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GOOG˗MAN˗GOOG: The Who Is Who of Ethiopian Opposition


The Who Is Who of Ethiopian Opposition

Desta B. Sbhatu

28 May 2015

We have just completed the Fifth Ethiopian Parliamentary and state councils’ elections. All stakeholders and observers of Ethiopian politics ‒ and of the works and success stories of the ruling coalition (of four parties) and its allies (comprising of five independent parties) ‒ have long known that the result of the Election to be a foregone conclusion. No stakeholder or observer of the Ethiopian politics has doubted about the victory of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies ‒ though few have hoped against hopes that the opposition will secure some seats in the Federal Parliament and state councils. Undeniably, EPRDF has lost quite many votes ‒ not parliamentary and state council seats ‒ due to its own limitations in serving the electorate and in selling its package better.

The whole process of the Fifth Ethiopian Election has left us with three important observations. The first observation is EPRDF's decisive role in propelling Ethiopia's democratization process to the next level while diffusing all provocative challenges from some opposition parties and their enablers near and far. The second observation is the outstanding political maturity of the nations, nationalities, and peoples (NNP) of Ethiopia in pacifying the political atmosphere in general and the election process in particular. The last observation is the complete failure of the opposition parties in putting themselves in order and in exhibiting some political character.

Critical observation into the "who is who" of organized and unorganized Ethiopian political entities, that stood against the ruling coalition and its allies, would reveal that they are good-for-nothing in all imaginable measures. What is yet more disturbing is the diversity of their good-for-nothingness ‒ that can be grouped into disgraceful losers, useful idiots, worn-out naiveté, half-good paranoids, disabled chauvinists, and ossified academics. Had it not been in the good hands of the ruling coalition and its allies, Ethiopia could have been lost into thin air long ago under the hands of such Gog and Magog of sorts. Below, their true strips and hues are briefly provided.

The group of disgraceful losers ‒ who would like to call themselves as born-again ‘liberals’ ‒ includes organized and unorganized political forces historically associated with TPLF/EPRDF and its allies. This group primarily comprises of former TPLF (and EPRDF) combatants and members who abandoned the front after miserably succumbed to the disorientating within-party struggle in 2001. The group began organized political struggle against TPLF/EPRDF in the name of the people of Tigrai after it has made political blunders, including licking the stinky boots of the chauvinists at Mesqal Square, and effectively lose any potential support on its agenda from the very people of Tigrai ‒ if there can be any. The group is the most disgraceful political entity in the history of Ethiopian politics and labors to survive through the most disgraceful tactics – by selling distorted stories and conspiracy theories about the history and struggle of the people of Tigrai and TPLF ‒ by carefully copying such stories and conspiracy theories from the playbooks of chauvinists.

The second political group can be described as useful idiots. The group comprises of organized political parties established to serve the economic interests of their founders. Leaders/founders of the political parties under this group do not relinquish their ‘leadership' positions. If they are forced to do so, they will split the parties and put themselves at the helm of one faction ‒ and sometimes go as far as establishing a new one. The leaderships of the political parties of this group are characterized by their pathetic lies and immense idiocy ‒ thus are useful idiots in the eyes of their enablers, i.e. spurious guardians of democracy. The founders/leaderships of this group are well aware that they are incapable of making any contributions towards the democratization process. In fact, they are not interested in contributing an iota of a thing to that ‒ which is against their interests. They understand the commitment and desire of EPRDF and its allies for promoting the democratization of the political affairs of the Country and for enhancing constructive political engagement to facilitate the realization of the political transformation. They know that they are always welcome to peaceful (even if not useful) political engagement. Hence, these useful idiots shall continue to exist as far as they serve their enablers well and get served for that ‒ including enjoying embassy cocktails.

The third groupdescribed as worn-out naïveté ‒ includes many political parties whose members are overwhelmingly good-willing but are very naïve and yet are worn-out. Members of this group (of parties) include many senior citizens who lacked the minimum political sophistication. If truth is to be told, it takes a good deal of brain cells, sufficient dose of testosterone, and extreme doggedness to be a worthy politician ‒ and may be more to be a worthy Ethiopian politician. However, members of this group not only lack these qualities but also have no meaningful political literacy. The members promote interesting narratives about Ethiopia and Ethiopian politics ‒ some could be outright hilarious (e.g. presidential system of government is better than parliamentary system) while others are utterly wrong (e.g. extensive engagement of citizens in development and other community affairs is undemocratic). Political parties founded and run by such naïve and worn-out citizens cannot be expected to add any value at all to the maturity of multiparty democracy. They can only be considered as the manifestation of the comical aspect of the politics of multiparty democracy.

