Distrust Of Regime Places ECX’S Boss In Unenviable Position – By Genet Mersha

August 28th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

I read with great interest and sympathy Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin’s two articles “This is my Ethiopian story” and “An idea whose time has come” of August 8 and 25, respectively. (more…)

I read with great interest and sympathy Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin’s two articles “This is my Ethiopian story” and “An idea whose time has come” of August 8 and 25, respectively. However, I cannot hide my disappointments on two levels. To start with, I was dismayed by the focus of many of her critics on her presumed ethnicity. Equally disappointing was Dr. Eleni’s failure to make a convincing case for ECX’s independence and neutrality.

Let us treat separately these two issues. A record 440 Ethiopians have responded to her first article, both for and against, as did nearly twenty percent of that to the second one (nazret.com). The responses can be categorised into two broad groups. The first one focuses on Dr. Eleni’s presumed ethnicity and the second arguing from a position of strong its doubts about ECX’s neutrality in bringing together buyers and sellers to the market. In other words, the distrust is in the capacity of the Exchange to facilitate the emergence in the country of a modern trading platform that cultivates the practice and tradition of free market in the current political environment.

The ethnicity criterion

Some of those opposed to Dr. Eleni give the impression that her ethnicity is their primary concern. In so doing, they failed to address head on the substantive issues that for some time now are being debated. That has made them sound oblivious to the fact that the ethnicity criterion cannot help in either measuring her contributions or non-contributions to the country’s development. It is not sufficient criterion to accept or reject a person or idea. Nor could it show the degree of Dr. Eleni’s involvement in contributing to the unhappy reality of our country. In no way could ethnicity show whether ECX is relevant to the Ethiopian economy and the evolution of a well-functioning market.

Dr. Eleni’s frustration is understandable. The hounding she received because of the presumption of her ethnic origin was sickening. Based on name’s sake and association with the ethnic group of the core of the ruling party, she has been berated mostly by unwarranted presumption. That in the end has forced her to reveal her many blood ties with the various constituent elements of Ethiopian society (her first article). The revelations have not helped her; on the contrary, they encouraged more demands—this time her husband’s ancestry.
So what even if Eleni was what she was presumed to be ethnically! It should have been nobody’s issue so long as she is not partner in the crimes of those who loot the country, or continue to violate the human and civil rights of our people. Not all Tigraians should be condemned for the crimes of the few. At this point, it is worth mentioning that our Tigraian brothers and sisters need to take serious note of this. At the same time, it should be recognized improving inter-ethnic relations is a two-way traffic. Tigrayans should also traverse to improve their relations with other Ethiopians. If their response is mere finding a scapegoat to blame, it should be apportioned entirely to the TPLF regime, which has poisoned their relations with other Ethiopians.

There is no doubt that Dr. Eleni’s negative experience that forced her to reveal herself is symptomatic of our country’s continuing dilemma and unease with the increasingly poisoned and unhealthy state of inter-ethnic relations. Ethiopians are engulfed by fear and insecurity, two human emotions not known for forging human solidarity and societal cohesion. That is what the many conflicts in the country and the broken friendships and inter-ethnic marriages attest, even amongst the educated and high calibre professionals. In brief, at risk are Ethiopian-ness and the unity of the country, not individuals per se. The concern many citizens have is the fear that this phenomenon is threatening to weaken our country by diminishing the common bonds amongst Ethiopians and what we can do as individuals and groups for our country.

What is interesting in this process is that, Dr. Eleni’s revelation has put an implicit distance between her and the ethnicity of the core of the regime. Even then, some see it as a deliberate ploy perhaps to win acceptance through her aplenty blood ties from different ethnic groups. Looking at it dispassionately, however, one cannot help noticing her pleas asking her readers and her critics to think for once beyond ethnicity, if possible, or to leave her alone to carry on what she has been doing.

Dr. Eleni is in the most unenviable position. She finds herself in the suffocating vortex of a repressive regime. Should she reconsider her return to Ethiopia, she seems to have no place to hide from her nagging commitment to her country’s development. Although I cannot speak for her, Dr. Eleni’s various needlepoint—her ethnic tapestry and her professional commitment—are fused together as her driving force. After all, her decision to return to Ethiopia after three decades is obviously to give back to her country from which she has taken less than most of us did.

Thus, behind Ethiopia’s mismanaged ethnic policies is lurking a well-nurtured ‘ethnicities’, ethnic nationalism in its ugliest forms that the regime systematically encourages. For instance, we learned just recently about the ugly experience of a multi-ethnic opposition political party that officially was permitted to hold its meetings in Adama, as part of its effort to pull itself together for the 2010 election. Its meeting was disrupted no sooner than it started. The cadres of the ruling party opposed the use of Amharic allegedly showing preference to Afan Oromo, which many say is merely a pretext. The ruling party knows why these things happen.
Nonetheless, as government, it has failed in its duties. It has neither condemned it nor restrained its cadres, whose attributes are both thuggish and robotic. What more is there to speak of about the wrong-headedness of the regime’s ethnic policies? When it wants, it encourages narrow nationalism to fan division to suit its purposes. There have been several reports of similar disruptions of opposition meetings under different guises in Debre Markos, Hawassa and Mekelle, among others. I wish I could remember the person who finally confessed that he could not dismiss the evils he had summoned.

ECX’s independence and neutrality

Others critics of Dr. Eleni have seized the opportunity to condemn the TPLF regime’s ethnic polices with which they strongly disagree—some as a matter of habit others out of conviction evolving from principle. If one takes Abebe Gelaw’s response (http://www.abugidainfo.com/?p=10933) as a representative view, he cogently articulates that group’s misgivings about ECX, all that without resorting in any form to stinging Dr. Eleni’s because of her presumed ethnic origin. In fact, Ato Abebe stresses,

“The reason why Dr. Eleni’s scheme is overwhelmed by doubts and scepticism does not seem to be due her ethnic origin, as she suggested in one of her latest articles [!], but the unruly behaviour of the ruling Tigrian People’s Liberation Front, an ethnic party whose grand design has turned out to be to control, manipulate, dominate, stifle and monopolize the fragile economy through its monopolistic companies and fake NGOs like the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray [EFFORT].”

