Back To Basics, Determination of the EPRDF to conduct a serious reform
By Molla Mitiku Ayenew
Tigrai Online, Ethiopian News, Sept. 29, 2016
There are some people who doubt about the recent promise of the EPRDF to conduct an overall serious reform in a bid to enhance good governance and curb rent seeking activities; thereby, laying bases for another leap that could contribute a significant role in realizing the country’s renaissance.
They argue that the promise is simply a political game and nothing new will happen. The people also question the extent the reform could impact their lives, bring them new opportunities, address their questions and eventually ascertain the renaissance of the country.
In this regard, it is crucial to see the background history of the party to conclude either it is capable of doing that or not. The back history could give everyone to develop a confidence whether EPRDF will manage to go back to its basics or prefer to remain the same position. This piece argues that EPRDF has only two options at this time.
When EPRDF announced it will conduct a serious reform and need to go back to its previous basics, many people especially the young could ask about the back basics of EPRDF.
The back basics of EPRDF includes life devotion to public, democratic nature, ability to see towards itself, addressing public questions, promptly analyzing country and global political and economic trends, respect to nations, nationalities and peoples, working industriously for equal opportunities, enhancing transparency and accountability, respecting ideological differences and the like.
A large number of politicians within the EPRDF have already burned and others have been burning like candles so as to provide light for the Ethiopian people; to bring a bright future; realize the light at the end of the tunnel.
However, it is undeniable that there are also a number of politicians within the EPRDF who have been persuading the public to burn like candles to get light for themselves. These politicians are also ignorant of the interest of the people and failed to properly address various questions posed by the Ethiopian people.
Back to some twenty five years, EPRDF members were so kind, responsible and committed to give their lives, committed to enhance democracy in the country and ensure the equality of all nations, nationalities and peoples. They had never spared any effort for the betterment of the democratic and fundamental rights of the people.
Therefore, back to basics means burning oneself like a candle to give light for the people. This is what EPRDF has promised the Ethiopian people while planning a reform.
Challenges, reforms, achievements
In the aftermath of the severe seventeen years battle with the military junta, EPRDF faced various challenges that compelled it to reform itself. EPRDF had to restructure the party so as to administer the country. Then, it effectively changed its entire structure and ways of administration from what it had during the war.
The other key challenge was to bring all the armed forces to a round table and convince them to endorse a constitution that could accommodate all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. In fact, there were many people who didn’t have confidence on EPRDF in connection to realize lasting peace and stability in the country.
As a result, different political analysts had prophesized that Ethiopia would be disintegrated and the people would be engaged in an unceasing bloodshed. In deed, it was possible to guess that as the situation on the ground persuaded everyone to arrive at a similar conclusion.
But EPRDF incredibly reformed itself to change pessimistic expectations. On one hand, it uprooted the anti-democratic dictatorial military rule that had deprived nations, nationalities and peoples of their democratic and fundamental rights. It incredibly changed the conflicting, disintegrating and challenging scenario to mutual understanding and respect to one another.
Moreover the country was at a deteriorated economy. EPRDF got only about 33 thousand USD when it took power. It was hard for a country with more than fifty million people to stabilize the market with such a small amount of money. That was why some economic analysts prophesized bloody ethnic conflict.
It was surprising that, the country’s economy was reviving from 1991-1999 as the government had designed and carried out Agricultural Development Led Industrialization, which mainly focused on harnessing the two available resources: land and labor as well as integrating it to industrial development. EPRDF overcame those two major challenges and it managed to alter the entire scenario of the country.
The other challenge EPRDF faced so far was the unexpected conflict with Eritrea. When the rogue state in Asmara conquered, Bademe, part of Ethiopia in Eritrea’s border with Tigray, the government of Ethiopia was not well prepared and had no equivalent trained military with the army of the conqueror.
When the country was compelled to engage in bloodshed war with Eritrea, the ruling party had designed a strategy successfully accomplished with a glorious victory. That could show the courage and capability of EPRDF in managing challenges.
The country’s economy has begun to deteriorate in those years of conflict. Besides, there were some members of the party who had been engaged in corrupt practices. The civil servant had also serious problems in serving the society properly. As a result, EPRDF compelled to reform itself so as to address those problems.
EPRDF designed a number of policies that could change the existed scenario. Agricultural, Industrial and Urban Development and Foreign policies were designed and carried out in the past fifteen years.
