Meles Zenawi-installed ‘robber barons’ spoil the broth in Ethiopia’s single-party state, while drought & famine continue to assail, threaten lives of over 15 million citizens

22 Nov

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

This article is the second part of Meles Zenawi: The aspirant ‘grey eminence’ of Ethiopian politics…
II.   Drought, hunger and political deceit

“የውጭ ድርጅቶች ቃል ገብተዋል፡፡ እስካሁን የደረሰ ዕርዳታ ግን እስከዚህም ነው፡፡ መንግሥት ነው እስካሁን እየሠራ ያለው፡፡ በዋናነት የማስተባበር ሥራ የመንግሥት ድርሻ ነው” (UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION: Foreign organizations have pledged to help. However, to date not significant aid has been received. Therefore, the government is doing the heavy lifting, mainly in coordinating the tasks.”)

– Government spokesperson Getachew Reda
The Reporter on the Nov 16, 2015 encounter with the press

 

Weakest is the TPLF in controlling its lusts

From what we have so far known from daily life of Ethiopians, every facet of the nation suffers from serious lack of responsibility and accountability. These absences are further complicated by the lack of transparency and the rule of law. At every turn, in situations such as, for instance, the present drought and viewed against what is done and undone and the consequent information gap and the huge distrust out there citizens lives are complicated.

Just as an example, I would set about to briefly discuss hereunder the new finance minister Abdul Aziz Mohammed’s remarks to Reuters of November 12, 2015, where he conclusively said, “The government has immediately responded to the humanitarian crisis and so far we have been able to control the impact of the drought”.

How true is this? Is that not a coordinated party/government position each and every government/party official reiterates, even distribution of relief assistance is distributed? Is there any long-term action to counter the persistently increasingly shorter frequency of droughts that of late have shortened their visitations to three years? The conclusion then become potent that, for a regime that has never won the confidence of the Ethiopian people, not only that the minister’s unaudited claim has hit bad nerve among citizens. But also the regime’s information and misinformation all the same just flow like air and wind, with no impact on citizens, sign of failed relations – a sign of deserved illegitimacy.

Also one reason for that is the fact that the regime has brutally and systematically imposed fear on the people; it has deprived them of any right to investigate, consult it or question issues relating to their daily lives or seek clarifications, without the fear of being imprisoned and beaten routinely that has frayed the nation’s nerves.

The finance minister – indeed the regime – in so stating, nevertheless, has given the a damaging impression, i.e.,: (a) it was clearly suppressing information about international involvement so far, while Ethiopia continues to appeal for international help (not to be confused with complaint about inadequacy of aid). Regarding aid receipts, we heard the complaint of communication minister Getachew Reda the regime’s disappointment last press conference it being “insignificant aid”; a week later in an interview with The Reporter of 22 November Mitiku Kassa discussed inadequacy of aid received.

Consequently, the finance minister’s remark is callous, mostly for not showing any concern for the plights of the affected population – a reflection that this perhaps is the drift of how it was discussion within the cabinet. The finance minister also discussed agricultural production being unaffected by the drought, a reference to the 300 mil quintals of harvest for the 2015/2016 season the EPRDF Executive Council decided during its November 2 and 3 sessions; it was expunged from the news story on Fana, a TPLF company and its news outlet, after it was announced to the public and became a but of public joke in the context of habitual TPLF concept of growth and development, which always is perfect in words and paper.

Even further exposing the TPLF’s fiasco about the help it has provided to the affected population is thus the finance minister’s remark that the “government will not divert funds from other projects in its budget to deal with the drought”. This confirms the accusations to date about its policy attitude of indifference. This has thus hit the base of the regime’s tower of lies and inaction, in a situation where the fate of 15 million citizens hangs on in this humanitarian crisis.

Consequently, I am strongly persuaded that the official statement, rather patently boisterous, by the Government Spokesperson of November 16, 2015 was intended, without so saying, to quietly correct the damage by the new finance minister’s unrestrained dismissal of the drought’s impact, which for all intents and purposes, is an official position of the regime. In that context, while repeatedly emphasizing that the drought is not “outside the government’s ability to control”, the spokesperson tried to disown the finance minister’s remark. He stressed that government is ready, if it comes to that, to delay some projects in order to address the needs of the drought-affected population (“የተከሰተው ድርቅ አሁን ካለበት ደረጃ ከፍ የሚል ከሆነም መንግስት የጀመራቸውን ፕሮጀክቶች እስከ ማዘግየት የደረሰ ማንኛውንም ድጋፍ ያደርጋልም ብለዋል ሚኒስትሩ።”)

This is not simply because the finance minister Abdul Aziz Mohammed is new. Rather it is because someone higher up suddenly changes course and says something that the man in the portfolio simply must accept and support.