The neutrality and independence of ECX is under severe questioning in view of the current political environment, whose governance is mostly characterized by parochial politics, policy and operations shrouded in mystery. Had Dr. Eleni dealt with a couple of issues upfront, she could have deflected some of the darts directed at her now. For instance, her article, “An idea whose time has come”, could have explained ECX’s role in the coffee debacle. This refers to the unfortunate and politicized marketing problems that at the beginning of this year ended up with the axing of a good number of dealers’ licenses and forced them out of the market. Recall in this connection that government had acknowledged and rewarded the brilliant performances of those businesspersons in the previous year. What transformed them from good businesspersons to enemies of the state is a territory in less than a year? Dr. Eleni could not and cannot thread safely into that, at least not now, perhaps not at any time in the future.
Instead, she made the mistake of turning to of injecting the panache of theory of “price discovery”, “supply and demand” and “monopoly” and the claim of EXC’s separation form government to seek cover from her vulnerability. For many, Dr. Eleni’s unwillingness to point at the regime’s excesses has only portrayed her, if not a co-conspirator, at least as an apologist for the regime. It conveyed her as someone on a mission to push under the rug the political intrusion and its cardinal sin of disrespect to property rights in connection with measures taken against the properties of those coffee dealers. At the same time, the untenable position she took now stands in clear contrast to the admission by the prime minister who at the time characterized the difficult choice the coffee dealers had made as hoarding. Dr. Eleni also echoed it, into which government read desire/attempt to unseat it. “Sabotage” was the exact word that was used at the time.

The coffee dealers were in a tight squeeze because of declining international prices. Even the domestic market situation that still is reeling from the severe macroeconomic dislocation had its appeals to some of the exporters as a lesser of two evils, as some of them had sold their beans there. A government desperate for foreign exchange was infuriated. That marketing strategy ended up in the expropriation of their properties and their delicensing. It does not end there. To cover up its misguided actions, the prime minister exercised his unrestrained powers and initiated trumped up ‘legal actions’ against those individuals.

This has worried many Ethiopians who reacted at the time, including this writer, who at the end of last March questioned the wisdom of the regime’s desperate actions in her article, “Troubled country and troubled times”. Government was in despair because of its depleted level of foreign reserves. Could it not have used incentives of some form to encourage the coffee dealers to export their beans? Unfortunately, bad habits do not die easily. Policy options in Ethiopia are examined not to address the reality of a given problem with open-mindedness and alternative solutions, but often to break an imagined conspiracy or defeat a non-existent enemy.

This in view, what guarantees are there to show ECX’s independence in a political environment that rigidly demands loyalty, even from schoolchildren through membership of the ethnically oriented ruling party? It seems to me that Dr. Eleni’s inadequacy to make her case on that has taken the wind out of her sail, irrespective of how important what she had to say. This is not to say ECX‘s time has not come. The problem is government’s lack of credibility has rubbed on the Exchange. The absence of rule of law and an outside regulatory body to ensure the Exchange’s transparency and fairness is a multi-pronged handicap.

Experience has shown that government’s guarantees of neutrality and support for free competition may sound good on paper. In reality, however, those laws, regulations or procedures are seen and being seen often overridden by the corruption of politics. That is what the latest World Bank report “Ethiopia toward the Competitive Frontier” (Report No. 48472-ET of June 2009) has attested. I know Dr. Eleni is distinctly familiar with the report as one of its peer reviewers. Presumably, she is acquiescent to the report’s findings.
In that report, the World Bank concludes that Ethiopia’s products remain “uncompetitive in international markets.” The report attributes that to low level of productivity, which partly is due to inefficient resource allocation across firms and at the country level. It is engendered by the lack of competition in the country, despite the existence of numerous laws and regulations supporting competition. Politely and delicately, the Bank since the 2006 Country Assessment Strategy is for the second time putting its fingers on the problem that it thinks is narrowing Ethiopia’s competitive frontiers, in the following words.

“Endowment-and State-owned firms confront an investment climate that is substantially different from that faced by private enterprises, which may partially explain the fact that they appear to have greater access to policymakers, government as a market, and the state-owned part of the financial sector. The investment climate limits or distorts competition [in] a number of ways, including through directed credit, industrial policy, state firms, and barriers to entry. Ethiopia has approved a competition law to regulate anti-competitive practices, but this regime was not used to address the significant questions of competition with state and endowment-owned firms.”

On the other hand, in her second article Dr. Eleni tries to assure her readers that all is well, not successfully though.

“Unlike any other publicly-owned enterprise in Ethiopia, the Board of Directors is composed in almost equal part of representatives of the owner (state) and the private members of the Exchange as well as the CEO as a non-voting director. The Exchange’s CEO is appointed by and reports to this Board of Directors. Thus, without any doubt in the law or in practice, the Exchange is managed independently of any government organ and is a service-providing entity to the private market actors. There is no interference or intervention in any aspect of day to day ECX operations, whether it is the warehousing and quality inspection, the dissemination of price information nationally and internationally (which relies mainly on the systems that ECX itself has developed), the financial systems, or the trading sessions

.

ECX regulatory board is accountable to the prime minister who is also chairman of the TPLF with its business empire EFFORT, two of whose corporations are founding members of the Exchange. As party members, the members of ECX board are also duty bound to accept instructions. For an intelligent woman, I would be hard put to believe Dr. Eleni was unable to see or feel what was not coming forth in her latest presentation of ECX, its functioning and the prospects of convincing our people, both at home and abroad, about the values of law protected free market operations that could contribute to national development.

