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Federalism has Saved Ethiopia

By Dawit Beyene
Tigrai Onlne - July 18, 2014

We have seen chatters coming out from some of the doomsday prophets and the opposition camp about the recent violence that took place in the Universities of some parts of Oromia, instigated by some anti-peace forces, in which they attributed it to the country’s federal system.  They are twisting and bending facts to make the country’s political system as the culprit of the problem. This is obviously a ridiculous claim, as these statements are made without thoroughly knowing or understanding the federal system of the country.

As we all know the previous feudal and dictatorial regimes have hurt the country. They have weakened the country’s economy and put the citizens to misery and exodus. It can’t be denied that this is part of our history. It’s within our memory the antics ‘Derg’ pulled, especially in reversing the people struggle into an opportunity for itself to come to power, pulling heavy mess on the country in the process. However, after the demise of ‘Derg’, the people of Ethiopia have created a federal country where the citizens’ are part of a single political community which is based on their own consent and free will; are beneficiaries of a rapid and sustainable economic development.

It took a very bitter struggle and sacrifice to build the country we see now; a country where democratic values are rooting. And this will always be part of history. Today Ethiopia has recorded many positive results as a consequence of its federal system. Nevertheless, some doomsday prophets and previous regimes nostalgic oppositions did not deter from spewing negative commentaries on the political system and the positive stride that it’s making.

There are no rumors left unsaid by these extremist forces, which are busy blackening the developmental and democratic order that’s being successful; disappointed in the fact that the development and unity of the nation, nationalities and people of Ethiopia is gaining strength. “What benefits will be gained in waging a smear campaign that claims the federal system will disintegrate the country? How far will it take them?”

As it can be imagined, at the time of the demise of the dictatorial military junta, there was other though challenges that demanded immediate attention. At the time, progressive and democratic forces that believed federalism is the remedy for all the political, economic, and social ills of the country stood on one side. On the other side, there were forces who flaunted two polar extremist outlooks on the opposite side of the spectrum.

At the time, the fact that armed ethnic based rebels existed in numbers was one issue. And these forces believed the solutions to the problem of the country lied with secession, not fully understanding the country’s realities on the ground. On  the other hand, considering federalism as a threat to the country’s unity, there were forces who worked and operated to replace nation, nationalities and peoples’ equality and democratic rights with ‘we know for you’ politics in the name of an antique version of “unity”, pushing the country to the brink of nonstop chaos.    

As a consequence, there was the need to put up a huge fight against these anti-Ethiopia forces and overcome these challenges in a swift way in order to establish a democratic and federal state. The result was a win for the progressive and democratic forces.

Even after this, things did not become easy. The country again faced an insurmountable amount of challenges. Out of these challenges, the fight against the number one enemy of the county; poverty, took centre stage. And it’s decided that this common enemy will be combated with the cooperative hands of the government and the whole country. So, the government taking the leading initiative moved into action in preparing the upping public mentally against the fight poverty. At the time, identifying key questions like, ‘how is the fight against poverty going to be undertaken?’ and ‘what are the key issues that would help win against this common enemy?, were important.

Although the government made the stage open in ratifying the constitution, some previous regimes nostalgic and anti-peace forces that were salivating at a chance of a short cut to power did not want to accept the situation easily.  Nevertheless, the transitional government did not back down from making it clear to these forces, through various efforts, that power emanates from the people. There were huge works done in making sure power emanates and comes from the vote and consent of the Ethiopian people.

At this time, fighting off contradicting outlooks like, ‘the country should not have a constitution’, and ‘a country built under the system of ethnic based federalism won’t be good in any way’, became major hurdles for the government. Yet, overcoming these hurdles, the nation, nationalities and people of Ethiopia, through their own consent and will ratified the FDRE constitution on November 29, 1987. This constitution, serving as their covenant document, has been able to answer centuries old demands of the Ethiopian people.    

This act made it clear that they have no enemy other than poverty. The whole Ethiopian people stood to fight against poverty, which had put them to embarrassment and hand outs. They stood hand in hand with each other to fight this enemy of theirs, who have been a ‘monkey on their back’.  The people being led by the government formulated policies and strategies; they start to record before then unprecedented economic development in the country. Starting to move out of the vicious circle of poverty, the country entered into a rapid and sustainable growth and success. After the constitution was ratified and federal system was implemented in the country, demands related to peace, development and democracy started to be answered. Citizens’ right to self administration, freedom of religion, the rights of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples to speak, write and develop their own languages as well as to express, to develop, promote and preserve their culture and history are guaranteed on a constitutional level. Answering these demands was the cause for the age old struggle of the Ethiopian people; and it was done successfully.

