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Ethiopia - Cyber Conversation With The ECX Boss



  11:53:22 pm, by admin   , 2126 words  
Categories: Ethiopia, Genet Mersha

Ethiopia - Cyber Conversation With The ECX Boss

Ethiopia - Cyber Conversation With The ECX Boss

By Genet Mersha

Posted on November 2, 2009

I am very pleased that Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin has kept the conversation alive between her, as Chief of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), and Ethiopians residing in different parts of the world. In this article, I am reacting to her October 29 piece entitled, “Will the Real Poor Farmer Rise –29 October,

However, I must first preface this by stating it is regrettable that this important effort by Dr. Eleni in most instances (three to one) is not being received either properly to support her ECX journey where possible or disagree with her because of x, y, z. Instead, some seem so pleased with personal attacks and meaningless accusations, over which she does not have control over what happens “outside of ECX”, as her article has indicated. At the same time, her message mixes defence of her mission and ECX as an institution, which takes away a lot from the mission many Ethiopians are too happy to support. I cannot say that much about the institution and its independence.

Similarly, the predominantly negative response against her is infused with opposition of the regime, and thus has missed its target. Even then, it borders the irrational, if not, much in the same manner as a spoiled child’s clutter for attention. Distrust is healthy when there is possibility of exchange; attacking wrong or false ideas is beneficial and helpful; but rudeness is no sign of either political opposition to government policies or of maturity of the individuals concerned.

Dr. Eleni’s main message, the way I understand it, is that ECX would endeavour to reach the peasant farmer and would someday be in a position to reduce the extent of his or her exploitation by intermediaries and victimization by unfair trade practices. She explains this by saying,

The point is that Tadele, and many more like him, take their red cherry or dry beans to the nearest market outlets, with just the faintest idea of what their coffee is worth or what the world out there, or even the national market, looks like. Our challenge is that we need to figure out, as a country and as a national marketing system, how to empower Tadele and others like him to make meaningful choices of where to sell, when to sell, at what price to sell, and to whom to sell, so that he can maximize his returns and improve the quality of his life, send his children to school, make sure they get health care, and break the vicious cycle of poverty in which he is trapped.

If this works, I grant you, it would be a big achievement for all Ethiopians. Unfortunately, Dr. Eleni’s dream, as portrayed in her article, and the reality of governmental practices are far apart like ‘fyel wodih, Qzimzim wodiya.’ We have seen this occurring repeatedly. Over the years, it has cost government its image and credibility, not to speak of the economic and political costs to the country. For instance, consistent was the action taken by six major exporters, as the ECX boss was saying right within the reach of ECX, six major coffee exporters ended up with the expropriation of their properties and the suspension of their licenses in March. But what they did with their coffee is exactly what Dr. Eleni said—they waited for better market prices and to whom to sell. They also saw that the domestic market was more remunerating for them, given the exchange rate factors and behaviour of the market both at home and abroad.

Nonetheless, a government overwhelmed by its foreign exchange problem interpreted that action as deliberate attempt to undermine it. Thus, between November 2008 and March 2009, the TPLF went on building a cobweb of lies to cover up its designs to promote GUNA as Ethiopia’s coffee-exporter-in-chief. In November 2008, government first resorted to threatening to ‘cut the hands’ of coffee exporters [metaphorically], if they did not export their coffees as speedily as possible. Furthermore, the farce of this whole situation came in the allegation by the prime minister that these merchants had tried to take the country back to the past it has rejected.

How ironic that Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, the ECX chief, has now decided to throw titbits from across that jungle of lies and denials to confirm what we have known all along and have written about this mafia style business by politicians in power. In her above-mentioned article, Dr. Eleni wrote of the true reason for the expropriation of the exporters finally confirming what for half 2009 has been public knowledge. In there she stated,

regulatory actions were taken against some of the major exporters of the country, largely prompted by the foreign exchange crisis brought on by the global recession.” She then continued, “It should be clear by now and has been stated officially that the regulatory actions taken had nothing to do with ECX but were based on illegal behavior discovered outside of ECX, which the exporters have also acknowledged. In fact, these export companies continue to be members of ECX and interact with us regularly. They have continued to sell their supply coffees through ECX, although they cannot buy export coffees unless their export licenses are re-instated based on the court’s ruling.”

