The need to look beyond the horizon – By Mela Tebabal Addis Ababa
While the fake elections last May reaffirmed yet again EPRDF’s unrelenting stance to ever cripple a slightest attempt to exercise democratic rights, we all know this is never a new commitment on the part of our dictators. The socio-political horizon within which we live has always been one surely characterized by one party rule enjoying, quite for some time, political legitimacy in the eyes of its Western fatteners. Thanks to, among others, the worthless and weakest opposition that not only narrow mindedly allowed division within itself but also made the totalitarian regime look like fit to multiparty democracy. Needless to mention the West’s shortsightedness expressed in its failure to look beyond its short term gains from Meles Zenawi’s loyal services in the face of long lasting national and regional repercussions implicated in these services devoid of public support.
The need to look beyond the horizon is, however, mainly left to us Ethiopians. For the past decades of Meles Zenawi’s despotism, we do not seem to get ourselves out of the marshes of mumbling and grumbling about the status quo which we lack the means at hand to change. The political discourse has continued to be focused in crying out foul in election procedures and results as though we expected any fairness in the first place. One may argue that the dictators were expected to ‘win’ in style allowing some seats to the opposition and this 100 per cent ‘landslide’ does not serve their years of pretensions of democracy. But, the question really is what would have changed had the opposition been given (they could not be allowed to win any out of their own efforts in a sham election) the seats they were sleeping in for the years? Or are we sympathizing with the regime’s loss of pretentious multiparty system now that it has openly displayed its true self? These things make no value at current rate of Ethiopian politics in which the Ethiopian people are suffering from policies leading them to unprecedentedly divided and impoverished standing as a nation. The situation necessitates unison of action from true democratic forces to change the regime that never compromises its commitment to reformulate Ethiopia into a weak system of ethnic enclaves around which it has sustained its lifeline.
The issue of unified struggle has always crowded the field of rhetoric but it never grew into the fruition of practice. Political parties showed their divisions more than their integration in all their attempts of Coalitions, Unions and Forums. Divided, they engage in building the Babylonian wall speaking cacophonies of sounds with no common language that enables mutual understanding. Despite their impressive oratory on democracy and human rights, political heavy weights in the opposition camp often got trapped into their short sighted needs of undemocratic influence of various kinds in their parties, a situation that leaves us to doubt their integrity to stand for the causes they claim to further. Some outstanding politicians notwithstanding, a lot of others often try to find strength more in their skills of articulating evils of Zenawi and his corrupt system than in their tangible contributions to the struggle against it. I do not mean that political leaders and their supporters should create miracles overnight. Reading the ever worsening situation of our country however, I believe any serious political struggle, at least from now on, should attach a great significance in gathering momentum to launch a
truly unified offensive against this naturally evil force than decrying its monstrous intensions and deeds as if we knew it just now.
Politics beyond demeaning the enemy
Efforts by political groupings overseas and the Diaspora at large to expose the extent to which the Ethiopian government has become totalitarian and condemning human rights atrocities and injustice in Ethiopia are positively commendable. Our brothers and sisters need to further use the free environment in the West to express their anger and influence Western governments to revisit their policies towards the despot. However, for anyone who has observed the move EPRDF has made over the years particularly following the 2005 elections which almost enabled Ethiopians to enjoy their freedom of choice, it is vividly futile to merely shout at our voice and expect any change whatsoever. The tyranny in Addis is confident enough to continue staging its ethnocentric disintegration of the great nation as always with little loss from its Western backers given its slave like loyalty to them in being at their service even at the cost of Ethiopia’s national interests.
While it is natural to express solidarity to the Ethiopian people through any means possible, it should be noted that the socio-political quagmire Ethiopians have been put in for two decades necessitates unity and action-oriented struggle deep rooted in the ground of mutual trust. We know political groupings such as Ginbot 7 have been loud for some time now on the need for the opposition camp to recognize two fundamental issues and then work together to end Ethiopia’s misery. One of these issues is the recognition of Ethiopians as one political community with their diversity, if handled with respect and wisdom, as a strong source of unity, not as a weak source of division. The second one relates to the need to build a democratic system within the arbitration of which socio political problems are resolved. I strongly reckon there is a dependable size of political parties that could integrate their efforts within these crucial matters as long as they build trust in each other. It is high time now such forces break their shell and join their types undermining past strategic differences and underlining the historical opportunity at hand to rescue Ethiopia and its people ailing severely under Meles Zenawi.
