Mankelklot Haile Selassie (PhD)
I have read 18 articles, taking down points and statements to organize this article that I am going to share. I borrowed the opinions and the implications of the opinions from the 18 articles, embodied them into my thinking, and applied them in the five, briefly discussed, specific sub-topics I have already outlined. So, this article is the outcome of a kind of mini research. This article is also the extension as well as the buildup of the last two articles, namely, Step Out and Step up the Leadership, August 10, 2012, written before the death of Meles was officially confirmed, and, Mengistu Killed Ethiopians Meles is Killing Ethiopia, September 25, 2012, which was written after the death of Meles was officially confirmed.
Now I will begin with the most important subtopic, which, in my opinion, will help determine the moves one takes including the assessment of ones strategies established before the death of Meles Zenawi. I argue that, after Meles, strategies aught to be substantively reviewed and changed according to the needs identified.
Meles was undeniably the system in Ethiopia. The legislative, the judicial, and of course the executive systems were shaped and completely controlled by him until his death. He was also the engine for the system to run. And, it had to run exactly to fulfill the wishes of his personal, concretely exhibited, political and economic interests. Therefore, it is commonsense to conclude that when the creator and the gate keeper does not exist anymore all these branches will begin to crack and expose themselves to a harshly scrutinizing environment. The truth is, they did crack and exposed themselves big time. Add to this, this is what I learnt from reading the articles, the corruption that he was systematically manipulating to his benefit and controlling it, as he was using fertilizers and improved seeds on the peasants for political advantage. He was feeding from, and sleeping on the top of this corrupt and unbelievably rotten system. He was living and breathing this corrupt rotten system. He very well knew the rottenness of the system. So, one can imagine what this guy left behind.
Now, my primary argument is that after the death of Meles, the existing system, the system that he left behind, is not completely as it used to be. If we agreed, I think we do, that there is political crisis in Ethiopia now, then we should also agree that the system is already cracking, not intact and running smoothly because Meles is not there to keep it intact and run smoothly. Therefore, on deeper level of observation, to say the system is not changed is not correct. It is misleading. For one to have a properly articulated and fitting strategy accompanied with the tactics to implement it, pinpointing the extent of the crack or opening, that is, where and how deep the opening is will enable one where and how to put the pressure to widen it. Imagine a large dam with a crack where water is leaking out. Once there is a crack on the dam and the water continues to leak it is a question of time for the pressure from the body of the water to burst it open. What follows after the burst is anyone’s guess.
But, here is the crux of the problem. Particularly for the opposition political organizations, to exert pressure and widen the crack, a) particularly those in Diaspora must be inside Ethiopia, they have no alternative but to be inside Ethiopia, and b) one would not be, what ever the degree of the political crisis that exists, outright against the controllers of the remnants, as a group, of the system. It appears they are working as a group, collectively. A deliberate and a calculated move of this caliber requires primarily the change of the strategy held during Meles’s rule. This is very fundamental. Changing the strategies mean accepting the change of the political situation inside Ethiopia. It follows then, if one accepted the existence of political crisis in Ethiopia, which is the change, crisis brought about by the death of Meles Zenawi, wouldn’t it be naturally logical to come up with an immediate and measurable new strategy and tactics where one, through time, irreversibly replace the remnants of Meles and empower the people of Ethiopia. Remnants include the whole parliament, a body, that is morally and mentally corrupted, never able to think by itself except through Meles Zenawi and TPLFites embedded in all sectors of the administration. Stop whining and find out the means to sit down for negotiation and take advantage of this widespread political crisis. I have negotiation as a subtopic to which I would come back later and share my opinion about it.
Activities from Inside
This aspect of the struggle is very critical. In my latest two articles, mentioned above, political organizations were consistently the target of my discussion. Here too they are the major targets, particularly those in Diaspora, because they are, of course including those inside Ethiopia, the ones who are potentially organized to hold the power and run the country to change it. Now, clearly the ball is in their court. Unlike any other time, now, the environment is fertile to start activities from inside. What I discussed under the subtopic “Meles Zenawi was the System” mainly refers to the opposition political organizations. Unless the opposition political organizations “step out and step up” the leadership, the immediately needed measurable struggle will be without radar and anchor.
