Lack of good governance remains a major problem in Ethiopia, where it is common to see people suffering from it. Even by the admission of the government, the problem has become the number one challenge for citizens. The latest effort to identify the problems in a more scientific way, and find the solutions, seems to bring some hope in the hearts of citizens. A survey conducted by experts has been tabled to the rank and file for discussion. If the energy is maintained, a real change might be closer than anticipated.
As the members of the two Houses met for the opening speech by President Mulatu Teshome (PhD), the previous week, many analysts lost hope in the political spectrum of the coming five years. This came after judging the nature and framing of the queries posed during the session and the Prime Minister’s defence session.
Nine out of ten were not questions as such, but vivid compliments and praise that seemed like dues to be paid for membership of the ruling party. In fact, people thought they were still within the grips of defending the points and issues raised during the debates. The upper House Especially lacked the ingredients that could make the parliamentary sessions lively windows of genuine democratic debate.
Unfortunately, with all the 547 seats occupied by the ruling party and its affiliates, observers thought that it was a desperate situation where the door of the glimmer of hope was slammed, at least until the next election debate time.
But the evening news of October 31 and November 1, 2015 seemed to disprove that. The casual citizen who often does not give his eyes and ears to the state media, surely missed the unexpected windfall. That small step taken by the Prime Minister, to invite all top officials to a special assessment session of the summary report of professionals on the shortcomings of bureaucracy in administration, was indeed a breakthrough event in the political development of the country. Its positive intent was seeking due solutions.
It is not that the findings were a novel, as such, but the decision taken by the ruling party to make the discussion open and transparent to the public in the state media, is not only the eye opener of a small step, but a new leap into the quest for the freedom of expression. This of course, is the vital key that keeps the door of hope still ajar.
That evening was unforgettable for understandable reasons. The Speaker of the House, Abadula Gemeda had summoned members of the press to refresh them on the role journalists have to play in the process of realising the development plan. He also reassured them that so long as they heed the ethics of their profession, they could pose questions and seek the right answers.
When the Speaker of the upper House goes on air to warrant the security and safety of the media personnel, one cannot have any shadow of doubt that would hinder one from tearing down the curtain of fear. The Speaker’s address came as a prelude to what the state media had presented in an unexpected programme a few minutes after the evening news.
A committee of experts deployed to survey all the regional states on the situation of governance and corruption in different aspects, such as land, revenue and customs, transport, electricity, water supply and justice, came up with revealing findings. The survey took about two months, during which the experts travelled extensively in search of facts and figures.
I must say that the experts were well-equipped with the methodology of the art of presentation. Their approach was simple and direct. They were evidently free from fear and were able to squeeze out facts by asking the six basic questions best known to researchers. They used simple language that anyone who knows the national working language could never miss.
The whole report as presented, suggests that the Prime Minister is now coming of age in exercising his political powers emanating from acquiring knowledge, experience and confidence to to lead the country by only a strike of the pen. Given that, I wonder why so many journalists, professional or non-professional, are kept behind bars for taking the initiative to speak out for the voiceless at the risk of their freedom. The country has paid too much to be exposing her to repeated criticism, damaging her image.
What has precipitated from the findings of the team of experts can be wrapped up in a few focal points.
In the sphere of tax collection, public procurement and justice, things are being done based on nepotism and bias against the less privileged section of the society. The ground level obstacle can be summed up as lack of taking all as people equal, with equal rights, whether it be in the form of self-rule or self-determination.
According to the observations made by the experts, all those who have somehow gained a position in the bureaucracy, either for their allegiance and loyalty to the ruling party or as a reward for their struggle during the 17 years of revolutionary government, are given positions down the line of hierarchy. And they seem to be using their leveraging power to grab everything that can translate into money or property of one sort or another. They assume that this is a conquered land and they have the exclusive rights to share the spoils.
Of course, there are accomplices to the ravage. These ones play more Pope than the Pope himself. They are simply hypocrites who try to butter their piece of bread just for a living and change face automatically, whenever opportunities avail themselves. These have to be exposed and the experts’ assessments are a good start.
Some of the top officials tried to intervene with the intent of seeking further elaboration. A few of them tried to defend their sectors, to no avail, as they were not able to give their views distinctly. Some were even stranded by their own seemingly refined elaborations not even clear to themselves.
The PM moderated the session in an appreciable way and has promised that the next step will be taking appropriate actions. It may be unfairly presumed that there is nothing different from the past to be expected, but we have to wait and see. There is no game in mentioning faults, without trying to find the solutions.
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