Modifying the ‘One Size Fits All’ Good Governance Agenda for Ethiopia By Desta Asayehgn

March 19th, 2016 Print Print Email Email


As advocated by neo-liberal entities, the agenda of good governance is grounded on democratic principles that create on-going interaction processes that are supposed to solidify, governmental structures, functions and practices of the state and its people. As the a key driver to economic growth to alleviate poverty in developing countries, the interaction process of good governance embeds core guidelines that include, the rule of law, citizen participation, transparency, accountability, and elimination of corruption.

Given that the democratization process and the components of good governance are central to the achievement of development goals for the twenty-first century (Punyaratabandhu, 2004), it is either naïveté or arrogance not to defend the concept of good governance. On the other hand, it is wishful thinking to accept good governance as a guide for all developing countries because it is based on abstract concepts beyond the capability of some developing countries for them to create a better public life. Moreover, because good governance requires a decision-making process, its agenda of cannot be imposed from the outside. Rather, it has to be accepted and practiced according to the needs of its stakeholders from the inside. Otherwise, they remain dependent on the existing capitalist order that requires hegemony based on apatron-client relationship.

A review of the literature indicates that protagonists strongly claim that the agenda of good governance has worthy goals not only in itself but also as a means through which it would enable economic growth and development in less developed countries. As discussed by Sachs (2015) the three pillars of sustainable development are economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. They require good governance with rules of behavior to play a central role in order to achieve sustainable development goals. Similarly, studying 17 emerging countries in Africa, Radelet (2010) demonstrates that a shift toward democracy in African countries has been accompanied by a measureable improvement in the quality of governance.

Based on theoretical arguments, opponents of good governance critically argue that the underlying theoretical basis of good governance is based on Western social order. Good governance establishes a bondage system between administrators and citizens. Based on the bondage system that exists between donors and recipients of aid, pessimists strongly argue that government officials of developing countries cannot use their own institutions to formulate pro-poor policies because they are not accountable to their citizens. In addition, opponents assert that corrupt officials in some developing countries have the tendency to badly hinder development efforts by stealing aid contributions or misdirecting the aid money into unproductive activities (Gisselquist, 2012). Grindle (2010) also argues that the “…the elites who dominate such governments are not always interested in improving governance, as this could easily limit their power and access to rents and resources.”

Interestingly enough, even the USAID (2013) that asserts good governance is the cardinal underlying basis for development, claims that development goals of a number of developing countries are undermined by the corrosive impact of corruption. Pursing further this kind of argument, the USAID (2013) claims that corrupt elites in some developing countries not only capture state benefits and indulge in unaccountable governance, but also divert the scarce national resources from development projects to their private gain because of the lack of a transparent governance system that does not require accountability to local citizens.

From a methodological standpoint, the opponents of good governance argue that the concept of good governance is not applicable to sustainable development because its indicators are formulated in such away to make that the recipients willingly or unwillingly subscribe to the donors’ normative or value judgments. Going one step further they claim that neoliberal models introduce political conditions based on Western liberal values of democracy tailored to deepen the dependency of the aid recipient countries (Nanda,2006; Kofi and Desta; 2008; and NEPAD,2007).

Based on the assumption that aid donors generally create long lasting dependence of the borrowing countries, the opponents of good governance argue that when developing countries borrow or receive assistance from aid-giving agencies, they are given no choice but to follow the lead of the neo-liberal Washington Consensus Model (Adetula, 2011). In addition, opponents argue that without understanding what good governance is because of the lack of clarity and what it means to different organizations and participants, and how good governance is measured, developing countries are destined to pursue the ideals of liberal democracy depicted for them by the strategies of good governance. Actually, when developing countries attempt to navigate through good governance, they could outpace their limited resources and eventually sink into dependency (Gisselquist, 2012; Grindle, 2008; Schmitz, 2007).

The purpose of this case study is to show that since the agenda of good governance is designed as ‘one size fits all,’ it is not contextualor compatible with Ethiopia’s cultural realities. The second part of the paper presents a brief historical review of current Ethiopian history. The third section of paper presents the theoretical underpinnings of the model of good governance as set by donors and the adherents of neo-liberal democratic ideology. Grounded on African communal consensus–building approaches, section four of the paper develops the applicability of grass roots democracy or democratic autonomous self-rule federalism as an alternative to the agenda of good governance for Ethiopia’s ethno-federal system. The last part of the paper suggests some desirable and feasible policies for untangling ethno-federal Ethiopia from some of the malaise of mal-administration and the developmental problems that it is currently facing.

Contemporary Ethiopia

After the collapse of the Military Government in 1991, Ethiopia has undergone three challenging transformations: ethnic federalism with the right of self-determination, including the right to secession; a developmental democratic state system of governance; and a democratic devolution, each to become the governance system at the grassroots level (woreda) of its administration structure.
To ensure national consolidation, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) vigorously redefined Ethiopia’s political landscape into ethnic federalism and restructured the state into the contemporary Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.The EPRDF subdivided the Ethiopian polity into nine asymmetrical, ethnic-based regional states and two federal city-states that included the city of Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. To further assure self-rule and ascertain confidence in the nation and in the people of Ethiopia, each regional state was assured the unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession.
Following the examples of Taiwan and South Korea’s strategy of mapping industrial policy, Ethiopia established the ground work necessary for a developmental state with a government planning policy, or designating the intervention of the government in designing the country’s economic system. However, realizing that multilateral, bilateral, and donor countries would not lend aid unless the aid recipient countries agreed to abide by the blueprints of good governance, the Ethiopian government slowly revised its socialistic orientation and undertook a tactical view by openly propagating the idea that it was possible to achieve developmental state, and the country could transition into democracy, accepting the agenda of “good governance” in order to receive assistance from bilateral and multilateral agencies.

In 2001, the EPRDF further embarked on the devolution of powers and responsibilities of the woreda, or lower level of administration. As highlighted by Assefa (2015), the 1991 manifestation of decentralization was aimed at creating and empowering national and regional states of governments, whereas as the second phase of decentralization extended the devolution of powers to the woreda.

