NEWS & THE FAILED MISSION OF THE ETHIOPIAN REGIME AT MIND CONTROL By Genet Mersha

March 26th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

How Germany comes into the picture

I took on this issue to share my take on the news coverage of the review undertaken by the German parliamentary Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development of Ethio-German cooperation that took place in mid-March. The committee’s work came against the backdrop of extensive discussions between Ethiopia and Germany during the visit to Ethiopia by Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel’s in the first half of January 2011.

Mr Niebel was accompanied by a 40-member delegation. Among others, it included parliamentarian Thilo Hoppe, deputy chairman of the above-mentioned committee, who also happened to be actively involved at the forefront of the above-mentioned review, stressing the need for serious engagement in Berlin using respect for human rights as a criterion. Also included in the delegation were other parliamentarians, business community members and representatives of civil society organizations.

During his four-day stay in Ethiopia, Minister Niebel visited German supported projects in Tigrai, Dire Dawa and Harar. Unlike his colleague’s in the delegation, Minister Dirk Niebel is reported to be satisfied with his field visits. On the surface, it was learnt, official interactions were diplomatic and polite, but not wholly smooth with touchy issues raised and the recipient country’s responses dodgy, reportedly giving rise to some distrust by some members of the delegation.

The purpose of the visit, according GIC, was to enable the donor country to impact assessment of its financial and technical support to Ethiopia, as per the terms of the development cooperation agreement between the two countries. In the past three years, the two have cooperated in three priority areas:

(a) a bi-pillar sustainable economic development scheme, aiming at creating new jobs and income generating opportunities for the fast-growing population. The Germans have packaged this as a means by which they help gear the country toward industrialisation. The other is support for education sector.

(b) The second one is sustainable land management. The Germans see it as capacity building to enhance productivity; and

(c) Urban development and decentralisation, among others, Germany is to focus on 15 cities and towns with the aim of “setting up markets, abattoirs, roads, waste disposal and drainage systems. Funds also go towards training and advice for public authorities and their staff.”

To achieve these objectives, in the past three years—by its estimate—Germany has provided €96 million as its development aid to Ethiopia. Nonetheless, there is no clear indication of how much of it is tied aid, meaning the amount charged as overhead cost—the percentage of these funds that is paid to German consultants and as salaries for their field staff and the import of German goods. A study presented to Aid Conference places Germany at fourth place in the amount it spends on overhead—especially staff costs. It is also one country whose percentage of its aid transparency is only at the 75-percentage level, according to Claudia R. Williamson, the author of Fixing Failed Foreign Aid: Can Agency Practices Improve?

German funding for Ethiopia is split into two components: a package of €54 million for financial cooperation and €42 million for technical cooperation. Financial cooperation is a strain of a rechristened direct budget support. In the German case, ‘investments’ frequently employed, for instance, in education, infrastructure and health or agriculture. Government is implied to have the say where to use the funds. However, a major difference as it is from direct budget support, implementation is carried out “in close coordination with other German or international development cooperation activities.” BMZ defines the overall objective of the technical cooperation aid package as enabling poorer population groups to improve their conditions.

In the coming few years, Germany is likely to play a bigger role in Ethiopia. For this reason, it badly needs to showcase Ethiopia as its success story in Africa. In Ethiopia, the German technical cooperation office is the largest anywhere in the developing world. The overall objective is to attain higher market share in a region that is lauded as having bright prospects in its economic future. This view is also shared by guidelines of the German foreign policy www.isn.ethz.ch:

German foreign policy is oriented to global values: respect for human rights, democracy, the rule of law, peaceful resolution of conflicts/international jurisdiction.
As a major export nation we are dependent on a secure, functioning system of world trade. This presupposes peace, security and stability. Environmental and climate protection is a priority because we want to ensure that this world remains a good place for future generations too. We need equal partners who are confident but also tolerant: that’s why we promote education and the willingness of civil societies to engage in dialogue, and that’s why we seek to establish conditions in which prosperity can be created and fairly distributed. We are securing our energy supply by helping to open doors for German companies in Africa as well.”

Could Germany live up to its foreign policy tenets in a balanced manner, as indicated above?
The possibility is there, with the growing pressure for reform in Ethiopia within the ranks of German politicians, civil society organizations and the public at large. In August 2010, the ARD national television in its Fakt programme had reportage on the worsening human rights violations in Ethiopia, that years of indifference by the rest of the world has turned the country into a single party state, at a time when the world is moving into pluralism. In that programme, the ARD questioned why the federal government continues to throw away public funds in support of a government that has made the country hell for its citizens.

After watching that programme, citizen Huper Neudeck gave his testimony as the latest addition to the list of German human right activists, fully engaged now in lobbying the government for action. He says, “I can’t understand how the German Federal Gov. continues to work with this regime. This should be stopped immediately.” The ARD also agreed stating that this should be taken up in the discussion on the German Africa policy. The sense is that the rising tide of popular clamour for democracy and respect for fundamental human rights in North Africa and the Middle East has added to public support.

People cite now Germany’s professed policies on human rights, as it appears on the webpage of the federal ministry for economic cooperation and development. It clearly states:

Human rights remain a problematic issue. There are regular reports of arbitrary arrests for example. The judicial system is overstretched and not sufficiently robust to guarantee legal security. This not only deters potential foreign investors, but also prevents numerous local entrepreneurs from realising their business ideas. Despite a constitutional ban on discrimination, women’s rights in Ethiopia are not consistently upheld. In addition, press and civil society freedoms have recently been curtailed. For example, restrictive laws have been adopted with regard to the media and the work of non-governmental organisations. Obstacles placed in the way of opposition parties also suggest that the government is using every available means to shore up its hold on power. There are frequent incidents of unrest in Ethiopia, caused by militant liberation movements, which the government regards as terrorist organisations.

For now, in spite of this, the clamour by politicians and the public, Minister Niebel’s preoccupation seems to have focussed only on the second pillar of German interests in Africa—a market for its products. Therefore, he has promised €115 million in the coming three years.

At the same time, his visit has also exposed to the world what has so far been wrong in the Ethiopian political environment, to which Germany can no longer afford to close its eyes. For parliamentarians from the different political parties and civil society organizations, the focus is not the self serving future German strategy in Africa, but also the here and now, whether German funding should continue to bankroll repression and human sufferings. The Ethiopian regime’s consistent denials of any such charges have failed to allay the fears and concerns of Ethiopia’s friends on behalf of Ethiopians, whose voices have been muzzled.

