Waiting for the other shoe to drop

By Yilma Bekele

It is an old expression meaning waiting for something bad to happen. We Ethiopians are familiar with that expression. Yes sir, nobody can take that away from us. We are unsurpassed in the art of moving ከድ ጡ ወደ ማጡ or from bad to ugly. No question we will walk away with the gold.

This past week our illustrious government dropped a few shoes. The teflon coated regime did not even flinch. We the recipients didn’t flinch either. The bully and the victim are in accord. That is what is beautiful about nature, balance reigns supreme. They kick and we absorb.

So what is all this rant about? Well I can say ‘go ask your tormentor’ , but I wouldn’t. You knew I wouldn’t say that. As a fellow victim I will recount our collective humiliation. አህያውን ፈርቶ ዳውላውንis a nice saying but I am just a recounter so let us leave me out of it. Ok?

Gilgel Gibe II was our first unbecoming. Our 420 megawatt was gone in a poff. Just like that! Ceased to exist! Believe me that is not good. It is only last month the symbolic button was pushed to usher the dream of selling power to Africa. That does sound good don’t it? Ethiopia exporing power to Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti etc. There is a little probllem with this senario. Just look at the following chart.

Country Ethiopia Kenya Sudan
Population 85 Million 39 Million 41 Million
Electricity production 3.46 Billion Kwh 5.23 Billion Kwh 4.34 Billion Kwh

See what I mean? Does the facts on the ground justify such a conclusion. When you divide production by poulation we are history. We will let this madness go. Fine anyway how does a brand new dam stop production? Even my toaster comes with a 30 days return policy. That noise you heard is the other shoe falling. You know what there is no return policy attached to this billion dollar elephant. The whole affair of Gilgel Gibe is Ethiopia in a nutshell. Don’t look no further. We don’t need no freaking enemies. We are the enemy!

The Gibe affair has preplexed both Ethiopinas, Europeans and Kenyans too. The Gibe Project is the face of Ethiopia emasculated.

In a report in 2008 a CEE Bankwatch report stated (www.bankwatch.org/newsroom/documents.shtml?x=2078791)

Overall, the study illustrates the dangers that accompany large energy infrastructure
projects whenever the interests of a major private company coincide not only with weak
governance in the host country but also very clear willingness from financial institutions
to provide funding, in spite of alarming project oversights and impacts. The study shows
how goals to eradicate poverty and support local communities can be easily compromised
when major corporations and/or political elites are intent on maximising profits.
We would like to warmly thank all the people who contributed to this study, often challenging
non-transparent and repressive institutions in Ethiopia, as well as in Italy. Without
them this work would not have been possible.

The report is full of horror stories. It is a finacial report. It is a sociological report. It is a report that should have been written by Ethiopians defending their soverignity. It is bold enough to talk about the element of fear permeating society. It is an ethipian euology. Regarding this report please notice the key words ‘a major private company’ and a ‘weak governace”. In this scenario Ethiopia does not exist. The italian super company Salini Costruttori S.p.A. is bigger than Ethiopia and TPLF is definitely smaller than Ethiopia. Unequal relationship if you ask me.

Are you sitting down? Good, Salini was awarded a ‘no bid contract’ back in 2004. It means it was a closed bid. The Italians and the Europeans called it a ‘public-private partnership’. Salini was the private and EEPC (Ethiopian Power and Electric Corporation) is the supposedly public entity. Please note the Ethiopian Government under TPLF owns EEPC. Even the Italian government started a criminal investigation regarding the Gibe II project. I guess they felt sorry for us.

Thus this wonder of the world dam collapsed ten days after the button pushing ceremony. According to Salini web site 15 meters of the tunnel collapsed. Bottom line is it collapsed. In a tunnel even a crack is not acceptable. A collapse is a disaster. Naturally EEPC is mum on the matter. Since Salini have already handed the keys why they tell us about the problem is not clear. Salini called it ‘an unforeseen geological event.’ Skeptics will point out the tunnel is in the Great Rift Valley that is the mother of all faults what exactly did you expect for a no bid contract with inadequate environmental and seismic studies. Duh.

Of course Salini is fixing the collapse and EEPC is footing the bill and the Ethiopian people and their children will be paying for the foreseeable future. Haile Sellasie got Koka our new leaders paid with Gibe II. Benito is smiling in his grave. Don’t forget Gibe III is coming.

Next was the proclamation on The Reporter regarding ‘code of conduct’ for election observers. We seem to have code of conduct for everything except the government. This one is a winner. Observers are not allowed tape recorders, video equipment, camera and phone cameras. Furthermore foreign observers cannot comment on election procedures and the maximum number allowed is four observers per site. Mute, deaf and blind is the qualification for this job. You know what? The ferenjis will go along with this cockamamie idea too. Did you hear another thump! That is the other shoe dropping.

So you thought it is safe to go back into the water? Not so fast my friend Jaws II is coming? Remember that summer? Same with the TPLF regime. They are full of drama. I doubt they can top this story from London. It is unique. One of a kind. I don’t need to tell you to sit down do I? Any ways please do sit down. A while back the Ethiopian government was contemplating about selling the Embassy in London. It looks like due to our country being ancient and prominent a long time ago we have acquired a property in a very desirable neighborhood. US $38 million dollars worth. Our fearless government saw a profit to be made. As they say ‘birds of a feather’ the regime picked a ‘gangster’ policeman to facilitate the deal. The Daily Mail News revealed the scandal from a government-sanctioned wiretap on the Police gangster. All the Ethiopian Embassy can do was issue a ‘limp denial’ that the building was not for sale. The Ethiopian government sells maids to the Middle East. Sells children to the West. Leases virgin land to the highest bidder anywhere, why are we surprised it is in the market to sell sovereign property?

I am sure you heard another thump. Well it is the third shoe dropping. Wait a minute a third shoe? Hey we are talking of Ethiopians here, anything is possible.