Ethiopia’s political system has a lot to go for before it masters…

Ethiopia’s political system has a lot to go for before it masters safeguards on untamed political power of those in charge of the executive branch of the government, says gossip. It has always been the case that whoever takes up a residence up in the Menelik Palace evolves to dominate the state of affairs in the country, although gossip sees that many find it difficult to accept this when it comes to the current occupant, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Particularly over the past quarter of a century, the ruling EPRDFites have been avert to the possibility of having more than one power center in their governance style. If there was one such incident in the 1990s, where the party secretariat under Tewolde W. Mariam was as powerful as the government under the late Meles Zenawi, it ended up with uncompromising and unforgiving political battle. The group led by the first eventually lost it, gossip recalled.

Despite a clout by those in the state apparatus over the party operatives since then, a rigid leftist culture the Revolutionary Democrats have adopted since their days in the field remains at work, putting holds on anyone who dares to take constitutional checks and balances too seriously, gossip observed.

The practice of “democratic centralism” has not only crippled those in charge of the different branches of the state. For far too long, this practice has undermined the whole concept of federalism and the autonomy regional authorities have been granted by the constitution, claims gossip. That is now changing slowly, with the new power dynamics in the EPRDF leadership, which makes the chairman unable to sway regional chiefs in the TPLF, ANDM or OPDO, says gossip.

The legislation has also been one area where not only the EPRDFites and their allies enjoy absolute majority. They have also run into public uproar for they have made it a dull place where there are little debates and controversies. That too appears to be changing slowly over the past four years where MPs are becoming more assertive in their tone and punchy in their throws, gossip noticed.

For ministers and directors of federal agencies, Parliament is no longer a place of appearance for niceties but rather a stage that begins to rack their nerves, gossip says. Members of the various standing committees have begun to take their role as supervisory agents seriously, thus conduct field visits to the institutions under their respective oversights. To the nervousness of the Speaker of the House, Abadula Gemeda, it has become a usual sight now to see ministers being grilled by MPs, only to leave Lorenzo Te’azaz Avenue to complain to their boss how roughly they were treated by MPs, claims gossip.

Interestingly, their boss was also a subject of Parliamentary tough game when he last appeared before MPs three weeks ago, gossip disclosed. Unlike in the past, the Prime Minister did not appear before Parliament on his own accord; MPs demanded to have question time with him, claims gossip. Their strong suggestion that he should rather address them from the upstage next to the Speaker instead of seat “Number 1” while giving his back to them was taken seriously, disclosed gossip. For the first time since Parliament opened in 1995, the head of the government addressed MPs while facing the MPs, gossip observed.

Parliamentary procedure requires that all MPs handover their questions to the Prime Minister in advance to let him prepare with his answers. The questions also get edited before they get redistributed to all MPs a day before his scheduled appearances. During the last appearance by the Prime Minister, there were MPs who dared to raise issues unscripted while in one occasion an MP has asked a question that was not included in the list forwarded to Hailemariam earlier, gossip disclosed. Unusually, none of these MPs were reprimanded at the party’s “criticism and self criticism” sessions often conducted later on, claims gossip.

Published on Jan 31,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 874]



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