Consequently, Ethiopia’s problem at the moment is not simply poverty and underdevelopment. But it is systemic, at the base of which also is the accountability issue and the quality of policy hands the country has, individuals that operate in an environment without the commensurate devolution of authority and accountability.

It is this situation compels me to state how right Nobel Laureate Prof Amartya Sen must has been when for the nth time he clerarly stated on May 12, 2011 in The New York Review of Books, “famines tend not to occur at all when there is a functioning democracy”. In elaborating this further, he wrote:

“The reality of that danger revealed itself in a catastrophic form in the Chinese famine of 1959–1962, which killed more than 30 million people, when there was no public pressure against the regime’s policies, as would have arisen in a functioning democracy. Mistakes in policy continued for three years while tens of millions died.”

I might add here a good example to explain why Ethiopian frustrations are deepening; for that, I would take one latest action from our own sub-region. I could not fathom the depth of my joy when I read/heard the encouraging news report a little over a week ago about the successful action of Kenyan journalists’ – administratively hosted by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). In their national interests, they courageously investigated activities of Kenyan defense forces in Somalia Journalists for Justice as agency. They successfully exposed collaboration between Kenyan forces and Al-Shabab in sugar tax and charcoal trade. I smiled inside out, until I realized there was a lump in my throat, only to realize that the Ethiopian media is merely an instrument for the vacuous TPLF propaganda.

Even at this controversial time and in the face of the persistent drought at its worst threatening the lives of 15 million fellow citizens, Ethiopian journalists cannot make simple reportage on the extent of the drought, since they have adjusted themselves to the of tangoing with the minority ethnic regime, despite the harms it has been doing to our people and the nation. The TPLF regime has been involved in machinations and cover-ups in all sorts of ways, utilizing journalists as its main instrument, along with the office of Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector (DRMFSS) and the ruling party’s information bureau, in concert with the office of the prime minister and his deputy, who happens to be chairman of the national relief coordiantion efforts. That is why democracy and good governance have been dangerously derailed.

Right at this very moment, the sense is that the population in most of the drought-affected parts of Ethiopia are either neglected, or considered hostages, movements disallowed so that hungry people would not trekk into the cities and towns. They are, therefore, held in their own villages or places without sufficient food and water, surrounded by cadres and militia. As mentioined above, the contradiction is that the regime claims on the media it has been doing everything possible and also has delivered help, according to Communication Minister Getachew Reda. He impudently asserted that the “government [is] ensuring that these people get their internationally established standard daily calorific intake”. Not only that this is the folly of an attention-seeking person, which I hope would be haunted by this for the rest of his adult life until he realizes in the course of his growing up into a human being, instead of remaining just a man in power who would allow himself to become ድንጋይ እንደ ሰበረ ቅል!
Issues and problems surrounding the drought

The present widespread Ethiopian drought and famine, affecting six of the country’s nine regions is, therefore, viewed as national betrayal and source of anger between concerned Ethiopians and the denials by officials of the regime of their policies being part of the problem. On both the surface and in closer examination and on the basis of lessons learned – I submit – origin of the controversies perhaps a substantial part of it – can be traced to the profound suspicion Ethiopians harbor toward the ideology and politics of the ethnic minority regime in power.

Ethiopia’s problems are manifold however. As stated in Part I of this article, with frequencies of the cyclical drought growing shorter, the challenges to our people and our nation are worsening.

Nonetheless, the first sign of shift and a degree of transparency in the regime’s position came on November 22, in a news story dealing with the adverse effect of the drought situation in Eastern Hararghe, Oromiya region. For the first time, TPLF officials admitted that the drought was far worse than anticipated. Farmers in the area openly complained to the administration that the aid they receive is inadequate and they also suffer from lack of drinking water. At the same time, it was seen that the 300 million quintals of agricultural produces the EPRDF Executive Council decided upon is off the mark by 9 million quintals, given that more than the 12 million quintals was built in into the assumption from this now drought affected sub-region. Because of that, they indicated that the drought has entailed a loss of 9 mil quintals.