ECX and the new investors in virgin agricultural lands

Our country is now at the forefront encouraging international investors to produce, among others, cereals, pulses and oilseeds on lands leased to them by government. ECX already trades in agricultural commodities such as maize, wheat and corn, to which sesame was added on 5 May. Five days, after trading in sesame began and one thousand quintals passed through the Exchange, Dr. Eleni was quoted as saying “the surprisingly strong trading of the produce has reaped enormous benefits for the ECX.” Moreover, it is estimated that, according to the Ethiopian Oilseeds, Pulses and Spices Exporters Association, the country aims to export “more than 720,000 tonnes of oilseeds, pulses and spices which translates into $715 million in earnings, a ninety-four percent increase in the previous years revenue” (AFRIK.COM 10 May 2009, Africa News Network, May 11, 2009).

Although dominant position in trading of sesame is held by EFFORT’s commercial farm in Humera (Hiwot Agricultural Mechanization Plc and trading by Guna), with improved productivity of small scale farmers, the hope was that Ethiopian farmers could benefit a great deal from the production and export of sesame. Guna’s general manager on 18 July announced that she “would export 30,000 tons of sesame worth 40 million USD in this fiscal year increasing both its export volume by 10,000 tons and the amount of foreign currency the nations gets by 13 million US dollars when compared with that of last year.”

In my article, “INTERNATIONAL AGRCULTURAL LAND DEALS AWARD ETHIOPIAN VIRGIN LANDS TO FOREIGN COMPANIES” of 12 August (ethiomedia.com), I had expressed my serious concern about the terms of the deals with international investors on land lease and how that would affect the livelihood of our farmers. We are aware that most of the farmland deals with international investors are not bilateral arrangements in the most with other governments but private companies. The likelihood is these companies would sell their produces in domestic markets in their respective countries or on the international market. It is not clear whether the agreement signed between the regime and these companies designates ECX as the gateway for their produces out of Ethiopia, or they can ship it out on their own.

I do hope in earnest that in her next article that Dr. Eleni has promised she would tackle this issue. This is very important for the country and for any future discussion on the matter and especially in giving us confidence in what she says about the independence and neutrality of ECX. Part of the problem is that the terms of farmland deals are hardly made public. Although a theoretical possibility exists in a few cases for some transfer of technology for agricultural development, as I mentioned in that article, risk also exists to peasant farmers who cannot compete with well-resourced commercial farms.

The major export destination for Ethiopia’s sesame has been China, although Israel, Japan, Turkey and Korea also import from Ethiopia in varying quantities. So far, Ethiopia has been first in Africa and fourth (after China, India and Burma) in the world in sesame production. India’s Business Standard says that of late, because of the natural quality of Ethiopian sesame—whitish Humera (TPLF owned) and Wollega—“the European Union and the US who buy sesame from India have already turned to Ethiopian sesame.” With unmistakable resentment, Suresh Chandarana, an Indian exporter says, “it is a fact that Ethiopia has broken Indian dominance for now” in sesame export (Business Standard, 2nd August).

Take, for instance, the case of barley and oilseeds producers in Ethiopia. China is given an unknown size of farmland to produce oilseeds, sesame especially. Saudi Arabia is also given unquantified land to produce barley and wheat. In the case of China, if our country’s experience to date were of any relevance, Chinese workers would be the ones to do the job. Not only would this deny Ethiopians the employment opportunities, but also minimize the transfer of experience and technology, if at all exists, which otherwise FDI is credited for usually.

China uses sesame for chocolates, biscuits, and extraction of oil for both its domestic and external markets. If China were to satisfy its enormous needs for oilseeds and its export revenues through its own production in Ethiopia, the marketing disadvantage would surely be to Ethiopian producers, mostly small-scale producers. There is also the possibility that this may drive prices down on two accounts. First, the major importer, china, may not need its share of Ethiopian exports. Secondly, Chinese possibility of over-production could drive prices down. On top of that, Ethiopia’s weak export capacities are undoubtedly a determent to competition with China, eventually on both the production and export fronts. It is obvious that this would hurt millions of small-scale farmers in Ethiopia.

For instance, land under oilseeds in 2008 fell to 707 thousand ha from its high of 797 thousand ha (CSA), because of price discouragements to small-scale farmers. With it also declined the export volume and foreign exchange earnings, at a time when international prices were still attractive and more countries were interested in Ethiopian production. Surprisingly, over the years small-scale farmers’ production of sesame has shown consistent but limited productivity growth.

Perhaps, decline in international prices was one of the factors affecting decline of sesame farmland sizes in 2008, compared to 2005/06. Land under sesame by small-scale framers in 2008 was 186 thousand ha, which is 26.3 percent of the total land devoted to oilseeds, down from 211.3 ha in 2005/06, according to the CSA. Therefore, the emergence of a highly competitive partner now in sesame production may end up being another discouragement to million of small-scale farmers.

Conclusion

Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin has been carrying out her job in an environment that is terribly constrained. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that, as an educated person who wants to help her country emerge out of poverty and backwardness, she would not be an accomplice to any crimes, or show obliviousness to the importance moving our country along the path of genuine equality and democracy in order to achieve meaningful development. The most dangerous enemies of Ethiopians today are corruption, absence of rule of law, the persistent collusion and machinations of institutionally backed emergent narrow-minded ethnic nationalism and ultra chauvinism the system has fed and bred as part of its policy actions or political jugglery to enable a few individuals stay in power permanently.

As far as Dr. Eleni’s commitment for Ethiopia’s development is concerned, I have no reason to doubt her sincerity. For that, I take her on her freely and publicly given words. She has noted on occasions that that is why she has abandoned the luxury of the developed world to return home to share what she knows best.

