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ANTI CORRUPTION COALITION OF THE ETHIO TELECOM EMPLOYEES gce_etc@yahoo.com

Open Letter To H.E Junedi Sado

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Your Excellency,

 

Close friends and relatives did advise me that sending an open letter to Your Excellency is an exercise in futility. These persons who advised me not to waste my time in vain firmly believe that corruption in Ethiopia today is institutionalized. These hallowed friends and relatives of mine believe that corruption in Ethiopia today is centrally ordained. They believe all appointees at various hierarchical levels in the Ethiopian Government structure today are licensed robbers. They corroborate their belief by the famous Ethiopian saying “A fish stinks from the head down.”

 

                  

                   OPEN LETTER 

 

To:  H.E Ato Junedi Sado ---Via Ethiomedia.com

Minister for The Ministry of Transport and Communications 

Addis Ababa

Ethiopia

 

“A fish stinks from the head down.”

 

By Ewnetu Tessema

 

 

Dear Sir,

 

 I do foresee the bombshell this letter will bring to you as it comes from an “unfamiliar” person. But rest assured that it comes with the finest intention. Moreover it is not me who is unfamiliar to you, but my pen name. I have to tell you bluntly that close associates and relatives did advise me ‘sending an open letter to Your Excellency is an exercise in futility.’ These persons who advised me not to waste my time in vain firmly believe that corruption in Ethiopia today is institutionalized. These hallowed friends and relatives of mine believe that I am a dreamer and all my actions like this one are tantamount to trying to get a dove out of a snake's egg.  In a nut shell, they believe all political appointees at various hierarchical levels in the Ethiopian Government structure today are licensed robbers. They corroborate their argument by the famous Ethiopian saying “A fish stinks from the head down.” I have quite long ago accepted this contention after witnessing an untiring, but sterile and worthless, effort by a group of concerned Ethiopians to expose corruption and the corrupt officials at the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation. However, after a lot of thinking as to how to go about, I finally decided to send you this open letter for the record with a reasonable doubt that this letter may not be given the attention it deserves, rather may end up in your waste basket. However, it could be of some interest for you to know that I believe even dirty water can put out fire. This letter has no reflection on you personally. As you are a recent addition to the Ministry, it would be too early to judge you or assess your contribution as a Minister of this “Mega Ministry.” If you fail to address my concern, it is understandable. 

 

1. SOLUTIONS, NOT THREATS, NEEDED TO RESOLVE A CRISIS

 

It is almost three solid years since ETC’s employees started expressing their concern and nothing has been done to resolve the workers plight, except threats to fire everyone. The workers request is NOT for a review of wages against the rising cost of living. We have no personal motive or evil intention in our fight against the corrupt CEO and his entire “crew”, so called Deputy CEOs and some of his buddies at the middle level management.

 

We have been untiringly giving a fair warning for the last three solid years to the ETC’s Board of Directors led by H.E Ato Getachew Belai, but, to our disgust and disappointment, all he has done is to instill fear in the Labour Union, some of whom have since then put their head down in fear of vengeance. I assure you soon after this letter is posted on the ethiomedia.com the Labour Union will be instructed to write a letter against this open letter. At the moment, we hear the CEO is consulting the Board to transfer to the thorny rural areas everybody who is remotely suspected of being on the struggle against corruption. What type of management is this? We know all other similar companies in Africa are not doing this for they will never succeed in business if they do not respect the wishes of their workers.

 

Instead of using our time to make long term plans of resolving network problems, delivering bills on time, buying useful assets for the company and many other problems the subscribers are facing, the management adamantly decides, instead, to destroy workers' morale and future of the company.

