Ethiopia: Bureaucracy – The pillar EPRDF rusting
by Bizuayehu Tsegaye
Public service giving practice has always been complained in our country, especially in recent time, hearing countless complains against institutions performance is not something we are unfamiliar with. In fact, it pushes me to share you my observation of the relationship between the practice of serving the society and performance of the institutions, be the cause to start an open idea sharing on the subject; hoping you, the readers, also have your own perception of the matter and will forward it.
At the time of TPLF/EPRDF’s infant stage of administration experience there use to exist some sort of rule to be followed and a body somehow committed to be abide by its own rule in delivering the service through the social institutions, it could be due to the influence of inheritance from the preceding regime. The word ’bureaucracy’ used too often referring this set of rule, to the level that tempt to take the word as an Amharic origin, to describe inflexible, rigidly applied rules, regulations and the time it took to get the service needed. Seldom heard to be discriminatory…to the great deal can be said with its inefficiency, use to treat the society ‘more’ equally without the consideration of ethnic difference or political affiliation to the ruling regime. It can just be said it was less corrupt.
The usual say of bureaucracy is out dated, as the discrimination become official, and, public services and opportunities polarized in delivery; while to party affiliates given as rewards and incentives, the ordinary society will not get the appropriate service and be part of the opportunity sharing, which contradict the basic principles of bureaucracy and it’s unique character; free of bias. In such an environment same product, services are given in no uniform manner to its users; members of the institution don’t have equal knowledge of same issue, organizational culture, routine tasks, objective, vision and goal or the ethics needed by the establishment they are working for; nor, their exist obedience to the formal hierarchy of authority due to subordinates possession of real power. The existence of bureaucracy may not assure full implementation of rules and regulation, but it is a reliable cause for the creation of strong controlling body that measure deviation from pre set standards and take corrective actions to meet the standards. It is probable for an institution, association or any form of organized body that doesn’t have strictly applied rules and regulations to cease existing.
The gradual fading of exercising strictly applied service giving and/or opportunity sharing rules and regulations/’bureaucracy’ sourced from the regimes objective; total control of power. The way it has happened took different level of stages. Elimination of government power competitors; former regime alliance rebel fighters, gradually strong political parties, influential individuals, were the first phase. Their existence could have played major role in not just for the existence of unbiased rules and regulation, but also for the improvement of the service giving practice; as their existence necessitates having a mechanism mutually used to make decisions concerning the country’s matters. That did not immediately cripple the service giving or the usual ‘bureaucracy’. At such a time where regime power is monopolized and is vulnerable to abuse civil and professional associations could have played undeniable role in exposing wrong doings and promote good governance through serving as a controlling body, yet, become critical targets of the regime; subjected to intimidation, abuse and liquidation. Having done taking care of the existing challenges of wrong doings, TPLF/EPRDF injects drops of its loyalists in every institution as an immune for possible eruption of opponents. Started to build it’s ‘seduced’ society in the form of membership to the party, gradually associating it’s belongingness, lowering its administrative scale to the members and supporters of the party…conquering and excluding itself from providing administrative security to the rest; the mass,…recruiting, assimilating out of it and intend to grow bigger from the self created minority society; ‘seduced society‘. This limits the scope and vision of the countries institutions, their decision making abilities; limiting the planning capabilities, developing alternative menses of achieving their objectives and material commitment…their by lowering their productivity.
Those drops of TPLF/EPRDF rusts the already existing bureaucracy which supports the country’s institutions like a pillar when they itch and consume the countries resource for fear of dissent, instated of advancing their capacity. The effects are what we are observing now; none existence of clearly defined set of rules and regulations that is respected by its own writers, none existence of what we use to call bureaucracy. Poor performance of public institutions; education, health, legal, economic institutions, etc… Their poorness reflected by the polarization and biases in their delivery to the end users; the society and the negative contribution to the quality of life. Institutions becoming a stage where assigned party members satisfy their ego to its last drop, quarrel on pity matters…narrowing the minds of the countries human assets, instead of being a gear that move its country to the right direction. If continue it is possible the end to be having un organized, fractured individuals forming the society…having no protection or security of possession, means of advancing it’s interests, expressing its self, marginalized, depraved, unprivileged, outcaste society…to simply say desperate situation and society.
