Presently Ethiopians have a raft of critical undertakings on their plate. Chief among these are the national campaign to combat the spread and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; saving the problem-ridden economy from collapsing; expanding the dialogue instrumental to put an end to political wranglings that engender violence; and creating together an inclusive political space. Ethiopia may be deemed to be a nation where its people can live in peace and equality insofar as an enabling environment exists. This calls for, among others, a demonstrable commitment from politicians, religious and civil society leaders, elders, intellectuals, medical professionals as well the media to eliminate the source of divisive conflicts and come together towards a common goal. Ethiopia may not prosper unless it enjoys peace and engages in an all-out development endeavor. Ideas that could improve the lots of the poor should not be shot down because of the political views of the messengers. People must not go hungry while vast tracts of arable land are left unfarmed. It’s absolutely unacceptable that millions of citizens who could be gainfully employed are jobless. Ethiopians need more than ever before to stand as one.
Ethiopians may be able to go about their daily business with a sense of safety and security when they bequeath the youth an exemplary legacy. Though Ethiopia is beset with a host of intractable challenges, there is no reason that it cannot become an African powerhouse if it taps its population of over 110 million, 70 percent of whom is younger than 30, and the considerable untapped resources it’s endowed with. All that is required is peace, hard work and a spirit of solidarity among the citizenry from all corners of the country. If Ethiopians are to overcome the obstacles in their way and steer the country on the path to prosperity, they must not allow power-mongers fixated on assuming office through the barrel of the gun as opposed the ballot box to inflame internecine strife. This can be achieved by coming together as one community.
Given the set of testing challenges the entire world is facing these days it is incumbent on all Ethiopians to stand behind the national anti-COVID-19 campaign. As part of the nationwide movement launched this week it’s planned to conduct around 200,000 tests for some 17 million people. Since the month-long campaign is key to determine the level of the COVID-19 spread and the next steps to undertake in the new Ethiopian year, which starts on September 11, it is of the essence that Ethiopians strictly observe the precautionary measures and recommendations issued by the government. The campaign also aims at enhancing the health system capacity in order to arrest the rising fatality due to other diseases and food shortage. It further explores measures intended to mitigate the economic pains the poor, unemployed and the business community are facing owing to the pandemic and enable students to resume classes the following academic year. Needless to say the constructive engagement of all stakeholders—the government, health professionals, the security forces, educational institutions, business leaders, students, parents and compatriots affected by the contagion—is critical to the success of the campaign. If Ethiopians forge a broad consensus on these and other matters of vital national importance there is nothing they cannot accomplish.
One of the shortcomings Ethiopian politicians have long been associated with is an aversion to dialogue and negotiation. While the party in power schemes how to consolidate its hold on power, its challengers always plot how to dethrone it. In the meantime, forces which loathe the very name of Ethiopia, elements bent on furthering a purely selfish agenda as well as traitors in bed with foreign adversaries habitually perpetrate acts inimical to the national interest. These offences include disparaging Ethiopianness; flouting the rule of law; and peddling false and divisive narratives for the express purpose of preventing a civilized political discourse and rivalry. Unfortunately, it’s the public which winds up as collateral damage as a result of such toxic brand of politics. That is why Ethiopians have the obligation to pull together as one family to stop these agents of destruction.
The seemingly endless political turmoil besetting Ethiopia makes it imperative for the ruling Prosperity Party and its rivals to take concrete enabling steps aimed at broadening the democratic space and creating the conditions conducive to the peaceful resolution of disputes. The conniving and backbiting ingrained in Ethiopian politics must come to an end. So should the disenfranchisement of Ethiopians—the ultimate repository of sovereignty. As long as politicians are unable to engage in a civilized dialogue marked by a commitment to the principle of give-and-take, respect for basic liberties and the rule of law will remain illusions. It’s impossible to talk about freedom, equality or justice in the face of tyranny and violence. Ethiopians need to exhort politicians to shun the path of violence for it only begets the kind of death and destruction witnessed in various parts of the country over the past five years. Nothing is beyond Ethiopians if they stand united!