Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom rebutted the recent rumor that the political leadership is unhappy about his social media activities.
Tedros, who has been on twitter for about a year, expanded his reach to facebook last month. At the time, the deportation of undocumented Ethiopian workers from Saudi Arabia made his twitter updates a highly sought-after source of information, giving rise to multiple impostor facebook pages. (See: Fake facebook pages of Dr Tedros irk Foreign Ministry)
Last week, a local newspaper claimed that: “Tedros’s “over exposure” to the public through the social media and the mainstream media over the issue of Saudi returnees has not been liked by his comrades….He was subjected to a meeting two weeks ago where he was derided for turning the crises into a publicity platform.”
However, Tedros told this blog that the story was inaccurate. He added:
“No one is unhappy about m social media presence…..In fact, at a recent high-level meeting, attended by the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was commended as a good example for to its online activity both at organizational level and by its officials “.
Tedros also underlined he is on the same page with the Prime Minister on the Saudi crisis. Rejecting suggestions that his public statements were contradicted by the Prime Minister on how to respond to Saudi Arabia, he claimed “if you read beyond the headlines, we were saying the same thing”.
In a related development, multiple sources indicated that the government is warming up for stronger social media engagement.
The direction set by the leadership advises government agencies and officials, including the Prime Minister, to actively engage social networking websites.
Similarly, secretariat of the ruling party, EPRDF, has recently setup a social media department, though its mandate and activities are not fully known. Whereas, the party’s youth league of Addis Ababa has been active on facebook in the past few months.
Half a dozen Ministries joined facebook since last March, while the two-year old page of Ministry of Finance had shown some activity. However, the pages didn’t attract much followers as they are often inactive and made little effort to make known their presence and official status.
Our research indicates the following pages are official: Ministry of Finance and Economic Development; Ministry of Industry; Ministry of Federal Affairs; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry Of Labour And Social Affairs; Ministry of Transport; Ministry of Agriculture. (This is in addition to a couple of sub-ministerial offices and regional government organs present on facebook.)
The few months old facebook page of the Foreign Ministry fared well, in relative terms, with more than 3,000 followers. A result of its regular posts and also aided by Tedros’s sharing of the page’s content on his popular twitter and facebook accounts. Though, the page leaves much to be desired.
It doesn’t seem Tedros is the sole high-ranking official present on facebook. Informal chats with several officials indicate their first-hand acquaintance with facebook, though they refuse to confirm or deny their presence.