I want to be very specific here. My focus is on individual political organizations in a position of independent thinking and moves. I am no more a proponent of a formal, that is a structured, united opposition political organizations. I have witnessed a number of united political organizations. It did not work, it is not working now, and, it will not work in the future. So, why waste time on it. However, if individual political organizations, after affirming their strong independent individual moves, and already have started moving forward, strongly believe in forming a coalition, say to negotiate and establish bases in the field in Ethiopia, then informal unity can be the order of the day. In fact it is more effective if all those opposition political organizations in Diaspora come together and seriously discuss the issue of getting inside Ethiopia now. If they got the chance to enter Ethiopia as a group they would have measurable impact on the political situations. But still, even this has to be left to individual’s discretion. There should not be any pressure from the community. And the opposition political organizations should not be influenced by it either.
If the political organizations are sincere and observably aggressive in activities, it is inevitable for the progressive individuals and activist civic organizations to follow them and provide them with the support they need. The civic organizations mushrooming all over the places to the extent of intending to assume the political leadership, more or less to replace them, and progressive individuals ineffectively scattered all over the places, is due to lack of political organizations, including those in Diaspora, providing measurable leadership. Providing measurable leadership does not mean manufacturing press releases and commentaries. It only means a quantifiable and assessable political activities being performed inside Ethiopia. If not it is back to manufacturing press releases and commentaries. Bottom line of this position is self perpetuation and turning into professional political institutions.
Now it is the time to be in the field. There is a window of opportunity for the opposition political organizations particularly in the Diaspora to enter Ethiopia and start to change the system. It is irresponsible to squander this God given opportunity. Unfortunately in the case of Ethiopia no change will be brought about without sacrifices. The sacrifices include taking the step that is logical and correct and yet bitter to swallow. The opposition political organizations in Diaspora are extremely important factors, by any measurable standards, to establish a stable system in collaboration with those inside Ethiopia. For the Diaspora political organizations, to find out the means and the resolve as to how to be in the field and start working inside Ethiopia immediately is individual opposition political organization’s responsibility. If they could not solve this issue then they are no where to solve the misery of Ethiopian people of over 80 nationalities. Further more, if they could not keep up with the changes of the political situations inside Ethiopia, it is better to disband their organizations rather than pursuing a fake existence. For how long could one stay faking anyway?
Picking up the Flags of the Fallen
I think it is very important to thankfully acknowledge the political struggle that reached to this level and kept alive by the blood shade by Ethiopia’s sons and daughters in a hand-to-hand combat, facing Meles’s guns aimed at them. Meles Zenawi the murderer, very sadistically aimed at their heads to completely finish them. A lot of blood have been shade particularly by the youths.
Therefore, to pick up the flag of the fallen and continue the struggle, one has to be in the meadow where hand-to-hand fighting have taken place. It is time to stop invoking those who sacrificed themselves until and unless one has
picked up their flags and given oneself to the extent of being sacrificed. It is ridiculous to invoke the sacrifices made for ever. It has to stop and it is time, in fact it is long over due, to take the places of those sacrificed.
Every year since 1974 we are witnessing the sacrifices particularly made by the young ones in all walks of life. Students in particular. The 1974 revolution by decimating the generation that was highly intelligent and driven by conviction and determination, created absolute vacuum. As the result, the impact of the 1974 revolution is still affecting the efficiency and the effectiveness of the struggle inside as well as outside of Ethiopia today. To this day the caliber and the determination of the generation of that period is not replaced. As the result of the absolute vacuum created Meles and his cronies were able to do what ever they wished to do in protecting their political and economic interests. Still, until that generation is replaced, I think through time it would be replaced, it is only a question of time, long term stability hence economic development and the eradication of poverty cannot be fully guaranteed.
Therefore, picking up the flag of the fallen is to completely change the system where for example individual right is unleashed. In the case of Ethiopia, individual right is, in my opinion, the precursor for cultivating and raising a generation that would replace the 1974 sacrificed generation. One of the reasons to go for negotiation is, with non wavering objective, to produce a generation that is capable of turning around the political and the economic situation for the benefit of the society hence the completion of the objectives of those who sacrificed themselves. Aim at the bigger picture and negotiate!!! Take advantage of the crack created between and amongst the ruling party leadership. In the absence of Meles Zenawi, TPLF is no more in control of the political situation. It cannot be a full fledged threat anymore. By using the small crack created during the May 2005 code of conduct election agreement the Ethiopian people got the chance to beat Meles and his cronies. This is a good historical example to be used as a reference point and to be emulated. How the then opposition leadership abandoned the 26 million who came out to vote is another issue. At the time, I have condemned their inaction in one of my articles, including in my radio programs.
