A Rejoinder of Professor Messay’s article: “Meles’s Political Dilemma…” Seid Hassan

June 15th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

I am writing this brief note as a rejoinder to Professor Messay Kebede’s article titled as “Meles’s Political Dilemma and the Developmental State: Dead-Ends and Exit,” (as posted in http://addisvoice.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Meles-political-dilemma.pdf) and do so without overshadowing the points that Professor Messay has made and without repeating them here. My rejoinder stems from two perspectives:

1. That the ideas advanced by Professor Messay represent “out-of-the-box” thoughts, and I strongly believe that such bold “out-of-the-box” thoughts encourage discussions, which in turn could (hopefully) open the door for new thinking and new approaches/paradigms. I call upon other intellectuals, concerned citizens, opposition party members and their supporters, and even the ruling party members and its supporters to come up with new ideas of this kind (of their own), and/or entertain them, all geared towards the emancipation of Mother Ethiopia and the well-being of its people.

2. That, as I argued and stated elsewhere (see, http://ethiomedia.com/accent/yes_to_democracy.html, http://www.abugidainfo.com/?p=5578, for example), “…if the last 18 years that Ethiopia has been under the EPDRF are any witness, this country is neither in a position to mimic these countries (that is, Southeast Asia) and bring about measurable economic change, nor is the political and economic phenomena of Ethiopia comparable to those countries…” In that specific article, I listed, using a few references, particularly the extensive study made by the World Bank, the common practices of those particular countries. In short, the common policies and practices of those countries included, among other things:

a) Shared Growth which encouraged all citizens to cooperate with the ruling parties and which raised everyone’s hopes thereby encouraging them to work hard. In contrast, Ethiopia is engulfed with a highly discriminatory system that is dangerously widening the income gaps between the haves and the have-nots, the major beneficiaries being EPRDF leaders and regional kingmakers. The others are:

b) Increased accumulation of human capital;

c) Rapid accumulation of physical capital;

d) Rapid growth of manufactured exports; and

e) Targeting Specific Industrial Policies and Avoiding Rent-Seeking;

f) Stable Macroeconomic Environments. None of these are being replicated in Ethiopia, nor does Mr. Zenawi’s highly corrupt system fit “Developmental State” that was applied Southeast Asia. What is created in Ethiopia is a rather peculiar (opaque) rent-seeking and highly greedy system which has completely stifled free enterprise and freedom, where the TPLF owns and operates numerous key business sectors, the sole beneficiaries being party leaders and their followers, including the members of the military leadership.

One more point is in order here: As I understood from the segment of his analysis that deals with the “Developmental State”, I do not believe, as some readers may be mistakenly inclined to think, that Professor Messay believes Mr. Zenawi’s “Developmental State” theory and practice is either the “preferred” method to other alternatives or the panacea for Ethiopia’s ills. I, for one, do not believe that authoritarian systems, particularly as exemplified by the practice of Zenawi’s “Developmental State” ideology and practice, do a better job of promoting economic growth and stability, for the empirical evidence testifies otherwise. It is just that, given the political and economic circumstances and realities that Ethiopia is in, one cannot jump to the “Promised Land” without understanding these realities and creating the necessary conditions for the transitions.

  1. DAN
    | #1

    One thing I noticed about Prof. Hassen 2008 write up is, he was still riding high on Kinijit and the opposition achievements of 2005 and didn’t realize they have probably as much or worst weaknesses than the Meles Dictatorship.

    That said, the country has a potential of getting into a civil war and with the internal tensions of Ethnic Liberation movements into worst crises. Dr. Hassan’s “democracies” are not suited in resolving such tensions as good as a Developmental Dictatorship.

    History shows such conflicts are resolved in a more definite way with Dictatorships because in Democracy ethnic parties wait until conditions are met for them to come to power and once they do, take revenge on the other group thus upping the conflict between groups. EPLF made Ethiopia land locked taking advantage of “democratic coalitions”. More people were killed after Eritrea’s independence that the period of Haile Selassie and Derg combined.

    While in Dictatorship the ruler has total power and won’t allow power quotas. We can not afford to count on OLF or ONLF to do better than EPLF in my opinion therefore, Prof. Messay’s approach is a better alternative for Ethiopia.

    Dictatorship has worked in Latin America years right after independence with all kind of internal struggles among “warlords” escalating. Venezuela instability ended by the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gomez 1908 and 1935 as an example. The Meles Dictatorship can play a similar role.

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