‘’ Woyane’s’’ Track Record
By Berhane Kahsay
Dec. 11 2011
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) will soon celebrate its 37th birthday. A handful of dedicated Tigrians initiated this revered organization, and in no time, became a formidable force to be reckoned with. It formed a strong and disciplined army, and with its partners, managed to defeat one of the strongest army in black Africa in just seventeen years. A brutal dictatorship came to an end in May 1991 after a protracted and arduous struggle. In the early days, the TPLF overcame tremendous challenges that threatened its very existence from liberation movements such as the EDU, EPRP, and ELF but were decimated one by one. Not long ago, the EPLF received a similar treatment and is still staggering in a dazed state from the heavy blows that came its way. Al-shebab and Kinijt also had the misfortune of getting a very good hiding from which they have not made a full recovery. Crossing the TPLF has never been a very good proposition, and in the future, they should think twice before they pick on the TPLF.
The partnership of the various fronts led to the formation of the Ethiopian people’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). To date, the EPRDF has won four successive general elections and seasoned pundits believe that it would win the next general election without too much difficulty. When the EPRDF assumed power in 1991, it inherited a country that was divided, broke (empty coffers) and teetering on the verge of bloody civil war. Arm chair commentators predicted chaos and lawlessness similar to what was taking place in Liberia and Somalia but nothing of the sort materialised. Thanks to the EPRDF, Ethiopia was pulled back from the abyss and without further ado commenced work on the stability and construction of the country. In less than twenty years, Ethiopia has been transformed beyond recognition and its people are reaping the benefits.
Private and government initiated constructions are booming in every part of the country. The need for cement is extremely high; as the existing factories could not cope with the demand, thousands of tons of additional cements are being imported regularly. In Addis Ababa alone, 71,000 condominiums have been constructed for the low paid resulting in the creation of 300,000 jobs. Thirty-one new universities have come into existence and the undergraduate in take is expected to go up from 185,788 to 467,000 in the life of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). New primary and secondary schools are springing up in every corner of the country. Enrolment for grade 1 to 8 will reach 100%, and for secondary schools 75% by 2014/2015. Adult literacy rate presently stands at 36% and is forecasted to increase to 95% in about four years time.
Food production has shown a staggering increase over the years. In Tigray alone, in 2005, total crop production was 7 million quintals and in 2010 this jumped to 35 million. The number of people seeking food assistance in Ethiopia now stands at few millions and famine has become a thing of the past. Farmers are getting good money for their produce and this has become an incentive for them to produce more. From their small muddy huts in remote areas, they follow prices thanks to their mobiles and sell their crops at the appropriate time. At this juncture, there are 10 million mobile users country wise, and this expected to rise to 64.4 million in 2014. Primary Health Coverage in every part of the country is envisaged to reach 100% in a couple of year’s time. And this will ensure good health for the food producers and their families who are the backbones of the economy. Water borne diseases will be eliminated as coverage of clean potable water would go up from the current 68.5% to 98.5% by 2014/2015.
To enable the swift movements of industrial and agricultural goods, huge new road construction and upgrading is under way. So far, 49,000 Kilometers have been completed and by 2014 this expected to go up to 136,000. The road transport will be complemented by the construction of 5000 km railway network that will connect various parts of the country with each other and with the ports of Djibouti, Kenya and Berbera. Hopefully this would be extended to Assab and Massaw once the Eritrean dictator is removed from the scene. The project is expected to cost $336 million a year for five years and is estimated to create 300,000 jobs.
Ethiopia can see light at the end of the tunnel. The light will even get brighter when the Grand Dam (4.8 billion Euros) capable of generating over 5000 mega watts becomes operational in a few years time. By the end of 2014, the country would be in a position to generate 8000 mega watts for domestic consumption and export to neighbouring countries. Since this government came into office, numerous dams such us Gilgle Gibe 1( $331 million),Tekeze( $365 million), Tana Beles($500 million ),Gilgel Gibe 2( 370 million Euros), Gilgel Gibe 3(1.55 billion Euros),Fincha Amerti Nesse( $276 million), Halele Worabese( 470 million Euros),Gilgel Gibe 4($ 1.9 billion), Chemoga Yeda($ 555 million), and Genale Dawa 3( $ 408 million) are completed and providing service and some are under construction. With some of these dams already generating energy, the demand for electricity is still astronomical and this is a clear evidence of economic growth and prosperity in the country. More requests for energy would come from the ten sugar factories under construction that would make Ethiopia the 10th largest sugar exporter in the world. A lot more work is needed, and there would be no rest until Ethiopia is on par with middle income countries.
Stability is essential if the momentum of the fast economic growth is to be maintained. The EPRDF has got to search itself from time to time as it did recently to avoid stagnation. Leaders should be brave enough to bring new people with fresh ideas and vision to the forefront. Ethiopia is lucky enough to be blessed with a visionary leader like Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Under his stewardship, the country has travelled significantly and the ground has been laid down for this to continue uninterrupted with a new leader at the helm.
Changes within the sister organizations of the EPRDF are encouraging but the same can’t be said about the doyne of them all, the TPLF. The same people are being shuffled from one post into another and we have had the same leader for over three decades. The TPLF has become solely dependent on PM Meles and it alarming to notice no obvious successor is visible from what is left of the TPLF. It is imperative a major overhaul of the front is carried out as matter of utmost urgency. Fifty thousand people gave their lives for the TPLF and the TPLF is not for today, tomorrow but forever. Let new people come into the horizon and face the challenges ahead with new vigor and determination. It is high time to hand over power to the new generation and only in this way, would the TPLF prosper and go from strength to strength. Failure to do so could eventually lead to its demise and those responsible would be held accountable by the Tigrian people. The enemies of Tigray should not have the last