Stand for a moment and think, as to which Ethiopian would not be enraged by the licensing by ‘government’ of EFFORT’s GUNA as the country’s major coffee exporter, the news of which was made public at the end of October? This came less than eight months after the TPLF elbowed those six successful individual exporters out of the market accusing them of alleged political crimes of undermining the regime. Their crime was their decision to delay their export of coffee at a time of falling international prices.

This writer does not intend to deny the severity of the foreign exchange crunch the government had faced. The idea here is to register disagreement at its mistreatment of those exporters and its disrespect of private property. In other words, as the problem of foreign reserves was severe. However, the government could have used other means of dealing with the exporters. It ought to negotiate with the concerned owners, instead of using its muscles, which even by present Ethiopian laws is illegal. The government recourse should have been to offer them some incentives to enable them take the actions it wanted them with their properties, or by covering part of their loss at a specified time or through tax incentives. Outside that, what the government has done is disrespectful of the property rights of citizens. Its actions are no different from highway robbery by government officials.

What is most troubling here is the fact that those individual exporters were the very people whose good performances the TPLF had acknowledged and given them awards during the previous years only to make a turn around early this year and expropriate their coffees. Having suspended their licences, it has now handed them over to GUNA, EFFORT’s major arm for commodities exports. By this action, not only TPLF has moved from political consolidation to foreign exchange accumulation, but is also engaged in putting the major sources of wealth of the country under its control, as is the case now with several industries, mining, huge plantations and agro-processing enterprises, building materials and construction companies, trucking and transit services, commodities exports, etc.

Against this background, I listened to what Dr. Eleni has to say time and again, and thought carefully of what she wrote in her latest article especially,

But our system is not just for Tadele. Exporters benefit too, a lot, because now they don’t have to incur the risk of getting the wrong quality or quantity of the coffee they have paid for, with an ECX delivery system that guarantees that Tadele’s coffee will get to the exporter-buyer on time, in the right quantity and quality. That is why we are closely working with our exporters association to ensure that their needs are met too.

Already in the foggiest days of the recession in late 2008, this writer was struck by the animated claims amongst people in leadership circles in Ethiopia about their ‘I told you so’ about the presumed end of capitalism, as we know it. Their stringers on government media and agiaforum did try a few times to air out which way things are moving under the guidance of government in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, with their habitual barking at everyone left and right, they lost the message and did a bad job of it. Consequently, the ultimate meaning of that cryptic message from TPLF top bosses about the direction of the country and extent of their swoop on the Ethiopian economy has barely become full public knowledge, as it should have been.

Government is not the real driver of the Ethiopian economy. Ato Sebhat Nega was forthright, as usual, to his detriment though, when he proudly asserted EFFORT controls ‘key strategic sectors of the Ethiopian economy.’ We already are aware that ever since seizing power, the history of TPLF leaders has been that of scrambling fiercely for every iota of political power—through the EPRDF, their potted plants, and the army and police—and economic power—through EFFORT, their huge business empire that has gobbled up our national resources.

Consequently, EFFORT has become wealthy by illegal means taking control of the country’s key economic assets and has grown exponentially amazingly faster than the country’s weak, structurally rigid and inefficient economy. At times, Ethiopia’s high GDP growth figures, which they constantly drum up, have been puzzling or confusing for many, against the background of such deteriorating human conditions. The truth of the matter is that it indeed is a measure of EFFORT’s performance, not the country’s economy. For this, the reality speaks better in Ethiopian cliché that portrays ordinary citizens as ‘የበይ ተመሌካች’, literally meaning, distant spectators of the jet-set TPLF leaders and their collaborators feasting and dancing all over.

I admire Dr. Eleni’s strong faith in Ethiopian law, in spite of everything that is happening in front of her against the law. There I part company with her. She seems to have strong faith especially in the power of ECX’s Article 18, which recognizes ECX as “an autonomous entity.” What value is this to the peasant producers or commodities exporters in the country, if a stroke of the pen from the prime minister’s office rolls over everything? I am certain that it is not lost on Dr. Eleni that coffee producers are headed into changing to different crops—perhaps khat. That perhaps is already in the minds of Tadeles who would not disclose it to her. Now with GUNA monopoly, the future of coffee production may be threatened even more by both price factors, as Ato Tadele had told her, and because of producers’ and associations’ resistance.

