New PM has Yet to Prove Himself

It does not take an analyst to tell that weak leadership and corruption in government have hampered the economic, political and social development of Ethiopia. Lack of an efficient national vision has dragged the country from accelerating the alleviation of Ethiopians from the troughs of poverty.

Leaders lost sight of the deep poverty the society has been sunk into, even though they can be heard preaching about it. Those in power have had a difficult time adjusting to realism – that power is just a means to make people’s lives better while also encouraging them to contribute to this goal.

What should be done to the deeply rooted poverty has been covered with what went wrong in the past beyond lauding economic prosperity that has never materialised for many. Leader’s developmental mindset has never been tested or challenged constructively. Power is a tough position that requires transforming ideas into reality.

Over sixty year ago, Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first Prime Minister, alluded to corruption as the massive evil harming many in the continent. Ethiopia is no exception to this widespread problem. Corruption has consumed the country, resulting in rampant poverty, not to mention conflicts. While some became corrupt as a means of supporting their families, others opted for it as a way towards immense wealth.

Accepting and giving bribe, especially in the public sector, has developed into an accepted state of mind. It is no longer considered a criminal act but rather a means for the poor to make ends meet and a sense of privilege for those in authority. This is the direct consequence of the influence from the top. Leaders did not manage to influence society positively. Those in position of power have set a distorted example in their exercise of power that others emulated.

Blind trust, or too little of it, and neurotic ambition are what lead to dictatorship, Z. Allan Ntata wrote in “Trappings of Power: Political Leadership in Africa”. He highlights the real problem is posed by those leaders who will drift into dictatorial tendencies either because their citizens trust them too much or too little.

This perfectly portrays the Ethiopian political complexity. Operating in this intricacies, change for the economic betterment of society must depend on experts and constructive public opinion. It should not be left to a leader’s intellect or experience only, however smart or well-meaning that leader may be. It must be understood that leadership entails following as much as leading.

In a country such as Ethiopia, where cultures are diverse, and the population is vast, it is inevitable for economic development, democracy, human rights and better living demands to continue to evolve. Leadership in Ethiopia should be dynamic and adaptable to lay out practical goals to bring significant progress in people’s lives.

The Ethiopian politics deserves a leader who does not believe relinquishing power is akin to failure. The position calls for a genuine leader who can stay away from traditional leadership pitfalls, allowing citizens to enjoy the country’s resources.

Ethiopia is at a crossroads with the new Prime Minister – Abiy Ahmed (PhD) – who has become a darling of the public. He is now at the centre of answering the long-neglected public outcry and setting a great example for the ill-served continent. Fulfilling the public demand requires seriousness, devotion and intelligence. This is the practical rule, not the exception.

Curbing one’s own and party’s objectives, ensuring the freedom of speech and justice are essentials to leadership qualities. Execution of democracy, development, equal human rights and the implementation of new settings for peace and liberty will allow sustainable development. How these various challenges are tackled is crucial.

The recurring socio-political crises the country is faced with and the pains experienced by the people living in it perhaps lay a foundation for a new method of governance. But only staying in touch with the public demand based on unwavering respect for different opinions and critics will allow a leader to defend its populations’ interests.

The public has been barely noticed as a catalyst for change or part of economic development. The appointment of the new Prime Minister has excited Ethiopians across the globe. Others though have remained rightly reserved until the change that has been promised has become reality in people’s lives.

It should be clear that leaders are the ones who should set an example. A leader should portray how authorities ought to act responsibly, leading the country in the right directions. It is time for Abiy to prove his leadership virtues and care to make the current unwanted realities better. The nation must move forward by applying ordinary rules of political contest and welcoming debates and criticism. It is the only way to realise that leadership is thoughtful, inclusive, impactful and authentic.

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law and international economic law. She can be reached at


Published on Apr 06,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 936]



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