After what he saw first hand at the field level, Minister Derik Niebel on 18 January could not skip the need to serve cautionary notice, underlying which are his misgivings about those issues. After all, he had heard first hand from Mr Hoppe, his parliamentary colleague and the deputy chairman of the economic cooperation committee, when he was upfront with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, raising all the thorny issues. Not surprisingly the prime minister dismissed the charges as concoction of his opponents, only to earn the distrust of the visiting delegates. Mr Niebel was compelled to sideswipe the issues in generalities, in an unwilling attempt to find common ground with his colleague. He was quoted by GIC stating, “It is also very important [for Ethiopia] to strengthen civil society and to create more scope for the private sector. Ethiopia must ensure that all citizens enjoy access to government services, free from discrimination.”

This to some degree ties with the questions Mr Thilo Hoppe raised with the prime minister (VOA interview, 22 March). These included the issues of discriminatory treatment of citizens, as practiced by the ruling party in respect of education and training opportunities to bolster his party, even with German funding. The other is displacement of citizens on account of land grabbing by foreign investors.

Sadly, some of the displaced by farm grabbing are not only those regime claims it is trying to help them change their primitive way of life. But it has also affected those that were already resettled in Gambela years ago after escaping the famine affected parts of Ethiopia and are used to farming. There is no better evidence to show clearly the extent to which our citizens have been mistreated and humiliated than selling of our country block by block to foreign investors, as the Guardian’s John Vidal’s href=”“>Here video and the heart rending tragedy shown on YOUTUBE have established.

That is why Mr Hoppe’s statement was quoted predicting the looming danger in Ethiopia: “The thundering voices that now refuse their continued deprivation of democracy and violation of their human rights is not limited to the Arab world only. This condition is also simmering in Ethiopia” (unofficial translation).

The donor matrix

When a donor gives aid, there are always strings attached, as we saw it above. Especially when the opposition is weak, as fragmented as it is in Ethiopia, the donor community emphasizes the peace and stability angle for the Horn of Africa. Such consistent responses by diplomacy have also bothered the respected European political scientist Dominique Moisi, the author of The Geopolitics of Emotion. He examined the issue in the context of why diplomacy failed to foresee or handle the popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, once it erupted. He attributes this to the fallibility of the autopilot response, of which he observed:
Why do revolutions so often take professional diplomats by surprise? Is there something in their DNA that makes them prefer the status quo so much that, more often than not, they are taken aback by rapid changes, neither foreseeing them nor knowing how to respond once they begin? … Revolutionary ruptures upset diplomats’ familiar habits, both in terms of their personal contacts and, more importantly, in terms of their thinking. A fast-forward thrust into the unknown can be exhilarating, but it is also deeply frightening. In the name of “realism,” diplomats and foreign-policy strategists are naturally conservative.
(Blind, Project Syndicate, 28 Source: The Diplomacy of the February 2011)

What is wrong with the media in Ethiopia today?

This piece is not aimed at criticizing the journalists per se, accusing them of lack professionalism or integrity. Even if they all were graduates of famous and internationally recognized schools of journalism, the situation would not be any different under the policies of the present regime. The evil lies within the architects and their policies that work against the country and its citizens. This is because the current leaders are only concerned with them dying in power and ensuring dynastic control, instead of power becoming an expression of the will of the people.

In thinking of the media as an institution, one would naturally expect the media in Ethiopia to serve the public interest—to inform, educate and facilitate the participation of citizens in the affairs of the nation. Unfortunately, even by the standards of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Ethiopian media is designed to be typically Orwellian in deeds and character. It is good at praising the leaders, even when they are wrong, spill blood and wallow in corruption, covering up their misdeeds and unjust actions. They bedevil with falsehoods those opposed to the regime and hound those that do not support it. What then is national about it?
Today, Ethiopia today finds itself at the end of the second decade, since the media has altogether betrayed the nation and the people’s aspiration for democracy under the leadership of the TPLF and a government that has become the antithesis of democracy. I am not implying here that before the TPLF-led EPRDF Ethiopia had free press or was democratic. At least, its two predecessor governments committed whatever injustices and violations of human rights, wars and murders, unlike the present regime, without the pretentions of being democratic or trying to fool everyone, especially foreigners, that they are hospitable to pluralism of ideas and organizations. Why then should the country become a single party state?

To observe that from the media’s functions in Ethiopia, I invite readers to see that in what is conveyed to the people, for instance, about the visit by the German delegation we discussed above. At best, what all of them tried to do, as can be see hereunder, is to suppress any critical remarks or questions. They exaggerate the positives and add their praises, as if there have never been any contentious issues. The following would give answer to the above question as to what is wrong with the Ethiopian media and all sources of information in the country.

(a) The Ethiopian foreign ministry (A Week in the Horn, 14,1.2011)

“…The bilateral meetings dwelt at length on ways and means of consolidating current Ethio-German relations. While expressing deep gratitude and appreciation to Germany’s development partnership, which is seen as exemplary, the Ethiopian side called on Germany to strengthen its development assistance, especially in view of the tremendous development tasks envisioned in the new Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP)…Following his discussions and what he described as successful visits to project sites, the Minister expressed his own satisfaction and that of his government over the current state of Ethio-Germany’s economic partnership. He made it clear there would be further German commitments to assist Ethiopia’s economic development in the future, in addition to the sum of 115 million Euros earmarked for Ethiopia under the 2008-2011 development program.“

(b) Ministry of finance webpage, 11 January

“The Minister [Sufian] remarked that Ethiopia has managed to expand education, health, and infrastructures among others. According to the Minister, this was made possible because Ethiopia has been using all the assistance drawn from development partners in a very effective ways. The Minister also noted that if the country manages the current economic development with the assistance from development partners particularly from Germany, Ethiopia will achieve most of the MDGs. H.E. Mr. Dirk Niebel, on his part, remarked that it will be important to focus on small and medium scale enterprises so that they could play an important role in the efforts of the country to eradicate poverty. Mr. Dirk also emphasized the need for the active participation of private sectors and civil societies in the sense that they contribute for the country’s economic development. Ato Sufian noted that the Ethiopian Government is well aware the fact that without the correlation of the government, the private sector and the civil society, no economic development will be gained and the government is working to this effect.”

(c) Ministry of agriculture about land grabbing (quoted on UN-IRIN)

Minister of agriculture: “I know [this] is a very controversial and hot issue at the global level. As far as Ethiopia is concerned, we don’t see it as a threat because it is smallholder agriculture, which is the driving engine of the agricultural development in this country.”
Gambela village resident speaking to UN-IRIN: “We were told by government that we should preserve the forest and trees, because they give us rain. Now the Indians are burning and bulldozing the forest in broad daylight.”

