TPLF should now solely focus on Tigrai
and lay the foundations needed to tackle the socio-economic predicaments of the State
Brief road map for Tigrai and TPLF , Tigrai First!!!
By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Online, July 14, 2018
TPLF and the people of Tigrai should now solely focus on Tigrai and lay the foundations needed
to tackle the socio-economic predicaments of the State!
The merciless defamation and attack against Tigrians by a minority of their fellow compatriots can only be described as barbarism similar to what took place during the Stone Ages. The fact that our youth fought for 17 years and resuscitated Ethiopia from the morass, and made it the 8th largest economy in Africa (CNBCAfrica, 2017) means nothing to these people who are utterly churlish and incredibly brutal. While the haters are busy targeting Tigrians and the TPLF, their darling narcissist PM has been preparing the ground to hand over sovereignty of the nation to foreigners who will assume full control of the economy through their institutions such as the Word Bank and the IMF.
Sooner rather than later, the international monetary institutions are certain to compel Prime Minister Abiy to introduce austerity measures that would precipitate tax increases and job losses owing to reductions in government spending which is one of the customary requirements of the money lenders. Further devaluations couldn’t be ruled out effecting a hike in inflation because of the unavoidable increase in prices of imported items. The gap between the haves and the have-nots would widen causing the living standards of the poor and destitute to plummet. Previous leaders of the EPRDF succeeded in reducing poverty rate from 67.1% in 1995 to 26.7% in 2015(Source: World Data Atlas).
Tigrians are not resistant to positive changes, but the way the new Prime Minister is implementing these are designed to portray him as a saviour, whereas the TPLF and its constituents, who made significant sacrifices to transmute Ethiopia, as nothing but impediments. As a direct result of this, many Tigrians residing outside their region have been victimised and some have been killed. Moreover, military personnel and civilians associated with the TPLF have been unfairly dismissed and, some have been placed behind bars on trumped-up charges.
What is wrong in opposing the sale of the successful Ethiopian Airlines without the approval of the electorates who are the rightful owners? Shouldn’t it be a manifesto pledge for the next general election in order to allow the voters to decide the fate of the flag carrier? From where we are standing, it appears the Ethiopian Prime Minister is simply rushing to appease those that placed him in Menelik’s Palace. Also, why on earth do some people consider it erroneous to quiz the PM who is treating the other members of the EPRDF that he leads with utter disdain? Is it also wrong to challenge him when he wantonly drifts from agreed party policies? Is this not what democracy is all about which the PM is preaching incessantly?
Clearly, TPLF’s continued membership of the EPRDF is coming into question. At every opportunity, the leader of the EPRDF and Prime Minister gives the TPLF a public dressing-down. TPLF requested an urgent meeting to discuss current issues but this was ignored. We have lost count of the number of times the Ethiopian Prime Minister described the TPLF as a daylight hyena in addition to pointing the finger for the explosion in Meskel Square. The venomous and insolent speeches of Gedu and Demeke in Bahir Dar which received wild applauds were also in reference to the TPLF.
Dr Abiy Ahmed went to Asmara with his delegation that did not include a representative from Tigrai region where the land that led to the destructive war resulting in the defeat of Shabiya is located. Why he decided to go to Asmara instead of meeting the Eritrean President, who dropped cluster bombs on Ayder School, in a third country is not clear except to postulate that this may be to do with the glorification he craves. Prime Minister Abiy told Tigrian entrepreneurs when he met them in his residence that the old Eritrean President has to go because he ignored his calls and that of President Omar al-Beshsir of Sudan. Now it appears the two faced Prime Minister can’t get enough of the Eritrean despot.
To top it all, the Prime Minister told his audience in Afar, Semera, the EPRDF did not defeat the Derg; it defeated itself. In plain terms, the Prime Minister is saying that the sacrifices of the youth of Tigrai to remove the most brutal regime in Africa were simply in vain. It is a pity the PM did not have the opportunity to visit Era Eiro prison where the G15 (G- 1 or 2 by now) have been held for the last 18 years simply because they wanted a discussion on political liberalisations in Eritrea.
It is now time for the TPLF to consider leaving the EPRDF, if it still exists, before it is pushed by the combined forces of OPDO and ANDM. Forming an alternative party with other groups of similar persuasions in SNNP, Ethio-Somalia, Afar and, perhaps Gambella and Bensahngul-Gumz is the only way forward. Owing to the unhealthy political climate in Amhara region, TPLF would find it difficult to find an ally to work with in the immediate future.
In the forthcoming general election, there would be a number of parties competing in Amhara region including G-7, Ethiopian Democratic Party, Semayawi Party and the extremist National Movement of Amhara. And the prospect of ANDM winning all parliamentary seats as before is slim. TPLF stands a better chance forming an alliance with Lencho Lett’s Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) as the two appear to have similar policies on federalism, land and economy. But because of Lencho’s past experience with the TPLF, this may not materialise now. As things stand, Arena seems to be in a better position to strike a pact with the ODF. OPDO, under the leadership of Dr Abiy Ahmed, is tilting towards neo-liberalism and cooperation with Merara’s Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) is a realistic possibility as the two subscribe to a full-fledge market economy. All Oromo groupings are proponents of federalism and inclusion of Oromifa as the second federal working language alongside Amharic. Formation of a grand coalition of the various Oromo political groupings to compete in the forthcoming general election is a realistic possibility.
