The Billionaire and the Lapdog – By Yilma Bekele

December 23rd, 2008 Print Print Email Email

It was gratifying to see the disclosure regarding the contributors to the former president Clinton’s foundation. It is the price he paid to have his wife nominated to be Secretary of State. As a private citizen the law does not compel him to make his contributors public.

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It was gratifying to see the disclosure regarding the contributors to the former president Clinton’s foundation. It is the price he paid to have his wife nominated to be Secretary of State. As a private citizen the law does not compel him to make his contributors public.

He only had to tell the IRS which by law would keep it confidential.

To be Secretary of State requires confirmation by the Senate. That entails answering a lot of question regarding competency, temperament and financial situation. There should be no hint of conflict of interest and personal gain. The appearance by itself is a sign for caution. It requires a strong argument to win over skeptics.

The Clinton Foundation disclosure shows a name that is very familiar to all Ethiopians. It is no other than Dr. Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi. He is reported to have given from one to five million dollars range. The fact that the so-called “the Unofficial Mohamed Al Amoudi” web page (http://www.mohammed-al-amoudi.com/philanthropy) claims that he donated $20 million is a lot of hot air. Looks like all his other purported donation to regions and groups back home. The bark is louder than the bite at least that is what is being reported by our newfound friend “The Reporter” from Ethiopia. We are always hasty in declaring someone friend or foe.

The fact that government officials in the US have to go through such a grueling process to assume power to serve the people is a good sign. The legislative branch takes its duties seriously. The people’s representatives have a responsibility to make sure that officials understand the gravity of the office they assume in the name of the nation. They are not a rubber stamp to the wishes and demands of the executive body.

What is the significance of this news to us Ethiopians is a good question to ask? That will require us to answer the question why the Sheikh felt compelled to donate such a large sum to the Clinton Foundation. Of course as a rich international mogul he definitely have many reasons to support the foundation. He has business interests across the globe requiring intervention and support from the former President. We are not privy to that.

Our one and only interest is if our country is part of this equation. Did the TPLF regime somehow manage to be part of the understanding in this alliance? Or is it possible that as usual we are making a mountain out of a molehill? We as a people have an inbred love of paranoia.

It is a fact that the individual plays a very significant role in both the economic and the political life of our nation. He has managed to build a formidable economic empire. Some claim it is positive and honorable. They mention the thousands of jobs he has created and his philanthropy that includes gifts to our very own ESFNA. On the other hand there are a lot that are uncomfortable by the cozy relationship between a government and a single corporation. His close relationship with an illegal undemocratic regime is a cause for concern. His investments have emboldened the tyrants to ride rough and practice their apartheid system with impunity. His wealth gives him undue advantage to the up coming new local budding capitalists. Capitalism requires a level playing field. It is futile to ask a small businessman to compete with an international financier. That is not fair. It is unequal competition. The US discovered the pearls of monopoly capitalism and enacted laws to safeguard society from predators. It is old news.

It is also true that the Sheik’s investments are geared towards developing an unsustainable economy. It is good to the TPLF mafia since it generates immediate cash, but our country does not need lavish hotels and Soviet style concrete buildings. Money generated from Ethiopians in the Diaspora and used to build monstrous villas with imported concrete, metal, glass is not our idea of building the future Ethiopia. I am sure our Universities are capable of graduating able Ethiopians that will utilize local material and resources and build beautiful habitats cheaper and better. Our foreign exchange will be used to buy computers, solar panels, tractors, harvesters and other useful products instead of vanity items with little or no vale. The one and only item mentioned by all Ethiopians that visit the homeland is the proliferation of buildings everywhere you go. We now read reports that over 90% is paid for by the Diaspora themselves. Why is Woyane taking credit for that as if it is some accomplishment? Where is the double-digit economic miracle?

It looks like it was all smoke and mirrors like other TPLF pronouncements. It is surprising to all of us that the billionaire friend was using our own money to finance these worthless projects. When our banks lend those millions to Midroc Corporation it dries up the money supply to local small business that is the main engine of economic progress. When Woyane was showcasing the miracle they just forgot to mention it was the product of the dreaded Diaspora. Our investment was fueling the inflation and hurting our own friends and relatives at the same time creating foreign exchange for the regime to buy guns to silence our people. That is what is called being pistol-whipped by your own gun.

The question is what do we do with our newfound knowledge? Our options are one to inform the Obama administration regarding the presumed conflict of interest regarding the Clintons or waste our energy being an alarmist or impinge on her new assignment. I believe we should give her the benefit of doubt but at the same time keep our eyes open to point out any undue influence. Our job is to inform the Obama administration that if the US stands for freedom and democracy then both are lacking in our homeland. Our duty is to unite and present a true picture of the dire situation in Ethiopia for all to see. The war against our Somali citizens, the plight of peasants all over the country, the suppression of freedom of speech and media and the imprisonment of political dissidents should be exposed for all to see.

This brigs us to the case of former Prime Minister the infamous Tamrat Layne’s release from Kaliti prison. He is informing us that he has found religion and will not be part of the political process no more. Our response, “not so fast Ato Tamrat, we are not done yet.” There is this little matter of the Ethiopians you have caused harm and misery. If you remember when our liberators arrived in the capital and set up shop, Ato Meles took the office of the Presidency and Ato Tamrat was crowned 2nd in charge. Ato Meles was representing the Tigrai tribe and Ato Tamrat supposedly stood for the Amharas. Ato Meles has his army while Ato Tamrat has his big mouth. We will not forget his despicable acts in Harar, Arsi and Bale among other Southern regions. Ato Tamrat was inciting the local population to rise up against ‘Neftegnas” the TPLF code word for Amharas, Gurages and others and settle perceived wrongs done against them in the years past. Many of our innocent citizens were murdered and others were forcefully evicted from their ancestral homes with nothing but their cloth on their back. It was done with the tacit approval and support of the TPLF regime. Dr. Asrat paid the ultimate price with his life fighting this catastrophe brought on his people by despicable bastards like Tamrat and company.

It was strange to see Ato Meles telling us he was the son of the “golden” people of Tigrai while Ato Tamrat was seeking others to kill and hurt the Amharas he represented. It is great that he found religion to cleanse his troubled soul, but on the other hand we require a little bit more from Ato Tamrat to put a closure on his crimes. It is not much to ask Ato Tamrat to confess to his crimes and ask for forgiveness from his victims. It will be good for us if all those TPLF converts will give us a little bit detail regarding the skeletons in the closet. If he was to atone for his ugly actions in the past we suggest full confession so we learn and set up safeguard for the future. In the mean time if I was Ato Tamrat I will sleep with my eyes wide open. His past associates are watching him like a hawk regarding the knowledge he has of their illegal deeds. He knows where the bodies are buried, and that is knowledge full of liability. Start praying Ato Tamrat!

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