 

2. USING A WRONG STICK AND HITTING WHAT IS CARRIED BY THE DONKEY INSTEAD OF THE DONKEY.*

 

 

Many excuses have been given so far but we know for sure any of them are not genuine. The most common and frequently used excuse is to attribute all failures to the incompetent and colorless subordinates of the CEO. Accordingly, during the last three years alone scores of his immediate subordinates have been removed from office. ETC has restructured itself 7 times within the last three years. The 8th is coming soon. The problems, however, are still there. The CEO is a “sacrosanct”. His deputies and all other subordinates are always at fault. This reminds me a provision in the Emperor Hailesselassie’s Constitution which reads “The King shall not be accused. The Ministers shall be responsible”. This provision could still be valid in countries like UK with a constitutional monarchy. But the King or the Queen is ceremonial, powerless and just kept as a uniting factor. It is only the Ethiopian Government in the world that has conferred such unlimited and unquestionable authority upon a Chief Executive Officer of ETC. It is very silly and very sickening. The CEO of ETC is also revered like some special creature with a divine power. Some employees jokingly say, “He is the truth and the truth is in him and all those who oppose him shall perish. Those who became his lap-dogs shall have an ever lasting life”.  This is a real tragedy.

 

We should put it on record that there are so many problems at ETC which need the co-operation of workers rather than threats and mismanagement.

 

We are requesting intervention from your ministry, customers and everyone concerned about seeing ETC prosper as a matter of urgency before it becomes an incurably sick company. It is a matter of time, we believe, that all we have achieved for over 100 years since Emperor Menelik II era goes down the drain.

 

At this juncture, we the employees of ETC sincerely wish to apologize to our valued customers who have to go through this and the whole nation which is being affected by the current nasty situation at the Ethiopian Telecom Corporation. We don't actually hope that Your Excellency, as one of the pertinent authorities, will find a way to solve this matter immediately.

 

The current CEO of the Ethiopian Telecom Corporation is installed by the appallingly mendacious, scandalous and corrupt Haile Asegde and the miserably na´ve, unreliable, coward and incompetent Kassu Illala. Many presume his wife’s ethnic identity and her friendship with the ETC’s Board Chairman has also helped him to be a sole survivor of all crisis situations. Here readers should note that the ETC’s Board Chairman, Getachew Belai, has a blood relation with PM and/or  Sebhat Nega. Getachew’s wife in turn is a personal secretary of the PM. Getachew and the wife of the CEO of ETC were same batch students at the Department of Statistics, Science Faculty (Arat Kilo), and moreover they are sort of “friends” for they were “helping” each other while they were studying 'STATISTICS' together.  Huh, very sickening. I feel like living in a primitive feudal system that was prevalent some 300 years ago. 

 

The CEO was never appointed on his individual merit; he is a lord of mediocrity and underachieving, never worked an honest day in his entire stay at the ETC as a CEO. And yet this same guy is freely enjoying an incredible protection despite the fact he is highly corrupt and has stashed huge amount of dollars in foreign banks, he is morally stunted, mental torturer of honest workers, incompetent, failure, a walking conflict of interest and a soulless prick.

 

 

3. SOME STRATEGIES TO FIGHT CORRUPTION

 

Your Excellency,


Many developing countries in the world have developed a policy to protect “Corruption Whistle Blowers.” The so called developing countries did this after being politically crucified over charges of corrupt practice and mismanagement by donors and the international community.  Ethiopia did same some years back. However, we need to have a new Policy aimed at beseeching with civil servants, contractors, consultants, foreign telecom companies and even the public at large to help out expose corruption and corrupt officials at the Ethiopian Telecom Corporation.

 

Secondly, there is no guarantee for whistle-blowers that there will be no act of vengeance for reporting criminal behaviors and/or for lending a hand to duly authorized audits or investigations or even to the so called “Anti Corruption Commission”, even though credibility gap between the Commission and ETC’s employees is unbridgeable in a near future. If the Commission wants to earn the trust of anti corruption activists, it has to undergo a comprehensive and intensive overhauling of its system. A mere change or replacement of a Commissioners does not suffice, as change of stoves does not sweeten or make a food tasty. The Commissioner rather should learn from what the Kenyan Anti Corruption Commissioner did recently.