Response to the person who goes under Dr. Negaso Gidada

With due respect, I must say Dr. Negaso Gidada had little presence of mind when he read my article. Consequently, in his boiling response, he has chosen to indulge in senseless accusations not befitting his education and experience. The alleged offences he saw in my article are: (a) patronization of readers; (b) using “frivolous arguments” to show underhanded sympathy for Dr. Eleni”; (c) contempt for the Oromo people; and, (d) not recognizing the importance of ethnicity. To emphasize his point, the former president adds, “What matters most [to Elleni and I] is your insatiable GREED.” Therefore, his advice for both of us is “to join the crime family – Meles and Tigre thugs!”

I shudder at his use of ruffian language (two BSs), most of all coming as it did from a former president and now a parliamentarian and political activist. Thus far, he has made me believe he has been striving to make a difference by helping change our country’s violent politics. Unfortunately, I am not sure how he chose to exempt violent discourse, as his response to my article shows. Although I would not still deny Dr. Negaso of my higher expectation of him, I would have liked to see him bring forth decency to our conversation, instead of throwing sand into the gearbox of political discourse.

As to my “frivolous arguments”, I am afraid the former president has chosen to apply a legal concept. The way I understand it, “frivolity” refers to a condition or a case that is “insufficient as a matter of law.” In concrete terms, a claim is frivolous if it appears either insufficient or because it is not supported by fact or when the law recognizes no remedy. I am under the impression that Dr. Negaso has not finished his thought processes—something is missing. As far as I am concerned, there is no need for me to seek to justify my sympathy to Dr. Eleni. Nor is there any reason for me to do it underhandedly. I was upfront about that in my article, including in its title.

More importantly, if it is not clear to him, I do appreciate her commitment for her country’s development. Perhaps as you saw in the article, I do not know her in person; but still I am an admirer of her dream for Ethiopia’s transformation, including through her work at the ECX, until I find evidence she is in collusion doing that citizens do not expect of her. However, that does not stop me from telling her where I have concerns for what she intends to achieve and how she goes about achieving it in that political jungle. Clearly, the neutrality and independence of that important marketing platform is of vital importance and far greater than whatever sympathies I have for her.

Ethnicity is the central issue to Dr. Negaso. I have no doubt that ethnicity exists. If you read my article carefully, I never said it does not exist. How can I say that when it is my country’s reality? I happen to hold the view that the satisfactory resolution of its complicated problems could be Ethiopia’s strength as a multi-ethnic country. However, mutilating an individual, that is, Dr. Eleni, based on her presumed ethnic origin is wrong. That kind of irresponsible politics of ethnicity is what I was criticizing. I was not addressing the ethnic question at all in the collective sense.

To clarify what I said, I would refresh Dr. Negaso’s memory where I stated, “Some of those opposed to Dr. Eleni give the impression that her ethnicity is their primary concern. In so doing, they failed to address head on the substantive issues [ECX’s neutrality and independence] that for some time now are being debated. That has made them sound oblivious to the fact that the ethnicity criterion cannot help in either measuring her contributions or non-contributions to the country’s development. It is not sufficient criterion to accept or reject a person or idea. Nor could it show the degree of Dr. Eleni’s involvement in contributing to the unhappy reality of our country. In no way could ethnicity show whether ECX is relevant to the Ethiopian economy and the evolution of a well-functioning market.”

Out country’s experience of addressing the ethnic question has been through armed struggle and liberation front of so and so. In the last forty years all that it has done is to worsen our situation and deepen our country’s tribulations. Yes, with Eritrea gone, brotherly peoples are separated and Ethiopia’s territorial integrity injured. Yes, the ethnic question became a saddle for the TPLF to power, which has even betrayed the genuine interests of the unfortunate people of Tigrai. Yes, after victory the TPLF has wielded power for eighteen years now. In reality, separated from the Ethiopian people that it distrusts, the TPLF still lives in the trenches. To succeed in its objectives of permanence in power, it has divided the country into ethnic enclaves, while exposing the economy to brigandage and looting. Many Ethiopian groups have been tricked into a dicey situation of producing, like the TPLF, one ethnic political front after the other. As a result, neither our country is at peace nor our interethnic relations healthy. The evidence, is armed struggles continue in different parts of the country.

The OLF had its roots in “Mecha Tulema” in the late 60s to exert pressure to facilitate resolution of the grievances of the Oromo people. When that did not get satisfactory response over time, the OLF eyed independence that ever since has alienated it from the Ethiopian people. I bring these examples to make the point that the new template must be striving first and foremost to ensure the rule of law and democracy where the rights of the individual occupy a central place, and protected by all citizens. It is only within that political, legal and institutional framework that the rights of ethnic groups, their cultures, languages and development and governance could flourish and be guaranteed by law and practice. I am convinced that the path to that is working together as united people fighting against repression and build genuine democracy and full respect for fundamental human rights. This is true for every ethnic group in the country.

That is the only way to defeat narrow nationalism and ethnic chauvinism. The different Ethiopian groups need to work together. One needs to stop and ask why the TPLF has been thriving in a country of 80 million people. The answer is just because we have not been able to rid ourselves of the sting of the Stalinist model of the archaic ‘The National Question’ now reinforced under TPLF’s canonization. Until then, we cannot change our sad reality. At this point, I would stress that using ethnicity as a prism for everything, as narrow nationalists do, or forcing it through political manipulation, as the TPLF does, is no less than courting disaster. This is more so especially in a country where poverty is deepening against the backdrop of mismanagement of the economy.

Dr. Negaso alleged that I have contempt for the Oromo people. I cannot say where he got that. The only plausible explanation could be that he had two different articles by two different persons. If it is my reference to the disgraceful situation in Adama and I reiterated the demand of the meeting disrupters demanding the use of Afan Oromo, I hope he does not forget that he is the source of the information. I got it, like all other people, from his press conference of 16 August, in case he has forgotten it.