Negotiation does not necessarily mean reconciliation. Don’t bring the case of South Africa here. There is a big difference between South Africa and Ethiopia. In South Africa it was whites against blacks. In Ethiopia it is Ethiopians against Ethiopians. In South Africa the economies could have not be run without the whites. The know how and the skill to develop the economy and to keep up with the science and technology are completely in the hands of the whites. It would have been political and economic suicide for the South African blacks to go against what they did. In Ethiopia the economies could be run by Ethiopians. In Ethiopia, since the society is completely against the regime there is an alternative to the negotiation. If the negotiation failed uprising is an inevitable route. Uprising, if it took place, means completely uprooting, with a lot of damage, all those TPLFites embedded in the different sectors of the administration. Therefore think about Ethiopia independently with independent solution. There is nothing that Ethiopia lacks given properly channeled and strategically implemented.
Under this subtopic the targets of my discussion are the opposition political organizations particularly those in Diaspora. The time is now to demonstrate ones relevancy and determination to hold power and completely change the system and establish irreversible multiparty democracy, the beginning of the empowerment of Ethiopian society, and, the beginning of looking deeply inward to find out the real causes of the hindering problems to pursue aggressive economic development. In the case of Ethiopia, the ultimate target aught to be poverty eradication.
Power is the master key to get the political and the economic situations under ones control in order to eradicate poverty. The main purpose of negotiation is ultimately to have this power. I think this is very fundamental. Unless one holds power there is absolutely nothing one can do. Of course, one should have passionate desire to hold power and ones for all remove the misery of poverty. It is meekness, if not an outright mistake, to shun holding political power. Therefore, for the opposition political parties, both inside and outside of Ethiopia, right now, the overriding objective must be, unashamedly, at any cost, to hold power. Think about it very seriously and rationally. Negotiation is one of the means, now, perhaps the only means, to make an aggressive move for power. I will repeat below, to refresh your mind, what I said in my article of Sept. 25, 2012, “Mengistu Killed Ethiopians Meles is Killing Ethiopia.”
Therefore, particularly for the Diaspora political organizations, the first step is to write an official letter to Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegna indicating the desire to be part of constructive political activities inside Ethiopia. Simply put request negotiation. This could be done in groups or independently. The official letter, hence the request for negotiation, should be simple without any very serious preconditions. The question of the constitution, the question of political prisoners, the question of the judicial system, and the question of individual rights, in my opinion can be addressed later as things stabilize and close understanding is created. I have the full confidence that if the opposition political parties, including those in Diaspora, a very important aspect of the future political and economic struggle, were allowed to fully participate in the political process, then it would follow that at the time the opposition political organizations achieve or share the leadership they can resolve the constitution, the political prisoners, the justice system, and the individual rights issues slowly but surely once for all. It is inevitable, once the opposition political parties are from inside the system and the civic activists from out side the system, if you will, the issues I mentioned to be alive.
Use international organizations both governmental and non governmental to put pressure on the group who are running the country. It is better to do it now before the political environment changes. That is, before the groups become stronger and more sophisticated. Before they think and act like Meles. This is the right and the opportune time to think fast and deep before it is too late. The unfortunate culture developed among the opposition political forces is tardiness, that is, slow to move and slow to react.
Let me say this, to sum up this power issue. Right now, given the current political situation inside Ethiopia the route to power is first to negotiate then to participate in the election to come. Therefore, here, power means people’s power. It means people empowerment. It means establishing, ones for all, a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Forming a Transitional Government
This kind of political move diverts the needed resources, in terms of manpower and logistics, from the real struggle. Therefore it should be avoided and never hesitate to totally condemn it.
There is an invitation by ENTC group spearheaded by Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review and Dr. Feseha Eshetu, to form a transitional government. Elias Kifle was openly advocating in favor of Hailemariam Desalege, the new Prime Minister. The question is, instead of strengthening his support for the Prime Minister, why is he trying to erode Hailemariam’s traction? It shows the lack of integrity. How can one trust such an individual?