I regret to say that Dr. Eleni, does not seem to be fully cognizant of the speed and direction of TPLF movement to control Ethiopia from all angles. Even then, she writes about the solid legal foundation on which ECX is established, in a way that has missed the real issues. Dr. Eleni believes,

The law is even further explicit that certain key management decisions cannot be made by simple majority but by two-thirds majority, preventing the government side to override by its slight majority number. One of such key decisions is the decision when to recommend the sharing of ownership of the Exchange with the private sector, which is stated as an objective in the preamble of the law. So the idea that the government aims to permanently own the Exchange or to act as a monopoly trading entity or that the Exchange is an arm of government is simply false, both as a matter of law and in practice.

I would like to remind Dr. Eleni that in August I wrote the article entitled ‘Distrust of regime places ECX Chief in unenviable position’, . I repeat again, while maintaining my personal respect for Dr. Eleni, I stand by what I had written in that article. I would especially like to refresh her memory of the following,

… What guarantees are there to show ECX’s independence in a political environment that rigidly demands loyalty, even from schoolchildren through membership of the ethnically oriented ruling party? It seems to me that Dr. Eleni’s inadequacy to make her case on that has taken the wind out of her sail, irrespective of how important what she had to say. This is not to say ECX‘s time has not come. The problem is government’s lack of credibility has rubbed on the Exchange. The absence of rule of law and an outside regulatory body to ensure the Exchange’s transparency and fairness is a multi-pronged handicap.


Comment from: Ethiopia [Visitor]

Finally she listened and she gave us a concise article which we have been asking for a long time. For the future please remember that when you write an article for a blog keep it less than five pages because most blog members might read your articles.

Thank you for listening to your readers comments.

11/02/09 @ 00:21
Comment from: sula [Visitor]  

you knaw every the same never will change as long as free,democracy in the cauntery no chang beleve me dr

11/02/09 @ 00:29
Comment from: Yohannes [Visitor]

What have you done other than criticizing others who are at least trying to do something?Dr.Eleni has no time for time waster like you.

11/02/09 @ 00:35
Comment from: sula [Visitor]  

as long as you are actviting with the tplf nevre evre chae will came bez most of tplf they are not ethiopian

11/02/09 @ 00:37
Comment from: Melese Zenawi [Visitor]
Melese Zenawi

“At times, Ethiopia’s high GDP growth figures, which they constantly drum up, have been puzzling or confusing for many, against the background of such deteriorating human conditions. The truth of the matter is that it indeed is a measure of EFFORT’s performance, not the country’s economy.” you got me, you got us.

11/02/09 @ 01:20
Comment from: c´moi senait [Visitor]
c´moi senait

One thing is for sure that YOU are not going to RETIRE or spend your last breath in ETHIOPIA soil as long as you are with Weyannes.

11/02/09 @ 01:59
Comment from: Ayeeee [Visitor]

Great article ! Thanks Genet !!!
I have no doubt in my mind that Dr.Eleni meant every word she said in the past and has our poor farmers best interest at heart in her effort to make Ecx a reality . I just Fear that with a monster ( on cocain) government like ours , her good intention might have played into the wrong hand.

11/02/09 @ 03:15
Comment from: david [Visitor]


What have you done other than criticizing others who are at least trying to do something?Dr.Eleni has no time for time waster like you.

are you insane?
how come gunna is preferred to export coffee?
gunna is not truly is set up by TPLF not by ethiopian government.since when tigres become coffee growers?
Dr Eleni(the golden tigraye) is playing the dirty game to rob the poor ethiopian farmers and should be shot in the head.

11/02/09 @ 03:43
Comment from: Extraterrestrial [Member]

Genet Mersha

We know Dr. Eleni because of her work but can you tell us who you are for the Ethiopia poor?

