The TPLFites have congregated, once again, up in Meqelle…

The TPLFites have congregated, once again, up in Meqelle, a town many of its residents fondly call the Northern Star. It is a meeting of the mid-level and senior cadres of the TPLF, a force to reckon with by the top leadership of the party.

It is this constituency, no larger than 600 of the over a million party members, that had sealed the fate of the Front`s leadership in the early 2000s when the Central Committee was sharply divided. The cadre congregation, walked on by Tewelde G. Mariam and Seyee Abraha, had delivered the Front to the late Meles Zenawi and his allies, who charted out the course for the following 15 years, gossip recalled.

Close to two decades down the road, the TPLF found itself in similar leadership paralysis, whose fracture at the top led its allies in the EPRDF raised their heads asserting their respective autonomous power, claims gossip. The leadership crisis may not be as fateful as the early 2000s which resulted in the purging from the Front of half the members of the Executive Committee and the subsequent incarceration of some of them, gossip claims. But it is no less consequential in forcing the Front to have a leadership change that has seen a group of leaders in charge over the years removed.

Debretsion G. Michael (PhD) took over the Front`s leadership from Abay Woldu, who was ousted from the dominant political bureau; and, last week the latter handed over the presidency of the regional state to the first, now Vice President but in the rank of a president. It is somewhat an awkward circumvention of a rule that the president should be an elected legislator, gossip noted.

Debretsion is now in charge of bureaus with an army of a civil service inching close to 100,000 and an annual budget of close to 10 billion Br, of which close to 70pc comes as a federal subsidy, gossip disclosed. However, the regional administration is all but one centre of power where leaders make decisions that are consequential to many, claims gossip.

The Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), with a couple of dozen of its subsidiaries, is another resourceful place where its board chairman, Tewodros Hagos, and its CEO, Azeb Mesfin, will soon give way to other appointees, gossip anticipates. The Relief Society of Tigray (REST), a charity organisation known since the days of the armed struggle against the military government, is likely to have a new head, replacing Teklewoyine Assefa, who has been leading the organisation for close to two decades now, gossip foresees.

Although not quite the same in their organisational affiliation, the University of Meqelle and the Tigray Development Association (TDA), both under the presidency and board chairmanship of Kindeya Gebrehiwot (Prof.), are other places of employment and opportunity in the regional state, claims gossip. No different from the rest of the country in having a large size of an agrarian population, the size of the genuine private sector outside of the purview of the ruling party in the regional state is minuscule, claims gossip.

The cadre conference taking place in Meqelle for eight days, unusually graced with the attendance of other cadres of similar stature from allied parties, will likely give its blessing of the recent leadership manoeuvring at the top, but not without a challenge, gossip anticipated. It is most likely that some of those who have been pushed aside from power may lobby and use the congregation as a venue for one last showdown before their inevitable political banishment, claims gossip.

The TPLF cadre meeting will signal how such other conferences by the constituent parties of the ruling EPRDF will be held in the months to come in the same way as its recent Central Committee meeting does, says gossip. Pretty much, the current Ethiopian fiscal year will be spent with a ruling party determined in instilling the new order among its ranks and file as well as the broader public, claims gossip. Just look forward to the hyper-use of the ideological jargon of populism, nativism and chauvinism; and lots of talks on their manifestations, if not the mutual recriminations of who in the party most harbor them, gossip claims.

Published on Jan 13,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 924]



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