In the first place, at this time to form a transitional government is a wrong move. What is needed is to think and act as to how to be inside Ethiopia and be with the people. Ones for all the focus has to be how and when to enter Ethiopia and be on the side of the people. What is more serious is to look into these two individuals who are proposing this opportunistic move. Dr. Feseha Eshetu was the messenger of Meles Zenawi to kill the Ethiopian Youth National Movement. That is exactly what he did. A very destructive action from a destructive individual. What is amazing is that ignoring what he did to the Youth Movement, there are hypocrite organizations who are still dealing with him, a reflection of the vacuum created by the 1974 revolution.
I did indicate this destructive act of Dr. Feseha in my article of June 28, 2012, “What Happened to Ethiopian Youth National Movement.” Dr. Feseha is not a credible individual to be trusted in any organizational structures and activities. He has the potential to sell out the organization. What he did to the Youth Movement is a perfectly measurable example. If he had the burning desire to help the Ethiopian people he had the opportunity to stay in Ethiopia join political organizations or form his own political party to pursue his objective of helping the society.
The second individual, Elias Kifle, is the agent of Isayas Afeworq of Eritrea. He has the potential to introduce Isayas’s interests in the activities of the organizations that he would be part of. The transitional government intended to form could be one of them. It is worthwhile to remember the role of Isayas in the formation of the failed AFD. About 15 years ago Isayas prophesied about Ethiopia by saying: “This country called Ethiopia cannot have the age (life) of existence beyond ten years.” Tobia No. 37, 1990 (E.C). The harboring of liberation fronts did not help his prophesy to be fulfilled either. It is mere idiotic and self-centered shortsightedness for any opposition political organizations of Ethiopia to develop political relationship with Isayas, such as what the bankrupting, as exposed by Ginbot 7-D, Ginbot-7 is doing. Ultimately, this types of actions boil down to the question of integrity. It is a fact that Isayas is not for the unity of Ethiopia.
In my opinion, fortunately, Isaya’s motive has nothing to do with the Eritrean people except with those extremist ones. The people of Eritrea was separated from their brothers and sisters illegally and undemocratically. It was illegal because it was done by the non-elected groups the active and major role played by Meles. It was undemocratic because the people of Ethiopia did not participate in it. Therefore the people of Eritrea should come back to its original home. The war between the two, May 1998 – June 2000, was about to achieve this objective. Thanks to Meles Zenawi it failed. He stopped the fighting about sixty miles from Asmara. Had the fighting continued Asmara would have been captured and EPLF would have gone back to its foxholes. The people of Eritrea as they did not show any mass support for EPLF, this time too, they would have simply, without any complaint, switched their position and join the Ethiopian people. Here, it is very important to look at the bigger picture. People are very important to a country. The greater the number of population the greater the reality of having more scientists and researchers, more quality doctors and nurses, more quality teachers, larger and daring entrepreneurs, and the greater the potential of having of those different branches of the military forces who would defend and protect the country.
Once I am at this big picture issue I would like to attach to it another big picture to look at. A monumental history is being made in Ethiopia. Leadership is moved from North to South. The torch is transferred from the Northern Ethiopia to the Southern Ethiopia. A subliminal process indicating the development of the unity of Ethiopian people. The Southern People should not take it lightly. Nor Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne should take it lightly either. He should stand to the test. He must molt out himself, leaving behind his old baggage of dependency, to think and take independent moves and actions. The shadow of Meles Zenawi is unnecessarily denying him his independency. Self imposed crippling. He should wake up. It is he who is going to be judged based on his performance. Not Meles‘s. Meles is dead. The Southern people in particular and the Ethiopian people in general as well as the progressive democratic individuals and civic groups aught to lineup behind him and keep him motivated and accountable. Let history workout its course it started. In my opinion it is critically important to view this Passing of the Torch, from the Northern People to the Southern People, if you will, positively and determine to cultivate it. It is a phenomenon subtly brought about by Mother Nature. Don’t be against it. Look beyond the person, Hailemariam Desalegne, at the bigger picture.
Coming back to the two individuals, they claim that the formation of transitional government can force EPRDF, the party in turmoil and political crisis, to come to the negotiation table. The proposal is simply a fake one intended for building up ones statuesque, a mechanism invented by these two individuals. There is nothing they will not do to build their personal status at the expense of the political struggle. The more they perform their fake shows the more they would be exposed. There is the potential, if not already have started, to convert it into a money making machine. There are credible political organizations who has the potential, independent at that, to hold power to decide whether to negotiate or not to negotiate. They do not need the hoopla of the so called Ethiopian National Transitional Council.
Mankelklot Haile Selassie (PhD)