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  • "Made in China" may be leaving your wardrobe.

    As labor costs in the "world's factory" continue to rise dramatically, global fashion brands are looking elsewhere to source apparel. In addition to established hubs like Bangladesh and Vietnam, the garment game is ripe for new players: Myanmar (Burma), Haiti and Ethiopia, among others, are looking to rejuvenate a once-thriving trade or even build one entirely from scratch.

    China will shed approximately 85 million manufacturing jobs in the coming years, which some development experts say could be a golden opportunity for producing economic development, a la South Korea. The standard narrative: Start at the bottom with low-skill, basic textile manufacturing (like T-shirts) and work your way up to more complex garments (like suits), then to more complex goods like electronics.

    Improved quality of life and a rising consumer class will naturally follow, creating sustainable and natural growth in China. At that point, garment assembly would be seen as lowbrow.

    "You don't make tanks out of textiles," says Derek Scissors, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

    But whether China's successors actually can follow the "textile to tank" model is a point of serious contention. Some argue that new entrants only can survive by offering the lowest costs — read: unlivable wages and minimal, if any, rights. Footloose garment brands — apt to flee to wherever labor costs are lowest — make nurturing textiles into an industry with highly skilled workers, robust infrastructure and effective regulation extremely difficult.

    It's harder to unlearn bad habits, so the best shot at a sustainable industry may be Ethiopia, which is essentially a blank slate. Despite dire infrastructure shortcomings, Ethiopia's access to a continental market with six of the 10 fastest-growing economies and one of the world's largest cattle (leather) stocks spurs "China 30 years ago" comparisons and makes the nation an attractive long-term investment.

    The Chinese and Turkish certainly seem to think so. Huajian Shoes and Akya Tekstil, two of the world's largest apparel-makers, are planning multibillion-dollar "apparel-cities" fit for up to 60,000 workers and 50 different manufacturers each.

    H&M, the Swedish apparel giant, has staked an early claim in Ethiopia as well. By partnering with nonprofit Swedfund, it's championing a "responsible" way forward with three new sustainable factories, and more planned. The move by an early entrant to set an ethical foundation in a country mirrors the work of Gap in Myanmar, also known as Burma, this past June.

    Once called an "outpost of tyranny" because of its brutal military dictatorship, Myanmar underwent vast democratic reforms in 2011; stifling economic sanctions from the West were eased a year later. Now the country's garment industry is on track to bring in $1.7 billion of export revenue in 2014 — compared with $900 million in 2012.

    By partnering with USAID and local nongovernmental organizations in Myanmar, Gap is trying to avoid the plunder-and-bail reputation of the garment industry.

    "We want to lend resources in such an important time for the country," to set a precedence of humane working conditions and work with the government to build institutions to protect best practices, said Debbie Mesloh, Gap's senior director of government and public affairs.

    Scott Nova, director of the Worker Rights Consortium, finds such proclamations of corporate altruism laughable.

    "The idea that a brand would move into a country to make the world a better place is absurd," he says. "They do it because it's cheaper."

    Indeed, according to the country's own manufacturers association, Myanmarese workers make as little as $30 per month, below the World Bank's $1.25/day poverty threshold. And early reports show Ethiopian garment workers earn between $37 and $53 per month.

    Those figures will make those garment workers the world's lowest-paid, behind Bangladeshi workers, who earn approximately $68 a month.

    Those data are irrefutable, but some experts argue that such low wages — once a characteristic of all now-developed economies, most recently Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong — are a necessary initial sacrifice to attract investors. And if job seekers voluntarily choose to work for low wages in a factory, that means it's the best of a series of bad options, says Benjamin Powell, director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University.

    "If we were to impose laws on these countries mandating higher pay and [better] working conditions, it would take away the very reason companies chose to come there, thus leaving [the workers] trapped in an even worse poverty," he said.

    In Haiti, where 80 to 90 percent of the exports are apparel, there's some hope for developmentwith labor standards. Conditions in Haiti have improved significantly, argues Arianna Rossi, research and policy officer at Better Work, an arm of the International Labour Organization that specializes in the garment industry. The minimum wage was raised in May of this year to $5 a day, and Better Work's most recent report shows factories are complying almost across the board; 37 percent of workers are even receiving at least $6.75.

    To be sure, the garment industry hasn't proved the jobs creator for Haiti that it was touted to be. A two-year-old industrial park in northern Haiti, Caracol, financed to the tune of $124 million by the U.S., has led to only 3,000 jobs, instead of the projected 60,000. That's despite duty-free access to the United States via the HOPE II trade agreement and serious promotion from the State Department, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.

    Still, companies are coming to the realization that "treating workers better is good for business," Rossi says, citing a Better Work research project as proof of concept.

    Advocates like Nova aren't sold. For one, if the garment industry was a way out of poverty, wages shouldn't have declined for the past decade across the world or, on average, be just a third of a what's considered a "living wage."

    Whether the garment industry is good for national and individual economic development or not, countries like Haiti, Myanmar and Ethiopia are rolling out the red carpet for fashion's name brands. Whether they'll have buyers' remorse remains to be seen

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    It is now three decades since Ethiopia experienced the infamous famine that cost the lives of more than a million people. The tragedy prompted the BBC's Michael Buerk to describe it as "a biblical famine in the 20th century" and "the closest thing to hell on Earth".

    In sharp contrast with that devastating poverty, Ethiopia is now widely considered to be one of a pack of "African tigers", with ambitious plans to become a middle-income country by 2025. The nation has, "like the proverbial phoenix, managed to rise from the ashes to become Africa's fastest-growing non-energy-driven economy", a senior tax adviser at KPMG Kenya recently noted.

    The changes that have taken place in Ethiopia since the 1984 famine are commendable. Despite some dispute over the figures, there is consensus that Ethiopia has registered impressive economic growth for the past decade of somewhere between eight percent and 10pc.

    One effect of the progress is a greater capacity to cope with drought, preventing the descent into famine conditions that have occurred in the past. Ethiopia's development efforts are also praised internationally for meeting some of the millennium development goals, particularly universal primary education and a reduction in infant mortality.

    The government's investments, the main engine of growth, abound, from building a road network to expanding basic social services, and making a big push in the energy sector. The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, an impressive, self-funded hydropower project heralding the country's rebirth, will be the continent's largest upon its completion in 2017.

    Changes are equally visible in trade and investment. Exports have diversified and the country has become a major shipper of oil seeds, flowers, gold and, increasingly, textiles and leather products.

    This has been enabled by a steady growth in foreign investment, particularly into floriculture and manufacturing. It is indeed astonishing to see Ethiopia fast becoming a popular destination for global giants, such as Chinese shoemaker Huajian and H&M, the world's second-biggest clothing retailer.

    The spectacular change in Ethiopia has been enabled by the relative peace and stability it has enjoyed over the past two decades, which in turn has allowed its regional diplomatic influence to increase. Although there are still low-level insurgencies in some parts of the country, the ruling coalition has generally governed effectively.

    This has been buttressed by its allocation of more than 60pc of the national budget to sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, education and health, which favour poorer people. Its predecessor spent most of the treasury's coffers on the military.

     
     

    Ethiopia's big push, like previous surges by the "Asian tigers", also has costs that cast doubt on its sustainability. Although the government labels it a "democratic developmental state", the political-economic order that the ruling EPRDF follows resembles those Asian models, which delivered rapid economic growth in an authoritarian environment.

    Yet unlike nations such as Singapore and China, whose economic transformation occurred within a closed political system, the EPRDF operates in what is formally a liberal democracy. This ideological entanglement has created structural tension, evident in the restrictions on political and civil rights that are, in theory, enshrined in the constitution.

     

    Growing economic inequality also threatens to undermine the political stability and popular legitimacy that a developmental state acutely needs. Who benefits from economic growth is a much-contested issue in contemporary Ethiopia. Although the government argues that the suffering caused by rapidly rising living costs is a transient phenomenon inherent in developing economies, the emergence of new economic elites through rentier activity and clientelism has exacerbated the sense of relative deprivation, particularly among urban poor people.

    Additionally, Ethiopia's economic ambition has a cost for sections of its huge rural population. The country's five-year Growth & Transformation Plan (GTP), begun in 2010, includes tapping into the "abundant extensive land" in the lowlands for large-scale commercial agriculture.

    These peripheral areas - such as South Omo and the Afar region - are where ethnic minorities with a weaker political voice live. The government's policy of urging these communities to shift away from livelihoods such as pastoralism to sedentary farming, while incentivising foreigners to invest in the same areas, raises human rights issues, such as the right to choose a lifestyle and livelihood strategy which are included in the country's constitution. These are particularly controversial in Ethiopia's new federal political order, which claims to ensure ethno-cultural justice.

    Whether Ethiopia will attain its ambitious goal of becoming a middle-income country in the next decade depends how it manages the transition from public investment-driven growth to a dynamic, private sector-heavy model. It will also hinge upon its attempts to mitigate the many political and social costs of the transition.

    Notwithstanding these challenges, it has already been a long, arduous and successful journey from a land of "biblical famine" to one of the brightest economies in Africa.

    Dereje Feyissa Is a Research Director for Africa At the International Law & Policy Institute, a Research Fellow of the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation and Adjunct Associate Professor At the College of Law & Governance, Addis Abeba University

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    There is famine in Ethiopia in 2014, but it is known by other fancy names

     Famine in Ethiopia is a topic that horrifies me. Over the years, I have written long commentaries on the subject often challenging with incontrovertible facts the fabricated and false claims of the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front and its late leader Meles Zenawi that there has been no famine in Ethiopia since they took power in 1991. Of course, there has been famine in Ethiopia every year since 1991. They just don’t call famine, famine. They have fancy names for it like “extreme malnutrition”, “severe under-nutrition”, “extreme food shortage”, “catastrophic food shortages” and other clever misnomers. However, famine in Ethiopia sugarcoated with fancy words and phrases is still famine!

    Food is the quintessential human right. All human beings have a God-given right to food. Without food and water there is no life; and those who control food and water control life itself. The problem in Ethiopia for over one-half century has been that the governments and regimes in power who controlled the supply of food have pleaded congenital ignorance when it comes to famine. H.I.M. Haile Selassie said he did not know there was famine in northern Ethiopia in 1973-74. In 1984-85, military strongman Mengistu Hailemariam said exactly the same thing. “Yo no sabía…” Meles Zenawi in 2008 said, “We did not know there was famine in Southern Ethiopia until emaciated children began to appear.” Oh! The curse of know nothing and do nothing governments and regimes in Ethiopia!

    Since I joined the human rights struggle in Ethiopia after the 2005 election after the late Meles Zenawi ordered the massacre of hundreds of unarmed protesters, I have used my pen (keyboard) to hold Meles and his Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF)disciples accountable if not before a court of international law, at least before the court of international public opinion.  Their ongoing depraved indifference to millions of Ethiopians facing famine year after year is a testament to their continuing and monumental crimes against humanity.

    In his first press conference in Addis Ababa after Meles and his gangseized power, Meles declared that the litmus test for the success of his regime should be whether Ethiopians were able to eat three meals a day. (See video here.) Two decades later in 2011, Meles pompously declared, “We have devised a plan which will enable us to produce surplus and be able to feed ourselves by 2015 without the need for food aid.

