The despicable lot of condominium blocks

A condominium building in the Senga Tera neighborhood of Addis Ababa (Photo: Social Media/file)

By Samuel Estefanous

And the endless sad fate of beleaguered city dwellers, one might also add.

The drawing of lots to determine the lucky winners of the condominium blocks made available by the municipal administration should have been a glorious event and an occasion to celebrate. Instead, it happened as one more sad betrayal of the ever-indulgent public by the titular corrupt bureaucracy. It will always puzzle us to no end why the plight of the beleaguered city’s poor is so aggravated by the inefficiency of the authorities and the greed of the well-to-do.

The housing development program was, by any standard, one of the few noble efforts undertaken by the previous administration. A considerable number of hard-line critics of the EPRDF try to downplay its importance by attributing the effort to “buying” the vote of far-flung townspeople in the run-up to the historic May 2005 election, which continues to m amaze. That’s what political organizations try to do – try to win the vote of their respective constituents. On this point, I have nothing to reproach the authorities, except to praise their efforts and give a thumbs up to finally, however reluctantly, recognize the power of the people.

The legal framework

The Condo housing development program was not just a paragraph in the declaration of the EPRDF’s political manifesto. It had long since become a government enterprise with a definitive legislative basis. A legal framework has been put in place by the municipal administration through regulations, among others

– to commit in the law the main objective of the project in case of ambiguity as to who will benefit from it

– to make exact definitions to the different programs included in the project

-define and limit the powers of the authorities

-set the minimum prerequisites to qualify for the lot and thus determine eligibility

– define how to make periodic payments and determine the interest rate

– to determine the modalities and the manner of drawing the lot

A proclamation was passed by the House of People’s Representatives to regulate private and communal ownership of condos and designate bodies for the administration of the blocks.

It can be positively concluded that visible attempts have been made to prevent any possible misunderstandings and avoid disputes.

Attempts to hijack the program

The housing program began to slip into the realm of vicious urban land speculators when the government betrayed its public regulatory obligations and succumbed to the lures of financial interests and co-opted a segment of each condo block for development. commercial lease.

The lofty goal of the program to benefit low-income city dwellers was partly lost when the city government took the lead and claimed the first floors of the condos. The program was not launched as a public commercial enterprise for the government. And the government has very pressing governance issues to deal with on a daily basis that it cannot afford to collect rents and administer business premises.

The damage was multiple. For starters, the government set a bad example by joining the Addis condo rush. Second, he chose to cash in on the effort and marketed the program. It opened the door for the evils of corruption to slip through the back door.

When a Simple Unit Inventory Becomes an Insurmountable Challenge

Something is wrong when the responsible city administration bodies openly admit that they do not keep systematic track of the number of blocks, units and locations of condos built. A few years ago it was reported that an entire block of condos had gone missing while some were dumping unclaimed trash and ruined to this day.

How could such a precious commodity become so cheap that it remains untraceable and unclaimed? I mean the housing shortage is the major headache that both the government and the overwhelming majority of people in Addis Ababa are concerned about. Abuse and speculation in urban housing is the only resource that had double accelerated the demise of the previous administration. Members of the EPRDF and their cohorts are said to have traded and speculated in urban land without any scruples of conscience with such abandon that they are reputed to have become millionaires overnight.

Rumor mills spout stories that “negligence” was done on purpose and purpose so that city government insiders could possibly claim them.

The largesse of the municipal administration to “reward” its employees

The city government blatantly violated the overriding purpose of its own regulations when, instead of enforcing the law, it “appointed” itself as the rightful owner of the condominium units and began distributing them at will. Practically he dispossessed the rightful owners and gave the spoils out of the goodness of his benevolent heart.

Again, he used the units to compensate residents who were “victims” of legal expropriation. Although this may not seem legal, it is at least understandable, especially when the displaced persons are former residents of the lot. But there is no justification for the largesse of the municipal administration to “give” the property from legitimate potential owners to its employees and others.

What would the City say in its defense if eligible but unprivileged city dwellers brought a class action lawsuit against the administration? One wonders, isn’t this the classic case of being extremely generous against the purse of a third party?

Taking the municipal administration to court

Guess who sued the municipal administration? Owners of joint ownership savings accounts who wanted the courts to repeal the 40/60 program and have it redefined out of pure legal activism! Clearly, they pleaded for the potential beneficiaries who had saved as required by law to be ejected from the program. They don’t even realize that they are possible active accomplices who colluded with officials to hijack the housing development program. They could be guilty of aiding and abetting an entire conspiracy to derail the program.

In this particular case, the city administration of Addis Ababa was required to grant privileged status to those who could afford to close the account by paying the full price of the condos without bothering to resort to a periodic payment system. stretched up to fifteen years. The first question that strikes as an oddity is whether these account holders have comfortable disposable income that allows them to “close an account” all at once, what in God’s name are they doing in a housing development launched for the benefit of low-income people in the city in a hurry who cannot afford to do this? Aren’t they illegally introduced into the wrong program?

The 40/60 Housing Development Program is exactly what it’s called. Each Unique Account Owner who has saved 40% of the Condo price at the time of registration is eligible to have their name entered into the prize draw. Here, the market drive of paying more to earn better works against those with big budgets. But instead of keeping a low profile for fear of being ejected from the program themselves, they ‘wash your eyes with salt water’ and demanded that those who could not afford to pay the full price be denied the right. Isn’t this a total travesty of justice? What happened to the wisdom of being guided primarily by “legislative intent” in applying laws?

Behold, tipping the checks and balances mechanism to one extreme is certain to induce a domino effect that will crush the legal system into the abyss. In our judicial system, judicial activism has absolutely no place and little role to play. Partly for this reason, lawyers and judges have a very small role in litigation other than “law enforcement” or, in rare cases, “interpretation.” Again, this is why we are spared the trills and legal dramas of common law legal systems.

It reminds me a bit of a quarrel between a lawyer and a potential client. The customer informs a lawyer of his case regarding the purchase he has made and wishes to retain the services of the lawyer. For his part, the lawyer wants to know if his future client has registered the contract with the notary. This last investigation of the lawyer cracks the potential client and he retorts angrily

‘What do you mean ‘had recorded it’? Why would I need your services if I had recorded it?’ You see, when the law is beyond ambiguity, there is little room left for a creative lawyer.

I refrain from commenting on the recent blatant hijacking of the nearly successful program by a band of daredevil saboteurs. But the crudeness of the attempt left a bitter taste in our mouths. I mean, ultimately it was a failure to match the number of eligible account holders and their corresponding names, right? The attempt is further perplexed when we were told that it would ultimately have come to nothing even if they were successful as they could not complete the contract with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia.

We will wait and see.

God protects you.


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