Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

7 April 2013

Ethiopia: Honour, They Give!

The launching of the Meles Zenawi Foundation (MZF) was graced with the presence of leaders in the region who have known him and worked with Meles, in his rule of Ethiopia for two decades since 1991.

No other Ethiopian leader has been celebrated in death as former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is. His political allies, friends and family members have pushed and legislated the formation of a foundation in his memory, launched on Saturday afternoon, April 6, 2013, inside the African Union (AU) conference hall. The launching of the Meles Zenawi Foundation (MZF) was graced with the presence of leaders in the region who have known him and worked with Meles, in his rule of Ethiopia for two decades since 1991.

Ismail O. Guelleh, president to of Djibouti, yesterday recalled the late Meles Zenawi as a leader with a "deep sense of urgency," to overcome poverty and a "locomotive to our region." Guelleh's was one of the many reflections made by contemporary leaders of the region from Sudan's Omar Al-Bashir to Uganda's Yoweri Museveni on the life and accomplishments of Meles.

The Foundation hopes to keep the memory of a leader Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma of the AU Commission described as "a pan-Africanist par excellence." She was joined in her praise by Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria. Describing Meles as a "straight shooter" and with "no pretention", Obasanjo said Meles is "worthy of any honour bestowed upon him." Hoped by its initiators to be a world-class institution that "reflects and promotes the ideals and visions of Meles", the Foundation will establish a library and research centre, provide fellowships and recognise noteworthy achievements and see the construction and management of a public park in his memory, his widow, Azeb Mefin, told the nation through a televised broadcast.

Azeb made a scripted address, which was focused, emotional yet authoritative in its delivery. Museveni, who was frank enough to reveal his ideological differences with Meles on the role the private sector should play in an economy, compared to state owned enterprises, took the initiative to pledge 300,000 dollars. His generosity was followed by Djibouti's half a million dollars and South Sudan's one million dollars. Al-Bashir has donated two million dollars, the total of which could cover the annual budget of the Foundation, which will be governed by eight board of directors.

Some of Meles's comrades seated in the front row of the photo are likely candidates to serve in the first board: From left are Debretsion G. Michael (PhD), minister of Information & Communications Technology (MoICT), Sufian Ahmed, minister of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED), Addisu Legesse, head of EPRDF cadre training centre, Samora Yenus (Gen.), chief of staff of the Army, Bereket Simon, chief of Government Affairs Office, Kuma Demeksa, mayor of Addis Abeba, and Tewodros Hagos, a policbureau member of the TPLF. Azeb may be seated in the board which is designated to Meles's family.

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