Most worryingly, the bad thing about shorter cycle of droughts and famines is that with each onset citizens lose their vital assets (animals, seeds, substantive foods such as meat, milk and butter). If one is lucky, recovery requires a minimum of five years under better conditions, i.e., if aid aims beyond the needs of immediate recovery and another drought does not occur in the meantime. In the event of misfortune, families sink into deepening poverty in this poorest of nations, just for the mere reason it has successively lacked the leadership such developmental problems require.

The consequence of this is that, in a country where small-scale farmers constitute over 90 percent of agricultural producers, without a doubt Ethiopia’s chances of attaining food security is intermittently postponed, as we have seen through these decades. In 2012, I wrote an article based on Bill Gates’ pledges to bring Ethiopia to a state of food security by 2015, as was also foreseen in the First Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). Yes, Bill Gates put his money where his mouth is, even identifying expertise and technologies.

And yet Ethiopia is not moving forward in agricultural production, especially productivity growth, because its small-scale producers get smitten from time to time by drought with shorter frequencies and government incompetence. How many times have we heard/read in the past three months alone individual farmers complaining about losing 40, 80 and 110 heads of livestock, sheeps or goats, and their lands are charred dry?

While the over-rated Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), which was established in 2005 is designed to provide food and cash to the rural poor facing chronic food insecurity, this effort may have saved people from needless deaths. But the idea that it is designed to enable farmers resist such shocks, has misfired. To start with, it is a confused and confusing mechanism, posing as a development tool, when a development agent from a donor country speaks, its function, among others, being:

    (a) facilitating rural transformation

(b) encouraging households to engage in production and investment

(c) promoting market development by increasing household purchasing power.

Nevertheless, serious data show that those graduating to this over a period of five years has been very insignificant – without the program having any sound graduation criteria and capacity to realize.

When an expert or a donor feels like it, PSNP is cast simply as a mechanism designed to protect the chronically poor from death by hunger and famine. Bear in mind that this program came into existence in the wake of the bloody election in Ethiopia, which shook the TPLF regime, with an all-round Ethiopian vote across the country wanting to throw it out of power. The TPLF came out with guns it killed hundreds of people and declared itself a winner. Another expert from a different donor country has a different idea about PSNP.

The DFID and the World Bank came with the PSNP idea to take the pressure off the TPLF back by supporting the millions of hungry people with international humanitarian assistance for nearly a decade now, which otherwise has neither enabled poor farmers to support themselves nor the regime has anything to offer them. This shows that it is intended as an international food aid mechanism to sustain some people above the dead and below the fully living, since economic growth, double- or single-digit, is not to capable of sustaining them.

If the interest is in the efficacious functioning of PSNP for impact, to give the people a leg up, donors and the World Bank need to closely review this project and reform it as necessary, although it is unlikely there would be interest to do so at this point.

I remember reading materials from development experts, who had already called for a revision of this program, with a view to ensuring in the forthcoming cycle improvements in “redesign of asset building measures to ensure improved climate resilience while avoiding a simple reinforcement of existing coping mechanisms at the individual level.”

Another impediment may be that the UK likes the present arrangement. The House of Commons was told in early 2014 the cost differential for delivering humanitarian assistance is $53 through PSNP to $169 margin otherwise. To this exercise, it is reported that Ethiopia contributes only 1.1 percent of GDP, according to the UK House of Commons International Development Committee information.
TPLF on rough road with the international humanitarian community

At the same time, to the dismay and frustration of the regime, this evolving present humanitarian crisis has once again become an agenda of international conversations – as in the case of any other disaster around the world. For this, we heard/read not long ago the regime’s spokesperson rudely blaming others for his regime’s discomfort with actions by the United Nations emergencies arm OCHA and donors, on whom all these years the millions of chronically non-self supporting Ethiopians have depended for humanitarian assistance, including through the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP).

It follows thus that, at a briefing for local journalists on Monday 16 November, Getachew Reda admitted that there are many issues regarding this drought that the regime and the international humanitarian community do not see eye to eye.

This especially relates to the mentioning of drought and famine next to Ethiopia’s name, which the regime would have liked to stop through censorship and media blackout, if it could, or denying voluntary agencies visa and permits to enter and operate in the country. At this point, the disagreement is over the number of affected population and whether the government is adequately paying its share to save lives and leading the aid coordination tasks as effectively, keeping politics out of humanitarian issues.

