Author’s Note: If I assembled all of the commentaries I wrote on the T-TPLF’s corruption, it would comprise of at least two solid volumes. Back in 2013, I commented extensively on the range of T-TPLF corrupt practices in a number of sectors of the Ethiopian economy and society based on the World Bank’s 448-page report, “Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia”. (See my commentaries in 2013 at almariam.com.) I even coined a word to discuss T-TPLF corruption. It is “horruption”. Horrible corruption.
Every now and then, the T-TPLF bosses put on corruption show trials to distract the population, panhandle the loaner and donors and draw attention away from their criminality. They have done it again in July 2017.
Here we go again! The corruption prosecution con game of the T-TPLF
In May 2013, I wrote a commentary entitled, “The Corruption Game” of the T-TPLF.
That commentary dealt with the arrest of some two dozen “high and medium ranking officials of the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA) and prominent businessmen”. Among them were ERCA “director general” with the “rank of minister”, his deputies and “chief prosecutor” along with other customs officials. “Ethiopia’s top anti-corruption official,” Ali Sulaiman told the Voice of America Amharic “the suspects had been under surveillance for over two years.”
At the time, T-TPLF bosses were in the middle of their recurrent internal power struggles in the aftermath of the passing of their thugmaster Meles Zenawi.
The recent arrests are part of the ongoing “civil war” within the T-TPLF. It is intended to send a message to others who may think about opposing the current faction of the T-TPLF that the sledgehammer of corruption prosecution will also be visited upon their heads if they want to try anything.
Simply stated, the current dominant T-TPLF faction is simply “killing the chicken to warn the monkeys”, to use a Chinese idiom.
Today, the T-TPLF slicksters are trying to kill three birds with one stone: Rack up some PR credits to demonstrate good governance during the “state of emergency” and drum up popular support. They also believe they could divert and distract attention from their atrocious human rights record, including the Irreecha Massacres of October 2016, by showcasing their “anti-corruption” campaign. Last but not least, the cash-strapped T-TPLF bosses are hoping to squeeze American taxpayers for a few billion dollars (fat chance under Trump) by talking the talk of anti-corruption while walking and swimming in corruption.
Belatedly, T-TPLF puppet prime minister (PPM) Hailemariam Desalegn is also trying to prove that, despite his repeated public cathartic confessions that he is the handmaiden of Meles, he is Mr. Clean, not Mr. Clone (of Meles). Desalegn is still trying to prove to the loaners and donors that he is a different breed from his thugmaster Meles. He wants to perpetuate an image of Mr. Clean cleaning the “House of Meles”. Oh! Behold in 2017 the “Dirty 3 Dozen” he bagged!
2017: Sleazy investigating greasy and cheesy for corruption
Over the past couple of weeks, the T-TPLF has been rolling out the rogue’s gallery of alleged corruption suspects. Among them are “high level government officials” and sundry other businessmen.
They even allegedly jailed the “wife” of one of the founders of the T-TPLF, Abay Tsehay.
The “wife” was arrested “while she was attending her son’s wedding family reunion ceremony.” Tsehay was at the wedding but not arrested.
Obviously, the wife was “arrested” to send a clear message to Tsehay.
But if allegations of corruption are to be thrown around, Tsehay should be at the very top of guilty-as-sin suspects.
Tsehay was Board chairman of the “Commercial Bank of Ethiopia”, the largest and oldest bank in the country, even though he had absolutely no financial background whatsoever! During Tsehay’s tenure, the Commercial Bank lost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Shouldn’t Tsehay be held accountable for that loss?
He was replaced by another T-TPLF ignoramus named Bereket Simon in 2011. Such was the height of T-TPLF nepotism and corruption.
It was clear to me in April that Tsehay was toast. Done. Finished.
As I indicated in my April 30 commentary, “The Good Kops/Bad Kops T-TPLF Con Game (Over) in Ethiopia”, I knew Tsehay was in deep doo-doo when PPT Desalegn dismissed a “study” done by Tsehay and his henchmen. “I don’t know [anything] about the study. It does not concern me. The study does not offer a correct analysis,” said Desalegn offhandedly.
I concluded that Desalegn would not have been emboldened to dismiss a report by a founding member of the T-TPLF unless that founding member was on his way out to pasture or something even worse. Alternatively, I reasoned that there is definitely a gang within the T-TPLF gunning for Tsehay. Either way, it was clear to me that Tsehay was history.
Curiously, Tsehay, a charlatan at best, must have been trying to reinvent himself as some sort of respectable academic or scholarly analyst when he put together a ragtag crew of “researchers” to issue a report. I suspected the T-TPLF gangsters ganging against Tsehay must have been offended by his bold report or considered it an effort by him to ingratiate himself with the public and gain ascendancy and tactically undercut them. After all, Tsehay practically called the T-TPLF “lawmakers” a bunch of morons who sit around rubberstamping whatever is sent to them by the “executive branch”.
