Govt. continues rejecting license for Jimma Times Afaan Oromo newspaper
After JT’s global presence was established in 1999 (ET Calendar) thru its official website, Jimma Times managers said it took them more than half a dozen months just to get their newspaper office space registered by the local government, allegedly due to local government bureaucracy and inefficiency. Since then, they have not been able to secure a license for their independent newspaper.
According to the management team, the initial reasoning MOI gave to reject the license was that the “Times” word inside “Jimma Times” conflicts with other preexisting newspapers like “Awramba Times.” During lengthy discussions with MOI officials in April, JT management explained that many countries around the world allow numerous city newspapers with the ending “Times.”
After the government again rejected the license last month in April, the JT management led by top Editor-in-Chief Tamiru L. Obole, returned to MOI office in the first week of May to request a reconsideration.
To find a middle ground, JT management unhappily agreed to change the name “Jimma Times” to “Jimma Post” or “Jimma News” or any word MOI wished, but the government continued to reject license to all forms of the name for unknown reasons. Concerned that MOI made a political decision, the JT management explained that Jimma Times is fully independent and it has no connections to any opposition group in Ethiopia. Management members, including the Editor and the Assistant Editor, told MOI that Jimma Times is only interested in public service and business opportunities, not in politics. In their plea, they emphasized that both the financers and the workers of JT are not active members of the illegal Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
Accordingly, they said they will continue to appeal for the license without “politicizing” the dispute despite the deep financial and other losses they are already facing, including monthly office rent and other fees being paid without its usage.
Jimma Times is financed by ETMF, a family philanthropic fund organization with connections to Jimma University scholarship program, and JT had plans to establish an Afaan Oromo independent newspaper as a foundation for its other language newspapers in English.
Afaan Oromo is the most spoken language in the country by mother tongue; and with second language speakers included Afaan Oromo is the second most spoken language in the country.