Dear PM Abiy,
H Desta 08/06/18
You came to power at a critical time when most Ethiopians were afraid the country may collapse or become like Rwanda. After listening your inauguration speech, most Ethiopians thanked the Precious God for giving them educated and young leader who preaches peace, love and unity. I believe your visit to the regions could have help you to discuss with the people and understand the challenges on the ground. Your visit to neighboring African countries has also helped to cement the already established strategic partnership by your predecessors. Ethiopia has good policy towards its neighbors. Although I believe you have the potential to unite the country and implement MEDEMER, I would like forward my concerns. I see potential problems that may look trivial, but if they are not addressed on time they may challenge you. As an Ethiopian who wish to see prosperous and united, country, I would like to mention the limitations I have observed.
1. Failures and Successes of PRDF
Most Ethiopians agree in the last 27 years, EPRDF has committed many mistakes (to mention some: in Human Rights Issues, Bad Governance and Corruption), but it has also registered significant achievements (especially in social and economic development and foreign policy). Ethiopia is a friend of all countries (the East as with the West). In all your speeches I usually hear you talking about the mistakes, but not the achievements of EPRDF. I believe you have to balance the failures and successes. Accusing the previous leaders may not make you a hero. You will be judged by the change you will bring.
Some of your answers are not relevant to questions asked. For example, when a gentle man from Afar advised you “don’t marginalize EPRDF because they have helped us to improve our life”. You replied was “EPRDF has not defeated Derg. Derg failed because of its failures”. No one asked for the explanation how Derg failed. If you have lack of information, how the struggle was tough, please ask the veteran members of your party (OPDO) who participated in the war. You belittled ther achievements of EPRDF to construction of “few asphalt roads and buildings”.
The following big achievements that are recognized by the WB and other international partners of Ethiopia prove the failures you repeatedly tell in each of you speeches are not correct.
2. Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)
GERD is the main mega project owned by all Ethiopians. For the last 4 months we have not heard about its progress from the media. In May 2, 2018 (Xinhua) reported - Africa's largest hydro dam project, the 6,450 MW GERD, is 66 percent complete, quoting, Bizuneh Tolcha, Director of Public Relations and Communications Directorate at the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE). Tolcha said the construction of the hydro project is going well and is expected to start partial test power generation soon. It was also reported the government may start filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
When discussing with the teachers from higher institutions, you said “it may take about ten years to complete the dam. You also mentioned, the figures that were told so far are for political consumption” (to use President Trump’s words, the information is fake). Recent photos of the dam show the construction of the dam is progressing well. Do you have any concrete information that disprove the above? As a PM, we expect you to tell us the facts on the ground and your stand on GERD.
A day before he was killed the development hero of Ethiopia, Engineer Simegew Bekelle, has been interviewed by BBC journalist. The interview starts from his answer, (it looks the journalist has asked him about what you have told to the teachers regarding the dam). Eng. Simegnew replied “I have not heard what he (the PM) has said. As a manager of the project I know the work is being done. But to give you detail information, he told the BBC journalist to “ask Government Communication Bureau for permission to get the information”.
Following the death of Engineer Simegnew and in relation to your speech to the teachers, there are gossips the money contributed by Ethiopians for construction of the dam was embezzled by TPLF companies. Some Social Medias also say TPLF killed him before he tells the truth to the public. Dear PM do you see how lack information can lead to such rumors? Unless you are doing this intentionally, misguided information it is making the people of Tigray to be victims.
Even though I am not sure, there are stories that say the UAE and Eritrea are colluding to undermine the ongoing projects in Ethiopia including the Hidase Dam. They relate with the UAE’s generous donation of 1 billion USD. There is also speculation the construction is instructed to slow down. All government and private medias are involved 24/7 about your achievement. I would appreciate if you can tell the public the fact on the ground. What is your basis for saying the GERD would take 10 years to complete it? As Ethiopians have contributed their money and knowledge, they have the right to know the physical status and the financial performance.
3. Human Development Report (UNDP 2016)
The HDI is a summary measure for assessing progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. Although Ethiopia ’s HDI value has still low rank (0.448 in 2015). However, between 2000 and 2015, Ethiopia’s HDI value Increased from 0.283 to 0.448 , an increase of 58.2 percent. Between 1990 and 2015, Ethiopia ’s life expectancy at birth increased by 17.5 years (from 47.1-64.6 years), mean years of schooling increased by 1.1 years and expected years of schooling increased by 5.3 years (from 3.1 -8.4). Ethiopia ’s GNI per capita increased by about 134.7 percent between 1990 and 2015. This shows the growth is not limited to few asphalt roads and buildings. It has dimensions of human development.
4. Economic and Social Development
• Industrial Parks: Ethiopia is striving to be the hub of light manufacturing industries in Africa, placing an ambitious plan to develop world class industrial parks with fascinating hard and soft infrastructure. So far over 10 industrial parks have been built or are under construction. The strategic plan provides the overall framework in terms of the industrialization vision, goal, strategies and programs that need to be implemented in the coming years as to support the country’s progress towards becoming a middle-income country by the year 2025. On the one hand you blamed EPRDF as it has done nothing on the other hand you take your guests (for example President Kagami of Rwanda and President Isaias Afeworki) to Hawassa Park to show one of the great achievements of EPRDF over the last 27 years. Doesn’t this contradict with your words.