A cursory look at the state affairs now clearly indicates that Ethiopian politicians and bureaucrats seem to be ‘playing with the rules rather than playing by the rules.’As a result, more recently, a number of regional governments in Ethiopia have been stepping up the assessment of their management strategies. To curtail some of the mal-administrative practices riddled with dramatically flourishing corruption for instance, the Tigraye Regional States summoned a regional conference towards the end of 2015 to assess the serious administrative challenges and systematically evaluate the implementation of the agendas for good governance. Citing various upheavals that occurred in the Oromia Region and in particular the eviction of the Oromio farmers from their farm lands, Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalgne has straight-forwardly stated that Ethiopia was suffering from the problems of governance, and that by evicting the helpless Oromio tenants from their land has alienated the social base of the EPRDF Party (The Guardian, March 9, 2016). To expedite the processes of good governance that it had previously accepted, Ethiopia has declared the Year 2015/16 as the “Year of Good Governance.”

Literature Review

Over the years, a number of donor institutions and countries have conceptualized “good governance” as a catchy phrase designed to achieve their own goals and at the same time, improve the quality of the recipient countries. As shown in Table 1, there is no consensus among donors of a working definition of good governance that could help to classify which countries should be classified as well-governed or poorly governed. Actually, as it stand now, the working definitions and components of a good governance agenda set by donors may mean different things to aid-bestowing institutions and the aid-receiving countries.

For example, after having studied the economic and political crisis in Sub-Saharan African countries in 1989, the World Bank suggested that the conditions of good governance need to be established for bestowing assistance to African countries. As a means to explore the Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic and political conditions, the Bank used the country Policy and Institutional Assessments (CIPA) index. The CIPA Index was composed of four clusters (economic management, structural policies, policies for social inclusions/equity, and the public sector management and institutions), which was further divided into 20 items. That is, the CIPA indicator included: economic management (four items); structural policies (six items); policies for social inclusions/equity (five items); and public sector management and institutions (five items). However, as argued by Punyaratabandhu (2004), since good governance is a floating concept, “New items may be added to the CPIA index, and old ones removed, from time to time, but the total number always remains 20 items.” The major weakness of the CPIA methodology is that the index was based on assessment by the World Bank staff rather than by impartial external professionals (Punyaratabandhu, 2004). As noted above, the quality of the policy was based on staff assessments, and the assessment technique lacked validity. Three of the four clusters were related to creating favorable conditions for the private sector, rather than measuring governance in the sense of the state’s relationship with civil society. For example, developmental states were not objectively measured (Schmitz, 2007, Punyaratabandhu, 2004).

In addition, the World Bank assessment tools seemed to be based on moral value judgments. The agenda of good governance tries to distinguish between the good, the bad and the evil. As stated by Shivji (2003), the good governance concept as used by the World Bank rests on political conditionality. Its technical tools are generally administered by global hegemonies which undermine the sovereignty of African nations. Being the major donor organization, the World Bank has used its financial leverage to reduce the role of African states to become functionaries. The result is that it has made Africa’s struggle for democracy rely on the whims of the donor states and donations given.

In general, instead of identifying and mapping out where the aid recipient country is currently now and where it is going, the good governance indices and assessments tools are designed to closely indicate the interest of the aid donor agencies. That is, the good governance assessment techniques are not contextually located and are not made country specific. For example, though China has been demonstrating a very robust economy for more two decades, it is likely to be evaluated as having a weak governance system. Furthermore, the indicators are not operationally defined in order to ascertain who would decide what the outcomes would be. That is, it would it be left up to the donor or the recipient to assess the outcomes of good governance.

In short, since the good governance indicators are not derived from a theoretical framework, the indicators don’t systematically demonstrate that the underlying processes, mechanisms, institutions, and the end state of a nation, suggest an appropriate time frame over which the agenda of good governance needs to be evaluated. For example, the United Nations strongly argues that good governance deepens democracy in a fragmented world and assumes that good governance eradicates poverty and promotes development. Based on this assumption, the United Nations relies on using seven complex and disjointed indicators to assess the application of good governance by the aid receiving countries (UNDP, 2002). At the same time, it is difficult and too absurd to implement good governance because the directions set for the recipient countries are too vague in their instructions and don’t elaborate what goals can actually be achieved, and when.

As said by Grindle (2010), maybe good governance is as important as many other good ideas but it is not a magic bullet. For instance, as set by the donor countries, the obligations of good governance call for: a) the institutions in the recipient countries to set the rules for economic and political interaction; b) decision-making structures in the recipient countries to determine priorities among public problems and allocate resources to respond to them; c) recipient countries to have organizations, administrative management systems, and deliver goods and services to their citizens; and d) human resources that staff government bureaucracies in the recipient countries to handle effective interface of officials and citizens in political and bureaucratic arenas ( Grindle 2010).

Realizing the limited resources that developing countries have, a branch of the United Nations, the United Nation Development Programs (UNDP) focuses on differentiating between objective indicators, such as economic performance, and the subjective indicators that reflect respondent opinions and perceptions (Punyaratabandhu, 2004). The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) uses five indicators that pertain to good governance, and also forwards goals that need to be accomplished in the future. Given its ideological orientation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on the other hand gives support to a number of developing countries that are going through transitional democracy, cherishing the rule of law, respecting human rights and individual freedom, as well as abiding by the rules of the free market to achieve their socioeconomic development (USAID, 2013).

Table 1: Components of Good Governance

Democracy, inclusive political participation, pluralism Human rights Promotes Rules of law Governing systems that can combat corruption, price systems. Capable, Effective & efficient management Transparency &, accountability Reform public institutions/
Representative legislation, independent judiciary
Achieve, process, outcomes economic development Visionary or look forward, Social, responsive, equity to its people
World Bank X X X X
United Nations X X X X X X X
Inter-ADB) X X X X
European Commission

Source: Compiled from Rachel M. Gisselquist, “Good Governance as a Concept,and Why this Matters for Development Policy”. United Nations University, World Institute for Development Economic Research. March 2012.