11/02/09 @ 05:50
Comment from: Manyihon [Visitor]

Ke bizu ye Woreket Gagatta
Tikit Ye Tiyit Irrumtta!

That is the language those on power understand. The rest is simply what our country men call it as: GUNCH MALFAAT!

Have a nice day bros.

11/02/09 @ 08:16
Comment from: Teshome [Visitor]

Genet; Good job. Your article puts things into perspective very well. Thank you for that.
Yohannes (3rd commenter); This is constructive criticizim aimed at improving the situation in the country.

11/02/09 @ 08:31
Comment from: girmachew [Visitor]

Genet Mersha - I must say you really follow this ECX boss and have good points to raise. But I hope you do not end up as one of those who endlessly comment on what others actually do for the rest of your valuable life. Nonetheles I admire your comments as you are one hell of an articulate male Gonderie

11/02/09 @ 08:47
Comment from: ethiopian [Visitor]

The article is straight forward; he has made great points. It is not about hating but rather being pragmatic. Guna did announce it would be the biggest coffee exporter. So how is the goverment not involved? Dr Eleni does not understand the political aspect of it. How we all wish she could have worked in a democratic country but fact remains it is not a democratic country.

11/02/09 @ 09:56
Comment from: Yegermal [Visitor]

Thank you Genet.

11/02/09 @ 10:11
Comment from: Jabaa [Visitor]

She seems determined to improve the life of ethio farmers hoping someday the goverment will be come democratic.

11/02/09 @ 11:11
Comment from: Jemal1 [Visitor]

Yohannes [Visitor]
Since you come from a background who believe on a motto of “My way or the highway” you don’t want to hear the other side’s point of view. But for most of us we would like to hear what others would say provide the debate among us is civil and mature. Every Ethiopian has a stake on the future of his country. I am sure Dr Eleni would not mind a constructive criticism if she is really genuine as she claimed.

11/02/09 @ 11:43
Comment from: sami1 [Visitor]

Yohanes, let me ask you as well same question but little different that the question you have asked the writer,
“What have you done other than praising the Dectetor?” What?
The writer was lifting Dr. Eleni where she was suppose to and smacked her ignorance where it was required.
Blindly suporting Dectator and advantage takers or inorants in the same camp is not good for lasting porspariy of Ethiopia!
Reasonalbe and fair criticizem is good for the country where it may hold some accountable. That is what Ethiopia needs not a BUCHILLA like you, Yeha, and Z-Mike.

Any good thing you do that is helping the dectator will only prolong abuse!

That is fact!

Genet Mersha keep on writing!

11/02/09 @ 12:04
Comment from: seyoum w/geberiel [Visitor]
seyoum w/geberiel

they criticize her because most ethiopians are stupid/ignorant

11/02/09 @ 12:11
Comment from: Deme [Visitor]

The bloodsuker Dr. Elani serve a dictator and does not deserve anyone’s respect. You are very kind to believe on her words.

She is a part of this gov’t. She did not get to be the boss of ECX by praying or some kind of luck.

The leba Dr. and Engineer Hailu are evils or bloodsuker. They are a part of this gov’t, because they collaborate with this evil gov’t.

They’ll do any thing to grab power and get money by any means. All the care is about themselves. They do not care for poor farmers or for well being of our country.

I’m afraid I do not see the difference between these evils and the crime minster.

No body put a gun on her head told her to be ECX boss. She did it voluntary under the name of paying her due for our country. If she has any respect for herself, she could’ve left by now.

The evil Dr. Elani is not high school drop out. She knows exactly what’s going with current gov’t. She and Engineer Hailu are evils. They belongs to Kaliti prison, not Ms. Birtukan.

