The current leadership of the OPDO is now rocking the boat among the Revolutionary Democrats

The manner in which the current leadership of the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO), Messrs Lemma Megerssa, chairman, and Worqneh Gebeyehu (PhD), deputy, came to power was conventional neither to the party itself nor to the Front that is a coalition of the four regional parties. What was a meeting called to discuss the 15-year path of the OPDO ended up replacing the former leaders, Muktar Kedir and Aster Mamo, to the surprise and displeasure of leaders of the other parties in the Front.

Yet, the rank and file of the OPDO brought Lemma and Worqneh into political power with the expressed mandate of asserting the party’s autonomous place in the coalition while remaining true to the ideological convictions of the Revolutionary Democrats, claims gossip.

Lemma for one is known to be an educated, intelligent and unyielding among second-generation leaders the Revolutionary Democrats have produced over the past two decades, claims gossip. With a background in regional intelligence, he is known in the circle of the EPRDFites for his legendary challenge to the late Meles Zenawi in the late 2000s on the latter’s alleged interventions in the autonomous affairs of the OPDO, gossip claims.

Little surprises thus that the current leadership of the OPDO is now rocking the boat among the Revolutionary Democrats, repossessing large tracts of plots and quarries held by federal agencies and powerful interests to respond to the demands of the youth in the regional state, gossip observed.

Arguably many attribute the popular discontent in the Oromia Regional State over the past two years to a youth bulge, a demographic development where the ratio of the non-working age group in a society declines compared to the working-age group. If the vast group in the non-working age is young and fails to find employment or jobs with satisfactory pays, the bulge becomes a demographic time bomb as the cases in Oromia and Amhara regional states amply demonstrated recently, says gossip.

There is now a new found mantra among the federal government and regional states, and contagious to development partners such as the UNDP and USAID, focusing on youth employment and opportunities, gossip observed.

Nonetheless, the popular discontent in these regions was partly influenced by political motivations of exercising autonomy and equity in the political process, says gossip. Particularly in Oromia, the inability of the ruling party there to assert itself in relations to the senior parties in the coalition has been – for too long – a subject of intense debates within the political elite and misgivings of the public, claims gossip.

It could perhaps be such pressures that pushed Lemma to author a political document presented to the executive committee members of the OPDO recently, which has been endorsed unanimously, gossip disclosed. However, there are others at the gossip corridors who claim that some members of the executive committee have expressed their misgivings on the content of the document and what drove it, claims gossip.

The document agreed on by the OPDO leadership has calls for six issues to be addressed as soon as possible, gossip disclosed. Among them is the demand for Oromiffaa to be included as a working language of the federal government; for the Addis Abeba City Administration to allocate plots, free of charge, to build schools where Oromiffaa is a language of instructions and for the city to finance them; the regional state’s right to share taxes collected by the Addis Abeba City Administration; and the fees Addis Abeba ought to pay for using natural resources from the outskirt areas under the regional state and its use of these areas for disposals, gossip revealed.

Many of these are issues espoused by the constitution but left unaddressed since its enactment 20 years ago, gossip recalled. The EPRDFites have a day of reckoning approaching; the document is soon to be presented to their executive committee meeting, gossip disclosed. How wise, sober and full-fledged they will be in negotiating these demands to the satisfactions of all parties with vested interests will be the test of their time, claims gossip.


Published on Feb 18,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 876]



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