What is said to be a secretly recorded video/audio of Br. Berhanu Nega, leader of Ethiopian Citizens For Social Justice Party (EZEMA), while speaking on “What is politics/” earlier this week has stirred a great deal of criticism.
In the audio/video, Berhanu Nega is heard condoning Sheger City’s massive demolition of residential houses that reduced hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians to a status of homelessness – overnight! He was speaking standing on the ground “illegal settlement should not be encouraged.”
It has been several months, if not years, since Dr. Berhanu lost what was once a passionate support base of his political views. Now, he seems to have lost his remaining support base due to his latest remark.
He is now increasingly demonized as an opportunist political figure and apologist of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s rule who has lost his support base, especially in the Amhara region of Ethiopia where his administration imposed a six-month-long state of emergency as he is waging a full-fledged war on Fano forces- a war that has already hundreds if not thousands of civilian lives. While being the leader of the opposition party EZEMA, Dr. Berhanu is a member of Abiy Ahmed’s cabinet as Minister for Education where he is said to have brought about some positive change – at least change in direction – along the path to end the poor quality of education in Ethiopia.
One of the questions that politicized Ethiopians have been asking in the past few days was whether Dr, Berhanu Nega’s view which he shared during a party event this week is his party’s position or his personal stand on the issue.
Ethiopian Media Service (EMS) on Wednesday spoke to the Deputy leader of the EZEMA party, Yohannes Makonnen, in a video call.
The interview was not completed due to an erratic internet connection from Addis Abeba from where Yohannes was on the air.
On the question of Dr. Beranu’s view, the deputy leader mentioned that in principle illegal settlement is not right. However, he said that 30 percent of the structures in the capital Addis Ababa manifest illegality.
However, he was specific that the demolition in Sheger City manifested practices of targeting a specific ethnic group. He also mentioned that the issue is not addressed in Addis Ababa and that the case in Shegar seems to be politically motivated. Yohannes is an architect and urban planner by profession.
His explanation suggests that Dr. Berhan’s remark is far-fetched and might not reflect the view of the party. Internet on Yohannes’s side was disconnected before he finalized his remark.
Yohannes remarked on something else too when he was on the air. Asked how he ( and his party) described the current Ethiopian situation, he characterized it as one that represents a power struggle between forces who are doing everything they can to ensure the continuity of the status quo – an ethnic-based system- with the urge to maintain their privilege in all its forms on the one hand and those who are struggling to bring about fundamental change to ensure that citizenship politics replaces ethnic politics.
Ato Yohannes was also asked to remark as to where he sees Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister, in the existing spectrum. He described him as standing on the fence – that separates the two forces. He gave the impression that Abiy Ahmed could jump to whichever side is getting stronger. It means that Dr. Abiy represents mostly a politically opportunist figure with no political stand of his own.
His blurry “philosophy” – Medemer- waned before it was even understood. What is clear is that once the most popular politician on the grounds of promising speeches he made – which most Ethiopians now see as part of his ethnic Oromo party’s “confuse and convince” strategy – , Abiy Ahmed is now the most hated politician in Ethiopia as far as a great majority of the Ethiopian population is concerned- as seen from the conversations on social media platforms.
Video : embedded from EMS youtube channel
Cover photo : screenshot from the video.
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