Tuesday, April 16, 2024
HomeOpinionThe End of the Prosperity Party and Dr. Abiy’s Politics of Fear

The End of the Prosperity Party and Dr. Abiy’s Politics of Fear

This article is dedicated to Taye Dendea Aredo and Gedu Andargachew

Ethiopia Prosperity Party _ politics
Abiy Ahmed Ali (Photo : reutters/file)

By Tesfa ZeMichael, B.Phil.

The Prosperity Party is coming to an end. There is no PP in Tigray. The PP is mortally wounded in Amhara and survives propped up by Dr. Abiy’s army and security forces. In Oromia, the PP has split into rival twins, devouring each other. In Southern Ethiopia, the PP has degenerated into feuding caciquismos. As was for the EPRDF, so will it be for the PP. It also will fall.

Ideology is critical for the long-term viability of a regime. But the PP does not have a functional ideology. What it proposes as its guiding ideology is nothing more than a bricolage of ethnic nepotism, ethnic hatred and violence. Understandably, the majority of Ethiopians are becoming wary of it and rejecting it. Having lost its legitimacy and political relevance, it is now reduced to a coterie of power-hungry and money-hugging ethnic elites circling the wagons to defend their ill-gotten wealth. 

What a debacle! Dr. Abiy came to power under auspicious signs. Ethiopians adulated him when he became the PM. And for good reasons. He swore to eradicate the lawless practices of the TPLF. He promised to abolish arbitrary arrests, torture, the repression of freedom of association, speech and the press, and to abide by the rule of law and promote democracy. He pledged to transcend ethnic divisions and ensure that every Ethiopian will feel at home anywhere in Ethiopia. 

Within two years, he broke all his promises. He betrayed himself and Ethiopians. Not surprisingly, Ethiopians in Oromia, Tigray, Amhara, and many in the Southern regions rose against him. And the rank and file of the Prosperity Party, being part of the downtrodden Ethiopians, lost faith in him. Hence the defection of many PP rank-and-file members to resistance movements. All of a sudden the prospect of Dr. Abiy losing power loomed over the horizon.

The Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, persecuted by Burma’s dictators, says, “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it.” 

Fear of losing power has corrupted Dr. Abiy politically, morally, intellectually, and affectively. The fear of losing power has transmogrified him from the PM of Ethiopia to a fear-filled ogre chief of scared and corrupt ethnic elites among whom he chooses his ministers and appointees.  

Dr. Abiy is trapped in an omnic crisis of his own making. He is gripped by a neurotic fear of Ethiopians not because of what they have done to him but because of what he has done to them and is fearful of what they might do in retaliation. Frightened to face their questions and demands, he has barricaded himself behind a phalange of yes-men. But in vain. Fear of Ethiopians continues to throb in his heart and head, as one could see from his frustrated long and accusatory monologues in parliament (06/02/2024).  

It is said that a wounded beast is pervaded by fear and is very dangerous. Dr. Abiy is now like a wounded beast. He no longer behaves rationally. Like all frightened tyrants, he resorts to magical thinking and builds palaces and parks, hoping they will soothe the anger of Ethiopians whom he betrayed. Seeing that his magical thinking is not working, his fear of losing power has driven him to adopt a politics of fear whose two main pillars are:  wanton violence and unbridled lies. 

He has made wanton violence his defense against the fear that simmers in him and has made it his main tool of governance—witness the Merawi massacre, which is only one of many. Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, and Southern Ethiopia are drenched with the blood of innocent children, women, young and old people massacred by Dr. Abey’s forces. The goal of his wanton violence: to create an ecology of fear that he hopes will keep Ethiopians subdued and prevent them from stripping him of power. His effort to rule Ethiopians through fear is however backfiring.

His second subterfuge to placate his fear is telling unbridled lies. While national and international organizations are reporting that many in Northern Ethiopia are dying of famine, he claims, with a straight face, that there is not a single case of famine in Ethiopia. While economists describe the dire financial and economic situation of Ethiopia, he paints a rosy picture of economic progress. Indeed, he even claimed in parliament (06/02/2024) that other countries are envious of the economic progress Ethiopia is making and ask him: how did you do it? 

