Leaders of the ruling EPRDF, who have been foolhardy in taking the public for granted, are now in a frantic mood, bidding for time to fix what is broken in their governance, claims gossip. A meeting of their executive committee, held a few weeks ago, took place in the same old mindset of complacency, says gossip. It displeased the veteran Revolutionary Democrats as much as it angered the mid-rank cadres, disclosed gossip.
Thus, a successive extraordinary meeting of the Council was held two weeks later. It was extraordinary not only because of its urgency, but also because veteran leaders of the EPRDF took part. There was also the notable absence of Azeb Mesfin, the widow of Meles Zenawi and political bureau member of the TPLF, gossip reveals.
This meeting was spared from falling into the same trap of self-righteousness due to Sulieman Dedefo, an OPDO veteran and former Ambassador to Djibouti, claims gossip. He spoke the truth on the spoils of unchecked power for 45 minutes, uninterrupted, according to gossip. Hell broke loose after that, with almost every issue of contention and discontent addressed in hash tones, gossip disclosed. Abiy Ahmed, a young and raising politician with the OPDO, was another forcefully vocal critic from within, claims gossip.
From unfair ethnic representations in federal agencies – including the military – to the role of the MetEC in the economy, and the security apparatus accused of becoming an instrument of repression. The troubling extent of corruption and nepotism amongst themselves was also brought up, with those present challenged to raise their hands if they had no overseas bank accounts or wives not in business and privileged. The overbearing dominance of the TPLF to the ineptness of the senior leaders of the EPRDFites, which has led to public uproar, were further issues raised, gossip disclosed. The conclusion was that a self-serving and corrupt leadership is exercising state capture for self-enrichment, reveals gossip.
Hailemariam Desalegn, second-generation chairman of the EPRDF, took three of the five days, allowing anger and frustration to vent out, claims gossip. When he spoke, he did in a manner that was grating, gossip disclosed. Almost no one was spared from his wrath; not even his favourite spin-doctor, Getachew Reda, a TPLFite who was harshly criticised for allowing the national broadcaster to degenerate on his watch, gossip disclosed.
Hailemariam was mad at Abadula Gemeda, an OPDO veteran and speaker of Parliament, for appeasing rent-seekers over a coffee table; and Demeke Mekonnen, chairman of ANDM, for his wishy-washy character, reveals gossip. Abay Tsehaye, a TPLF veteran, also tasted the fury indirectly, held accountable for the hundreds of millions of dollars that went down the drain in the sugar estate projects, according to gossip. Hailemariam was upset that the pledge his administration made to the public that the nation would begin exporting sugar a year ago has not been respected, with installations of the plants yet to be completed,
He was, however, also the subject of criticism by a group of young and fearless cadres from the ANDM and the TPLF, claims gossip. They blamed him for creating a kitchen cabinet, surrounded by palace-preferred elite politicians with the authority to command huge public resources, thus undermining the power of the legally mandated cabinet, gossip disclosed. This was made in reference to people like Brehane G. Kirstos, a TPLFite and close confidant of the late Meles; and Arkebe Oqubay (PhD), a veteran TPLFite in charge of the industrial parks development.
Despite the heat, Hailemariam criticised Arkebe for acting like a Prime Minister, gossip disclosed. There was a sour feeling developed from an incident where Arkebe made a political error of judgment in outshining his boss during the inauguration of the Hawassa Industrial Park, where he discussed policy matters for no less than 47 minutes. Hailemariam spoke for close to 10 minutes, in English, adding notes to what Arkebe had to say, gossip recalls.
The question among many in the gossip corridors now is – “what will Hailemariam do after all this venting of frustrations?” He will reshuffle his cabinet come November 2016, when Parliament opens, gossip anticipates. He has already started it, sacking Mekuria Haile, Minister of Urban Development & Housing. Interestingly, no less than two-thirds of Ministers in his current cabinet may be relieved off of their positions, perhaps moved over to the EPRDF secretariat; and he may be determined to fill the next cabinet with competent technocrats, even if they are not members of the ruling party, gossip anticipates.
PUBLISHED ON SEP 06,2016 [ VOL 17 ,NO 853]