Esayas Kebede of Investor Support Services of the ministry of agri: “Only a very small portion of the forest is burnt…There might be investors who are cutting forests. We will follow them and take appropriate actions. Previously we have taken some measures on those investors who have damaged the environment in some way…We don’t simply give land for investment. We have conducted appropriate studies and the company [Karuturi] has also conducted an environment impact assessment (EIA). So such allegations [about evictions] are far from the truth.”

(d) Ethiopian New Agency—ENA 14 Jan.

“German delegation lauds Ethiopia’s efforts to increase number of women MPs. It also quoted from a German embassy press release, “The Ethiopian government makes great endeavours to reach their millennium development goals and has made impressive progress.”

(d) Walta Information Centre Addis Ababa, January 12 (WIC)

“Prime Minister Meles Zenawi held talks on Tuesday with a German parliamentary delegation led by the country’s Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dirk Niebel. Meles on the occasion briefed the delegation on on-going development activities in various sectors in Ethiopia including in environmental protection, food security and resettlement. He called on Germany to strengthen its development assistance to Ethiopia. Niebel on his part his part expressed admiration to Ethiopia’s food security strategy. He also lauded Ethiopia’s development policy, which promotes the expansion of green energy projects.”

What should we learn?

Clearly, this is a firm indication of rule by fear. It has resulted in complete suppression of freedom of speech, as applicable to individual citizens and professionals, such as government officials, journalists and teachers, against which the notoriety of the totalitarian system of governance is known. This has pervaded society with all its manifestations.
I lamented about this situation in Ethiopia the day the Supreme Court of the United States adopted by 8 to 1 its decision on 2 March, upholding the right and freedom of speech of protestors. It was one bold stoke by which the Supreme Court countered challenges to democracy on a very sensitive issue involving picketing at military funerals. What makes this bold and unique is that it comes at a time the country fights one major war with many fronts and dead soldiers are coming back home in body bags, having fallen defending United States’ interests.

The case for the Court’s judgement arose from one brought against a protest at the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, appeared near his funeral ceremony bearing signs “America is Doomed” and “God Hates Fags.” The father of the deceased was hurt and sued the church, anguished by the denial to his son of honourable burial. For that matter it is reported that Mathew Snyder was not homosexual.

Even then, the Court decided in favour of the right of the church to free speech. In delivering the Court’s opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts stated:

Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and—as it did here—inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation we have chosen a different course—to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case.”

The Court also acknowledged, “Westboro’s choice added to Mr Snyder’s already incalculable grief.” In contrast, compare this with the political dispensation in Ethiopia, where speech on public issues destroys a human being. Judge Birtukan Mideksa is the young mother and lawyer, the first female Ethiopian opposition leader who was given life imprisonment on two different occasions for her peaceful political views—even though moderate and well informed. In comparison, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said so many hurtful things to the nation’s history and the sacrifices of our fathers. When Judge Birtukan Mideksa was in imprison and even before his court pronounced itself on her case, the prime minister had time and again cast her as the enemy of Ethiopia—obviously not concerned that his court would decide otherwise, but to turn public opinion against her. Mr Meles’s case against her was her allegedly tarnishing his regime’s image, i.e., portraying it as a liar.

One would assume that a self-confident power, as the prime minister often likes to project his regime, hold, could be magnanimous in the tradition of statesmanship expected of a leader. Unfortunately, this was not meant to be in practice in Ethiopia. She was, thus, handed life imprisonment in solitary confinement on account of the speech she gave to the Ethiopian community in Sweden in 2008. Alone and in darkness, she was violated physically and emotionally. Even in times of serious illnesses, she was denied of medical assistance and visitors except her five-year old daughter accompanied by her 80 year-old grandmother.
Judge Birtukan Mideksa remained in such a condition until the May 2010 election was over.

The prime minister and his party won, by their count, with 99.6 percent electoral victory, following which she was released. By the time, she came out from prison, she was a shadow of her old self, her spirit broken by the cruelty she was subjected to. Recently she resigned from the presidency of the largest opposition party in the country and has now decided to move to the United States initially to ensure her wellbeing.

The past two decades have shown that this is the condition Ethiopians have been living through and are expected to build democracy. This is the kind of treatment Ato Meles Zenawi and his party have reserved to any formal and informal opposition to their power—the very factor that for now has cowered Ethiopians into submission in the face of the worst forms of deprivations of their human dignity. That much is clear, still more and more people are being thrown into his dungeons, most of them tortured.

In the Snyder case, the United States Supreme Court was not preoccupied with the ego of the US Administration, or how the entire government would feel by such judgement, or the image this may convey to some about the country. The Court had only three criteria for its decision, i.e., whether: (a) ‘the overall thrust and dominant theme of the demonstration spoke to broad public issues’; (b) the attack against Mathew Snyder was motivated by personal vendetta; and, (c) the demonstration was held in public street to avoid causing IIED (intentional infliction of emotional distress) to the mourners.

What role did the media play? The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 21 news organizations filed brief to the Supreme Court, supporting the church. That document is contained in www.americanbar.org brief 09_10_09_751. In its editorial of 2 March, The New York Times wrote:

In a narrow ruling in the sense of applying law to one set of facts, the Supreme Court has provided an admirable reminder of how broad the protection of free speech is under the Constitution’s First Amendment, including hurtful and hateful speech.

  1. Oda Tulu
    | #1

    Thank you DR. Genet for your informative and enlightening write up.

  2. Gash Polisu
    | #2

    Good Job, Genet enatachin!!

    Yenat hod ztingurgur…Azeb Mesfin leba; Birtukan, Genet, the Mitmita Girls, etc. ye Ethiopia lijoch!!

    Thank you Geni!

  3. Sam
    | #3

    Genet wrote a well-thought-out article aqain. But I do not see her point qouting different Ethiopian news services to substantiate that the media serve the interest of EPDRF, not the nation. There is no news there, Genet. Of course, every Ethiopan knows that. I tell you what, Genet, even any sane EPDRF politico if you talk with him/her off the record can attest for that fact. Well, let me put it this way. A country who has a Prime Minister who does not admit a single mistake he made in governing cannot allow or tolerate a media he cannot fashion and control. Let me be a straight shooter here. In Ethiopia today being able to survive is a monumental task. In such a climate creating numerous opportunists who value their very survival more than anything, even at the risk of seeing the country sinking to its lowest depth, are not only possible, but very likely. In Ethiopia now we have, except a very few independent newspapers, a media that outdone highly the journalists in Haileselasie’s and Derg’s time in being serving the regime than the nation. This will never change as long as EPDRF stays in power. I say it is meaningless to separate the media from the party. Even it is wasting of time writing about the EPDRF echo, which they call it the media. I am not criticizing you Genet. Your article is beyond reproach. I am wishing you not
    to spend your time writing about the media that all Ethiopians know about. I do think personally those Ethiopians who will be born know they come to the world they are not going to speak, except those few months who are free to cry.