11/02/09 @ 13:04
Comment from: omo [Visitor]

It is disappointing, outrageous and right out colonial, the nature of TPLF domination over Ethiopia. Its outstretched web of dominance, with the aim to control the economy, military and the political life of Ethiopians, has paralyzed the creativity of our people, its entrepreneurship and its productivity and Ethiopia’s future has become uncertain. Investors are driven out of business, farmers have their hands tied up so that they cannot produce more from the land because the land belongs to the regime, people from the ruling ethnic group occupy key positions and the country is ruled by intimidation, coercion and killings. Its poisonous tentacles have entered even each and every Ethiopian house and it has become the big brother in Ethiopian life. Nobody can escape its control anymore.
Dr. Eleni might have the heart with which she might like to serve her people, but to believe even for a moment, that she would be able to work freely outside the control of TPLF government and its economic hegemony, is a naivety.
This regime has ignored not only Ethiopians but also the world community. It has outshined previous Ethiopian governments in its selfish anti-Ethiopian and anti-peace policy. It should have known that this situation cannot go on forever and it should have learnt from the fate of HS and MHM. The only acceptable way forward is through cooperation and not domination.

11/02/09 @ 13:14
Comment from: Shegaw [Visitor]

Dr. Eleni didn’t even answer simple and plain questions based on her articles, leave alone the concerns on fundamentals from experts in the field. She dodged the real pressing questions and concerns and rather waste her time on self aggrandizement and field reporting as a local media person. She has to leave taking Ato Tadele’s comments for an independent reporter. She is the manager of ECX and wanted Ato Tadele and others tell her the truth. That is pathetic. She is the Director and has to answer basic operational questions about ECX which she failed to do several times before. And one more thing. The discussion is very good. But, as time goes what becomes clear is that Dr. Eleni is not naive when she collaborated with the regime. She knows what she wanted and her motive is not what she has purported in several public places already, including TED conference a while ago. She deliberately started to attack and blame writers who commented on ECX rationally by saying “shooting empty bullets” and so on and so forth. To be on the right side of history is difficult for some people.

11/02/09 @ 13:35
Comment from: Ethiopiawit [Visitor]

Very nice article..keep on writing your reasonable comments.

11/02/09 @ 14:39
Comment from: Fire Eleni [Visitor]
Fire Eleni

Frankly, EXC needs to find a new CEO. I think it is about time that somebody fires this women. She has irreversibly discredited herself, her institution and her country. She has become a liability not only to ECX, but also the ruling party in Ethiopia. Who does she thinks she is? She clearly thinks with her emotions, not her brain. What is the shouting match with the public all about? Does she think she is in a popularity contest? Is she really normal? She has already embarrassed herself and her country, and I am afraid she is very close to totally embarrassing her former school Stanford University for her substandard essays. The last article could have been written by second year student at Addis Ababa University, let alone the CEO of ECX. She is clearly both immature and amature. Ethiopia surly can find a wiser and more experienced CEO for its commodity exchange.

Here is the biggest issue for Ethiopians everywhere that the lady seems to be willfully ignorant about. She is forever linked to one of the most murderous regimes in recent memory. She has been acting like their lap-dog. And that is a fact. And most importantly, her project has been hijacked by the government. The sooner she realizes her troubles and makes up with the Ethiopian people, the better because Ethiopians don’t forgive easily.

Dr. Eleni, please leave us alone, we are tired of your propaganda. Ethiopians are not stupid. Don’t try to play us. Have you no decency, lady?

Enough is enough!

11/02/09 @ 14:57
Comment from: Gudu Tessema [Visitor]
Gudu Tessema

“It should be clear by now and has been stated officially that the regulatory actions taken had nothing to do with ECX but were based on illegal behavior discovered outside of ECX, which the exporters have also acknowledged"..

“Acknowledged"??? Irasachewn agaleTu, Gile-his aderegu, Irasachawin gemegemu, etc are shrt-hand words for ‘under duress’.

I thank Genet for making this article short. Even shorter will be better. No one has patience for the long winded ones.

One key observation that Genet brings is that because of the Guna and Eleni Buna’s action of this past year more coffee farmers will be pushed to growing Qat/CHat. That may be a lasting legacy of this drama.

In the mean time, however, every educated as well as uneducated Ethiopian should confront this lie machinery. Eleni knows that what she is doing for the Weyane regime is not buying her enough fans and friends among Ethiopians living abroad. That is why she keeps on writing these articles.

Keep us the pressure….

11/02/09 @ 15:35
Comment from: LILI [Visitor]

Hey woman,

Open 1000 ware houses in the periphery, just one building and virtual office in Addis.