 

Ethiopia did establish the so called “Anti Corruption Commission” (I guess at a ministerial level). This entity, however, always reports insignificant and laughable corrupt practice like the case of a medical doctor caught flagrantly taking 200 Birr (about 22 or 23 USD) as a bribe. I don’t mean such less than useless creatures should not be punished, if the story is true. I just want to say the so called “Anti Corruption Commission” is not focusing on millions of dollars being embezzled at the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation. 
 
The so called CEO of the Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation is notorious for punishing staff in many boorish ways -- like thwarting promotion, transfer to thorny duty stations or finding excuses for early retirement. The Commission has not even once successfully defended corruption whistle blowers.


On another serious note, the human resource department has not so far activated any devise to make stronger the appeals and staff protection modus operandi when whistles start blowing. At present, the Human Resource Department (HRD) guys of ETC are literally domestic staffs of the CEO. Consequently, ETC has not introduced an internal equitable system to endow the staff with job security through career contracts.


A new office under the name ‘Ethics and Anti Corruption Office” has been set up, but it is a worthless additional bureaucracy that can’t make any anti corruption program effective. The so called “Anti Corruption Officer” is directly accountable to the CEO. He has first to report to the CEO any of his findings related to corruption. Besides, it is the CEO who evaluates his job performance. It is all ridiculous. It is all like entrusting milk to the custody of a cat. The so called Ethics Office should not by any means be accountable to the CEO. An office meant to act as a watch dog should not be under the control of the thief to be watched. The Ethics Officer’s promotion, salary increment etc should not be based on the recommendation of the CEO.
 

The so far freely spent (or thrown into the bush) over $2 Billion United States Dollars has been singled out by many ETC staff as a prime example of gross mismanagement and outrageous corrupt practice.  The Ethiopian Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission found illicit, unethical and corrupt behaviour in all foreign purchases after the appointment of the current CEO of ETC. It is a puzzle for many that the Commission has not so far charged any one of them with corruption charges. Here I want to remind Your Excellency that even abuse of power is tantamount to corruption under the Anti Corruption Proclamation. I want to state here one undeniable fact that happened at the ETC and wish to appeal to your own sense of justice. The CEO of ETC on four different occasions signed contracts the amounts of which are three or four times higher than the bid offer of the supplier. What would Your Excellency say if a supplier wins a tender for $10 Million USD and yet the actual contract amount signed with this same supplier at the end of the day is $40 Million USD. I am quite positive you are very conversant with the specifics of the theory of economy of scale. If we issue a tender worth $40 Million USD instead of the $10 million USD, suppliers tend to dramatically reduce their unit price in their bid offer. If we buy equipment worth $40 million USD at a price quoted for a tender worth $10 Million USD, it is a clear case of corruption. It is at least an outrageous abuse of power. Abuse of power under the anti corruption legislation is deemed to be a punishable offence and a serious corrupt practice. Let me illustrate this with an example. If A wants to buy from B 5000 computers, the price for each computer could be 10000 Birr. But if A wants to buy from B Five hundred Thousands Computers, I assure you with a hundred and one percent precision that the price for each computer would be far lower than the 10000 Birr quoted by the supplier for a buyer who wants to buy only 5000 computers. It is here the theory of the economy of scale comes into play.


It is to be recalled the former Deputy CEO of ETC, who used to be the right arm of the CEO, had come under fire for mismanaging through direct abuse, fraud, waste and nepotism in doing out contracts, and lacking accountability and transparency in management. He mysteriously left Ethiopia. He is now residing in the USA with all the sudden fall of wealth (BONANZA) during his short-lived high position in the company.
 
The current policy and the de facto situation does not provide full assurance to staff members who are aware of corruption and fraud that their voices would be heard and that they would be protected from retribution.