I think to characterize Dr. Abiy’s claims as lies is giving an unwarranted bad reputation to liars. Rather, his “lies” are what the philosopher Harry Frankfurt called “bullshit.” To paraphrase Frankfurt, a liar knows that there is a truth; he is just dissimulating it. A bullshitter denies the existence of truth. He “just wants a story.” He makes facts out of thin air and constructs a fictional reality “to suit his purpose.” Dr. Abiy fits the philosophical definition of a “bullshitter.” To call him a liar is to make a “category mistake.”

Fear and “bullshitting” are, however, depreciating assets. As economists would say, they cannot escape the law of diminishing marginal utility. Dr. Abiy’s politics of fear and his “bullshitting” are less and less effective. Ethiopians neither fear him nor believe his “bullshits.”  The Ethiopian resistance movements to Dr. Abiy’s tyranny are gaining the upper hand morally, ideologically, intellectually, and politically. They are increasingly depleting his power and intensifying his fear. 

Thus the anger and frustration that furrows his face whenever he addresses the crisis in Amhara.  Frightened to face real questions, he imprisons parliamentarians (Christian Tadele, Dessalegn Chane) that he is afraid will raise questions that expose his failures and betrayals and the sufferings of Ethiopians. He formulates and answers his own questions, shamelessly congratulates himself by making fictional claims of progress, and harangues parliamentarians as if they were his vassals. 

The Prosperity Party is in its death throes and Dr. Abiy knows it. He now counts on violence and “bullshit” and on the ecology of fear he has created to stay in power. But, as history shows, violence, “bullshits”, and fear have weakened rather than strengthened dictators. Dr. Abiy’s regime awaits the same fate. 

The big question Ethiopians face then is not whether he is going to fall or not but when. And an even bigger question confronts them: When the PP regime collapses, as it surely will do, are Ethiopians ready to replace Dr. Abiy’s tyranny with a democratic regime or will they be caught once more, as in 2018, with their political pants down? 

Fano and others are engaged in armed struggles to bring democracy to Ethiopia. The Ethiopian intellectual and political classes must also do their part to make the passage to democracy possible and durable. They have a historical responsibility to ensure that the kind of political transition  that took place in 2018, which turned out to be a passage from the TPLF frying pan into the Prosperity Party fire, will not take place when Dr. Abiy takes the exit door.  

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I like the way you try to appear objective in your analysis. Your statement that “Fano and others are engaged in armed struggles to bring democracy to Ethiopia” is, to say the least, naive and absurd. Armed struggles NEVER brought democracy to Ethiopia! Fano is fractured and hijacked already. Fano is NOT about democracy; it is about Amhara hegemony. I am struck you didn’t know this.

    • Why is it that every time the Amhara fight for their basic rights (I want equal access to the economy, governance, consititutional fairness), you come up with this tplf-olf theory that the Amhara are here to restore hegemony, ahadawi, etc. Can’t you see it is not working any more? Why can’t the Amhara peasants, who are poorer that Oromo or Southern peasants, ask for decent rights to fertilizer, brick houses, water, electricity, roads, etc? What previous Amhara rulers may have done does not warrant for you to denounce the Amhara peasants to remain eternally poor. You have to come out of thie trap!

  2. Great summary of the debacle and desolate state of affairs that Ethiopia and an Ethiopians are currently facing.

    Since the fall of the government of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, all Ethiopian so called revolutions have failed to transform Ethiopia into a more democratic, pragmatic and equitable nation for all her citizens.

    Ethiopians have forcefully removed the tyrant butcher Mengistu Haile Mariam, expelled his successors, the TPLF’s ruling coalition the EPRDF and now are about to give the pink slip to the current tyrant at the helm of power, In 50 years, Ethiopians have changed only the executive branch of government without securing and enabling any everlasting governance of their nation.

