August 24, 2013

by T.Goshu

Framing the topic of my comment in this way is not either to pretend with a “YES, great is done” impression; or to seem pessimistic with a “NO, nothing is done” attitude.” It is rather to express my point of view from the perspective of thedirection and the pace of the struggle against the challenges we continue to face. My very intention is to under-score the need to engage in conversations that should help to put our political direction in a much more appropriate and right manner; and make the pace of our political discourse faster and steadier. I want to remain rationally optimistic about the ongoing political reawakening being led by genuinely concerned political opposition parties and movements accompanied by a relatively vigorous popular participation. These very remarkably courageous movements for the realization of genuine political freedom and respect for human rights/dignity and socio-economic justice require deep and sincere engagement in dealing with the issue of how to keep our direction in the right trail and our pace at an acceptable rate. And that is the very purpose of my opinion. I hope all genuinely concerned fellow Ethiopians will come up with valuable ideas or views that could be used as feasible inputs in the process of fighting for the right and legitimate cause so that the untold sufferings of the people should end sooner, not later.

1. The political direction:

1.1 When it comes to the question of who is following the right direction in the political arena of the country, it has never been uncommon to hear from every political actor including the dictators who are in power claiming the credit for being right. Every political actor including the most tyrannical regime such as TPLF/EPRDF swears in the name of democracy and justice without any sense of shame or guilt. It is totally ridiculous to witness the inner circle of the ruling party telling the innocent people of Ethiopia whose lives have miserably been messed up and continue being destroyed that their country is making an amazing progress in every aspects of life. The people are boringly being told that the sword of “revolutionary democracy” is not only the right direction but the best medication for age-old political illnesses. It is extremely difficult to make any sense out of this kind of tested but miserably failed political direction which has caused an unprecedented disgrace to the country and dehumanization to her people. Sadly enough, the current members of the inner circle of TPLF/EPRDF continue playing with this very wrong, if not horrible political direction with a much more deadly behavior and practice. They (the ruling elites) do not have any human common sense when they try to convince the people who are victims of a very cynical and hypocritical political path for the last 21 years. They continue insulting the intelligences of the people by throwing up all kinds of trash propaganda to the extent of claiming that nobody else have brought about and continue to bring about a heaven-like situation to the country except them. They preach (better to say deceive) that what they have implemented and are continuing to do so is the principles and values enshrined in the constitution. I have never come across any section or chapter of the constitution that gives power and duty to a bunch of ruling elites to rule by any cruel means including intimidation, suppression, dehumanization, arbitrary mass arrests, torture, and killings. As far as the reality on the ground going on in our country is concerned, that is the direction the ruling elites continue to claim that they are doing great and right. Simply put, they put the constitution upside down and use it to punish those whom they believe are against their dirty political game. I do not know what kind of right direction they are talking about while they are totally disregarding their own governing document, and grossly violating the fundamental political and human rights of the innocent people of Ethiopia. Tragically enough, they unequivocally reaffirm their determination that their “great and right political direction” could be changed on their graves only, not in their life time. Is this not an extremely evil-driven political ideology that makes the very direction of the country absolutely dangerous? That was of course the very deadly political reaffirmation reiterated by the late Ato Meles Zenawi; and continues to be the continuation of his “biblical vow” that is currently being recited as “his great and pre-determined legacy.” It is an open secret that the current senselessly ruthless action by the TPLF/EPRDF regime against innocent citizens is a clear testimony of how the political direction of our country is at a very worrisome cross-road. As the disparity between what they ( the ruling elites) preach and the most miserable direction they practically took the country for the last quarter of a century speaks loud and clear, I am not going to discuss here any further. What is hereafter very critically important is to focus on the question of how to reverse the wrong direction and replace it with a right direction that could take us to the right destination we want to be; not wasting time and energy regurgitating the horrible political crime committed by tyrannical ruling party. This takes us to the following question:

1.2 How do we see the way the opposition forces have done and are continuing to do so? There is no doubt that the duty and the responsibility to lead the country to the right political path and subsequently to the desired destination mainly rets on the political leadership in power. But how the political opposition actors get themselves organized, and how they act in such a way that they should lead their political direction in a persistent and effective way is so critical. And this has to be appropriately recognized and properly addressed. Any political opposition force that simply criticizes and condemns the deadly political path of tyrants, but not critically acknowledging its dysfunctional way of doing things and doing something about the issue of advancing its own political road map tends to be part of the problem, not the solution. Needless to say, the history of the political space in the country had never been less-hostile leave alone accommodative or tolerant towards political dissent. This had been true throughout the political history before the 1970s revolution. Unfortunately enough, things turned into a complete tragedy since the second half of the 1970s. The political parties who vowed to fight against the military dictatorship and to work together for the establishment of civil and democratic government went completely to opposite directions.