In any case, leaders of the TPLF should now solely focus on Tigrai and lay the foundations needed to tackle the socio-economic predicaments of the region. But in the first instance, the TPLF has to undergo a major revamp and replace the entire central committee members of the party with vibrant young technocrats cognizant of contemporary regional and international politics. It is perfectly understandable that many Tigrians are unhappy with the TPLF, but at the moment, it is the only party that is in a better position to deal with the extremely toxic and hate-filled politics currently underway since Dr Abiy came to power. But this does not necessarily mean there is no place in Tigrai for ARENA and TAND; in fact it is in the interest of Tigrai and the TPLF to have as many political opponents as possible as it essential for the development of democracy and performance of the ruling party.
The TPLF is also obligated to make the investment ambience in the region conducive, devoid of corruption and free of bureaucracy hold-ups. Only in this way can prosperous Tigrians investing elsewhere can make their way to their home-land and elevate its economy which is trailing far behind in comparison to other parts of the country. Agriculture, which is the backbone of the economy, has to be revolutionised by the introduction of region-wide drip irrigation.
Israel, with only 20% of arable land and scarce water supplies which is defined as water poverty by the UN, is able to produce 95% of its own food requirements and exports more than $2 billion worth of fruit and vegetables each year. Despite adverse land and climate conditions, Israel is not only able to be food self-sufficient but it also exports huge quantities of agricultural products. With better climate and reasonable amount of rainfalls, why are we still suffering from food deficit? Authorities in Tigrai should take advantage of Israel’s commitment to export agricultural technology, as part of its desire to contribute to the fight against global poverty, through its Agency for International Development Cooperation.
With technical know-how coupled with the use of varieties of crops that thrive in hot and dry climates can exponentially improve Tigrai’s food productions. In this day and age where technological tools are in abundance, it is wrong to sit and wait for the skies to open-up. Tigrians started an armed struggle with few antiquated weapons and a handful of dedicated individuals and grew into something big that defeated the Derg which had the USSR and East Germany in control of its command centre. If we are able to do this, why is it difficult for us to grow enough food?
Two other sectors that require the immediate attentions of the government of Tigrai are tourism and information technology. The latter’s importance in economic development, health, education and other segments cannot be overemphasised. A significant proportion of the region’s budget should be devoted to this poverty busting sector and, with the participation of Mekelle University and the business community, an IT research centre ought to be established as a matter of utmost urgency. Also equally important are the creation of independent Environmental Protection Agency to formulate policies and provide advice on air quality, waste management and noise pollution as well as the opening of a government bureau concerned with the development of culture, literature and performance arts.
The peaceful conclusion of the state of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has opened-up great opportunities for Tigrai which we should look forward to. Hopefully, the regional government is working behind the scenes with EFFORT, Selam Bus and other establishments in order to prepare them for business ventures in Eritrea. In the first instance, it would be wise to initiate a reconciliation with community leaders on both sides of the border particularly Akel-Guzai and Serai who have close social and marital links with their immediate neighbours/kin in Agame and Adwa.
Eighteen years of no war, no peace, status and the recent closure of the Eritrea and Sudanese border gravely endangered the Eritrean President’s power and, this compelled him to come to the negotiating table without any pre-conditions. The same offer was made 16 years ago by the then Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, but he turned it down swiftly because of his grudges against the TPLF that shattered Shabiya’s military prowess beyond redemption.
President Esayass was elated when a God send lifesaving peace offer came his way, but instead of accepting it graciously, he continued with his usual way and pronounced on Eri-TV that the ‘game was over’ for ‘Woyane.’ If this was to imply that ‘Woyane’ was in power and removed, it is patently wrong. EPRDF executive committee, which is composed of 36 members containing 4 members each form the 4 partner organisations, formulates and agrees on party policies to be executed by the government. ‘Woyane’ only has four votes and the suggestion that, it is the dominant part of the EPRDF is simply a figment of his imagination. In any case, ‘Woyane’ has secured a legacy by resurrecting Ethiopia from the abyss and transforming it into one of the largest economies in Africa---- in addition to establishing an enduring federal system that has been functioning since 1991.
What is Esayass’ legacy since independence? Being responsible for 200,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigari or killing the entire politburo members of the EPLF or locking- up 400,000 youth in Sawa concentration camp or making Eritrea the third highest refugee contributor in the world? One thing is certain, Esayass Afewerki will not live to see the full peace dividend that has materialised as a result of the 18 years relentless pressure wielded by ‘Woyane’ that coerced him to come to the negotiating table with his tail between his legs.