What has happened to Tsehay is a clear indication to me that there is a “creeping civil war” among various T-TPLF factions today. The only reason the “civil war” has not broken out in public is because they are all tangled up in the same web and morass corruption and criminality.
The T-TPLF criminals know all too well that they must hang together or hang separately, to quote Ben Franklin.
Anyway, Tsehay’s cannibalistic T-TPLF friends threw him under the bus, just as he ganged up with them to throw so many others before. That is karmic poetic justice!
It must feel like hell to feel so disposable!
Back to the current corruption prosecution con game.
Just to maintain the suspense, the T-TPLF has been announcing arrests almost daily. Just yesterday, they announced the arrest of Alemayehu Gujo, T-TPLF “minister of finance” and the highest-ranking official in the roundup and Zayed Woldegabriel, Director General of the Ethiopian Roads Authority.
The “anti-corruption” prosecutors have completely avoided charging any of the top T-TPLF leaders despite mountains of evidence of all types of corruption and criminal wrongdoing. They have gone after the small fish and left the big sharks, the capo di tutti cappi (boss of all bosses) alone.
The fact of the matter is that the whole T-TPLF corruption prosecution is a bunch of horse manure!
For the T-TPLF to accuse its disfavored members, ministers and lackeys of corruption and criminal wrongdoing is exactly like Tweedledee accusing Tweedledum of taking his rattle (toy).
/‘Tweedledum and Tweedledee/ Agreed to have a battle;/For Tweedledum said Tweedledee/ Had spoiled his nice new rattle./Just then flew down a monstrous crow, As black as a tar-barrel;/Which frightened both the heroes so,/They quite forgot their quarrel./
Simply stated, the T-TPLF is just having an internal battle in their corruption nonsense over their 26-year-old rattle. They are quarreling over who should steal, cheat and rob the most.
That is exactly what the T-TPLF corruption prosecution con game we see played out today is all about. One gang of T-TPLFers quarreling with and battling against another gang of T-TPLFers about who should ripoff the most of their 26-year-old rattle (toy) called Ethiopia.
There is nothing new in the current corruption prosecution con game.
The T-TPLF bosses have been playing their corruption prosecution game to knock each other out from day 1.
The T-TPLF canned its first prime minster Tamrat Layne on corruption charges in 1996.
That cunning and ruthless thugmaster Meles Zenawi forced Layne, under threat of penalty of death, to admit corruption and abuse of power before the rubberstamp parliament.
Of course, Layne did nothing that every top T-TPLF leader did not do. If Layne could be convicted for corruption, then each and every T-TPLF member beginning with the thugmaster himself are all guilty as sin of corruption. But the corruption prosecution was a tactic used to neutralize and sideline Layne.
In 2002, Seeye Abraha, T-TPLF defense minister and chairman of the board and CEO of Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (a T-TPLF rabbit hole of high corruption, money laundering, conspiracy and sundry other criminality) was also jacked up on corruption charges and jailed for six years. Following the Ethio-Eritrean war in the late 1990s, the T-TPLF had split into two groups, one headed by Meles, the other by Seeye. Meles tactically outplayed and outfoxed Seeye and consolidated power. If Abraha could be convicted for corruption, then each and every T-TPLF member beginning with the thugmaster himself are all guilty as sin of corruption. But the corruption prosecution was a tactic used to neutralize and sideline Abraha.
In 2007 when Ethiopia’s auditor general, Lema Aregaw, reported that Birr 600 million of state funds were missing from the regional coffers, Zenawi fired Lema and publicly defended the regional administrations’ “right to burn money.”
In 2009, Meles publicly stated that 10,000 tons of coffee earmarked for exports had simply vanished from the warehouses. He called a meeting of commodities traders and in a videotaped statement told them that he will forgive them this time because “we all have our hands in the disappearance of the coffee”. He threatened to “cut off their hands” if they should steal coffee in the future.
Barely eight months ago in December 2016, the T-TPLF announced it had arrested 130 unnamed individuals on corruption charges. An additional 130 were said to be under investigation.
Just yesterday, to add suspense to excitement, the T-TPLF called an “emergency meeting” of its rubberstamp parliament without a public explanation for the meeting. Apparently, it had partly to do “with lifting the state of emergency order”, but the “parliament” removed “immunity” from two members at the ministerial and high administrative positions and jailed them. (More on that comedic drama in another commentary.)
All the T-TPLF corruption prosecution crap is nothing more than a con game, an attempt to distract and divert attention from the fact that the T-TPLF is on life support, on its last legs.
But the T-TPLF is playing the same old con game. Corruption prosecution is the oldest trick in the book of dictators.
In any power struggle in dictatorships, it is very common for one group of power players to accuse members of an opposing group of corruption and neutralize them. It is less costly and uncertain than conducting coups. Corruption show trials are a powerful weapon in the arsenal of dictators who seek to neutralize their opponents.
Back during the Derg (military rule) days, the favorite charge to neutralize opponents was to accuse them of being a “counter-revolutionary” and jail them or worse.