Abay Tsehaye: Minister of sugar and salt- By Abebe Gellaw

November 20th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Meles Zenawi’s game of succession is getting more and more bizarre. He preached about the urgency of giving the mantle of power to the “younger generation” (more…)

Meles Zenawi’s game of succession is getting more and more bizarre. He preached about the urgency of giving the mantle of power to the “younger generation” and the accomplished Machiavellian removed almost all the veterans and promoted his own wife as second in command in the TPLF oligarchy. Zenawi has not stopped there.He has been deploying his tired horses in many odd places. Once revered the original founders of the tribal movement, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, Sibehat Nega, Abay Tsehaye, Seyoum Mesfin and the other long serving puppets are now amongst those who have faced the ultimate humiliation of being tossed out of the corridors of power.

According to Zenawi’s trumpet, Walta Information Center, the dictator has “appointed” (though the correct word is demoted) his long-time servant Abay Tsehaye as “minister” of a fictional ministry called Sugar Corporation. As of the beginning of November, Abay’s long official job title has been Director General of Sugar Corporation with the Rank of Minister. To be more respectful to his Excellency, we should rather address him as Honorable Minister of Sugar and Salt. It appears that this is one more inclusive as TPLF is already a monopolistic merchant of both commodities.

Abay’s trouble with Meles began during the 2001 botched rebellion within the TPLF leadership. During the power struggle within the TPLF central committee, which was mainly triggered by Zenawi’s dubious leadership of the war with Eritrea and the ensuing Algiers peace agreement, which the dissenters described as treasonous, there were 12 bigwigs that were out to remove Zenawi from power. The ring leader, the then Defence Minister Siye Abraha, and Tigray head of regional affairs, Bitaw Belay, were arrested and faced corruption charges. Former Tigray State President Gebru Asrat and the TPLF deputy chairman, Tewolde Wolde Mariam were sacked. Abay Tsehaye, Hasen Shifa, Awelom Woldu, Alemseged Gebreamlak, Aregash Adane, Solomon Tesfay, Gebremeskel Hailu and Abraha Kahsay were summery dismissed from their party and government positions.
As it became clear that the dissenters lost the power struggle, Abay Tsehaye and Hassen Shiffa, swiftly rushed back to Zenawi and knelt down before him. They were forced to publicly express their deep remorse and admit their transgressions.

The political somersault Abay and Hassen performed at least saved them from being sent to jail or completely losing their power and privileges, unlike the other dissenters. In fact, as one of the richest TPLF oligarchs who have allegedly stashed millions of dollars under their matters and offshore accounts, Abay and a few others were also very likely to face corruption charges given the fact that Zenawi has a “corruption file” on every official that goes off track. There may still be an omen, a kind of a coded message, when Zenawi appointed Abay as minister of sugar. The announcement was made in the shortest press release the Office of the Prime Minister has ever issued. It was only 28 words long as published by the Ethiopian News Agency.

When Tamirat Layne fell from the pinnacle of power, the dictator frogmarched him to his puppet parliament and scolded poor Tamrat like a child for licking sugar without his permission. What was even worse was the fact that the whole drama was transmitted to the nation on live TV. Despite the fact that the dictator and his wife are now fully in charge of the major sources of sweet sugar and cream, Zenawi has been ruthlessly punishing those who have broken his rules. The majority of those facing the corruption charges are now junior officials.

When Abay tried to seek Zenawi’s embrace after their fallout, it was quite obvious that he would no longer be one of the dictator’s trusted confidants. If fact, the new position may not be too bad for Abay as the sugar industry is rife with corruption, kickbacks and rent-seeking. If Azay will be able to turn his misfortune to his own advantage, remains to be seen.
The concentration of power in the hands of Meles and his wife is quite sweeping, consolidated further with the appointment of yes-men and sycophants as senior government officials. Dictators are usually good at perfecting what is called negative selection, so is Zenawi. Princeton Professor Stephen Kontain describes negative selection in dictatorships as “a kind of anti-meritocracy. If you’re dumb and incompetent you have a better chance of getting promoted because you won’t be smart enough to take away the job of your boss.”