A fourth pack ‒ better to be identified as half-good paranoids ‒ includes organized political parties as well as unorganized individuals and like-minded groups who dissociate themselves from destructive political entities and engagements. Unfortunately, they are hardly capable of or willing to get rid of destructive ideas. For example, they would reject violent and contemptuous engagement to assume public power, but they have difficulty of abandoning ideas that can only be realized by violent and contemptuous engagements. For example, rejecting the NNP of Ethiopia as sovereign political entities and discrediting the NNB-based federalism as the most workable instrument are recipes for violent and contemptuous engagements. Moreover, while they wish to see a united Ethiopia, they submit to prescriptions that have destructive consequences on the unity of Ethiopians. Tampering with Article 39 of the Constitution ‒ an article that brought the NNP of Ethiopia together ‒ is one example. “National reconciliation” is a second example ‒ which basically would have no sense without making major injustice by forcing some of the nations, nationalities, and peoples take the role of perpetrators while others become victims of some damage. Having a night watchman state is a third example ‒ that renders it (the state) to become virtually ineffective to maintain the unity of the Country. This group and it members are victims of nostalgia of Ethiopia’s mystified past; unreasonable fear of reality of the Ethiopian politics ‒ as it is about nations, nationalities, and peoples as has always been; and self-imposed trap in political cul-de-sac in search of ideological alternatives to democratic developmental state ‒ which is not always necessary and not needed in our case.

Disabled chauvinists ‒ the fifth group ‒ includes a diversity of organized and unorganized political entities ‒ primarily ruminants of past chauvinist and Stalinist regimes and recycled political organizations ‒ that are conclusively disabled in the armed struggle as well as in the peaceful political engagements at the hands of EPRDF and its allies. This group is packed with members whose rotten teeth are destroyed and whose limping limbs are axed ‒ and left out to bark like ailing old dogs. Members of this group are characterized by their visceral hate towards EPRDF and its allies and their incurable contempt towards the NNP of Ethiopia. It was all clear to every observer during the recent election that the political parties patched up to serve the dream of disabled chauvinists could not hide their visceral hate towards the ruling coalition and its allies and their contempt towards the Ethiopian peoples. The political pundits as well as the sloganeering and flag-waving good-for-nothing herds of this group are well aware that they cannot win the hearts and minds of the NNP of Ethiopia (and any election) – as the rule and field of the political game make them losers before even getting into it. Hence, they would not leave any stone unturned to challenge the EPRDF-led Ethiopia using any means ‒ available at their disposal and in their wild dreams. This group would never give up challenging EPRDF-led Ethiopia and would never fail to be a pain-in-the-neck to EPRDF and allies as the group is bringing its game to the Ethiopian political affairs through phony legal political parties.

In the midst of the aforementioned political Gog and Magog are ossified academics Gog and Magog by their own. This group includes individual academicians and like-minded groups who are characterized by their tons of absurdity. Members of this group ‒ loaded with tons of academic information in their long-term memory ‒ feel that they have the knowledge (which may be true) and the wisdom (which is false) about how to solve all of Ethiopia’s perceived and real ills. When some serious or petty things happen to Ethiopia and/or Ethiopians ‒ like a terrorist attack or a flat tire ‒ they would not fail to pop up with a lot of hot air from wherever they are ‒ like jackals would come out of their holes ‒ to curse the EPRDF-led government of Ethiopia, its institutions, and functionaries. The absurdity of the members of this group lies: in that they would not fail to misdiagnose perceived and/or real Ethiopian problems and to prescribe theoretically and practically wrong solutions; in that they are only capable of thinking to plow using yesteryear’s oxen; and in that they rarely fail to make predictions about almost everything related to Ethiopia and Ethiopian politics to end up painfully wrong. Looking into their behavior over the last quarter of a century, it cannot be surprising if they remain as such until the cows come home.

So, what is at stake for EPRDF and its allies? Clear and simple! Enhancing the momentum of the growth and socioeconomic transformation of the Country ‒ through the growth and transformation plans ‒ would suffice. That being true, however, the ruling coalition and its allies have to take some specific measures and/or need to give special attention to some critical issues. First and foremost, they have to respond decisively and adequately to the limitations (i.e. problems in good governance and of rent seeking) that cost them quite many votes in the recent election. Second, they have to expand and deepen the capacity building activities and programs of the public service and political functionaries. Third, they have to look into many creative programs to improve the employment prospects and opportunities of graduates of post-secondary education institutes. Last but not least, they have to carry out massive recruitment of party members supported with extensive ideological indoctrination works. These measures shall help the EPRDF and its allies hit two birds with one stone ‒ boosting their legitimacy and popular support and eclipsing the opposition completely to render them wane on their own. Ultimately, the ruling coalition and its allies can keep working hard to realize their national transformation project with no distractions and nuisances.


EPRDF: a. Tigrai People’s Liberation Front, b. Amhara National Democratic Movement, c. Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization,  d. Southern Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Movement; EPRDF Allies: a. Afar National Democratic Party, b. Somali People’s Democratic Party, c. Benishangul-Gumuz Peoples Democratic Party, d. Gambella People’s Unity Democratic Movement,  e. Harari National League. This probably makes Ethiopia the only country in the world with the highest number of political organizations fully agreeing on a single ideological persuasion, i.e. democratic developmental state. 

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