State of the nation: The Reporter’s perspective of the dangers hovering over Ethiopia

16 Aug

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin

This piece is prompted by the editorial of The Ethiopia Reporter from last Sunday, 12 August, published in Amharic.

The Reporter is pro-ruling party weekly, its owner and editor-in-chief a former guerrilla fighter with the TPLF. The paper’s interesting editorial entitled Deficiency of EPRDF’s vision and the opposition’s lack of vision could expose our nation to danger tries to deal with Ethiopia’s post-Meles predicaments, seemingly in an attempt to suggest solutions.

Clearly, the driving force behind the editorial is the prevalent sense of confusion and uncertainty in the country, arising from the prime minister’s disappearance from public scene for two months now. Its effort, however, is advocacy on behalf of the existing power structure.

To give benefit of the doubt to those in power in the country that every now and then have been telling the nation that Meles is alive, including through The Reporter, may be they are right. But it is more likely that he is only terminally incapacitated. Otherwise, these problems The Reporter is now listing are not new; they have been with the Ethiopian people all along.

It is inevitable that problems bottled up without any solutions should get worse in time and this is one of them. Especially in recent months, the economic problems have worsened because of a number of factors, thereby crystallizing public anger and frustrations.

Attributing these problems now to the prime minister’s disappearance from the political scene is a denial of the reality ante. There is no doubt that his absence has hugely contributed to political uncertainties and to intensification of the existing economic difficulties including through the nation’s foreign account through capital flight, if one goes by reports filtering through different sources.

In the circumstance, perhaps one favor The Reporter could have done this nation is to call on Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to hand over his powers. After all, it is the only paper that reported on 25 July, six days after Bereket Simon’s first ever press conference on the matter, that “he is currently on vacation outside Ethiopia.”

For a paper concerned for the country we all share and that purports to speak on behalf of the public interests, many would agree that this would have been a reasonable course of action!

Truth be told, that is what any responsible leader would have done. In the case of Ato Meles Zenawi, without forgetting his other unfortunate and cruel actions during the past two decades, history would have viewed him favorably if he did exactly that now. He could have earned credit, at least, for showing a sense of responsibility towards citizens and the country by giving up the power he so much-loved at this very late hour.

At this point, if he were alive and his mind functioning he should be told he could do that in one of two ways: by officially handing his powers to his handpicked deputy prime minister or nominating his successor(s) and asking parliament to approve whatever it deems appropriate for the interim period.

A forgiving nation would have taken note of it assuming that in the past the problem was his humongous self-interest, a mere human weakness even the best of us succumb to. The prime minister’s departure from the political scene for good is the beginning of healing process for Ethiopians, as a first step. That would be considered his final deed to the nation and history.

The rest should be left to the citizens’ wisdom to design their future – people who have lived together for centuries whichever way they deem appropriate. Above all, there are instances that these people suffered together, cried for justice together, prayed together for better days and for restoration of their dignity and sense of security.

If the prime minster is not functional, the party in power must get over its paralysis; it must put its acts together and designate the country’s leader. The delay these hide and their search for the unknown and miracles are causing concern in the minds of people that they too are incapacitated by a disease called THE SELF & SELF INTEREST. People fear that this situation might give rise to another Meles, perhaps the real Meles had secretly cloned before his departure.

In other words, it is this nameless and faceless situation and they being seen watching each other’s steps that invite more trouble for the country.

At this stage, perhaps Ethiopians are the only people in the world who do not know the name and face of their leader! This is destabilizing at all levels.

Hear ye! For any successors of Meles Zenawi and other aspirants to the throne in that country, it should be sufficiently clear once and for all that people and country are not private property of one person or a party, merely because they posses the power of the gun or are better at organization.

By those that stay behind, this present predicament of our country must be seen as another opportunity offering a lesson that becoming a successful nation in this competitive world we live in takes governance by laws and national affairs managed by legally constituted institutions on behalf of the public interest.

In the past two months, when former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi disappeared from the public scene without any address, a nation that for long has sought to see his back also lost the thought of him. Today, because of that Ethiopians are becoming a people and nation in a different state of mind. Secret disappearance against the backdrop of years of fear and insecurity have now molded Ethiopians into hopeful people.

These reenergized people are now darting at gripping respect for their human rights and individual freedoms. Frankly speaking, at this point it is hard to imagine the country tolerating Ato Meles Zenawi’s return even to finish his remaining term of office.

For all practical reasons, bear in mind that his epoch already ended on May 18 in Washington D.C., when a journalist his regime persecuted and forced into exile met him at a fateful public meeting. He simply shouted for the millions at home before the world, despite the risks to himself.

