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The newly-elected Addis Ababa City Council has designated the former Minister of Transport, Diriba Kuma, as the 30th mayor of the city for the coming five years.
The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) led council carried out its first session on Tuesday at the city hall.
The newly-elected Mayor is also an executive committee member of EPRDF and the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO).
Most of the members included in Diriba’s new cabinet are not new to the job, having served in the past administration that was led by Kuma Demeksa. Kuma has been appointed as Policy Study and Research Advisor to the Prime Minister, at a ministerial level, last week.
The new Mayor also reappointed Abate Sitotaw as deputy Mayor. Abate, who is a member of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), has been serving in the post under Kuma’s administration for the past one year.
The council speaker Dr. Tabor Gebremedhin and his deputy Woldegebriel Abraha have also retained their posts in the new administration. In addition, the Mayor put forward 13 candidates for cabinet membership; Haile Fisseha for the position of city manager, Getachew Hailemariam for the Construction and Housing Development Bureau, Dilamo Otere – Education Bureau, Tsegaye Hailemairam – Justice Bureau, Gebretsadik Hagos – Bureau of Culture and Tourism, Bizunesh Messeret – Bureau of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, Shisema Gebresilassie – Trade and Industry Development Bureau, Foeno Fola – Finance and Economic Bureau, Efrem Gizaw – Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs, Frehiwot Ayalew – Communication Affairs Bureau, Tilahun Worku – Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprises, Solomon Haile – Land Development and Management Bureau and Yisehak Girmai – Capacity Building Bureau. All appointments were approved by the council.
Most of the cabinet members are not new to their posts. City manager Haile Fisseha has been serving in the same capacity since 2010 for close to two years, following Mekuria Haile, the first city manager during Kuma’s administration, who was appointed to the post in 2008. Mekuria Haile is now the Minister of Urban Development and Construction (MoUDC) since the 2010 national election.
Haile Fisseha has served the city administration in various positions and at different bureaus, but according to observers Haile’s reappointment was unexpected, as he had been removed from the post by reason of inefficiency about a year ago.
In his opening speech Diriba said that the new administration will endorse a five-year strategic plan that it will actively implement.
Meanwhile, the new administration is expected to tackle several serious problems affecting the city. Unemployment, inflation, infrastructure, housing, land management, water supply and other socioeconomic problems are the major challenges for the city administration.
The former city administration has spent a lot of time during its tenure reshuffling its cabinet, in an attempt to induce development in the different sectors, and has introduced encouraging solutions and registered a number of successes.
For instance, it has implemented a new taxi dispatch zonal system in the city to eliminate the transport problem in the city, although it didn’t meet the expected target. Similarly, the City administration, in collaboration with the Federal government had implemented a price cap for a number of basic commodities for a few months. It followed this attempt with a community distribution system, via lower level administrations and consumer associations, for city dwellers to combat inflation. This has more or less been effective in addressing part of the needs of the residents to obtain commodities at lesser prices. Still some of the product prices have actually increased after the scheme was introduced and remained fixated.
In other development aspects, even though Kuma’s administration worked to address ongoing problems in the different sectors, the housing project, land corruption issues and other socioeconomic problems like rent seeking, still exist.
According to experts, lack of efficient management capacity in the city remained the basic challenge for the city’s administration in the past. “That is why several reshuffles were undertaken,” they explained. Moreover, they commented that Diriba’s administration should learn from past experiences in terms of solving existing challenges of good governance, unemployment, socio economic problems, corruption, and maladministration. It should also try to appoint capable and efficient officials to undertake its plans.
Accordingly, Diriba promised to address all the issues raised.