EPRDF - In the Wake of Lukewarm Party Discipline
By Samuel Estefanous
Tigrai Online, Oct. 24, 2017
A couple of years ago, a purely academic article characterizing the de facto Ethiopian federalism as a devolving party federalism was given false notoriety it didn’t deserve, chiefly to denigrate the author and bedevil him as doomsday heralding busybody. As I remember it, the author’s principal concern was to train the search beam light on the possible dire consequences of weakened Party Centralism and discipline in the Ethiopian context.
We have come a long way from that. Discussing the visible fault lines of Ethiopian Federalism is no longer a taboo subject, in large measure thanks to open wide forums including this one at TOL.
1-Did EPRDF lend the fundamentals of its Charter to the FDRE Constitution?
Up on assuming state and government power, EPRDF did something quite unimaginable and unprecedented in Africa. Something like-all right, though the kill was exclusively mine, the feast is gonna be all ours-ከበር መልስ-literally.
It was the one definitive reason that garnered and evoked a grudging support even from its avowed enemies and detractors. Again I stand corrected, it didn’t “assume” power up on seizing Addis; it declared itself a designate care taker power until a semblance of legitimate government is formed by a Nationwide Convention that was going to adopt an interim Constitution-a Charter. With all its short falls, it was a landmark event that changed the face of Ethiopian politics forever.
Then it embarked on a phenomenal task of drafting a lasting Constitution albeit under its predominant aegis and adopted one with in four years. Something the State of Eritrea is unable to do in almost three decades. Truly the sense of urgency was one to be lauded with little reservation. Again three quarters of the Constitutional provisions were dedicated to defining and protecting fundamental rights and the effort was beyond reproach …but when it came to formulation of Federalism, some political pundits observed- the Constitution veered from the classical beaten tracks and created some kind of corresponding “fiefdoms” to the Federations of the ruling Front a.k.a.-EPRDF
Hence, in its basic tenets and philosophical integrity, the FDRE Constitution is basically an inevitable derivative of the EPRDF Charter and its logical culmination.
What does this say about the state of constitutionalism in Ethiopia and the indispensable role of EPRDF in the center of it?
2-EPRDF- a sine qua non for the FDRE Constitution?
You bet it is! If you ask me it is actually an existential question.
Without EPRDF, the FDRE Constitution doesn’t last a day. You know why… because structurally it was made to dovetail the functional party structure of the Front and none other. Have you ever tried “to check out” the programs of a select group of opposition parties? The very naivety and hodgepodge eclectic composition of the elaborate manifesto leaves you awed all for the wrong reason. They seem to have zero clue about the kind of Constitution they are supposed to operate in.
Under these prevailing circumstances, no single opposition party is capable of running a legitimate government without committing its program to the dustbin. Trust me you will not hear this from the plethora of Federalism Colleges, they will not write a line about the existential threat to the FDRE Constitution in the absence of EPRDF.
3-When the Center doesn’t hold
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world..
See… that is an excerpt from Yeats’s the Second Coming.
Remember the fiefdom theory and the Federation of parties making EPRDF? It worked like magic when the center was holding but when the Center cannot hold, like Yeats said “mere anarchy” is loosed up on us. Now every time I hear from the Regional big wigs, it looks like to me they are beginning to break loose and when they break loose they are gonna take their respective fiefs with them. But being rootless without the mother Front they keep drifting and eventually capsize and wither away…in the meanwhile mere anarchy is sure to be visited up on the multitude.
4-Transforming EPRDF to keep the Nation in one Piece.
The other day I read a very interesting article on Addis Admas relative to the resignations of EPRDF’s veterans. The author accused them of cowardice. I begged to differ, naturally, but his contention that this isn’t the time to leave the Nation high and dry was indeed commendable. Something even Yared Tibebu found despicable.
If you got us in to all these… you might as well STAY!
Stay and reform EPRDF…it is high time the Front metamorphosed in to a Party. You see, when you listen to Lemma Megeresa…that is the general idea you get…only he didn’t seem to grasp the mechanics of delivering on his beautiful ideals.