2012 – The year to clean house By Dereje D.
The presidential election in the US is going to be the highlight of 2012 without a doubt. I cannot help myself but wonder why the Unites States only has 2 major parties. As an epic of democracy, one should assume it should have hundreds if not thousands of parties contending for the ultimate power. Yet we have two parties, republican and democratic, with sharp ideological differences on how to lead the country. Arise of a third party with a more or less similar ideology will severely hurt one or the other party in splitting the voter base along minor differences, unless of course this new party has its own ideology that can be sharply distinguishable from the other two. This has been evidenced in 2000 by Ralph Nader (Green Party) and Ross Perot (Reform Party) and in 1996. Both these individuals ran for the office of the president as third party candidates, having similar ideas to the democratic party and the republican party respectively. In the 2000 presidential election, George Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes in Florida.
Nader received more than 97,000 votes most of which would otherwise have gone Gore’s way. He was even dubbed as a ‘spoiler’ who changed the outcome of the election. Although not having the same impact as Nader due to the electoral college rules, in 1996 Ross Perot also had more than 8% of the popular vote which are mostly believed to be going the Republicans way.
Ethiopia currently has 92 different parties and ONE ruling party. Assuming that half of these parties are EPRDF incubated, the other 45 or so are true opposition parties genuinely believing that the ruling party EPRDF needs to hand over power to the people and free and democratic Ethiopia for all. One thing they are not realizing is that they are actually weakening the struggle instead of strengthening it. Their very existence is the reason that the struggle is not able to move one single step. They are the ‘spoilers’ of progress. The last time that we have witnessed a real political movement towards democratic pathway was in 2005 when the parties united and formed one single front. It can be debated as to the pros and cons of that unity, its implementation and demise, but one fact that cannot be refuted is that there was no confusion as to which side the people should stand. Yes indeed they stood by their party Kinijit with their lives! The choice was very clear, free and democratic society vs. anarchy, no ambiguity.
A lot have been said about the necessity of unity, that the opposition struggle cannot succeed if there is no unity amongst the parties. I will take it one step forward and say we should start killing these parties one by one as they are detrimental to the struggle. Not only we will not succeed if they don’t unite, we are not succeeding because of them if they don’t unite. Their very existence by itself is aiding and abating the enemy (the ruling party). They are the reasons for resource and base fragmentation and thereby loss of focus. Just like two companies that are not performing well, they need to be in ‘forced merger’ phase. We are in an emergency state right now and cannot afford their existence as an entity.
How can we accomplish this killing?
One way would be to demand all opposition political parties to publish their ideas, programs, and strategies that distinguish them from one another (I hope they know it!). No, we do not want the common themes, we know them well, ‘we struggle for liberty, democracy, free judicial system, etc..’. What we want is bullet points and clearly written lines, ‘our party differs from so and so by the following points…’. This will enable all Ethiopians to understand and ask relevant questions demanding more explanation.
Another way which can be supplemented with my previous point is to summon the party leaders and members together in one room and have an open debate (can be done two or three parties at a time). No, I don’t mean a meeting or conference where one party leader speaks for hours. This is a debate where forum organizers, members and the public ask questions and the leaders answer and have a live debate. Thanks for living in a free society, we have been able to witness this.
In 2012, the number one priority of the Ethiopian opposition struggle should be killing the 92 parties one by one like popcorn. Parties, whose highest priority is not ‘merger with like minded parties’ should be chocked of their resources and wither away.
In 2012, Ethiopians both in Diaspora as well as in the battle field, should stop signing up for membership into any party but be highly involved in the killing process. We can’t get into a broken house before fixing it! Party members should also begin flocking out of these parties or start the arm twisting of their leaders.
In 2012, we cannot miss the change the world is undergoing and have to be operating in emergency mode. The common wisdom that states everyone should be supporting a political group or party to pay his or her share of the struggle, does not work in this mode. Now we should all focus on eliminating the 92-faced cancer within us.