Ethiopian constitution recognizes the metropolis as the capital of Oromia
Comments on Oromia Special Privileges
By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Online, July 2, 2017
In July 2016 the backward tribal extremest groups were begging Oromos to help them overthrow the Ethiopian government in the name of unity while they were deporting fellow country men from Amara region. Now they are upset because Oromos are to exercise their constitutional right.
Special privileges for Oromo nationals residing in the metropolis and the peripheries, have been ratified by the Council Ministers, and is now waiting for endorsement by the House of Representatives before its inclusion on the statue book. Failure of the executive branch of the government to deal with the long standing and highly contentious issue in a timely and responsible manner led to a bloody unrest that consumed 700 lives and the destruction of foreign-owned factories and flower farms estimated to be worth millions of dollars.
It also sparked a collapse in tourism bookings and the country’s attraction as a destination for new foreign investors was critically impeded as well. Overall, the up-shot of the unrest on one of Africa’s best performing economies was simply colossal. Fortunately, the country is now back on track after the costly tribulations, and according to the recent World Bank report, Ethiopia is at the pinnacle of the fastest growing economies of the world for 2017. So what is encompassed in the White Paper?
Among the proposal in the draft bill is the inclusion of Afan-Oromo as the second working language of Addis Ababa city administration in line with the country’s constitution. Article 49, Part 4 states ‘’The special interest of the state of Oromia with respect to supply of services or utilization of resources or administration matters arising from the presence of the city of Addis Ababa with the state of Oromia shall be protected.’’
Clearly, the Oromo’s are within their prerogatives to demand Afan-Oromo to be considered as the second working language of the city administration because the constitution recognises the metropolis as the capital of Oromia. No doubt that the House of Representatives will approve the draft legislation submitted by the Council of Ministers. It would have been very wise and mature of the government to brief the public (electorates) about this historical constitutional decision instead of ramming it down their throat at the end of it.
This is just a prelude; before too long, article 5, Part 1 of the constitution would be revised to add Afan-Oromo as the second working language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. After all, the Oromos are the single biggest ethnic group in the country making-up to 36 million out of a population of 100 million (2016). This may raffle feathers in the country but bi and tri-lingualism have been in use in many nations for years----- Finland has 2(Finnish and Swedish); Canada 2 (French and English); Belgium 3(Dutch, French and German); Kenya 2(English and Swahili); Algeria 2(Arabic and Tamazight).
In the event of its introduction, it would be wise and farsighted for none-Oromos to voluntarily add Afan-Oromo, like English, to their curriculum so that elementary school pupils could be fluent in the language enabling them to compete for jobs in different parts of the country. It should be the same with Amharic as it is no longer used to the detriment of other languages; seventeen years of hard struggle has empowered citizens to use and develop their own languages and culture to the fullest.
The forced indoctrination of the previous dominant ethnic group’s culture, language, values and history has received a mortal blow and the political system that caused the disappearances and near disappearances of many languages will never be permitted to rear its ugly head again. The added advantage of teaching different languages other than their own, is that, it could become a unifying factor for the various nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia.
Chauvinists will resist the inevitable introduction of bilingualism as well as the current draft legislation that is already in motion, but this would simply be a futile effort to avoid the unavoidable. What is certain is that, their challenge would bring them into direct conflict with the Oromo majority leaving the grand design of the Amhara elite to exploit them to dismantle the federal structure that came about at a huge cost, largely incurred by the valiant Tigrians, in tatters.
Oromos are fully aware of what the remnants of the discarded regimes are up-to. Diaspora extremists tried to lure them during the 2016 unrest but they refused their call for a combined upheaval as they saw no plausible reason to co-operate with those whose forbearers dehumanised and treated them as second class citizens. Besides, it is the constitution that was drafted and enacted when Woyane was at its strongest and Oromo opposition at its weakest that has made it possible for Afan-Oromo to be the second working language of the city administration. The Oromos not only know which side of their bread is buttered, but they are also capable of distinguishing between friend and foe.
The current constitutional measures being considered by the federal government will certainly entice the Oromo elite on board making it practically unattainable for the die-hard chauvinists to reinstitute the old centralised mode of governance controlled by a single ethnic group that made Ethiopia Africa’s basket case.
In addition, respecting the constitutional rights of the Oromo people would immensely dwindle the desire for a secession reducing the constituents of what is left of the OLF and the Islamist Jawar Mohammed. Putting the elements of destruction out of harm’s way would reinforce stability triggering increased flow of foreign investments resulting in greater socio-economic transformations. A peaceful and strong nation with good human rights record, conducive democratic environment; and is in intolerant to injustice and corruption would not be exposed to external interferences deigned to bring it to its knees.
In conclusion, there are elements within the Oromo opposition and the regional and federal governments that disseminate erroneous information asserting that the Oromos have been economically marginalised. This is far from the truth and the situation on the ground is completely different from what their gullible members are led to believe.
Their region has been by far the biggest beneficiary of foreign direct investments. Large numbers of flower farms, garment and other factories are located there and thousands of job have been created as a result. Adama is only a few minutes away from the capital due to the construction a new European type motor-way and this has further increased the huge economic progress the region has made since the establishment of the current federal system.
In terms politics, over 75% of the ministerial portfolios, the presidency and parliamentary seats have been occupied by Oromo nationals. They also come next to the Amharas in terms of their numbers in the federal bureaucracy and receive the biggest portion of the federal budget. And now further privileges from the capital in addition to the elevation of their language to a new status. When this is the actual reality on the field, why spread malicious lies? Shouldn’t these parochial and self-focused, whose contribution in relation to regime change and establishment of the federal system, be thankful to the Tigrian youth who perished to deliver what they have got now on a silver platter? Edo!