New Leadership to Better Grave Political Uncertainty

Leadership by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front that has lasted over a quarter of a century seems to have come at a crossroads. Promises and policy decisions do not seem to have borne any fruits as unrests weigh down the nation's economic development. The lack of central leadership within the ranks and files of the ruling party are not helping either. It is perhaps time to bring to the fore the type of leadership that has a better understanding of the changes required.

After 17 days of talks and long-awaited results, the ruling coalition party, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), came out with some expected conclusions. These were presented over and again by the mainstream media until many political analysts were worn out by it. The very findings of over two weeks of the body’s discussions ended without a concrete solution to the problems facing the nation.

The former members who were said to have resigned, the likes of Bereket Simon and Abadula Gemeda, former speaker of the house, were recalled to rejoin the party as if it had missed them in their absence. Once again, condolences over the lives lost in unrests in many parts of the country were forwarded. The mainstream media, for the most part, preferred not to call a spade by its name. It merely used terms such as “troubled waters” as if that could delude external observes who seem to know better through their embassies and consortium.

Along the towns of the Somali and Oromia administrative demarcations, there were conflicts where many lost their lives and hundreds of thousands were displaced. What is most annoying and disturbing though was that, instead of holding the responsible ones accountable for their folly, the Prime Minister had reduced the conflict to one that arises over issues such as the khat trade.

The 17-day-long meeting or the media briefing given afterwards, did not provide any frame of reference as for what should follow up. The statement only succeeded in raising the issues and concluding without pointing to any direction as to how they would be solved. The only thing clear was that the government would not take it lightly to individuals who block roads.

Another part of the statement touches upon the faults and mistakes of the party, and how that has contributed to increasing public discontent. These give the impressions that a drowning person tries to hold on to anything, even a bubble, to save himself from going down to the bottom of the water.

The statement also tries to talk about the media, promising to give it more space, even as officials have on occasion claimed is exasperating the political situation.

Some of the statements asserted that although there has been development over the past couple of years, it is not up to par with the trend observed in the earlier years of the decade. Political analysts argue that growth is not just sluggish but has become a contributing factor to the wealth gap. Corruption is rife, especially in government institutions, leading to the unequal distribution of services.

The statement does not reflect on the issues above as much as it should. Accountability and responsibility ought to go together.

The promises made by the government have not been realised, especially when it comes to political rights. The ruling party has since monopolised the legislative body and public institutions remain weak and nowhere as independent as they should be. The last quarter of the century is proof for this, and there should be no reason that Ethiopians should believe that change will come.

Such adverse situations to a country’s political situation are the faults of ineffective leadership. They entail unaccountability and irresponsibility. A nation with diverse lingo-cultural groups requires a more efficient leadership at the top and better representation.

The final statement of the long assessment meeting was nothing more than an irresolution. People were expecting results for the efforts whose fruits we are yet to identify. Meanwhile, the political crisis is worsening, and would probably continue to if the status quo is here to stay. Activists find themselves behind bars, and there is friction between the four parties that make up the EPRDF.

And all of this is happening at a time where there is no clear leadership role. The ruling party is most in disarray, and this seems to be giving way to other individuals, whose motives are not known, to take the lead. The party should instead begin to respect that change is inevitable and provide younger leaders that are making a name for themselves their due. But, this could not only happen if those with the decision-making ability are willing to see change and accept it as it is for the sake of the nation.

The government may have opened universities all over the country, but they are not operating efficiently. What the unrests there have shown is that the social fabric that has held the nation together is disintegrating and that it requires urgent solutions.

The world is closely watching, and is likewise worried how all of this could further destabilise the Horn of Africa. The government, thus, cannot afford to make more mistakes and remain passive. This is all the more critical since all that is required from the government is the courage to implement the changes it knows should occur.

By Girms Feyissa

Published on Jan 10,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 924]



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