    “Three meals a day” in 2014 Ethiopia is pie in the sky for the vast majority of Ethiopians. There is no chance that Ethiopia will feed itself “without the need for massive food aid” by 2015, which is two months from now. In fact, Ethiopia today is 123 out of 125 worst fed countries in the world. According to a 2014 Oxfam report, “while the Netherlands ranks number one in the world for having the most plentiful, nutritious, healthy and affordable diet, Chad is last on 125th behind Ethiopia and Angola.”

    For years, the TPLF leaders have been promising to end “food shortages caused by drought” in a very short time. In 2009, Simon Mechale, head of the country’s “Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency”, proudly declared: “Ethiopia will soon fully ensure its food security.”  Meles’ “plan to produce surplus” was by “leasing” out millions of hectares of the country’s prime agricultural land to so-called international investors (land grabbers) whose only aim is to raise crops for export.  Ethiopia will produce food to feed other nations while Ethiopians starve. Meles and his TPLF gang have adamantly opposed private ownership of land, which by all expert accounts is the single most important factor in ensuring food security in any nation. In 2010, food inflation in Ethiopia remained at 47.4 percent.

    The TPLF and the international poverty pimps that coddle and protect the TPLF would like the world to believe in a rosy fairy tale about “double-digit economic growth”, “construction of massive infrastructure” and “leadership in the fight against terrorism”. They will never talk about the famine that has stalked Ethiopia for decades now. Those poverty pimps are so clever that they have invented a whole set of words and phrases not to call famine, famine. The word “famine” is banned from their official reports. It has been replaced by such phrases as “severe malnutrition”, “food deficit”, “acute food insecurity”, “extreme food consumption gaps” and many others deceptive euphemisms.

    In its August 15, 2014 report USAID wants us to believe that the thing that walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck is NOT a duck. USAID says, “Despite a fast-growing economy…  Ethiopia… experiences high levels of both chronic and acute food insecurity, particularly among rural populations and smallholder farmers. Approximately 44% percent of children under 5 years of age in Ethiopia are severely chronically malnourished, or stunted.  The long-term effects of chronic malnutrition are estimated to cost the Government of Ethiopia approximately 16.5 percent of its GDP every year according to the UN World Food Program (WFP).”

    What does this bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo actually mean? Many in rural areas are facing famine-like conditions? Babies, toddlers and small children are starving? It makes me sick to my stomach! USAID and the rest of international poverty pimp network members think we are too dumb and too stupid not to see their stupid word and phrase games about famine in Ethiopia. They should know that we are not as dumb as we look. (Are we!?!? Just wondering.) “That which we call a rose, any other name would smell as sweet”, but USAID and the rest of the international poverty pimps should know that they cannot sugarcoat famine in Ethiopia by calling it “extreme malnutrition” and expect to fool anybody.

    The Great Ethiopian Famine of 1984

    For me the best way to remember the Great 1984 Ethiopian Famine today is by remembering the hidden Ethiopian famine of Ethiopia in  2014In October 1984, the BBC released a documentary on the “Ethiopian famine that shocked the world.” Describing that famine as “shocking” is a gross understatement of the reality. It was disgraceful, dreadful, ghastly, sickening, monstrous, scandalous and unspeakably horrifying. BBC reporter Michael Buerk described it as a “biblical famine”. His documentary today is considered as “one of the most famous television reports of the late 20th Century.” Watching the video of that famine is psychologically devastating today as it was 30 years ago when it happened.

    An estimated one-half million people in northern Ethiopia died as a result of the 1984 famine. Some 600 thousand people were forcibly transported by military truck from their home villages and farms to various regions in the southern part of the country. Tens of thousands of peasants died in the transportation process and at the various settlement camps. The military Derg regime also used the opportunity to depopulate certain areas considered sympathetic to rebels by creating a “villagization” program. The outcome of the Derg’s response to that famine was an unmitigated disaster.

    In 1987, Time Magazine wrote  about famine in Ethiopia that year questioning what was really going on in Ethiopia. “Three years ago [1984], a famine began to strike Ethiopia with apocalyptic force. Westerners watched in horror as the images of death filled their TV screens: the rows of fly-haunted corpses, the skeletal orphans crouched in pain… Today Ethiopia is in the midst of another drought… Ethiopia, which has earned the unhappy honor of being rated the globe’s poorest country by the World Bank… is on the brink of disaster again. At least 6 million of its 46 million people face starvation, and only a relief effort on the scale of the one launched three years ago will save them… As the cry [for aid] goes out once more for food and money, the sympathetic cannot be faulted for wondering why this is happening all over again. Is the latest famine wholly the result of cruel nature, or are other, man-made forces at work that worsen the catastrophe?”

    The end of famine in Ethiopia according to Meles Zenawi and his TPLF disciples

    For years, Meles and his TPLF disciples have been advertising their “Productive Safety Net Programme” (driven by foreign aid in the form of budget support supposedly) as the silver bullet against famine. That program presumably “prevents asset depletion at the household level and creates productive assets at the community level accelerating the end of the cycle of dependence on food aid”.

    In October 2011, Meles told his party faithful: “We have devised a plan which will enable us to produce surplus and be able to feed ourselves by 2015 without the need for food aid.” His “plan to produce surplus” was to be implemented by “leasing” out millions of hectares of the country’s prime agricultural land to so-called international investors (land grabbers) whose only aim is to raise crops to feed people in India and the Middle East. So much for the TPLF’s hype of “ending the cycle of dependence on food aid.”

    The facts speak for themselves. According to the World Food Programme report (WFP)  (the branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security), in 2014,  2.7 million Ethiopians need food assistance and that WFP plans to assist nearly 6.5 million vulnerable Ethiopians  with food and special nutritional assistance, including school children, farmers, people living with HIV/AIDS, mothers and infants, refugees and others.  In 2012, there were  3.76 million people in need of emergency food aid;  in 2011, the number was 4.5 million;  5 million in 2010 and 2009 and 6 million in 2008. According to a 2013 U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report, “34 million Ethiopians–40 percent of the population–are considered chronically hungry.” To be “chronically hungry” means to go without food for a very long time. Isn’t that what we used to call starvation and famine in 1984?

    In honor and remembrance of those Ethiopians who have died needlessly from famine in Ethiopia

    In honor and remembrance of the victims of the Great Ethiopian Famine of 1984 and those who died needlessly since then, I review a few of the many commentaries I have written over the years on hunger, starvation and famine in Ethiopia. I do so not to self-congratulate or to seek recognition for my miniscule efforts to raise public awareness.  I do it for the same reason I do all of my human rights advocacy: To speak truth to power and abusers of power.

    For years, I have relentlessly criticized the late Meles Zenawi and his TPLF regime for their depraved indifference to the issue of famine and starvation in Ethiopia. In 2008, I wrote a commentary entitled, “The art of denial (lying)”. I argued that Meles and his TPLF crew deserve credit for perfecting the art of denial (lying) just like the smooth career criminals who deny everything when caught.  When Meles was confronted by the facts of famine in Ethiopia, his response was, “What famine?”  In an interview with Time Magazine on August 7, 2008, Meles flatly denied the existence of famine in Ethiopia:  “Famine has wreaked havoc in Ethiopia for so long, it would be stupid not to be sensitive to the risk of such things occurring. But there has not been a famine on our watch — emergencies, but no famines.”  (“Stupid is as stupid does,” said Forrest Gump, the character in the movie by the same name.)

    Meles’ deputy, Addisu Legesse, following his boss groused, “Institutions that exaggerate the food shortage in Ethiopia and report inflated figures of the needy are intent on belittling the economic growth of  the country and calculating their interests.” Mitiku Kassa, Meles’ “Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development”  was equally adamant: “In the Ethiopian context, there is no hunger, no famine… It is baseless [to claim famine], it is contrary to the situation on the ground. It is not evidence-based.”

    In An interview with journalist Peter Gill on August 22, 2012, Meles  said he was clueless of the famine engulfing Southern Ethiopia. “That was a failure on our part.  We were late in recognising we had an emergency on our hands.   We did not know that a crisis was brewing in these specific areas until emaciated children began to appear.” For Meles, the proof of famine is “emaciated children”. Everything else is at worst an “emergency”. All of the talk of  famine is merely a figment of the overactive imagination of the foreign media and humanitarian organizations.

    In November 2009, I wrote a commentary entitled, “Famine and the Noisome Beast in Ethiopia”.  I wondered out loud how successive Ethiopian governments and regimes over the past one-half century  could blame famine on “acts of God.” The TPLF regime even today blames “poor and erratic rains,” “drought conditions,” “deforestation and soil erosion,” “overgrazing,” and other “natural factors” for “severe malnutrition” and  “chronic food shortages” in Ethiopia.  They shrug their soulders and say, “It ain’t us. It’s God who did it! He forgot to send the rains.”

    In April 2010, in my commentary, “The ‘Silently’ Creeping Famine in Ethiopia”, I vehemently protested the dishonesty of the international organizations, bureaucrats and officials who use euphemisms to hide the ugly truth about famines and mass-scale hunger in Ethiopia. I accused the heartless international poverty pimps of inventing a lexicon of mumbo-jumbo words and phrases to conceal the public fact that large numbers of people in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa are dying simply because they have nothing or very little food to eat. The international poverty pimps cannot hide the truth about famine by talking nonsense about “food insecurity”, “food scarcity”, “food insufficiency”, “food deprivation”, “severe food shortages”, “chronic dietary deficiency”, “endemic malnutrition” and so on just to avoid using the “F”amine word. They got to call a spade, a spade!

    FEWSNET (Famine Early Warning Systems Network”, a creation of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has invented a ridiculous taxonomy to describe hungry people in places like Ethiopia. According to FEWSNET, when it comes to food, there are people who are generally food secure, moderately food insecure, highly food insecure, extremely food insecure and those facing famine. Translated into ordinary English  and applied to countries like Ethiopia, these nonsensical categories seem to equate those who eat once a day as generally food secure, followed by the moderately food secure who eat one meal every other day. The highly food insecure eat once every three days. The  extremely food insecure eat once a week. Those who never eat face famine and die! The kind of madness that masquerades as “science”!

    In March 2011, I wrote a commentary entitled, “The Moral Hazard of U.S. Policy in Africa” arguing that the TPLF regime is so heavily dependent on the safety net of foreign aid, massive infusion of multilateral loans and a perpetual supply of humanitarian assistance  that were it left to its own devices it will likely behave very  differently (more responsibly). Why shouldn’t the donors and loaners leave the TPLF to deal with the  consequences of its mismanagement of the economy and debilitating corruption? The fact of the matter is that for over two decades, the TPLF regime has gone out into the international community with bowls begging for food to feed millions of Ethiopians without being held accountable by the donors and loaners. As a result, the regime has been completely indifferent to the plight of the people.

    In July 2011, I wrote a commentary entitled, “Apocalypse Now or in 40 Years?” I was and still am concerned whether there will be an “Ethiopia” in 2050. I argued that whether Ethiopia survives as a viable nation in 2050 free of war, disease, pestilence and famine will not depend on an imaginary “double-digit” economic growth or a ludicrous 99.6 percent election victory. It will depend on what is done to deal with the little big 3 percent problem. In other words, overpopulation poses the single most critical problem and decisive issue in Ethiopia today and the years to come.

