By Gamo Ditamo
Ethiopians are ethnically divided, and everything that unites them is intentionally being destroyed in order to further a wicked political goal. The Oromummaa regime in power has intensified its efforts to eradicate everything that fosters comradery, collaboration, and togetherness among Ethiopians. In every regard, conditions in Ethiopia have deteriorated significantly since the TPLF was booted out of power. Ironically, Ethiopians who valiantly battled to remove the TPLF criminals from power now yearn for them. The political, economic, and social problems the TPLF thugs left behind have not been addressed by the current regime. Instead, it has been focused on furthering the Oromummaa agenda. One of these agendas calls for dismantling institutions that are already in place and are thought to be bringing Ethiopians together. The Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) is one of the establishments that the Abiy regime has vowed to destroy. Although Abiy’s regime is mostly to blame, Oromo ethnonationalists and Sidama tribal extremists have both contributed to the disintegration of the SNNPR.
Why are the Oromo Prosperity Party, Oromo ethnonationalists, and their minions deliberately destroying the SNNPR?
The SNNPR, which represents unity and Ethiopian identity, could undermine the Oromummaa agenda if allowed to continue. Oromummaa agenda calls for the annexation of territory from neighboring regions, the designation of Addis Ababa as a part of the fictitious Oromia region, the elevation of the Oromo race to the status of a superior race, the imposition of the Gada system of life on others, the concentration of national resources on the Oromo region, and the support of anyone who would support these wicked agendas. If the influential SNNPR, which has 20 million residents and more than 56, is allowed to continue, the Oromummaa project will be in jeopardy.
It is well known that the SNNPR has a strong Ethiopian identity. For more than 27 years, many Ethiopians have made the region their preferred destination to live and conduct business. The region was not intended to unite Ethiopians when the TPLF established it in 1992. It was created for the TPLF’s evil purposes, primarily to impose complete control over the local populace. Inadvertently, though, the SNNPR has developed into a hub for unity, camaraderie, and a strong Ethiopian identity. Oromummaa politics, which is based on ethnic identity and division, is opposed to and incompatible with the SNNPR’s structure. Dismantling the SNNPR and replacing it with small, weak ethnic regions that won’t have the same impact has therefore become the regime’s top priority.
Abiy and his cadres began collaborating with Sidama extremists soon after taking office in order to undermine the SNNPR and lay the groundwork for its eventual destruction. After receiving encouragement from the regime, Sidama extremists began a criminal enterprise that lasted for more than two years. According to trustworthy sources, the PP regime did nothing while Sidama thugs engaged in disturbing the SNNPR. On the contrary, they had covertly encouraged and assisted Sidama extremists to continue their illegal activities in Awassa that were intended to sever Sidama from the union and create a Sidama region. Abiy and his cadres had only given lip service while Sidama thugs were killing and robbing people and damaging property in Awassa.
By acting hypocritically and saying one thing while doing another, Abiy and his cohorts contributed to the demise of the region. According to Muferiat Kemal, who served as the region’s chair from 2018 to 2019, “any statehood question would be answered taking into consideration the 56 plus ethnic groups that make up the SNNPR.” She further said, “No group would be allowed statehood without first taking into account all groups within the SNNPR.” Despite what the cadres of the regime had been publicly claiming, nothing had changed after two years of anarchy. All that followed was a shady referendum to throw the final blow and disintegrate the SNNPR.
The Sidama referendum for statehood and its entire process were corrupted and lacking in transparency. Abiy had given carte blanche to a small band of Sidama extremists to disseminate false information, inflate the number of voters, issue multiple IDs for a person so that he could cast multiple ballots, and transfer voters from the countryside to the cities to allow them to vote twice. Adding insult to injury, Sidama extremists paid (bribed) for the so-called election observers, who remained silent about the rigged process. In my opinion, Birtukan Mideksa, the chairperson of the electoral board until recently, should have resigned back then instead of waiting for the second coming of the TPLF thugs.