He was unequivocal in his message to the prime minister, with the people of the world witnessing: Ethiopians need freedom before food, freeing all political prisoners an and end to tyranny.

That marked the beginning of Meles Zenawi’s end! It sealed the fate of a once powerful man, who always had been good at wining in all things human and gods, in a manner unseen before.

Evidently, when problems originate from the dictates of circumstances, people easily appreciate those genuine problems. This means that the solutions are also easier, because there would always be collective efforts.

When leaders create the problems, usually they badly damage a country and citizens suffer for a while. But in the end the problems become their problems, as seen in the case of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.


Problems The Reporters identified

The Reporter rightly acknowledges that Ethiopia has encountered numerous problems. It, thus, has identified three major problems. Its tone is somber; the problems it tried to treat reasonably encompass many present realities of our country.

Unfortunately, the lens by which the analysis was carried out and the simplistic solutions suggested is shortsighted. To make matters worse, while its poking of the regime is noted, its search for solutions is beholden to the paper’s present political ties. Without fresh perspective regarding the new possibilities before Ethiopians, its suggested solutions amount to nothing.

In this regard, nothing accurately portrays The Reporter’s dilemma than the cartoon festooned to the editorial, blaming it all on the opposition and the diaspora. The graphic symbolically shows the EPRDF engaged in a genuine dart game. The opposition groups are behind it, darting at its back. This hardly is wholly accurate rendition of Ethiopia’s political reality.

Many people would be surprised how The Reporter got mixed up on this, while living in a country whose image of power and political governance has caused lots of problems, including to many of Ethiopia’s partners. In fact, one of them wrote on its webpage, as the Ethiopian regime created problems posing “both substantive challenges to sustainable development and reputational risks to partners.” This quote is borrowed from the UK’s DFID – one of Ethiopia’s largest benefactors – describing the Meles regime’s political practices and political governance on its webpage within the framework of its 2011 country program.

Here are the major problems The Reporter has listed (it is unofficial rendition of it, not much of a translation):

    1.         The worrying global economic situation. It states that every country is for itself now. It is good reason to see that foreign aid is not something to rely on. It suggests that Ethiopia should brace up to solve its problems by itself.

    2.         The concerning situation neighboring countries find themselves in. To that end, the paper refers to the danger of spillover effects of the conflict between the two Sudans, the uncertainty created by Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood, Somalia’s continuing travail and Eritrea’s bellicosity.

    3.         Flashes of unanticipated and unexpected internal tensions and conflicts are blipping in parts of the country. To that end, it makes mention of the spread of religious tensions and conflicts, tribalism, regionalism, narrow ethnic tendencies. It also ties these to the terrible collapse of living conditions in the country, especially “the near death situation of the Birr”.


In the face of these realities, The Reporter laments:

    a.         Both government and the ruling party suffer from deficient sense of the future, with severe inadequacies to ensure constitutional provisions – justice, freedom of the press, the right to organize, without which the economy cannot be expected to grow. It is not clear why The Reporter is focussed on these now, as if they are new phenomena that emerged following the prime minister’s incapacitation.

    b.         The opposition have become visionless. They could not become the alternative the people require. They are only preoccupied with the call for EPRDF to hand over power. The perception may be right, but the criticism should have been addressed early, on when the ruling party and the government have been in arms against any dissent, both in terms of ideas and organizationally. Rather it is this perception that is deficient and unhelpful to go from this point forward!

The Reporter concludes by inviting the ruling party, government, the opposition to see the problems before the country and deliver solutions, giving primacy to the national and public interest, anything short of that facilitating the dangers before the country to become real!


Hereunder is the full text of the editorial


                                የኢሕአዴግ የራዕይ እጥረትና የተቃዋሚዎች ራዕይ አልባነት አገራችንን ለአደጋ ሊዳርጋት ይችላል

ኢትዮጵያችን ያለችበት ወቅታዊ ሁኔታ እጅግ አስቸጋሪና ፈታኝ ነው፡፡ ከምንም ጊዜም በላይ የመንግሥትን፣ የፖለቲካ ድርጅቶችን፣ የሕዝብን፣ የተቋማትን፣ የግል ዘርፉንና የሲቪል ማኅበረሰብን ትክክለኛ ራዕይና ጥንካሬ የሚጠይቅ ወቅት ነው፡፡

