Note: This article is prompted by a content on Aigaforum Current Events Section titled, “The Ethiopian Airlines Thrives Despite Fatal Crash And Rising Fuel Costs—Nov 2019”
November 20, 2019
The Ethiopian Airlines is facing privatization—a neoliberal action—justified based on property rights. To its proponents, privatization begets economic development—no matter what the “short term” pain might be. But to opponent of privatization of the common goods, such as this writer, it can come at too high a price to be paid by the majority of a people.
Economic predators demand privatization at times of economic growth—so that they can acquire assets like the Ethiopian Airlines. But when the economy is in tantrum, they cast themselves as too big to fail and use their political and economic power to get protection from the state. Protection under this context means that the state has to bail economic predators—out of their own economic malaise.
Ethiopia has a growing economy and the Ethiopian Airlines is a glowing example of that. Economic predators have watched Ethiopia’s growth in general. But particularly, they have also watched the Ethiopian airlines garner all the respect and revenue that it has registered so far.
The Ethiopian Spirit, which also is referred to as the New African Spirit is among the ten largest African Airlines. It is the largest in terms of passengers carried (9.6 million), destination served (169 total), fleet size (108) and revenue (89.1 billion). This asset is a trophy that economic predators kill for. And the spirit part, the fact that it means more than an asset to Ethiopians, is in fact what economic predators want to undo.
Undoing that what glues Ethiopians together is the first victim of an endeavor by economic predators—who have no boundaries and citizenship except moneyed-interest to guide them. It is thus likely that the first order of their will to the transient Abiy regime was to at least sell them portion of the efficiently run, profitable, vastly expanding, and award collecting Ethiopian Airlines. The regime might have replied in kind to the detriment of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Airlines. Or, it might have taken the initiative itself. In any case, saving the Ethiopian Airlines from economic predators should be part and parcel of an Ethiopian struggle.
It is my hope that the words that I have jotted down engender in you the resistance against selling the Ethiopian Airlines to economic predators. In light of that, please share my following nationalist and yet factual arguments with your families, friends, co-workers, classmates, and everyone you meet in your daily life. Do not hold back; you should do it today. Involve in discourse pertaining the fate of the Ethiopian Airlines. Organize and resist— since saving the Ethiopian Airlines from economic predators is a responsibility that you cannot afford to set aside for any other day. The Ethiopian Airlines is who you are in some significant way, and, you will in part fail the future of your country—if you fail to act to save it today.
The Ethiopian Airlines should stay as is. King Haileselassie did let it to be what it is today. Derg did let it to be what it is today. And thelate EPRDF did let it to be what it is today. Politically and economically: King Haileselassie was vastly different than the Derg. Derg was vastly different than the late EPRDF. The three regimes were antagonistic with each other on almost everything political and economic except the Ethiopian Airlines. And yet, the three regimes understood the binding Ethiopian glue—when it is as irreplaceable as the Ethiopian Airlines is. We should not let the Abiy lead transient regime ruin the great economic and cultural institution that glued the Ethiopian spirit together.
The Ethiopian Airlines is not merely a money-making institution. It is more than that. It is Ethiopia in all of its best qualities. The best of Haileselassie; the best of Derg and the best of the late EPRDF. It is the one great tie that most if not all Ethiopians would not dare to cut off. The Ethiopian spirit should not be for sale and the prospect of even thinking about it is more than an inkling to betray that spirit.
What kind of an Ethiopian would dare to sell the working spirit of Ethiopia? What kind of an Ethiopian would sell the most efficient economic institution of Ethiopia? Even in part and why? What cogent economic theory warrants selling of even in part, the efficiently run, profitable, vastly expanding, and award collecting giant of an Airlines? Who is to benefit from such a sell? What changed in less than a year or two to change the history of the Ethiopian Airlines? Is there any change on what constitutes to be an Ethiopian? Is there an attempt to create an Ethiopian unlike the one during King Haileselassie, Derg, and the late EPRDF? What changed?
The preceding questions may not mean that much at first glance. But for those who take their time to process them, they in fact mean something big. Those who take their time may see quite easily what changed in Ethiopia. You see: King Haileselassie was not a neoliberal. Derg was not a neoliberal. And the late EPRDF was not a neoliberal. But the recent and yet transient regime of Abiy is. And nothing but this change is what is serving the efficiently run, profitable, vastly expanding, and award collecting Ethiopian Airlines to economic predators.
Our Ethiopian Airlines is set to be sold in part and may be in whole— in the name of efficiency.
The transient regime of Ethiopia should have known by now that the storied efficiency of privatization is based on a one-liner myth: ‘private sector is good and public sector is bad.’ The prime minister in particular and his regime in general are very wrong to accept a neoliberal myth on the goodness of privatization—while the original cheerleaders are backtracking on their original claim—albeit in modest terms. For example, IMF finds that the theory of privatization on the goodness of private sector is at best ambiguous, and at worst, out of gas. The implication: the goodness of privatization is oversold.
The cheerleading to the myth, I should add, is the dance to which Abiy sang to the delight of economic predators at Davos, Switzerland. Abiy is cheerleading for neoliberalism too late in the game and in the wake of its creators doubting its viability. Meanwhile, the debate will continue as to what political and economic ideology is fitting to further Ethiopia’s interest. But selling an Ethiopian interest before having an extensive debate on the blowbacks of privatizing the common goods is undemocratic in the least and reckless at the worst.
Before finalizing to sale any portion of the Ethiopian Airlines, therefore, the transient Abiy lead regime should hear from all stakeholders. In the meantime, you my readers should involve in discourse pertaining the fate of the Ethiopian Airlines. You should organize and resist— since saving the Ethiopian Airlines from economic predators is a responsibility that you cannot afford to set aside for any other day. The Ethiopian Airlines is who you are in some significant way, and, you will in part fail the future of your country—if you fail to act to save it today.
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