Here is what he said at the time, “Around 50 people started to disturb the meeting while Eng. Gizachew Shiferraw, Vice Chairperson of the UDJ was addressing the meeting. The disturbers were shouting, clutching and whistling from the rear of the hall. This mob came up running to the front and damaged a microphone while trying to grab it. They continued to shout: “This is Oromia,” “Oromo is our Language.” “You have to start the meeting by a blessing ceremony in accordance with Oromo culture.” “You can hold the meeting in Oromo language.” “If you do not speak in Oromo language, and you can not hold meetings in our country.”

As regards patronization, I have no idea where the former president got it, or where he saw it. That is neither in my bones, nor in my spirits.

Finally, like Dr. Negaso, I would close this note with a simple advice. There is every reason for him to be angry. However, I grant him that he cannot succeed pushing his political agenda with constant anger and a sense of vindictiveness.

  1. Ethiopia
    | #1

    Dr. Genet,

    I have been reading your articles. I really appreciate your efforts for taking your time to share your thoughts about the situation our beloved country is in.

    However, reading your articles has not been easy to me due to the writing style you have been using. For example, I cannot easily identify the message in each of your paragraph, and by the time I reached at the end of your article I could not figured out the messages of your articles except for that you oppose the tyrant Meles regime policies as I do.

    Death to Tyrant Meles!!!

  2. Samaat
    | #2

    Nice response to Eleni’s article. I now see, probably for the first time, well reasoned and well thought out arguments being presented in discussions by able and capable people( Eleni G. Medhin, Genet Mersha Abebe Belew, Hussien Ahmad…etc).
    For this I have primarly thank Dr Eleni.
    This is what has been missing in the past. That is, a willing and honest participant from inside Ethiopia one who has a different take on things inside – different from the main line of the Diaspora, engaging in fruitful discussions.
    We have hope!

  3. aha!
    | #3

    The question of ethnicity has taken a different turn so as to look that any tigrean appointed not elected by the people or members in a private organization, different from from the set up of the TPLF/eprdf regime as a multi-layered and hierachal model political model, where the ECX for export and fertilizers for import fit into the third layer of sub political model of economic and political strangle hold of the country by TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises. The question on her ethnicity comes in if she is card holding member of TPLF/eprdf regime or not, not her ethnicity of being an ordinary Tigre, intermarried or not.

    The development in the past eighteen years is that of ethnic dominance by displacement of permanent government empoyees, security personel by, military leaderships, etc. by Tigre ethnic group. Therefore instead of defensive about ethnicity, she built about her strong defense an ECX as a mechanism for a free market. To do do that I believe you have to have a viable democratic system/government. Having said one has to have and improvement on the infrastructure of the banking, private telecommunication networks, transportation systems and private ownerships of land, etc. and other mechanisms and the formation of ECX as a grass root and independent but regulated by the goverment should have been the priority and justification on the part of Dr. Elleni. I learned that she is not the contributor to the drafting the by laws for the mercantile ECX, as she has herself explained that she left her post with the world bank as senior economist, did not mention about helping draft the the by laws on the comodity exchange. Nor her did she she convince me in her rambling lecture and statistics as a justification to the formation of ECX, I presume?

  4. mateos
    | #4

    Poor doctor! she must has not learned from prrevious so called doctors; the weyane mafia family will lock you soon because you are may be good for the Ethiopian people; if you are not good now!

  5. Nagasso Gidada
    | #5

    From the get go, Genet writes “I read with great interest and sympathy Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin’s two articles..”

    Well you don’t have to patronize the readers with your underhanded sympathy for Eleni with your frivolous arguments that “her ethnicity didn’t matter” BS followed by “failure to address head on the substantive issues” BS. The reality is in contemporary Ethiopia, ethnicity matters and that is the underlying cause of misery perpetrated on non-Tigre Ethiopians for the last nineteen years.

    The assertion about the disruption of a meeting of the Ethiopian Opposition party held in Adama also demonstrates your contempt for the Oromo people.

    It is also evident that for the likes of you “Genet Mersha” or “Elleni” ethnicity didn’t matter – if I may guess correctly what matters most is your insatiable GREED. A greed for which you are striving through lies and deception – to achieve your goal all you have to do is to join the crime family – Meles and Tigre thugs!

  6. Anonymous
    | #6

    እንዳለ በየነ 22 ማዞርያ ልጅ

  7. Joseph
    | #7

    Congrat Genet!

    I enjoyed reading your article well written from an authoritative and respected position. Well done to you Gene!

    I have every admiration for Dr Eleni too, for her attempt in implementing the lucrative economic theory well written in the text books that she has reviewed during the time of her studies.

    The PowerPoint presentation briefing that she made using the Big Plasma screen to convince people about ECX is also a very good endeavour too. However, the example she has used in her show i.e. the “people of Bhutan” in the country of the Himalaya Mountains of only 697,000 people population is, to me, a wrong case point for comparison with Ethiopia.

    Though Bhutan used to be one of the most isolated small nations in the world, because of good governance and good will the country managed to develop the Internet, mobile phone networks, and cable television allowing this country to harvest the benefits of modern civilization. The government of Bhutan has taken the stance of balanced modernization with its ancient culture and traditions under the guiding philosophy of what Dr Eleni mentioned as “Gross National Happiness” The government of this country has taken and continued to take great measures to preserve the nation’s traditional culture, identity and the environment.

    I have a friend from this country who told me good stories that included the introduction of WiMAX wireless technology which is even new to the Western world!

    If one thinks of a “big economic transformational idea” like that of Dr Eleni, its feasibility should require at least bare minimum level of bench marks. This is what has lacked in Dr Eleni’s approach. I don’t think Dr Eleni has either studied the nature of Zenawi’s government or taken time to look into the nature of Ethnic Federalism TPLF has instituted. Imagine Dr Eleni going to Adama (Nazareth) and being told to start her PowerPoint Show with an “Afaan Oromo Blessing” the hurdling test UDJ couldn’t pass recently!