When the opposition is engaged more in demeaning the regime in Ethiopia and less in reforming and unifying itself, it is not only weakening itself but also strengthening the enemy. Individuals or groups whose principal job is none other than telling off the dictatorship in Ethiopia are not seriously serving the struggle because, to anyone capable of observation, the regime has never been more nude than now and there is no need to duplicate efforts. We should rather examine our political journey and find causes of failure to effect reliable unity. In this regard, I was really delighted to see a document prepared by Ginbot 7 researching themes of unified struggle highlighting rationales behind the timely need and lessons to be learned from previous failures of attempts of various levels of political mergers. The document provided scores of reasons for past failures in relation to lack of strong coordinating initiatives, lack of mutual trust among political groupings, power mongering attitudes of individuals and parties, etc. It also insightfully forwarded possible ways of overhauling integrations of various types in the future to avoid risks of repeating the same mistakes. Through this document, the Movement envisions to establish the largest ever political association which facilitates active participation of all political entities, civil activists, and prominent individuals who claim any level of concern about Ethiopia or all stakeholders who are willing to partake in a massively coordinated effort to address the country’s problems. Although the Movement recognizes the challenge to form such a huge political association given the hugely varied goals furthered by a range of political forces, it rightly puts this difficulty subservient to the great hopes of stakeholders’ comprehension of the historical opportunity they are capable of seizing united and losing divided. Historical opportunity in the sense that the regime can no more deceive through its pretentious democracy and this has created an understanding among political forces and the Ethiopian people that such a totalitarian regime that has damned Ethiopia on purpose can only be overthrown through a unified struggle by all endeavoring to achieve a democratic future in the nation. Proposing the way forward, however, should not be left to Ginbot 7 or any other party for that matter and such documents can be enriched or amended through joint evaluation of their contents. They have an immense value as a starting material though to eventually facilitate a well structured and harmonized struggle. Our hopes are also greatly hinged onto not just a positive response to calls for unity but also the contribution of all stakeholders to crafting effective platform to translate all inclusive methods of struggle into practical operations. In the process, it is very important to take precautions on possible destructive forces that are capable of displaying pretentious commitment to working together while they actually mean playing destructive roles.
As far as I understand, the Diaspora media do not pursue ‘she said, he said’ journalism. They have been rightly engaged in some form of activism to do their share in the struggle against tyranny in Ethiopia (obviously, pro-Woyane media do not fit in here). The pro-democracy media abroad really have to work towards freeing us from deafening propaganda here at home by providing revealing content. Their activism is yet to be sufficiently geared towards promoting unity among various political actors. In fact, as quite a number of Diaspora media seem to primarily associate themselves with some broken wings of former coalitions like Kinijit, their activism has failed to help the cause of unity and solidarity.
As much as we hate to hear the God like praise the government media are directing toward their masters, we do not cherish the Diaspora media’s tendency of embellishing one opposition group and belittling another and hinder cooperation among them. Now more than ever, the media in support of tomorrow’s democratic Ethiopia need to assemble their efforts into a vibrant performance towards helping unified struggle. Not only should they promote unity among political actors, but they should identify the fundamental causes for the absence of one and critically reflect on ways of tackling challenges in that respect.
It is within the scope of strong cooperation of the opposition and the need to adamantly promote it through the media that most of us want to celebrate the appearance of media such as ESAT on Ethiopian air. I am sure ESAT has designed its own objectives of establishment. On a personal level however, I trust it reappears beating the china-aided Woyane blockade, and can and should positively add to the realization of three fundamental goals, namely a wide public access to information, unified offensive against the despot in Ethiopia, restoration of the strong ideals related to being an Ethiopian which the regime is calculatedly and deliberately demolishing and of course democratic system of governance. The grand causes of freedom of access to information, unity, a strong sense of nation and democracy are of course themes that other media outlets should also strive to further. One can easily see how challenging and engaging the tasks ahead of us are and there is little time to merely demean the enemy without vigorously acting in unison to damn it.
Concluding, Meles Zenawi’s regime cannot get worse than it is now; nor can the Ethiopian people be more disgraced for us to translate our rage into integrated struggle to end the people’s suffering and restore our national integrity. The struggle should fundamentally transform itself from fragmentation to coordination of efforts by the opposition within the public empowering ideals of democracy enabling the resolution of socio political problems in the country based on mutual trust and a strong sense of solidarity.