Opinion & Analysis

‘It was a systematic looting sanctioned by the government’ by Dawit Wolde Giorgis

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s anti-corruption campaign kicked into high gear this week with the arrest of senior officials of the military-linked Metals and Engineering Corporation (MetEC), including the former head Kinfe Dagnew. In this brief interview with Arefaynie Fantahun below, Dawit Wolde Giorgis, Executive Director at the Africa Institute for Strategic and Security Studies and former government official offers his insights into this campaign.

Are you surprised by the arrest of higher rank military officials of METC?

Yes, I am surprised though we expected it to happen at some point. PM Abiy had promised and he delivered. It is a bold decision and it is just the beginning. It is the tip of the iceberg. People are relieved but expect more of such actions. The truth will serve to inform the public the extent of the corruption under previous EPRDF leadership.

Do you feel this is a genuine attempt to promote clean governance or purge of old guards?

The reform can move on only after the truth has been revealed. There cannot be any meaningful change in Ethiopia without justice. Only justice can bring people together and assure a true transparent path to real development.

Some others who were involved in grand corruptions are still in their positions. Will they also be held to account?

This is a corruption, the kind of which has not taken in place any country. In Africa. It was a systematic looting sanctioned by the government. It is not individuals that are accounted for this level of corruption. It is the whole system that needs to be removed to establish a new dispensation free of such corruption and other crimes that have been committed in the name of development.

How can Ethiopia go beyond anti-corruption campaigns toward the goal of institutional changes?

All so called development programs and projects were designed to benefit the few. The system that allowed this to happen will face the consequences as Ethiopian people will never stop the struggle until full justice and freedom is attained and an accountable government of the people for the people is established.

(Original Article via Ethiopia Observer by Dawit Wolde Giorgis, a graduate of Columbia University Law School, was a senior government official in the early Derg period. He served as Deputy Foreign Minister and the Commissioner of Relief and Rehabilitation. He is the author of an acclaimed book, Red Tears: War, Famine, and Revolution in Ethiopia.)

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