    This is the government that has eroded nationhood that has led to national identity crises especially among the youth. Unlike the government of Bhutan, TPLF wants to destroy traditional culture unless it suits them. The government doesn’t want to develop telecommunication technology, and doesn’t want to privatize this sector. The Internet is in its rudimentary and suffers from extremely low bandwidth and scarce service. Electricity and mobile technologies are deliberately monopolized by the TPLF.

    There is huge regional imbalance in infrastructure and economic development – the fertile regions that are potentially suitable for ECX are highly polarized and TPLF economic giants won’t let other competitors have it. Under these circumstances it is a puzzle how Dr Eleni is going to operate neutrally and by the laws of free market as she has read during her doctoral studies!

    This is the government that has committed numerous atrocities, including but not limited to destroying the environment such the burning of “Bale Mountain National Park” the cause for which school children who protested about the handling of the case were punished. This is the government which cedes fertile lands and handover to neighboring states such as the Sudan. The farmers on those lands could have been the people with whom Dr Eleni’s could have done business with. These are endless crimes that the majority of Ethiopians know.

    So where is the proper conducive ecosystem for Dr Eleni to do business with buyers and sellers? Who Dr Eleni is going to help and inspire when the nation is under siege? How the laws of free market and regulatory mechanisms are going to work in the country of one-man show (Zenawi)?

    I do think Dr Eleni’s ECX won’t go far though I don’t wish that to happen to her effort! But it is obvious and natural that :
    “if works though ugly people will use and curse it; if doesn’t people will abandon it”

    Ultimately, Dr Eleni has to live with it if she doesn’t know how to come out of it!!!!

    Von Voyage!!

  8. Asheber
    | #8

    it is rather odd to expect from this confused ladfy.
    i wish she studies ethiopian history rather briefly.
    she she from another , western educateed bunch of stupids who never connect the great ethiopan history.

    our great grand fathers made ethiopia with a true belief, trust between each others. This the so called phd , who calles herself as DR. is beyound my belief.
    it it by it self a fraud. to be calling herself Dr. how many

    phds we have in India , China Do they realy call themselves as a proud PHD. NO NO give me a break. This lady who is only for herselves and the governining goverment has fallen short of my expectation what she has in herself.
    please advise her to her self as Drt.
    it is disgusting.

  9. michael
    | #9

    may be the policy should be tried on a smaller scale and one particular region to test it . If it works it would be expanded, if it needs improvement on how it is carried out then do that. in the third world it doesn’t matter who is in power the problem is magnified. the country should creat a system where the average person has confidence in it. this could be done by educating the public how it works. take a look the healthcare issue in the US. I wish the country and the region best result for their possitive efforts.

  10. Ahmed
    | #10

    negasso giddada it seems that your chronic complex leads you to a miserable and distort decision and belief. you might be from olf camp who grows up with a fabricated lies that makes you skeptic for all positive views which ethiopians (no matter the ethnic) dreams of the beloved ethiopia for tomorrow where every individual has his or her right of expressing the wish . Thx god with your destorted thinking you are in the minority that is why you are fighting in cyber before the reallity tells that you are wrong. After saying that give your energy to free those peoples so that they can fulfil their dream to choose their leader and live like any humanbeing in the planet.

  11. JIGSA
    | #11

    IN PRESNT DAY ETHIOPIA WHERE THERE IS NO LAW PRTECT ITS CITIZENS IN A PLACE WHERE ALL GOVENMENTAL AS WELL AS BUSINESS SECTOR IS CONTROLLED BY ONE ETHNIC GROUP THE TIGRAI PEOPLE LIBERATION FRONT IT IS HARD TO CONCIVE THE PREACHING OF ELLENI AND HER ALIKE.I PERSONALLY APERCIATE THOSE ETHIOPIAN WHO ACHIVE SOME THING IN THEIR PERSONAL LIFE BY EDUCATING THEMSELVES,BUT THERE EDUCATON IS ONLY FOR THEMSELVES IT DOSENT MEAN ANYTHING FOR OTHERS IF THEIR EDUCATION DOSENT HELP TO CHANGE THE LIVES OF THEIR FELLOW CITZENS.ELLENI MAY BE IS A SUCCESSFUL IN HER PERSONAL LIFE ,BUT HER PRESENCE AT THIS POINT OF TIME IN ETHIOPIA IS NOTHING OTHER THAN TO SUPPORT THE CURRENT BRUTAL AFRICAS MOST DANGEROUS TRIBALIST MAFIA GROUP LED BY TIGRIAN PEOPLE LIBERATION FRONT LEADER MELESSE ZENAWI WHO IS TERRORRIZING THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE SINCE 1991.WE DONT NEED ANY ONE TO TELL US MR X IS A DOCTOR MS X IS PHD THET IS NOT GOING TO HELP UNLESS THEY STAND WITH THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE AND FIGHT THE TYRANT REGIME IN ETHIOPIA.THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE ARE TODAY PRISIONERS IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY.THE IS A THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH THE TIME IS A TIME TO STAND TOGETHER AND GET RID OF THE OPERESERS IN ETHIOPIA.VICTORY TO THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. yikerbelen
    | #12

