Fine Line: A new culture of corporate generosity cropping up in Addis Abeba




There appears to be a new culture of corporate generosity cropping up in Addis Abeba, gossip observed. Yet it is a far detached from the traditional corporate responsibility, whereby companies share a small fraction of their bottom lines to promote and support the wellbeing of the society in which they operate, according to gossip. Very few in the private sector see this as a form of “social collateral”, fending them off largely from punches their owners may suffer from the political elite of the day, claims gossip.

The latest corporate generosity, evidenced by recent but unrelated incidents, target former government officials who have left public service, or members of families who have lost their loved ones, gossip claims.

Take, for instance, a recent fundraising gala dinner held at the Addis Abeba Hilton, where owners of major businesses were invited to make pledges, gossip says. Gossip heard that the dinner was organised by Bizuayehu Tadelle, one of the two cement barons in the country. He mobilised many of his colleagues in the private sector, hosting the dinner to raise funds to benefit Yirga Tadesse, a man who reigned at the public notary office for almost two decades. He resigned from public service in February 2014, due to “distress and fatigue”.

No doubt, Yirga has had an impressive public service, reforming the otherwise cumbersome institution to one that is a model for many other federal agencies, gossip observed. Under his watch, the Agency has received recognition and award almost every other year, gossip recalls.

Whether he has left behind an Agency with the reforms, so generously praised by members of public, deep and institutional is yet to be seen, claims gossip. There was once a reform of huge significance undertaken at the Ministry of Trade, only for it to go down the drain a few months after its political Czar, Girma Birru, left for the United State, where he now serves as a special envoy to the Prime Minister, claims gossip.

Regardless, his admirers and supporters gathered at the Hilton a few weeks ago to display their gratitude to his outstanding public service, and signed pledge papers, the total amount of which remains undisclosed, gossip claims.

It is not clear if another group of business owners got their inspiration of good deeds from the event at the Hilton, but there is an effort in town whereby businesspeople have contributed millions of Birr to buy shares in Oromia International Bank to give to the family of the late Alemayehu Atomsa, former chairman of OPDO and president of the Oromia Regional State, gossip disclosed.

Described by those who knew him well as a humble, quiet and unassuming person, Alemayehu won public sympathy, but not so much as a politician with an ideological prowess, gossip observed. He was rather a person with a habit of straight talk, determined to weed out ill deeds from the system of the regional administration, gossip claims. Just a few months after his ascent to the top position of the regional administration, he had purged and ordered the arrests of over 400 cadres, including two town mayors, for their alleged involvement in corruption, according to gossip.

A politician with such valour would not have dared to throw stones while inside a glasshouse, claims gossip. Many attesting to the humble lifestyle, through which he had left little in the way of financial security for his family, raised two million Birr and bought shares with the Bank at a premium price, gossip revealed. No less than 15 businessmen and women contributed.

Some of the prominent personalities in the private sector who contributed to this and gave share certificates to his widow include, Yemiru Nega of Yencomad Construction; Sabir Argaw of Al-Sam Trading and Gemshu Beyene of Ellile Hotel. as well as Mekia Mamio, a well known businesswoman in the commercial agriculture sector, gossip disclosed.

 



Published on March 23,2014 [ Vol 14 ,No 725]


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