By Wudineh Zenebe | Addis Fortune
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – The Addis Abeba City Administration has started claiming back land and government properties illegally obtained by officials of the former provisional Administration of the city, some of whom have been retained by the current Kuma-led administration.
Those officials still within the city administration will face removal from their current positions as part of the measures to be taken against them.
After running the city for three years, the administration under the helm of the former Mayor Arkebe Oqubay, now State minister of Works and Urban Development(MoWUD) administration, was supposed to hand over power to the then Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), which had won 137 of the 138 seats in the City Council.
But CUD failed to take over administration of the city as it could not come to terms with EPRDF. As a result, the Federal Government assigned the reins to the Caretaker Administration of Berhane Deresa, which administered the city for two years.
A report by the Federal Ethics andAnti-Corruption Commission disclosed that land grabbing was rampant in the few months before Arkebe handed over the administration to the Caretaker Administration.
The administration that came to power in May 2008 seems determined not to let the illegal possession of government properties go unchallenged. The Kuma-led administration has been developing special mechanisms of getting the land back.
Revelations of the illegal possessions began last Ethiopian summer when EPRDF sent about 2,000 of its members, who are officials at different levels of the city, to Alagie Agricultural Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College near Zeway town, 163Km from Addis Abeba for training.
Top officials from both the Federal and City Government and senior party leaders like Bereket Simon, Arkebe Oqubay, Kuma Demeksa, Mekuria Haile took part in the training of the officials.
Several of the trainees were district and kebele executives during Arkebe’s time who have also been candidates for Kuma’s administration.
The officials, who took the training on the party’s strategic policies in two groups of 1,000 for a month each, had also undergone EPRDF’s infamous self evaluation in groups of their respective districts.
According to a source who attended the training, the trainees just began to voluntarily confess each of all the illegal acts they had committed, including the unlawful acquisition of public houses, land and condominium houses.
Those who were in charge of facilitating the confessions cautiously listened to the details and later submitted them to the party’s Addis Abeba office, the source told Fortune. The office discussed the case and decided to take measures against those who had confessed to the illegal acts.
Mekuria Haile, city general manager, confirmed to Fortune that action has been taken against the culprits.
“Further measures will follow for those who were involved in land grabbing,” he said.
The administration has already started taking measure in districts such as Lideta, Bole and Nefas-Silk-Lafto.
Biniam Haregu, speaker of the Lideta District Council and Tsegaw Yimer, head of Bole District Youth and Sports Office, have subsequently been removed from their posts.
According to the source, the administration has already confirmed that there are many others who got condominium houses while living in government houses and some who illegally took plots of land to construct houses on them.