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Lest schemers assume unbridled power!

Lest schemers assume unbridled power!

Ethiopian culture is replete with traditional proverbs about life. These adages are used to encourage hard-working folks, laud do-gooders, motivatestragglers and chide wrong doers. The consequences of ignoring citizens who did their best to point the country in the right direction are all clear to see as are the ordeals that individuals who dared to stand up to the powers out of a realconviction to bring their beloved nation back from the precipice. Schemers wielding unbridled power are apt to make mistakes of historic proportions as they continuously lust for more power and are incapable of looking forward. As in the words of Winston Churchill thosewho fail tolearn from history are doomed to repeatit.

Resorting to conniving and subterfuge as a strategy in ruling a nation is a lose-lose proposition for its people and is bound to trip up the masterminds behind it. Political elites who have cut their teeth in the art of intrigue and scheming have inflicted incalculable damage on Ethiopia including misusing their authority to intimidate anyone who disapproves of them, destroying hopes of a genuine political engagement by riding roughshod over rivals, ordering and carrying out egregious violations against citizens that prompted the eruption of violent protests, ostracizing and forcing compatriots who could have made invaluable contribution to flee their country and generally making Ethiopia hell on earth. Flawed policies and strategies have not only caused humanitarian toll, but also led to the looting and vandalizing of both private and public properties. Autocrats intoxicated by power are wreaking havoc. Even then they are loath to apologize for the errors of their way.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) once said at a parliamentary session that the main force terrorizing citizens was the government itself and offered anapology to Ethiopians.An admission that helped connect the well-liked premieron an emotional level withthe masses, it was a stark reminder of the extent to which the government waseschewed by the public.On top of that the feuding between the member parties of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has sowed a seemingly irreconcilable differences between a factions that is said to be progressive on the one hand and that wanted to maintain the status quo on the other. This rift has had the effect of aligning large swathes of the populace with the progressives while it enabled the Front to hang on to power with all its shortcomings. However, some quarters have turned their back on the change that has garnered the support of Ethiopians. Though they are entitled to oppose the change, they have no desire to understand or respect the wishes of the people. On the contrary, they try to extol the “virtues” of the much-criticized rule of the EPRDF. Furthermore, they are duplicitous holding themselves out to be the architects of the change although the public knows well the true pioneers. It’s incomprehensible how they think they can get away with deceiving the all-knowing public. The politics of scheming ultimately leads to a situation where its proponents end up confused and they in turn confuse others.

The foremost problems attending the 27-year rule of the EPRDF are deficiencies in the democracy and human rights arenas. While the economy is touted to be performing admirably it is perennially criticized on grounds that it has swelled the rank of the rich by a handful even as the rest of the population barely ekes out a living, induced the dispossession of the poor from their lands that were given to the rich to build high-rise buildings, and landed the country in unsustainable debt. But it’s the government’s poor record in terms of defending democracy and human rights which has tarnished Ethiopia’s image most. In particular the draconian anti-terrorism, mass media and civil society legislations, which were enacted following the violence-ridden elections of 2005 for the purpose of consolidating the EPRDF’s hold on to power, have been used to perpetrate numerous rights violations whose scars linger to this date. The amendment a few years prior to the 2005 elections of the anti-corruption law denying the suspects the right to be released on bail had also made life miserable for many. These laws have enabled the Front and its allies to win all parliamentary and regional council seats in successive elections since then. All this is a result of the pervasiveness of the politics of scheming.

Conniving as a political art form is apt to come back to haunt one. Inasmuch as Ethiopians are a forgiving people they abhor morally repugnant acts. Such acts consist of corruption, perpetrating injustices by abusing public office, killing and displacing innocent citizens, harassing fellow citizens for their political beliefs, and generally destabilizing the country with the aim of furthering an evil agenda. These deplorable practices will do the country immeasurable harm unless they are nipped in the bud.  

The administration of Prime Minister Abiy has been all about love and forgiveness ever since he ascended to the throne. But now it’s high time he entirely focused on upholding the rule of law for the sake of the national interest. It’s incumbent on the administration to work diligently at amending or replacing unpopular laws, ensuring that directives are implemented in the spirit and letter of the law as well as strengthening institutions. It should also demonstrate in deeds that all sovereign power resides in the people and institute a system of checks and balances. All political actors owe the obligation to put country above party. Moreover, each and every citizen needs to contribute his share if Ethiopia is to become a land of freedom, equality and peace.  This calls for a system and institutions which ensure that schemers do not assume unbridled power.