    In 2011, U.S. Census Bureau made the frightening prediction that Ethiopia’s population by 2050 will more than triple to 278 million. Ethiopia’s chronic “food insecurity” is expected to get increasingly worse culminating in a “Malthusian catastrophe” (where disease, starvation, war, etc. will reduce the population to the level of food production). The TPLF has failed to implement a national family planning program which will avert such a catastrophe. The bottom line is that Ethiopia’s population is growing by 3 percent every year. If Ethiopia cannot adequately feed, clothe and shelter 90 million of its people today, is there any way in God’s green earth that she will be able to feed 278 million in just 35 years?

    In my August 8, 2011, commentary entitled, “Meles Zenawi and the Weaponization of Famine”, I argued that Meles and his TPLF gang were insidiously manipulating  famine as a political and military weapon to cling to power. I argued that famine is not just about images of skeletal children gasping for their last breath of air as their mothers gaze into nothingness in the sun baked landscape. Famine is also a military and political weapon. Meles and his TPLF have used denial of food aid to “rebel areas” in the south/southeast as did Mengistu to “rebel areas” in the north back in his day. That is the classic strategic lesson Meles learned from Mengistu. Famine can be used both as a tactical and strategic weapon against one’s opponents.

    My August 15, 2011, commentary entitled, “Starve the Beast, Feed the People!” was a call to action. I urged Ethiopians to stand up to the Western donors and loaners who continue to support the criminal regime of Meles Zenawi and the TPLF in Ethiopia and declare, “Starve the TPLF Beast, Feed the People!” No more aid to a regime that clings to power by digging its fingers into the ribs of starving children. No more aid to torturers and human rights violators. No aid to election thieves. No aid to those who roll out a feast to feed their supporters and watch their opponents starve to death. Let’s shout in a collective voice to the West — America, England, Germany, the European Union, the IMF, World Bank and the rest of them—“Starve the bloated TPLF-beast that is feeding on the Ethiopian body politics, and help feed the starving people.”

    In my August 22, 2011, commentary entitled, “Why are Ethiopians Starving Again in 2011?”, I gave ten reasons why Ethiopians are still starving in 2011, (and in 2014 as well): 1) Famine is not merely a humanitarian catastrophe in Ethiopia; it is a powerful political and military weapon. 2) Famine is a recurrent fact in Ethiopia because that country has been in an endless cycle of dictatorship for decades. 3) Famine in Ethiopia is an annual crisis because the TPLF dictators do not give a damn if the people die one by one or by the millions.  4) Famine is a structural part of the Ethiopian economy because the “government” owns all the land. 5) Famine persists in Ethiopia because massive human rights abuses persist. 6) Famine persists in Ethiopia because Meles Zenawi’s TPLF regime has succeeded in keeping the famine hidden. 7) Famine persists in Ethiopia because there is a “conspiracy of silence” or a “conspiracy of turn a blind eye”by Western aid agencies, timid NGOs and a mindless international press.  8) Famine persists in Ethiopia because the regime in power for over two decades has failed to devise and implement an effective family planning policy. 9) Famine in Ethiopia is good business for the TPLF. 10) It is true “a hungry man/woman is an angry man/woman.”

    In my August 29, 2011 commentary entitled, “What Should the World Do To Save Starving Ethiopians?”, I offered 10 reasonable recommendations to save starving Ethiopians. 1) Take the moral hazard out of Western aid in Ethiopia. 2) Put humanity and human rights back in Western humanitarian aid in Ethiopia. 3) Promote and support a stable and healthy Ethiopian society through aid, not entrench an iron-fisted and malignant dictatorship. 4) Never bankroll bad actions by dictators with good Western taxpayer money. 5) Make partnership with the Ethiopian people, not the Meles Zenawi TPLF dictatorship. 6) Hold the local paymasters of aid accountable. 7) Condition aid and loans on the implementation of comprehensive family planning programs in Ethiopia. 8) To help the starving people of Ethiopia, help Ethiopian women. 9) To help the starving people of Ethiopia, help Ethiopia’s youth (70 percent of Ethiopians are under age 35.) 10) Starve the (TPLF) Beast, Feed the People.

    In October 2012, I rang the alarm bell in my commentary “Ethiopia: An Early Warning of a Famine in 2013”.  By  carefully piecing data, analyses and findings  from various sources including the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), Oxfam, the U.N. World Food Programme, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and reports of the New England Complex Systems Institute, [NECSI] (a group of academics from Harvard and MIT who specialize in predicting how changes in environment can lead to political instability and upheavals), I warned that 2013 was likely to be the threshold year for the onset of famine or “catastrophic food crises”. I also challenged the ridiculous classifications of the international poverty pimps and  their pseudo-scientific stages of food deprivation, e.g. “acute Food Insecurity”,  “Stressed” situations,  “Crises” mode, etc.

    In May 2012, I argued in my commentary, African Hunger Games at Camp David, that food has been used as a political weapon in Ethiopia.  Hunger has been the new weapon of choice to generate support for the TPLF regime and to decimate their political rivals. Meles and his TPLF have been pretty successful in crushing the hearts, minds and spirits of the people by keeping their stomachs empty.  Those who oppose the TPLF are not only denied humanitarian food and relief aid, they are also victimized through a system of evictions, denial of land or reduction in plot size as well as denial of access to loans, fertilizers, seeds, etc. In the case of the people of Gambella in western Ethiopia, entire communities have been forced off the land to make way for Indian “investors” in violation of international conventions that protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

    In February 2014, I wrote a commentary entitled, “A Glimpse of the Creeping Famine in Ethiopia”. That month an investigative report by NBC news stated, “[Ethiopia] is the face of the world food crises. In a village in Southern Ethiopia, mothers cue with their malnourished children for emergency rations of food. They can’t afford to feed their babies and now it seems neither can the outside world. The distended stomachs, a symptom of the hunger so many here are suffering after two poor harvests in a row, and there are more new cases everyday… They were given food rations ten days ago… The government reserves ran out long ago, and now the U.N. supply is thinning too.” (In 2008, Meles Zenawi said, he knew nothing about the famine in Southern Ethiopia. They still did not know of the famine in February 2014. They believe there is famine only when skeletal children wander the streets and countryside.) The curse of a know nothing do nothing regime!

    I recently challenged President Barack Obama for making patently false statements on September 23 that he knew or should have reasonably known to be untrue when he made them. “We have seen enormous progress in a country [Ethiopia] that once had great difficulty feeding itself. It’s now not only leading the pack in terms of agricultural production in the region, but will soon be an exporter potentially not just of agriculture, but also power because of the development that’s been taking place there.” I should like to believe he was grossly misinformed because USAID’s August 15, 2014  report completely contradicts him.  “Despite a fast-growing economy, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world.  It experiences high levels of both chronic and acute food insecurity, particularly among rural populations and smallholder farmers.”

    Famine in Ethiopia is TPLF-made

    In 2011, Wolfgang Fengler, a lead economist for the World Bank, in a refreshingly honest moment for an international banker said, “The famine in the Horn of Africa is a result of artificially high prices for food and civil conflict than natural and environmental causes. This crisis is manmade.  Droughts have occurred over and again, but you need bad policy making for that to lead to a famine.”

    In other words, it is bad and poor governance that is at the core of the famine problem in Ethiopia, not drought or other environmental causes.   For the past 23 years, the TPLF has mis-governed, mis-administered and mismanaged Ethiopian society, politics and economy. Penny Lawrence, Oxfam’s international director, after visiting Ethiopia in May 2012 observed: “Drought does not need to mean hunger and destitution. If communities have irrigation for crops, grain stores, and wells to harvest rains then they can survive despite what the elements throw at them.” Martin Plaut, BBC World Service News Africa editor, similarly explained  that the “current [2012 Ethiopian food] crisis is in part the result of policies designed to keep farmers on the land, which belongs to the state and cannot be sold.” The entire responsibility for Ethiopia’s famine (or whatever sugarcoated word they want to use to disguise famine) rests at the feet of the TPLF leaders.

    So the obvious questions are:

    Why does a regime that has rejected socialism and is presumably committed to a free market economy insist on complete state ownership of land?

    Why is there not an adequate system of irrigation for crops, grain storages and wells to harvest rains throughout the country?

    Where is the TPLF leaders’ plan for food security for the country?

    Do TPLF leaders really think that by giving away millions of hectares of land to so-called investors for commercialized export agriculture they will prevent famine or ensure food security in Ethiopia?

    Do the international poverty pimps believe that they can make Ethiopia self-sufficient by giving the TPLF food aid which the TPLF in turn will weaponize to maintain itself in power?

    Do the international poverty pimps believe that they can fill the bellies of starving Ethiopians with assurances that they are only suffering from “extreme malnutrition”?

    Post-Script

    I find it extremely distressing  to see few Ethiopians taking the lead in remembering the great tragedies of the Ethiopian people over the past several decades. I am grateful that the BBC has taken media leadership today to commemorate the Great Ethiopia Famine of 1984.  I am ashamed (but eternally grateful to our Western friends) that Ethiopia’s defenders in times of great tragedy are Western institutions and personalities. When our human rights are violated, our defenders are organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Freedom House, Genocide Watch and others. When our independent journalists are jailed and exiled, it is the Committee to Protect Journalists that mans the defensive lines.  When our rivers and indigenous people are facing extinction, it is International Rivers and the Oakland Institute that come to our defense. The double shame of it is that few of us are even donating members of the very organizations that defend our rights and dignity. (The truth hurts, doesn’t it?!)

    Perhaps some of my readers may disagree, but I see few CIVIC-SOCIETY organizations toiling to defend human rights or press rights in Ethiopia. I see few civic organizations standing up to prevent genocide in Gambella, the Ogaden and many other parts of Ethiopia. I see few civic organizations dedicated to the promotion of youth issues or women’s causes. I am aware of only one civic organization dedicated to celebrating the achievements of distinguished Ethiopians. Why can’t we stand for ourselves? What is that our Western friends got that we ain’t got? Is it money, knowledge, commitment….? What? Why can’t we stand and defend out rights against thugs?

    As we remember the 1984 Great Ethiopian famine in 2014, I want my readers to be very aware that there is famine going on in various parts of Ethiopia today. Just because the BBC or some other investigative body is not reporting it does not mean it is not occurring. One of the reasons the TPLF regime has clamped down so hard on the independent press is to prevent such reports from going out into the international media.

    I also want my readers to be aware that the international poverty pimps that pump billions in food aid into Ethiopia every year have a “conspiracy” of silence not to use the “F”amine word. They want to skin over the ghastly face of FAMINE in Ethiopia with discombobulating bureaucratic phrases and words.

    On a personal note, I find it mind-boggling that one person’s voice should be heard week after week for years on so many important topics affecting Ethiopia and Ethiopians when there are so many Ethiopians scholars and men and women of learning throughout the world who could also have their voices heard. People are “amazed “that I have written long commentaries on so many topics every single week, without missing a single week, for years and expressed my voice and views. I do not find that amazing at all. What I find mind-bogglingly amazing is the fact that so many learned and intellectually accomplished Ethiopians have chosen to speak their minds every single week, without missing a single week, year after year, with their thunderous silence.

