nation? Who has the responsibility to make them accountable for possible discretion, corruption and collation? What is responsibility the country’s legal system? If not, what other international jurisdiction can oversee foreign investment when a country legal system is dysfunctional and corrupt?
Despite the crises looming in the country Sheikh Al Amoudi does not seem to understand the extent of the problem brought by the rogue regime he chooses to align with. He appeared to believe the country is an exclusive domain of TPLF and his activity legitimate for foreign investor accountable to no one but to the same regime.
As the people struggle to rid of tyranny and bring about democracy and rule of laws the role of the private sector must play is important. Until the private business rise and sort out the legitimate from corrupt businesses practices it would be an upward battle to bring about corruption free environment to protect the people and the nation.
Freedom fighters must demand the regime and investors to disclose their business dealing to the public. Without disclosing there is no good businesses but corrupt business.
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