I recall that it is in contempt of this hyporcisy – Russian roulette the TPLF loves to play even in conditions of much-feared drought – The Economist of August 13, 2009 linked it to the “the harsher personality” of dictator Meles Zenawi, who otherwise the paper admired for ‘his sharp mind and elephantine memory.” However, as pertains to whether there is/was a drought/famine in Ethiopia at any time and irrespective of the reality, the magazine claims, the mention of drought often drew against anyone a charge by the dictator – physically narrowing his eyes and with a growl – “That is a lie, an absolute lie”!

As I tried to indicate in Part I of this article, the denial of the humanitarian crisis has historical roots, even well-tailored policies and dedicated structure under the direct control of senior TPLF officials, known as the Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector (DRMFSS). Unlike its predecessor the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) in the past – managed and run by well qualified professionals – on the contrary DRMFSS’s primary role has been restricted to playing the numbers, with every occurrence of the cyclical drought showing as fewer affected people as possible. Since they cannot hide drought at all – to create the impression, if anything, they often want to hear that the drought was mild – a clear example of politics at work while it trumps human necessities and considerations.

Donors and international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are thus prohibited from quoting any number outside those agreed with DRMFSS, the negotiation of which many expatriates find extremely tragic and troubling. On the same point, just note that the TPLF has recently communicated to international organizations, both inter-governmental and non-governmental, not to issue information on drought-related deaths.

Ethiopians also just learned that the regime has finalized preparations to revise the Charities and Societies Proclamation No. 621/2009. It is reported that its 112 articles would be compressed into stern 45 articles. It seems, the whole idea comes out of recognition that such societies would remain a feature of Ethiopian life, given the country’s vulnerabilities. At the same time, the TPLF is scheming to effectively control their activities, while it squeezes as much benefit to be had from their involvement. The Reporter quotes a government official close to the new revised legislation, which would come into force in 2016, who emphasized that under the new legislation voluntary organizations would be required to base their activities on good principles and also educating morality, an ironic demand by an amoral regime.

This contradictory approach by the TPLF-run Ethiopian state has its origin in dictator Meles Zenawi’s policy. To this day, it remains an immutable TPLF position, the senior officials mimicking the late dictator on any and all issues, who often was accused of practicing lies as policy instrument.

Thus on one side, as usual, the drought the TPLF/EPRDF regime cannot wish away is likely to recur; the regime thus considers it a better approach to play down both its extent and impact. This is done at the risk of the affected population and the nation itself, since the consequences of droughts linger for a long time, in some cases for foreseeable decades – until Ethiopia learns to think in earnest about its drought resistance future – not simply the politics of hide and seek.

On the other hand, the United Nations and the international humanitarian community have been expressing views, based on the reality – aggregated from within country field experiences by care/voluntary agencies – gained while delivering and directing aid on the ground, which in line with seriousness of the problem OCHA has been releasing on a weekly basis.
Begging for food aid, some hypocrisy & pretensions

The underlying controversies and international conversations, discussed above, are not whether the present drought would be the worst in the country’s history ever, which is an academic question. Rather the root of the problem is the TPLF/EPRDF regime’s succumbing to its basest political and ideological instincts of image-conscious pretensions on one side, including constantly posing in its habitual search for enemies, and hubris on the other.

It is in this context that I fully share the insight in the excellent analysis by Ben Parker in his How bad is the drought in Ethiopia? In that article, he states:

    “Political sensitivity, donor pressures, logistics, media distortion, inefficiency and scepticism may yet conspire to tip more Ethiopians into “Phase 4”” – [Phase IPC 4 is a situation wherein a household group experiences short-term instability; and it is possible that a household group may have extreme food consumption gaps. This would result in very high acute malnutrition or excess mortality. It is also possible that a household may have extreme loss of livelihood assets. This is likely to lead to food consumption gaps.]

At home and abroad, many fear that the much-needed quicker and concerted action against the crisis has already been hampered, as evidenced by the regime’s contradictory statements and the groping in the dark, mostly characterized by its passiveness. We are saying this now, 10 months after the first early warning FEWS.net has issued. That not heeded, we see a situation evolving in which possibly the lives of 15 million citizens is continuing to be at risk. For a sometime now, the shortage of international funding was put at $288 million for the period up until the end of 2015, according to the United Nations.

