TPLF outfoxed by a corporal prisoner of war
By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Online, Dec 7, 2017
Restoration of the pride of the civilised and valour Tigrians through economic prosperity must be at the vertex of the agenda of the incoming state President
TPLF concluded its month long appraisal by electing a new leader as well as four fresh entrants to the politburo. Out of the present nine executive committee members, three of them are civilians currently holding ministerial posts in regional and federal governments. By TPLF’s standards, this is a stride in the right direction; and hopefully the forthcoming composition of the new central committee would include a large proportion of non-combatants from the business community, academia, writers and Journalists to name but a few.
Having an assortment of experts would allow the TPLF to have a wide range of adept affiliates to choose from for future membership of the executive committee making it relevant, dynamic and a powerful political player in the country for many more years to come. However, decades long negligence to entice civilians of high calibre to the TPLF has left the organisation in a very precarious situation that threatened it existence. In the presence of such members, the 43 years old organisation would have been re-invigorated avoiding being a peripheral political player within the EPRDF and the government.
Thirty-five days long evaluation of the TPLF has manifestly brought this fact to light when Addisalem Balema and Alem Gebrewahede managed to retain their politburo seats despite being scrupulously censured for undisclosed transgressions. For lack of competent stand-ins, they avoided dismissal which would have transmitted clear hints to those who stray out of line and find themselves in identical situations.
To make the TPLF awesome once again, it is paramount to have a strong, proficient and independent central committee capable of challenging the executive committee as well as tracking the implementations of party policies and programmes to the fullest. Reverting to the old ways of selecting members based on parochial regionalism, blood and marriage links-- instead of merit--- would certainly hasten the expiration of the TPLF that defeated the largest army in sub-Sahara Africa in under two decades. It would also be a tremendous input to the renewal process if the impartiality of the Audit Commission of the TPLF was protected in order to allow it to freely resolve contentious issues presented for arbitration in line with the organisation’s constitution. Ignoring the findings of the Commission during the TPLF schism in 2000, by the then leader of the TPLF, has greatly contributed to the present grim state of the organisation where brazen corruption, nepotism and networking have become the norms since the split.
Similarly imperative is the presence of a well-defined demarcation between the TPLF and the government it forms as this would allow the technocrats to execute their duties without gratuitous intrusions. In a democracy, it is critical to maintain the Independence of the three branches of government as they prevent misuse of power in addition to safeguarding freedom and the rule of law. And to guarantee the effectiveness of the executive part of the regional government, the existence of a powerful, probing and well informed parliament is indispensable.
The presence of indigenous Civil Societies in Tigrai (aka ‘’the third sector’’) such as Women’s and Disability Rights, Media and Utilities Watchdogs, Youth Associations, Justice and Corruption Overseers, just to mention a handful, would also be invaluable ----- in furthering transparency and good governance in addition to participating in government policy formulations and in exposing miscarriages of justice. It would be in the interest of all concerned to help establish NGO’s as they performer a requisite role in the development of democracy and respect for the rule of law.
The evaluations have now ended and the moment is perfect for the TPLF to devise doable short, medium and long term strategies and polices required to lift the region from the economic malaise it presently finds itself in. Creation of simple corruption and bureaucracy free investment programmes ought to be in place in order to lure entrepreneurs from within and beyond. This would enhance the economy leading to job creations where the need to migrate to other parts of the country in pursuit of employment and become targets for chauvinists and narrow nationalists would be minimized. Zero tolerance to rent-seeking politicians and civil servants must be adopted as failure to do so will not only exacerbate poverty but it could also lead to a devastating unrest in Tigray which is what our mortal enemies have been praying for.
Tourism is a money spinner for Tigray, but this has not been aggressively marketed by the regional government. In 2015, 250 million birr only was earned from 150,778 tourists out of which 132, 730 were domestic. According to the regional Tourism Bureau, this sector created jobs for 10,600 people which is very derisory by all standards. Tigrai has been endowed with important historical sites and the incoming President of the region must do all possible to make this sector the second best revenue contributor to the economy.
Al-Najashi mosque (aka the ‘’second Mecca’’), which was the first to be built Africa, can very easily generate millions of dollars from a fraction of the 1.8 billion followers of Islam if a sustained promotion is carried out to attract them to this historical and religious location. The mosque, which was constructed around 7th century AD, has been renovated by Turkey and efforts to register it as a world heritage site by UNESCO are already underway. Its significance has been gaining prominence and this has been illustrated by the impending building of a massive resort near Al-Nejashi by a Nigerian investor at a cost of 150 million USD.
It is now down to the new regional President to ensure this important religious spot, where fifteen companions of Prophet Mohammed have been buried, is aligned next to Saudi Arabia as the number two pilgrimage spot for the followers of Islam. King Armaha received and protected Mohammed’s disciples when they were prosecuted by the Quaraishs for their faith, and if it was not for the Axumite ruler, Islam would not have survived to become the second largest persuasion in the world.
With all the monumental historical sites such as Yeha, Axum, St Mary( built in 4th century AD by King Ezana) and Debredamo, to name but a few, Tigrai stands as the number five tourist destination in Ethiopia. This extraordinary state of affairs is down to the ineptitude of the regional government and all possible efforts must be expended to reverse this unwarranted pecking order immediately.
Also important for Tigrai is the resolution of the intractable Eritrean problem as a positive outcome would definitely advance the economy by creating an opportunity to export industrial and agricultural goods to the neighbouring country. Being close to the port of Massawa also helps in attracting domestic and foreign investors where previously they were discouraged from getting involved because of the high transport costs. Likewise, adding value to agricultural products, such as sesame, and heavily promoting Ashenda and Meskel celebrations in the diaspora community could also make weighty inputs to the regional economy.
Restoration of the pride of the civilised and valour Tigrians through economic prosperity must be at the vertex of the incoming regional President’s agenda. We have had enough of humiliations, derisions, expulsions and broad day light murders. It is high-time these atrocious crimes are brought to a screeching halt by severely punishing the perpetrators and by instituting preventative measures
Diaspora extremists and others predicted the termination of the TPLF, but the organisation appears to have come out of the long meeting in a better and fit condition than it has been before. Nonetheless, much more remains to be done to make it cutting-edge, vigorous and pertinent. At present, the organisation seems to have competent members in its hub ready to vociferously represent their constituency in the federal government as well as the executive committee of the EPRDF.
TPLF also appears to be in an enhanced position to face the new ANDM and OPDO axis invented to elbow it from its pedestal and frame a contemporary paradigm. All this has been cobbled-up by Mr Gemeda, a corporal prisoner of war - turned politician- in order to dictate the political affairs of the FDRE. This dishonourable man went to Bahir Dar and profusely praised ANDM but didn’t mention the TPLF that showed the ropes to OPDO and ANDM.