Based on their specialty, the African Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Development Bank, (ADB), and Inter-American Bank (IAB) stress accountability, transparency, combating corruption, achieving social policy for equity, assistance for infrastructure, economic development, and the manner in which a country exercises the management and implementation of a just, legal and judicial framework, to bestow the necessary financial aid. In short, as stated by Parhasarathy (2005), the ADBs and IAB seem to be more interested in economic governance or a sound development management system to assess good governance.

To summarize, the “good governance” concept has been evolving for many years. The donor institutions generally assume that promoting good governance in developing countries is the primary focus of their agendas (Gisselquist, 2012). Nevertheless, as mentioned before, their stance of good governance is based on normative value judgments. It epitomizes Western thinking and is based on Western history and culture. Not only does good governance as a concept epitomize Western values but knowingly or unknowingly it is financed to spread neoliberal ideas that might prolong dependency. Conceptually, good governance is a list that lacks coherence among its components. As a result, it has created methodological problems. That is, unless development practitioners can “… develop valid measurements, they cannot know that the empirical relationships they observe between variables are meaningful.” (Gisselquist, 2012).
As argued by Parthasarathy (2005), rather than dismissing non-Western cultures as anti-democratic and not suitable for good governance, by hiding their beliefs it seems that the aid donor entities have been engaged to work with existing institutions, practicing to promote development, and enhancing choice and freedom for individuals and groups. Just by ascertaining the fulfillment of political conditionality, the donor agencies have been busy donating funds and capital to the recipient countries. With little or no understanding of the establishment of local cultures necessary for a democratic governance system, nevertheless the agendas of good governance have been implanted in a number of developing countries. Given the intolerable conditions imposed on the developing countries, it needs to be stated at this juncture that the recipient countries have been accepting funds from the donor agencies instead of internally generating the funds themselves.

More specifically, when giving assistance to Ethiopia, the donor entities should have known in advance that the political culture of the Ethiopian people is by and large based on communal orientation. Given this, the neo-liberal Western values couldn’t coexist with Ethiopian values. Instead of attempting to build a synergy between the developmental states of the Ethiopian states and the donor agencies, in the name of good governance the donor agencies have imposed their own cultural values on the recipient countries (Adetula,2011).

Therefore, if Ethiopia is to accept Western assistance, it needs to examine critically the Western capitalist economic theories, because they were developed for a different social order. Ethiopian policy makers need to modify the ‘one size fits all’ in order to adapt and use only the most relevant aspects for Ethiopian culture and its way of living. In the section that would follow in the future, an attempt will be made to explore the suitability and feasibility of Democratic autonomous self-rule Federalism or as it is known in political science jargon, the Consociationalism type of democracy for the Federal Republic of Ethiopia.

Adetula, Victor A.O (2011). “Measuring Democracy and ‘Good Governance’ in Africa: A Critique of Assumptions and Methods [Chapter 2].” NIGERIAN INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (NIIA).
Araia, G. (2013). Ethiopia: Democracy, Devolution of Power, &The Developmental State.” New York: Institute of Development & Education for Africa
AssefaFiseha (2007): Federalism and the Accommodation of Diversity in Ethiopia. A Comparative Study. Nijmegen: Wolf Legal Publishers.

Barnett, C. Henry P. Minis, and VanSant J (December 1997). Democratic Decentralization.Research Triangle Institute.

Bergman, A. (Spring 2011). Ethnic Federalism in Nepal: A Remedy for a Stagnating Peace Process or an Obstacle to Peace and Stability?Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University

Clark, P and Foweraker, J. (2001).Encyclopedia of Democratic Thought, (eds) London: Rout Ledge.
Desta, A. ( August, 15, 2015). “Economic Growth and Governance in Ethiopia: An Observation.” Ethiopian Observer.

Fleiner, T. (November 2006). “Challenges of Devolution and Power Sharing Structures in Federations.” Paper for the Conference of SAIS and SOAS, London, November 17-19th, 2006.

Gisselquist, R. M (March 2012). “Good Governance as a Concept, and Why This Matters for Development Policy.” United Nations University-World Institute for Development Economic Research, Working Paper No. 2012/30.
Grindle, M. ( June 2010). “Good Goernance: The Inflation of an Idea”. Faculty Research Working Paper Series, Harvard Kennedy School,RWP10-023.
Howe, Philip J. “ Imperial Austria as a Precursor to Consociational Democracy.” Http: // –visiting –fellows-conference/ Avialable at 2 February, 2015.

Kofi, T. and Desta,A. (2008).The Saga of African Underdevelopment: A Viable Approach for Africa’s Sustainable Development in the 21st Century. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Lijphart, A (1968). The Politics of Accommodation: Pluralism and Democracy in the Netherlands. Berkeley: University of California.

Lijphart, Arend (1977). Democracy in Plural Societies: A comparative explanation. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Nanda, V. (2006). “The “Good Governance” Concepts Revised”. Annuals of the Amrican Academy of Political and Social Science. 603:269-83.
NEPAD (2007). “Governance in Africa’s Development: Progress, Prospects, and Challenges.” Thematic paper prepared by the NEPAD Secretariat, in conjunction with African Peer Review Secretariat and in consultations with the African Union Commission, for the 9th African Partnership Forum, Algiers, Algeria, 12-13, November.
Parthasarathy, D (2005). “Taking responsibilities and participation seriously: A Critique of Good Governance.”Available , January 15, 2016.
Punyyaratabandhu, S. (2004). Commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction: methodological issues in the evaluation of progress at the national and local levels”.Economic & Social Affairs.CDP Background Paper No. 4.
Radelet, S. (2010).Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries are leading the Way.Center for Global Development. Washington DC.
Sachs, Jeffery, D. (2015).The Age of Sustainable Development.New York: Columbia University Press,
Schmitz, T. (May 29, 2007). “The good, the bad, and the governance” the Broker.
Selassie, Alemante G (2003). “Ethnic Federalism: Its Promises and Pitfalls for Africa. The Yale Journal of International Law, Vol. 28, pp.51-107.