Interestingly, since the beginning of mid-November Ethiopian officials are showing some flexibility as to the size of the affected-population. While complaining that the international humanitarian community has only pledged $163 million to date, the actual requirement they say is $596.4 million, according to Sunday’s Amharic language The Reporter, which quotes Mitku Kassa, the man in charge of DRMFSS.

In that interview, Mitiku Kassa, the man opposed moving the number above 4.5 million during the summer, later agreed to the 8.2 million, now showing willingness to move up to the idea of higher population figure in need of assistance, as high as 15 to 20 million. In that respect, he said:

    “ድርቁ እየጠነከረ ከሄደ እ.ኤ.አ በ2016 ጃንዋሪ ወር የተጎጂዎች ቁጥር 15 ሚሊዮን ሊሆን ይችላል” የሚል ትንበያ ነው፡፡ የትንበያውን ትክክልነት ለማወቅና የተረጂዎችን ቁጥር ለመለየት ከጥቅምት 13 ቀን 2008 ዓ.ም. ጀምሮ 216 ባለሙያዎች ያሉዋቸው 24 ቡድኖች፣ በ134 ተሽከርካሪዎች በስምንት መኸር አብቃይ አርሶ አደሮች አካባቢ ተሰማርተው ነበር፡፡ አሁን በክልል ደረጃ ጨርሰው ወደ ፌዴራል ተመልሰው በመሥራት ላይ ናቸው፡፡ እነሱ የሚያቀርቡት ቁጥር መጀመሪያ በክልሎች እንዲፀድቅ ይደረጋል፡፡ ቀጥሎ በብሔራዊ አደጋ መከላከልና ዝግጁነት ኮሚቴ ከፀደቀ በኋላ፣ ከለጋሾቹ ጋር በጋራ በመሆን ይፋ ይደረጋል፡፡ ይህ እ.ኤ.አ በ2016 ተግባራዊ ይሆናል፡፡ በአሁኑ ወቅት 15 ሚሊዮን፣ 20 ሚሊዮንና ሌላም የሚለው ልዩነት ምላሽ ያገኛል፡፡”

(UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION: “Existing prediction is that, as the drought situation gets worse, the size of the affected population would grow to 15 million starting from January 2016. To vet accuracy of this, as of October 13, 2015 a team of 216 experts, spread out in 24 teams in 134 vehicles, had been visiting eight autumn growing areas. Having completed their mission at the level of regions, they are now back working at the federal level. The number of affected population they come up with would be first approved by the regions. Those figures would be reviewed and approved by DRMFSS. It is that number that would in time be official for donors in 2016. The 15 million claim that now is mentioned everywhere would be clarified whether it is 15 million, 20 million or any other difference that may arise finding solutions.”)

While concerns about the rising number of the affected population is appropriate and reasonable, OCHA’s preoccupations about present needs being very strong is in order. That is why on Monday 16 November 2015 itissued a stern warning about the dangers before Ethiopians in six drought-affected regions between now and the beginnings of the New Year, pointing out:

“With a three to five month lead time, the window of opportunity to procure and preposition emergency food and nutrition supplies for early 2016 is rapidly closing.”

While WFP has target population to feed, for instance, 1.5 million people now in Somali region alone, it has only found seven percent of the $228 million it requires to help 700,000 children and nursing mothers, which spares the program from suspending its operations. In the absence of other sources of financing, OCHA has made $17 million OCHA contributions from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for use for the purpose.

On account of this, the impression many Ethiopians get is that the needs of a huge number of Ethiopians in this extensive humanitarian crisis could not be, and have not been, addressed adequately and with the seriousness it deserves, despite the claims of the TPLF otherwise.

For instance, while the TPLF/EPRDF officials speak of spending six billion birr ($285 mil) on drought assistance thus far, mainly on wheat order from abroad, the drought relief coordinating committee chair Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen is often asleep on the wheel.

Demeke seems comfortable that his regime would address all the needs of the affected population with the imported food, pointing out that the 200,000 tons that had reached Djibouti port would be transported to the hinterland when the newly-installed rail route and trains are up and running; yes it started Friday, November 20. However, one thing he has ignored is the problem of distribution, such as transport into the different pockets of the country and into the hinterland, in a land beset by isolation and barriers to communication. In addition to this, there is also the usual TPLF political and ideological screening to separate the hungry ‘friends’ with rights from from the hungry ‘foes’ (not supporters), bringing once again into the operation the regime’s cruel and dirty politics in food distribution to the hungry!