In no way am I implying that the Sidama people couldn’t have voted for statehood. What I’m attempting to demonstrate here is the lengths to which the Abiy administration went in order to weaken the authority of the electoral board by allowing a dubious referendum to take place so that his government could tell the entire world that the Sidama people voted overwhelmingly in favor of the creation of a Sidama state. One thing that is absolutely certain is that 98% of Sidama voters didn’t support the creation of a Sidama ethnic region. By allowing a fraudulent referendum to take place and severing Sidama from the SPNNPR, the Abiy regime prepared the ground for the SNNPR’s demise. Recognizing the role Sidama extremists played in the demise of the SNNPR and how their ignorance aided the Oromummaa agenda and jeopardized the interests of the Sidama people is essential to understanding what is currently taking place in the region.
Sidama extremists had been lamenting for a Sidama ethnic region before the current regime came to power. Their quest for Sidama statehood is motivated by self-interest, particularly a desire for power, material gain, and to be treated like their Oromo comrades. During the 27 years of TPLF rule, the idea of a Sidama region consumed so many of them that many went insane.
They believed that the TPLF had prevented them from creating an ethnic state in order to humiliate the people of Sidama. To anyone who would listen, they told many fairytales and claimed that Sidama’s quest for an ethnic region dates back 150 years. Sidama youths were brainwashed into thinking that manana would fall from the sky as soon as Sidama became a region. Sidama extremists paraded young people through the streets of Awassa to show that they were serious about their demand. Anyone who disagreed with their ridiculous claims and made-up story was verbally and physically attacked. The SNNPR executive members who opposed the balkanization of the region were also harassed and attacked.
In Awassa, property theft and intimidation of businessmen were carried out openly. Paid thugs staged violent protests that severely hurt the region’s economy, especially Awassa’s.
Attacks by Sidama extremists primarily targeted Wolita ethnic groups. Wolittas were seen as a barrier to the Sidama ethnic enclave and were considered to be working against Sidama interests. Homes belonging to the group members were pillaged, and several properties were destroyed.
Abusing Wolitas also had to do with Hailemariam Desalegn, who was the chairperson of the SNNPR at the time and later became PM accidentally when Meles Zenawi passed away. Extremists from the Sidama ethnic group believed Hailemariam and the TPLF plotted to block a Sidama ethnic region and were responsible for the deaths of over 100 people in Looqqe when hooligans recruited by Sidama extremists began their march to Awassa. Extremists from Sidama were not the only ones who assisted the PP government in undermining and splitting the SNNPR.
The controversial Jawar Mohammed and other Oromo ethnonationalists publicly supported Sidama radicals. Many ethnic politicians viewed Jawar as their savior, particularly those from Sidama. Jawar was welcomed with open arms by Sidama zealots, who were deceived by his charm and empty rhetoric because they were unaware of his true intentions. When Jawar offered to assist his Sidama comrades, he did so with his own goals in mind.
Jawar had two objectives in mind when he urged Sidama extremists to wreak havoc on the SNNPR in order to seek the separation of Sidama from the region. His first goal was to undermine and eventually destroy the SNNPR. The Oromo ethnic enclave would be strengthened as a result, and it would be easier to advance the Oromummaa agenda. It was later discovered that he was diligently carrying out his mission while publicly urging Sidamas to keep protesting.
In one of his frequent visits to Awassa, Jawar stopped by Shashamane, an Oromia city 25 kilometers away from Awassa. He ordered his goons in the city to bring soil from the city. Then he asked his followers why the prices of properties in Awassa were four times more expensive than in Shashamane. No one could give him a satisfactory answer. He then urged his friends in the city to make every effort to raise the value of property in Shashamane. A few months later, the value of property in the area rivaled that of Awassa. However, things had changed, and the city became a ghost city when Hachalu Hundessa was assassinated and hoodlums in Shashamane
attacked thousands of innocent people and burned their properties. Many people left the city and moved to Awassa.
Jawar’s desire to assist Sidama militants in their search for an ethnic enclave was also driven by financial considerations. Many individuals who support ethnic politics and spread their bile on a daily basis do so to make money. Nothing else is necessary other than a suit with a neck tie and the obligatory denigration of others while portraying one’s own group as the victim. Jawar Mohammed excels at this more than anyone else. Without ethnic politics, Jawar Mohammed and many other ethnonationalists who pretend to be representatives of their ethnic groups would be as poor as the people they claim to be representing. Thanks to ethnic politics, Jawar is now a rich man.