  4. T, Beressa
    | #4

    Selam Genet,

    Thank God that you are still engaged in fighting tyranny in Ethiopia. I thought that you have withdrawn yourself when I haven’t heard from you from a while. I always enjoy reading your well researched anlysis and compelling arguments. Please keep up writing.

  5. Habtamu/AAbeba
    | #5

    Genet and Sam, you are as confused as they come. Your dishonesty has no parallels. Why did Genet not quote what the Reporter, AddisAdmas, Fortune or the many other independent papers have to say about the visit of the German delegation? Is it because it will expose her twisted theory of media suppression? It’s okay to comment or disagree on something disagreeable, but it’s very sad to see such an outright lies. Genet seems to be concerned what Germany or its parliamentarians have to say about Ethiopia’s affairs than we Ethiopians at large. That should be our internal affair for what it’s worth – not for you to outsource it. How do you give the moral upper hand to make the judgment of our progress or the lack of it to others? The aid they give is always attached to something. They will never throw a thing if they don’t think they will be rewarded one way or another. To think otherwise is thoughtless. I’m really dismayed by those of you who see today’s Ethiopia the way you do – a country in chaos with no glimmer of hope and citizens under the shackle of total subjugation and siege. If we don’t give credit where credit is due, we are then doomed not to advance as human beings. The Germans’ are there among other things to improve the capacity building of the country. Under the GTZ the Ethiopian education system in general and the new 33 or some Universities and Colleges are being structured according the German education model-, which is a high caliber education system. So, if you are going to condemn the regime for aiming higher, then I do question your patriotism and motives. Ethiopia faces many challenges, which require all our best efforts and imaginations. This cannot be possible if we can’t build upon what’s being accomplished. It’s of no use to advocate of a total overhaul of system when it’s clear an effort has been made to build the human and economical infrastructures. Those infrastructures will remain ours no matter who leads the country. The educated people will remain Ethiopians no matter the form or type of the political system. Let’s ask what our contributions, beyond the regular shouting and bad mouthing toward others, has been to our country. If we can answer that honestly then we will find a constructive way to contribute something without being a force of destruction. Let’s take ownership of our weakness or strengths as a people of one country not disparaging one group for their true beliefs. Mistakes are made by those who try to so something not by paper tigers. That should remain upon which we will be measured. Come here and share our advances or failings, our joys or sorrows, our pride or shames, our hopes and despairs – then and only then we will be the arbiter of your content and we shall see your moral fiber. Until then let’s keep what we have for what its worth. TenaYisTilgn!

  6. Bilal Jemal
    | #6

    Genet is not a firm opponent of the fascist and racist rule of Meles Zenawi. She writes boring and long articles who weigh little or nothing on the balance of the anti-fascist struggle. She looks a person who tends to pint out some of the mistakes or faults of the ethnical fascists and expects them to correct or improve them. Most of her articles I have read contain the tone of advice and counseling towards the fascist regime. She is not anti-fascist and does not reject the regime of Meles Zenawi.

  7. tewbel
    | #7

    Ithin that Genet has written an excellent sum-up of German Aid and foreign in general. It is informative and an excellent outlook about dependency on foreign aid.

  8. Genet Mersha wrote
    | #8

    @Habtamu/AAbeba Habtamu, when I started reading your comment, I took you on your promise to clear the confusion you alluded to me. It is unfortunate you did not do that. Instead, I you are steaming and spewing dust and hot air. Moreover, as is often the case in TPLF-run Ethiopia, especially when you loose the argument (from your tone you sound like a TPLF cadre), you question, as you put it, my “patriotism and motives” because I told you as it is. Thank God, you cannot put me to prison, so I would only take further steps to remove the pretentious cover you hid yourself under in order to appear more concerned for Ethiopia.

    I have no issues with your patriotic fervor, save your attempt to portray that you are the only one who cares for Ethiopia. Indeed, I tell you that is false, terribly wrong and dangerous. Therefore, I would only take this opportunity to clarify the following with a view you to helping you regain your sanity.

    (a) ‘Why did Genet not quote what the Reporter, AddisAdmas, Fortune or the many other independent papers have to say about the visit of the German delegation?’ You then answered your question with a question: “Is it because it will expose her twisted theory of media suppression?” It is sad you did not even do your homework. To the best of my efforts, I had spent time and energy, searching their archives in vain, following which I came to the conclusion that Fortune and Reporter had no entry on that news item. If you checked AddisAdmas lately, you would see that it is no different from unattended garden, taken over by weeds. Its last news item bears the dateline of 10 December. FYI, I have also tried other news outlets, most of them run by government or its cadres; nearly all of them echo Walta’s reporting. Since I have the original, I was not interested in the copy. Not even your Aiga has anything on it. You then wrote, “Your dishonesty has no parallels.” Who is dishonest here?

    Luckily, you are in no position to question my patriotism or integrity, though you have done it again, as a prisoner of habit and the unaccountability you continue to enjoy for a while still.

    (b) You wrote, “Genet seems to be concerned [with] what Germany or its parliamentarians have to say about Ethiopia’s affairs than we Ethiopians at large. That should be our internal affair for what it’s worth – not for you to outsource it. How do you give the moral upper hand to make the judgment of our progress or the lack of it to others? The aid they give is always attached to something. They will never throw a thing if they don’t think they will be rewarded one way or another. To think otherwise is thoughtless. I’m really dismayed by those of you who see today’s Ethiopia the way you do – a country in chaos with no glimmer of hope and citizens under the shackle of total subjugation and siege.”

    Oh my goodness, you shoot from the hip thoughtlessly, judging those of us you refer as “those of you…” Let it sink into your head that I am happy that Germany is helping Ethiopia, if you guys could make good use of the aid money for the country! I have also tried in the article to show the extent of its involvement in Ethiopia’s development. At the same time, I was criticizing Germany for its high overhead costs and lack of financial transparency—a reminder to it to reduce or accommodate differently its exorbitant staff costs. This is because, its costs would take a huge chunk of the €96 million pledged for Ethiopia though overheads—the fourth highest among donors countries.

    I doubt if this would make any sense to a person who has already made up his mind about a lot of things willy-nilly. But still I would refer you to what I had written on that concern on 30 March 2009 on http://www.nazret.com. Here is the last paragraph of it, after I learned about GTZ impropriety in Ethiopia on Addis Fortune:

    “This is a unique sort of cost recovery and capacity building arrangement between government in a developing country and an arm of a donor foreign government. Who determines the costs and savings? What formulae are applied? How are the books audited? There is also complaint from local construction firms that have not found foot in GTZ managed projects. Selection of firms is by competitive bidding, final decision made by GTZ and MH Engineering. According to Addis Fortune, those construction firms opposed to the arrangement see it as an employment opportunity for German citizens. Either the story is misunderstood, or government has not paid attention to it!”