አስቸጋሪና ፈታኝ ወቅት ላይ ነን የምንልበት ምክንያት እጅግ በጣም ብዙ ቢሆንም ዋና ዋናዎቹን እንጠቃቅስ፡፡

    1. አስቸጋሪ ዓለም አቀፍ ኢኮኖሚያዊ ቀውስ አለ
    በዓለማችን የተከሰተው የኢኮኖሚ ቀውስ ከዛሬ ነገ ይሻለዋል እየተባለ ቢተነበይም፣ በተጨባጭ ግን ችግሩ ሲባባስና ቀውሱ ሲዛመት እንጂ ሲፈታ አይታይም፡፡ በመሆኑም ሁሉም አገር የየራሱን ችግር ለመፍታት ይሯሯጣል እንጂ ተጋግዞና ተደጋግፎ መዝለቅ የሚለው ተረት ተረት እየሆነ ነው፡፡ አንዱ በአንዱ ትከሻ ላይ ሆኖ የራሱን ችግር ለመፍታት መሯሯጥ የሚታይበት ወቅት ነው፡፡ ሊገኝ የሚችለው ድጋፍና ብድርም እየተበላሸ ነው፡፡

    ከኢኮኖሚ ቀውሱ ጋርም ፖለቲካዊ ቀውሱም በዓለማችን እየተንፀባረቀ ነው፡፡ እንኳን በአገር ደረጃ በዓለም ደረጃ ችግር ይፈታል ተብሎ የተቋቋመው የተባበሩት መንግሥታት ድርጅትም ሲልፈሰፈስ፣ ሲከፋፈልና ሲሸማቀቅ እየተስተዋለ ነው፡፡

    ይህ ሁኔታ የሚያሳየው ኢትዮጵያ የራስዋን ችግር ራስዋ ካልፈታች የሌሎችን ዕርዳታና ድጋፍ በመተማመን የምትጠብቀው መፍትሔ እንደሌለ ነው፡፡ የውጮቹ ችግር መፍታታቸው ቀርቶ ችግር እንዳይፈጥሩብን ፈጣሪ ይጠብቀን በሚባልበት ወቅት ላይ ነን፡፡

    2. የአካባቢያችንና አጐራባች አገሮች ሁኔታ አሳሳቢ ነው
    በዓባይ ተፋሰስ ውስጥ የምንገናኛቸው ግብፅና ሱዳን ሁኔታ ወዴት እንደሚያመራ አይታወቅም፡፡ በአንድ በኩል የተሻለ መተባበር ይፈጠራል ተብሎ ሲጠበቅ በሌላ በኩል ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትራችን ሞተው የዓባይ ግድብ ሲስተጓጐል ህልም ማየት የጀመሩ አሉ፡፡ በሌላ በኩል የግብፁ የሙስሊም ወንድማማቾች ቡድን ቀጣይ እንቅስቃሴ ምን ይሆን የሚለው ጥያቄ በአካባቢያችን እያንዣበበ ነው፡፡

    የሱዳንና የደቡብ ሱዳን ግጭት ወዴት እንደሚያመራ አይታወቅም፡፡ ተስማሙና ተታኮሱ የሚል ዜና ጐን ለጐን የሚነገርበት ሁኔታ ላይ ነን፡፡ ጣጣው ወደ ድንበራችን ከተጠጋ ጫናው የከፋ ይሆናል፡፡

    የሶማሊያ ችግርና መከራ አሁንም እንዳለ ነው፡፡ የኤርትራ ችግርና ችግር ፈጣሪነት አሁንም እንዳለ ነው፡፡ አቅም እየቀነሰ መጣ እንጂ የችግር ፈጣሪነት ፍላጐት አሁንም እየተባባሰ ነው፡፡ ኬንያም ፍንዳታ የሚደመጥባትና ስጋት የሚያንዣብብባት አገር እየሆነች ነው፡፡ የየመን ሁኔታ አደገኛ እየሆነ ነው፡፡

    በአኅጉራችን ውስጥ ናይጄሪያና ማሊ ያሉበት ሁኔታ ሲታይም እንዴት ነው ነገሩ የሚያሰኝ ሽብርና ጭንቀት እየተስተዋለበት ነው፡፡ ራቅ ቢልም የሚያስከትለው ችግር አስፈሪ ነው፡፡ ከሃይማኖት ጋር የተያያዘ መከፋፈልና ግጭት ነው የሚታየው፡፡

