The marvels and challenges of EPDRF’s Metekakat

By Dilwenberu Nega
Oct. 23 2010

Much to the delight of those good-wishers for the Motherland, a smooth and orderly Metekakat – Amharic for accession – of the executive branch of government is on-going by the EPDRF government. The tsunami which only left a mere handful of the ‘old-guard’ from Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s fourth term, still remains the talk-of-the town both in and out of Ethiopia two weeks after it had been made public. Reactions to the Metekakat have understandably been wide-ranging, albeit all are astounded by its boldness and accelerated speed.

There are those who view the very concept of Metekakat as Meles Zenawi’s brain-child, given the Prime Minister’s understandable keenness to ensure that his last administration moulds a legacy of a leader who secured sustainable growth and transformation together with democracy to his country. This does not, of course, mean that party grandees were not mid-wives to the Metekakat. You, then, have the opinion of those who staunchly argue that Metekakat was an idea which flowed from a discussion held to consider Prime Minister Meles’ intention to depart from front-line politics. To the chattering class, arm-chair politicians and internet terrorists of the Ethiopian Diaspora, however, the Metekakat was akin to that now worn-out anti-monarchical rule slogan of the Ethiopian Student Movement of the 1990s: “Gulecha bikeyayer wot ayatafetem” (Changing the casserole-stand would not make the soup more appetizing!)

Whatever the views on the Metekakat one simply cannot deny the conspicuous presence of a salient feature: Like Ethiopian democracy, Metekakat, too, is not a spectators sport.

Given the history of previous Ethiopian administrations vis-à-vis accession, this generation must consider itself lucky to be the legatee of a smooth and peaceful transition of cabinet ministers en masse. Metekakat must, therefore, be viewed as a step in the right direction for it is an unprecedented process which best suited for a nation which for far too long had suffered from a dearth of peaceful, smooth and orderly system of accession. Incidentally, it would be naïve to liken this Metekakat with Emperor Haile Selasie’s “Shumshir” or with Comrade Chairman Mengistu Hailemariam’s “The Shumet-weyem-mot”, for it is light years away in all its aspects. Many “Zewd Ambesotch” (monarchists) today rue the oversight Emperor Haile Selasie committed by not handing power to the Crown Prince at his grand 80th birthday celebration which, in their view, would have at least prolonged a reformed monarchical rule by a good ten years. The exiled Derg, on the other hand, takes pride of the “Leader of the New Derg” in the person of the half-brother of Comrade Chairman Mengistu Haile Mariam. In both cases an accession theory which did not ensure smooth and orderly transition, let alone continuity.

Pouring new wine in old bottle can only be of any use if the bottle is dirt-free and unpolluted. Replacing high-powered EPDRF with relatively unknown ones is commendable, but a supportive bureaucracy has to be there if the GT Cabinet is to deliver its promises. Ethiopian bureaucracy has shed off the bloated image it had under Derg. Pruning the bureaucracy – making it GTP compatible – must come close on the heels of the Metekakat.

Is it too early to shout hallelujah?