    (c) You seem to have a 19th century sense of sovereignty, where the flagrant violation of fundamental human rights is no concern of the outside world. You are observing, “That should be our internal affair for what it’s worth – not for you to outsource it. How do you give the moral upper hand to make the judgment of our progress or the lack of it to others? The aid they give is always attached to something. They will never throw a thing if they don’t think they will be rewarded one way or another. To think otherwise is thoughtless. I’m really dismayed by those of you who see today’s Ethiopia the way you do – a country in chaos with no glimmer of hope and citizens under the shackle of total subjugation and siege.”

    Such violation in our country is a humanitarian and a political concern for all countries. There is no secrecy on that. After all, what the EPRDF has done is to agree its human rights situations to be reviewed by other countries. For this please refer to Ethiopia’s signing and ratification of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1992. Since domestically Ethiopians are not allowed to exercise their civil and political rights, in accordance with the Covenant, it is imperative for any Ethiopian citizen to write, petition and seek the involvement of other states parties to the Covenant to convince the Ethiopian government to abide by the provisions of the Covenant. That is precisely what I was doing.

    If in case it did not dawn on you, by the terms of the development cooperation agreement signed between Ethiopia and Germany, Ethiopia is required to respect the values of civilized society, indicated by implication. The German federal government is also required by its people and its laws not to provide its taxpayers monies to shore up the violation of human rights and suppression of democracy in its partner countries. That is why on 11 January, the German delegation stayed in Ethiopia for four days, checking here and there. They finally raised these issues to the prime minister, who told them it was false. On the VOA, as indicated in the article, the deputy chairman of the committee said he did not believe a word of what PM Meles Zenawi said.

    If this makes you steam up again, I cannot help you. A better future is to exploit all possibilities and peaceful efforts that strengthen democracy and respect for human rights in Ethiopia!

    TenaYisTilgn!

  9. Sam
    | #9

    Habtamu:You argued your case well, but I do not fail to notice the contradiction in your arguing your case. writing of the Germans you wrote “they will never throw a thing if they do not think they will be rewarded one way or another.” But I was suprised to read the following, which might undercut your prior observation: ” The Germans are there among other things to improve the capacity building of the country, under the GTZ the Ethiopian education system in general and the new 33 or some universities and colleges are being structured according to the German education model– which is a high caliber education system. So, if you are going to condemn the regime for aiming higher, then I do question your patriotism and motives.” Hey, Habtamu, you are a bit carried away here. Questioning my patriotism is uncalled for. Back to the contradiction. If your aim was to write how the Ethiopian education system would benefit from the German education model, it would be unwise to say they know they would be rewarded. I infered from your writing you meant to imply that they would be rewarded almost at the same time they are helping. But Habtamu had you considered their being rewarded would have taken years, and they knew it? They pay the downpayment for future profit when the education they are investing now resulted with an educated populace with money to buy their goods. If that was their aim, do you see anything with their plan being dishonest? Habtamu: you wrote ” your dishonesty has no paralells.” Well, you are downright wrong again. Habtamu I have news for you: I am not dishonest. I am not unpatriotic. The terms patriotic and unpatriotic are always open to interpretation. Those who oppose the EPDRF government call its supporters unpatriotic and change the party the name calling reverses. It is better to avoid such name calling in order to be taken seriously. You seemed to agonize for some of us not seeing any success in the regime’s performance but pointing out always failure. I speak for myself here. I am not interested in congragulating government’s performance in anything. There are many who are hired to do just that. My little contribution in discussing Ethiopian politics– if I ever contribute– is to voice how others, who are not in government or sympathisers of the government, might see an issue differently than the government. I have no permanent enemy and friends in Ethiopian politics. If my feedback seems to have had undermined the government, it is exactly because it is the government. If say another party seizes power and promises Heaven, I could start to learn whether what they say and do mismatch. If that is the case, well, you get the idea.

  10. Anonymous
    | #10

    Genee, you Speeck my heart . Thank you.

  11. Gigi
    | #11

    Genee, you Speeck my heart . Thank you.