If anyone takes a closer look at Zenawi’s “new cabinet” the lack of merit is loud and conspicuous. The majority of the new ministers are not only inexperienced and undereducated dummies but also known for their naked opportunism more than anything else. Take, for instance, the man appointed foreign minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. Before he joined TPLF’s Southern Ethiopia branch, only to end up Zenawi’s lackey, he was a teacher at Arab Minch Water Technology Institute (renamed Arab Minch University).

Hailemariam has neither the background nor experience of the complex world of foreign policy, international relations and the art of diplomacy. As a matter of fact, that is the very reason why Zenawi put a label of foreign minister on the novice. Moreover, he is also deputy leader of the ruling party, and leader of the Southern wing of the TPLF. This is a classic case of negative selection, the dumb guy pleasing a smart looking dictator. Interestingly enough, Hailemariam is also deputy prime minister which requires him to work under the direct supervision of Meles. So by extension, it is actually the dictator himself who is the real foreign minister. Hailemariam will only play a role of a messenger parroting whatever his boss says. The absolute concentration of power in the hands of Meles makes the rest of the cabinet nothing but a band of parrots that repeat whatever phrases the dictator utter. Hailemariam has already been well versed in attacking “neo-liberals” despite the fact that he does not seem to know who these evil guys are that are out to tarnish the image of a daredevil tyrant.

The tyrant never stops playing with people. Everyone on his chessboard is a pawn that will be moved around in his strategy games. He is the jockey with too many horses. It is sad that those horses like Sebehat, Abay, Addis Legesse, Tefera Walwa are sidelined as the new horses like Hailemariam will be jockeyed around until they are tossed out unceremoniously.

One must admit, however, that the fate of Abay as the minister of sugar and salt is much better than multimillionaire Sebhat Nega, who is said to be on the verge of drinking himself to death. During the last TPLF central committee meeting held in Mekele, all knives were out against him and those who reportedly “resigned”. Sebhat was reportedly humiliated and reduced to tears as Zenawi’s new buddies in the TPLF took turns to attack him for being “corrupt”. It is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

The despot brutalizing Ethiopia will never stop playing a jockey riding roughshod over the nation. For him, nobody is off target. Ethiopia has now too many “ambassadors” and “ministers”, doing nothing except sucking the blood of the poor people of Ethiopia. Some of them are “advisers”, God knows what they advise an omniscient dictator. There are also these TPLF’s minister d’états, not to mention his ambassadors stationed in embassies across the world.

For now, Abay Tsehaye is the new minister of sugar [and salt], a position which may open the door for more ministers in charge of every known commodity. We should not be taken aback if Zenawi will soon appoint ministers of cement, sand, b

  1. Zeg Fanta
    | #1

    Hailemariam has no more fear of his new assignment. He has said that he would depend on his boss, Meles and God! Usually, people assigned to high positions express confidence and assure people to have confidence on them. They boast that they would do miracle to serve the people and the nation using their rich knowledge, experiences and wisdom. Hailemariam has told the truth that he has nothing to offer and depends on his boss and God to do the job RIGHT!

  2. What is the delay?
    | #2

    How about ministers of shinte and segera?

  3. aha!
    | #3

    Who cares about this soap Opera like narratives of news anchorment of Eskinder Nega and Abebe Gelaw about the juxtaposition or the permutation and combination of TPLF/eprdf regime orchastrated by the Prime Minister. To what ultimate end. The Udjp supporters and later on the Medrek are pounding on water dealing on the pereferal issues. Election has been lost following a subversive and deptive politics after the K5 and Kill-6 debacle that led to the split of Kinijit with a moral backbone with national agenda to be countered in a three-way tug of war among Medrek, a mirror image of TPLF/eprdf, TPLF/eprdf and KAEUP, EDP and others, where UDJP was tackling the subset of the national agenda, while it was affiliated with the loyalist opposition parties with ethnic agenda.

    The Dergue regime has reached to where it was by the process of elimination, reshuffling it members in the military dictatorship, untll it finally collapsed due to resistance from EPRP and the liberation movements, despite the fact that Dergue was engaged in Ethiopian unity and territorial integrity.

