Berhanu Tesfaye (firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently what is propagated in all Medias in Ethiopia is the Five years plan to transform Ethiopia to a middle income country in the coming five years.
As one say it was too good to be true but there are a lot of things attached to the plan and as to me I can raise politically, economically and socially related issue why it is ambitious and would try to analyse them in their contexts.
The first issue to be raised has to be is there a profound background to implement the plan? What other resources are needed to implement rather than ambition? What organisational as well structural problems must be resolved before going to action? What are out historical achievements in the past for the so called five years development plans? Are political ambitions incorporated in the plan?
Before I went to the details I want to remind my readers about different Five years plans in the past regimes and their impact to bring development. The first five year plan was drafted by the Imperial period in 1957 and was subsequently implemented till 1973 and their goals was to transform the feudalistic Ethiopian to countries such as Thailand and other east Asian countries and as a whole the result was not ineffective due to the production relation system in the country. That is to say even though the ambition was there, the will by the then ruling group was not easy to implement but what developed in this era was the establishments of some agricultural development units and some textile industries as well the construction of hand picked schools and health facilities around the big towns of the country.
Here when one conclude the plan was best seen in papers or read alphabetically but the practice or implementation was poor.
During the plan implementation according to the World Bank report between 1965 -1973 the manufacturing grew 6.1 percent while agriculture and service 2.1 and 6.7 percent respectively.
The main reasons were poor governance, poor capital accumulation, poor infrastructure and poor human capital to implement and these scenario led to the inside movements by different groups in the country and the regime was thrown since it was decaying from within and even was not able to negotiate with the forces that rose against.
The second era of the five years plan were either the injections of socialist countries and some intellectual ambition to move the country forward and done in a Socialist way of planning for Ten years and the major component of the plans were focus on education, agriculture, health and infrastructure. The plan was that agriculture to serve as a push factor to fuel the development of the industry. In other words one can also describe such strategy as Agricultural led Industrialization with Socialist orientation. During this period special attention was given to cooperatives and state farms in the agricultural sector as well to processing industries in the industrial sector. The pitfall was both sectors being paid attentions they were selling their outputs below their production costs in order fuel the war that the ruling party was wedging. Their end station was being in debt from the treasury and development banks of the country.
During this period the plans were terrific and thoughts of intellectuals were included but they were mixed with the sauce of the political propaganda and they were also the news when they were launched at the beginning but they were only alphabetically beautiful plans but not implemented due to the guidance were given by the so called loyal cadres of the regime and the inputs of intellectuals was neglected and were also frustrated to say their mind because they know what will come later if they do not stick to the rules.
As was the imperial regime the fall back of the Junta was also in the same situation because it was decaying from with in and the economic situations were worsening and the living standards were at a minimum level.
What I want to narrate here is that the country has drafted beautiful plans for the last years prior to the now ruling party and the subsequent results were not conceptualized due to the organizational as well strategically myopic situations. That is to say it is easy to draft plans but what is needed is the dedication to put two and two together and incorporate the will and the needs and wants of the people.
The experiences from two historical development plans one has to learn the reality and learn from past failures and for the future.
Does the current ruling party have learned lessons from the past? Are their change in the structural and organization set ups that are new for plan implementation? Does a failed system revive unless corrected to rig out the failures? What are new in the new plan of action for the next five years that can drastically change its implementation?
These issue can be seen from different social, political as well economical happenings in the country under the existing reality and my view is to show and indicate what has to be done in order to visualise the plans and not to pinpoint my finger in any direction.
My stand is clear unless and otherwise we stand for a second and try to visualize our situation the plan is the same old wine in a new bottle and is an ambition to feed Ethiopian Manna from heaven and better said aired propaganda. Because over all what I see in the plan is only a change of names from Agricultural Development Led Industrialization to PASPED and now Development Transformation.
What are the goals stated in the next five years to achieve could be summarised in one sentence “to transform Ethiopia to a middle income country” or “to transform Ethiopia to a food secure country and reduce poverty in the country.”
Before I reason out what would be the problems that I said it is an ambition, let I put my experiences as a civil servant under two regimes, that is, the junta as well EPRDF.
I was a farm manager in both regimes and was visited from authorities from the centre and I have to produce a report about the production of the farm. Before the visit members of the ruling parties (WPE/EPRDF) were present to the visit and screening has been incorporated in the report and unfortunately there was a fall in production and what I was consulted was to select a year where the least production was made to compare and say that there is a growth in production and I have to do it the way it is palatable to our bosses.
The second experience I have was a recent one and I was serving in one of the regions of the Federal states and the then vice Prime Minister was coming to have an evaluation of the regional developmental progress and a report was produced and the regional council has discussed on it and endorsed the report to be read in the opening of the meeting by the Regional President and copies were duplicated and ready for distribution and a day before the meeting the vice Prime Minister asked to see what will be read in the opening and after he saw it what he said was “ no you are not allowed to read this report but we have brought you what you have to read and the regional president was courageous enough to say no I do not read such filthy report if you need you can give it to the secretary and he can read it.”
At last the secretary was ordered to read it by the vice Prime Minister and the regional president and four of his colleagues were house arrested till the conference was finished and later were labelled corrupt regional administrators and languished in prison for more than six years.
Let I come to why I am insisting that the plan is ambitious and I will try to make a profound argument from my experiences and some experiences from other countries as well pilot projects that have succeed in Ethiopia.
One can pinpoint different reasons but my argument lies on the bottle necks such as institutional and organizational aspects prevailing in the country.
