July 5, 2013
Addis Ababa – Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn appointed 10 new ministers on Thursday in his second cabinet reshuffle since taking office last year, including a new head of customs whose predecessor was arrested on corruption charges in May.
Hailemariam, 47, became prime minister in September after the death of long-serving leader Meles Zenawi, one of Africa’s most influential political figures who ruled Ethiopia for 21 years and steered its economy into double-figure growth.
So far Hailemariam has shown no sign of a major shift in policy away from Zenawi, maintaining his predecessor’s tight grip on the opposition and focusing on business and the economy.
Ethiopia wants to boost its manufacturing sector and has been wooing Asian economic powerhouses China and South Korea. It has carved out large plots of land for construction of industrial centres.
In parliament, Hailemariam announced Beker Shale as director general of Ethiopia’s revenue and customs authority with the rank of minister, following the dismissal of Melaku Fenta.
Melaku’s arrest in May was the country’s most high-profile swoop against graft for more than a decade. He is one of dozens of revenue officials and businessmen now facing trial for corruption.
Businesses in the region regularly complain of corruption as an obstacle to their work. Transparency International ranks Ethiopia 113 out of 176 nations worldwide in its 2012 perception of corruption index, where No. 1 is considered least corrupt.
That ranking puts Ethiopia above most nations in the Horn of Africa and east Africa regions, although Rwanda is ranked 50.
Hailemariam also appointed Ahmed Abitew as minister of industry, replacing Mekonnen Manyazwel, who will now head a task force on economic planning.
“I have appointed the ministers because they have demonstrated sound political leadership in their work,” Hailemariam told parliament before lawmakers swore in the officials.
Getachew Ambaye was named minister of justice and Shiferaw Shigute education minister, while Belete Tafere took over the newly-established ministry of environment and forestry.
The ministers of foreign affairs, finance, defence, agriculture and federal affairs were all retained.
Hailemariam appointed two additional deputies and new foreign and trade ministers in November.