Following the decision of the Office of the Prime Minister ordering the Federal Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission to leave its current headquarters, the Commission is given a one month ultimatum to vacate the building by the committee established to facilitate the office move.
It is to be recalled that a letter signed by Alemayehu Tegenu, Cabinet Affairs Minister with the Office of the Prime Minister, gave a direct order to the commission to vacate its office building and move to another one previously occupied by the newly re-established Federal Housing Corporation.
“The decision by the PM’s office was not welcomed by officials as well as staff members of the commission,” said source close to the case.
“It was taken us an offense where a group of people in the senior government administration position are working against the commission and what it stands for,” the same source said.
This act has discredited the commission and it shows the poor commitment given to fight corruption, he said.
This move came after the restructure of the power and responsibility of the commission as a result of the establishment proclamation of the Attorney General. This proclamation has stripped off a significant portion of the powers and responsibilities of the Commission mainly its prosecutorial power.
These responsibilities were transferred to the Office of the Attorney General and the Federal Police.
Following this, the number of employees of the Commission, which was around 400 then, has been slashed by half to 240 and the Commission was left with the responsibility of teaching and conducting research.
Following the decline of the number of staff of the Commission, the Corporation requested for the transfer of the headquarter building to it which was accepted by the PM’s office. In return, the Commission was told to switch its headquarters with to Corporation’s old office.
However, the commission did not seem to be convinced with the justification.
“I don’t think this justification is sound,” senior official at Commission told The Reporter.
Even though the commission is left with the responsibilities to teach and research as well as corruption prevention, it is allowed to maintain the same staff size, they argue. Its current structure will allow the commission to hire up to 420 employees.
Currently, the commission is hiring new staff to accommodate the gap in the number of the staffs.
The request made by the new Corporation does not go in line with the serious attention given by the government to combat corruption through learning, research development as well as trainings.
The request as well as the decision to transfer our headquarters seems to be made by few individuals, said the official.
The Corporation which is now to take over the Commission’s HQ is overseen by a board chaired by Alemayehu himself. It was first established during the Derg era as Agency for the Administration of Rented Houses. Back then, its prime responsibility was to administer houses which were confiscated by the government as part of government’s socialist ideology.
The new Corporation currently administers some 17,000 houses.
In accordance to the new mandate, the Corporation now has the power to rent, renovate as well as build new houses. It was also said that it will build apartments.
Upon the permission of the PM’s office, the Corporation is expected to re-locate its headquarters from Kasainchis to the Commission’s current office.
To facilitate the transfer a committee made up of the two agencies is now established. This committed is expected to finalize the transfer within one month.
By Dawit Endeshaw