    3. ያልታሰበና ያልተጠበቀ ግጭትና ችግር በአገራችን ውስጥ ብቅ ጥልቅ እያለ ነው
    ኢትዮጵያ ደሃ አገር ናት ተብላ ትጠቀሳለች እንጂ የኦርቶዶክስ ሃይማኖት ተከታዮች ተከፋፈሉ ተጣሉ፣ የእስልምና ሃይማኖት ተከታዮች ተከፋፈሉ ተጋጩ፣ የእስልምናና የክርስትና ሃይማኖት ተከታዮች ተባሉ፣ ወዘተ የሚል አንሰማም ነበር፡፡ አሁን በመስጊድም በቤተክርስቲያንም አካባቢ ይህን እየሰማን ነው፡፡

    ድሮ እንዲህ ዓይነት ችግር ሲፈጠር ለማስታረቅ ሩጫ ነበር፡፡ አሁን ለማባባስ የሚሯሯጥ ኃይል እንዳለም በግልጽ እየታየ ነው፡፡ መፍትሔ ከማስገኘት ይልቅ የበለጠ ብጥብጥ እንዲከሰት ከውጭም ከውስጥም ግፊት እየበዛ ነው፡፡

    የኑሮ ውድነት ከጭነት ልክ በላይ እየሆነ ነው፡፡ ብር እየመነመነችና እየከሳች ሞት አፋፍ ላይ ናት፡፡ ድንችን፣ ጤፍን፣ ልብስን፣ የቤት ኪራይን፣ ደብተርና ስክሪፕቶን መጋፈጥ ተስኗታል፡፡ የኑሮ ውድነት የሚያስከትለው የወንጀል ድርጊት አለ፡፡

    ተቋማትን በሚገባ አለመገንባታችንና ሥርዓቱን በሁሉም ዘርፍና መስክ አለመሞከራችን ብዙ ቀዳዳዎችን ከመፍጠሩም በላይ፣ ለችግርና ለአደጋ የሚዳርግ ሁኔታ መኖሩ እየተስተዋለ ነው፡፡ የጠቅላይ ሚኒስትራችን መታመም ያስከተለው ጥያቄና አለመረጋጋት ለሁሉም ግልጽ ነው፡፡

    ማዕድን በመገኘቱ ሀብት ተፈጠረ ብለን ደስ ባለን ማግስት ፖታሽ ፍለጋ ሊቋረጥ ነው፤ ነዳጅ የሚፈልግ ኩባንያ ሥራ እንዲያቆም ተደረገ መባሉን ስንሰማ ያሳስበናል፡፡

    መሥርያ ቤቶች ሲልፈሰፍሱና ውሳኔ መስጠት ሲያቅታቸው ማየቱም ወዴት እየሄድን ነው የሚያሰኝ ሆኗል፡፡

    አንድነታችንን የሚፈታተኑ የጠባብ ጐሰኝነትና አካባቢያዊ ስሜት የተላበሱ አስተሳሰቦች እዚህም እዚያም ሲሰሙና በየካፌና በየድራፍት ቤቱ መሟሟቂያ ሲሆኑ ማስተዋልም እ – እ – የሚያሰኝ ሆኗል፡፡

    በዳያስፖራው ያለው ዘረኝነት፣ ጐሰኝነት፣ መከፋፈል፣ መራራቅ፣ ሃይማኖትን መጠቀሚያ ማድረግ፣ ከጠላት ጋር ወግኖ መሟገት፣ አገርንና የአገርን ክብር አሳልፎ መስጠትና ፖለቲካን ቢዝነስ በማድረግ ለአትራፊነት መወራጨት፣ አስፈሪ የሆነ አቋምና እንቅስቃሴ ማድረግ ከዚህ ራቅ ቢልም አሳሳቢ ነው፡፡

    እነዚህ የጠቃቀስናቸው ሁኔታዎች መንግሥትም የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎችም ችግሩን ተገንዝበው ለመፍትሔ እንዲሯሯጡ የሚያስገድዱ ናቸው፡፡ ሆኖም ግን በመንግሥትም ሆነ በገዥው ፓርቲ ኢሕአዴግና እንዲሁም አገር ውስጥ ባሉና ውጭ ባሉ ተቃዋሚዎች ይህ አደጋ ታስቦ ተገቢው እንቅስቃሴ አይታይም፡፡ ችግር እየታየ ነው፡፡ ምን ዓይነት ችግር?