If I have around 7500 USED KIAS, where can I sell’em??? Dukem and Sebaeta??

Not Bad.

Music downloders have already finished around 20,000,000 CDs and DVDs. Where can they store them.

Order Addis…Buy Sebeta!!!

Bye Bye Awash and Abay!

11/02/09 @ 19:07
Comment from: [Member]

Fire Eleni

Brother/ Sister. She established ECX, while you are still here talking crap. I just fired you from talking any more cheap talks!!!!

All along you were hating saying she was Tigray, and now you found out that she ain’t, but you still find another reason to hate. She’s a person who’s trying to do Good. She doesn’t have control over what takes place outside her office building.

Just because you are lazy and selfish, the world won’t stop and wait for you. Farmers in Ethiopia still have to sell their goods and support their family, Negadee has to work and make money to pay taxes, the list goes on….., while you still sit your butt and talkkkkkkkk,,im laughing at you.

11/02/09 @ 22:47
Comment from: addiiss [Visitor]

Genet don’t you even try to compare yourself w Dr Eleni.
Just tell me what are your credentials?
What the do you know about commodity exchange?
That article of your you referred to is just a garbage both in substance and writing skills.

11/03/09 @ 02:27
Comment from: hammere [Visitor]

This woman (Genet) is Sofia Tesfamariam, a notorious Shabyean supportet in the diaspora. You can see her messing with our Amharic at the so called EPPF DC- Chapter Elias and his likes tried to organize in Washington. You can listen to her there spoiling our beautiful language.
By the way, that meeting was a total failure. There were Elias, Tilahun, Demis, and a few Shabyans in attendance. It was a totally boycotted meeting.
All Ethiopians now know the viciousness of this ugly lunatic, Elias.

11/03/09 @ 05:37
Comment from: Yohannes [Visitor]

You know well this is not about constructive criticism.

I agree with you.What a wonderful comment!

11/03/09 @ 06:18
Comment from: Zenda [Visitor]


The difference between you and Eleni is she works in a very poor country while you scrible critics from afar, somewhere in a confortable rich western country. You have to be ashamed of yourself. When is it you Ethiopians give credit for some one who does his/her best for the betterment of the poor. For me one Eleni is thousands times valuable than tens of thousands Genets and Alemayehus. You are a big problem to the country than any sollution you aspire to. If there is any sollution on whatever you wrote. If Eleni worked in any African country she would be seen as a shining star by the government as well as by the opposition. But since she is trying to bring some sun shine to the most backward society in the world, i.e. Ethiopia, she has become a target of redicule by Amara tribalists who think nothing else but political power. People like Genet and Prof Al are nothing else but barberians who can’t even learn something from the countries they reside in. Shame, shame, shame to all of you who hates for the sake of hating. Your attitudes is critically followed with dismay by us in the South who still think united Ethiopia is the only sollution. But your tribal behaviors is beyond belief. Stop barking at every thing you see or read. The government and this lady are doing their best despite all these hateful tribal propogandas.


11/03/09 @ 07:47
Comment from: Derese [Visitor]

Thank u Genet for the good article.Eleni is not acting as an economist but as a TPLF loyalist who cares about herself and Her two children,not about Ethiopian poor farmers and their children.She is serving Ethiopia’s Polpot and its killing machine the woyane army and security forces.She even bragged that those coffee exporters whom Melesse confisicated their product add cancelled their export licence were crimimals.She is not an economist she is a banda federal police informant.Eleni you will be held accountable for your crime againsr all Ethiopian’s well being.Ye meshe ken yinegal eskezaw denshibet bugina salsa.

11/03/09 @ 09:42
Comment from: LILI [Visitor]

Mine will be selling yellow and red bandadna. The move is called “Mixed Bandana Movement", with absolute right of Hailu, I mean Mr. Shawel to use it as “WHITE BANDANA MOVEMENT” for around 1000000 fired up peaceful hooligans as could be…..

I support Be’er the saint, but not kiss the admin’s asses either.

My war is a rebel movement against povery and we will fight any war to make price hike % down.

Who cares about the dead phisher except the phisher evil????

11/03/09 @ 14:44



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