Chamber Appoints President After Overdue Election


The election has been delayed for more than a year due to alleged voter irregularities




Melaku Ezezew, head of the Amhara Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association, was elected as the next President of the Ethiopia Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Associations (ECCSA) at the eighth general assembly held at the Hilton Addis Hotel, Addis Abeba, last Friday.

In the ceremony attended by 170 members and representatives of the Chamber, Assefa Gebreselassie, from the Tigray Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Associations (TCCSA), was elected as a vice president.

Melaku, 39, who is a co-owner and general manager of the Bete-Melaku Real Estate and has a driver’s training school, was elected after getting 85 votes out of the total 170. The new president, a father of four, is originally from Gonder, 727Km from the capital. Melaku came in 10 votes higher than the runner-up, Feyisa Ararsa, a member of Oromia Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association (OCCSA).

Officials from the Ministry of Industry (MoI), the media and non-members of the national chamber were invited to witness the electoral process opened by Mebrahtu Meles (PhD), state minister for Industry.

“Throughout national Chamber’s history, this election was one of the most democratic,” said Abebe Benti, a member of the electoral committee.

In addition to the posts, the assembly also saw the selection of nine new board of directors. Out of 18 nominees, only one, Temnet Solomon, from the Amhara Chamber, was a female.

“I will work to better the country,” said Temnet, 28, who holds a Master of Arts degree in Literature.

Educational background, language fluency and work experience were the main grounds for getting elected as a president, vice president or to be a member of the board.

A reception concluded the general assembly where the newly elected president met his predecessors, Solomon Afework, now ex-president of the Chamber, Mulu Solomon and Zafu Eyesuswork, board chairman of United Bank S.C.

Solomon, 56, has served as president of the Chamber over the last three years. Although he was allowed to run for a second term, he did not desire re-election.

“I am already committed to transfer my office to someone eligible and qualified,” said Solomon, owner and manager of SOLAYS Real Estate in Hawassa. “I have no ambition of getting elected again”.

As head of the SNNPR Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association, Solomon served for extra 16 months as  President. Although the election should have initially taken place every two years, it was delayed last year after the Ministry overturned the Amhara Chamber’s election outcome. Further delays surfaced when the Ethiopian Chamber of Sectoral Associations (ECSA)’s election result was nullified after complaints from members.

The national Chamber, re-established in 2003 to help the private sector in becoming a dominant player in the economy, has 18 members, of which 11 are regional chamber associations, while the remaining are sectoral associations.

“We need to transform the National Chamber as it is not efficient. It needs to be internationally competitive,” Assefa, the new vice president, remarked.

The absence of a concrete outlook among the members, lack of detailed regulations and inadequate systems of handling members remain the critical challenges that the Chamber is facing, according to the new President Melaku, who emphasised that this needs to change.

“I want to solve the Chamber’s problems through laws. So that, the structural bottlenecks will be adjusted in a way that those at the lower level of the hierarchy can have better access to it”, added Melaku.



By YIBELTAL GEBREGZIABHER
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Oct 30,2017 [ Vol 18 ,No 914]


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