odd and dismal state of higgledy-piggledy
London, 25 September
On 15 September 2014 the
owner and Admin of ethiopiafirst.com,
Binyam Kebede, (Ben) posted a short critique under the title of “ETV mixed up
EPRDF with the Government,” in which he castigated the now renamed Ethiopian
Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) for giving “preferential treatment” to the
ruling EPRDF at the expense of Ethiopia’s horde of opposition parties. He
nonetheless failed to back up his claim with a case-in point.
It is usually wrong
estimation like this one which spurs critics of EPRDF to conclude that the
difference between the state and the ruling party is blurred. I am not here to
defend EBC; the point I want to highlight is that we need to stop blaming
everything on EPRDF. The fact that the birth of EPRDF’s Youth League deserves a
live coverage must not be a moot point. And if opposition parties have a
function which warrants live coverage, EBC must be duty bound to offer it to
them. But from what I could gather, some opposition parties are ill at ease to
let EBC cameras in for fear that a poor attendance at a function may be misconstrued
as a sign of weakness.
claim of EBC’s bias against opposition parties reminds me of opposition parties’
penchant for heaping blame on EPRDF when things go awry in their camp. Whenever
the glue that had joined a hastily cobbled together ‘coalition’ is unglued,
EPRDF is blamed for it; whenever a fracas breaks out among opposition members,
EPRDF is blamed; whenever an anticipated tsunami fails to materialize at an
opposition rally, EPRDF is blamed. And you mark my word, if a lightening hits
the HQ of one of the opposition parties, it will be EPRDF which gets the blame
for failing to forewarn the party.
It is high time that
people are reminded of the obvious: EPRDF is there neither to nanny, nor to
lullaby nor to shepherd opposition parties. Is it fair and rational to blame
EPRDF for the inadequacies and shortcomings of opposition parties.
On the other hand,
mindful of the irrefutable fact that as the initiator of pluralistic democracy,
equality and freedom in a nation that had been beset by insularity, by a cruel
form of feudalism and by a nightmarish military dictatorship, EPRDF has effectively
demonstrated its commitment to pluralistic democracy by not only building and
enhancing the institutions of democracy, but by its willingness and readiness to
engage with countless legally registered political parties in Ethiopia on how
best to further enhance democracy in Ethiopia. What EPRDF is dead against, come
hell or high water, is to engage with - to borrow one of Donal Rumsfeld’s sound
bites - “ the known knowns ” : not to give in to arm-locking tactics by its
international partners and by the motley crew of self-righteous organizations,
nor to engage with ‘Ethiopian’ political parties that are hell bent on
circumventing the Constitution.
The current dismal state
of our higgledy-piggledy (confused) opposition parties a mere eight months away
from Election 2015 is, therefore, a reflection of their irrationality, of their
inability to offer the electorate a viable alternative to those of EPRDF, of
their infighting, of their failure to get their acts together as well as of
their inability to decide on whether or not to take part/boycott the next election.
Hence, one would not be committing a lapse of judgment, if one were to categories
opposition parties in Ethiopia into two distinct groups: the living dead, and
the zombified. What is even more bizarre is the fact their hopes and prospects
rest not with homeland Ethiopians, but with the toxic Diaspora who subsist on
a daily diet of backbiting, blackmailing and character assassination.
Is it not naive to even
entertain the thought that EPRDF will wither away because of what the toxic Diaspora
does in the streets of be it Washington DC, London or Stockholm? EPRDF is at
the helm of government by the will of the majority, and there it will remain
until such time it is voted out of office by ballot and not by bullet.
A cursory look at the
state of ‘major’ opposition parties speaks volumes about their prospect of
making a dent at EPRDF’s majority in Parliament at Election 2015.
Medrek - a hastily
cobbled together coalition of four parties and two politicians - is in turmoil.
As there is no harm in underlining the obvious, it must be noted that Medrek
has never enjoyed a day free from a welter of problems ever since its birth by ‘artificial
insemination’ in 2008. But that was in the past, while what matters most now
is if Medrek has what it takes to become the comeback kid of Ethiopian
politics? The short answer is a big No! The amalgam which had earlier succeeded
in keeping politically disparate organizations intact, has now given way to
purges and infightings. The preeminent firebrand member of Medrek, the United
Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) has been barred from the coalition. The bone
of contention is what I like to call “ the to be or not to be question ” facing
today’s Ethiopia. While Medrek argues that the coalition must continue to abide
by its manifesto commitment of respecting the rights of nations, nationalities
and peoples, (UEDF), on the other hand is adamantine on the need to drop that,
and to instead focus on fostering national unity for it is believed to be a
What is Ethiopian unity
without its nations, nationalities and peoples?
The All-Amhara People’s
Congress fairs no better than Medrek. It finds itself in a rut following a
power struggle between Mamush Amare and co and the current leadership.
Mamushet Amare insists that he is the rightful leader because of a court decision
to that effect, while the current leadership has been quick in accusing him of
turning into an EPRDF spy with a mission to scupper its efforts to become a
force to be reckoned with at Election 2015.
The most laughable of
all opposition parties is Someway Party which is being remotely controlled by
two power greedy men: from Addis Ababa by the Methuselah of Ethiopian politics,
Proffessor Mesfin Wolde Mariam; and from USA by the kissing cousin of Chairman
Yilekal Getenet, cyber-warrior Professor Alemayehu G.Mariam. Intoxicated by
media attention he has been getting over the past year, Yilekal Getnet has
already started portraying himself as a prime minister-in-waiting and boasting
of his claim that he has a legion of engineers, doctors and philosophers on a
24/7 standby to assume power not if he wins, but when he wins the next election
which he himself is not quite sure yet of taking part in. And here comes the
icing on the cake: he promises to deliver on a silver platter a constitution
written by the literati to replace the Constitution of FDRE. If this is not the
worst form of a pipe dream, then I want to know what is? Well, his irrational
argument and his penchant for authoritarianism, has already spurred rank and
file members to demand a change of leadership. The coming two months will
decide as to who will be the undisputed leader of Semayawi Party.
In conclusion while I
don’t deny that my commentary is music to the ears of EPRDF, let it be known
that it comes with a caveat. There is an old political adage which is used by
commentators during election time which says, “Oppositions don’t win elections,
governments lose them.” EPRDF knows all too well that because it has more or
less lived up to its 2008 manifesto commitments, the electorate will be willing
to entrust it for a further five years, but it must avoid complacency at all costs.
Ethiopia is safe and sound with EPRDF!