    Commitment and passion for any cause are unique to the individual, but I believe every Ethiopian, particularly those blessed with great learning, have a duty to man up and woman up to the cause of human rights and dignity in Ethiopia, Africa and elsewhere.  I am afraid that when future generations of Ethiopians look back at our generation, they will all stand up, point their collective index fingers and resoundingly shout out, “We Accuse!”

    La luta continua! (The struggle continues!)

    Famine in Ethiopia sugarcoated with fancy words and phrases is still famine!

    Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino and is a practicing defense lawyer.

    Previous commentaries by the author are available at:

    http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/

    www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/

    Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:

    http://www.ecadforum.com/Amharic/archives/category/al-mariam-amharic

    http://ethioforum.org/?cat=24

     

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    WRITTEN BY  

    Yared (not his real name), a thin Ethiopian immigrant with a pale face, has lived in Switzerland for 12 years. He left Ethiopia 13 years ago and his journey to Switzerland was not an easy one.

    He had to start from Mombasa, Kenya, Frankfurt, Germany and Lyon, France to reach there. This route cost him USD 20,000. The cost for the journey, which was made a long time ago, makes one raise his eyebrows since other immigrants who follow same route in recent times are said to have paid much less.

    Yared was at a law firm in the first week of June this year with his lawyer, Anna Fadini. The law office supports immigrants in Lausanne, the fourth largest city in Switzerland. He was there to seek advice on how to get his wife – an Ethiopian immigrant – a residence permit. For him, it took eight challenging years to get his permit. 

    Back in Ethiopia, Yared used to work as a customs officer at the Ethio-Djibouti border. He alleges that did not get the promotion he deservesd and was pushed by officials to join the ruling party [Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front]. “This forced me to quit my job,” he told The Reporter. Formal resignation was unthinkable so he just disappeared, prompting his office to file charges against him. Charges were looting money and a pistol that he had as an officer. Frustrated by these developments, he opted to leave the country and went to Kenya. 

    Though he mainly left because of work related incidents, the situation in the country was not easy for him and his parents who were supporters of the former regime – Derg – and the fact that they oppose the current government left them in an uncomfortable situation. He believes that after the EPRDF took power his family’s business went down the drain.

    In Switzerland, he waited while doing some tough jobs and had to pass through many difficulties for eight years and to get his permit. Though he lauded his host country for the provision of social services like healthcare for all people, he also said he faced racist remarks while living in German-speaking parts of the country.

    Another Ethiopian immigrant woman, who requested anonymity, lives in Bern, another major city in Switzerland. Her work is providing Ethiopian food for restaurants. She also gives door-to-door cooking services for various functions. She also works at a daycare center for two days a week. She also takes care of an 86-year-old woman for three hours each day. She came to Switzerland 15 years ago with her 2-year-old son. Prior to coming there, she spent 3 years in South Africa.

    Upon arrival, she turned herself in to the authorities and had to spend a week at the police station. Then in refugee camps and after all the processes, her asylum request was denied. She was left with a right to food stamps, just as the fate of many Ethiopians in similar situations. Though many of them try working in “black markets”, most of them only get food.

    She lived in a house with four other people. Though things are better off now, the road that took her there was not easy at all. Fortunately, she started getting jobs with the help of some people and tried her best to improve her situation by learning the language and living independently. That eventually helped her earn a work permit. That had happened after staying there for eight years.

    Currently, her son is 17 years old. Though she visited Ethiopia many times, her son refused to accompany her, saying that his country is Switzerland, not Ethiopia. “I learned that let alone those who left the country very young, even others who remember things are not willing to return for a visit,” she said.

    Asked by The Reporter to comment on Ethiopians who take risks and made lots of sacrifices to go to Europe she said: “Neither will I encourage them to come nor will I discourage them.” She believes that the road is a very challenging one but says that it may be worth it if a better life awaits them. She refused to tell her name because of the information she provided for the asylum.

    Another 32-year-old Ethiopian woman in Fribourg town arrived in Switzerland eight years ago. She is married and has three children. Like many Ethiopian migrants her application for asylum was rejected. Finally, she managed to get residency permit because her husband got a government job. 

    She said her expectation about life in Switzerland was very much far from what she saw there. The refugee center she first went to looks more like a prison, crowded and dirty. Then government rented house she was transferred to was located at the border with France; a place where people do not live. She says that whatever money she gets it she pays it cover her bills. “I have no savings to go back home,” she tells The Reporter. 

    Other trainings like cooking and childcare are given at the language center  the 32-year-old woman goes to. Alvira Murphy, coordinator of the center, says the fact that many immigrants are illiterate is a big challenge.

    After staying at government centers for three months for repeated interviews, immigrants are sent to regional centers. Despite uniformity in practices at federal level, each canton (region) has a right to decide how it administers the affairs of the immigrants, including how much money to allocate for their expenses (usually for food and shelter). For instance, some regions prefer to give food stamps than money and though insignificant, there is a difference in the amount of money between regions where there is preference for money over food stamps. 

    There are five immigrant centers in Fribourg, of which two are located in the center of the town. There is also a center outsourced to a private company to be administered. The rooms for immigrants, housed in an old building, were small. Since the building hosts many people, cooking in the shared kitchen whenever one wants is difficult. So there is a schedule for it. The refrigerator is also shared, with small boxes for each occupant.

    The administrator of the private center, Claude Gumy, says that each immigrant has 12 Swiss francs (USD 12.60 or 255 birr) allowance for each day. The division is 10 francs for food, one for laundry and one for incidental expenses. The allowance is given twice a month. Immigrants have health insurance and the center is visited by nurses bi-weekly.

    Gumy also notes that despite the counting/checking the immigrants three times a week, there is an act of disappearance. Some of them return back after a while. He said in most cases the asylum application is rejected because many of them went there for economic, political and family union cases. 

    He reckons there are some who even left for another European country before knowing the results of their application. But, according to the Dublin Treaty of European countries, any immigrant must apply for asylum at his first entry and not for a country of his choice. This is the reason why many cases are being rejected. Officials that spoke to The Reporter say that many immigrants in Switzerland have such cases. 

    According to Gumy, going to jail for petty crimes such as theft is another challenge added to going to another country. Another huge hindrance is, despite efforts to integrate immigrants by giving various trainings to enable them to be independent, is immigrants inability to read and write and also failure to be willing to work. Young men and teenagers are the culprits of such acts. Another point he cited is the flux of workers from other European countries because of economic problems which made the job market very competitive. 

    Nigisti Gidey, 37, went to Switzerland two years ago. Her first stop Over was in Italy and she managed to cross Switzerland’s border within a few days assisted by smugglers. She told The Reporter that her travel was organized by an illegal agency in Addis Ababa and the whole process cost her ten thousand dollars.

    She thought that she would make it big in Europe only after two to three months living as an asylum seeker. She dreamt of taking her husband in a short period of time and living happily ever after. But after living as an asylum seeker in Switzerland for one year and five months her request for refugee status was rejected and she clearly understood her dream of living in Europe is just going to be a dream.

    At this time she started to think of coming back to Ethiopia and fell sick with a swollen lung infection and her husband’s effort to convince her worked and made her return fast.

    Nigisti and her husband now own a unique opal processing and export business that has been embraced by the International Organization for Migration (IOM’s) Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Program and financed by the Swiss government and Cantonal donor. There are many Ethiopians who dream of going to Europe and the US. Though it did not work out for her, Nigisti says, “Let them go and try their luck.”

    According to information The Reporter got from the IOM office in Addis Ababa, last year 12 Ethiopians returned through the Voluntary Return and Reintegration Program.

    This is not the only face of the lives of Ethiopians in Switzerland. There are Ethiopians working for different UN agencies and other international organizations. Although migration has always been perceived as individuals’ decision to flee poverty and has negative connotations; it is factual that migration contributes in different ways for both countries of origin and host. 

    Developing countries benefit from remittances, unemployment is reduced and young migrants enhance their life prospects. Returning migrants bring savings and skills. These and other factors made migration considered as an agent of development rather than only a phenomenon that burdened countries.

    Zerihun Tadele (PhD) heads the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture’s Teff Biotechnology Project at the University of Bern (Switzerland). He concentrates on improving economically important, but under-researched crops for the developing world. Zerihun is also coordinating the International Teff Genome Sequencing Initiative. He holds agronomy and molecular biology degrees from the universities of Addis Ababa, Alemaya, and Basel (Switzerland), and teaches at the University of Bern. He is heading similar projects on Teff in Holeta and Bishoftu towns as well. Zerihun says that his work on Teff is not related to the controversial Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) but is called mutagenesis.

    For him and for the Ethiopian framers benefiting from the project, implemented under his supervision, migration is positive while it is the reverse for those Ethiopians who went to Europe dreaming as if it was heaven, he told The Reporter. “Most of them pass through hardship for years to secure their permit. For some who got the chance to work professionally like me, migration can be seen as an opportunity but for those who are well educated being a laborer cannot be considered as an opportunity.” Zerihun said.

    Asked by The Reporter whether he has plans to move back to Ethiopia, Zerihun replied that he will be back when the project he is working on in Bern is concluded.

    A migration analyst at the Switzerland Federal Office for Migration told The Reporter that relatively the number of Ethiopian asylum seekers in the country is low and he estimates the number is around 15 per month.

    However, his office does not believe any African country is safe, acceptance of request of asylum is highly dependent upon the individual’s reason for asylum, he explained. He says that propounded fear of persecution on accounts of political opinion is an instance. Being member of opposition political parties like the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ginbot 7 and being a journalist are common cases of Ethiopian asylum seekers in Switzerland.

    According to information obtained from the office, in 2013 there were 21,465 cases and 246 cases were presented for the office by Ethiopians. In the same year 57 cases got positive response while for 31 cases were granted temporary permit. Starting from 2004 up to 2013 annual average of the number of Ethiopian case is 229.

     Ed.'s Note: Crossing around the world, 7 teams of journalists from Switzerland and "Beyond" examine the theme "The Migratory Equation". More on http://eqda.ch/site/.