  12. Habtamu/AAbeba
    | #12

    Genet and Sam, I appreciate your efforts to engage me in this dialogue. I wish I had all the time to provide you with all the articles and commentaries that were published at the time of the meeting. To the extent Genet doesn’t seem to find anything new on AddisAdmas, online, makes it clear the realty of our conversation. Unlike you Genet, I’ve the luxury to hold that paper on my hands on a weekly basis. That makes my observations more in tune with reality than your comments from afar. Let’s see if I can help you understand what the reality is in today’s Ethiopia. First of all, I’m not a member of the TPLF as you alleged. The “T” on the TPLF will disqualify me if I wanted to, I guess. If the definition of a party involves resolve, discipline, vision and commitment, I would be honored to be a member of such party. I hope as an Ethiopian you will allow me to join a party of my preference. So to the extent you question my allegiance to one party or another shows your backwardness and dark view of democracy. Genet, at no time did I question your patriotism per se. This is how I put it;” So, if you are going to condemn the regime for aiming higher, then I do question your patriotism and motives.” This just is a mundane observation on my part rather than me questioning your patriotism. If the word was interpreted in its narrow meaning, then my comments below should help bolster my contention on that subject. As to the “motive” part, it stands in great view for everyone to see where you coming from – let’s leave it at that. It’s true I’m a proud active participant of current affairs of my beloved country. Through sunshine or rain I’m with my people. Does this qualify me as a more caring person than any other Diaspora – that is for you to answer? Going back to your article, the Engineering Capacity Building Programme (ECBP) was launched in November 2005 to enhance the role of the industrial sector as a source of employment and economic growth, and to improve its contribution to the country’s international trade. This bilateral Ethiopian-German program forms the core of the priority area of sustainable economic development. It supports the Government of Ethiopia in introducing nationwide reforms that are indispensable to the industrial development of the whole country. If you didn’t noticed yet, the Ethiopian Government is focusing its resources on six key industrial sectors that are vital to the economy and which promise to be competitive in the global market. These are agricultural processing, textiles, construction, leather goods, pharmaceuticals/chemicals and metals. The program is reforming the teaching of engineering, both in universities and in the vocational education and training system. By doing so, it is improving the standard of the graduates and their capacity to absorb new technologies, while also equipping them better to meet the needs of the labour market. At the same time, improvements in the quality infrastructure (standards, assessment etc.) are helping the country’s goods to meet international standards more consistently. The program is using these reforms to promote private industrial sector development, thereby enhancing growth and employment. It is identifying and improving value chains in the various industrial sectors, and contributing to improved performance, value addition and competitiveness. The ECBP cooperates with enterprises, universities, and technical and vocational institutions, and encourages the use of quality infrastructure systems. Systemic reforms and capacity development form the core of this industrial development program. The reforms are being implemented in the country’s universities and TVET colleges, and in private industry. So far, the industrial sector grew by about 10 % in 2009/2010, at a time when the global economy declined by 2.2 %. The program has facilitated investments of several million euros. A number of German companies have invested in production facilities in Ethiopia following intervention by ECBP (e.g. ARA shoes). Exports of leather products have grown by EUR 4 million (13 % of the 2009 total) as a direct result of ECBP interventions. Textile exports have risen by 60 % since 2006/7, bringing the total to over USD 20 million. The processing of agricultural products has seen growth of over 30 % since 2006/07. More than 1,800 TVET teachers have received training and qualified. Fifty-three engineering teachers have attained international-level qualifications in pedagogy and didactics. Coffee, honey and sesame are now being produced organically, with more than USD 300,000 worth of produce already being exported to Germany. For the first time, Ethiopian companies can now obtain ISO 9001 certification locally from an internationally accredited body. 34,000 apprenticeships have been created in the construction sector. The introduction of cobblestones in road construction has created local employment for about 96,000 people. It is now being implemented countrywide through national and international organizations, and driven by private demand.
    One other important sector the German agency playing a big role is in the urbanization process. Ethiopia has begun a process of urbanization, some three decades later than most countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Today, Ethiopia’s urban population growth is among the highest in the world. High urban unemployment, low governance capacities, weak infrastructure and poor management of municipal finance accompany it. At the same time, because of its comprehensive decentralization process, Ethiopia is devolving more responsibilities to the urban centers. Despite these challenges, urbanization offers huge opportunities, as cities are engines of economic and social development. Well managed, they can play a significant role in reducing poverty by offering employment opportunities and improved services. The program comprises the following components: Improving urban financial management, Improving urban planning, Improving urban infrastructure provision and management and Enhancing knowledge management and the exchange of experiences between municipalities. As a result, In line with its decentralization policy, Ethiopia has shifted power and responsibilities for services to regional and local levels. Citizens are now being consulted on matters of spatial and financial planning as well as the prioritization of investments. Citizens’ satisfaction with municipal service delivery has increased by 29 % since 2007. Eight supported municipalities report a revenue increase of more than 35 % compared to 2009. 112,000 jobs have already been created through road building and drainage projects, more than 30% of which have been filled by women. The Ethiopian Cities Network has been established. This is a platform where the 23 member municipalities can share experiences and partake in collective learning. 42 towns and cities participated in the first Ethiopian Cities Day 2009; than number ballooned to 80 for the same event in 2010. In the new project regions, municipal administrations are being built up from scratch. All partner towns and cities have been able to access grants from KfW and the World Bank to fund investments in infrastructure. So, your argument about aid and verification is misplaced. The Germans are not there to hand out food as you knew it back in the days. They are there for all the above-mentioned reasons. The government should be praised for trying to get the maximum out of this “development aid.” To the extent the experts are there and are paid handsomely is not necessarily bad. The idea behind all this is to get the most out of their expertise rather than their money. As an employee of that agency, I get compensated handsomely as well. From your vintage point it all revolves around what the government is doing wrong than to focus in what the government is doing right for the long haul. These are visions and human and institutional infrastructures which we should applaud the government’s efforts as “patriots”. That’s where the patriotism question becomes relevant. A German citizen puts our problem this way: “„Das größte Hindernis in Ihrem Land für Partizipation ist eure Geschichte.“ Its loose interpretation; “your biggest shortcoming in participating (democratic participation) is your history.” That’s what the regime is trying to change. Genet, I do care about human rights and all things that goes with it. The Germans do care about all the stuff more than you give them credit to. Is that possible you see things differently than the Germans and me then? Doesn’t human rights involve the right for quality education, health care, development, entrepreneurship, fighting poverty, fighting backwardness, and so forth as well? Why do you try to define things for us from the comfy of your host countries? We can’t get where you want us to get in the speed of the light. Our poverty and violations of human rights were the making of generational systemic and epidemic mismanagement. As much as we wanted to get rid of all this overnight, reality will dictate this will take time. Dear Sam, I’m sorry you saw the cynical part of the “reward” on my comment. Sam, I meant reward like you do everything for your kids education and well being as a parent. The reward is that you see your kids become responsible citizens and accomplished adults. It was that kind of “reward” I was talking about. I’m not naive to assume that the Germans do it this for the sake of it. Of course, their taxpayers demand something in return be it as a form of success or business. As I tried to explain above, so far the cooperation seems based on mutual benefit, as many Germany companies are content to invest in our country. I hope the patriotism remark I gave to Genet will satisfy you as well. As the dishonesty remark goes, I still believe anybody who comments on something without a scintilla of knowledge on the subject matter is considered dishonest. If I offended you by saying what I believed is true, I then can only say sorry. TenaYisTilgn!

  13. Genet Mersha wrote
    | #13

    Habtamu, I appreciate your extensive response. Let me say that, although you make it as if I were opposed to German contributions to Ethiopia’s development, the record is clear that I very much welcome the fact that they are helping my country.

    The issues i have with German aid are two: (a) the German federal government’s indifference to Ethiopia’s shift to a single party state, and their silience even when witnessing the continued human rights violations in the country. This is the main difference the government position and other parties in Bundestag, after the latest experiences in North Africa and the Middle East. This varying difference is observed in the coruse of the recent visit to Ethiopia by Minister Dirk Niebel. The government party is preoccupied with German investment in Ethiopia, other parties, especially the Greens, that now are gaining a lot in popular support.

    (b) German high overhead costs that is the other one. It is covered from the pledged aid money of €96 million for three years. Whether you like it or not, the concern is how much of it goes to staff costs, travels and consultants is an issue not only for me as an Ethiopian but also to the OECD and other development experts.

    Outside that, the focus of my article is different–the TPLF regime’s manipulation of information. The German aid was a side issue, which now you seem to try to make central. Indeed, your prodigous response implies as if i am attempting to invalidate or discourage German aid to Ethiopia. That intention is not in my mind nor in my article.

    Simply put, you are impyling I am unhappy that Germany is paying you “handsomely”. Me too. Howe er, the underlying point for me is that they should be able to do that within a lower threshold, the balance paid outside the aid money. If only you could see the net aid money figure that reaches Ethiopia, you would understand what that is a real issue.

