By Samuel Estefanous
I write this with some obvious misgivings as NEBE is yet to declare the winner of the 6th National, Regional and Municipal Election…but it is kinda a foregone conclusion, isn’t it? All the same, I apologize for the liberty I took to assume even the obvious.
Last Saturday I had an epiphany.
I swear to God I did. Over a generous spread of beer jugs at the spacious Rental House Corp Club located at the heart of dear old Arat Kilo, I was exchanging and comparing notes on the recent election with a good friend of mine.
We always do that on a regular basis. For the record, just like most Addis Ababans, his entire family ecstatically rooted for the Premier at the very beginning of his reign; unfortunately as the circus gathered force and things began to spiral out of control, they were so confused and felt so betrayed that they had looked shame-faced. As we all did…something the Premier and Co. seem incapable of.
Reluctantly as it is, we both had registered to vote, so naturally I wanted to know how long he had queued to cast his vote.
‘five solid hours,’ he said ‘when my turn came up I was so dead tired that I didn’t even care to reread the names of the candidates representing PP, I just tick marked the boxes.’ he volunteered to let me know,
‘Not that it is any of my business to pry thus, but… I know you are on heavy medication and all…you stood in line for five hours to cast your vote for PP? Its cadres and interest groups are certain to vote it into office without the help of your pathetic lone card.’ I noted half in jest.
The thing is, in my heart I perfectly understood why he did what he did. He didn’t vote for the Prosperity Party. Let there be no illusion about that. He voted for Peace and Order. He cares about the fate of this country much more than the politicians and some lackluster pundits do. He loves his country unconditionally and he means it 100%. Unlike the former, he has no constituency to placate by heart sickening lies and calumnies.
Thus, the one thing that keeps us ever optimistic about our country is the simple fact that just like my friend from Kotebe, the bulk of the society is remarkably level headed when it comes to setting its priorities.
What is at stake?
1-A looming Existential Threat
Recklessly, vainly, above all arrogantly, for close to half a century EPRDFites have been extremely busy conducting an enduring phenomenal ground breaking social experiment on the living flesh of the country. The effect is nothing less than multiplying thousands years of sacrifice by zero. Their combined effort unleashed the proverbial monster on the unsuspecting unfortunate people of Ethiopia in the form of ethnicity as the driving force and singular source of Sovereignty in a country of 80+ Nationalities at the dawn of the third millennium.
As a direct consequence, the country is at a crossroads as it has never been in eight decades since the short lived Italian occupation. For thousands of years, it was built up painstakingly each and every step at a time, stone by stone; its territorial integrity is cemented together by the thick blood of generations of its fallen children. It took the wisdom of countless master Masons and generation after generation of dedicated multitudes who never asked what the country has done for it but pondered what it could do for the country.
In this connection, every family from every corner of the country has some kinda blood warming story to tell like the one the late Haacalu Hundeesa told. I know a grandfather who had fought the Italians gallantly for five years but ended up in a bleak dungeon in Addis after victory as a reward for his service but he never bore a grudge. ‘What are authorities here for but to incarcerate the innocent and reward the maleficent? ‘The old man must have mused. He tilled his land, diligently paid his tax and required nothing from the Country.
Presently, the combined labour and sacrifice of all these selfless Ethiopians is cliff hanging and it might crush into the pitiless abyss at the gentlest nudge, as Ambassador Taye had intimated to a bunch of ill-informed ignoramus adventurist Western diplomats recently.
Bottomline? As the Premier broadcasted to the whole wide world on 5 July 2021 from the magnificent hall of his office, a lot of everyday amenities the rest of the world takes for granted are luxuries in this country… I would have added to that -including election in the true sense of the term.
I am not saying the Ethiopian public didn’t come out in droves and voted against all the odds, but just like the Premier did it must have reasoned- this isn’t the time to sample policies but to maintain the status quo and try to keep the Nation together.
By participating in this election and perhaps by freely choosing to keep PP in office, Ethiopians have wisely elected not to choose.
They Are very clever people.