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    የመንግሥት ስልጠና የምርጫ ቅስቀሳ አካል ነው ብሏል 
    የምርጫ ጊዜ ሰሌዳ ለምን ወጣ መባሉ ተገቢ አይደለም - ምርጫ ቦርድ

    መንግስት፤ የዩኒቨርሲቲ መምህራንና ተማሪዎችን ጨምሮ ለተለያዩ የህብረተሰብ ክፍሎች እየሰጠ ያለው ስልጠና የምርጫ ቅስቀሳ አካል ነው ሲልም ፓርቲው ኮንኗል፡፡ 
    የኢትዮጵያ ማህበረ ዴሞክራሲ ደቡብ ህዝቦች አንድነት ፓርቲ ሰሞኑን ለብሄራዊ ምርጫ ቦርድ ባስገባው ግልፅ ደብዳቤ፤ ያለፉት አገር አቀፍና የአካባቢ ምርጫዎች ከመካሄዳቸው በፊት በምርጫ ችግሮችና መፍትሄዎቻቸው ዙሪያ ኢህአዴግ ከተቃዋሚዎች ጋር የሚወያይበት መድረክ እንዲዘጋጅ በተደጋጋሚ ብንጠይቅም እስካሁን ከቦርዱ የተሰጠ ተግባራዊ ምላሽ የለም ብሏል፡፡ 
    ሃገሪቱ “በአንድ አውራ ፓርቲ” ብቸኛ ቁጥጥር ስር መውደቋ አደገኛና አሳሳቢ ነው ያለው ፓርቲው፤ የመድብለ ፓርቲ ስርአት የመገንባት ተስፋችን ጨርሶ እንዳይከስም ቦርዱ ሃላፊነቱን መወጣት እንዳለበት አሳስቧል፡፡ ነፃና ፍትሃዊ ምርጫ የሚካሄድበትን ሁኔታ ለመፍጠር ገዥው ፓርቲና ሃቀኛ ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎች የሚወያዩበት መድረክ እንዲያመቻች በህግ ስልጣን የተሰጠው ምርጫ ቦርድ የገባውን ቃል በማጠፍ መድረኩን ሳያመቻች የምርጫ ጊዜ ሰሌዳ ማዘጋጀቱ ፋይዳ የለውም ብሏል - ፓርቲው፡፡ 


    ገዥው ፓርቲ ኢህአዴግ በተሻሻለው የምርጫ ህግ፣ ለቦርዱ የተሰጠውን የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች የጋራ መድረክ የማስተባበር ስልጣን ለመቀማት ታማኝ ፓርቲዎችን በተቃዋሚ ስም አሰባስቦ “የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች የጋራ መድረክ” በመፍጠር የምርጫ ውድድር አሯሯጭ አሰልፏል ሲል ፓርቲው ተችቷል፡፡ገዥው ፓርቲ ያልተገደበ መንግስታዊ ስልጣኑን በመጠቀም የተለያዩ ጫናዎችን እያሳረፈ፣ ተቃዋሚ በሌለበት በአፈናና በጉልበት ሃገሪቱን በአምባገነንነት እየገዛ ነው ያለው ፓርቲው፤ በአሁኑ ወቅት መንግስት ለተለያዩ የህብረተሰብ ክፍሎች እየሰጠ ያለው ስልጠና የምርጫ ህግን የጣሰ የምርጫ ቅስቀሳ አካል ነው ብሏል፡፡ ለስልጠናው በሚሊዮን የሚቆጠር ሃብት ማባከኑም አግባብ አይደለም ሲል ፓርቲው ተቃውሟል፡፡ ምርጫ ቦርድ ከስነምግባር ደንቡ ውጪ የሆነውን የኢህአዴግን አካሄድ ማስቆም ሲገባው እርምጃ አለመውሰዱ ቦርዱ በፓርቲው ተፅዕኖ ስር መውደቁን ያሳያል ብሏል - ፓርቲው፡፡ 


    የኢማዴ-ደህአፓ ሊቀመንበር ፕ/ር በየነ ጴጥሮስ ለአዲስ አድማስ በሰጡት ማብራሪያ፤ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ ስልጠናው በመንግስት ፖሊሲዎች ዙሪያ ግንዛቤ የማስጨበጥና መንግስታዊ ኃላፊነትን የመወጣት ስራ ነው ቢሉም ለስልጠና በተሰራጩ ሰነዶች ላይ “ፓርቲያችን ኢህአዴግ” የሚሉ አገላለፆች መስፈራቸውን ጠቁመው ይሄም በቀጥታ የመንግስት መዋቅርንና ሃብትን በመጠቀም የፓርቲን አጀንዳ የማስረፅ (ኢንዶክትሪኔሽን) ስራ ነው ብለዋል፡፡ 


    በስልጠናው ወቅት የተበተነው ሰነድ ስለኢህአዴግ መስመር የሚተነትን ነው ያሉት ሊቀመንበሩ፤ ሰነዱ የፓርቲ እንደሆነ እየታወቀ ስልጠናው የመንግስት ነው ማለት ተቀባይነት እንደሌለው ተናግረዋል፡፡ 
    “መንግስት ፖሊሲውን ለማስገንዘብና የፈፀማቸውን ተግባራት ለማሳወቅ ስልጠና ማዘጋጀት አይጠበቅበትም፤ በሴሚናርና በዎርክሾፕ መልክ መድረኮችን ማዘጋጀት ይችላል” ብለዋል ፕ/ር በየነ፡፡ 
    ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ኃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ በቅርቡ ከህዝብ ተወካዮች ምክር ቤት አባላት በዚህ ጉዳይ ዙሪያ ለቀረቡላቸው ጥያቄዎች በሰጡት ምላሽ፤ “በምርጫ አሸንፎ ስልጣን የያዘ ፓርቲ የመንግስትን ፖሊሲ የማስረፅ ኃላፊነት እንዳለበት ገልፀው ለምን ይሄን አደረጋችሁ ብሎ መጠየቅ ህዝቡ ለምን መረጣችሁ እንደማለት ነው ብለዋል፡፡ የኢማዴ-ደህአፓ ደብዳቤ ለምርጫ ቦርድ ፅ/ቤት መድረሱን ያረጋገጡት የፅ/ቤቱ ም/ዋና ኃላፊ አቶ ወንድሙ ጎላ፤ ሁሉም ፓርቲዎች በምርጫ የጊዜ ሰሌዳ ላይ ያላቸውን አስተያየት በፅሁፍ እንዲያቀርቡ በተጠየቀው መሰረት የቀረበ ደብዳቤ ነው፤ ቦርዱ ተሰብስቦ የሚያየው ይሆናል ብለዋል፡፡ 


    ፓርቲው ለፅ/ቤታቸው ባስገባው ደብዳቤ፤ ተቃዋሚዎች ከኢህአዴግ ጋር የሚወያዩበት መድረክ እንዲዘጋጅ ተጠይቆ ምላሽ ሳይሰጥ የምርጫ ጊዜ ሰሌዳ ለማውጣት መጣደፍ አግባብ አይደለም ማለቱን የጠቀስንላቸው አቶ ወንድሙ፤ ለምርጫ ቦርድ የምርጫ የጊዜ ሰሌዳ ትልቅ ትርጉም እንዳለው ጠቁመው፤ የጊዜ ሰሌዳ ለምን ይወጣል መባሉ ተገቢ አግባብ አይደለም ሲሉ ተችተዋል፡፡ ምክትል ዋና ኃላፊው፤ የውይይት መድረክ የተባለውን በተመለከተ ምርጫ ቦርድ በቀጣይ የሚያዘጋጀው ይሆናል ብለዋል፡፡ በጊዜያዊነት በወጣው የምርጫ የጊዜ ሰሌዳ ላይ የፓርቲዎች አስተያየት ከተሰበሰበ በኋላ በቦርዱ ውይይት ተደርጎበት ሲፀድቅ፣ ለህዝቡ ይፋ እንደሚደረግም አቶ ወንድሙ ለአዲስ አድማስ ገልፀዋል፡፡

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    30 years after images of Ethiopian famine haunted British TV screens, they still shape how we see Africa - and ensure we fail to understand.

    It’s 30 years since Michael Buerke’s harrowing report of a ‘biblical famine’ reached BBC TV screens. Following a year of cynical government inaction and silence, Bob Geldof launched a frenzied celebrity campaign to get aid to the famine-hit regions.

    Money from the public, if not the government, poured into the country. But in the process, the politics of what was happening in Ethiopia was completely erased, and our ideas of ‘charity’, ‘hunger’ and indeed ‘Africa’, were changed in fundamental ways which to this day are difficult to challenge.

    The BBC remains proud of its reporting of Ethiopia’s famine, and certainly it directed public attention to a horrific situation. But it did this at the price of understanding what was really happening in Ethiopia, a problem compounded by Bob Geldof who insisted on seeing the famine as a terrible ‘natural disaster’.

    In fact Ethiopia’s authoritarian government under Mengistu Haile Mariam, heavily armed by the Soviet Union as a key proxy player in the Cold War, was waging a war against Eritrean and Tigrayan freedom fighters. Drought was being used by Mengistu as one tool to starve and defeat the rebel areas.

    Yet when aid started flowing in, it largely went to the Ethiopian government itself, which further used that aid to forcibly displace thousands of opponents. In an excellent article for the Guardian yesterday, former BBC journalist Suzanne Franks makes clear just how problematic the aid effort was:

    Victims of famine were lured into feeding camps only to be forced on to planes and transported far away from their homes. Some estimate the number of deaths from this policy to be higher than those from famine.”

    As Franks says, Médecins sans Frontières refused to play along – a principled position they have maintained in humanitarian emergencies ever since. War on Want sent aid directly to rebel areas, where it was administered by the rebel infrastructures and senior Labour Party figures like Glenys Kinnock continued to support the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front and expose the horrific circumstances they were facing.

    But by and large, aid agencies played along with the politics as the best chance they had of getting aid in. Indeed, the Ethiopian famine played a huge role in the enormous growth of the aid industry over the next few years.

    Unfortunately, I’m not convinced that such a situation would be tackled more honestly today. Partly that’s because the way Ethiopia was treated fundamentally shaped the way we view Africa. Our idea of starving Ethiopians – helpless, passive and in desperate need of Western salvation – became our image of Africa as a whole. Media and governments played a role, but the biggest culprit was the aid organisations themselves, who understood it was untruthful, but found it an incredibly successful way of raising money.

    Thomas Sankara/Wikimedia

    In a report commissioned several years ago called ‘Finding Frames’, researchers found that this framing of Africa – what they describe as the ‘Live Aid’ legacy – remains incredibly strong today. Swept away is the political context of Africa – the decades of Empire and slavery through to structural adjustment and debt crisis. Also ignored are the many examples of African resistance and success – from the national liberation governments of the 1950 through to Thomas Sankara’s transformation of Burkina Faso up to 1987. Africa’s agency is marginalised.

    The idea that we are a ‘Powerful Giver’ to ‘Grateful Receiver’ continues to dominate the aid discourse today, constantly reinforced by some aid agencieswho still insist of perpetuating offensive imagery in order to raise funds.

    It’s important we use the anniversary of the Ethiopian famine not simply to show ‘how far Ethiopia has come’, after all Ethiopian civilisation long precedes our own. Rather we should use it to review our image of, and relationship towards Africa, and refuse to support those organisations which still grow rich on the ‘Live Aid’ legacy

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    Terrorism in the EOC? What an Irresponsible and a Satanic Campaign!

    October 14, 2014

    by T.Goshu

    1. as an Introductory View Point

    It has never been uncommon to us (Ethiopians) to come across a political history characterized by not only controlling the three branches of government (the legislature, judiciary and executive) but also controlling and abusing all governmental institutions and agencies by those who have come to power by hook or crook, or through deception and destruction . It has neither been abnormal nor surprising to us to experience a long period of political culture characterized by not only controlling and abusing political or governmental institutions but also social and religious institutions. As my comment is about the later particularly the very ugly mix of politics and religion, I want to proceed accordingly.
    It has neither been uncommon nor unexpected to experience a very miserable history of internal politics for a long period of history in a country with the mere existence of constitutions (cynically produced documents) that have been and continued to be applied at the very will of the rulers in order to protect their abusive power. There has never been a real sense of constitutionalism that should protect the very basic rights of citizens, not to mention democratic rights in the real sense of the term.Terrorism in the EOC

    Needless to say, the declarative saying of Emperor Halie Selassie “A country is for all; religion is private” which has been frequently cited was terribly deceptive as far as the political reality that had been characterized by the ugly politico-religious (the palace politics of the Emperor and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church) mix was concerned. It goes without saying that that declarative saying, “…, religion is private” could not make sense in a country where millions Christians were deprived of their very natural rights including God-given ones, and millions of Muslim citizens whose religious rights had been considerably disregarded.

