August 17, 2013
by Abebe Gellaw
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has quietly removed the late dictator’s widow Azeb Mesfin from the helm of EFFORT as Chief Executive Officer a few months after her husband’s demise, it emerged.
Azeb, widely known as the ‘Queen of Mega’ and ‘mother of corruption’ among Ethiopians, had snatched the reins of power within the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) from her bitter rival Sibehat Nega and Abadi Zemo. She was once the de facto second in command in her husband’s tyrannical regime.
The new boss appointed to as the Chief Executive Office (CEO) of TPLF’s multi-billion dollars business empire and corruption cash cow emerged to be Berhane Kidane Mariam Yihdego, a Central Committee member of the TPLF. According to informed sources, Berhane is a close confidant and business partner of Sebhat Nega, a multi-millionaire in his own right like most members of the TPLF ruling class.
Berhane, who enjoys multiple high profile positions as a privileged TPLF loyalist, was the former General Manager of TPLF’s propaganda mouthpiece Walta Information Center from 2006 up to last year. Besides being the President of the nepotistic and corruption-plagued Ethiopian Olympics Committee (EOC), he sits on the boards of Wegagen Bank, which is also owned by the TPLF, and Mekele University. The new EFFORT chief also claims to be the founder and Deputy Board Chairman of a private company called “Ethiopian Quality Award Organization,” according to his CV obtained by Addis Voice.
TPLF’s move to replace Azeb with the new loyalist was confirmed by Berhane himself who recently sent an updated CV and a profile to the Switzerland-based Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), where he represents Ethiopia as EOC president. In his profile posted on ANOC’s website, he listed his current professional position as “Board of Director and Chief Executive Officer of EFFORT Investment Group” since 2012. In spite of the fact that the exact month of his appointment was not mentioned nor made official, the ANOC website indicates that Berhane’s latest profile was updated on May 2, 2013. The French and Spanish versions of his profile web pages also carry exactly the same information.
Walta reported recently that Berhane Kidanemariam, the new “Director of EFFORT and TPLF CC member conducted a successful meeting with the Diaspora in Seattle.” The meeting, hosted by the Union of Tigrians in North America (UTNA), focused on how EFFORT is implementing its objective of developing Tigray and making it self-reliant, it stated.
Heaping praise on its former boss, Walta promoted the corrupt conglomerate’s new chief as eloquent, persuasive and visionary. “Berhane Kidane Mariam, with his eloquent and persuasive ability, spelled out the objective of his presence in Seattle and explained the development in Tigrai and the role of EFFORT to uplift the hope and aspiration of many Tigrians from poverty to self-reliance,” Walta declared.
According to an insider, who confirmed the reshuffle, Azeb is deeply resented and despised among high-ranking TPLF leaders and her fall from grace and power has been quick and spectacular. The only playing card at her disposal is her husband’s foundation, which is not even given attention by the TPLF bigwigs. “Without her husband, she is like a fish out of water. Her survival among her rivals like the wicked Sibehat Nega will be short-lived. Losing TPLF’s blood-sucking machine is a big blow against Azeb,” the insider said.
Sibhat Nega has recently been quoted as saying that Meles is being used as a cover and a bargaining chip by some who are exaggerating his success as a ruler. The veteran TPLF strongman has been critical of those who tend to heap praise on Meles, whom he slashed to have betrayed the TPLF and endangered its unity by enforcing his will through his secretive inner circle.
Meanwhile, Azeb is demanding huge plots of land around the metropolis in the name of the Meles Zenawi foundation. “All the best land goes to the TPLF as usual. It seems the TPLF has subverted the revolutionary slogan “land to the tillers” with “land to the killers.” All the corrupt TPLF generals and officials have scrambled for the best land all over the country,” Yalem Zew, a political commenter said.
The late dictator appointed his wife to control the immense wealth of EFFORT in early 2009. EFFORT, the biggest business monopoly in Ethiopia, controls vast resources and over 60 companies in Ethiopia but TPLF claims that it is the exclusive asset of Tigrians by virtue of their ethnicity. The corrupt conglomerate has been widely criticized to have multi-billion birr loans from state banks written off and for engaging in blatant tax evasion enjoying “nonprofit” status as an endowment.
Ethiopian activists often mention the parasitic EFFORT as an example of TPLF’s apartheid policies that have deliberately created huge economic and political disparities between the Tigrian ruling class and the oppressed people of Ethiopia.
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