The Council of Ethiopian Civil Societies has shown support for the Agency for Civil Society Organizations on the issue of foreigners’ recruitment in civil societies that operate in Ethiopia. President of the Council, Nigussu Legesse (PhD), said finding Ethiopians with the skill that allows them to execute works in international organizations is not impossible. “There are Ethiopians who are working in different organizations with the same skill as that of the foreigners who work in civil societies,” the President told The Reporter.
On November 10, 2021, the Agency for Civil Society Organizations posted a reminder on its social media page urging civil society organizations to stick to the law that requires the organizations to notify the agency before expats enter the country to work. The agency also warned the organizations it would take legal measures against those that do not abide by the law.
The Deputy Director General of the Agency, Fasikaw Molla, said they want to remind CSOs of the law because they observe some of the organizations, especially foreign organizations, recruiting foreigners to work in the country. “The least they can do is respect the law of the country,” the Deputy Director told The Reporter.
Nigussu Legesse (PhD) explains the council is in favor of this system and also shares the agency’s concern. According to the President, some of the civil society organizations recruit foreigners for a job in rural places where employing an Ethiopian who is familiar with the language and the culture of the area is more beneficial.
The President adds “some of them recruit foreigners to do their financial works; this is something that can be done by someone in the country”. They want to benefit each other with the donation they get from donors,’ Nigussu Legesse (PhD) blames some of the civil society organizations.
Article 76/3 of the ‘Organizations of Civil Societies Proclamation’ which was issued in 2019 provides Foreign nationals other than the country representative may only be hired if the office granting work permit verifies that the work cannot be performed by Ethiopians.
Even if the organizations verify that the work cannot be performed by Ethiopians, the maximum period of the grant is one year. When the one year period ends, the organizations have to renew the permit.
The Deputy Director General of the Agency, Fasikaw Molla states, the organizations will be asked to present a succession plan of an Ethiopian on the position when they try to renew the work grant. According to Fasikaw, the organizations will only be given a three and four months period for the CSOs to train an Ethiopian on the position.
Tewodros Mehrete, Associate professor of law at AAU, argues against this system saying “the organizations should only take what the market offers; they don’t have to train anyone; that is not what they are established for”.
President of The Council of Ethiopian Civil Societies, Nigussu Legesse (PhD) has a similar take with the agency. The president believes money should not be the only aid and support the organizations provide for the community, but also skill building.
“The foreigner, who takes the job position to operate in the country, should only be someone who trains an Ethiopian to execute in the position” the President told The Reporter.
In August 2021, the Ethiopian government suspended the activity of three aid organizations for violation of rules. The one reason for the suspension of all the organizations was employment of foreign nationals without the appropriate work permit from the Ethiopian government.
Contributed by Amanuel Yelkal