    I do not think it would be necessary to discuss in length here about what happened to the relationship between politics and religion during our “socialist revolution” of the 1970s and early 1980s as it was self-explanatory. As the socialist political philosophy and religious beliefs were made diametrically opposite and badly manipulated, expecting the two to be with kind of harmony could not make sense at all. Is this not a very unfortunate part of our history? Absolutely it is!

    The most challenging but logical and legitimate question in this regard is whether we have showed any willingness and interest to learn from what terribly went wrong and have done something meaningfully better for the last quarter of a century .

    I do not know if our very commonly cited cliché “history repeats itself” has become part of our proverbial norm and clumsy excuse whenever we face a serious challenge, but we terribly fail to succeed. As our political trend keeps swinging from one scary (deadly) pendulum to another, so does our religious direction. And stupidly enough, we seem keep mystifying the very concept of “history repeats itself.” Do not get me wrong that I am intended to foolishly deny or dismiss the truth about the repetition of some historical events for good or bad. What I am trying to say is that witnessing the repetition of horrible political happenings not for a short period of time but a quarter of a century because of our own stupidly repeated failures does not make sense let alone being rationally convincing.

    Now, we are witnessing our “religious leaders” playing an evil-driven campaign under the cover of saving the Church (EOC). Thanks to those who exposed this not only loveless and terribly irrational campaign but also very wildly emotional, terribly wicked and dangerously hate-mongering rhetoric by those clergymen including “His Holiness – the Patriarch (the father of the Church” under the influence of high obsession of personal and group ulterior motives . And it has become much clearer than ever that those clergymen have to ally themselves with the very inner circle of the ruling party if their monstrous motives should be realized. That is exactly what happened in the last week of September (27 and 28). And I would like to appreciate ESAT (Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio) for informing the public timely, credibly and legitimately.

    2. The Conspiratorial Meeting Presided by “His Holiness”

    I attentively and repeatedly listened to one of the priests who claimed to be one of the staunch supporters of the Patriarch (Abune Mathias) at a meeting taken place in his palace on September 27 and 28. It was from the recorded audio broadcast by ESAT and Radio on its program, 10/9/14. To my impression, it was not only what he said but the way he said it speaks clearly and loudly about the very ugly, if not dangerous state of mind of those clergymen that may cause serious consequences to the Church of which its image has already been considerably damaged. Needless to say, this kind of uncontrollably inflammable emotion is very hard to think about let alone to witness exploding in the places of worship we call them blessed to preach love, compassion, tolerance, reconciliatory messages, truth, and forgiveness. Fellow Ethiopians, this kind of satanic rhetoric (fikare sietan) under the cover of religion, I strongly argue must unequivocally be challenged and rejected.

    Because of his evil-driven outrage about those who could not go in line with his “His Holiness” and crony’s ulterior motives (the power and the material benefits attached with it), the priest declared the need to fight against “extremists and even terrorists”. It is extremely outrageous to witness his stupidly ridiculous accusatory statement that was initiated and proposed by “His Holiness” against Mahibre Qedusan and the Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio. The priest could not control the real motive of those leaders and their supporters when he idiotically swung between seemingly religious concerns, the case of African Union (oops!), and the deadly political agenda of the ruling party (TPLF/EPRDF), and praising the “miraculous development” of revolutionary democracy. He angrily suggested to the “Holy Synod” led by “His Holiness” to have a total control over the financial and material resources – just like the ministry of finance or treasury. That is exactly the very gist of the motive of which the priest made crystal clear by using spiritual service (religion) as a cover or pretext.

    How it is terribly disgusting to hear a subordinate member of the highest level of religious leadership insulting those educated individuals (degree holders) as “nothing but those who wander wherever an alcoholic residual (atela) is available”. I wonder how the place where this kind of extremely trash words of mouth are being echoed can be claimed to be the place of worship where the Holy Spirit truly manifests itself.

    The priest talked about the employees (70 to 80) under his supervision, and he strongly argued what will happen to the livelihood of these people if he tries to bring down this number. But on the other hand, he admired the “miraculous works of developmental government”. Here is the question to be addressed to him; “Why not he ask his heroes of development – the ruling party to provide some of his servants with job skill training and make them beneficiaries of “the miraculous development?” Would not this be a good idea instead of keeping excessive number of parasitic manpower at the expense of the Church? By the way, who puts these people (his employees) in this situation whereas a very few top and middle religious officials and their cronies are taking the lion share of the resources of the Church through embezzlement and rampant corruption? I know this comment of mine makes those who fight hard for their own earthly living under the cover of the Great Teachings and Sacrifices of Jesus Christ very uncomfortable. But that is what it is!

    Imagine fellow Ethiopians; those religious leaders and their cronies have never uttered a word about the untold sufferings of innocent citizens who have been intimidated, arbitrarily detained, tortured, disappeared, imprisoned, forced to flee their country and killed for the last several years. Sadly enough, they are asking and encouraging the ruthless ruling party to keep its already unleashed sword more sharpened and keep those who may try to go against their will and interest silent and frightened. I want to stress once again that that was exactly what that poisonously hypocritical meeting presided by “His Holiness” all about. It was nothing but sending a conspiratorially warning message to the people through a highly dramatized politico –religious rhetoric.

    I do not know how any follower of the Church (Christian) with his or her right and genuine conscience of faith can afford not to be seriously concerned and do what is best for his or her belief. I do not know for how long should we go along with this kind of politico-religious mess and pretend that everything is fine. I strongly argue that the tradition of being compliant with the wrongly mystifying image of the leadership and other clergymen of our Church should rationally and constructively be challenged and rejected. Those religious leaders and their cronies who are not willing to come back to their common sense of humanity and offer their genuine religious services should unequivocally be told that there is no way to continue playing a role that is no in line with both the very mission of the Church and the interests of the of people.

    3. Mahibere Qedusan?

    I want to be clear that I am not in a position to discuss in length about the very reason that has made this kind of mess between these superior and subordinate bodies (the Synod and Mahibere Qedusan) which both claim basically believe in the same creed and promoting the right mission of the Church. But, I do believe that there is nothing wrong with expressing my view points as any genuinely concerned ordinary citizen or individual. It is from this perspective that I want to reflect my very brief comment. Needless to say, it is the right thing to get organized and advance the genuine secular or religious causes we believe in. And I sincerely believe that Mhibere Qedusan or any other association has the right to do so. Mahibere Qedusan may have its own justification for its coming into being (1984 E.C); and others may have their own version of narration on the question of how and why Mahibere Qedusan was established and why the previous Association (Haimanote Abew) has vanished. But I do think the real story behind this internal religious tug of war and its undesirable consequences are not clear enough yet. I hope time and history will tell the truth about this kind painful hide and seek game which keeps lingering around our Church we call it the place of blessing and mercy.

    I am saying this not because either I belonged/belong to this ort that group or I am with a power of knowledge about the religious groupings which come and go for good or bad. I am just raising a genuine concern about our tradition of destroying the past and restarting from the scratch both in terms of our secular and religious practices. We have never been the people of correcting what went wrong in our past practices and making them more sound, and developing the culture of continuity. Unless we want to be dishonest with ourselves, we still are victims of the culture of start and discontinue, organize and disorganize, inform and disinformation/misinform, orientation and disorientation, trust and ridiculous mistrust, and so on and so forth. I am not saying here that these opposite/ contradictory phenomena are not and should not be parts of the natural and even social realities we live in. Absolutely not! What I am trying to say is that we unfortunately have gone beyond what is normal and we are paying unnecessary price. Let me reiterate once again that the main reason for this ugly trend of ours emanates from nowhere else, but from our terribly excessive and harmful egoism (materially or otherwise).

    There was/is nothing wrong for Mahibere Qedusan to operate under the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s Synod. But, correct me if I am wrong, that I do not hear from the association a real sense of courage to express its concern about the untold human rights violation of the innocent people of Ethiopia by the ruling party to the extent of intervening in the very affair of the Church and making it part of its dirty (deadly) political agenda and practice. I do not think collecting money and helping certain churches and monasteries here and there but keep silent about the absence of freedom and gross violation of human dignity makes a real sense both in terms of our religious and secular world. I strongly want to argue that although the people of Ethiopia could not be fortunate enough to have great personalities such as Abune Petros of ours, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and etc., they deserve to be led by people who relatively are courageous and honest enough about advancing the causes they stand for. That is what we are seriously lacking as far as the issue of making meaningful linkage between our words and deeds is concerned. I wish I could be deadly wrong when I argue that it is very unfortunate to witness the Synod and Mahibere Qedusan engaging themselves in undesirable, if not very ugly conflict for the sake of who should control the resources of the Church and use them as the means of having dominant power. I am well aware that this comment of mine would make both sides very unconformable, if not aggressively defensive. But that is, I strongly believe what the reality on the ground speaks.

    4. So, what is to be done to get out of all this terrible mess?

    I am well aware that several years have passed since we have made the points of suggestions I am going to jot down. We have used them as parts and parcels of our speeches, discussions, interviews, statements, conversations, arguments/debates, and so on and so forth. And I will not be surprised if some fellow Ethiopians would ask, “What is new?” My answer will be: we will never be able to get where we want to get without dealing with these sources of our weakness and failure. In other words, whether we like it or not, we cannot afford being tired of dealing with these issues now and then as long as the serious problems we continue to face remain unresolved.

    Who else make us free and let enjoy our fundamental rights including God-given if it is not we ourselves as a people? Absolutely nobody else!

    Let me proceed to the points I want to highlight:

    a) It has to repeatedly and sincerely be underscored that the major root cause for our social, economic, religious, cultural, moral, and all other aspects of our crises is nothing else, but the chronic illness of our political system. Yes, it is this systemic illness that keeps contaminating all other our valuable systems. I am sorry to say but I have to say that if we do not agree on this serious illness of our political system which we have come across for a quarter of a century, we will stupidly make ourselves victims of tragic failure over and over and over again. Be it religious freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of life, freedom of conscience, and so on and so forth; never be genuinely realized until we come together and say enough is enough to shouldering the dirty, if not deadly political drama. Yes, it will be naïve enough for us to believe things could get better without forcing those tyrannical and ruthless ruling elites either to come to the negotiating table and stop playing the deadly political game or to get out of peoples’ way.

    The next legitimate and logical question is how? The answer is of course through a well-coordinated / unified, unwavering and sustainable organization. I am well aware that many fellow Ethiopians can have another genuine and legitimate question: Are we short of political organizations? Unfortunately enough , not only many but we may be one of those poor countries which keep multiplying /breeding political groupings that are not only good for nothing (except few) but also knowingly or unknowingly play against the force of coming together with a unity of purpose. Sadly enough, our religious institutions have become victims of this very terrible political game.

    If this kind of very dangerous way of doing politics cannot convince those relatively credible and courageous opposition political parties and movements and make them to become a well-coordinated forces, I do not know what else can convince them.

