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High time for introspection by politicians, activists!

High time for introspection by politicians, activists!

The theme of this editorial is inspired by the life of Negasso Gidada (PhD), the erstwhile president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia who passed away a week ago. The manner in which he faced up to the ordeal he was subjected to following his expulsion from the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in June 2001 in the wake of his falling out with former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in connection with the rift in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), one of the four blocs of the ruling coalition, is a testament to his character. After he left office when his term expired on October 2001 he was stripped of the privileges he was entitled to under the law. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he was the most high profile victim of the vicious nature of Ethiopian politics.

Negasso’s unwavering commitment to the principles dear to his heart despite the trials and tribulations he underwent has earned the respect and love of the people. Everyone who worked with him bears testimony to the fact that he was a humble, fair-minded and principled public servant who always stood up for the truth and put the country before himself. It’s a rarity in this day and age to come across an upstanding politician like Negasso who is willing to forego the trappings of power for what he believed in. Though he has passed on, his legacy shall live on forever. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the late president as well as the people of Ethiopia on his untimely death and wish them solace.

Throughout its history Ethiopia has been blessed with truly great children. From heroes who paid with the ultimate price on battle fields to defend its sovereignty, it has had citizens who had done it proud on various fronts and continues to do so. Today Ethiopia needs and expects a lot from its children. Chief among these are durable peace, a democratic system anchored in the rule of law and an inclusive economic growth. If these ideals are to be realized it’s of the essence that the political class and activists bring their rhetoric a notch down. This would go a long way towards not only averting the outbreak of destabilizing conflicts, but also help build a peaceful and prosperous nation through the participation and consent of its people. It’s for this precise reason that politicians and activists refrain from setting agendas which tend to undermine the national interest. Otherwise, they would be playing a dangerous gamble that has disastrous real-life consequences. 

If politicians and activists do not make a meaningful contribution to the nation’s cause, lack a purpose greater than them, and fail to earn the respect of the community they represent as well as the general public they are bound to be beset with a credibility deficit. Should they resort to fomenting internecine strife liable to trigger a breakdown in law and order instead of playing an exemplary role which succeeding generations follow, history will not be kind to them. Though elements intent on sowing division may thrive in the short-term, sooner or later the public will want to have nothing to do with them. The patriotic people of Ethiopia honor only someone who does them proud by staying true to his beliefs no matter what; they abhor self-serving frauds that are an embarrassment to them and the country. If politicians and activists do not look into themselves to ensure that they pass the public’s smell test, they are doomed to be consigned to the dustbin of history. 

Ethiopia may turn the corner and become a better home for its citizens when, first and foremost, the act of gambling with its survival comes to an immediate stop. Next follows the task of building strong institutions capable of upholding the rule of law faithfully. Then the future of the country will be laid on a solid basis, paving the way for it to be the shining star of democracy in Africa. This will not remain a pipe dream insofar as a crop of selfless politician and rights advocates come to the fore. Sadly Ethiopia is teeming with politicians and activists that preach the virtues of peace in public but fuel conflicts behind the scene. They are responsible for the death of thousands and the displacement of over three million innocent citizens over the past one year. Particularly active on social media they spew a venomous rhetoric which not only disheartens hard-working folks who are contributing their share to the welfare of compatriots, but also jeopardizes the very foundation on which Ethiopia is built. That is why they need to undertake a critical self-examination and desist from destructive acts.   

Politicians and activists must possess a personality that the current generation of youth as well as coming generations emulates. Aside from having the requisite educational qualifications, skill and experience such personality should be buttressed with civility, integrity and a commitment to public service. A society steeped in the principles of ethical behavior has no place for a politics of hatred, treachery or vengeance; it produces heroes who stand firm in the face of all adversity for what they believe in. The people of Ethiopia cannot be faulted for lacking this attribute. The astounding defeat they handed to the invading Italian army at the Battle of Adwa is proof that they are capable of achieving improbable feats if they have good leaders. The first victory by a black nation over a European colonialist power signifies Ethiopians’ bottomless love for their country. It’s a disgrace to wreak havoc on the nation while it is possible to become great by governing such brave, patriotic and far-sighted people the right way. Any and all politicians and activists bent on promoting division rather than unity have to be told that enough is enough. It’s high time that they engage in a serious introspection.