Brian Stewart and CBC a journalist and a media Ethio-Canadians never stop worrying about – Aie Zu Guo

October 18th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

In 1984 Brian Stewart of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported Ethiopia’s worst famine of the 20th century putting the blame squarely on the communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam . (more…)

In 1984 Brian Stewart of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported Ethiopia’s worst famine of the 20th century putting the blame squarely on the communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam . Canadian taxpayers took his report at face value. On the contrary he praised the Tigrian Liberation Front (TPLF) guerrillas of Meles Zenawi for distributing food aid to famine victims. Unfortunately, he never reported to us that TPLF was a Marxist-Leninist group identical to Enver Hoxha of Albania. Then one wonders about Brian’s motive of hiding the true faces of the TPLF. For those who are familiar with Ethiopian politics, then and now, two reasons remain outstanding. First is to discredit the military cum communist government of Ethiopia. Secondly is to help TPLF assume power in Addis Ababa.

In 1991, seven years after the famine, the communist military regime came to its demise. Another communist group called TPLF assumed state power. For Brian mission is accomplished. Soon he became the most favored journalist of Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia. His reports are often skewed to appeasing a dictatorial regime in Africa. The journalist’s regular mantras are that Ethiopia’s social, economic and political situation improved under Meles. Since his retirement in early 2009, many Ethiopians assumed that they are free from his claptrap cyber information about their country. Unfortunately, he comes out from his retirement cell in Toronto and feeds the Canadian public and the international community with news about Ethiopia’s rulers and on the famine looming over Ethiopia.

Instead of It is time to stop gibberish reports on famine, we would request Brian tell Canadians on the state of human rights, democracy, and governance in Ethiopia. If he can’t, we have the temerity to tell this reporter about the true nature of the Government of Ethiopia (GoE), and the underlying causes of famine in Ethiopia as follows.

Frequency of famine and its causes:

Under the TPLF rule of Meles, famine occurs every 3 years (in 1993, 1997, 2007, and 2009) against that of once every ten years during the military regime.

The causes of famine are both natural and man made. Ethiopia’s fully rain fed subsistence agriculture is dependent on the vagaries of nature for which even tyrants have no control. But with the right agriculture policy, this could be offset through the introduction of irrigation. If Ethiopia has gained economic and social transformation (as Brian prophecies), the GoE would have contained famine by transforming Ethiopia’s rain-fed agriculture to irrigated agriculture.

Disjointed priorities:

Monthly the GoE pays US$50,000 (US$ 600,000/year) to DLP Piper a US lobbying firm since the 2005 popular election that revealed the emptiness of the communist rule of TPLF. Over the past 5 years the regime has paid DLP US$3 million Dollars. At Birr 3500/Mt , this money would buy 12,857 MTs of wheat from local markets.

In Ethiopia Agriculture is a crucial activity that contributes to more than 60% of exports, 46.3% of GDP, 80% of foreign exchange revenues, and a massive 80% of employment . It is a sector dominated by the poor and who are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters and famine. Unfortunately the GoE’s priorities are different from people’s immediate needs. TPLF uses donor money to buy guns instead of making butter. Meles invaded Somalia to spend $1 million a day to sustain the invasion all in the name of terrorism.

International Aid:

The Honourable Hugh Segal reported to The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade that bags of Canadian wheat are stored in a warehouse in the city of Mekele, Tigraye province to serve TPLF HQs when food aid is needed to starving children in the southern regions of the country. This journalist must remain honest to his profession and the organization he works with and tell us the truth about the GoE.

Population doubled yes it has doubled. Brian need to understand that international (including Canadian) aid to Ethiopia has also doubled. The G8 countries including Russia and China right off Ethiopia’s debt almost one hundred percent. This should have given GoE the momentum to contain famine and invest on food self sufficiency programs.

Governance, democracy and good government:

Lack of good governance and lack of democracy hinder development and food self sufficiency. In today’s Ethiopia a one party dictatorship has been the norm for nearly two decades. Three federal elections were held and won by the incumbent regime with 99.9% vote since 1991. In the 2005 election, the TPLF gunned down at close range 193 peaceful and innocent demonstrators, jailed leaders of the opposition and sent 70,000 to concentration camps to the south of the country. The seasoned journalist did not utter a word to the Canadian public when such gross human tragedy takes place at the door steps of the Canadian Embassy in Addis Ababa. Yet still, Canada spends millions of Tax payers’ money for human rights, governance, democratization and rule of law. Is it not that ‘Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development .’ In our view good governance is also one of the important factors of eliminating famine and hunger in Ethiopia and elsewhere for that matter.

The 4th federal election is scheduled for June 2010. Unlike the past, this election is won before people cast their votes. If Brain asks why, we have the audacity of telling him that public media is 100% controlled by TPLF. Private and independent media is paralyzed by draconian press law. Opposition leaders and supporters are harassed and imprisoned. For example Birtukan Midekas, a female opposition leader is imprisoned for life. Human rights are of abysmal failure. We advise Brian to refer to Amnesty International and State Department reports .