China-made trains with Chinese language code (EBC photo)

In celebration of the end of the Franco-Ethiopian Railway era and opening of the Sino-Ethiopian chapter, as seen here the China-made trains speaking to Ethiopians with Chinese language as they begin to ferry wheat from Djibouti port to the hinterland to the drought-affected population (ECB photo)

It is also understood that the remaining 400,000 tons of wheat, not yet on order, is intended for price stabilization measures mostly in the cities due to the double-digit inflation that has been impoverishing citizens, with the killer prices of foods and other consumption commodities.

This part of the efforts regarding the 400,000 tons of wheat would surely receive priority. If the past is any guide, such imported foods may not go to the drought-affected population, because of official corruption. Aware of this and the scrutiny from all directions on the state and its actors, on November 16 during the briefing to local journalists by government Spokesperson Getachew Reda – notoriously known for his unsanitized talk and brazenness – warned severe actions against such crimes – employing the harshest of languages: “በመጥፎ ሥራው መሰቀል ያለበት ኃላፊ ካለ ይሰቀል” (UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION: An official who must be hanged because of bad deeds needs to be hanged.”)
Double-digits growth & ltra retirement benefits for senior officials

The regime has a history of thriving in confusion and troubled situations. This present conflicting information about the drought situation is coming out. It has to grapple with its own necessity to defend its years of lies about the double-digit growths, which have reduced human and national growths in Ethiopia into a numbers’ galore.

For the TPLF now, it feels it has reached a stage, when it is being compelled to show that Ethiopia under its leadership has indeed grown by double-digits for 12 years. Accordingly, the Man in the Prime Minister’s Office last summer told visiting diaspora that donors that traditionally and instantly jump to their feet to give aid to Ethiopia, whenever drought is predicted are now waiting to see how the country is handling it this time around with its growths. This a terribly self-serving lie.

It is in this context that he was emphatic in stating that the government has done very well, without any foreign assistance regarding the drought, and not a single child had entered feeding center. This was a misrepresentation of reality. The US Ambassador in Ethiopia Patricia Haslach had already been to SNNPR on August 13 and 14, 2015 to a feeding center, where under-five children and nursing-mothers were being assisted in US-provided feeding camp in Humbo woreda!

Another attempt by the TPLF regime focussed on giving the impression of being both capable of spending resources on the drought victims as well as building a luxurious lifestyle for its retiring senior government officials. The latter is about the generous benefits beyond the country’s capacity, just as Meles Zenawi had wanted it and legalized it in Proclamation No. 653/2009, which since September 9, 2009 has been in force.

As the title of this law indicates, its provisions are applicable to “Outgoing Heads of State and Government, Senior Government Officials, Members of Parliament and Judges.” Among others, in the first round now it provides them with fully equipped villas, swmming pools for six regime senior officials in the first round.

Each residential unit is estimated to cost taxpayers of a poor country ETB25 million ($1.3 million USD); these are constructed in especially selected residential area, while also some other areas are under preparation for more, some of the residents dislocated earlier from the lands and their houses demolished(watch video below).

Ethiopia had 22,000 senior federal officials in 2010, according to the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC), whose wealths needed registering. In 2013, their number had jumped to 50,000, which by 2015 has doubled to 90,000, whose properties it has already registered but could not make public. It is not clear whether all of these officials are eligible for such first world luxurious retirement benefits, leafed from the US practice in the Former Presidents Act (FPA) (Ref: Former Presidents: Federal Pension and Retirement Benefits, 98-249 GOV).

Is Ethiopia in a position to provide such luxury to a few privileged individuals, while much of the country is in a very desperate situation? This cannot be seen any differently from how farmers see infestation of their farms by locusts! The TPLF would have to think twice before it breaks the back of the nation!

For lack of better example, in this situation the folly of the TPLF/EPRDF regime and the shoddy manner the officials are handling the drought situation and also show the lies about the double-digit growths finds no better parallel than the folly of Icarus and his craftsman father Daedalus, from ancient Greek drama.

