Bemused at how unpredictable life can be under the Ethiopian sky

Those at the gossip corridors are often bemused at how unpredictable life can be under the Ethiopian sky. The behaviour of those in positions of power, whether in the legislative or the executive body, is a source of confusion, if not frustration.

Just look at how the administration of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is shooting itself in the foot with the chaos created in its intent to reform the pension law, with bearing on the provident fund of those working for private companies. With no one in the administration taking the decency and time to explain its policy prerogative, the sudden landing of a Bill before Parliament is now causing tension between employers and their employees, says gossip.

No less is the tension between authorities at the nation’s Immigration office and those at the other end, both in business and the diplomatic community, gossip observed. Authorities at the Main Department for Immigration & Nationality Affairs (MDINA) have recently tightened the noose on visitors to Ethiopia, applying for business visas, according to gossip. To the fury of many in the private sector here, no one actually took the time to explain or announce a change in procedure for business applicants, claims gossip.

The previous procedure was simple in comparison where applicants for business visas needed only letters from the companies which invited them to be attached with their applications to Ethiopia’s missions abroad, gossip recalls. Lately though, the company that desires to invite individuals, needs to take such letters to the immigration office for endorsement before they are sent to the respective embassy, gossip observed.

Those at the gossip corridors first attributed this to an arguably growing paranoia among the top EPRDFites over their prospect with the elections, claims gossip. Thus, it was understood that with the business of elections soon to be over, things would have returned to the status quo, gossip said.

Three weeks after the election now, a procedure is added where invitation letters need to receive positive nods from line ministries or the federal investment commission before they land with immigration and are subsequently sent to embassies, gossip disclosed. Neither is there anyone to explain what exactly is needed and when, nor does anyone appear to be certain if things will stop there, according to gossip.

Why the immigration authorities have tightened the noose is an issue with different explanations depending on who is willing to offer one, gossip observed. Originally, it was attributed to the election fever, before some blamed a heightened alarm at the possibility of terrorism, while others pointed their fingers at the growing population of Chinese businessmen and women who have allegedly abused the system, claims gossip.

It is not that authorities have done wrong in their recent conduct, according to gossip. However, in the absence of an electronic system and the ability to apply online, as is the practice with the western countries, it just takes too long for businesspeople interested in coming here, said gossip.

Yet, the problem has reached at an alarming state, Ambassadors and Chiefs of Mission from western embassies met with Hailemariam recently and raised the issue, gossip disclosed. Outspoken on this issue during the meeting was Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Greg Dorey, although his other colleagues in the diplomatic corps were no less fumed, gossip revealed.

Hailemariam was equally baffled by western hypocrisy over the issue, gossip disclosed. Long and irritating visa procedures are no less issues with Ethiopia than they are with the UK, for instance, claims gossip.

Not even Ethiopia’s Prime Minister can visit London in an emergency, before his aides process his visa application which is often sent to South Africa and takes three weeks to get through. Despite the Premier’s reported irritation, he has promised to smoothen things up soon, gossip disclosed. And many in the private sector and diplomatic community are holding their breaths, waiting to see him deliver on his promises, claims gossip.

Published on Jun 15,2015 [ Vol 16 ,No 789]



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