The first and foremost problem arises from the Federal government organization since it is based according ethnic lines except the southern nation nationalities and people where more potentials could be exploited in terms of human resource but in other regions scarcity of experienced and well versed employers could not be deployed as needed in each sector of development. Moreover that other issue that is related to this scenario is that what Meles said in his speech in the parliament in terms of allocation of manpower “unless someone is not loyal to EPRDF whether he is a NASA scientist or what ever my government has not place for him”. This show that in order to work for the government what is needed is only loyalty but not intellectual background or long years of experience. This is the same what was called cadre led management during the Junta regime. This also could be justified by the dismissal of 41 University professors and hiring expatriates from other developing countries. What is needed in Ethiopia is not farsighted intellectuals but condoms that act on behalf of TPLF led EPRDF.
When we analyse the reality currently is that EPRDF is not only recruiting cadres but loyalist that will serve the ruling party in dissemination of its propaganda but not intellectual experiences. Moreover the key posts are engaged not only with loyalists but also to people who have ethnic ties with TPLF and it is a big hurdle to jump over. One need not to be transparent and abide the law what it needs only is being a member and corrupt because he has the immunity till he/she cross the red line that is the perception in politics.
The second issue to be considered is the structure of the offices as a whole in the country (I have discussed this with different scenarios), the existing pyramid of hierarchy has to be turned upside down to have a normal pyramid shape in terms of finance, human resource and other facilities. Unless and otherwise it is the few toil in the field with meagre resource and many engaged utilizing the availed resource to stash in their living.
A development agent who does not have a penny to buy a pencil to write his report or buy a horse to move from one place to another is expected to implement the plan that is alphabetically good written. Moreover the core actors that play the important roles are engaged in propagating the propaganda of the ruling party and they do not have time to visit the beneficiaries and in such a way I do not see what implementation could be.
The third issue is has EPRDF changed from its predecessors in terms of learning from failures that were done prior to the?. The answer is straight no because what now is experienced is a replica what I have been experiencing during the Junta regime. As an expert I have to do researches or some studies to avail new systems as well ways of doing things but the reality is attending seminars that do not have any relevance to my profession or daily activities with the beneficiaries I am serving as if the propaganda could be a food on the table at the end of the day. Besides unlike what is propagated in the media students could not discuss the reality in the daily situation freely and democratically in their respective class rooms in order to gather experience to say the pot a pot but they are ill advised and watched over by spies that are attending the same class and their thoughts are always field with fear and fear only and with such condition we cannot produce people who transform a country with out producing students that are self reliant on themselves.
The other issue what we have to consider is the performance of the last five year plan as per the document it was very exaggerated for 1998-2003 and due to that the performance in agricultural production was a meagre increase in the output and the failures were also could have been hand picked by experts such as planning with sources of varieties that could be imported from abroad because it needs first trials and adaptation to the areas considered and et al.
In the same sector agriculture is not a one door step venture and needs soil and environmental analysis prior to implementation unless and otherwise it is a waste of resources. From the past experience some projects as Omo Rate and Sheneka agricultural development could have given us lessons for such happenings. Because most of my readers could not have first hand information, due to that I will narrate what happened in both projects.
Omo Rate was studied during the Imperial period and the soil analysis was done and is only suitable for sprinkler irrigation because the nature of the soil and still our ambition now do not foresee a failed issue of the past. The Junta regime tried with Koreans and failed and TPLF led EPRDF is trying to fix again. As per the Sheneka it was very ridiculous because the then chairman was flying over the landscape and have herd that Bale region is the wheat belt of the country and asked his minister of agriculture and the reply was Mr. chairman yes it is suitable for wheat and all the tractors imported from GDR were deployed and 18000 ha was sown and what happened was we were not able to harvest it and the seed fall down to the soil. The next year we harvested 3000 ha of aftermath (Gebo) wheat.
The other misshapen in agriculture was the introduction of the PADETS as a policy in an over night and what happened was the following.
According to Jimmy Carter field report, me and Prime Minister Meles went to Awassa to visit my project site and the prime Minister was astonished what he saw and after we return back to Addis he called his Minster of Agriculture and ordered to launch the program nationwide and with in a year 1.9 million farmers take part in the program and in three years were 3.6 million farmers and now we are focusing in post harvest.
The above three are some ambitions from the top that went disastrously in terms of policy formulation and myopic ambition. Now it is not a new issue to plan ambitious developmental targets because the issue is not to bring transformation but only to stay in power.
The last issue what I raise here will be the source of finance to implement the plan where a country that depend at least a third of its annual capital budget on foreign loan and Aid it could be only an ambition on papers because such sources of funds are attached to different strings that could/could not be fulfilled by the ruling party. Here it reminds me about one project on water and sanitation that was earmarked from donors and what happened was it was a budget in our book for three consecutive years and my friend asked me one day is it Aid money or AIDS that stays for years.
In terms of financing our TPLF led government is not also loyal to its own plan because just to fool us they put 3 billion Birr for defence but what actually allocated is 4 billion, that is a 33 percent raise that never happened in any other sector.
Last I will advice the ruling party in order to earmark is something while in order to implement a vision the first step is to assign able and courageous professionals in every post needed and respecting human rights and free movement of people as well freedom of expression has to be incorporated in the plan of action.
Moreover the plan has to incorporate the dimension of gender in its vision and a ruling party that put women for their political perception in prison arrogantly could not visualise their role in development.
In conclusion about the ambitious plan is that as a citizen I worry about the development of the country and be also optimistic that it could be achieved if we go hand in hand first to reinstate good Governance, human rights, free press and respect our own hand written constitution. Then after all what is needed is to hear to our people’s voice and incorporate their perception and ideas from the planning to the implementation phase.
The only country that developed with hard hands is only China but it is a growth that incorporated the elites of the country and profound investment in education and health.