Father and son decided to escape from prison in the Labyrinth wall of King Minos of Crete, built by the craftsman father himself. Once agreed about the escape, the father built two wings, made of feathers glued together by wax; he handed to his son one of them, warning him not to fly near the sun since the wax would melt. Icarus did not listen to his father’s warning and while he was enjoying the flight, he ended up doing what his father had told him not to do and the sun melted his wing and ended up falling to his death.
Governmental inefficiencies, politics and drought

The people in power have the temerity to falsely continuing to drumbeat, against all resistance and discounting, propagation of their false numbers of growths and development. Strangely and consistently, these come in double-digits even in the face of profound disasters and droughts. In times of hunger and poverty, even fudged inflation figures are also in double-digits for both headline inflation (11.8% in October since June 2015) and food inflation (16.2 percent in October since March 2015). I am not referring here to the 39 months of double-digit inflation up until September 2013!

Inevitably, undeniable is the fact that Ethiopians have been saddened and are angry by the quarter-century of internal bantustanization of their nation – an outcome of the miscarriage of TPLF’s sleazy federalism and thus the fractured state of the nation. Many able experts have expressed their views on this and its purpose is known to be serving the Front’s parochial interests of taking control of Ethiopia and its resources; and this has happened, as we saw it in the case of the agricultural and urban lands grab. What the TPLF has not realized is that, instead of its unchallenged continuity, the reality of its oppression and economic looting are fast and inevitably becoming cause for the onset of the present undoing of their ‘ethnic order’ in most corners of an otherwise peace-loving nation!

How has the TPLF managed to pull all these mischiefs? I never realized rather did not even try to understand, why the singer keeps on repeating the chorus “In the desert you never remember your name…” Now I get its meaning when I see what the use and threats of use of force, bribery and official lie have done to our country.

Sadly, Western security interests in the sub-region and the TPLF’s needs for their support have coincided. This has led to the securitization of Ethiopia’s development interests and possibilities in exchange for political and diplomatic, economic and security support the TPLF needed. Others kept their eyes fixed on the market/economic/investment opportunities at the present and in Ethiopia’s future, a good example of which is China. See that Beijing takes all economic and infrsastructre contracts, while in the context of the current drought it has chosen to limit its generoistty to a pledge of $8 million, relative to the US’s $97 million.

Also on the other side, such is the deal that President Obama made clear he officially endorsed this from the Ethiopian National Palace in Addis Abeba on July 27, 2015 with great acclaim, saying: “So we don’t need to send our own Marines [Somalia], for example, in to do the fighting. The Ethiopians are tough fighters…That’s why, in the past, I’ve said, for example, that the work that we’re doing in Somalia is a model.”

In 2015 and going forward, the above accusations by Ethiopians against the TPLF/EPRDF regime have crystallized into, among others:

    *   Charges of looting the popular vote in the May 2015 election that has culminated in reducing Ethiopia into single-party state, whose middle name has become Africa’s North Korea. This was first darted by none other than the outgoing UK

Ambassador Greg Dorey

    in Addis Abeba, who used his appropriate attribution to indicate the UK’s point of view of the implications of TPLF/EPRDF’s electoral 100 percent victory in the May election saying, “It is starting to sound as if the ruling party and its allies will have a 100 percent of the seats in parliament. And I think that is not good for democracy; that is what you get in places like North Korea.”

*   The regime’s uses of the memories of those 30 ISIS-slain Ethiopians in April 2015 for political ends to suppress the legal opposition, some of whose members are in both prison even at this moment and others in and out of courts

*   Its lack of sympathy for Ethiopian refugees burnt alive in South Africa this year and those refugees that perished in Saudi and its coalition bombing in Yemen

*   Disparaging memories of those citizens that are lost in the high seas while fleeing TPLF’s repression and hopelessness, and

*   Disregard of the rights of those high number of Ethiopians that are languishing in prisons of East African nations for illegally entry into their respective countries, right from Kenya to Malawi, Tanzania to Mozambique, Zambia to Zimbabwe on their way to South Africa in search of a better life and relative freedoms and human dignity.

As it happens, what characterizes the relations between the governors and the governed, both at home and abroad, has been their power on one side and the state of subjects under an environment lacking the rule of law on the other. This has often manifested itself by the resultant terror the persistent brutal repressions engender, harassment, imprisonment and extrajudicial killings, denial of freedoms, deep-rooted corruption and nepotism. Add to this the regime’s gross incompetence and inefficiency.

In consequence, this has relegated Ethiopia over time to the tail end of nations on all reputable international indices and in all critically important areas of national development – even by Sub-Saharan African standards. The equation in the above two paragraphs says the TPLF regime is not addressing the drought problems from its roots.

*Updated, with added information.

(To be continued)

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