Ethiopian Lives Matter

The question of how the leader of any nation can give the green light for the killing of peaceful protesters is a question many in Ethiopia are currently asking. The anger, fear and distrust this creates - alongside other concerns, such as embezzlement and corruption - is threatening the government's credibility.

No man in his right mind would ever make such a brutal decision to use his high profile prerogative as the Prime Minster of a country with a population of over 100 million to ignore his due accountability and reduce himself down to dust, giving the green light to defence forces and security officials to kill peaceful and innocent Ethiopians with no exception to ethnicity, creed or age. Before we try to analyse this version, another depressing atrocious event has emerged to draw our attention – the fire at the Qilinto Prison.

Even by the government’s own account, at least 23 inmates are known to have died during the fire, while nine have been wounded. It was speculated that these figures could grow following further investigations.

The Prime Minister had taken the chance of the interview to express his personal feelings of sorrow and pay tributes to all affected. One wonders about the absurdity of his regrets to be, preceding his command to kill more.

Cognisant of the human lives lost during the peacekeeping process, he had expressed his government’s concern on the issue and personally paid tributes to all the affected families of the deceased. Expressing apologies and paying tributes, though personal, are undoubtedly soothing and signs of maturity in political leadership.

He said that he realises the importance of being more aware of what the responsibility of government leadership should be and what it takes to be a good leader commiserate with the leverages of leadership in keeping with the fast growing demands of the young and old men and women, Christians and Muslims, all yearning for change. He was also well aware of the expected increasing demand and voicing population as a result of the development process for and economy, which was only below the poverty line a few years back.

Political experts argue that should a Prime Minister know what it takes to be a political leader of such a vast land, with diverse demands living in cohesion, they must be aware of the ABC’s of the essence of democracy and people’s right to be governed by a power that has accepted legislative powers.

In a country that spends billions without transparency and accountability, not even following the lawful procedures of purchasing or proper dispensation of materials even at the highest learning academic and university levels, there is no denying the fact that money is squandered around opening loopholes for unguarded embezzlement.

Government employees, whose wages and monthly payments are hardly enough to make ends meet, are now climbing up the ladder of prosperity at the speed of light.

It was reported during the interview that the performance assessment of the consecutive 15 years has revealed that incumbents at different levels of the bureaucratic hierarchy have been using their respective powers to enrich themselves by illegally amassing wealth.

The English would say – “you can call a rose by any name, but a rose remains a rose just the same”. Some time ago, we were lectured about the lack of good governance, rent seeking and corruption. Although we are not told about any paradigm shift in this direction, we are now made aware that the 15-year performance assessment points its finger at “self-enrichment” – unlike the marathon distance winners. These sharp growing folks are assigned or employed not by their qualifications or merits but by their ethnic roots or political partisanships.

Sheer fear, timidity and greed makes these people submissive.

Another leeway for enrichment is the disowning of poor farmers and new squatters, robbing them of their legalised land ownership on the pretext of giving them the lowest rate of compensation. The bureaucrats will sell those plots of land at the rate of the prevailing market prices, which will make them prosperous overnight.

The Prime Minister also alleged that bundles of money in sacks have been rolled out to arm opposing parties, thus blocking the country from using its natural resources. This vague allegation seems to be a very serious insinuation – unless there is solid evidence somewhere.

Cynics would rather ask what the Prime Minister meant by the country’s natural resources. This could be interpreted to imply all the outflowing river basins, without going into details. The arch rivals of the country around its borders. wanting to have a full control over all the coasts of the Red Sea, have now posed not only economic supremacy but have also made us vulnerable to port dependency on our neighbouring friendly countries.

When the country was in dire need of food aid, following the scarcity of rain last year, a shipment of food was delayed due to traffic congestion at the port. Who is to blame for the situation that made the country landlocked instead of approaching the case to negotiate following the UN conventions and agreements? Instead we scoffed at the idea, joking to render the evacuated port, including the oil refinery, to serve as resort areas for camel caravans and the rusting maritime lunges in ruins, leaving them to rust. What did we gain for our country’s socio-economic interest?

Finally, the Prime Minister has given the free hand to the security forces to do everything within their power to defend the security of the nation, including killing. This order will be a measure he will regret for the rest of his life.

The Prime Minister has also said that he has something that gives a glimmer of hope, rolled in his suspensive expressions, that will come in October. When the House of People’s Representatives comes back from its recess, he expects a few significant steps to be taken to respond to the demands of the people. People wish that this could be trusted.

Unfortunately, however, the people have lost much of their trust. There cannot be anything more disheartening for any government than losing credibility. How can a human being in his right conscious give such a brutal order – to kill innocent peaceful demonstrators or set fire on inmates kept in the blaze of nocturnal fire?

By Girma Feyissa

Published on Sep 13,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 854]



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