Shivji, I. (2003). “ The Struggle for Democracy “. As quoted by Gisselquist, R. M (March 2012). “Good Governance as a Concept, and Why This Matters for Development Policy.” United Nations University-World Institute for Development Economic Research, Working Paper No. 2012/30.
Taylor, R (1992). “South Africa: Consociational Path to Peace?” Transformation 17.

The Guardian (March 9, 2016). “Ethiopian Prime Minister: “We are an island of stability in a trouble region: Reed Kramer for AllAfrica, part of the Guardian development network.
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D C.
Van Hoek (1993). “Africa in Search of Institutional Revival”: The Courier. No. 138, March-April, p. 67-70.
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Desta, Asayehgn- Sarlo Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Economic Development, Barowsky School of Business, Dominican University of California

  1. ttika
    | #1

    Tigre liberation front has divided the country into ethnic killils, where only one or in some case 2 or 3 ethnic groups are allowed to live in designated areas. anybody else that do not belong to that ethnic group is not allowed to live in that killil or to set up business or to work there. this practically means that somebody that do not belong to the ethnic group in a particular killil is regarded as a foreigner. we are very loosely connected as a country but at the same time these ethnic killils are not fully independent ethnic states. it is a half way house arrangement.
    tplf designed such a satanic plan to prepare the way for its own exit ,if things do not work in its favour.

    looking at what happened in the last 25 years of ethnic politics, the best solution would be to divide the country following the model of former Yugoslavia. that means each ethnic group would have its own independent state.

    people groups who want to remain Ethiopians, would have their share of the land.

    the current ethnic killil arrangement set up by tigre liberation front is unfair , biased, undemocratic, unjust, conceived satanically and is not acceptable. for example, there are ethnic groups lumped together in one ethnic killil who should have their own state.

    a solution can be worked out by involving the UN ,African Union or others to help the partiton of Ethiopia,as in the case of Yugoslavia. THIS IS THE way forward.

  2. Dawi
    | #2

    Dear ttika,

    One shouldn’t despair of a transitional “ethnic federation” back home while living in North America, US in particular, a country where Democracy advanced and built on ethnic cleansing of Native American with a constitution drafted by a slave owner named Thomas Jefferson? Should s/he? One should also have in mind that it was only in the 1960′s and 1970′s that people rose against racial injustice and sexual discrimination that enabled to give some space to an African diaspora such as yourself. :)

    Ethiopians rising and forming a new Ethiopian federation against past high handed assimilation of faith and cultural communities and championing the equality and freedom of its diverse people is not something to be depressed about is what I am trying to tell you.

    Accepting diversity is a way to transform old bitter nationalist and class conflict that was threatening the very existence of our country.

    Why should one expect DS to be a cake walk and make a wish the worst as in Yugoslavia? Why are you dumping cold water on Prof. Desta’s serious analysis on DS and “good governance”??

    The idea of DS is to organize the multi national peasantry with access to education and transform the agrarian sector to support industrialization. Once substantial amount of the population is out of poverty it will engage in a genuine choice of exercising its rights and freedoms.

    In Democratic Developmental State we can say we have found a way to overcome the seemingly hostile situation of ethnic conflict we are in towards democracy and social justice.

  3. Alem
    | #3

    Dear Prof. Asayehgn,
    You correctly begin your argument with the statement that “rule of law, citizen participation, transparency, accountability, and elimination of corruption” are core principles for economic growth, poverty alleviation and good governance. You have stood by these principles throughout most of your academic career. But then you realized you had a problem on your hands; the ruling elite in Ethiopia is from your village, Tigray. I am sorry but one cannot help but notice the ethnic lens you are wearing is greatly diminishing your ability to think straight or defend your honor. Having made a statement of universal value and application above you take twists and turns in defense of the ruling party. You write, “it is wishful thinking to accept good governance as a guide for all developing countries because it is based on abstract concepts beyond the capability of some developing countries for them to create a better public life. Moreover, because good governance requires a decision-making process, its agenda of cannot be imposed from the outside. Rather, it has to be accepted and practiced according to the needs of its stakeholders from the inside. Otherwise, they remain dependent on the existing capitalist order that requires hegemony based on a patron-client relationship.” This is extraordinary and sheer madness. It is true application of any model should consider realities on the ground. But what I see you argue is literally clearing the indefensible prejudices and criminal activities Ethiopia’s ruling party/Tplf is engaged in. What part of corruption, transparency, accountability, and citizen participation do you not understand? Meles Zenawi’s wife has been running a ring of corrupt businesses [without the knowledge of her husband because he was busy running scenarios and a jail system]; EFFORT remains unaudited by a credible agency.

    Tplf boss Abay Tsehaye was caught on tape ranting that any opposition to land use around Addis will not be tolerated months before he ordered massacre of 200 unarmed citizens. You came alongside Tplf-rule to defend the heinous crime by suggesting Oromiya region should be “further divided into manageable autonomous democratic units.” Tplf rulers now have divided up the area and assigned several army divisions under Tigryan generals! Abay Tsehaye is still in office. The details of the massacre is shoved under the rug. Two lower-ranked Oromo leaders were sacked [because they should not have allowed the protest to go on even if it had meant killing more people].

    Now you bring us the news that PM Hailemariam has declared 2015/2016 “the Year of Good Governance.” Can you tell your readers a year that was not declared as such following a public protest, an election, and a feud within the party? Try to be honest.

