Azeb Mesfin, MP and Widow of Meles Zenawi

Azeb Mesfin, MP and Widow of Meles Zenawi


What Happened:


Azeb Mesfin, a Member of Parliament (MP) and widow of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, was in the spotlight throughout the year in relation to the events commemorating the death of her husband. Azeb, who was seen sorrowful in the events, ushered the establishment of the Meles Zenawi Foundation (MZF) – a non-profit organisation created by law to extend the intellectual legacies of the late Prime Minister. Her statement about the income of the late Prime Minister, made on the 9th congress of the ruling EPRDF, held in Bahir Dar, went so viral that users of the social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, debated so much on it. Azeb, who is a mother of three from Meles – Semhal, Senai, and Marda – was seen mournful in most of the events of the year.


When It Happened:


The death of Meles Zenawi was announced in August 23, 2012. No doubt, then, things have been tough for Azeb since losing her intellectually and politically acclaimed husband for unidentified illness.


What to Know:


Azeb is born in Welqayt, Tigray. She took part in the struggle against the pseduo-socialist military regime, the Dergue. It is during the height of the struggle that she met Meles. Azeb’s political participation, however, has gone beyond the days of the struggle. With the defeat of the Dergue, Azeb came to the spotlight, first as the first lady, with Meles being the President of the nation, and then as wife of the Prime Minister, after Meles switched post. Meles’ acclaim didn’t stop Azeb from aspiring to do her part in politics, though. She became a Member of the Parliament (MP) in 2005 representing the localities of Humera and Welqayt. She also served as chair of the Social Affairs Standing Committee of the Parliament.




Azeb was appointed as MP in 2005. But, it was in 2007 that the most important milestone of her life emerged. She received the Legacy of Dream Award, an award that commemorates the life of the civil rights activist Matin Luther King, as chairwoman of the Organsiation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS at a ceremony held inGeorgetown University,United States. Azeb’s appointment as deputy head of the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) came in 2009. Until late 2012, Azeb served as the functional  head of the Fund. Of course, before that, she served as the executive director of Mega Corporation.




As wife of Meles, Azeb is perceived as one of the few powerful women within the power circle. Even if there are claims that she might have lost her leverage with the death of Meles, Azeb remains to be the major player behind MZF – a pivotal initiative by the ruling EPRDF. Rumours over her interest to be the mayor of Addis Abeba were proved wrong with the election of Dirba Kuma as mayor, replacing Kuma Demekssa.
Personal Highlight:


Azeb is said to be participatory in her leadership style and resolved towards set goals.


In Hindsight:


Azeb is said to have an ambition of elevating the stature of MZF within the national and regional intellectual circles.

Published on Sep, 08, 2013 [ Vol 14 ,No 697]



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