    TPLF reached to the point in 1991 by collaborating with EPLF, and eliminating its counterpart TPLF organization for differences in ideology, I believe, interms of national agenda and national interests.
    After taking power in 1991 as TPLF/eprdf regime, the lingering question is that of ethnic and secessionist politics and policies etched in the constitution, economic and political strangle of the country and the silent majority of Ethiopians by TPLF and TPLF affialiated enterprises, the divide and policy in a colonial style, and power has been consolidated to one paty system of ethnic dictatorship, different from military dictatorship of the Dergue regime, I can understand where the these narratives about the reshuffling of the the TPLF politbuero leads to in tems of public awareness in terms of the struggle for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians under liberal ideology.

  4. annanymouse
    | #4

    I have always believed the good weyanes are only the dead ones. Be it Abay or others they need to face justice in the courts of Ethiopian people for all the crimes they committed, continue to commit, and looting of all Ethiopians resources. The days are approaching for all the evil doers of Ethiopian people: Meles, his boss Bereket Simon, and the rest of weyane thugs!!!

  5. Anonymous
    | #5

    ሁላቸዉም በጊዜአቸው ያልፋሉ። መለስም ቢሆኑ ከብርቅየው እና አሽብራቂ የቃልቲ እስርቤታቸው የሚገቡበት ቀን ሊመጣ ይችላል። አራት ነጥብ።

    | #6


  7. yassin
    | #7

    abbay tsehaye is a brave and courageous person let any one one say what he like but he is our HERO

  8. Tsion
    | #8

    As always, I like the reporting from Abebe. Great. but I have two things to add.

    One is that Abbai Tsehaye is not what seems to be. He has been a real ideologue with Tewolde, Bitew and the others who were expelled. But from his inclination (as he is also Eritrean blood affiant) to have an alliance with Eritrean wing of TPLF led by Meles, he was playing a smart job for Meles during the 2001 TPLF purge. The Siye side was dominated by people who were not in Addis Ababa (Siye, Bitew, Gebru, Adanech…) who, sitting in Tigray, innocently believed they could dismantle Meles who is surrounded by local and international power brokers. So Abbai’s role was to push the Siye side into crystallizing as a group/entity and then putting them into a trap and finally coming back to his home with Meles after vanquishing the Siye group. If Siye was honest enough to reveal secrets, this is one of the tricks Meles played using Abbai to widen the rift and to separate them like a mix of water and oil.
    The second thing is I disagree with “demotion” sense of Abbai’s appointment. Abbai is one of the richest person in Ethiopia. he is being assigned to a lucrative and pervasive section of the consumer economy “sugar.” Can you imagine that next to teff and cereals, sugar is the most widely consumed item. Imagine the money that is transacting there. Sugar is an area that could not be incorporated into EFFORT and putting Abbai is a means of channeling the riches to Meles and Azeb.
    The only sense of demotion is in the sense that is apparent for the outsiders. of course no one has power in TPLF except Meles, and that began not in 2010, but in 2001, when TPLF and EPRDF died as an organization that had life – in the sense of generating to change for better or worse – now it has no such life as it is a private property of ONE MAN – Meles and Azeb.

  9. idiot dictator
    | #9

    Who cares about these idiot dictators?

  10. aha!
    | #10

    Tision’s remark and insight following this article is is instructive about the differences of of opinion within TPLF, nevertheless it is still TPLF with ethnic agenda with ethnic and secessionist politicis and/or policies, vis avis the fact there is rivalery within the TPLF Politbuero, does not equate to having differences between those with national agenda and those with ethnic agenda.

  11. Abiy Ethiopiawe=አቢይ ኢትዮጵያዊ
    | #11

    The so called Yassin,please go to Kindergarten and learn “A,B,C…Z”first.Again don’t forget to take off your Kalashnikov;please get out of here and don’t come back;blood sucker.

  12. we need to repent
    | #12

    It is our sin that brings all these. Repent we hypocrites and things will be set right. Only God can solve our problems, only Son of the Living God can bring peace to Ethiopia. Otherwise we will go to hell after earthly hell.

  13. we need to repent
    | #13

    I am non of you said I am neutral and am the one who need peaceful Ethiopia. I mean we need to repent of our sin then we can claim the one to be claimed. Can criminal accuse a criminal? Do not you know that we call ourselves Christian but we are full of anger to our brother. Do not you know that a man angry with his brother is a murder and hell is waiting him. Save yourself first then you will get rid of all g rambling and living in desperate to look for change. Change must start at your heart, then it will flow to others. Mercy and Love. peace be with you. Thanks.

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