Bulcha Demeksa: statesmen face facts;
politicians distort them

Dilwenberu Nega

May 07 2009

Talk to any Member of Ethiopia’s House of People’s Representatives (MHPR) and you will be amazed by the convergence of views from both sides of the political divide about the Leader of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement, The Right Honourable Ato Bulcha Dimekssa: “Life in the Ethiopian Parliament will be all the more acrimonious and dull without Bulcha Demeksa.” And there is a lot of truth in that, as ETV’s live coverage cameras invariably zoom in to show the grin on the faces of MHPRs when Bulcha begins his Right of Reply in either Afan Oromo or Amharic. At one Question Time, in particular, Bulcha’s wit sent MHPR’s including Prime Minister Meles Zenawi - who often exudes an air of seriousness and solemnity- into a burst of laughter as he waded through by taking the mickey out of the government’s role in the onion market.

Actually, Bulcha Demeksa’s wit dates back to the reign of the Emperor during which time he gradually reached the status of a Vice Minister in the Ministry of Finance under that even wittier Minister of Finance, Ato Yilma Deressa. In fact surviving political grandees of the Emperor’s time, describe Bulcha as being very much “the chip of the old block” to indicate the father-and-son relationship between Yilma and Bulcha. There are also those who very endearingly recall life with the intellectual “The 3 Witty -sas” all from Wellega, Oromia: Yilma Deresa, (Minister) Bulcha Demeksa (Vice Minister) Kebede Anisa (Journalist).

Discretion is the better part of valour
But the reaction, on the part of ‘The Father of the House of People’s Representatives,’ to the Government’s claim of “foiling a terrorist operation aided and abetted by Ginbot 7,” has left many neutral observers of the Ethiopian political scene, with a sense of complete surprise and bewilderment. Many hold the understandable view that western educated, if not very much an Anglophile, Bulcha Demekssa, is one Member of The House better placed to understand the blowback effect of statements to international press such as, inter alia, “Without third party verification, I can’t believe there was a plot.” There can, therefore, be any doubt, then, that such ‘combustible’ statement by a supposedly seasoned politician constitutes a futile attempt at undermining the rule role of law as well as the piling of a load of insults on our Security Forces. Moreover, how is it that Bulcha has failed to realise that Birr hanu Nega is bent on dismantling the very constitutional order which had allowed Bulcha to be a member of its legislative arm in the first instance.

The Security Services have made their case crystal clear and the nation now awaits the legal proceedings to commence on May 11th according to the Minister of The Office of Government Communication. Under such circumstances, therefore, the most sensible option for Bulcha would have been to err on the side of caution by observing a moratorium on giving public statements until, at least, the commencement of the court proceedings. But Bulcha Demeksa, leader of one of the many minority parties in the House, would have none of this. He chose, instead, to saw the ‘demagogue wind’ and reap the ‘political whirlwind.’

What actually Bulcha means by “third party verification” is somewhat tricky and bewildering a subject to contemplate. The Constitution of The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia makes it crystal clear that such matters under discussion fall within the purview of the Ethiopian judiciary. Or is he envisioning some form of foreign intervention to investigate the Government’s claim. If that were to be indicative of his line of thinking, it would signal the end of Bulcha Demekksa’s political career in Ethiopia. Never has Ethiopia succumbed in the past and nor will Ethiopia succumb today to the idea of becoming a protectorate of any nation or group of nations. Besides, Ato Bulcha must know from his experiences with no-nonsense EPDRF that, unlike some opposition parties, EPDRF doesn’t make pilgrimages to foreign lands in search of Ethiopian solutions.

It’s high time that Bulcha took note of the fact that his often knee-jerk actions, or rather reactions, to unfolding events in Ethiopian politics, are proving to be an impediment to the growth of Ethiopia’s toddler democracy. Perhaps, then, a small dose of a Chinese proverb will do good old Bulcha Demeksa a world of good: “Blowing up a bear with dynamite brings no meat to the hunter.”