Ethiopia: The search for a stepping stone
By Bizuayehu Tsegaye
Much is being said about the new PM, I find the situation tempting for mocking. Had it been in the US, first amendment could have been my excuse but we don’t have a strong body that can even assure exercising constitutional right of expressing one self, only the ‘hat story’ is available in EPRDF’s village.
About Hailemariam; some say not different than ‘there is no dept he is a fish in a glass water tank,’ if there has to be a question it should be wither it is self-initiated dive or forced change of river curse that put him in TPLF’s lock…wither he is in it for long or not? This group assume, him being in the trap is the end that can be experienced. And few…tell they are happy just for being able to call a new Prime Minster after long time…enjoying seeing ‘the fish swimming in the glass water tank‘…in it’s new little world. Change at it’s infant stage better than nothing has been taken as a reason for happiness…though I don’t believe we are a society that can be pleased with pity things. I could not agree more with it had the demand were to hear another voice of same old bully speeches in the parliament than change in the administration system that can make sharing of opportunities possible in the country. Other’s also say let’s give him time? and this is the one that has much to talk about…“Giving time”.
Clearly not with the policy he vows to execute or either the above justifications, why sympathize one self with him then? It may resent to a psychological matter…professionals could see it in depth but in nutshell either it is the hope (reasonable or not) he may bring change or it is the hopelessness one has that make it relay on others. Just because one observe a vast deviation from his expectation of others, doesn’t mean the subject is aware of his deviation…and latter come to say ‘am sorry…I make mistake’ and meet once expectation. While expected to change, work solve the human rights abuse right at hand, he vowed for it’s continuation… and yet say ‘let’s give him time’ I choose to call this desperation in it’s massive scale. Because of deep desperation for good things to happen and finding a stepping stone out of EPRDF’s rule, facts potential to rationalize the situation are being putted aside in analyzing Hailemariam’s abilities to make difference and say let‘s give him time.
Due to this mind state comes imagination. There are two imaginations and one fact to formulate Hailemariams three options or level of stages he could/might go through; First is the fact; continue doing nothing as TPLF wanted it. Second; to try to fix each gap and get traumatized or develop it‘s political muscle. And the last one; stop the problem from the source… hold/ tie the hands of TPLF.
Let’s began with what we are observing; so far, he is not trying to fix any problem, did not make effort to ensure EPRDF’s own constitution to be respected, he did not relies jailed political prisoners; journalists and oppositions, did not show interest for the press to exercise the freedom to publish… did not show interest to respond for religious none interference inquiries…nor did he hold TPLF from causing more damage, unlawful and discriminatory appointment of military and other officials…….. he is doing nothing visible to the public, which is doing great in the eyes of TPLF. While the rest wondering with desperation for change, EPRDF is moving forward…adding months, weeks, days….assuring the state of mud. It can be argued again and again but no goal to reached at for it.
In effort to forward the second option/stage I would like to tell a seen from a film based on true story by Haile Gerima, it’s called ’Teza’. In one seen the main character who is an educated traumatized doctor who went back home after it’s horrible experience in exile one night had a dream about him being unable to stop a licking of ’Tefe’ out of a pot containing it, despite his effort to put his hands…shred books and try to close the hole. The next morning he went to an old man in a church seeking for an interpretation of his dream, and then the old man helped him finding a meaning out of his dream, through asking to look in to himself…if he has come across a thought, that he tried to serve his country…his society and found to have so may problems and holes to put hand on, trying to use his education yet unable to do any thing … wither that has caused him to be hopeless or live him confused.
For our topic, let’s assume this pot is an administration system; ‘revolutionary democracy’. In it; the constitution, law’s, rules, regulations, institutions…etc; which are licking down and forming the mud. And, Hailemairam is expected to be the person puting hand on it. Indeed, he can work on them and develop his political muscle. With the fact TPLF being the one who made the pot it self and the holes to be fixed, so many of them, are created by it throwing stones, Hailemariam will not bring major change to the country in doing so; unless otherwise he is going to make some effort to incapacitate TPLF with his newly developed muscle and have its own pot.
Having clear mind in what is the root for all the problems, it would not be wise to try to fix each and every problem now and then while it can be fixed from the source and stop it once for all. The skills, friends and alliance he probably develop in the form of political muscle will lead us considering the last thing that could come to imagination. Which is to directly stop TPLF from causing more destruction, make it incapacitate or ineligible. The moment he try this starts the war with in EPRDF in the form of keeping superiority by TPLF side and achieving equality by Hailemariams’s party and/or group side. It is this stage that is been sought and desired by most, not even showing a doubt this not happening.