    Be it known, I have enormous respect for German engineering and quality of their education. I also welcome their good job in ISO 9001, which they are now imparting to Ethiopia. However, as a matter of principle, I do not appreciate the fact that a foreign government agency is doubling in Ethiopia is also an agent of the recepient country. Self-serving as the complaints by Ethiopian construction companies may be, the article i referred you to on this matter by Omar Radde in Addis Fortune, may be real. You seemed to consider their issues in a manner analogous to the complaint of persecution by a schizioprenic who would not be taken seriously, even when his persecution is indeed real.

    You dismissed that question by a narrowly focussed persona interest, where you stated: “The idea behind all this is to get the most out of their expertise rather than their money. As an employee of that agency, I get compensated handsomely as well.” Surely, when one goes through the list of the country’s successes you have enumerated,, you have even chosen to attribute all the endeavours and efforts the country has made to Germany, as a handsomely paid employee of a German agency would.

    As German investment, of course, there would be more companies investing in Ethiopa. After all, the return on investment is handsome, as in most African countries now, even the prospects better than the developed countries, where the return is not only uncertain but also scraps.

    Having said that, let me reiterate the point I am stressing here is that Germany, as a donor, should exert more efforts to use its eyes and ears to appreciate the fears and worries of the aid recepient population, because it is repressions and torutures by the regime that is responsible for their plight. This situation would also determine the state of the coutnry’s development and stability going forward– TenaYisTilgn!

  14. ጉረኞች
    | #14

    Habtamu
    Did you cut and paste this paragraph from the guide book developed to deceive international donor agencies? I do not believe you scribbled it in a span of a second with finger tips statistics. Well, it doesn’t go far enough to change reality? No matter what you say the fact is Meles is traitor who sold out Ethiopia’s interest and a dictator who killed thousands of innocent citizens and a racist who discriminate all other ethnic groups. That fact will not change.

  15. Habtamu/AAbeba
    | #15

    Genet, the motivation for my engagement with you and your followers has nothing to do with my involvement with any agency. I somewhat felt the urgency to say what needed to be said. By the way, despite my current compensation, I’m still getting fraction of what I used to earn while in Germany. I did this knowing the little dent I can make to alter the lives of my country men and women is worth the pay cut – and I’m glad I did what I did. Now, you and I have a fundamentally different viewpoint of the current state of affairs in our country. As much as you are entitled to your own opinion about our situation, the facts on the ground don’t reflect your rhetoric. I’m terrified to say that most of the Germans also share my assessment. As you are well aware, the Germans are trailblazers of foreign aid. They know exactly what’s working and what isn’t. They fully understand and accept that the “Ethiopian democracy” is in its infancy. They also are conscious what hands the current government was dealt when it comes to basic institutions – if you can even talk about institutions. On top of that they have the appreciation how this government tries to make the necessary sacrifice for the betterment of its people notwithstanding the fact that its legitimacy was questioned from day one and continues to this day. So, if the German government sees the “single party system” or “the human rights violations“ as internal affairs of Ethiopia, that should be their prerogative. As to the “high overhead cost” of their staff, as much as I’m tempted to say that is their business, I’ll give you some facts which will help you understand what’s going on. The people working in these agencies are not your usual retired aid volunteers to oversee the distribution of food handouts to the hungry. Those are the crème de la crème of higher institutions. They are researchers, scientists, professors, doctors, engineers and what have you. Their hands-on involvement has been the difference to the success registered so far. You would be astonished to know how much the government pays to able outside consultants to fill all the ambitious government programs. The evidence you provided in a disgruntled Minster or official doesn’t hold water. There are also politicians who don’t want any form of aid to Africa or Ethiopia altogether. A descent by few shouldn’t give you the right to protest what has been a successful program to the people. The result of “your well meant” argument and a member of the Bundestag’s as well as the likes of Birhanu Nega would have been the slowdown or the nonexistence of all the institutions built in the last few years. That, if you ask me, would be irresponsible and cruel to the poor people of Ethiopia. I wish you will show up here and witness for yourself what is being accomplished. Seeing is believing. And I’m a believer. MelkamKen!

  16. rezene kadissaba
    | #16

    Gentet Mersha – I can only emphasis on Habtamu’s last words. Come and look for yourself. Ethiopia, like every country gives you a love/hate relationship. You are happy when things go fine ; pissed when not.
    I think most of the diaspora hates any form of government in Ethiopia because the only government they know is Derg. Derg makes you hate every institution in Eth. Now its different, the gov sometimes perform beyond your expectation and sucks at times ( eg. Media/ Comms and the justice system) But I say – come; and see – its not ‘that’ country you feel you know everything about. I live in Addis and there are places I have never seen but heard exists – Lafto, Alem Bank, Goru, Woyira Sefer.., let alone Gambella, Afar, Lets just not pretend we know it all –
    As for the single party state – ask Kinijit – we voted for them but they let our voice down. 99% of Addis voice was wasted. They wanted “all but nothing”. We voted for them to serve but they wanted the power to reveng EPRDF. I dont know why?
    Behager Ayikorefim – just come and see what’s up.

  17. Genet Mersha wrote
    | #17

    Hi Habtamu, I thank you for your explanation. I could sense that you are agonizing to make me see your point of view. Trust me, I have followed your thoughts carefully and would like to assure you i perfectly understand you. I apologize if in hte meantime I have unintentionally caused you some pain, or unconsciously transferred mine to you!

    The central point here is, however, what you rightly said: “you and I have a fundamentally different viewpoint of the current state of affairs in our country.” You are saying the regime is exerting every effort to push the country forward to development. Therefore, because of that you weigh in the direction of urging me to ignore the lack of respect for human rights. The government daily throws citizens to prison with no recourse to justice; how could one tolerate that or close his eyes when it becomes a violent state is torturing and killing, as it has shown its enormous capacity for that time and again.

    In terms of development and social services, the government relatively does what it is supposed to do. It should need credit or praises for that. However, Look at our media, the lies and denials and daily praises to the ruling party. That in the first place was the reason that has made me write the article. Although it is no fault of the journalists, the media is feeding us indigestible propaganda of the ruling party. My heart is in Ethiopia every day and I follow what is happening in the country dutifully. For me, the moment a state dares to insist citizens to think as it does, everyone is in danger.

    This does not mean that I do not like what is happening to the country in terms of its development, especially the network of roads, expanding education and power infrastructures. On that score, I constantly find myself split. At the same time, I am put of by the lack in the country of state accountability. Please note I am neither asking for a perfect democracy; nor am I absolutist in my conception of human rights.

