Remembering Ambachew Mekonnen(1999 MPP): Daughter Meaza Mekonnen’s(2020 MDP) Interview
What is your father like in your memory?
He was an extraordinary and industrious man who had enormous love for his family, tremendous faith in his country and a deep appreciation for laughter and humor.
Do you remember anything that your father usually expressed about the KDI School?
Yes, several times he mentioned his experience with KDI School for its practical education system, an example of the South Korea development model and the potential of cooperative work between the government and the citizens in tackling poverty and backwardness, as well as what factors influenced the South Korea’s development.
Do you remember any of the things your father mentioned about Korea?
I was five years old when he was in Korea, however, I certainly remember what he told us about the country. He particularly loved to say that the ‘Korea’s can-do spirit’ so to speak was about how hard work can contribute to a nation’s development. I used to think that the rest of the world was just Korea, for he told us much about Korea. He highly appreciated the Korean development model and recommended that his country follow the same.
What was your father’s biggest interest in the policy field? What did he implement after graduating from the KDI School?
My father was very interested in trade and industry development. Most of the time, he was not appointed in his field of interest but he worked for some years in the trade and industry offices at the regional level and at the ministerial level. However, he was politically appointed in areas other than trade and industry development. He tried to work and share the trade, industry experience in Korea, knowledge acquired, teachings, beliefs and practical experiences at a place where he was appointed by the leaders of the country and the people. He was one of the guys who represented the Korean development experience for the country at large. He played an industry policy and strategy role in Ethiopia that revolved around the exportation of lead. He tirelessly communicated his Korean growth-oriented policy experience, export lead strategy and developmental state experiences in many governmental conferences, congresses, policy making discussions, in training leadership institutes such as the one he was leading (Amhara national Regional state Management institute), public hearings, discussions and etc… As a result, Ethiopia now has a firm growth-oriented and export-led policy and strategy. I, like many members of our society, believe that this is partly a result of my father’s efforts.
Moreover, Ethiopia did not have large industries. He explained how micro and small enterprises have to be developed and transformed into medium and large industries through financial support, land supply, tax incentives, skill development, and so on. When the leading Political party EPRDF established its policy, Dr. Ambachew participated in a higher-level policy-making leadership group through different situations. He was one of the committee members who drafted the policy regulating the country’s capacity building and he used the experience acquired from Korea to demonstrate how his country has to create committed human power and a strong government system. These and many other contributions of Dr. Amabachew’s has put Ethiopia among the ten fastest growing economies in the world and made it the fastest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Please talk about the assassination.
Political transition has been brought to Ethiopia by a joint movement inside the party and public resistance. Ambachew was one of the senior rule members we turned to in order to facilitate improvement in leadership and governance. This has put him in the hearts of Ethiopian people who wished for him to occupy key leadership position. In March 2019, he assumed the presidency of the Amhara national regional state which had been struggling with poor governance, unemployment, poor infrastructure, and civic instability. Immediately after his appointment, he held public discussions in the different areas and worked hard to create good governance, sustainable development, and political problems.
Meanwhile, a opposition group of Dr. Ambachew began to undermine his efforts in the region. They collaborated with government officials and plotted the assassination of Ambachew and his fellows. On June 22, 2019, he was assassinated with his two Colleague by his Cabinet and the Amhara Regional State Security head General Asaminew Tsigie in his office while he was leading a meeting. The whole country mourned and it was one of the many heartbreaking turn of events in the history of the nation. The funeral followed the regional government protocol and was held in the Bahir Dar.
What was the relationship between Ethiopia and your father?
He loved, served, and gave his life for his country. Moreover, he fought hard for the economic development and betterment of the people’s lives, for democratization, and for the improvement of human rights.
What is your future plan? Please describe it with the spirit inherited by your father. Do you have have dreams of contributing to Ethiopia like he did?
I have committed myself to follow in his footsteps. I have a plan to make his dream come true working hard under the foundation we are going to establish in his name and memory. I want to contribute to my country’s economic development.