EPRDF’s dereliction of duty to uphold FDRE constitution and rule of law
By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Online, Nov. 5, 2017
OPDO has to undergo a real root and branch reform, and devise mechanisms that would fish-out corrupt official and their cronies
Not many African countries have done as well as Ethiopia in terms of astronomical economic achievements over the last quarter of a century. IMF recently indicated that ‘the good times will last’ and ‘‘Ethiopian GDP per capita would expand at an annual pace of 6.2% through 2022-among countries with 10 million or more people…’’ An American think tank, Centre for Global Development, heaped praise on the East African nation and concluded that ‘’ Ethiopia was the most likely country in Africa to become the New China.’’
The World Bank also joined-in in acclaiming Ethiopia’s feat when it granted the AU capital an award for being effective in attracting the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) required to realise the country’s desire to become the number one manufacturing hub in Africa by 2025. More hard work, perseverance and astuteness are needed to draw big time investors to the second most populous African nation.
So far, the economic achievements have largely been based on public investments ; and according to the World Bank, government funded projects are the third highest in the world and the sixth lowest in terms of the involvement of the private sector. This direction is definitely not sustainable at all.
What is required right now is a massive drive to woe multinational companies to do business in Ethiopia and maintain the current upward economic trajectory. If the growth trend continues, the country is poised to become a middle income country by 2025(World Bank report, 2015). By any standards, this would be classed as a monumental achievement bearing in mind Ethiopia was the third poorest country in the world in 2000 with annual GDP per capita of about $650.
It is pretty obvious that without an increased flow FDI, Ethiopia would not be able to realise its cherished goals. And in order to entice the very best of multinational companies to the Horn nation, certain stringent conditions must be met and among these being tax incentives, human capital, good governance, competitive wages, population and stability. To date Ethiopia has been successful in attracting FDI, and quoting the World Bank, the Washington Post newspaper reported that Ethiopia has outdone Kenya as east Africa’s largest economy and that ’’foreign investment has increased tenfold, from $265 million in 2005 to $2.16 billion in 2015.’’ (November 2, 2016)
Not a bad accomplishment for a once famine-stricken nation that lost 600,000 people during the 1984 famine. Thanks to the impeccable economic growth, famine has now been made a thing of the past and the country is no longer synonymous with hunger. This will remain as the norm so long as the current political climate remains unaltered.
Lately, the political climate in some parts of Oromia has affected Ethiopia’s external image and this is certain to have a deleterious bearing on the inward flow of FDI. In the edgy region, a number of foreign owned businesses have been looted and destroyed by wild mobs let loose by corrupt officials and extremists in the diaspora. Among those affected factories include Turkish Garment factory set up with an out lay of $78 million, Dangote Cement ($500 million), Habesha Cement (3.8 billion birr) and a number of Dutch companies that provided job opportunities for over 70,000 people.
The Oromia regional government, led by OPDO, seems to have failed in its duty to determine the root causes of the unrest and find a lasting panacea to the recurring difficulties once and for all. OPDO went through a renewal process and claimed to have dismissed thousands from its ranks that were implicated in corruption and fanning the huge unrest that hastened enormous material and human loses. Whatever measures that had been taken by the OPDO failed to tame the unrest, and this clearly underscores the lack of understanding of the underline triggers. Still remain large numbers corrupt officials and committed OLF operatives in its midst causing mayhem and bloodshed in large parts of Oromia.
The failure of OPDO has been exemplified by the recent border dispute with Somalia leading to a number of fatalities and dislocation of over 55,000 people. Furthermore, the enemy within and outside have engineered inter-ethnic strife in different parts of the region resulting in numerous fatalities and displacement of thousands of people who were forced to seek refuge in various churches. No doubt OPDO is struggling to maintain law and order resulting in not being able to guarantee the safety of its citizens and foreign businesses from being pillaged and reduced to vestiges. So, what is the way forward?
