One of the news that made the headlines and which got me thinking a bit about illegal settlements is the demolishing of illegally constructed houses in Legetafo, and more recently the screening of legally and illegally built houses in Sululta. As a human being and a person with a family of my own, I do truly feel bad for these people. I know what it means not to be able to have a decent and affordable accommodation to shelter your family. And I can imagine the amount of hard earned money spent by the families to build those houses.
Having said that, I believe that both the illegal settlers and the government should take their shares of the blame in this. The settlers know from the start that they are settling illegally and have not fulfilled the required legal formalities to have title to the land they have bought. In spite of this, they knowingly proceeded with the construction of the houses. And there is the mentality that, since many others have also settled illegally like them in the area, together they will be able to win over the law and make themselves legalized. I do not want to sound judgmental, but I have the opinion that the illegal settlers should have been ready for the possibility of government officials asking one day for legal documents proving the settlers’ legal ownership to the land and of course about the possibility of being kicked out.
I believe however that most of the blame should go to the government. The question that many of you are probably asking is ‘why on earth did the government keep silent when hundreds settled illegally, wait for the houses to be fully constructed and for the settlers to peacefully start their lives to finally decide to come and claim back the lands?’. The setters have probably taken the long silence of the government as an OK to go on living their lives peacefully. And probably some settlers have thought themselves to be legal when they obtained documents from the Kebeles proving their “partial” legalization. And the funny thing is, illegal settlements keep taking place in the city even although the news about the dislocation of illegal settlers is still fresh. Is it beyond the administration’s control to put a stop to these settlements, or are there government agents who are benefiting from the settlements and are therefore keeping silent on purpose?
These settlers are Ethiopian citizens, and above all, they are human beings. I believe it is inhumane to simply come and kick them out of their settlements just because the government has suddenly decided to do its job. And above all, the government takes the lion’s share of the blame as explained above. Since the government is also to be blamed for illegal settlements, I believe it should compensate well these settlers. Either find a way to give them legal titles on the lands or give them alternative lands to resettle. Because destroyed homes are destroyed lives.