These doomsday prophets were foretelling that the country would embroil into a nonstop chaos, would face a threat of disintegration and the people will massacre each other, if federalism is bestowed upon the country. Local and foreign media outlets, political analysts and extremists has spewed utter nonsense by saying the federal system does not help the country.

Of course this is not the case of these Medias and doomsday prophets not knowing the country’s federal system will benefit the people, but instead a case of choosing of siding with previous regime nostalgic extremist forces. Even though the doomsday prophets and extremists said whatever they wanted to say, the government and the people, not distracted by their confusion, they chose to work for common development and strengthening their unity by making their diversity their strength and beauty.

Experts concerned with the subject have given their expertise that federalism is political system best equipped to handle cultural or ethnic differences or identity based conflicts. Understanding this fact, the country’s developmental and democratic government played a huge role in making the nation, nationalities and people of Ethiopia ratify the constitution with their own consent and free will. EPRDF, which saved this country from the jaws of ‘Derg’, has enabled citizens to be the owners of their own destiny believing that power emanates from and only the people. As the constitution is the result of the people’s long standing struggle, it is by taking this fact in to account that the constitution was ratified and put to effect. Ethiopia’s culture, language and history is the creation of the sum of Ethiopian people culture, language and history.  And this reality is hosted, with its diversity intact, by federalism system. And adhering to federal system is the only option and solution for our country.

Some doomsday prophets and extremists have sprung up with crazy scenarios and analysis which suggests that the country will be in turmoil with instable internal politics and its people will massacre each other. However, nobody shared this insane conspiracy theory of theirs. And the reason for this quite obvious. This is because the federal system is built upon a strong foundation, i.e. the consent and free will of the people; unlike what the extremist are claiming to be. And it can be safely said that their outlook with regards with the political system is distorted and wrong.

There were no rumors left unsaid by these doomsday prophets and extremists following the sudden passing of our great leader Ato Meles Zenawi. We can recall their prophecy-like rumor; ‘Ethiopia will not have a stable government in the aftermath of Meles’, they spewed through their propaganda machine Medias. Of course these bad omens will not back from saying anything as long as it benefits them. They don’t even try to see if the Ethiopia they hoped to see in the aftermath of Meles exists.   

The ‘this country is going to disintegrate’ logic laden outlook fronted by these bankrupt politicians will not sway anyone expect for them. As any sane person would understand, there were not many Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia that were left unmoved or not shocked with the sudden passing of Ato Meles Zenawi. The public has shown its love to its leader when his body arrived at the airport. Nevertheless, these extremists still went on their blabber, disregarding the millions of people that can replace Ato Meles. However, there is one bitter truth in all this. That is Ato Meles Zenawi’s passing has sent a shocking wave and deep sorrow onto the people. After his death, the people promising to realize his vision by following through the federal system he laid before them and by strengthening their unity are another fact. Foreign Medias in contradicting tone to the doomsday prophets and extremists have reported by saying, ‘the whole people of Ethiopia have mourned their leader’s passing’. While the foreign Medias were reporting the news like this, some oppositions and extremist forces were ridiculously wishing bad things on their own country. The only thing they gained from this stunt of theirs is to be judged under the court of public opinion. All in all, the nation, nationalities and people of Ethiopia are playing a major role in strengthening the federal system and the public’s unity. They have entered into a covenant to protect the constitution. Yet, these so-called oppositions and extremists have chosen to disregard the success of the federal system. Instead they are still working on downplaying the federal system by exaggerating situations that can happen in any society, without any sound evidence.  

What this sinister act of theirs show is that they are trying to confuse the public by looking the positive stride of the federal system from a distorted view. Of course their effort at confusing did not amount to nothing. The constitution that was enshrined through the blood of all the people of the country being ratified, the Ethiopian nation, nationalities and people united together are in ascending path. And the incoherent propaganda drummed by these forces has no ears. Nevertheless, they have the nerve to say the federal system has failed. Some of them even went as far as saying and writing the federal system has failed by citing some of the disputes that erupt, for grazing land and water, between some of our nationa and nationalities of our country (which has been going around for years); and by claiming some Amharic speaking people have been forcefully moved from some areas. They tell us myths and fantasy stories that don’t exist in the real world. They don’t want to say that conflict is a social reality that exists in any society. This is because this truth doesn’t play into their smear campaign.