There could not come to mind as a reason for Sebhat Nega’s say of ‘the society is not fit for democracy,’ other than him already considering or want to send a message of assuring this last stage of desperation is in place and the source of power shifted from the majority, the society, to the few in the government. If so, their lays miss-thinking in such mind. To point, it would be not minding the very source and reason causing the start of administration; that society’s need for collective security cause this age’s well organized and managed administrative system. At its peak of disappointment on the existing rule, the society will start from scratch, start to see the need of forming a body that can protect its interests and provide collective security, start reorganizing itself in any form, gradually build its capacity and pursue to reclaim its dignity. In this regard, the emergence of armed struggles and other movements can be pointed as evidence supporting the argument.
None existence of ‘bureaucracy’ in TPLF/EPRDF
I personally believe Sebhat Nega could have show that he has the ability and life experience, at least, to help avoid ignorance had he gave a moment for his thoughts before forwarding word that provoke hate to him and specially to TPLF/EPRDF(had there exist anyone who doesn’t by the time). But, this incident shows the none existence of clearly defined approach affecting TPLF/EPRDF itself, than questioning his ability to think straight.
TPLF/EPRDF officials at least those in the higher or closer to the higher rank could be on same page in their perception of what they are dealing with; the people. But, this is not the case; they have been seen using different and inconsistent approaches to one other. Recalling, the speech made by the widow of the let Prime Minster after his death can be an example to use. Wro/Azeb talks about the continuation of his ’vision’ with the Ethiopian people; pleading ‘power/support’ from the society, in negation of Sebhat Nega’s imply of ’few’ are, both in their own words reflected different interest. It is clear with this stance had they both given a responsibly with one mutually owned means of meeting what is required of them, they are going to fell due to such difference of theirs. As a result TPLF/EPRDF’s officials having such polarized interest on one same subject or intending to pursue different interest with single leverage, will not survive long; if it is not argued that both or one of those pronounced members of the ruling regime have no direct influence in decision making.
That was not the only incident when the regime officials reflect polarized interest, Bereket Simon, lower the ‘image’ of those individuals in the group alleged to be loyal supporters of the regime through his statement that had claimed “certain group of people trust the regime,” then come that same public statement, about his deceased superior, he claim to be true is a lie. In that period, Berekt’s own misinformation’s given to the public has been disproved by Sebhat Nega himself, showing the level of the individuals difference on a common issue they are dealing with, the already resting pillars of EPRDF is more in a molding state (even giving the thought the regime’s experience of using confusion as a tactic of maintaining power, such visible difference works against its objective). Just only since, the death of the late Prime Minster a lot flow less decision has been made; formal way of execution has been birched, informal powers has been exercised officially. All evidencing none existence of some kind of formal governing tool/’bureaucracy’ that could be used by the top circle of TPLF/EPRDF. Even if the words given by regime members seem slip of tough, unintentional, or unconscious of them specking tempting to tack it as nothing, it is a serious indicator of growing apart as long as there exist no standard that can serve for a common self assessment.
‘What has been serving EPRDF members as a common ground in their decision making then?’ can be asked. Fear, that the fittest and the strongest body in the ’house’ extend, is the mechanism being governing the ruling circle; individuals and member parties. This fear has served the regime through supporting the rusting ‘bureaucracy’, keeping regime’s roof sustained. This fear is somehow vanishing after the late head deceased. TPLF/EPRDF’s fate will not be any different than an institution that doesn’t have strict ’bureaucracy’ to fallow; tear apart, having the roof fall over.
Basing those facts, the ruling regime have two alternative ways to survive the treats from within its circle and outside it’s circle, the ‘newly created society and the newly developed means of securing it’s demands’, other than trying to buy time through continues fabrication of confusions. Either become even more engaged in extending fear and replace the disappearing appropriate governing tool, catalyzing the already negative reaction to the administration and push peoples thought more in to the necessity of looking for alternative body that will stand for its demands, Or, reverse the course it has been following even if it extends to compromising it’s total control of power, assure the existence of un biased ways of serving… help establish strong pillars that can hold institutions sheltering all sects of the society.