Ethiopia arrested 59 government officials on corruption charges

Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia
Photo: The National

In the course of another wave of anti-corruption cleansing in Ethiopia, 59 government officials were arrested, writes The Africa report, referring to the message of the General Attorney of Ethiopia.

The arrests took place in the state procurement and property management agency, in the water supply construction company, in the pharmaceutical fund and the supply agency.

Officials of the procurement agency are suspected of fraud in the purchase of 400 tons of wheat and the appropriation of state money, the damage is estimated at 23,7 million dollars. An investigation at the center of water canals revealed the theft of reinforced steel worth 2,3 million dollars, the pharmaceutical fund caused damage to the state in the amount of 2,7 million dollars as a result of frauds in procurement.

Ethiopian General Prosecutor Berhanu Tsegaye told the local media that the case was investigated for three months. Law enforcement agencies had checked the companies and investigated the lifestyle of the officials. Tsegaye did not mention any names, but the Ethiopian newspaper Addis Fortune writes that Yigezu Daba, the head of the procurement department and disposal of property, was involved in the fraud.

Anti-corruption cleansing is the key to carrying out the effective political and economic reforms of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, who wants to stabilize the country’s economy and bring it to the market level.

In 2000, Ethiopia was the third of the poorest countries in the world, the country’s annual GDP was 650 dollars per capita and more than a half of the population lived below the poverty line. It was the highest level of poverty in the world. However, the situation changed in a few years.

Ethiopia`s economy growth
Ethiopia`s economy growth

According IMF, from 2000 to 2016, Ethiopia entered the top three in terms of the rate of growth of GDP per capita among countries whose population ranged from 10 million of inhabitants. By 2011, the poverty rate in the country fell to 31%.

At the same time, an untouchable oligarchy had formed in the country, writes The Africa report. That is why reforms were the main goal of the new government. Arrests and suspicions of corruption of more than 200 former and current officials are the first step in the program. The main goal of the Ethiopian Prime Minister was the Metal Engineering Corporation (METEC), the largest company in Ethiopia. The military-industrial conglomerate, which includes 98 companies, had lost several lucrative tenders in 2018, as its officials were under investigation for corruption.

The Prime Minister proposed to divide METEC into two main divisions, one of which will deal with military goods, and the other – civilian. Last November, the government arrested 36 intelligence officers and several METEC leaders for illegal activities, including corruption and human rights abuses.

Anti-corruption cleansing of Abiyah Ahmed will lead to changes in politics and economics. For example, when METEC lost tenders, it had to fire about 3000 people from its 19000 employees teem. On the one hand, this can become an advantage for the Ahmed`s political enemies, who are trying to prevent reforming of Ethiopian economy. On the other hand, if anti-corruption cleansing will become regular, the team of prime minister`s allies will expand.