In his unprecedented manner, President Girma Wolde-Girogis expresses his concern over land grabbing in the Gambella Regional State (Southwest Ethiopia), Mezghnger Zone, Guderre Woreda. In his recent letter (see below) to the Ministry of Agriculture, Girma urges the Ministry to stop giving land to an Indian company. He also warns that such a deal would damage Meles Zenawi’s “good reputation” on the campaign against global warming.
A letter issued from Girma’s office (obtained by the Las Vegas-based Hiber Radio), reveals that Girma told Tefera Derbew, Minister of Agriculture, that giving 3012 hectares of well-preserved forest to Verdanata Harvests PLC, an Indian company, would affect the ecological system of the area. He also underlines that the handover of those land to the Indian company for tea plantation is thoroughly contradictory to the study carried out by experts who work at federal and local levels. The latter have already recommended the forest should be kept in its original nature. Girma went on commenting and said that giving such huge and preserved forests for commercial farming would violate the principles of campaigning against global warming that Ato Meles Zenawi gets involved as Africa’s representative on different world forums.
Hiber also learned that local officials in the region have played their role in silencing farmers who previously vowed for the reservation of those dense forest for the next generation. “Local people were told to vote in favour of giving the forest to investors in return to earn money, get jobs, to build road, schools and health centres … etc,” sources told Hiber.
Though Ethiopian presidency is largely a symbolic office with little power, Girma’s latest comment shows how lack of transparency and accountability have become common among most government officials. On the same issue, the radio also interviewed different people, such as Ato Ayele Angelo, one of former Kinjet Party’s Central Committee members, who also familiar with problems mostly related to Southern Ethiopia. Ayele strongly condemns the measure taken by “greedy” government officials; and he said that it is genocide against the Eco system and the indigenous people as well.
Ethiopia is one of the few countries that offer vast and fertile lands to foreign investors while its people suffer from sever malnutrition.
* Name Withheld