(By Yohannes Anberbir- Capital) Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), has merged with Dejenna Endowment, which has the same aim.
The measure comes following Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s wife, Azeb Mesfin’s, appointment as its deputy head.
EEFORT was established in 1995 as a non-governmental foundation controlling 13 companies engaged in finance, trade, mining, construction, transport, and agriculture, and more than 10 subsidiary companies.
Criticism from opposition parties has labelled EFFORT as controlled by the ruling coalition, the EPRDF. They have urged it to withhold from business activities because of its alleged connections, but figures from the ruling party have denied giving continued support to the foundation.
According to them, assets acquired during the period of armed struggle against the Derg in the late 1980s and early 1990s provided the resources to establish the endowment fund, which aims to rehabilitate war damaged areas of Tigray, Ethiopia’s most northerly regional state.
Despite the criticisms, EFFORT has merged with Dejenna, which also has a similar purpose: to rehabilitate Tigray – a place where most of the current top government officials are from.
On EFFORT’s first board of directors were seven senior leaders of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF.)
EFFORT’s first chairman and chief executive officer was Seyee Abraha, a politburo member of the TPLF from the late 1970s, until he was flushed out of the party in early 2000. His chairmanship position was filled by Seyoum Mesfin, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Sebhat Nega founder and former leader of the TPLF took over the chief executive position and served up until this year, before handing over to Abadi Zemu, the current chief executive officer of EFFORT.
The two endowments merged as of April 1, 2009, without laying off any employees, the former management staff of Dejenna Endowment told Capital.
“EFFORT has stakes in most of Dejenna Endowment. Having similar development intentions triggered them to join up,” he said.
Addis Pharmaceutical Factory (APF), Almeda Textiles Factory, Express Transit Service Plc (EXTRAN), Ezana Mining Development (EMD), Guna Trading House, Hiwot Agricultural Mechanization, Mesfin Industrial Engineering, Messebo Cement Factory; are some of the companies under the control of EFFORT.
But the merger has helped EFFORT to control six other six companies formerly owned by Dejenna Endowment: Biruhe Tessfa plastic factory, Machew Particles Board, Dimma Honey processing factory, Alagye Forestery, National Geo-Textile Factory and Aberdelie Cattle Fattening and exporter.
The critics of EFFORT pointed out that similar well –connected endowments have also been established to assist the Amhara and Oromo regions.