Nevertheless, conflict is a present phenomenon even in other developed countries, let alone in a society that’s in a building process with regards to its awareness, like our country. Not only this. It’s inevitable that man will enter conflict with itself, its environment and with nature. And this has to do with scarcity of the world’s natural resources. And Ethiopia is no different – as any country of the world, it has deficiency of natural resources. Thus, conflict had and will be a constant phenomenon.

However, as the federal system has worked on this ongoing issue, unlike previous times, the situation is changing. It has enabled the country’s nation, nationalities and people to utilize their natural resource appropriately and for it to be a common wealth with other neighboring people. However, the distorted views that were put upon the people by previous regimes cannot be easily changed just like that – it demands time, course and a change in mentality. Disregarding this actuality, some shamelessly claim that it’s a ‘failed federalism’ just out of their desire and irk to paint the political system in a negative way.

But the federal system hasn’t failed. In fact the system is able to building the strongest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is benefitting the people step-by-step, by sewing the people of the country in unity. So, it should be noted that any failing of the political system only exists in the delusional minds of the doomsday prophets and the extremists, and not in the new Ethiopia. There are numbers of people who believe in and present the distorted the views of the foreign based personalities, who has their own sinister agenda, as it is. They forget that they are way off base when they talk about the “failing” of the federal system.

There is one truth that should be known. Those of who were forced to move by some irresponsible people, who are then moved back by the government, are not only Amharic speaking people. The contingent includes Oromifa and other language speaking people. It’s really shameful and disappointing to see some twisting the truth to gain personal political expedience, at the risk of instigating conflict between people and people.

All in all, it should be understood that the political system that’s being build in our country is self-correct system. As it’s known, every federalism political system is not built in a day. There will most definitely be challenges. So, it will face minor chinks that need to be ironed. The important thing is whether these temporary challenges are solved capably. With regards to this, the federal system that’s being built in our country has reached its current state by giving timely response and adjustments to issues that arise in these kinds of situations. By solving these few challenges, it has been able to create a system that enabled nation, nationalities and people of Ethiopia live with their consent and free will. Other than this, just simply claiming the system has “failed”, only helps these forces to show they have serious logic deficiency.

The situation is both ridiculous and hilarious at the same time really, if one sees how they are moving with their eyes closed. They don’t back from denying everything. The people behind the blackening campaign try to argue the ruling party is using the sovereign right of nation and nationalities for its own personal political expedience, with their usual citation of some random person. Although, we should not delve into the issue, but I should raise one truth with regards to the issue. The ruling party does not negotiate on the inviolability rights of nation, nationalities and people of the country; a right the party fought hard for it to be enshrined in the constitution.  The truth is the rights of nation and nationalities’ is a cause many sons and daughters of Ethiopia gave their lives for; unlike what these doomsday prophets and their likes propagate. The position of the ruling party and the people on the issue won’t be reversed back. So, the hoax propagandists would be advised to know that they won’t be successful.

The ones that are dreaming and even fantasizing about sabotaging the constitutional establishment are the country’s enemies, terrorists and anti-peace forces, not the citizens of Ethiopia. There is no chance for the constitution; a document ratified by the consent of the nation, nationalities and people of Ethiopia and the source of their sovereign power, to be eroded so long as they live. The only thing that will come out of sabotaging the sovereign right of people, even in dreams, is a confrontation with the owners of the constitution. And the outcome is getting marginalized from the wider society and public.

The federal system, correcting itself through time, is responsible for our country’s people current unity, which is based upon their consent and free will, and economic development, averting the threat of disintegration in the process. The days of disseminating confusion and fear about nation and nationalities rights are long gone. Today is not yesterday. The system, like every political system, is reaching a matured stage by ironing out its chinks through time. Many people have paid with their lives in order to bring this political system. So, they won’t be in a position to hear empty propagandas that are disseminated without any logical backing. The nation, nationalities and people of Ethiopia are busy more than ever in their effort to defeat poverty, their number one enemy.

Thus, their logic laden and untrue propaganda which claims, “The federal system will not strengthen our unity” or “the ruling party adhered ethnic politics is causing problems”, cannot be acceptable in any criteria. And as the objective behind their propagation is to consciously erode the constitution, which is gained through the death struggle of nation, nationalities and people of Ethiopia, it won’t find any audience. Thus, it would be behoove of them to know they won’t gain anything from trying to disregard our people’s constitutional right through undemocratic antics, as any citizen understands that the constitutional system or order is responsible for strengthening our unity, and saved the country from disintegrating.