    Why? In a nut shell, the glaring deficiency is always the same. Failure to capture and change the judiciary and legislative branches of government!!! Ethiopians just keep removing tyrants and leave the tools of repression and subjugation ( the judiciary and legislative branches of government) unscathed and hand them over to the new tyrant ( executive branch).

    To bring lasting change and uproot tyranny and repression, “the revolution” must capture and bring about much needed change of the judiciary and legislative. In particular, the judiciary branch must be extricated from the iron clasp of the tyrant’s bloody hand.

    Judges must be liberated and protected by the “revolution” and allowed to bring charges, pass sentences and punish all criminals of all branches of government in a publicly broadcasted, televised and open forum. All extra judicial killers, all embezzlers, thieves and looters of public resources must be brought to trial by a fearless and independent judiciary on televised sessions completely open to the public.

    Moreover, the so called fourth branch of government, i.e. the press must also be liberated and allowed to do the televising and broadcasting of the trials of all criminals of the regime nationally without any fear of reprisal. Only then, will the “revolution” will be complete.

    ጉልቻ ቢለዋወጥ ወጥ አያጣፍጥም የሚለው የኢትዮጵያን ማህበረስብ ይሄው ለሃምሳ ዓመታት ሙሉ ጉልቻ ብቻ እየለወጠ የማይጣፍጥ ወጥ በግዱ እየበላና በአብላጫው እንዲያውም ፆሙን እያዋለ እያደረ ይኖራል:: ጉልቻው ሲለወጥ ወጡ እንዲጣፍጥ ወጡ ውስጥ የሚገቡት ግብአት አብረው መለወጥ አለባቸው!!!!! ምን ማለት ነው??????

    በተለይም የመንግስት የህግ አውጪና የህግ ተርጉዋሚው ቅርንጫፎች ማለትም ፓርላማውና ፍርድቤቶቹ በሙሉ ከጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ እጅ ተፈልቅቀው ነፃ መውጣት አለባቸው:: ነፃ ከወጡ በህዋላ በእያንዳንዱ የመንግስት ባለስልጣን ላይ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ተብዬው ሳይቀር የተፈፀሙ የህግ ጥሰቶችን : ወንጀሎችን : ግድያዎችን ከነማስረጃችው ግልፅ በሆነ እና ለሁሉም ኢትዮጵያን በሁሉም መገናኛ ብዙሃን በተለይም በቴሌቪዥን ሙሉ በሙሉ ግልፅ ቁልጭ ብለው መተላለፍ አለባቸው:: የህግ የበላይነትን መንግስት ነኝ ጠቅላይሚኒስትር ነኝ ተብዬው ምን ማለት እንደሆነ መማር አለበት !!!! ነፍስ ካጠፋ ራሱም ከተረኛ ነፍሰ ገዳይ የተለየ ምንም አይነት መብት እንደሌለው የፍርድ ቅርንጫፉ ማሳየት መቻል አለበት:: መገናኛ ብዙሃን የአንድ መንግስት አጨብጫቢ ሳይሆኑ ቃል ኪዳናቸውና የሙያ ግዴታቸው የህዝብ አይን ጆሮና ልሳን መሆኑን በስራቸው በነፃነትና የለምንም የገዢው አካል ተፅዕኖ ለህዝብ ማሳየት መቻል አለባቸው::

    ጉልቻ ስትለውጥ / ስትለውጪ የምትሰራው/ የምትሰሪው ወጥ እንዲጣፍጥ የወጡን ግብዓት አብረህ/ሽ ለውጥ/ጪ!!!!!

  3. How is it possible that there has not been a single Ethiopian lawyer or judge that has come out openly and shown the myriads of violations of the ruling party’s own constitution by the ruling party itself? This by itself is the perfect example and proof that the judiciary branch is a puppet and tool of the executive. The courts are kangaroo courts and the republic is a banana republic.

    It is a shame the law profession in Ethiopia has not promoted itself to be the beacon of change, progress and accountability. What a shame.

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