Land governance and Responsible Large Scale Agricultural Investment Dialogue Platform and Future Activities in Mekele

Transparency Ethiopia Mekele branch organized and conducted a one day dialogue platform with different stake holders from CSOs, government actors and the private sector, engaged in agriculture and related fields, on the issue of land governance and responsible large scale Agricultural Investment with the financial support granted by the EU civil society fund II and GIZ in Mekele on August 16, 2017 at Seti Hotel, Mekelle

Just like the one conducted in Addis Ababa, the dialogue platform conducted in Mekele city,  aimed at briefing the gathered stakeholders on the matter of land governance in general and responsible large scale agricultural investment in particular and revolved around rules and regulations governing the land administration systems in Ethiopia and the voluntary guideline which Ethiopia has adhered to. The objective of the platform was to sensitize the use of such platforms to address existing issues and problems.

In the platform a brief presentation on TE and its activities was presented by Mrs.  Hadas Berhe followed by an in-depth presentation by Mr.Mihretab, on rules that govern land administration in Ethiopia and voluntary guidelines. A group discussion was also made and presented by each group on a sample land contractual agreement. At the end reflection and comments were forwarded by the participants.

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Many of us are wondering and anxious to know what ever happened to those individuals who were all over the media for allegedly being corrupt. What happened to them? Have they been charged yet? If so, how is the trial going? So many questions come to our minds due to the grave nature of the crimes they are said to have committed and since the government was so assertive and “bragging” not to show any mercy and to take serious measures on those individuals who were suspected of betraying the public’s trust .

As I went through different Medias and publications to find answers to my questions, I came across a column published by the reporter magazine which made me feel bleak and doubt the seriousness of the government to combat corruption and bring the corrupt to justice. I guess the critics raised at the beginning of the corruption crackdown on arresting the corrupt individuals by so many individuals and institutions saying it was just a destruction or meant to divert the public’s attention from the different resistance taking part in different parts of the country and it is just a mere action taken by the government to win back the public’s trust. These and other criticisms are starting to make more sense now. It’s just like Melaku Fanta’s case all over again. The guy was charged with corruption, all the evidence against him broadcasted to the public through the national television. It has been more than four years since he’s been charged, but sadly no judgment has been passed by the court till this date.

In the column, published by the reporter magazine on September 24, 2017, it states that the federal high court has passed the last warning to the federal public prosecutors. Amazingly, the public prosecutors, time and again failed to show up before the court when there is a court hearing concerning the individuals who are under police custody for corruption and according to the reporter magazine, if and when they show up, they show up late. It is very unprofessional when a public prosecutor repeatedly comes to court late on any responsibility bestowed upon him let alone on such a big and sensitive public proceedings like these.

On September 22, there was a court hearing concerning the officials suspected of corruption from the ministry of finance and economic cooperation. But, once again, the public prosecutors were nowhere to be found. Since their presence was mandatory, the court refrained from proceeding with the hearing. The court then ordered the vice attorney general, Ato Teka and corruption crimes director Ato mezmur to appear before the court and give explanation on why the prosecutors were late. And according to Ato Mezmur’s explanation, the prosecutors are late because the case needs a lot of work, organizing a charge takes time and said they are also working on other similar cases. The court also asked why an official charge has not been lodged yet against Ato Alemayehu, state minister of ministry of finance and economic cooperation. Ato Teka, deputy attorney general replied saying that the complex and broad nature of the case has hindered them from pressing charge on the suspect within the time period provided under the law.

On a similar case, the public prosecutors have completely failed to press charges at all and provided the court with a letter declaring their decision to withdraw to prosecute Ato mesfin, one of the corruption suspects from Ethiopian sugar factory, Omo Kuraz 5 sugar. So the court had no choice but to let this man walk free. Many of the suspects, sadly, are walking free thanks to the incompetence displayed by the public prosecutors. However, this does not mean they should all be convicted just because they are suspected of committing a crime, because every suspect is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. And it is the public prosecutors responsibility to prove the suspect in fact has committed the said crime beyond a reasonable doubt. But what we are witnessing currently is far from this reality.

Enlightening 12th-grade students in department selection

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An annual student’s conference on how to have a successful campus life was held on Aug. 23, 2017, with the collaboration of Transparency Ethiopia, Hawassa University and Go Hawassa Project. The main aim of this workshop was to enlighten 12th-grade graduates on the issues of department selection. The Workshop aimed at changing the mind set of students while choosing the career they want to peruse in the future. In most cases 12th students, when selecting what course to study or which department to join, they tend to choose a department or a course that has more monetary value and the most paying job in the future. Thus, most of the students don’t follow their dreams, talents, and potential while choosing a department. 
This kind of attitude will in most cases lead to an unproductive and unethical generation which focuses only and only money, which results in corruption. A person should do a job because he loves that profession not only to increase his/her financial capacity. Thus, Transparency Ethiopia as an organization working to see a transparent and corruption free Ethiopia for a better public service delivery, business and civil society engagement collaborated in this event. With the collaboration of Hawassa University, the workshop was held at University Conference Hall. 
The workshop generally had three parts. It started with a welcoming speech and briefings about Transparency Ethiopia by Hawi Adugna a delegate from TE. Then there was a two rounds experience sharing focusing on academic achievements and co-curricular/business related achievements by successful graduates from Hawassa. There was an interactive motivational speech concerning dreams and the future that awaits the youth. Finally, there was a one to one consultation for 12th graduates regarding the department they wish to join with graduates and student volunteers from each department. 
The half day long workshop has been successfully completed and has addressed 230 students on the issues of ethics, corruption and in getting them ready for the journey of campus life. The work shop is expected to shape the participant youth to be ethically mannered, motivated and dreamers that will be part of the community that fights corruption and keen to see a better Ethiopia.

Youth briefing session Hawassa

The Youth Association Leaders Briefing was held at SNNPR Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission meeting hall on August 18, 2017, Hawassa. 50 Youth Association Leaders were invited to the Briefing through the South Ethiopia Youth Association, but 45 attended the program. These included representatives from the regional Youth Association Leaders, Hawassa City Youth Association Leaders, and Sub-city level Youth Association Leaders. The presentation focused on introducing Transparency Ethiopia and its Anti-corruption movement, types, causes and effects of corruption and ways and strategies to fight corruption. There were some interesting points raised and comments given on the discussion part from the participants and some suggested that we work closely with sub-city and kebele level youth associations to help us spread our hands further into the society.

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The first youth briefing was held on August 18, 2017, on the title ‘’corruption and anti-corruption fights in Ethiopia’’. In the session, the youths were able to understand and internalize the existing corruption problems and anti – corruption measurements that should be taken to address and deal with corruption. In addition to the presentation/briefing, the youth were actively participating in raising questions and giving feedbacks.

In this session, we were able to train 47 youth members (out of which 15 were female participants) from seven sub-cities of Mekelle. They were active participants and they attended the presentation very well. At the end, they strongly recommend us to visit and give this briefing for other members of the society and reach the rest of their members.