    It would also be so naïve for us to expect those opposition forces to accomplish what they have to accomplish without our meaningfully and sustainably extended support as citizens/individuals, as formal or informal groups, and most critically as a people in general. Our role and support should not, in any way be a matter sympathy or kind of mere generosity of finance or material. It must emanate from deep self- conviction that what we are doing is for getting what we aspire and deserve, that is to bring about a system that guarantees our freedom and well-being.

    b) Those religious leaders and their cronies who are muddling in a very ugly , if not dangerous mix between politics and religion should think deep into their souls and minds and make the right decision for the sake of saving the Church in particular and this generation in general.

    c) The Synod in exile has its own part to play in this regard. There may be some fellow Ethiopians who may argue that the Synod is doing its part. Well, this this has a grain of truth somehow. The question is what about a considerable mismatch between words and deeds. Are we witnessing the trends of more togetherness and unification or the mentality of leave me alone and disunity and unnecessarily multiplying Churches and creating our own small kingdoms? I hate to say but I have to say that the majority of religious leaders and other members do not seem willing and able to see things beyond their circles and make their teachings and services meaningfully and powerfully relevant to the question of what is the root cause for the untold sufferings of the Ethiopian people. Simply put, they simply tell us, not show us what they say is what they mean in the real sense of the term. If we are serious enough about the ugly mix between politics and the Church back home, we cannot and should not continue business as usual. The terrible disgrace we are facing in every corner of our country because of the continuation of very ugly politico-religious mix and drama will never slow down let alone go away unless we seriously and courageously make an appropriate and strong linkage between religious institutions’ teachings and the issues of genuine freedom, rule of law/justice, socio-economic fairness, human rights/dignity/, morality, and etc.

    d) Those so-called “neutral” Churches need to genuinely rethink about getting out of their “comfort zones “and play what they are supposed to play as far the question of how we can and should contribute to the efforts being made by the people to bring about a system in which all human freedoms (including the right to worship) should be guaranteed. I do not believe that the mentality of I am neither with this nor that side or nor for this or that cause at this moment in time (the general crisis in our country) does make sense both secularly and religiously.

    e) Mahibere Qedusan: I sincerely believe that the things you are doing for the Church is highly appreciated. However, if these things could not be appropriately integrated with the efforts being made by the innocent people of Ethiopia for the realization of freedom, justice, genuine peace and stability, human dignity and socio-economic fairness; I have a genuine concern that your mission would remain terribly incomplete. I am not a person of religious knowledge; but I strongly believe that Jesus Christ has died not simply because He wants to show us that we can inherit the heavenly world for the simple reason believing in what he has done but also to show us that firmly standing for the truth and against all horrible injustices requires the readiness to pay an ultimate sacrifice. Are we really implementing our religious missions in line with this great teachings of Jesus Christ that has been intrinsically accompanied by practical example as far as the need to bring about genuine compassion, love, peace, justice, human dignity in our country is concerned? I do not think so unless we pretend and deceive ourselves which of course are the greatest enemies of both our spiritual and secular world.

    Let me sum up my opinion by saying that whatever we preach and teach, whatever we claim ourselves to be messengers of God Almighty, whatever the rhetoric we make, whatever we say we do this and that for our Church, whatever we decorate our teachings with all kinds of great words and phrases of the Great Book (the Bible); what matters most at the end of the day is what we really practically do for the prevalence freedom, justice, human rights , human dignity, love, peace and shared prosperity here on this planet earth. I hope we will be doing so

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    People wait for a bus in Addis Ababa. The government has launched an ambitious modernisation plan in the Ethiopian capital. Photograph: Giorgio Cosulich/Getty

     

    Progress has been remarkable since 1984’s ‘biblical famine’, but inequality, ethnic tension and civil rights issues need to be addressed

    It is now three decades since Ethiopia experienced the infamous famine that cost the lives of more than a million people. The tragedy prompted the BBC’s Michael Buerk to describe it as “a biblical famine in the 20th century” and “the closest thing to hell on Earth”.

    In sharp contrast with that devastating poverty, Ethiopia is now widely considered to be one of a pack of “African tigers”, with ambitious plans to become a middle-income country by 2025. The nation has, “like the proverbial phoenix, managed to rise from the ashes to become Africa’s fastest-growing non-energy-driven economy”, a senior tax adviser at KPMG Kenya recently noted.

    The changes that have taken place in Ethiopia since the 1984 famine are commendable. Despite some dispute over the figures, there is consensus that Ethiopia has registered impressive economic growth for the past decade of somewhere between 8% and 10%. One effect of the progress is a greater capacity to cope with drought, preventing the descent into famine conditions that have occurred in the past. Ethiopia’s development efforts are also praised internationally for meeting some of the millennium development goals, particularly universal primary education and a reduction in infant mortality.

    The government’s investments, the main engine of growth, abound, from building a road network to expanding basic social services, and making a big push in the energy sector. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Damon the Blue Nile, an impressive, self-funded hydropower project heralding the country’s rebirth, will be the continent’s largest upon its completion in 2017.

    Changes are equally visible in trade and investment. Exports have diversified and the country has become a major shipper of oil seeds, flowers, gold and, increasingly, textiles and leather products. This has been enabled by a steady growth in foreign investment, particularly into floriculture and manufacturing. It is indeed astonishing to see Ethiopia fast becoming a popular destination for global giants such as Chinese shoemaker Huajian and H&M, the world’s second-biggest clothing retailer.

    The spectacular change in Ethiopia has been enabled by the relative peace and stability it has enjoyed over the past two decades, which in turn has allowed its regional diplomatic influence to increase. Although there are still low-level insurgencies in some parts of the country, the ruling coalition has generally governed effectively. This has been buttressed by its allocation of more than 60% of the national budget to sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, education and health, that favour poorer people. Its predecessor spent most of the treasury’s coffers on the military.

    Ethiopia’s big push, like previous surges by the “Asian tigers”, also has costs that cast doubt on its sustainability. Although the government labels it a “democratic developmental state”, the political-economic order that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front follows resembles those Asian models, which delivered rapid economic growth in an authoritarian environment.

    Yet unlike nations such as Singapore and China, whose economic transformation occurred within a closed political system, the EPRDF operates in what is formally a liberal democracy. This ideological entanglement has created structural tension, evident in the restrictions on political and civil rights that are, in theory, enshrined in the constitution.

    Growing economic inequality also threatens to undermine the political stability and popular legitimacy that a developmental state acutely needs. Who benefits from economic growth is a much-contested issue in contemporary Ethiopia. Although the government argues that the suffering caused by rapidly rising living costs is a transient phenomenon inherent in developing economies, the emergence of new economic elites through rentier activity and clientelism has exacerbated the sense of relative deprivation, particularly among urban poor people.

    Additionally, Ethiopia’s economic ambition has a cost for sections of its huge rural population. The country’s five-year growth and transformation plan, begun in 2010, includes tapping into the “abundant extensive land” in the lowlands for large-scale commercial agriculture.

    These peripheral areas - such as South Omo and the Afar region - are where ethnic minorities with a weaker political voice live. The government’s policy of urging these communities to shift away from livelihoods such as pastoralism to sedentary farming, while incentivising foreigners to invest in the same areas raises human rights issues, such as the right to choose a lifestyle and livelihood strategy which are included in the country’s constitution. These are particularly controversial in Ethiopia’s new federal political order, which claims to ensure ethno-cultural justice.

    Whether Ethiopia will attain its ambitious goal of becoming a middle-income country in the next decade depends how it manages the transition from public investment-driven growth to a dynamic, private sector-heavy model. It will also hinge upon its attempts to mitigate the many political and social costs of the transition. Notwithstanding these challenges, it has already been a long, arduous and successful journey from a land of “biblical famine” to one of the brightest economies in Africa.

    • Dereje Feyissa Dori is the Africa research director at the International Law and Policy Institute, a research fellow of the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation and adjunct associate professor at the College of Law and Governance, Addis Ababa University

    Source: http://www.theguardian.com/ 

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    20 የቴሊቪዥን ቻናሎች… ለጐረቤት አገርም ይተርፋሉ!
    ኢህአዴግ ይቅርታ ሲጠይቅ አለመስማታችን ያሳዝናል!   

