The Chinese have once again proved to be reliable with projects

The Chinese have once again proved to be reliable with projects, if they are to be judged by their promise to complete the Africa Avenue(Bole Road), one of the most expensive roads in the country. Without producing excuses that are the national pastime, and trading blames, they will certainly open the road with a major facelift for traffic, just in time for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Organization for African Unity (OAU).

Transformed to the current African Union (AU) a decade ago, the continent’s birthday will be marked on May 25, 2013. Indeed, there will be a series of events in relation to this event planned before and after the actual date, including the annual summit by the heads of state taking place earlier than June, gossip disclosed. Addis Abeba will be jam-packed not only by the usual crowd of the heads of state and their respective entourages, estimated to reach 4,000. Heads of state and governments from around the world are expected to descend on the capital, in order to show their solidarity, claims gossip.

United States President, Barack Obama, who has direct heritage fromAfrica, was invited both by the host nation and the AU Commission to grace the event with his presence. However, it looks like that Obama would rather send his new Secretary of State, John Kerry. The latter told senate members of the foreign relations committee about  his desire to be “front and present” in Africa, for, his country is worried over the increasing influence ofChinaon the continent.

The Chinese are not sending their foreign minister though, gossip learnt. With the intent to send an unmistakable message, they will have their delegation led by none other than President Xi Jinping, the new Chinese president. He will be among leaders of countries such asRussia’s Vladimir Putin andIran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose visit to Addis Abeba will be their first, gossip disclosed.

Add to this list heads of the European nation whose participation remains unconfirmed; indeed, President of the European Union and head of its Commission are among high profile guests expected by AU officials and authorities of the host country.

Officials of the host country declared the start of preparation for the anniversary almost two years ago, right after the late Meles Zenawi won the bid to host this historic event started in Addis Abeba half a century ago. Yet, organization on the home front appears to have been faced with unfinished assignments, despite the fact that countdown is left with only a little over a month, claims gossip.

There was that major slash on the proposed budget of 80 million Br to Sufian Ahmed’s Finance Ministry; it was cut down to 20 million Birr earmarked to the national secretariat, it is too meagre to pay for an anniversary designed to herald the continent’s renaissance, gossip disclosed. Then followed a change of people at the helm, from Konjit Senegiorgis, now chairs ambassadors accredited to the African Union (AU), to Mekonnen Addis (Prof.), chief advisor to the ministry and appointed to chair the intra-agency national secretariat the government established to follow on the anniversary, gossip disclosed.

Ironically, the two are not known at the gossip corridor to be at the best of terms when coordinating, if not cooperating, the national effort for pretty much of the two years. The grapevine has it that they might have outstanding issues on who should be in charge, because their respective authority on the project remains clearly undefined. As a result, there seems little the national secretariat is prepared to show off when the day comes, except with musical shows and stage performances orchestrated by the usual suspects of the time, claims gossip.

Perhaps to exacerbate the situation, the Prime Minister appointed a new and third State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dawano Redir, to represent the host country in relationship to ambassadors at the AU, gossip disclosed. Not only gossip sees Dawano, a former regional official of theOromiaRegionalState, as less experienced and exposed to the subject matter, but neither of the two diplomats have sufficiently briefed him when he goes to meet officials at the AU, claims gossip.

With tight budget and such state of organization in disarray, those at the gossip corridor are curious to see what sort of spectacular fêteEthiopiais prepared to showAfricaand the world beyond the usual seminars, workshops, symposiums and artistic gigs. And why the most experienced diplomat around the corner, Brehane G. Kirstos, was not in charge instead of Dawano remains part of the puzzle that consumed those at the gossip corridors.

Published on April 21, 2013 [ Vol 13 ,No 677]



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