 

It is regrettable ETC’s whistleblowers are not out of harm's way. There are too many untidy heaps that can easily expose honest employees to an exceptional menace and the system spins a honest anti corruption move into a trap against the whistle blower for there is no genuine political will on the part of the Government to fight and subsequently stamp out corruption. This is the only earthly reason that can be attributed to the fact that anti corruption activists are sent to jail repeatedly.

 

If Your Excellency wishes to receive valuable information regarding the corrupt practice at the ETC, I would be more than willing to work with you. I know it is a wishful thinking on my part, but I have to make the option available.

 

It would be, Sir, my pleasure to be able to cooperate with you on terms that you may wish so long as they are all genuinely designed to fight corruption.

 

The understanding to be reached between me and Your Excellency should be reliable and as soon as I receive your email (gce_etc@yahoo.com) , we should commence to fine-tune arrangements to jointly device a mechanism towards bringing this to fruition but in a manner that will not expose my identity. As we, in our group,  belong  to different ethnic groups, please feel free to write in Oromifa. Otherwise, English is one of the most wonderful international means of communication. It can excellently serve our purpose too.

 

Finally, I know the security or the intelligence unit is represented by one individual at the ETC’s Board of Directors. I am certain that what we are posting on the ethiomedia does not please him. We didn’t intend to do that either. We don’t have any intention of offending, pleasing or displeasing anyone.  Our intention is to discharge our obligation as concerned citizens. The fact that Mr X or Y is implicated in a corruption probe should not enable that same individual to politicize the issue just to cover up his mess. I want to inform the Ethiopian “security” or “intelligence” unit that I am not in any way affiliated to any opposition political group. I know it is my birth right to be actively involved in politics. But, it is not my current choice. My choice at present is to fight corruption. It has come to my knowledge the CEO of ETC in cooperation with the Security have contacted the Internet Service Division (ISD) to identify who Ewnetu Tessema is. I have heard also that one or two unethical and greedy individuals in the ISD have gone out of their way and are secretly “trying” the impossible to track me down by my IP address. I despise you. I despise all those cheap individuals at the Internet Service Division for being positively disposed to criminalize freedom of expression.

 

 I am just one of the individuals in our group. I am not a serial killer or a terrorist to be hunted down. I know for sure ethiomedia is run by a group of professional journalists and/or academics with the highest moral standard and integrity. I rather advise the securities to verify the contents of my articles. I am more than willing to be crucified in public if you find any lie in all my articles I wrote so far about the corrupt practice and the corrupt officials of ETC. The ETC Board Chairman, Ato Getachew Belai, Knows this. The man from the Security in the Board, Ato Isayas, perfectly knows this. The entire Board Members, direct accomplice as they are, also know about the criminal group in the ETC. Last but not least, the entire employees of ETC also perfectly know about the criminal activities being committed everyday in the ETC. The most baffling problem we, anti corruption activists, are wrestling with every minute and every second is the fact that many high profile politicians, those close to the PM and most probably he himself are active members of this criminal group. It is like a MAFIA with a double face. I am quite certain that there comes a day when we will be rewarded in public and in a great ceremony for what we are doing today very secretly, under a very difficult circumstances and with great risk.  In the worst case scenario, our name will go down in history as heroes and history will remember us for our heroic moves.

 

 Best regards,

 

Ewnetu Tessema


 
CC:    The Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce –Via Ethiomedia.com

          Addis Ababa

          Ethiopia

 

       The Labour Union of ETC---Via Ethiomedia.com

       Addis Ababa

       Ethiopia

 

       To All Employees of ETC ----Via Ethiomedia.com

       Addis Ababa

       Ethiopia

 

 

 

* (I hope animal right activists who know nothing about our “non motorized” transport system will not be offended. I wish to inform them when local people go to market, their marketable gadgets are transported by themselves on foot or on the back of a donkey and a sluggish donkey gets whipped. The saying is better understood when viewed against this backdrop.)

 

THE TRUTH SHALL NEVER DIE !!!

LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!

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