Jawar had been paid 8 million birr by Sidama extremists to act as a go-between to secure a TV station for the latter through a South African telecommunications company. According to reports, the SNNPR’s funds were taken out in order to pay Jawar. The man was also charging Sidama extremists an astronomical sum of money for their use of the Oromo Media Network (OMN) to vent their bile against other SNNPR groups. These days, no Sidama wants to talk about Jawar, including those who were courting him to help them separate Sidama from the SNNPR. The demise of the NNPR has also been hastened by additional centrifugal forces within the region.
Sidama’s split from the SNNPR has opened the way for many ethnonationalists who were waiting for the right time to demand an ethnic region for their group. Not wanting to be outdone by Sidama extremists, a few ethnic “representatives” from the Wolita, Hadiya, Gurage, and other groups have begun agitating people within their group and demanding their own ethnic enclave.
In Wolita, there were violent protests that left innocent people dead and property destroyed. “Wolita should be an ethnic region, too, if Sidama is,” was reportedly the rallying cry of those who wanted Wolita to be an ethnic enclave. Extremists from Gurage have recently become boisterous about wanting their own ethnic enclave, which has put them in direct conflict with the regime, which has paved the way for the disintegration of the SNNPR by allowing Sidama to separate from the region.
Before I wrap up this article, I’d like to provide readers with a general overview of the state of the recently established Sidama region and the lives of the Sidama people over the past three years.
The Sidama ethnic region was dead on arrival. The only things it has brought the people of Sidama are frustration and suffering. All the commotion and fanfare surrounding the new ethnic enclave had subsided within a year. Numerous issues that the people faced while Sidama was under the SNNPR are still present and have even gotten worse. Serious border disputes with the neighbors, extreme economic hardships, and unresolved administrative issues all popped up as soon as the new ethnic region emerged. Just a year after the new region was founded, a businessperson from Sidama said something that perfectly encapsulated how the Sidama people feel about it. “Last year I was so thrilled when Sidama became a region and gave an ox to the new region,” the speaker claimed. “If you eliminate the new region today, I’ll donate ten oxen.”
The people of Sidama are going through a very difficult period, and their problems are much worse than those of the SNNPR.
Like many people in the South, the majority of Sidama are dependent on agriculture for their survival. When Sidama was under SNNPR, farmers had never planted their land without fertilizers. They managed to get fertilizer and produce enough food for themselves. However, the lack of fertilizer over the past three years has severely affected their agriculture. Furthermore, the problem has gotten worse due to over farming and not managing soil for future uses, which has rendered large portions of land unusable.
Many people left their rural settlements and moved to the metropolis, particularly Awassa. They have engaged in a range of dubious acts in order to live. Due to the terrible drought that has affected areas populated by Sidamas, the situation for the people has gotten worse. Disgusted by lawlessness, many left the new region.
Many Ethiopians and foreign investors shut down their businesses and fled the region in disgust over the two years of lawlessness that preceded the referendum. Particularly, many of the factories at the Awassa industrial park that once employed thousands of people have permanently closed.
Due to a lack of customers and corrupt business practices, service-providing sectors like hotels and restaurants, which used to be profitable and employed many people, have struggled to survive, leaving the local population jobless. Additionally, border disputes with neighboring areas have broken out abruptly and regularly.
The Oromo politicians who used to encourage Sidama extremists to demand their own region were quick to claim some areas of Sidama as part of the Oromo ethnic enclave. Over the previous three years, border skirmishes between armed gunmen from the Oromo area and Sidama peasants have caused multiple fatalities and significant property damage. Of course, ethnic groups in Ethiopia, including the Oromo and Sidama, are accustomed to border skirmishes. However, there has never been anything like the previous three years in terms of the frequency and severity of the violence perpetrated by Oromo groups against the Sidama people. In Awassa, it has been common to see medical facilities overflowing with victims, including security personnel.
The new ethnic region’s border disputes also flared up with the Wolita zone. Soon after becoming a new region, Sidama also clashed with the adjacent Wolita region over a border area. For generations, the inhabitants of Sidama and Wolita have coexisted peacefully. However, the willful violence committed by Sidama thugs against hard-working Wolitas in Awassa and the surrounding areas during the two-year protest has stoked tensions between the groups, necessitating intervention from the inept federal government. The lack of knowledgeable manpower to set up a new administrative structure hasn’t helped the plight of the Sidama people either.
