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Last week, an election for the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (AACCSA) presidency took place at the Hilton hotel. The election was marred by indecent scenes that degrade the chambers grace.
First of all,the board of the chamber barred its previous president from entering the election.
The incident involved the former president of AACCSA and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (ECCSA) Zafu Eyesus Work. The outgoing board, which was elected two years ago, sent a letter to United Insurance to replace their representative, Zafu Eyesus Work. This meant that he was barred from attending the meeting, asthe letter said the insurance company would have to assign another representative for the general assembly.
The letter, issued on Wednesday December 18 and signed by Getachew Regassa, secretary general of AACCSA, indicated that Zafu was suspended not only for the current assembly but also for all events that occur in the future. Even though the chamber said that Zafu was not allowed to be part of the event, the former president was at the gate leading to the meeting hall attempting to enter. He was surrounded by a crowd of prominent business community members who supported Zafu and wanted him to be able to attend the meeting.
Most of the crowed gathering with Zafu were supportive of the former president and said the board should let him come into the meeting. Zafu argued that the board did not have the right to bar him from entering the meeting and that only a court ruling could bar him from being there.
Some members of the business community, including Haile Gebreselasie, tried to convince the outgoing president Ayalew Zegeye to let Zafu in the meeting hall. They also attempted to get board members to come to the gate to hear their concerns. However their attempts were unfruitful.
Finally, Gizeshwork Tessema, a prominent businesswoman, arrived at the gate and insisted that Zafu enter the hall. They then walked in together without being challenged.
This shouldn’t have happened in the first place. The reason the board gave for not letting Zafu into the meeting is so silly that any intelligent person would have questioned the action.
These supposed grownups are supposed to be the leaders of private businesses that make up a big part of the country’s economy. However, things did not go as they should have, in a proper and fashionable manner.
The Addis Ababa Chamber was vibrant during the days of Zafu and barring this person from attending an election is something that should be only done after thoughtful consideration by the business community.
The other incident was the disqualification of Teshome Beyene. Teshome was disqualified by the credential committee that was appointed by the AACCSA board to screen the candidates. The committee ruled that he could not run because he did not have a business license. At the meeting the credential committee explained that according to the chamber’s rules, the nominee has to be a business owner or head of a business. The committee then ruled that he did not meet these qualifications and thus could not stand for election.
Teshome countered that he was nominated by Ethio Life and General Insurance, of which he is a founding shareholder and board chairman.
He told people at the meeting that the election process was illegal, anti-democratic and opposed to chamber rules. In my view he is right. The people at the chamber are making things worse by trying to make the chamber their own institution, which is killing it.
The chamber used to bean institution full of friendly people that stands for the business community and that makes us (journalists) busy with events all year round. Nowadays, we barely hear about things that happen at the chamber.
Elias Genete, owner of Agro Prom and chairman of Oromia Insurance SC, was elected the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (AACCSA) President with 356 votes in a contentious election, that lasted late into the night last Thursday. Elias defeated Israel Kassa, owner and head of Africa Beza College who received 133 votes