Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Economic and Political Studies


Economics and Finance


Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business


In 2001, Ethiopia established a centralised anti-corruption agency (ACA), the Federal Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (FEACC), purportedly to be used for curbing the rampant corruption. By the government’s repeated admissions, corruption continues to engulf the country, indicating the failure of the FEACC to curb corruption. Various researchers attribute the FEACC’s failures to curb corruption to a host of reasons. This article follows a different route to show why the FEACC was doomed to fail from the outset. We show that the war against corruption in Ethiopia collapsed mainly because of mischaracterisation of the nature of corruption in the country and how the FEACC was established – a conventional anti-corruption agency for a nonconventional problem of corruption. We deploy some testable hypotheses to explore the scenarios under which an anticorruption agency would be effective. Drawing from the corruption literature of post-communist countries, the article shows that corrupt Ethiopian practices can easily be subsumed under an extreme version of the highest form of corruption known as state capture. The article then moves onto unpacking the systemic and predatory nature of the Ethiopian corruption conundrum and how the FEACC approached in tackling it. Doing so allows us to illustrate the endogenous nature of the country’s corruption patterns and why a traditional ACA is incapable of tackling a state-driven patronage. It also lays out the flawed structures and practices of the FEACC showing why, under a state-crafted corruption conundrum, the FEACC was doomed to fail from the start. The article concludes by illustrating the detrimental effects of using the agency as a political weapon to neutralise the ruling party’s political opponents as well as the failure of the war against corruption. It calls for a different approach in combating the Ethiopian systemic corruption, a governance regime change being one of them.



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