While the firs option/stage is the fact and the second being natural to happen the big question comes to the third one…why even have the imagination that he will go after TPLF? As he is a co-opt of the regime, as most are he also must have passed through perception evaluation; only if he believe the regime’s way of doing is right that he could stay with the regime, get to the higher level. Besides, he already consider the opposing voice as a lost opportunity when he clearly put himself as an apparatus ready to execute the let dictators’ policy.
But, this by itself cannot immune him from greed; as greed is the core value of TPLF/EPRDF or coming to his conscious mind. It is up to us to rate the possibility of greed versus conscious controlling him. In my opinion, he will not try to incapacitate TPLF with the intent to make change but with an effort to assume real power, to be in charge; that will only happen if TPLF is out of the way. At this time, others claim of being a time giver will not make any difference on what he desire to do. Weather allegedly given time or not what is going to happen to his statues will only be initiated by the force inside. Unless other wise the time being given is for one self, until be able to put once hand in the situation. And; as long as greed exist, there is no way to be sure the ‘will’ would come after he take control of the situation. But, if the concern is in finding a little crack to put hand in, it is logical to imagine…imagination is the cause for the creation of new things and ways of doing things.
What can be done if not give time?
On the serious note, one may still have the hope and expectations of him making change and say let’s give him time. My view is if you don’t have leverage you don’t have time to give. At this moment the new PM is taking it’s time, not been given time as being talked and TPLF will be trailed to facilitate in making him take longer time. If one is not the time giver, he doesn’t have the base and legitimacy of assuring the expected out come at the end.
Lets put our imagination aside and make the hope based on reasons and face the question what would one do if don’t give time, what leverage do one have to make him compliant to our demand?…Critic? ….can be said but it should be motioned that the time being given is against the critic that could have been forwarded. I suggest to weight the leverage one has to the demand. Is it proportional? I don’t believe so. Defame or bad public image could be the worst that can be done. Trading it with major structural and policy changes doesn’t seem profitable for EPRDF or either for Hailemariam. So why give time? I believe; the damage that has been caused since the new Prime Minster come to ‘office’ are wrong words; assuring the late dictators policies….at least it is what engage us to talk about him. If any one should be concerned regarding this is working to shape and correct his pretense of having admirable inheritance, behavior and at least request him to engage in fixing the existing problems. To criticize wrong is a thing that should not be given time, it has to be said out loud when committed to help shape proper behavior. Tell him what is expected and not expected from the leadership position. Even it may not make him bring a change as desired; at least, he will be informed that what he has done is not acceptable by the other parties and are not happy about it. What ever reasons one have not to do so, doesn’t have value in this regard. If mistakes are accompanied with untimely punishment in any form including critic, it is possible the subject (Hailemariam) will not learn to behave as expected and may promote revenge. that is destructive, we don’t want that. As far as the need for policy change concerned, one should have proportional leverage to negotiate with or force it’s opponent. If already have the leverage proportional to major structural and policy changes, no need to play hid and seek, tell your demands and the cost to be incurred. It is not a complex thing to notice how man’s daylily life is operating, it is when possessing some thing other don’t have it can be possible to attract them. Have some thing or pertained to have some thing, Hailemariam will eventually come to you. For the time he give time for him self, there is nothing visible to make me assume other than him being a time giver.
For one having the matter on once hand, Hilemariams promotion is an incident between the plan and meeting the goal, if draw a line of action sequence; between planning to change the regime and succeed to do so. It could be considered for analysis in looking for potential stepping stone in effort to go out of the mud, a situation where the question weather is it affordable to expend leverage or not be raised. It is one of the many changing circumstance that could have happened and need critical thinking to manipulate in the way of achieving once goal. Either it will accelerate the speed in moving out of the mud or be left behind.
So, is the new Prime Minister reliable stepping stone out of a mud? No he is not, imagine oneself in swamps being straggling to got out from, then comes God’s creature like oneself desperate in need of something to swim in…the only difference between him and the rest is that he is there to make it…to pursue happiness, to feed himself while the rest are stack, struggling to survive. But, don’t hesitate to step on it if come closer. Imaginations can’t be something one can put a foot on, find something real, hard and strong that can be stepped on with confidence (or until he become what is needed)…be organized, ready to follow, lead and know how to.