Many talk about secrecy of government in Asmara yet fail to mention the one in Addis Ababa in that regard which is not less secretive.
In recent, years government officials are available on social media – mainly twitter- in what seem to be an openness and transparency venture which is simply mischievous, to say the least.
What the foreign affairs minister, for example, tweets usually, if not always, is something that is already a public knowledge except that he tries to make it appear that he is sharing information openly.
What is the point if he tweets that he in is Sudan or Morocco if there is no means for the public to know before he is in Morocco. And there is also this bravado tweet about rescuing Ethiopia via Ethiopian Air Lines flights which is totally hoax in the real sense of the term.
From experience, he usually tweets information when he feels like it could get him cheers. And he is very subtle in ensnaring cheer leaders. It is not even the Ethiopian public that is engaged in social media.Tedros was engaged in building a support base, by trying to build a new image for TPLF – which he think will earn him credit from his party- from those based in the diaspora some of whom he seem to have managed to lure,through carrot diplomacy,to work with “him” (TPLF) and are already in the country. If you happen to tweet stern critic against him, chances are he will block you from his account. he has done that to many critics.
Projecting the illusive, and entirely trivial, narrative of “transformed Ethiopia,” Ethiopian government seem to be systematically exploiting the flourishing entertainment industry to engage the public so that it does not seem like there is critical stifling of information. This industry is not only systemically protected but also it is promoted. It is serving teh regime in power big time as they seem to see in it the advantage of creating uncritical mass and prioritizing fun as opposed to what the government is doing to the country.
When it comes to digging timely information, that are otherwise unavailable to the public, out, Ethiopian Satellite Television is like the wikileaks of Ethiopia.
Among many incidents, when government lied to the public that Zenawi was working from home, ESAT already broke the news that Zenawi is gone for good. Now it seems that it had information as to where Zenawi was hospitalized – something the entire country was oblivious about in which of European country Meles Zenawi was on his death bed.
Now it is clear that ESAT has sources not just in the country but apparently within the inner core the ruling party.
Yes, sources are often anonymous which is hardly avoidable given the fact that repercussions of making information available to the public is disastrous.
Ethiopian government labored hard to stifle ESAT transmission spending a good sum of financial resources but it was not a success. At one point, even the Amharic service of the Voice of America was affected by jamming.
In any case, ESAT reported yesterday that Hailemariam Desalegne was subjected to fifteen hours long party evaluation. Based on the report, Sebhat Nega and Arkebe Ekubay of TPLF were very harsh in their critic of the prime minister – so bad that the prime minister even wanted to cry – as some on social media teased him. While photoshopped picture of Hailemariam Desalegne could make you burst in laughter, they speak volume as to what he went through in the evaluation and what he is anticipating.
The “election” is happening a matter of less than two weeks. The result is predestined because TPLF is predictable. When Zenawi passed away, there was schism like development over the appointment of prime minister.
And the last resort was to split the Prime -ministerial portfolio into three pieces -something unheard of before – and in fact they make it appear like a political breakthrough. Hailemariam Desalgne, although he was entitled by virtue of the constitution to be the next prime minister as he was deputy prime minister at the time Zenawi passed away, he was only given a position which later was known to be under close supervision of TPLF.
Sebehat Nega, who was allegedly harsh in criticizing Hailemariam, was on VOA soon after the death of Meles and is on record that he said it does not matter if the prime minister is “Abebe” or “Kebede” – his way of saying ‘X’ of ‘Y’. Because, he proudly asserted back then, the system works. Well, it happened to be(‘X’) Hailemariam Desalege, and he proved to be a clueless politician. Probably, Sebhat bashed Hailemariam with insulting evaluation not because “X” was not known how he would turn out to be but because he is signaling Hailemariam is unquestionably has to make way for someone else – probably from TPLF again, and probably a relative.
Arkebe, a former guerrilla fighter of Tigray people’s liberation front and one of the key figures in the party whose dissertation thesis timely appeared and cunningly promoted, might be poised to be the next one and he is related to Sebhat Nega through marriage.They have always sold him as “competent and hardworking.” If not him, how about Tedros Adhanom – although he is in someways similar to Hailemariam. It is just a matter of months to see what happens. Will they bind the three pieces together and make the position one like Zenawi held for nearly two decades? May be not.
By Dimetros Birku
Follow the writer on twitter : @dimetros