Friday, March 23, 2012

Staged propaganda isn’t going to make collusion to pass as ‘investment’

Something is terribly wrong with the Woyane regime’s economic policy from the get go. It does not follow any conventional philosophy known in modern times. Officially, it started as a fake Free Market policy and changed in to Developmental State along the way. Other than reshuffle words around it didn’t change the fundamental mission of the policy of running racketeering.

In reality, the ‘policy’ is more like what the merchants of Addis Ababa refer as ‘አየር ባየር’ (corrupt speculators colluding with ruling regime officials to corner the market and rip-off the people and the nation). It is the regime’s version of a Mafia operation in a cover of made-up laws, directives, proclamation… straight from the Central Committee of TPLF. Its primary mission is to institutionalize corruption to the benefit of the regime’s cronies.
The policy is designed to target individuals that couldn’t tell the difference between doing legitimate business/investment, and colluding with the ruling tyrant and associates to cash-in. Many got involved for the lack of understanding their rights and responsibilities in a system setup to corrupt the gullible. The big ‘fishes’ are attracted precisely because the ‘policy’ is designed for their benefits.
When it comes to foreign investment policy it is another animal all together. Up to date there is no official foreign investment policy per say. It is all on the discretion of TPLF and changes; depending what is good for TPLF-rubber stamped by the seating duck parliament.
The regime has noting to offer to lure investors in a name of economic development except land, natural resources under its control and abandons of cheap labor. It is the only bargaining chip to bring abroad extractive investors with questionable character.
Chinese, Middle Easterners and Indian investors where there is little or no transparency to follow up are the regime’s preferred investors by design. It all matters on what is good for TPLF. As one Indian investor put it, ‘the government gave us land for almost for free, we did not even ask for it’.
One of the preferred Middle Eastern ‘investor’ that opened the door for others to follow is Sheikh Mohammed Ali Al-Amoudi, a self declared supporter of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF regime. His involvement early on was political more than ‘investment’ and illiterates the regime’s foreign investment ‘policy’ from the get go.
As Amoudi reviled on the recent inauguration of his new cement factory (must see speech), Melse Zenawi is in command of picking and choosing who, where, why, when and how foreign investors are allowed in the country. Naturally, the areas reserved for TPLF’s cronies in the name of ‘reserved for domestic investors’ are untouchable. Accordingly, there is no a single information available on the official government Investment Agency website to know who is investing.
Amoudi bizarre statements in front of staged audiences including, Melse Zenawi and the regime’s officials reviled further the relationships is more between business partners than a ‘foreign investor’ and a ‘government’.
What was strange about the show is how it was staged to get across a message normalcy of a corrupt system that is rotting within. It is astonishing how far people with a stature of authority and wealth stoop to insult the intelligence of the people with impunity in the 21st century. They must be confident or desperate enough to believe they can successfully fool the people on the only propaganda machine the regime run as its private property.
For a starter, Amoudi’s must be thinking he is in some kind of comedy show than serious national economic issues. Otherwise, he wouldn’t knowingly make a fool of himself speaking on behalf of a regime that hosts his investment. The problem is he was talking about the lives of millions of people under tyranny and nobody is laughing with his jocks, except the staged choirs of the regime’s cadres and his employees. Naturally, it is expected of them to cheer-on if they want to stay alive or maintain their livelihoods.
The drama that was broadcasted on the only Television Station (ETV) in the country that is controlled by his ‘beloved’ regime alone should have been good enough reason for him to abandon the regime. But, it seems there is more going between him and the regime what he would revile in public.
In his speech, Alamudi played a comedian, an economist, a politician, a patriotic Ethiopian, a spokesperson of the ruling regime and a foreign investor all-in-one without even knowing it. Navigating between two tyrants, he praised the Ethiopian as well as his Saudi tyrants. He embarrassingly pretended ignorant of the reality around him. For someone that portrays himself in control of his affairs he acted as a common cadre of the regime. It raises more questions whether he is far removed from reality or playing along with the regime.
More amusing is to see a collection of adults clapping their hand willing to be part of the staged circus in matters they understand little. The show may be good enough for school play but not good enough to divert the important national issues of democracy and economic freedom from tyranny.
It is also incredible how Alamudi willfully incriminated himself in public and compromised his investment by putting his faith in the ruling regime that has a long rap sheet of crimes. To associate with a regime that controls the courts, the Media, the legislative, the security apparatus and the economic means of the country on top of running its own businesses is not a sane thing to do. Add international organizations’ accusation of the regime on genocide and corruption he is way over his head asking for trouble. The recent Wiki leak exposing TPLF’s owned companies activities of robbing the nation in daylight alone is enough reason to stay away from the shady regime let alone defend it.
For a man with an enormous investment interests around the world, ignorance can’t be a defense for colluding with a tyrant. Then, what possible motive can it be the man is talking with impunity is the million dollar question every Ethiopian and the international community waiting for an answer.
Could it be he is the victim of the same TPLF’s propaganda the public is subjected to everyday? Is it possible the people around him including, his favorite TPLF leaders and operatives misleading him to cover-up their tracks? Can it be he is in it together all the way?
The drama seems a continuation of the make believe story coming out of the propaganda factory of the regime. It is a must see for all Ethiopians to understand how far a foreign investor is willing to go covering up for a rogue regime. From his behaviors and actions, he is not only building cement, beer, oil… factories as a foreign investor but, he is a partner in the propaganda factory of the regime. Unless he lost his mind altogether it is hard to explain how a rational person stands in front of the public to defend one of the most brutal and corrupt regime in Africa and incriminate himself along the way?
At the meantime, the sorry regime and its apologist continued to drag their feet by dodging the information revolution in to their village chitchat in 21st century. In the processes, they confined the people of Ethiopia to their staged propaganda drama and deprived them important social, political and economic information in to poverty. They must be terrified of the free flow of information that would have exposed them to their true nature for everyone to see.