         ባለፈው ሳምንት የአገሪቱ ፕሬዚዳንት የተከበሩ ዶ/ር ሙላቱ ተሾመ፤ ለሃይል መቆራረጡ ይቅርታ መጠየቃቸውን አጉልቼና አፍክቼ መፃፌ ይታወሳል፡፡ ይሄ ብቻ አይደለም፡፡ ቀደም ሲል የከተማዋ ከንቲባም ይቅርታ መጠየቃቸውን አንስቼ፣ ኢህአዴግ አዲስ የይቅርታ ባህል መጀመሩንና እኛንም (መራጩን ህዝብ ማለቴ ነው!) እያስለመደን መሆኑን አወድሼ ነበር፡፡ ግን ተሳስቻለሁ፡፡ ጠ/ሚኒስትሩ የተከበሩ አቶ ኃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ ሰሞኑን በፓርላማ እንደተናገሩት፤ እኛ የኢህአዴግን ባህርይ ስለማናውቅ እንጂ ይቅርታ መጠየቅ ለፓርቲው አዲስ ነገር አይደለም፡፡ (እንዴት ሳንሰማው ቀረን?) በነገራችሁ ላይ ባለፈው ሳምንት ኢህአዴግ የዓመታት የይቅርታ ዕዳ እንዳለበት የጻፍኩት የፓርቲውን ባህርይ ባለማወቅ እንደሆነ ይታወቅልኝ፡፡ (ይቅርታ ባህሉ ነው ተባለ እኮ!) 
    እግረመንገዴን ጠ/ሚኒስትሩ በፓርላማ ከተናገሩት ውስጥ ሌላ ያስደመመኝን አባባል ልንገራችሁ፡፡ በፓርላማ ብቸኛው የተቃዋሚ ተወካይ የተከበሩ አቶ ግርማ ሰይፉ፤ “ኢህአዴግ ከጠብመንጃ ይልቅ ውይይትን ይፈራል” በሚል ለሰነዘሩት አስተያየት ጠ/ሚኒስትሩ ሲመልሱ፤ “በነገራችን ላይ ኢህአዴግ ጠብመንጃም ውይይትም አይፈራም” ብለዋል - በልበሙሉነት፡፡ (ሁለተኛውን ካልሆነ በቀር አንደኛውማ ግልጽ ነው!) ለማንኛውም ግን ኢህአዴግ የውይይት መድረኩንና ተሳትፎውን በማስፋት (በተቃዋሚዎች ቋንቋ የፖለቲካ ምህዳሩን--) በአፍ የተነገረውን በተግባር ማስመስከር አለበት፡፡ በሌላ አነጋገር ውይይት አለመፍራቱን ማሳየት ይኖርበታል (ለሃሜተኞች እድል መስጠት አይገባም!) በእርግጥ ውይይት ሲባል ከደጋፊዎች ጋር ብቻ ማለት አይደለም፡፡ ከተቃዋሚዎች----ፖሊሲውን ከማይደግፉ ቡድኖች-----ከሚተቹት ምሁራንና ጋዜጠኞች እንዲሁም ከአብዮታዊ ዲሞክራሲ የተለየ ርዕዮተ ዓለም ከሚያቀነቅኑ ኢትዮጵያውያን ጋር ሁሉ መወያየትን ይጨምራል፡፡ (“ልማቱን ትቶ ሲወያይ ይክረም”አላልኩም!)  እናንተዬ… ሰሞኑን የተሰራጨውን ዜና ሰምታችሁልኛል? (ያስጐመዣል!) እኔ በበኩሌ የቀረበልኝን ምግብ እንደ መጐምዠት ዓይነት ነገር ነው የተሰማኝ፡፡ እናላችሁ… የኢትዮጵያ ብሮድካስቲንግ ኤጀንሲ በዚህ ዓመት መጨረሻ ላይ ለ20 የቴሌቪዥን ቻናሎች ፈቃድ እንደሚሰጥ የሚያበስር ነው - የሰማሁት ዜና፡፡ እኔማ መጀመሪያ ላይ ጆሮዬን ሁሉ ተጠራጥሬው ነበር፡፡ ምናልባት---ውስጤ ያረጀው የዓመታት  ምኞቴ በጆሮዬ አስተጋብቶ ቢሆንስ---አልኩኝ፡፡ ደግነቱ የሥራ ባልደረባዬ አብራኝ ነበረች፡፡ እናም ዜናው (የምስራቹ) እውነት መሆኑን  አረጋገጠችልኝ፡፡ አዎ… ኤጀንሲው ለ20 የቲቪ ቻናሎች ፈቃድ ለመስጠት አቅዷል፡፡ (ለጐረቤት አገር ሁሉ ሳይተርፍ አይቀርም!) እውነቱን ልንገራችሁ አይደል… እቅዱ በትክክል ተግባራዊ ከሆነ እኮ በኤሌክትሮኒክስ ሚዲያ ባለ ሁለት ዲጂት እድገት ማስመዝገባችን አይቀርም (ጠላት አንጀቱ እርር ይበል!)
    ይሄ እቅድ በኢህአዴግ ቋንቋ “የተለጠጠ” ነው ቢባል እንኳ ግማሹ እውን እንደሚሆን አልጠራጠርም፡፡ ስለዚህ በአመቱ ማገባደጃ ላይ አንድ 10 ቻናሎች አናጣም ማለት ነው፡፡ (ለእነ ደቡብ ሱዳን ሁሉ እንተርፋለን!) በእርግጥ ከምንም ተነስቶ 20 ቻናሎች መክፈት ፈተናዎች ይኖሩታል፡፡ (“ህልም ተፈርቶ ሳይተኛ አይታደርም” አሉ!) አንድ ነገር ልንገራችሁ አይደል…. ብሮድካስቲንግ ኤጀንሲ ቢያደርገውም ባያደርገውም ለድፍረቱ ብቻ ሊደነቅ ይገባዋል፡፡ ከ20 ዓመት በላይ ያልተደፈረ ነገር እኮ ነው የደፈረው፡፡ (አባይን እንደደፈርነው ማለት ነው!) ትንሽ መጠንቀቅ ያለበት ምን መሰላችሁ? እንደ ግል ፕሬሱ “አሳይቶ ነሳን” የሚል ሃሜት እንዳይመጣበት ብቻ ነው፡፡ 20 ቻናሎች ከተከፈቱ በኋላ በተለያዩ ምክንያቶች 15ቱ የሚዘጉ ከሆነ “አንድ እርምጃ ወደ ፊት ሁለት እርምጃ ወደ ኋላ” ይሆናል፡፡ (ወደ ኋላ ከመራመድ  ይሰውረን!) የግል ፕሬሱን የኋሊት ጉዞ ኤጀንሲውም አሳምሮ  ያውቀዋል፡፡ 
    አሁን ደግሞ ሰሞኑን በኢቢሲ (በኢትዮጵያ ብሮድካስቲንግ ኮርፖሬሽን) ወደቀረበው የግሉ ፕሬስ ላይ ያጠነጠነ ዶክመንታሪ እንግባ፡፡ እኔ የምለው ግን… EBC ምን ያህል በጀት ቢመደብለት ነው ይሄን ያህል ተከታታይ ዶክመንተሪ የሰራው? ቀላል አከታተለው! (በሽብር ላይ ራሱ ይሄን ያህል ዶክመንታሪ አልሰራም!) ከሁሉም ያስደመመኝ ደግሞ የርእስ አወጣጡ ነው፡፡ በተለይ ለሰሞኑና ከዚያ በፊት ለነበረው ዶክመንታሪ የሰጠው ርእስ ለአዋርድ እጩ የሚያስደርግ ነው፡፡ የበፊቱ “ያልተገሩ ብዕሮች” የሚል ሲሆን የሰሞኑ ደግሞ “ጥቁር ወተት” ይሰኛል፡፡ (“ማኪያቶ” ለማለት ነው የሚሉ ፌዘኞች አልጠፉም!) የሰሞኑን ዶክመንታሪ በተመለከተ ትንሽ ግራ የገባኝ ነገር ግን አለ፡፡ ዶክመንታሪው የተዘጋጀው ተከሰው ለተፈረደባቸው የግል ፕሬሶች ነው ወይስ በሥራ ላይ ላሉት? የተፈረደባቸውማ…. ገና ክስ ሲመሰረትባቸው አገር ጥለው ስለተሰደዱ የህትመት ውጤቶቹም ቆመዋል፡፡ እናም ማንን እንዳለመ ግራ ያጋባል (ራሱም ያወቀው አልመሰለኝም!) ለማንኛውም ግን በእዚህ ዶክመንታሪ ላይ በግሌ የታዘብኳቸውን አንድ ሁለት ነገሮች ልበል፡፡ (ዕድሜ ሃሳብን ለመግለፅ ነፃነት!) ዶክመንታሪው በዋናነት የግል ፕሬሱ ለአንድ ወገን የሚያደላና ሚዛናዊነት የጐደለው እንዲሁም ከአልሚነት ይልቅ አጥፊነት ላይ እንደሚያተኩር ይጠቁማል፡፡ በተለያዩ አስተያየቶች ተደግፎም የቀረበ ነው፡፡ እናም ለጊዜው የመቃወም ሃሳብ የለኝም፡፡ (ዘመቻ መምሰሉን ግን ማንም አይክደውም!) 
    የእኔ ጥያቄ ግን ምን መሰላችሁ? የግል ፕሬሱ ላይ ያነጣጠረውና “ጥቁር ወተት” የሚል ቅኔያዊ ርእስ የተሸለመው ዶክመንታሪ (ራሱ) ሚዛናዊ ነው ወይ? ከአንድ ምንጭ የተቀዳ የሚመስል አስተያየት ብቻ ስለሰማን እኮ ነው፡፡ (ሆድ ይፍጀው ማለት ይሻላል!)
    በነገራችሁ ላይ… በግል ፕሬሱ ላይ ተሰርተው በተከታታይ በEBC ከተላለፉ ዶክመንታሪዎች ሁሉ አስተያየት ሰጪዎች እንዳሁኑ “በአገር ፍቅርና በህዝባዊነት ስሜት” የተንዘረዘሩትበት ዶክመንታሪ ገጥሞኝ አያውቅም፡፡ ትንሽ ያልተመቸኝ… አንዳንድ አስተያየት ሰጪዎች ጋዜጠኝነትን በአገር ፍቅር ስሜት ለመለካት ያደረጉት ሙከራ ብቻ ነው፡፡ (መብታቸው መሆኑን አልካድኩም!) እንደኔ ከሆነ ግን ጋዜጠኝነትን በራሱ የሙያ መርሆችና ሥነምግባሮች መመዘኑ የሚሻል ይመስለኛል፡፡ (የግል ሃሳብ ነው!) ለምን መሰላችሁ? የአገር ፍቅር ስሜትን መለካት እኮ አስቸጋሪ ነው፡፡ በተለይ ደግሞ በጋዜጠኝነት ሙያ! አልሞከርኩትም እንጂ ምናልባት በ”ልማታዊ ጋዜጠኝነት” ሳይሻል አይቀርም፡፡በመጨረሻ EBC በቀጣይ ለሚሰራቸው እንደ “ጥቁር ወተት” ያሉ የግል ፕሬሱ ላይ ያጠነጠኑ ዶክመንታሪዎች ግብአት ሊሆነው የሚችል አንድ መረጃ ልጠቁመው (በሥራ ብዛት ሊዘነጋ ይችላላ!) EBC በግል ፕሬሱ ላይ ያተኮረውን የመጀመሪያና ሁለተኛ ዶክመንታሪ ከሰራ በኋላ የግል የህትመት ውጤቶች ቁጥር በትንሹ በ10 ያህል ቀንሷል፡፡ ግማሾቹ መንግሥት ከመሰረተባቸው ክስ ጋር በተያያዘ፣ ሌሎቹ ደግሞ አሳታሚ በማጣት ተዘግተው አሳታሚዎቹና ጋዜጠኞቹ አገር ጥለው ተሰደዋል (ለአገር ውስጥ መረጃ ባዳ መሆን ተገቢ አይደለም!) አሁን ደግሞ ወደ ተቃዋሚው ጐራ ልለፍ፡፡ 
    እኔ የምለው… ከተመረጡ ገና አመት ያልሞላቸው የ“አንድነት” ሊቀመንበር ኢንጂነር ግዛቸው ሽፈራው ስልጣናቸውን እንደለቀቁ ሰማችሁ? (ምነው እንዲህ ጥድፍ አሉ?) ለምን ተሾሙ ለምን ይለቃሉ? ሌላ ጊዜ ቢሆን እኮ በመልቀቃቸው ልናመሰግናቸው ሁሉ እንችላለን፡፡(በራስ ተነሳሽነት ሥልጣን የመልቀቅ ባህል የለንማ!) አሁን ግን ምርጫን የሚያህል ከባድ ዕዳ ከፊታቸው አስቀምጠው ሥልጣን መልቀቃቸው ማነጋገሩ አይቀርም፡፡ 
    ቆይ ግን ብዙ የተባለለትን ከመኢአድ ጋር የተጀመረ የውህደት ሂደት ከምን አደረሱት? በ10 ወራት የሥልጣን ቆይታቸውስ ለፓርቲው ምን ጨመሩለት? (ከለቀቁት የሥራ አስፈጻሚ አባላት ውጪ ማለቴ ነው!) ድንገት ስልጣን መያዝ፣ ድንገት መውረድ ሆነብን እኮ! አንዳንዴ…. ከስልጣን የሚወርዱም “ለምን?” መባል ያለባቸው ይመስለኛል፡፡ (አንዳንዴ ነው ታዲያ!) 

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    Kenya’s Laban Korir and Ethiopia’s Mulu Seboka triumphed despite frigid temperatures and a headwind at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, winning at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race in 2:08:15 and 2:23:15 respectively on Sunday.

    Korir chased down the race leaders in the final three kilometres to win the $20,000 first  prize with Tariku Jufar holding on for second place in 2:08:36 and his Ethiopian compatriot Shami Abdulahi third in 2:08:41.

    Suboka regains Toronto Waterfront title after six year gap

    The women’s field went out very hard also and it was Kenya’s Rael Kiyara who led them in single file through the early stages before Seboka the 2008 Toronto Waterfront Marathon winner took over, with just her compatriot Amane Gobena for company, just before the halfway point.

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