Merit to give way to “diversity” in ethnicity in public service hiring

borkena, Ethiopia News
October 19,2017

Ethiopia public service - ethnicity
The contested government flag. Ethiopians like flag with no pentagram and blue color in the middle

Ethiopian parliament is discussing a draft law to make changes in the hiring practice in the public service. If it is to become law, merit and competence will no longer be as important as ethnic backgrounds of candidates in Ethiopia. The intention, according to the draft tabled at the parliament, is to “diversify” ethnic composition in the workplace.



Federal Civil Service proclamation 515/2007 ( part three, section 1) has a provision that restricts discrimination in the hiring practice based on ethnic origin, sex, religion, political outlook, and disability, among other things.

If the current draft under discussion in the parliament is to consider ethnicity as part of the qualification, it clearly contravenes the proclamation.

Discrimination in the hiring process has been rampant for many years under the ruling party. But in most cases, it was based on political views. Graduates who are members of the ruling party and the champions of the ideology ( developmental state and ethnic politics) have been favored in the hiring process. Citizens with opposition political view to the ruling party have been denied employment opportunity in the federal government.

There have even been cases when public servants were fired because of their political views.

On the other hand, the ruling party is criticized that it gave an unfair advantage to ethnic Tigray candidates when they constitute about six percent of the total population of Ethiopia.

Most of federal government jobs are in the capital Addis Ababa.

The unemployment rate is over 19 percent this year.

Critics see a political motivation in the new draft legislation that is going to make ethnicity as a sort of qualification in the public service hiring process.
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