ESAT News (March 17, 2016)
A report compiled by a group of professionals in south Omo Zone in south Ethiopia and sent to ESAT indicate 98.9% of the investment land in south Omo zone has been allocated to members of the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF), the minority ruling clique in Ethiopia.
Of the 106,997.7 hectares of land allocated for investment 105,914.6 or 98.9% has been taken by members of the TPLF and their close ties. Only 1% of the land was given to the locals, according to the report. Of the 20 investors who took land, 16 were either members of the TPLF or Tigrayan supporters of the Front.
The report also revealed the TPLF businessmen could easily obtain 32 million dollars in loans from the Bank using the land as a collateral. Of the estimated amount, only about 250,000 dollars has been invested on the land. The over 31 million dollars has either been used for other types of businesses or been taken off shore by the TPLF businessmen. The report said the TPLF businessmen repeatedly harass the local officials in a bid to obtain more bank loans.
The report said heavy machineries, vehicles, chemicals and other inputs that were imported duty free under the name of the investment have not been seen in Omo. Of the total land allocated, only 800 hectares of land has been used for sugar plantations and the rest of the land was sitting idle.
An international uproar ensued last week after a picture that surfaced on the social media show men from the Omo valley in a chain gang, loaded on a police pickup. They were held by the regime’s forces for protesting the seizure of their land by the government for sugar plantations.