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The sense of entitlement in TPLF has to be tackled first and foremost

By Haile Tessema,
Tigrai Online, Sept. 24, 2018

The sense of entitlement in TPLF has to be tackled
TPLF ought to compete as an incumbent that fights for re-election by coming up with a better political platform, public policy and good governance

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The good book says, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). But – while the Apostle Paul was obviously addressing mammon when he wrote that in his letter to Timothy – money evidently is not the only culprit.

Rather, power and prestige – be it political, economic or social – are part and parcel of that. So, it’d be fair to deduce that the sense of entitlement money, power and prestige give to someone or a group is at the root of all evil.

And this sense of entitlement comes in many ways and forms:

  1. Being born to a royal or an aristocratic family, thus perceiving the common man as one given by God to obey and serve them;
  2. Belonging to a privileged or an ethnic majority that sees the underprivileged ethnic group as inferior or with less right;
  3. Being the owner of a business, and treating subordinates and employees as though they are part and parcel of the owned establishment;
  4. Somehow seizing a political power, particularly through popular uprising or armed struggle and sacrifice, hence the victorious having a sense of entitlement to rule the liberated masses from here to eternity.

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For the purpose of this opinion piece which attempts to briefly look into TPLF’s rule in Tigrai, the relevant sense of entitlement is of course to be found on number 4 above. The fact that TPLF’s freedom fighters fought for 17 long years; that many lost their body parts and thousands paid the ultimate price of sacrificing their precious lives is indisputable and indeed commendable.

Yet, while the struggle certainly was for freedom, democracy, justice as well as equal political and socioeconomic opportunities, what – by default or design – ultimately happened is the creation of a political party and elites with a sense of entitlement to “rule, command, govern, administer and manage” all aspects of political, economic and social affairs.

This sense of entitlement manifests in:

  1. TPLF’s refusal to create an equal level playing field by using all the political and socioeconomic weapons in its arsenal to smash any opposition, and discourage alternative political parties from emerging and flourishing.
  2. Securing political power among family members, relatives and with those tied by marriage as well as cronies through networking.
  3. Establishing an election board that is independent by name only, while it’s a public knowledge that the board is as partisan as it can get.
  4. Filling not only all political, but also top public service offices – including supposedly non-political institutions such as city administration, the judiciary, development agencies and universities – by party members or strong supporters.
  5. The politicization of public service for partisan political end (forcing or compelling public service workers to become card-carrying and fee-paying party members, for instance).
  6. Allowing a political party to be in manufacturing, distribution and retail business, thereby giving it not only unfair competition advantage, but also an economic power which enables it to flex its muscles, and carry out partisan political activities.
  7. Banning or curtailing an independent media from operating in the region, thereby feeding the public the government’s version of news, analysis and propaganda.

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Conclusion

This is particularly crucial because it allows the media to depict a picture of the ruling party as one and the same with the people, while propagating to create an enemy of the people image out of alternative parties.

What to do about TPLF’s deep-rooted sense of entitlement?

Entitlement is the handmaiden of the ego, the sign of a neglected, malnourished soul,” Anthony B. Robinson wrote in “Articles of Faith: The unfortunate age of entitlement in America.”

So, it obviously wouldn’t be easy to convince the egomaniacs, politically neglected and ethically malnourished souls that it’s time for their special political privileges to come to an end. After all, they have been made to enjoy that sense of entitlement for over a quarter of a century without being ever told they just can’t always have things their way.

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Rather, it’s political leaders and members in alternative parties, activists, the media and the educated group as well as informed citizens at large who should compel TPLF leaders and members that it’s high time for the party to stop acting like a special privileged class.

It’s equally important to inform and teach the public that the only thing it owes TPLF freedom fighters, particularly those who sadly became disabled and sacrificed their precious lives for the greater good, is a heartfelt appreciation and long-lasting gratitude. But certainly not the submission to be ruled by the party forever, which indeed defeats the whole purpose of the struggle and sacrifice made for democracy, equality and justice.

Thus, from hereon, TPLF ought to compete as an incumbent that fights for re-election by coming up with a better political platform, public policy and good governance, but certainly not by a sense of entitlement for what it did in the past as a freedom fighter or government.

At the same time, the political playing field has to be leveled for alternative parties to have an equal opportunity to enter parliament or win the majority vote, and form a government. And that could only happen by first tackling, and then ending the innate sense of entitlement in the ruling party.

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