    Truth to be told. I have never seen Dr elleni’s both articles .But I have read most responds which are being posted by different Ethiopians including Our sister Genet mersha’s article. I am always enjoying her articles.As I understood from the many responds . Dr elleni is trying toset up a free market system [ECX] that was her main reason why has she” abandoned the luxury of the developed world”.here could dr elleni tell us who is living the luxury’s life in the developed world more melese, sebhat and other tegere’s thugs? Who told her that only the luxury’s life in developed world? Any one who wants to live the luxurious life In the developed world , he or she must work hard day and night. Dr returned and joined the tegere’s maffias and looters group to loot the poor ethiopia’s people and to sell ethiopia like any commudities.1. How can any body develope the system of free market when one single person is the law and rule of the nation? 2. How could you build a system of free market where one minority ethnice group is totally controled the political power and the business ? 3. how could one implement the free market system where one tinny ethnice group systematically controled all imports and exports with out paying apenny for transport and taxes? 4. How could any one build a syetem of competetive free market where one tinny ethnice group controled both political and business sectors , and this tinny ethnice group has un limited right to kill, arrest and what eve they want aganist other ethnice groups whom they think he or she is going to be a compitetive either sides [ politics or business] .take an an example W/t Birtukan’s and Gen teferra’s mammo’s cases. Assefa maru’s killer supposed to be arrested for his crime , butTPLF sent him by free ticket to england, he is living in london now. Take as an example the case of ethiopia 34 farmers who were taken by sudan’s governement and jailed for the simple reason the y were against the TPLF’s land giving to sudan. Take an other example. TPLF stolen 140kg gold from ethiopia’s national bank and sold it. We can forward so many shamefull exmaples . So Dr elleni is doing nothing , but she is trying to find some sort of income way for TPLF. You can not apply any free market system where there is now law and order or where a person is above the law , or a person became the law of the nation. GOOD luck elleni. but you will be accountable for your joining with the crime families.

  13. yikerbelen
    | #13

    please forward this president Obama’s message to poor elleni when he was in Ghana . Obama was very explicit: “No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves or if police — if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top — or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end.”

    Again Africans were quick to claim that the remarks were directed at their own specific tyrant; again, they were meant for all of them.

    It is the kind of message that had become a taboo and no leader of the Western World wanted to say to or about Africa. Yet, it is what unaccountable leaders need to hear; without the Western sustenance, they would not be able to impose their tyranny on Africans.

    But Africans are accustomed to empty promises; lies, hypocrisy and lack of commitment by Western nations like the US. Countries that say one thing and do the opposite. Africans are used to seeing American taxpayers’ money being handed to African dictators, seeing African ambassadors invited to the White House and seeing America turns its eyes away when African dictators are abusing their citizens

  14. yikerbelen
    | #14

    Dr elleni, you need to ashamed of your self and Issolate your self from tegere’s maffias group if you are concerned ethiopian. Read what belew what president obama’s said to your bosses Speaking at the 8th U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, Clinton reiterated President Obama’s message: “Many people believe that democracy is alive and well because an election has taken place. But, as important as elections are, democracy is not just about the ballot box. Citizens and governments need to work together to build and sustain strong democratic institutions.”

    This statement echoed what President Barack Obama said during his visit to Ghana challenging Africans to take charge of their future and that of their countries in order to achieve what they want. He promised American backing for democratic reforms in African countries.

    Obama was very explicit: “No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves or if police — if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top — or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end.”

    Again Africans were quick to claim that the remarks were directed at their own specific tyrant; again, they were meant for all of them.

    It is the kind of message that had become a taboo and no leader of the Western World wanted to say to or about Africa. Yet, it is what unaccountable leaders need to hear; without the Western sustenance, they would not be able to impose their tyranny on Africans.

    But Africans are accustomed to empty promises; lies, hypocrisy and lack of commitment by Western nations like the US. Countries that say one thing and do the opposite. Africans are used to seeing American taxpayers’ money being handed to African dictators, seeing African ambassadors invited to the White House and seeing America turns its eyes away when African dictators are abusing their citizens.
    Do you have any word after this. Ethiopia needs free market system , but it is not possible because of the above Obama’s mentioned reasons. Your bosses are shameless thieves and there is no limite for their greediness

  15. yikerbelen
    | #15

    AHMED, there was not , is not and will not any freedom of free expression under the maffia’s [TPLF] leadership. The words which you used above against neggasso works for the narrow minded people like you and others who have deep rooted minority inferiority.Do not tell me I am also from OLF’s camp. Those who are around OLF are the shame for human being. They are telling us they are representing the majority ethnice group in ethiopia and at the same time they are fighting to separate that majority ethnice group from the minorities instead of takeing the responsibility on their shoulder and lead the struggle for freedom and democarcay. So if you are from that criminal and maffias TPLF group , it is time to issolate your self before it is too late.

  16. Anonymous
    | #16

    i love ur effort and i will say thank u what u have done.

    but i have no idea what u tried to say. it was too many run on and on. the idea u wrote was clash with another.

  17. Teklai Woldu
    | #17

    Let us give a chance to the young lady. Let her learn form her mistakes, if any. Let her face the TPLF leaders and prove for herself rather than bowing to the evil behaviours of hate, greed and jealousy which are engraved in all human beings, but more pronounced by the communist government junta. Free market and commodity exchange systems work well in developed or semi-developed countries where government control is intentionally minimized. Dr. Eleni is trying it, may be too soon in a country which does produce enough to feed its own people. The government currently has only 200,000 tons reserved in its storage, short by 300,000 tons to normalcy. Famine is looming. Food is scare and high priced nowadays. The poor peasant will soon abandon his/her holdings and start walking south from Tigrai/Wollo to Gamo or Gambella.

    Emergency measures must be taken by the government. Dr. Eleni should help the government in fair distribution of the relief food. The aid agencies should use her platform for emergency relief and saving life.

    That the British Embassy is trying to bring the opposition and the TPlF to a round table discussion regarding the upcoming election is too late and untimely. It should have done that three or four years ago. TPLF is already ready for the game while the opposition are still fighting between themselves. They cannot even agree on Bertukan’s release. They do not seem to know that any one of them could be in prison like her for no apparent reason.

    TPLF, you are doing dis-service and adding to your woes by keeping Bertukan in prison. All opposition should now demand Bertukan released. The Diaspora should speak in one voice and send a single message to TPLF government. It is not fair to keep this responsble political contender in prison while the governemnt has completed its preparation for election. Although, Ato Meles said he would not release her before the end of the election, the Diaspora and concerned citizens should pressure the governement to reverse the decison. After, this is democray, Ato TPLF.

