By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
They do not get it, do they? The TPLF authorities in Addis Abeba are still more preoccupied with minimizing threats of the current drought to their image. In fact, contrary to the danger arising from lessening, experts comfortably describe it as the worst in half a century.
Nonetheless, on January 5, 2016 Spokesperson Getachew Reda softly admitted that the number of those in need of assistance has now reached 10.2 million. This may be news to TPLF insiders, but not Ethiopians. Already for a while now, the world has rightly been speaking in terms of 15 million Ethiopians becoming its unfortunate victims.
The young and less informed spokesman than his post requires then turned to making the point donor response to the drought situation has been sluggish. In that regard, he stressed that the affected 10.2 million population are being assisted by his government. At the same time, he did not feel uncomfortable in underlining that his regime is in need of $1.4 billion before next month.
How long this, treachery, cover up and hypocrisy? Hungry Ethiopians, surrounded by armed militia, as if Ethiopia is North Korea from the get go, complain the moment they see outsiders that they do not have food to eat, water to drink or feed small children.
What the young controversial spokesperson has missed is that, if the regime has taken care of the people why would they complain whenever they get an opening that they have been left to their devices? Notwithstanding that, hungry people are clamouring for food, which he amazingly overlooks and reiterates that the government is reaching all the affected districts with food aid, including nourishing foods to children. How could he explain this if any honesty and transparency are left in him?
When the media these days is dramatizing the hunger situation in Madaya, Syria, Idlib province of an estimated 400,000 people, and to a lesser extent in two other besieged towns of Fouaa and Kefryaa, I could not help wondering why the radar ignores the equally affected populations, if not more, in hunger-stricken Ethiopia that have been reduced as to become invisible or non-existent.
Partly the fault is that of the regime in Ethiopia. It could not be forthcoming to the Ethiopian people and the world at large with the information. Its concern has been its image – if at all there is one to protect – which its constant shouting of hurrah about its non-existent capacity to feed its people forcing donors to concentrate in other needy areas of the world.
The fact remains that, economic growth or without it, the international community has been doing the heavy lifting in Ethiopia for several years now, feeding as high 10 to 12 million Ethiopians every year that on continual basis require international food aid under a mechanism with a deceptive name – Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP). It helps keep body and soul together; but its success in helping poor people stand on their feet has not been sufficiently established, despite the pro-PSNP World Bank’s megaphone!
Why isn’t the big mouth TPLF that seems to be in a contest ‘competition’ to beat China’s 30-plus-years of successful double-digit growths, boringly loud-talking about its own – when most of the benefits have either enriched a small group of TPLF members or to the tune of $26 bill has been siphoned off from Ethiopia in a decade in illicit financial outflows.
It seems to calm the national anger now that Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael, TPLF’s vice-chairman, on Monday January 11, 2016 announced that the TPLF regime has already started investigations how rich government officials have become rich, with government salary.
What he has not anticipated is that the questions on social media that ask him who would investigate the investigator TPLF officials, who do not give a hoot to the rule of law or societal norms!