The past fifteen years witnessed that the reform helped the country to meaningfully transform its economy. It managed to register significant political, economic and social achievements.
So far, five national elections had conducted in which the people had exercised their political power that altered the scenario of coming to power by force. Nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia have got equal opportunities in their country’s political, economic and social affairs.
From the economic perspective, the country has been registering 10.9 percent economic growth in the past ten consecutive years. According to the World Bank, Ethiopia has become one of the emerging leading economies in the world. The agriculture, industry and service sectors have been showing improvements from time to time.
For instance, fifteen years ago the total cereal production was about 70 million quintals that reached more than 300 million quintals at present that meaningfully pulled millions of people out of starvation; a considerable number of farmers out of poverty as the government has trained and assigned more than 60 thousand agriculture extension workers. According to recent reports, the poverty level of the country has reduced to 22.2 percent at this time from 38.7 percent some fifteen years ago.
There are also significant changes in social developments. For instance, the health sector has made a significant stride that there is a health post in every village at present almost from none some two decades ago. There is also a significant boost in infrastructure and investment of the country.
Why deep reform?
There are a number of politicians questioning why EPRDF need a reform? Some of them have also expressed it as a zero sum game. Therefore, it is advisable to justify why EPRDF has determined to conduct a serious reform.
EPRDF has now only two options: either to reform itself or to disappear. If it prefers the later, the consequence will not only end with the disappearance of EPRDF but also it will lead the entire people to a miserable bloodshed and a ceaseless conflict that might not only disintegrate the country but also probably bulldozed the entire situation. But this choice is impossible for a party that had a democratic vision, a party that sacrificed tens of thousands of its members for the betterment of public lives that had paid a severe scarification for the equality of nations, nationalities and peoples.
Obviously, the choice of EPRDF is the first alternative that is to coming back to its very basics. In fact, EPRDF is persuaded by the people to conduct a reform and address public questions.
Why did the people persuade EPRDF to conduct a reform? According to EPRDF officials, the demand of the people and the supply to fulfill their basic needs have mismatched. They argue that the expansion of schools and universities in the past fifteen years let more than 30 million youngster to access education at various levels.
This leads tens of thousands of youngsters to graduate every year in various fields. However, the created jobs are disproportional to the number of graduators. There is incapability of accommodating the large number of youngsters looking for jobs as there are also a lot of youngsters who couldn’t pass to preparatory classes and then to universities.
Although the government created jobs for millions in the past fifteen years, it was not managed properly. There were issues connected with bad governance and nepotism that retarded the proper benefit of the Ethiopian youth. in this specific sector as well as other sectors there are problems of abusing public power to self interest and wealth.
EPRDF announced that it has already evaluated its past fifteen years’ journey and identified the major problems and the officials who have been abusing their public power for their own interests in one or another ways. It concluded that conducting a serious reform will be the only alternative to maintain and strengthen the already ignited development, peace and democracy so that the renaissance of the country will come to a reality soon.
What is odd? A number of people either in government or the party system have been using their public power inappropriately for their personal interests. This scenario paved ways for the rent seeking political economy to take the upper hand mainly in cities.
Some individuals considered public power to lead their own lives, to accumulate wealth or to benefit their intimacies. As a result, network and nepotism have become rife and anti-democratic scenario has taken the upper hand than the democratic nature, which was one of the ‘back basics’ of EPRDF.
These corrupt and rent seeking practices within the government and party systems coupled with individuals in the society who have intentions to collect wealth shortly paved ways for the widespread of narrow and chauvinist attitudes. All the aforementioned reasons have instigated EPRDF to seriously handle its reform and turn back to its basics.
Previous reforms indicated that EPRDF was capable of managing challenges properly and conducting successful reforms. Therefore, there won’t be any reason at this time to be pessimistic on EPRDF’s plan for deep reform. There is a positive expectation that better situations will come in the near future following the party’s reform in contradictory to what pessimists have been propagating.
Anyone who could learn from the very nature of EPRDF may not doubt about this as EPRDF has an ample experience in looking inward, identifying its problems, creating agendas, mobilizing and engaging not only its members but also the entire public.
Therefore, there is no doubt for the ruling party to effectively handle the so called “deep reform’. The reform will not only meaningfully address all questions posed by the people but also create an additional energy to the party and the government in maintaining and strengthening their efforts in bringing lasting peace, enhancing democracy and realizing sustainable economic growth; thereby, achieving Ethiopia’s vision to be a middle income country in 2025.