By Samuel Estefanous
Napoleon Bonaparte- a son of a Corsican fisherman- on ascending the throne of the Bourbon dynasty mused- I saw the Crown of France lying on the ground unclaimed, so what I did, I picked it up with the tip of my sword. In a way he was unequivocally refuting all the extraordinary- near superhuman qualities- attributed to his person.
The Blind Scramble for Power
Sometimes all you need is to have that singular uncompromising raw gut slightly shrouded in destiny and myth to claim the throne. In one of his rare English interviews Mengistu Haile Mariam , too, ascribed the Dergue’s meteoric rise to power to the imperial Crown lying on the ground unclaimed. The armed forces were the only organized, disciplined and in his words ‘viable’ entity to collect all reins of political power at the time, he had noted. What he didn’t say but obviously implied was the fact that the Armed Forces were the only hierarchical and organized legitimate body wielding the sword to pick the Crown with.
He was right. In retrospect we have come to learn the reverse scenario of what could have happened to the Country had either the Rambo wannabe EPRP or the supercilious AESM (Meison) had occupied Menelik’s Palace. Among others, we owe it to the likes of Hiwot Tefera, Tadelech Hailemichael and Abraha Kahsay for de-mystifying EPRP. At places in North Wollo, North Shoa and Shashamane it wasn’t the Dergue but local peasant militias that had decimated the EPRP. I singled out the three because they were a little too honest in describing the hatred they had detected in the mass of teeming peasant crowds that was trying to have a piece of every EPRP militant. Quite a sobering and bone chilling experience indeed, for a band of self-designated freedom fighters trying to break free the oppressed mass from the yoke of centuries of subjugation.
These days just about everybody is scrambling, pushing and jostling to have a piece of power with the vain or otherwise assumption that one more time the Crown is out there for the claiming.
The Rambo Wannabes of Ethiopian Politics
If you ask me how in God’s good name was TPLF able to subdue a Nation of close to Sixty million with a handful of ragtag fighters at its disposal, I would say, among others at the very outset it had the wisdom to weed out individuals with the slightest tendency of becoming a Rambo wannabe from among its ranks. No one individual was allowed to suddenly ‘rise and shine’. Looks like the 1993 E.C. hinfishfish one of the cardinal sins leveled at Ato Meles was allegedly he had betrayed this founding party line principle and discipline.
No wonder, TPLF began the inevitable long trek to its ultimate demise, the moment its members succumbed to the lures of wealth and cheap popularity as well as the pleasures easy money could buy. (I am not going to lie, right before settling to write this piece I was rereading Ato Meles’s monograph titled, African Development: Dead Ends and New Beginnings. I was fascinated by his analysis of “the Predatory African State “theory in the context of African economic development.)
Belligerency has its charms and the rush of adrenaline also gives one a sense of invincibility. But unless it is securely tethered and subjected to the overarching superior cause or purpose it sure makes loud noises but eventually fizzles out and dies like a festival firework without leaving the slightest trace of its existence. Bottom line, if one is indeed in the service of a bigger purpose himself, he would settle for a compromise at any and all cost as long as innocent blood is spared and keeps pushing for more concessions. You know why, because popular cause is bereft of any measure of ego. A politician with ego is a confirmed loser as he is serving a private individual interest.
I won’t say names but we all know the folks who had dissipated the hope and dream that was Kinijit two decades ago. The distinctive characteristics of Rambo wannabes is their insatiable appetite for attention and adoration. They would willingly jettison a definitive party principle to placate the crowd and easily succumb to populist agendas. In no time, chasing populist agenda leaves them in mid-streams as folks have very short memories for their populist idols. I mean who needs a politician with a rock star appeal, anyway? Nobody!
A Crack that Consumes versus a Crack that Ventilates
There is no such thing as washing dirty laundry in public when it comes to party politics. In that sense Ato Taye Danda’a’s drive, courage and nerve to challenge the top echelon of the party hierarchy is truly enviable. He had opened up some kind of vista into the inner workings of the Prosperity Party. Tinish gud ayen, courtesy of Taye.
Corruption, nepotism and ‘Bonapartism’ have gone mainstream under the Prosperity Party. You can add to that list deteriorating professionalism and rising dilettantism judging by the credentials of the senior officials being appointed. The Premier goes on record advising the cadres to drive double cabin pickups instead of being chauffeured around in smarting tantalizing SUVs. You know what his cadres did in response? They got the double cabin pickups all right but committed them to their respective domestic servants and kept the SUVs.
A couple of months ago regular commuters were being herded and re-routed to a detour by the Police around the City Hall. We were told to skirt the whole circumference of Piassa to get the minibuses destined to St. Paul’s. But nobody turned back before feasting his eyes on the rows and rows of shiny super luxurious SUVs with tilted glasses parked all over the place. You see, Party cadres were attending a meeting at the City Hall.
In a very bored tone someone observed “tadya mekinachewun dinget teshashten endanakosh new menged yezegubin”. I swear to God, not the words but the tone of boredom depressed me a lot; one could sense the feeling of utter despise for the man harbored in his careless words. These are the daily realities we are living with on day to day basis, so Taye’s words momentarily soothe the itching of the festering wounds. I applaud his taking sides with the struggling larger public and for being disgusted by the Prosperity of the cadres in the face of the famine making us Great headline news item one more time. His lone voice candidly shared with the public is thus a crack that could ventilate the stench of the Party hierarchy.
On the other hand, his persisting accusation of the incumbent for deliberately foiling the Dare Salem IGAD peace initiative makes me ponder the sincerity of his words. I mean in all fairness the government didn’t stand on ceremony. It didn’t set preconditions arguing the Federal CoPR has to revoke the militant group from the list of terrorists before the government could sit for negotiation.
The FDRE government sent a high profile delegation to the venue. Whatelse was it supposed to do? Disband the Caafee Oromia and hand over power to the militant group which professes that Oromos aren’t sufficiently represented in the incumbent government and aren’t sufficiently benefiting from the wealth and resources of the Nation? Wouldn’t that be ironic given the popular current perception of teregninet?
In all fairness, is it possible to have multiple forces with monopoly of violence in one country? I hate to admit it but in this regard Taye’s accusation isn’t couched on reason and principle but to win shallow popular affection. This crack he has tried to open up tends to consume us all indiscriminately.
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