Yet again, Negede Gobeze commits another aberration of judgement

By Dilwenberu Nega
March. 17 2011

After a hiatus of five years ‘Gobezayism’ rears its ugly head again by exploiting the hubbub and confusion convulsive episodes in North Africa and the Middle East have created among the Ethiopian expats across the globe.

For many Ethiopians, both at home and abroad, the very name Negede Gobeze stirs memories of trials and tribulations as well as blood and tears. As a confidante and mentor of trigger-happy Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, Negede is ‘credited’ for being the fountainhead of a raft of Derg’s repressive policies. But it is his repeated failures to carve out a leadership niche for his ego within the self-exiled opposition-at-large that is making him wallow in chagrin and despondency. Three factors are attributed for not quenching his thirst for prominence in exile: his role in Dergist Ethiopia, his uncharismatic nature and his blood-drenched hands in the 2005 binge of street violence. It is incredible and laughable for Negede to now nudge us to a repeat performance of a binge uprising, this time demanding the scrapping of The Constitution.

Do not get me wrong, the objective of this commentary is not to launch an ad hominum attack on the person of a former Derg loyalist, but rather it is to question where lays the virtue of his incendiary plan the effect of which would turn the Motherland into an ethnic inferno impossible to extinguish. Highlighting his unsavoury political track record is only used to indicate that if a burnt child is meant to dread the fire, so too should ‘burnt’ Ethiopians dread the re-emergence of one of the masterminds of the Derg’s Red Terror in the politics of new and democratic Ethiopia.

Commenting on the Constitution of FDRE is neither a sin nor a crime and we have precisely being doing that over the last 15 years amongst ourselves and at public forums especially so as part of Nations Nationalities and Peoples Day where we celebrate the manifold blessings of The Constitution. Opposition parties with and without constituencies have been airing their views, too, on newspapers of their choice which all goes to show that The Constitution has never been unapproachable to the people of Ethiopia. By so doing we all have contributed our due share in protecting our young democracy from antagonists who think they have divine powers to over-ride the expressed will of the Ethiopian people.

The Constitution was not imposed on Ethiopians but rather they were made party to its drafting and ratification process. Nation-wide consultative process was conducted to ensure that ordinary citizens in every nook and cranny of Ethiopia were given ample opportunity to get to understand The Constitution and their comments were taken on board. The Constitution is not cast in stone. Where need to amend an article of The Constitution is identified, we do not resort to an internecine warfare; we do it just like every genuine democratic nation does it by applying enshrined constitutional procedures. Taking recourse to violence every time we want to amend an article from the Constitution is the affectation of pseudo-democrats whose dream it is to seize power by avoiding the ballot box. On the other hand, if we were to resolve in scrapping our 15 year old Constitution we will end up designating present-day Ethiopia to an early grave.

The mother of all questions would, therefore, be how is it then that an intellectual like Negede Gobeze fails to see the inherent dangers of tampering with The Constitution, never mind in bulldozing it? Negede is no political nincompoop and he is well aware that his advocacy for the scrapping of The Constitution is a chimera. Acutely aware is he, too, that if his ‘grand plan’ ever makes it to Ethiopia it would hooted and booed by millions of Ethiopians who are ready and willing to lay their lives for The Constitution. Most frustrating to him is the realization that a dejected and ejected Negede Gobeze cannot make a political come back through the ballot box. So his best bet is to give oxygen to his tedious nihilarian role in opposition politics by indulging in the tattle and babble of useless Diaspora politics of hate.

I am reminded here of the new wheeze about democracy exiting through Bale the moment Nege Gobeze enters through Bole.