All kinds of questions hanging in the air waiting for answers from the regime, the foreign and domestic ‘investors’ like Amoudi and many operatives that are hiding behind the regime. Instead of coming out clean they resort with all kind of jabs, treats, arrests… to avoid responsibility. They keep on distract the public from the central issues of the people’s interest of democracy and freedom.
For example, in his speech, Amoudi claimed ‘the only two governments in the world that cares for their people are the Ethiopian and the Saudi government’.  Without getting in to the detail, this statement alone reviles how little knowledge the man posses about caring, governance, economic development and the rule of law.
As childish as the statement may sound, no one can accuse the man of absurdity. After all, he didn’t accumulate all the wealth he has without knowing what he is doing. Therefore, his statement must be a calculated move to please the rulers of his country of citizenship and his origin with lots of financial, political and social interests from both.
My honest and humble advice to Al-Amoudi is to divest from Ethiopia, come clean and stay as far away as he can from the Woyane regime for his own good. There are many countries where good governance and corruption free regimes that love to have his capital to earn him honest return on his investment without getting himself involved in criminality of rogue regimes.
But, before he packs up and moves his investment in the ‘right’ places on my advice he deserves to know why his investments under the regime he claims to love are unethical, morally repugnant, and illegal, not even his money can’t cover up.
First, investing in collusion with tyrannical regimes, whatever one wants to call it isn’t investment. Al-Amoudi should know better how investment in nations with rule of laws works since he has plenty under respectable governments. He should understand the same thing he dose on the defenseless people of Ethiopia in collaboration with the regime could send him in jail packing. Therefore, he shouldn’t treat his ‘own people’ with disdain than others just because the Woyane regime allowed him to do so.
Second, love of country is not buying favoritism from a rogue regime in a name of development by crowding out independent investors and traders. Such behavior would be crime of corruption with far-reaching implication to him personally and his investment in countries where the rule of law is supreme.
If Al-Amoudi loves his country of birth as he claims he should be on the side of the people not with the rogue regime. The people are struggling to free themselves from the regime that controls all the means of production in favor of its cronies. Thus, if he loves ‘his people’ he should help set them free; not collaborate with the tyrant to hold them in bondage by claiming he is helping.
For instant, he can tell the regime to treat him like any other foreign investor than making deals in the backroom at the expenses of the people. He should also tell the regime to get out of trade and investment-competing with the private sector than joining the regime to encroach on viable independent businesses and investors to put them out of business.
Third, he should know foreign investment does not mean a foreign national like him can meddle in the internal affair of a nation he does not belong against the people’s interest. For sure, he can’t collaborate with the ruling regime to undermine the people’s rights.  If he believes the regime involvement in trade and investment qualifies it to be an impartial referee of market actors like him he needs to find better advisers to reeducate him how the market works and his obligation in international law and convention that governed markets and foreign investment. Listening to the regime operatives and the people congregated around him to cash in a corrupt system is not a wise investment or personal decision.
Fourth, the claim his investment would help develop the economy to bring about prosperity to the people is simply hogwash, and he knows it. No extractive investment he engaged in colluding with tyrannical regime that has economic interest for its cronies brings about prosperity or economic development to the people. The most expected to do is exploit the venerable people for the benefits of the ‘investor’ and the ruling regime’s cronies to control the economy.
Finally, instead of fighting and threatening the independent Medias, democracy advocates and those that raise the hard questions of corruption, collusion, cronyism and undemocratic governance it would be wise to come clean with the people of Ethiopia and the international community. By disclosing all his dealing with the rogue regime he can vindicates himself as a genuine investor that follows the rules and ethics of investment. It is also wise to advice the regime he declared to love to get out of investment and trade and surrender the public resources it gabbles up for its cronies in the last 20 years before he makes any more deal with the regime.
It is unacceptable for a foreign investor with an enormous wealth to do good for ‘his people’ to come out on a Media the regime controls echoing the same propaganda. There are many independent Medias, including Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) that will love to have him come on their programs to answer the hard questions he avoided for too long. Staged questions and interviews from the regime propaganda outlets and his cheerleading ‘journalist’ are not going to do it.
Just because Ethiopians have no voice held hostage at gunpoint it would be foolish to think they will ignore the crimes committed against them. Just because he has plenty of money to spend around it’s unwise to think he is any better than an average citizen under the law or he can threaten or buy people in to modern day servitude to cheerleading him in to silence.
Common sense and the rule of law should tell him his fate in the regime wouldn’t get him anywhere. As a foreign national, he should know his rights and responsibilities. For sure, under no circumstances he should help the regime stay in power against the will of the people. It requires a backbone in his part to stand on the right side of history; after all these years of being on the wrong side of the track.
For those dressed up and armed to serve tyranny, they should be warned; the days of impunity fast becoming history. No matter what kind of propaganda, diversion, sweet talk, treat, bribery or atrocities the regime and its operatives mastered there is no escaping from responsibility of crimes against humanity and corruption. It is a matter of time, not how but, when?
Ethiopians around the world must stay away from rogue regime and be vigilant combating corruption and cronyism starting in their household all the way up the chain to free their people. There is no other alternative but, to be for democratic rights of the people or baby seat tyranny.
Some reference in International laws and convention regarding foreign investment and corruption should help investors to understand they can’t avoid responsibility involving in unethical and illegal investment practices and corruption.
by Teshome Debalke
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