BY TAMRAT GEZE
This might be considered as a message from an ordinary Ethiopian to the Government of Ethiopia led by the ruling EPRDF.
All over the world, a government in power is required to pay attention and make adjustments for every economic, social and political aspect of the nation under its very rule. No different could Ethiopia be.
Ethiopia, as country, has a very long history, even if a large proportion of it is arguable. The society evolved through multifaceted ups and downs. It is only in the last 23 years that the economic system experienced a free-market spirit with its main opportunity of competition that in turn led to wastage of resources.
The ruling EPRDF has been practicing political competition with opponent political parties to a great extent. This seems to have overlooked the practice of economic competition with the rest of the world. This and other negligent economic practices of the government have continued to erode the society’s values and norms.
Governmental attention is essential for a society that resides in a given country. This might include providing attention to citizens migrating abroad. Ethiopians often rush to foreign countries in spite of the suffering they might face in the strange lands.
I would argue that the fundamental task of the government in the Ethiopian context, particularly since the assumption of power by EPRDF, has become paying unalterable attention to the political ideology it pursues. The democratic developmental state ideology of the EPRDF appears to suppress the societal confidence on government.
The many successes of young and older Ethiopians, who have achieved financial success through government-supported projects, are indeed exaggerated. The many millionaires the state media talks about seem not to exist in the real world.
Even if it is considered to be a reality, the number is very minute as compared to the total size of the population. Wealth seems not to trickle down to the poor.
The figures often expressed in terms of ‘average’ and ‘percentage’ are doubtful for they embrace considerable errors of commission and omission. It is enough to observe the misery of the many women, elders and children seen begging for money on the streets of Addis Abeba.
Complementing this observation might be the ever-increasing number of hopeless youngsters employing themselves in theft. Most are individuals embarrassed by the harrowing axes of unemployment.
Unfortunately, addiction has also become the main features of young Ethiopians. Teenagers demoralised by the narrowing economic opportunities and the associated corrosion of societal values are seen spending their valuable days chewing khat and consuming other addictive drugs.
No doubt that their traits have made them dependent on their families that eventually worsen the economic misery. Cultural invasion, particularly of Western culture, is also prevailing.
The sustainability of Ethiopian values and colors seems to be under threat. Uncertainty has become the dominance value.
Certainly, I insist that this all is an outcome of inattention by the ruling party. Paying attention, therefore, is the way out.
The ruling party could have a lot to learn from the popular Buddhists story, I think.
A monk once asked his teacher “What is the fundamental teaching in Buddhism?” The master replied ‘attention’.
The student, dissatisfied with the answer, said, ‘I was not asking about attention, but was looking for the essential teaching in Buddhism?” The master replied “attention, attention, and attention!”
It can be appreciated that the essence of every Buddhist practice is to be found in the word ‘attention’.
I recommend the ruling party officials to practice ‘attention’ in its full sense, not verbally but practically. Giving attention for the society, attention for the economy to a great deal, and attention to the political system of the nation ought to be their homework. I think this is a message of every ordinary Ethiopian.
Tamrat Geze Is an Economist. He Can Be Contacted At [email protected]