The typical and teachable example is the case of Meison and EPRP. Being unwilling and unable to sit down and if possible iron out their differences and keep marching together, if not disagree not to agree but not become enemies; they killed each other (Meison allying with the military and EPRP against the two.) Imagine how taking a wrong direction because of all kinds of reasons including personal egos and voracious group interests could damage the political direction the Ethiopian people desperately aspire to follow. I am well aware that these political groups now are in good terms and that is great. But I am not sure how far they have contributed to the efforts being made to get our political direction right compared to their relatively long-term and bitter experiences. It must be noted here that these groups have been parts of certain coalitions, united democratic forces, democratic alternative forces and the like. If I am not mistaken they currently are parts of the Congress for the Ethiopian People Struggle and some other form of Union (hibret). That is a desirable and right direction. My concern is that a) forming a form without a seriously significant change of attitude (I should be on top!) does not prevent us from making the same senseless mistake. I often listen not only to some leaders of those groups but also groups like the Transitional Council reiterating their interest to work closely with others ; but they do not want to take sincere initiation by knocking at the doors of those who claim to be part of the struggle. b) Yes, it is ok to have some sort of basic factors to work together. But it does not make politically a lot of sense not to take initiation and have a kind of conversation or discussion with those who do not agree with our “preconditions.” I know one of most mentioned precondition is accepting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. I Wholly agree! But I do not believe isolating those who may be interested to justify the reason why they are skeptical or reluctant is helpful. What I am saying is that it is only by carefully listening and respecting one’s concern that we could create a positive attitude and healthy political climate. I strongly believe that the most difficult but desirable effort in our political culture is to deal with the most difficult issues that we do not agree with.

With regard to the political opposition parties back home such as UDJ/Medker, All Ethiopian, Semayawi, the 33(32); it seems to me that they are relatively making progress in the making of their political direction more meaningful and feasible. However, I still have serious concerns that must be dealt with critically, but constructively and amicably. Let us not forget that our politicians are parts and parcels of a society that has suffered a lot from a very backward, intolerable and highly personalized political culture. And that is why we witness the very essence of integrity is lacking behind and causes our political direction being vulnerable to the dirty political games of tyrannical ruling circle. And that is why coalitions /congresses/fronts/ united democratic forces have fallen apart repeatedly. Yes, there is no doubt that those in political power do not leave any stone unturned to get the opposition disintegrated. Needless to say, they either buy individuals to infiltrate the opposition (like they did to Kinijit –lidetu and Chameso) or exploit some politicians of the opposition camp who run away from their parties whenever their self-interest conflicts with the interest of the general public or the general will. As a matter of political reality, certain interests of conflicts either at individual or intra-group and inter-group level are not avoidable but they are and they should be manageable and controllable. The isue we have to deal with is that as our political culture is not matured yet to handle those normal and non-avoidable challenges in an effective and productive manner, there is a reason to be concerned. I can mention the following few examples that need to be addressed and dealt with as they could cause troubles to the recent efforts being made to lead the political struggle in a relatively more assertive direction a) the recent remarks (interview) given by Ato Yilqal about the performance and capacity of other political parties, and the step taken by the 32. I got an impression that Ato Yilqal’s comment is unwisely framed and unnecessarily stretched b) the exchange of seemingly difficult conversations between UDJ and Medrek because of certain unproductive comments by some members of Medrek. C) How Medrek and the 32(33) are moving their common agendas in the right and relatively bright direction d) the political mentality of my generation has more capacity, energy and experience than this or that generation e) the problem of not forwarding critical, positive and complementary views and comments about others f) the attitude of staying away from close collaboration with others by citing past failures not as teachable moments but scary happenings which I believe is very general and a bit clumsy . Yes, it is the right thing to take a rational and well-measured move toward making close and strong cooperation or alliances. But simply presenting or citing past failures not to make a timely and badly needed collaboration turns to be a clumsy excuse for not sharing the burden and the credit. And that is not the way politics as an art (dealing with difficult human behavior) works. I hope all genuinely concerned individuals and political opposition actors will make a difference in all these and other factors that could affect our political direction.

2. Concerning the pace of the struggle, it has to be noted from the outset that we terribly lacked behind for the last two decades, and as the result the sufferings of the people are getting chronic. And things seem getting out of control. And that means there is a need to make the pace of our political progress faster and steadier. I am not suggesting that we have to simply rash and see what would happen. Absolutely not! What I am trying to say is that the situation we are facing requires the determination and coordination that makes us walk the real walk, not drag our feet with all kinds of clumsy excuses. Well, if possible, let’s do more; if not let us remember the famous Chinese proverb which says, “It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” (Taken from the internet by Carne Ross, The Leaderless Revolution …., 2011).


posted by Daniel tesfaye


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