Should Ethiopia move forward or backward?
By Molla Mitiku Ayenew
Tigrai Online, Ethiopian News, Sept. Oct. 5, 2016
The past two decades witnessed significant changes that could be bases for the transformation of the country. The alleviation of poverty and maintaining sustainable economic growth we all come together against jeopardizing activities.
Political analysts argue that Ethiopia is now at a crossroad that it is time to all Ethiopians to choose either the corrugated or the asphalt roads. Choosing the corrugated one leads the country forward; whereas, choosing the asphalt one takes it to backward.
The first road will take the country to what it has already begun to gain in peace, economic and social developments; whereas, the second road takes it to conflict, chaos, economic deterioration and destruction.
The decision is in the hands of the ruling party (EPRDF), the government and the people at home and in the Diaspora. As there are grounds for kicking the ball to any of the roads from the intersection, our choice should be to the favor of the nation.
In fact, post 1991 the people have experienced a number of ill and good practices. A number of fertile grounds that could facilitate the forward or rearward move have also created for both directions.
Grounds to move backward
The bad experience includes: corruption, rent-seeking and lack of good governance. These practices have been taking the upper hand particularly in cities for many reasons.
The first reason could be creation of wealth. Ethiopia’s saving amount has reached 22.5 percent in 2015 from empty some twenty five years ago. As a result, the income tax has grown and it covers 13.3 percent of the country’s entire income. There is fast economic growth that there are so many huge government projects and a number of private investments.
The country’s wealth creation has emanated a number of individuals and groups who sabotage the system so as to embezzle the created public wealth for their own interests.
The deterioration of devotion to the public and the rising of individualism among persons either in the government system or in the public could be the second reason. It is also obvious that local and foreign investors working in Ethiopia are of two types: developmental and rent collectors. The former have been working with social responsibility and respecting the legal system of the country. However, the later have been cooperating with some officials for illegal and corrupt practices.
The third reason could be the expansion of irresponsible and weak media; failed media to serve as public forums, failed to serve as bridges between the public and the government. The media took one of the extremes either propagating affirmative issues or criticizing blindly all what the government has done. They lack to develop investigative journalism that could encourage the appropriate and expose the inappropriate execution of policies and strategies.
The absence of loyal opposition political parties could also be another reason. Some of the opposition political parties have been working for disintegration and others for domination. In some cases, the two have made unholy marriage and cooperate to destabilizing the country and jeopardize its development.
Some opposition political parties at home couldn’t win the mind and hearts of the people. They couldn’t show the people a better strategy and hope. They have no guts to become competent with the experienced ruling party. As a result, they have insignificant contribution to the thriving democracy, sustainable economic development as well as lasting peace and stability.
The aforementioned reasons lead to the widespread of bad governance; rent seeking activities and eventually to the bloodshed and disintegration.
Grounds to move forward
The past twenty five years witnessed an overall change in the country. One can’t refute the emerging economy that altered the lives of millions of citizens. The double digit economic growth registered in the past ten consecutive years has offered various opportunities to all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia.
The expansion of various huge projects like dams, roads, cement factories, textiles, sugar development projects, schools, health institutions and other industries that have laid bases for the renaissance of the country and the prosperity of the people contributed to poverty alleviation of the country. The booming investment in the country has also created jobs for millions of citizens. When all the projects under construction will complete, one can imagine how many employees they could accommodate and the extent of their significance to the country’s economy.
Another typical example aimed to help urban people with low income is the housing project, which has benefited hundreds of thousands of citizens in Addis Ababa and other cities.
This program has given 30 percent of the houses directly to females to empower them. The very poor members of the society have begun to get stability lives through this program.
Strengthening these efforts to maintain the sustainable economic development is one of the bases for moving toward and ensure prosperity.
The need and commitment to enhance good governance could also be half a solution to move forward. There is one golden saying that goes like where there's a will there's a way. In fact, if there is commitment of the government, political parties, the media and the people to ensure good governance, possibly they could do it.
However, this needs a significant public mobilization and participation. Media could contribute to facilitate forward moving efforts if it could play its roles in accordance to Article 29 of the constitution. It should work in collaboration with the government and the people so as to curb rent-collection and bad governance for the sake of the public.
The media should also respect social responsibility theories and journalistic ethics. It, through deep investigative journalistic activities, should inform the people and the government corruptions, misbehaving and inappropriate practices; thereby, it should mobilize the public to stand against these ill-practices.
So far, there are some institutions aimed to enhance democracy. These institutions have been attempting to accomplish their tasks. But they have constraints. Some people argue that some of the democratic institutions remained toothless lions that they need a serious reform to serve the public properly.
These institutions and organs should read and implement the book opened by the Ethiopian people, which are read as urgency to need to realize transparency, accountability, democracy and ensure good governance.
There must be democratic institutions working independently supported by serious investigations. These institutions should develop strong teeth that could bite system corruption and abuse of powers.
These institutions along with the government have to pay a serious attention to the social media as well. There are lots of information that could give a clue to the government about ill-practices as they could hint the government to conduct investigations and take the easures.
Besides, the ruling party and the government have to work hard to make every system transparent with the help of information communication technology. Every activity has to be opened so that every citizen who has any concern could know what is going on the country.
The reality is if the government effectively curbs the rent seeking and corrupt activities in collaboration with the people, Ethiopians surely will enjoy good governance. However, this is not an easy going. It is moving via the corrugated road. It needs a lot of sacrifices. It also needs the mobilization and participation of all Ethiopians.
The rent seekers have taking continuous actions to destabilize the country so as to hamper the struggle against them. They have usually plan and work industriously to maintain their status. They exert unreserved effort to strengthen the corrupt system. They extended their network both in government system and in the society. They also created various agendas to divert the burning question of enhancing good governance.
It is everyone’s choice that Ethiopia should move forward. Therefore, the media, the entire people and the government should exert a consolidated effort in withstanding the challenges so as to ascertain this forward move. Choosing the corrugated road lead one to stand independently. It needs commitment to call a spade a spade and bringing the corrupt individuals at any level to justice.
Joining hands in fighting those who could choose the asphalt road that is the corrupt system, we can maintain the gains of the country and scale up them to move forward to further development and prosperity. If anyone of us has that goodwill, let’s join hands and surely we will arrive at the end of the tunnel to enjoy the light.