    You are inside the country to have a closer view and experience. It took us 20 years to get where we are today. What do we see? Finally, power consolidated under a single party that has closed down the doors and windows for alternative ideas and organizations. See what is in the parliament, its 99.6 percent composition. The state and nature of its debates is horrifying. Look at our courts, the corruption and the judges’ lack of independence. Do you see anything promising?

    Under such circumstances, the efforts could be made, but Ethiopia cannot make any headway in its future as a democratic state. People do not have a say in the affairs of their country. Instead, what we witness is society being increasingly regimented. As a repressive state, I fear, Ethiopia is headed into becoming large prion for its citizens. That is why I sought Germany to open its eyes for the human rights situation in our country.

    Even in this situation, you say, “So, if the German government sees the “single party system” or “the human rights violations“ as internal affairs of Ethiopia, that should be their prerogative.” Dear Habtamu, you tell me that you have lived and worked in Germany. Does German law allow the use of taxpayers’ monies to shore up repressive states? I do not think that is the case! The present indifference is because the federal government bureaucracy has chosen the easy way out in the interest of business investments and the traditional competition with other states. Likewise, there too you refer to the Green Party member who raised the human rights issue you say: “The evidence you provided in a disgruntled Minster or official doesn’t hold water.” Ohhhhhhhhh!

    I am of the persuasion that the Germans would see better fruits for their efforts and contributions to Ethiopia’s development, if they use their influence to bear upon and ensure that the regime balances its development efforts with the needs of the human spirit for freedom and a sense of security.

    Certainly, without appropriate institutions and the rule of law, a country cannot pass the tests of respect for human rights or pave the way for building democracy. Nor could all these efforts transform society and its members, unless laws, traditions of tolerance and public opinion—which it has made sure it did not want nor needed to hear—restrain the regime and the beneficial effects accruing from the free flow of ideas is given due recognition.

    I am neither haranguing for a political cause; nor am fantasizing theory here. I have spent my youthful days in fear in Ethiopia. I have seen friends killed and imprisoned. I have learned the hard way to be afraid of a repressive state and political cadres, because I have seen first hand what they are capable of. I had lived in my young days looking behind my shoulders and reading the faces of political cadres in my workplace, to see if they had any message for me, whether they would have me imprisoned or killed for things I had not done.

    If something happens to a person because of mistaken identity, one would say he or she would have her day in court. I know it that was not the case in our country yesterday; so it is not today either. Just look into fine lines in news reports how many managers were whooped in 20 years and thrown to prison, because the ruling party cadre had something against them. Several of them were found after several years innocent of the charges, after the regime filled there posts by some it desired. IN HUMAN TERMS, WROTTEN PARTISAN POLITICS AT WORK! Therefore, I am talking here of experiences and about fear that this very regime has unleashed on Ethiopians.

    I urge you not to come back to comfort me with Ethiopia’s transformation today, interpreting my fears and experiences as passé, especially using the Ethiopian saying: “እባብ አንድ ጊዚ የነከሰው ገመድ ሲያይ ሁልጊዚ ይዘላል (Once bitten twice shy). That is not the case; in spite of the efforts of this regime at national development, its perception of democracy and human rights is regressive and at its worst analogous especially with Stalin’s era in the Soviet Union.

    The state did everything for its citizens…Stalin’s Russia was praised for the industrial advancements he introduced, while the ‘Gulag Archipelago’ kept its mouth wide open, as the nanny state one by one swallowed its courageous, best and brightest minds, who refused to stoop their wills to servitude.
    By the way, did you pay attention to the 28 March statement of the PM at the opening session of the African economic conference? For his ideological ends, the PM dismissed the role of the private sector in society. This is preceded with his wisdom early on recommending for Africa to imitate the example of China, where the state has central role in national development.

    The PM did not even draw a line defining that role, save blaming the private sector that it cannot be an ally for development in Africa. The problem in Ethiopia has been that Ato Meles Zenawi and his TPLF party are mortally opposed to creating the environment for its development, shackling it with all sorts of obstacles. Now, he seemed to take advantage to the hilt of the last three years of global financial crises to find justification for his ideological bent.

    I too believe in the role of the state in countries such as Ethiopia where society’s development is rudimentary. It is essential in building what the private sector cannot do. Ideological as this is in the ‘developmental state’s case of Ethiopia, I fear that the monopolistic state is trying to justify for its ruling party’s permanence in power. There is nothing more dangerous to members of society than this. Even in the developed countries, the power of capital is seen challenging democracy and the rule of law.

    Even in terms of national development, I fully agree with the fear of and admonition for balance expressed in that conference by the secretary-general of COMESA.

    Finally, I must point out two things about me, i did not like in your response: (i) in your opening sentence your refer to “you and your followers”. I am not sure i know i have any followers. If the point is to make political affiliations, i am not a member of any organization or social or ethnic groups, if it should give your mind some rest. (ii) You tried to use negative suasion on me, where you say: “I’m terrified to say that most of the Germans also share my assessment.” This i did not expect to you. We are not exchanging views to please or displease. I must say, i am matured person to stand without cheerleaders and to speak my mind even when people around all disagree with me. That was ineffective pressure for me that should not have been made a part of conversations!

    Abeba Habtamu, I send you my sisterly best wishes and every success in your endeavours!

  18. Habtamu/AAbeba
    | #18

    Genet, I’ve a great respect for passionate people who stand firm about the things they believed in. In that regard you won me over with your thoughtful long essays. I wish only if we all (Ethiopians) can agree to disagree, as you seem to do. Having said that, I still believe your views are somewhat distorted and don’t necessarily reflect the realty in Ethiopia. I wholeheartedly agree with you there are a lot of areas that need a lot to desire. I really feel sad such a passionate and well-read person like you is on the sidelines instead of being part of the action. We don’t have to be politicians to make a difference. I never thought the EPRDF was the perfect choice we could have. Absent of a better alternative, they are the only organized party we currently have. I have long settled for the small baby steps we are making than demanding a wholesale change. The overall direction of our progress is in the upward – from my point of view. When I said “your followers” it wasn’t meant in disparaging way. I meant to say your readers. Like it or not – from now on consider me as your new member of your followers. I’ve been plenty busy as of late to follow the current events. I do apologize for not able to comment about the PM’s speech. Well, I wish you all the best and hope to talk to you under different settings. TenaYisTilgn!

  19. ጉረኞች
    | #19

    Habtamu said “Absent of a better alternative, they are the only organized party we currently have. I have long settled for the small baby steps we are making than demanding a wholesale change.” That is one of the lame justification and punch points from Meles apologist. We’ve heard and seen the same “rational” everywhere for sustaining blood socked dictator on power. Come with different justification next time around.

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