  18. Bekafa
    | #18

    Ethiopia’s biggest enemy is not in Asmara or Somalia it’s the lunatics running the country that have ethnically polarized the country and are trying to tear down the fabric of the nation. The naive assertions of the dr elleni and her beautiful dream for her motherland would be changed to nightmare sometime soon . while totally neglecting the shortcomings of the real culprits of Ethiopia’s torment clearly reflects

  19. ሙሴ ብርሃኑ
    | #19

    hey people we need to be clear with what we say. for me there is nothing wrong with what Dr.eleni is doing…. we need to be clear with what we criticize. it is meles and his party the problems not Dr.Eleni…. please we need to support this lady she can help this country

  20. Chombe
    | #20

    you are a moron mr #19. read Dr. Genet’s argument again WHY Dr. Eleni’s effort (feeding a log into a misery fire) is not good for current day Tigray People Liberation Front lead Ethiopia. It is not about the intention stupid! You simply can not have free market without Freedom.

  21. yikerbelen
    | #21

    teklai woldu, we are not talking about the separated republice of tegeray. we are talking about our belove ethiopia. You greedy people have already ct ethiopia like yours mother ambasha ethnically and distributed to all who needs fertile land. The borders which you stupids and idiots people have created will be a greate obstacle you in the future. The rest of ethiopians will get our freedom from the tegeres thungs and will enjoy together. We know people like you have gratuated from dedebit university. that is why you do not understand easily what ethiopians are trying to tell you and others that you can not build the free market sytem on the air. If you want to build it on earth , that earth must be free from dictators and it should be a democratic system where demand and supply will controll the market price , not your bloody dicator thief boss. For nfree market. you need to have free press,enough internet access with lower charge, freedom for compitative merchants., only after this you can talk about ECX. Dr Elleni is trying to look for some sorts of in comes [ hard currency]for her narrow minded and repressive regime. nothing more or less. her accadamical background should be under question when she is dancing here and there under such a stupid and shameless dictators.

  22. Peggy Irabor-Davis
    | #22

    I have one thing to say…..I first came up with this Idea in the year 2004. I paid fees and $850 to an invention company to patent this idea. They beleived in me until I started to suspect they did not really beleive in the concept of Ethiopians manufacturing their own goods to all nations. The company was Invent Tech. They wanted my money, but laughed at my idea. I have not heard from them since. Then again this idea would not leave me alone. I received a random horoscope in my email, it described specifics, so i paid for the service. In the reading it revealed that I was once interested in flight with planes and that I once had an idea that was not ready to be marketed, but that now, last year, was the time to act on it. I did, but being a soldier in the United States Army full time, I did not have Sergeants that allowed such a time for flexibility to market a large industrial Idea.
    I told my mother that I was going to try again to put my idea to another invention company, Davidson. They told me that they did not think it was in their field. I received many comments from friends also, that invention companies would scam me out of my money again. My family disapproved of my idea being published, due to mistrust of the first invention company. 2 months later Davidson calls me late last year to say they could help me. But by then, I had stopped beleiving in my own God given Idea. I did not call them back.
    As I remember the words in my horoscope, I remember that she said that it would be revealed. she had given me the idea to send my idea to anyone I could find all over the internet last year. This is how my idea will start to take off. She says I will work directly with great people in many foreign countries, and that I have to be aware of the culture change and to start as soon as possible to study and learn the languge. She also says that my job now, will become proud of my success and astonished. The idea will work, she has seen it, she knew it had to do with foreign affairs.
    I never spoke of my idea to my direct family, not even my loving children. I have a large Portfolio, dated May 2004, with me from Invent Tech. My idea for the Ethiopians xchanging with the United States, is bigger that everyone can even think. I found out about my idea last week as I became courius on whats going on in Ehiopian News. Someone else claiming to have “AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME”. It makes me sad that the person who stole my idea wouldn’t try to include my involvement. This was No random idea. The whole article….I SWEAR!! Is my whole concept!! I gave that concept to many heads of foreign countries, one of them, or more, decided to keep me out of it. I have emails of foreign Affairs I contacted, but I wont be so upset if the person responsible, would hear me out on the REAL, FULL, CONCEPT, of the IDEA. I have it with me.
    The people will not understand it in full with out me, I promise you, it will not be as Grand as my Idea. God put it in me, and its bigger than the imagination. Ethiopian People beleive, you will be prosperious and people will come to you, the earth will open up its mouth and make you the supplier of good and rich things to come. Anything is possible when you beleive that God can part a great sea, and turn a slave into a king og great cities.
    My number is 757-878-1345 (WORK) or 757-768-5325 (CELL), FOR anyone that has any questions on my comment. This is no laughin matter.

  23. JIGSA
    | #23

    IT IS NOT COMODITY EXCECHANGE ME AND MY FRIEND CALLED IT ELENIES THEFT SXCECHABGE!!1

  24. Teklai Woldu
    | #24

    Who are you to challenge Dr. Elleni, a well-educated and well-performed lady. Do you have the mind to even understand what she is trying to do? Are you jealous of her accomplishments? What have done for your poor family, let alone your poor country? We Ethiopians are well known for character assassination. We kill both the person and his idea. Let us keep quiet and learn from our intellegentia, not just put them down! Please, do not simply oppose her without even understanding her theory. Afterall, it is a good theory that needs to be proven.

    Simply because my name is Teklai Woldu, you thought I am a Tigrean. I do not care if you call me Wolde Meskel, Atfachew, gizachew, Shitachew, Borena, Bulbula, Guta, Woito, Wogasso, abdulgemed, Tesgaye, Wolete-mariam, Suzanna, Mary-beth, Ko, mou, Zesta, etc. I am black African born in Ethiopia. Your ethnic miscalculation will not make me change my identity and thoughts. I am thankful for the way God created me. Try to think larger than your head. Think along with Dr. Eleni. Do not belittle yourself by hurling rude words. Just prove your point, if you have any. Otherwise, just keep quiet and learn. If you have a question, ask it in a civilized manner.

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