Three years after the creation of the new ethnic region, Sidama doesn’t have an administrative structure in place. This can be explained in a few different ways. The first is the total incapacity of the so-called Sidama elites to run their own affairs. The majority of these individuals are adept at motivating impressionable young men to act in a lawless manner. They lag far behind other “elites,” though, when it comes to meaningful work. The majority of them also lack knowledge and skills, and their phony credentials (diplomas and degrees) don’t help. In addition to this problem, the majority of Sidama employees in the SNNPR and the federal government do not want to leave Awassa and move to underdeveloped Sidama regions. Fighting and finger-pointing are therefore common among the “revolutionaries” who “struggled” for a Sidama ethnic region. What is the state of Awassa in the last three years?
Awassa, which was founded by Ethiopians and served as the SNNPR’s capital, has turned into a place where a select few members of the same ethnic group can act however they please without consequence. Nepotism and corruption are so rampant that residents have given up on the federal government.
A few incompetent yokels who have no connection to the city profit from Awassa residents. Nothing is done properly or in compliance with the law. Businesses risk closure unless they pay hefty bribes to operate. Government employees must be bought off in order for someone to have the right to receive their services.
People can’t operate their vehicles without paying bribes. Their driving licenses are taken by unscrupulous and incompetent traffic cops for no apparent reason and won’t be returned unless bribes are paid.
Innocent people are frequently detained for trivial offenses and then made to pay significant bribes in order to be released, while criminals who have committed serious felonies are often freed just days after they have committed the crimes.
Police officers are lenient with members of their tribe, even when they commit serious crimes. Awassa has become a place of lawlessness and corruption where a select few members of a single ethnic group can act however they please without consequence. A few Sidama goons have been given permission by the ruling regime to do whatever they want as long as they continue to support the Oromummaa agenda. The people of the SNNPR, who are Awassa’s true owners, have been forced to stand by and watch as the city disintegrates.
In conclusion, the TPLFera division of Ethiopians into ethnic enclaves has been furthered by the Oromo PP. The regime has been focusing on advancing the Oromummaa agenda, which calls for dismantling institutions that bring Ethiopians together. The SNNPR is one of these establishments that has been condemned for destruction. The Oromummaa agenda and the ethnic politics that Oromo politicians are adamant about pursuing are threatened by the SNNPR, which has 20 million residents and more than 56 ethnic groups.
Abiy and his cadres collaborated with Sidama extremists to undermine the SNNPR and lay the groundwork for its eventual destruction. Oromo ethnic entrepreneurs, in particular the divisive Jawar Mohammed, have contributed to the demise of the SNNPR.
The Sidama people have been negatively impacted more than anyone else in the region by the division of the Sidama region from the SNNPR. They have fallen prey to economic hardships,
Oromo expansionist border aggression, and corruption on the part of those claiming to speak for them. A few Sidama politicians are benefiting from the new ethnic enclave, while the Sidama populace is suffering as a result of Sidama’s separation from the SNNPR. They are gangs of crooks, thieves, and idiots who have made life difficult for the Sidama people.
In the last few days, the third anniversary of the creation of the Sidama region has been celebrated in Awassa. The only people who are celebrating the occasion are the president of the region, members of parliament, and corrupt individuals that have occupied positions in the region. They are being driven by V8 cars, wining and dining in expensive restaurants. Without a doubt, the region’s budget will be reduced by half after the celebration. The ordinary Sidama people are unaware of the event, let alone celebrating it.
Awassa has become the bread and butter for corrupt Sidama thugs, making it impossible for people to live and do business. The city has been handed over to a few Sidama fanatics by the Oromummaa regime to do whatever they want with impunity. If things continue the way they are, Awassa will be a ghost city in a short time.
Ethiopians must continue their peaceful struggle against a wicked regime that is hell-bent on destroying the country.
Nothing good will come from the Oromummaa government, just as a chicken egg shouldn’t be expected from a serpent. Expecting Abiy and his Oromummaa cadres to act morally is a fruitless endeavor because they are suffering from grand delusion. Strengthening our unity and fighting the evil regime is the only way out.