    You seem to detest “neo-liberal” “West” to argue these “abstract” concepts are foreign and should not be imposed. You never could convince anyone, however, if there ever were concepts that are not “abstract” to begin with. And then you contradict yourself by “Following the examples of Taiwan and South Korea’s strategy of mapping industrial policy.” By merely changing to Asia from the West you erroneously assumed you are making a sensible argument. What you and [the late Meles] forget is the Asian cultures and geography of the two nations mentioned are significant enough to make the comparison indefensible. Remember any aid is conditioned on certain values of the donor. What is going for Ethiopia is not that donors [US/UK/WB] have forgone their values but that the business of terrorism is creating an environment for leniency. Tplf-rule has exploited fears of the West by supplying “peace-keeping” forces for Somalia and South Sudan projects, by hosting “criminals” in exchange for millions. That is why USAID is going out of its way to rush emergency food supply to save the skin of its “key ally.”

    What saddens me is that you do know the facts but choose to argue in the interest of extending the corrupt and exclusionary Tplf-rule. You could play so much good to make life manageable for millions who are being cheated out of their rights and in despair flee their own country in the tens of thousands. Tigrayans could do business everywhere whereas others are limited to their region. You talk about “federal” arrangement as if the reality is not that Tplf-rule does take it back those “rights” whenever it deemed it necessary. Just look at who are “special advisers” to PM Hailemariam: Arkebe, Abay, Bereket, Berhane, DebreTsion, etc. I am hoping to prick your conscience to help you see this is not how you realize citizen participation. Ethiopia belongs to all Ethiopians and there are many qualified in the country if that is the real interest of the ruling party! Of course there is the perennial deception that governance in a nation of 93 millions and 80+ language groups is by default “untidy;” and that Tplf has come a long way from Derg era atrocities. How long is long way? Take corruption; corruption now is unimaginable during the fascistic Derg era. Prostitution and drug ring, money-laundering and out-migration and now famine are elephantine to hide them in closets. I urge you and your colleagues to come out of your ethnic shell and defend human rights of all Ethiopians. Let me add this. I am not denying good things have been undertaken in many areas. The problem is that each event is made to serve to keep power within a small group. Perhaps equally destructive is the narrative of so-called Opposition [without purpose or coherent means to achieve it].

  4. Alem
    | #4

    There is nothing abstract about bringing looters of state treasury before a court of law and recoup the stolen money and putting them behind bars. There is nothing abstract about NOT allowing an individual [DebreTsion] in charge of four powerful state organizations for which he is not trained or experienced. There is nothing abstract about NOT disproportionately doling out licenses to Tplf members, etc. All the talk about citizen participation, rule of law, transparency, etc is a simple concept of universal value. These are NOT “western” values per se. Obviously, implementation is not going to be easy – anywhere. On the hand, undermining those values by using them for political ends is not going to realize social or economic justice for all.

  5. አዚብ ረታ ወንድሙ
    | #5

    በአዲስአበባ እና በክልል ዋና ዋና ጅምላ ማከፋፈያ ቦታዎች የሚካሄደው ሽያጭ ማዕከላዊ የግብይት ስርዓት ያልጠበቀ አሰራር በመሆኑ በገንዘብ ደረሰኝ መመዝገቢያ ማሽን (ካስሪጂስተር) ለመስራት ትልቅ ችግር እየፈጠረ መሆኑን ተጠቃሚዎች ተናገሩ፡፡፤በአዲስ አበባ በአስመጭና አከፋፋይነት በስፋት እየሰሩ ባሉት የስርዓቱ ሰዎች ላይ የሚደረገው ክትትልና ቁጥጥር የላላ በመሆኑ በደረሰኝ ለመግዛት ከፍተኛ ችግር እየደረሰባቸው መሆኑን በአማራ ክልል የሚገኙ ነጋዴዎች ይናገራሉ፡፡
    በኢህአዴግ ንብረትነት በሚተዳደረው የአምባሰል ንግድ ስራዎች ድርጅት በብቸኝነት በሚቀርበው የገንዘብ ደረሰኝ መመዝገቢያ ማሽን (ካሽሪጂስተር) ለመስራት የማይችሉበት ደረጃ ላይ መድረሳቸውን በአማራ ክልል የሚገኙ ነጋዴዎች ተናግረዋል፡፡
    በሃገሪቱ ያለው የንግድ አሰራር ስርዓት ወጥ ባለመሆኑ በደረሰኝ አሰጣጥ ዙሪያ ችግር እንደፈጠረባቸው የሚናገሩት ነጋዴዎች
    አብዛኛው ዕቃ ያለደረሰኝ ለሚገዙ ነጋዴዎች እንደሚመቻች የሚናገሩት ተጨማሪ እሴት ከፋይ ነጋዴዎች ደረሰኝ እንዲጻፍላቸው ሲፈልጉም ዋጋውን በግማሽ በመቀነስ ስለሚጽፉባቸው የገንዘብ ደረሰኝ መመዝገቢያ ማሽን ተጠቅመው ለመስራት ችግር እንደሆነባቸው ገልጸዋል፡፡
    “ያለደረሰኝ በመግዛት ያለደረሰኝ የሚሸጡ የደረጃ ሐ ነጋዴዎች ስላሉ ታላላቆቹ አከፋፋዮች ሸቀጣቸውን ለእነርሱ መሸጥ እንጅ ለእኛ መሸጥ አይፈልጉም፡፡” የሚሉት ቅሬታ አቅራቢ ነጋዴ ፣ አብዛኛውን ጊዜ ደረሰኝ ለሚጠይቁ ሰዎች እቃው እያለ “የለም !” በማለት እንደሚመልሷቸው ይናገራሉ፡፡
    “የገዥው መንግስት በየወረዳው ያለውን ነጋዴ ለማስመረርና ከስራ ውጭ ለማድረግ ባልተስተካከለ የንግድ ግብይት ስርኣት የገንዘብ ደረሰኝ መመዝገቢያ ማሽን እንድንጠቀም ያስገድደናል፡፡” በማለት የሚናገሩት ቅሬታ አቅራቢ “በዋናዋና ከተሞች የሚካሄደውን ዓይን ያወጣ ዝርፊያና ያለደረሰኝ ሽያጭ ግን ሆን ብሎ ችላ በማለቱ ስራችንን ለማቆም እየተገደድን ነው፡፡” በማለት በምሬት ይናገራሉ፡፡