2- A Government Bereaved of Institutionalized Governance.
In his recent, interesting and candid interview with Walta, the Premier had underscored one strong point-the pressing need to build functioning, trustworthy, professionally equipped and maintained institutions of governance in all aspects of the government.
No one knows better than him how the government is actually run by wily, demeaning and disgusting Networks. Forget a given sector of the government, even chiefs of public enterprise form their own cabinet by total whims and caprice.
The little Caesar is the beginning and end of any given institution and God knows they know how to RULE by edict. The undying culture of EPRDF is thoroughly seeped and deeply rooted in all hierarchies of governance. For decades EPRDF has taught them to RULE by party discipline and values, the Party is the government and the government is the Party, so ultimately loyalty-rebranded as amelkaket- is a gazillion times more valuable than an Ivy League degree.
This government is an odd mix of South Korean Chaebols capitalism and a medieval kingdom of tribal chiefs functioning solely on bonds of trust and nepotism.
Bottom line? If another Party or Coalition is voted into office, it finds no government institution to run as the Network is the government. Hence sheer chaos is most certain to reign large. The incoming government wouldn’t be able to pay salaries let alone advance its causes and live up to campaign promises.
By emasculating the opposition to a humiliatingly degradable state and by creating a deep state of Network, EPRDF has made itself INDISPENSABLE.
The multitude has no choice but to swallow this bitter pill and vote for ORDER.
3- A fledgling Opposition Squarely Defined by EPRDF
The opposition in Ethiopia is an extension and by-product of EPRDF. They have come into being solely by virtue of the existence of EPRDF. I am not talking about those pseudo parties the Front constantly hatches; these are still born spent forces to bother anybody except being cannon fodders of the incumbent. I am talking about ‘the mainstream’ true opposition, whose leaders have spent their prime languishing in the torture chambers of EPRDF.
Principally these parties are created, nurtured and sustained to fight EPRDF tooth and nail, not to run a civil government. True, they have put together a tome of policy packages skimmed from text book like references and they have laced them with a touch of domestic relevance.
Some are self designated as social democrats, a few are dubbed liberal democrats etc. They turn and twist to fit into a western model and go to ridiculously great lengths to be qualified to rightly assume the designation…you must have heard them during the debates. Ato Mustef was the only one to firmly attest that they hardly bother to be christened as such-pragmatism is an ideology, after all.
Bottom line? Given their genesis, they hardly fit into the existing government and state functionaries and certainly they are gonna end up compromising their trademark and treasured values that have endeared them to the people.
4-A Definitive Constitutional Glitch
You must have heard and read multiple times how EPRDF has lent its Charter to the FDRE Constitution. It is such a shame and a national disgrace to read the Supreme Law of the land is nothing but a rude amalgam of the UDHR and the Charter of EPRDF but it is quite another question to try to form a government under its aegis. Ironically in the last election it is only NAMA which has come out as a Constitutional friendly political party that truly mattered. Even PP has technically dropped its essence and has dared to assume a facade of liberalism in this aspect. Meaning, it doesn’t espouse ethnic based units as its constituency.
The 1995 Constitution is written, adopted and exercised by the Nation, Nationalities and People of Ethiopia. They didn’t stop there, under Article 8, they have unequivocally declared and established that all Sovereign power exclusively resides in the said Nation, Nationalities and People of Ethiopia. The ultimate deal clincher? In the event anybody should have any lingering doubt, Sub article 3, makes it abundantly clear that the Sovereignty of the Nation, Nationalities and People of Ethiopia is expressed through their representative elected according to the Constitution.
I will not go into the presumed intricacies of Constitutional law but simply dwell on what is obvious. According to the FDRE Constitution the members of the House of People’s Representative should and need to represent ‘ a people’ as it is aptly indicated in the nomenclature of the Parliament.
Bottom line? PP is advised by a plethora of Constitutional lawyers; to break the glitch they have chosen a dishonest but clever way out of the quagmire…whatever you do, never lose the prefix that attaches you to a given people, hence, yes Oromia PP, ye hAmara PP etc…
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