Let it be known that 4% of the 80 million people are ruling Ethiopia with a tyranny and impunity unparalleled in Ethiopia’s history. Ethiopians die of famine in thousands, but the most lethal one that kills the poor is bad government.

In developmental economic theory democracy, good governance, rule of law and respect of human rights are the fundamental pre-requisites of development, eradicating famine and poverty. These are also important ingredients of political, social and economic stability. Rightly so Pranab concludes that “if we take a suitably broad concept of development to incorporate general well-being of the population at large, including some basic civil and political freedoms, a democracy which ensures these freedoms is, almost by definition, more conducive to development on these counts than a non-democratic regime” .

Social Image:

True Ethiopians hate their nation’s image as perpetual victim of disasters. They are protective of their image and decency. There is high level cultural and traditional sensitivity to be called beggars. During the 1984 famine, mothers carrying their dieing toddlers waited for their cue to receive food ration with at most discipline. In many parts of the world such a situation would end in a stampede or riot. Ethiopians prefer to die of hunger than telling lies and get food rations. It is shocking to see those who are not hungry and wealthy enough to feed themselves continue feeding their audience with false information.

Since Brian and CBC are blinded by their self aggrandizement, Ethiopia appeared to them as a difficult problem for the world to fix. Fixing Meles and his Marxists tyrants is harder than fixing Ethiopia’s famine and underdevelopment. With the right leadership and governance in place, Ethiopia’s famine and poverty can be fixed without fanfare. For the moment the time to fix Ethiopia takes longer than necessary, because some media outlets like CBC are not telling their taxpayers the true causes of famine and underdevelopment in Ethiopia. So long as the truth and the only truth about the causes of famine are not told, Ethiopia’s problems continue to be hard to fix and Ethio-Canadians remain worried about Brian’s reports. In the midst of this worrisome reporting it is important for CBC to remember that of all the ills that kill the poor, none is as lethal as bad government .

Aie Zu Guo. The writer can be reached at

1. Mengistu Haile Mariam:
2. Meles Zenawi:
4. Ethiopia: Wheat and Inflation:
5. Economy of Ethiopia:
6. Overcoming 40 Yrs Of Failure: A Road Map for Sub-Saharan Africa, Feb 2007 by the Honorable Hugh Segal and Peter A. Stollery
7. UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, 1998
8. Amnesty International-Ethiopia:
9. 2008 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia:
10. Democracy and Development: A Complex Relationship by Pranab Bardhan, University of California at Berkeley
11. The Economist, 1999

  1. Robele Ababya
    | #1

    Bravo Abugida for posting such an outstanding, incisive and informative article.

    Taxpayers of donor countries were not being the truth by their own governments also.

    Gebremedihn Araya ha stold us that a lion’s portion of aid collected from donor countries during the famine of 1984 went straight to the pockets of Tyrant Meles and Sebhat Nega

  2. Guest
    | #2

    Some of the Western journalists, specially those from UK and USA are serving the interests of their own imperialist governments. Brian is also one of them though he happens to be Canadian, he is the same breed. It is such a waste of time to try challenge their reports and opinions through rational arguments and facts. They are just serving their own sinister motives and thus, not interested in truth and justice.

  3. samuel
    | #3

    under weyane tplf rule 19 million ethiopian starving. 32 million ethiopian hungary. add it up more than have of ethiopian hungary. were is economic growth you ugly weyane rats. we ethiopian will get you.

  4. ደምስ
    | #4

    Right now Mogabe is the enemy of US and British. No matter what he does, they will belame him until he is dead or leave power. Most media is owned by these two influencial countries.

    In Zimbabiwae there is more freedon than in Ethiopia. You do not need the US or British media to tell you that. At least he has a power shared gov’t, do not even think this kind of agreement in Ethiopia.

    Mengistu was a number one enemey for US and British when he was in power. No matter what he did, they blamed him. He never had foreign aid like the current gov’t of Ethiopia.

    The Canadian jornalist (CBS) will never say any negative thing about the currnent Ethiopian dictator until the US or British start talking the horrible thing in Ethiopia.

    From their point they have a begging gov’t in Ethiopia and they are very happy. That’s all they would like to see forever. Canada is a mouth piece or an extended propaganda machine for US and British. The current gov’t of Ethiopia does not have any respect for Canada.

    The CBC journalist only reported what’s allowed to be seen by the current gov’t. Most of the current problem is in the Somali region or the former Harer province. How come CBC did not adventure in that area? You call this honest and fair jouranlism.

    Your wonder how much he get paid by the Ethiopian gov’t to report this positive news.

    When Mr. Melese become a boogee man or enemy number one for US and British, then you’ll see all kind of negative news from every direction. Until that time, he can stay in power for ever. Make any excuse every five year for their fake election.

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