  6. aha!
    | #6

    Desta Asayeghn, there is no talk of Good Governance on the existing ideology of ethnic federalism, secessionism built into the constitution, creating confrontation between Ethiopian Nationalism and ethnic federalism,(art. 46) secessionism (art 39 (1) totalitarianism (art 40) and developmental state capitalism that denies free market capitalism at least it terms of private ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia and individual freedom prevails over ethnic and secessionist rights, and party alignments along national agenda to establish people oriented rather ethnic oriented government in a liberal and/or social democracy. That paradigm is only met for all opposition parties with ethnic agenda supporting the current constitution and the TPLF/eprdf regime that has perpetrated human rights violations, economic, political and environmental crises against the majority of Ethiopians consigned under Ethiopian Nationalism. You are touting for good governance against this background from the sounding board supporting the existing constitution and ideology(ies) It is like eating your cake and have it too. The same opinion applies to Professor Messay Kebede, prof. Tesgaye Ararssa and Obo Abrham lebeza for his artcle “hige Mengistu yikeber and for the OPDO/EFDF/Medrek/fdre, which is engaged in a peacefull struggle in terms of the goals for ethnic rights: the rights to ethnic-self rule and ethnic self-determination, “yekilil mengistats iqulinet mebit mekeber”, human rights, a common denominator, and democracy to be supper imposed over ethnic rule minority now and majority ethnic rule in the future. There is no condition for suggesting good governance unless people oriented government is created under Ethiopian Nationalism of Ethiopia as one Nation State like the united states, by ratifying the constitution formatted after the ex-Soviet Socialist Republic, which stipulates the rights to self-rule and self determination of existing states to apply for newly created ethnic enclaves/boundaries for Ethiopia, which has served as a prelude to ethnic secessionism, ethnic boundary conflict in the future, ethnic cleansing followed by genocide, out migration for slave labor. Expecting good governance is like treating the symptoms rather than the cause to a disease. I believe a sizable number/majority of Oromos and amharas are also committed to Ethiopian Nationalism from the perspective of the current turmoil over the expansion of Addis Abeba into the surrounding towns of “Oromo Killil Astedader/Oromia” than ethnic federalism, secessionism, totalitarianism and/or developmental state capitalism to live in a liberal and/or social democracy in a people-oriented government that rules by the consent of governed than ethnic-rule minority now with majority ethnic rule in the future.

  7. ttika
    | #7

    Dawi, with due respect,my point is that there is so much hatred and a desire to annihilate each other in this beautiful country where we and our ancestors paid a huge price to build. it makes me sad that we have to go this road.
    ethnic politics has taken such a grip in the minds of people that we have forgotten we are one country Ethiopia.
    100s of thousands of people, if not millions have already died as a result of ethnic conflict incited and sponsored by tplf.

    if people are fed up to live together and resort to killing each other and being chased out of villages and towns where they lived for generations ,simply because they happen to be members of one or another ethnic group , one has to reach a conclusion that, to preserve themselves they have to do something.
    There is no need to force people who see each other as enemies to live together. Divorce is a costly business ,but it could the only solution. we have tried for the most part of 25 years to form a united front against Tplf,but what we have witnessed is that the division between people is wider than ever before.this is my observation.

  8. Anonymous
    | #8

    aha said:

    [[..There is no condition for suggesting good governance unless people oriented government is created under Ethiopian Nationalism of Ethiopia as one Nation State like the united states..]]

    How do you go about doing “Ethiopia as one nation state” gracefully? :)
    That was what Meles asked.

    Let us make a point on how US’s ‘people oriented government “of the Untied States was created; be sure that it wasn’t exactly like a dinner party?

    From 1776 to 1865, Americans were divided due the institution of slavery in the Southern United States. Both black and white were kept in separate political worlds. That split took the nation in two and ended up in a deadly war in United States history – the American Civil War in which well over 620,000 Americans died fighting each other in combat! What replaced slavery was the Jim Crow Laws of racial segregation? And again, in the 1960′s and 1970′s people rose against racial injustice and sexual discrimination. The struggle continues!

  9. aha!
    | #9

    Annonymous@ #8, here is how it could be achieved that upon reflective thinking the opposition party in Medrek coalesce around the goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, where the last item refers to individual freedom, liberty and equality to super cede ethnic and secessionist rights by ratifying the constitution and resorting to the original provinces of assorted ethnic groups and developing the natural resources across ecological regions as the main focus for the peaceful struggle to individual freedom as a precursor to liberal and/or social democracy. The it is conducted is de javu all over again, it does not have the power to dismantle ethnic federalism, remove the TPLF/eprdf regime and ratify the constitution with individual freedom front and center of the constitution with private property ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia with independent branches of government and people than ethnic oriented government inplace.

  10. aha!
    | #10

    Furthermore, please listen to as an ongoing struggle by EPRP.

  11. aha!
    | #11

    The litmus test to the implementation of Ethiopian Nationalism is upon reflective thinking the supporters of ethnic federalism and/or secessionism under Medrek and/or liberation fronts need to reflect Ethiopiawinet first, ones ethnicity second, put one national interest ahead of ones self-interest, place ones loyalty to the silent majority of Ethiopians than to ones party and put and effort to develop languages, cultures and languages in hyperspace than ethnic boundaries by languages of the Ethiopian land mass, belonging to all Ethiopians with private ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia in order to make them feel this land is my land from East to West and North to South built into the Maser Plan, the Constitution.