• Universities: In the last 27 years more than 50 government and private universities have been constructed. I belive there are limitations in terms of quality. But, if the government can strongly work on improving the quality of education, we can have highly trained human resource. • Health: Especially, the prevention focused health policy and strategy of Ethiopia is appreciated by many international organizations, including WHO. A lot work has been done in this respect. Any implementation problems observed can easily be addressed
• Roads and railways: Transport cost is one of the challenges affecting competitiveness. To address these, tens of thousands of roads and railways have been built. These investments are helping to reduce the high transportation cos in the country.
• Electric Power: Big investment projects have been initiated to meet the growing demand and support the on-going efforts to build rapid and sustainable development in Ethiopia. When the hydro dams and wind farms under construction are completed we expected to have produce more than 11 thousand MW.
• GDP: On January 12, 2018, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report Ethiopia has recorded annual average GDP growth of about ten percent in the last decade, driven by public investments in agriculture and infrastructure. The poverty rate has fallen from 44 percent in 2000 to 23.5 percent in 2015/16. In 2016/17 GDP growth is estimated at 9 percent, as agriculture rebounded from severe drought conditions in 2015/16. Industrial activity expanded, with continued investments in infrastructure and manufacturing.
• Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian): is the fastest growing and most profitable airline in Africa. In 2014 IATA ranked Ethiopian as the largest airline in Africa in revenue and profit. Over the past seven decades, Ethiopian has been a pioneer of African aviation as an aircraft technology leader. Ethiopian is the first African B787 Dreamliner in 2012 and is leading the way again by providing the first African A350 XWB. Ethiopian is a multiaward winning airline, including SKYTRAX and Passenger Choice Awards in 2015, and has been registering an average growth of 25% per annum for the past ten years. This the achievement of EPRDF.
• Ethiopia is the 1st African country to develop Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) Strategy. The CRGE’s initiative is to protect the country from the adverse effects of climate change and to build a green economy that will help realise its ambition of reaching middle-income status before 2025. It aims to do so by building a green economy. This has been highly appreciated by UN Climate
5. Your US Visit
I highly appreciate the objective of your visit to the US. You tried to demolish the wall and creating a bridge that has separated many Diasporas from active participation in the affairs of their country. It is understood the Ethiopian Diaspora have big potential to help their country in all aspects. You are PM all Ethiopians (for those who support you and even those who oppose you). As far as they have not used guns as a means of struggle, they have the right to challenge you in ideas. That is democracy. You should not expect everybody to be you supporter. This attitude is dictatorship.
I have followed all your visits in the three cities you have visited. When answering to some questions raised by some participants, like from Erobe and the former Tigray journalist you were so nervous. The terms you used when answering to their question were rude and irrelevant to the question (Yemender politica). Everybody has the right to ask. You especially told the lady she is young and the questions were not hers. You said her question is political. Being young she shouldn’t ask such political question. I don’t expect as human being you can read the hearts and minds of people. Unless you are a prophet. Even it would not be wrong if she has collected the questions from other people. Why doesn’t it concern her? As a youth she has the right to be involved in the politics of her country or region. Aren’t the Keros and Fanos you are repeatedly praising youngsters like her.
When answering to the questions to the two guys, you became emotional and jumped to requests that were not asked like “yweklna tornet’. You raised this issue to prove the former PM (Meles) was wrong. You said “TEKLAI MINISTER YENEBERU SEW” even you were not bold enough to call his name. Are you telling us if PM Meles has done a mistake, you have the right to repeat the mistake he did? If you don’t have any information, Meles didn’t declare a war by himself. The war with Eritrea and even the intervention in Somalia were discussed at all level and finally approved by the Ethiopian Parliament.
In one of your speeches I have heard you saying, they didn’t consult anybody when they submitted Asab to Eritrea. Who are you referring and when (I guess, again, you are referring PM Meles. Asab has been part and parcel of Eritrea. I don’t understand what you want to say. He has not submitted Asab. Please take care when you are talking. Blaming others without evidence cannot make you great leader. In Ethiopia we don’t have the culture of appreciation for the previous leaders (at department, organization, or country level). We always focus on limitations. For example, Derg was blaming Emperor Haileslassie. When Derg failed EPRDF always blame both Haileslassie and Derg. You are also heard repeating the same mistake. You are telling us in the last 27 years we had only problems. When one is blaming somebody, he/she is better than other body. A leader should be praised by his/her deeds and I assume four months is too short to praise or blame you.
I believe we have to break the culture of blaming. I hope as our leader you will guide us to take the initiative to appreciate others. It also would also catalyst to your slogan of MEDEMER. Let’s us believe, during their time, all our previous leaders have contributed what they can to the present Ethiopia. Let’s stop blaming the past and appreciate what has been done well. We should also learn from their mistakes. One thing I learned from the Americans is they give due respect to their Presidents.
To conclude, for a servant leader every citizen is equal. You are PM of all Ethiopians without exception. You told to the US audience you advisor are very limited individuals from OPDO. When you arrive in Addis from the US, you explained your discussion with the Amhara and Oromo was good. But Ato Lema corrected this by saying our dissuasion with all Ethiopians was great. Don’t forget you are PM of all nations and nationalities. Your advisors should not be limited to few individuals from certain group. Preferably it may include even none party members (think-thanks). Finally, I would appreciate if you are more tolerant and patient. If there are any gaps within the parties you lead (from your responses it is very clear you are in conflict with the TPLF) it can easily be addressed through round table discussions. As you have repeatedly told us no one should hear again the sound of Gun and bullets.
I pray to God to give you more tolerance, understanding and wisdom.
God bless Ethiopia.
Aug 6, 2018
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