    ሀ. በመንግሥት/ኢሕአዴግ የራዕይ እጥረት አለ
    መንግሥትና ገዢው ፓርቲ ኢሕአዴግ በኢኮኖሚ መስክ ሰፊና የሩቅ ርቀት ራዕይ አላቸው፡፡ ጥሩ ነው፡፡ ነገር ግን የኢኮኖሚው ራዕይ በፖለቲካ ራዕይ የተደገፈ አይደለም፡፡

    – ፍትሕ፣ ሰብዓዊ መብት፣ የፕሬስ ነፃነት፣ የመደራጀት መብት፣ ወዘተ በሕገ መንግሥቱ መሠረት ሥራ ላይ ካልዋሉና ካልተተረጐሙ፣ ኢኮኖሚውንና ልማቱን የሚያደናቅፍ ሁኔታ ሊፈጠር እንደሚችል ግንዛቤና መፍትሔ የማያስቀምጥ ራዕይ ብዥታ አለበት፤ እጥረትና ጥበት አለበት፡፡
    – ሁሉም ነገር በተቋማት ግንባታ ካልተደገፈና ግለሰቦችና ሹመኞች ለተቋማት መስማማት እንዳለባቸው እየተዘነጋ፣ ተቋማት ለግለሰቦች እንዲስማሙ ከተደረገ የሥርዓት ግንባታ የሚባለው እንደማይኖር ነው፡፡ ራዕይ ባለመኖሩ ተባባሪ አይታይምና፡፡
    – ገንዘብ እንደ ገንዘብ፣ ዜጐች እንደ ዜጐች፣ ምሁራን እንደ ምሁራን፣ የግል ዘርፍ እንደ ግል ዘርፍ፣ ሲቪል ማኅበረሰብ እንደ ማኅበረሰብ ለአገር ልማትና ጥንካሬ፣ ለዲሞክራሲያዊ ሥርዓት ግንባታ የማይናቅ ሚና አላቸው የሚለው ራዕይ ባለመኖሩ ‹‹መንግሥት ካለ በሰማይ መንገድ አለ›› የሚል መዝሙር ብቻ እንዲያስተጋባ አድርጓል፡፡ የራዕይ ችግር አለ፡፡
    – ሕግ አውጪ፣ አስፈጻሚና ተርጓሚ የሚባሉት አካላት በሕገ መንግሥቱ እንደሰፈረው ሥራቸውና ኃላፊነታቸው ተለይቶ ባለመታወቁ፣ የሚያስከትለውን ጣጣ ከወዲሁ በመገንዘብ መፍትሔ የማስቀመጥ የራዕይ ችግርም አለ፡፡
    ሌላም ሌላም ብዙ፡፡

ለ. በተቃዋሚዎች በኩል የራዕይ አልባነት ችግር አለ
አገራችን ጠንካራ ተቃዋሚ ያስፈልጋታል፡፡ ሕዝብ አማራጭ ይፈልጋል፡፡ ተቃዋሚዎች ግን አማራጭ ማቅረብም መሆንም አልቻሉም፡፡ የኢኮኖሚ ራዕይ የለም፡፡ የፖለቲካ ራዕይ የለም፡፡ በኪሳቸው ወይም በሆዳቸው አለ ይሉን ይሆናል፡፡ ለሕዝብ በአደባባይ ጠረጴዛ ላይ የተቀመጠ ራዕይ ግን የለም፡፡ ችግሮች አጋጠሙ ሲባል በእነሱ ዙሪያ መጮህ ብቻ ነው የሚታየው፣ የሚደመጠው፡፡ በዋልድባ ጉዳይ፣ በጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ ሕመም ላይ፣ በሌሎች ጉዳዮች ላይ ዜናን እየተከታተሉ መግለጫ ማውጣት እንጂ ራዕይ ይዞ ፖለቲካው እንዲህ መሆን አለበት ሲባል አይሰማም፡፡ ኢኮኖሚው እንዲህ መደረግ አለበት የሚል ራዕይ አይታይም፡፡ አደረጃጀትም እምነትም የለም፡፡

‹‹ኢሕአዴግ ሥልጣን ያስረክብ››፣ ‹‹ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ በሕይወት የሉም››፣ ‹‹ኢሕአዴግ ተከፋፈለ ተሰነጣጠቀ ተባለ›› የሚሉ መፈክሮች ፀሎት ሊሆኑ ይችላሉ፡፡ በውጭ ያሉ ተቃዋሚዎች እንቅስቃሴያቸው በሙሉ አሳፋሪና አሳዛኝ ሆኗል፡፡

በአጠቃላይ ሲታይ ኢትዮጵያ ያለችበት ሁኔታ አሳሳቢና አስጊ ስለሆነ መንግሥት፣ ገዥው ፓርቲና ተቃዋሚዎች ችግሩን ዓይተው መፍትሔ ካላስቀመጡ፣ አገርንና ሕዝብን በማስቀደምና በማሳተፍ ካልተንቀሳቀሱ አደጋ አለ፡፡ ዋ!

*Updated version.

Transforming Ethiopia TE

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