  12. Ephrem Madeboo
    | #12

    THE developing country Ethiopia facing its worst drought in 50 years is currently spending millions of dollars to look at the stars might, which can at first, seem frivolous.
    “They call us crazy because they think we’re [only] exploring outer space and gazing at the stars. But they can’t see the bigger picture,” says Abinet Ezra of the Ethiopian Space Science Society.
    Sitting in a roadside café near the Addis Ababa Institute of Technology, Ezra explains that the “bigger picture” means using space research to expand the economy, improve agriculture, fight climate change and create jobs.
    Despite drought,STATE OF California IN USA has record high crop revenue by implementing aliens methods of farming . If you look at USA or the former USSR the now Russia they both have advanced in agriculture with surplus food production because these two countries took their time to watch the aliens methods of farming in space, learning valuable lessons which they didn’t share with Ethiopians. It is time we watch the aliens ourselves and be like Russia and USA with surplus food production. Using the aliens methods of farming is common in FRESNO, California USA — A new state report shows California, USA farmers reaping record sales despite the epic drought, thriving even as city-dwellers have been forced to conserve water, household wells have run dry and fish have died.

    IN California, USA 76,400 farms recorded $53.5 billion in sales in 2014, the year Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state in a drought emergency and launched what in 2015 became mandatory conservation for cities and towns. The sales figures are the most recent annual ones released by the state agriculture department.
    While we face enormous challenges to assure food security in developing countries such as Ethiopia, ., there are also great opportunities by working using never before tried new methods. For details please contact
    Chief Development Strategist,
    International Fund for Agricultural Development.
    Via Paolo di Dono, 44
    Rome , 00142


  13. Dawi
    | #13

    I hear you ttkia! That is one way to go about it. In fact if aha’s idea is forcefully implemented your answer may be fulfilled with its associated sacrifice of hundred of thousands of lives.

    It is not an overstatement that the State’s now have the right to secede however, one can’t apply that during national emergencies per the constitution.

    On the other hand, HD was quoted lately for saying the national question is answered or something on that line of thought; he has also said that our problem is not political but lack of employment of youth. The discussion he held with intellectuals of the country included some other topics as well. I found that and Ledetu Ayalew’s interview on the Reporter to be very interesting.

    Ledetu seems to have an alternative, a possible answer to aha’s bones with EPRDF in a different way. As I mentioned to aha, Meles asked, how to go about change? Neo-liberal ideas can’t be implemented forcefully on the get go but, gradually maybe, with less damage to the country.

  14. Dawi
    | #14


    Prof. Ghelawdewos just added on this same topic of Good Governance and the Developmental State in Ethiopia:

    [[..In point of fact, in a televised broadcast (Friday, March 18, 2016), Prime Minister Hailemariam acknowledged that good governance has now become the agenda of the people and the people themselves are talking about it...Reconciliation within the larger Ethiopian society is predicated on democratic governance, and in this regard the DS must first democratize itself, and that is the only way it could strengthen democracy within the larger Ethiopian society. In the final analysis, thus, the Ethiopian state would shoulder two significant roles, among many others: 1) state-driven economy and 2) participatory democracy..]]

  15. yebba
    | #15

    egypt and other arabs would certainly like to see Ethiopia weak and broken up. tplf was their main ally in this, while they were in the bush. olf , onlf are now the main agents arabs use to achieve their objectives.

    Believe me no body/no ethnic group would benefit if the country is broken up into several ethnic independent states,as some people have suggested here. the only beneficiaries would be Ethiopia’s arab enemies, who have their eyes focused on the Nile waters.

    as a starter, if we have several ethnic independent states,they will be at war with each other on land/boundary disputes which will claim many lives. who would be the arbiter to decide the boundary between these ethnic groups,or is it going to be winner takes all, and would there be any peace in such a situation – certainly NOT!

    secondly, these so called independent ethnic states would be controlled by outsiders, as they would be UNSTABLE and unable to sustain themselves. External forces who have interest in the horn region would get involved by supporting opposing groups thus making the situation worse, and causing more blood shed.

    a case in point is eritrea and south sudan. the border disputes are the ones we are familiar with. eritrea/ethiopia are constantly on war alert. there is no peace but the threat of war.
    economically, eritrea has lost more than Ethiopia because there is no cross border trade between the two. ethiopia should be a major market for eritrea, but this is not possible, now.

    south sudan is the same .it is in ruins. the country is rich in natural resources, but it has become a play ground for for external forces who wnt to take control of the natural resources. the people are dying in war and due to hunger and rely on food aid to survive.

    LACK OF FREEDOM aND DEMOCRACY in these countries has created millions of refugees and a national crisis.

    somalia is another example. it is a living proof of what ethnic/ clan war and rivalry and conflict can do to a country.

    there are many more disadvantages that would arise from disintegration of Ethiopia.

  16. Dawi
    | #16

    Ehphrem said:

    [[..THE developing country Ethiopia facing its worst drought currently spending millions of dollars to look at the stars might, which can at first, seem frivolous..…]]

    Ephrem what I like to hear from you is elaborate on what Dr. Berhanu said last. Why Eritrea Thriving While Ethiopia is Starving? So, what is Eritrea doing right and Ethiopia doing very wrong in agriculture?

    Last time I checked it was Alamoudi that built the space observatory. I have also read an Ethiopian team visiting NASA and other places to get bilateral help by alluring US/Russian scientists to come over to Ethiopia to study.

    Can you show us a documentation where Ethiopia spent millions from its treasury to study the stars?

    Yelma put out the following interesting observation on the present drought:

    “..There is something that makes the current famine a little different than the previous ones we encountered. This famine is taking place in one area where we assumed it would never happen again. We assumed that because the last twenty years we were told the Tigray Kilil or region is where favoritism was played at the expense of all others…”??