OPDO has to undergo a real root and branch reform, and devise mechanisms that would fish-out corrupt official and their cronies, and bring them to justice irrespective of their hierarchy within the organisation. Equally important measures that could curtail the repeated mob rule include weeding out OLF members lodged within OPDO, and making good governance, redressing inequality and creating jobs for the youth as the main priority. OLF would not survive for a single day if fertile grounds were not created for the terror outfit by those involved in an organised corruption with scant respect for justice and basic human rights. Similarly, OPDO has to toil hard in order to win-over Oromo intelligentsia who subscribe to the OLF by offering them a stake in the management and politics of their region; and make the proscribed organisation redundant.
EPRDF is also culpable for allowing the situation in Oromia region to progress to such a dangerous and calamitous level where the cohesion of the nation has been placed in a very perilous predicament. The current party in power is similarly guilty of dereliction of duty for not reacting to the sustained and unprovoked ethnic based attack on citizens residing in Oromia. Since the troubles begun in the restless region two years ago, all the EPRDF did was gloss over the problems and move on instead of taking brave and unequivocal measures to prevent recurrence of the breakdown of law and order.
EPRDF’s hesitancy and lack of action were perceived as indicators of timidity by OPDO leaders and set out to use the anarchy they fomented to extort concessions from the federal government. Scraping ‘Addis Master Plan’, ensuring the status of the metropolis as the capital of Oromia---- as well as the premature lifting of the state of emergency could be cited as examples. No doubt that there is a definite link between revoking the emergency and resumption of the current turmoil and border clashes with Ethio-Somalis.
It was an error on the part of the government to remove the ‘tool’ that sustained the peace by curtailing anarchy and wanton destructions. Even France, a first world country, imposed a state of emergency in 2015 in response to terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds. This is still applicable after being extended many times since its imposition.
Failure of the government to uphold the constitution of the land can only described as a gross dereliction of duty. Article 32, Sub 1, of FDRE constitution stipulates that ‘’every Ethiopian shall have the freedom to freely move and establish his residence within Ethiopia….’’ And yet thousands of Tigrians were forcibly expelled from Gonder two years ago leaving their homes and businesses behind------ ; and no action was taken by the government that was meant to protect their constitutional rights to domicile in any part of the country. Now Amhara and Tigrians dwelling in Oromia regional state have been attacked and a number of fatalities have been reported. Once again no constitutional shield was provided to the victims and the supreme law of the land was simply and impudently disregarded by the criminals.
When the constitutional order is endangered or violated, federal troops should move into any part of the country, without the request of the state concerned, in order to protect citizen’s constitutional rights and to promptly restore law and order. For this to happen, Article 50, Sub 15 which states that federal forces can only be deployed when the state concerned requests it should be promptly revised.
Another part of the constitution that requires urgent look is Article 48 Sub 2 which refers to border issues and states that when a problem arises between two states, the two should in the first instances try to resolve it, but if they fail to reach an agreement, the case should be submitted to the Council of the Federation to be decided’’ within a time of not more than two years.’’ Border disputes between states have always led to armed conflict resulting in large dislocations and numerous fatalities as witnessed recently in Oromia and Ethio-Somalia. The federal government should play an active part in trying to find a solution to the problem in the short possible time; instead of leaving it to fester for a lengthy period, and let inept and myopic regional official’s use it to musk and maintain the lucrative fiefdom they created by initiating havoc and bloodshed.
The moment is right for the EPRDF to come out of its shell and declare in the strongest possible terms that violation of the constitution would not be tolerated any longer. Long overdue need for a swift action has come and should be implemented without any equivocations. It is also time for SNNPR, Ethio-Somlia, Afar, Gambella, Harari and Benshangul Gumuz to snap out of their hibernation and confront those who are sawing the seeds of inter-ethnic conflict that could possible lead to the collapse of the constitutional order and turn Ethiopia into Africa’s Syria.