A pattern has begun emerging recently within the administration of…

A pattern has begun emerging recently within the administration of Hailemariam Desalegn, gossip observed. His could be defined as an administration with an unusually high dose of advisers.  Each of these has the potential, and ambition, to influence the manner in which he makes decisions on state affairs.

Indeed, one notable source of brainpower behind the government is Mekonnen Manyazewal. He has now been entrusted to establish and operate what will be a mega federal agency.

There was, however, a little glitch last week, after the Prime Minister appointed him to chair the board of the state owned Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE).  He did this without realising Mekonnen also sits on the board of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) – a regulatory agency whose job is also to check on the conducts of the DBE, gossip disclosed. Not even Sintayehu W. Michael’s (PhD) agency, which supervises the four financial institutions under the state’s ownership, were alert to the possible conflict of interests Mekonnen’s seats in both institutions would have brought, claims gossip.

Nonetheless, the National Planning Commission Mekonnen is set to lead is the brain behind the administration’s drive to realising its signature growth plans, aka GTP. It is modelled in the image of similar institutions in Malaysia and Vietnam – two countries that have created them as standalone agencies, embedded in one of the existing ministries, claims gossip.

This was not the original plan though, gossip claims. Whilst Sufian Ahmed, Minister of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED), had wanted it to remain as a department, within his agency, Mekonnen had been in favour of keeping it within the Prime Minister’s Office. The settlement came from Neway Gebreab, a senior economic advisor to the Prime Minister. Neway was also recognised by the Ethiopian Economic Association, last week, for his outstanding contributions to macroeconomic policymaking over two decades. He has been a dominant figure inside the administration, producing almost all macroeconomic policy papers.  These have largely been conducted using the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) – another think factory behind the administration of the EPRDFites.

Having travelled to several Asian countries recently to observe their growth models, it was Neway’s push that finally brought the dispute over how to structure the national planning commission to an end. This strategy will take away the most powerful planning department inside the MoFED, gossip disclosed.

Here arrives yet another centre of brainpower to influence policymaking through the rather ideological prism of the Revolutionary Democrats’ centre-left persuasion, gossip observed. Unlike the others, heads of this entity are not technocrats in the strict sense of the term, but astute politicians who have been navigating the political storms of the nation for a generation; with a different level of predispositions, of course, gossip observed.

Abay Tsehaye (TPLF), Bereket Simon (ANDM), Kuma Demekissa (OPDO) and Kassu Illala (PhD) of the SPDM have emerged as a group of senior politicians within the ruling coalition. They have been trusted to become the collective vanguard of the movement’s political convictions, gossip learnt. Whilst three of them have continued to serve the administration past 2010, Kassu, a political mentor to Hailemariam in the early days, has been recalled from his residence in Brussels, where he served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to the EU. He will be replaced by Teshome Toga, ambassador to France. It is also possible that the latter’s position in Paris will be assumed by Nega Tsegaye, currently a state minister, gossip disclosed.

Each of the four senior politicians will have executive secretaries of their own and the hunt to hire them has begun.  This is along with the search for an office that could potentially house a team of close to 25 researchers. This would perhaps only be until the training facility of the EPRDF in Sendafa is completed, claims gossip.

Published on July 14, 2013 [ Vol 14 ,No 690]



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