  17. Freedom
    | #17

    Thank you for a very confusing and conflicting article. I will start with few questions and comments.
    1. When will the Ethiopian government stop begging the whole world for help to educate, feed, cloth and shelter the Ethiopian people? It was understandable to ask for some help and handout in the first 10 years of Ethiopian gov rein since the Mengistu gov left the country with very little to stand on. However, still begging for everything under the sun 25 years later is very shameful and sign of complete government failure and a case for removal for power, effective immediately.
    2. As the saying goes, “BEGGARS CAN’T BE CHOSER.” If the beggar, ethio gov, does not abide by the terms and conditions the donor sets, it won’t get a dime. The donor calls the shot, PERIOD.
    3. Each donor has its own reason and interest for giving aide. It wants to get something in return for the donation. There is no free lunch, Indeed. In the case of World bank, there is no free hand out. They give loans and expect to make money from the interest on the loan. In the case of the UN, they are the middle dealers. They beg money on behalf of the beggar gov and in the process they pocket over 80-90% of the money in the form of payment to their staff and give about 10% of the money to the beggar country. Elites of the beggar country take about 9% and may give about 1% to the end user, the people in dire need.
    4. Good governance is common sense, universal and has been in existence since the beginning of humanity. America or Europe neither invented good governance nor had a patent on it.
    5. Good governance embeds core guidelines that include, the rule of law, citizen participation, transparency, accountability, elimination of corruption, respecting human rights and individual freedom and abiding by the rules of the free market.
    Ethiopian government scores ZERO on measures of good governance. There is NO rule of law, NO citizen participation, NO transparency, No accountability, EXTREME CORRUPTION, NO respect for human rights and individual freedom and NO free market as 100% of the land is owned by gov, jobs are handed out to those who lick gov butt, slavery is widely practiced, GOV controls over 90% of the economy. In free market private enterprise controls over 90% of the economy. SO, WHY THE HECK DOES THE USAID GIVE MONEY THE ETHIO GOV. An inquiring mind wants to know.
    Now going to your conclusion, you said,
    1. “Since agenda of good governance is designed as “one size fits all”, it is not compatible with Ethiopia’s cultural realities.”
    Totally ridiculous statement. First good governance per your article is not one size fits all as each donor has its own concept of good governance and how to achieve it. In other wards, UN, world bank, UNDP, AFDP, etc each has a different good governance model/criteria. Second, Ethiopian culture is totally compatible with good governance defined above. However, good governance it totally incompatible with the criminal TPLF gov since good governance could easily limit their power and access to rents and resources.

  18. aha!
    | #18

    Dawi @#13 &14, The talk about good governance by the TPLF/eprdf regime has been identified by one Ethiopian ” gulicha bikeyayer”, replacing one TPLF with another. It seems to me repeating the rejction of Endalkchew Messay as prime Minister with Emperor Hailesellasie as figure head Monarchy by saying “gulicha bikayayer wot aytafitim”. At least that kind reform with a democratic revolution will have implemented the class struggle of “Meret Larasu”/land to the tiller with private ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia, by abolishing the tenure system.

  19. Fesseha Afewerk
    | #19

    The T-TPLF are currently buying all the food in Ethiopia and storing it in secret warehouses so they can sell it when there is nomore food on the market. I urge all ethiopians to BOYCOTT Ethiopian Airlines not only because it is a T-TPLF controlled discriminating organization but to give a fair competing advantae for all Ethiopians from all Ethnicities to be able to buy food at a price they can afford. Nowadays the T-TPLF cash cow companies are the only ones who can pay their employees enough salaries so the employees feed their familes. None Tigrayan people are being forced to adhere to T-TPLF demand because the T-TPLF is controlling all the food, selling the food at a price only T-TPLF affiliated juntas can afford..The malnutrition in Ethiopia is at 80% of the total population right now. You see people collapsng all over at work , in school and on the roads. I am unable to teach students at Addis Ababa University College of Commerce as I did for decades because currently many students cannot focus or stay awake in classes due to the severe malnutrition they are suffering from. On the other I hear from my former students that are working for T-TPLF business people that they are busy going around cornering the food market making it impossible for average middle income Ethiopian to feed it’s family..

  20. Freedom
    | #20

    2. Professor in his conclusion said,
    “Grounded on African communal consensus building approaches, applicability of grass root democracy or democratic autonomous self-rule federalism as an alternative to the agenda of good governance for Ethiopia’s ethno-federal system.”
    Communal consensus building approach sounds fine. However, the dictator/criminal TPLF/EPRDF never consults the people. As a dictator gov it always imposes its will on the people.
    Dictatorship and grass root democracy or democratic autonomous self-rule are totally incompatible. The current ethio gov is totally and completely incapable of existing in a democratic Ethiopia.
    The agenda of good governance for Ethiopia’s ethno-federal system will live on forever. Because, ethio gov is addicted to financial aide/welfare. It can’t exist w/o it. Moreover, begging brings the gov about 3 billion dollar a year. Out of that about 900 million goes to the bank account of TPLF and cadres elites and about 100 million might go, if they are lucky, to the people in need.
    3. You talked about Ethiopian constitution that gives ethnic based regions the right of self determination, including the right to secession. This section of the constitution is nothing but smoke and mirror. It is a deception of the highest magnitude. For example, let us say the people in the Afar region make up about 15% of Ethiopian population and want secede from Ethiopia. Nevertheless, it is impossible for them to secede. Since the requirement for secession is getting over 50% of Ethiopians, in a referendum, to agree with the Afar people wish to secede. Due of this requirement, it is also impossible for Oromo people to secede. WE NEED A NEW CONSTITUTION BASED ON DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE THAT PROMOTES PATRIOTISM AND NATIONALISM.
    4. Regarding, “Year of Good Governance.”, it is nothing but a dirty political game designed to deceive/trick we the people. Ethiopian people expected and deserved good governance for the last 25 year but got a very bad governance. They expect and deserve good governance now and in the future.

  21. aha!
    | #21

    Freedom@ #20, you can find the answer to you question by listening to the speech of Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam in the “Ethiopian speakers at vision Ethiopia conference (Part II) hosted by ESAT and presented at The ideas presented by others seems to me as the Ethiopian saying goes “Alebasew biyarsu barem yemelesu” by hovering and/or maintaining ideologies of ethnic federalism, secessionism as the political and totalitarianism and/or developmental state capitalism as the economic models built into the the constitution.

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