It is interesting to note that the
Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)ites
are tight-lipped this time around. Last week, they
were plotting behind closed doors on how to position
members of their new cabinet. When they are
disclosed to Parliament early this week, the team
could be considered “a dream team.” It will be this
team that will be burdened with the task of
accomplishing all the ambitious public work plans
their party has pledged in its Growth and
Transformation Plan (GTP).
Nonetheless, there are a couple of
issues the gossip corridors have been grilling over
the past week.
Unlike in the past where the
administration ought to have sought the blessing of
Parliament whenever it felt like changing the
structure of the cabinet, a law that was amended
last year gives the Prime Minister the power to
reengineer cabinet portfolios without going to the
legislators. Hence, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was
supposed to call a cabinet meeting last week in
order to deliberate on the new structure of his
administration. Gossip is not aware of any such
meetings having taken place by press time on
Designed by a committee under Addisu
Legesse, the outgoing deputy prime minister, the
architects of the new cabinet of 19 include
Hailemariam Desalegn, Arkebe Oqubay, Girma Birru,
and Brehane Adello, claimed gossip. These are the
kingmakers of the EPRDF who have been reviewing
nominations of people by each party for ministers,
their deputies, commissioners, as well as
ambassadors, according to gossip.
Contrary to promises made by the
Prime Minister in one of his press conferences last
year, that there will be “total and comprehensive
reshuffling of his cabinet,” gossip instead
anticipates a process of repositioning and
redeployment of many of the people. The stock of
people available for appointment that would make the
country dazzle is alarmingly scarce, claimed gossip.
The degree of secrecy which
EPRDFites have managed to establish this time
around, has made it very difficult to anticipate the
look of things to come even for their close friends
as well as many senior officials. Outside of members
of the committee in charge of processing the
assignments, not even the most senior experts seem
to have a clue as to what is going on.
However, there may likely be four
positions of deputy prime ministers, each
specialising in particular areas to advise his boss,
by the sound of the little that could be gathered in
the gossip corridors.
There are widespread speculations in
the gossip corridors across the city that Arkebe
Oqubay, Demeke Mekonnen, Hailemariam Desalegn, and
Girma Birru each have a great chance to assume these
positions. However, the latter has been a subject of
sharp differences among people close to the
administration. Some sound very certain, while
others are sceptical. Hailemariam has a good chance
of becoming the senior deputy prime minister,
considering his second from the top position in the
party, according to gossip.
For other cabinet portfolios there
are ministers that have a good chance of keeping
their lots. These include Tewodros Adhanom (PhD) at
the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Tefera Degefie at
the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), claimed gossip.
Many of the guys from the South and the Oromo
People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) may stay
where they are, such as Sufian Ahmed, although a
possible split of his ministry into ministries of
Finance and of Economic Cooperation and Development
could probably compel him to share the portfolios
with Girma, some in the gossip corridors claimed.
Debretsion, who has been elevated to the politbureau
of the TPLF recently, will likely become chief of
the newly formed ministry of ICT.
Despite speculations and
anticipations, the EPRDFites nonetheless have a
cunning ability to surprise the nation, as they did
within their party the past few weeks, when the near
complete EPRDF legislators convene this week.