By Kebour Ghenna
Addis Ababa (Ethiopia Today) June 29,2023:- Ethiopia is on the precipice of social, political, and economic disaster. The country faces a civil war, bankruptcy, famine, a shortage of foreign exchange, a lack of debt servicing capability, inflation that hit a high of 31.4% this year, and a falling public and private investment. A disaster is waiting to happen.
All these problems are no accident. They are the result of a dedicated effort on the part of an entrenched ethnic “elite” and their stooges that weaponized ethnic politics in the service of their own interests – closing ranks, around ever-narrower conceptions of ethnic interests rather than building solidarity.
Two weeks ago I went to Djibouti and met an old friend. The old businessman with whom I had on previous occasions discussed business matters, tells me we (Ethiopians) are irresponsible.
“What is happening to Ethiopia? You are again creating a major crisis in Amhara”, he says, “worse than 2020…. Why?”
Yes, ‘why’ is the question of the day!
Coming back to the topic of the day, here are four separate threats that could take Ethiopia into possible dissolution. Just remember that these are not predictions. I’m just adding one plus one.
1. Concentration of power
We are reviewing a ‘pivot’ in recent Ethiopian political development. A moment when the empire continues to follow the lines that divide nationalities, religions, cultures, and histories. Led by Prosperity Party elites who are principally motivated by their own interests, the political leaders work hard to erode a common Ethiopian identity and fuel fear and mistrust among different ethnic groups.
The argument that Ethiopia can be held together only by force is historically incorrect and politically irresponsible. If Ethiopia reaches a point of no return, it is primarily because of the rise of Oromo nationalism and concentration of power from Tigray elites to Oromo elites, which is now a catalyst for the re-emergence of Amhara nationalism.
It may be that the train has left the station before schedule, but it looks like no political or economic reform will stave off the ominous breakup, unless mechanisms are put in place by this government (helped by its international partners) to resolve the current on-going crisis in an orderly fashion.
To begin with, those immediate crises have been caused by the aftermath of the war in Tigray, the violence in Oromia, the new war in Amhara, the cost-of-living increase, and the rampant corruption.
All… are crises made in ARAT KILO.
2. Lack of accountability and the complexity of running an ethnic federal system.
PM Abye promised action…democracy…activism…love… parks and prosperity. He wanted to be a modernizer, a reformer, a philosopher. He was sent from God to make Ethiopia great again. He viewed the Prime Ministerial Office as an unaccountable institution. It operated with little transparency, and its decision-making processes were hardly subject to sufficient scrutiny (if at all).
Unfortunately, Ethiopia is not an easy country to manage. It is constructed as a multi-ethnic state. Its constitution is not primarily concerned about the individual – the citizen – who is represented in the federal, or even the regional institutions: it was the ethnic group. People have become very much aware of their ethnic group. And ethnicity has become extremely important in the affairs of the state. It is nearly impossible to solve any political problem without some kind of ‘ethnic justice’.
And yet, such a multi-ethnic state requires collegiality and a constant give and take between the Federal and the state governments, between officials and the citizens to avoid ethnic cleavages. Take that away and you have basically a dictator!
3. The increasingly rampant corruption and financial mismanagement in Ethiopia.
The PM’s anti-corruption agenda remains confusing. There were moments when he elevated the fight against corruption, and there were moments when he did not do enough to address it. Simply put his record in this area is poor, to say the least.
And yet corruption is proving to be an irreplaceable ingredient in today’s Ethiopia, and is resulting in increase in poverty, unemployment, and hunger while tarnishing the image of the country by bringing immense miseries to our people. Indeed, it has so deeply infiltrated the socio-economic and political landscape, it is now degrading the business environment, subverting economic opportunity, and exacerbating inequality.
So yes, corruption can destroy this country. This is not an alarmist proclamation. It is happening now in Ethiopia (check out the recent news on the widespread and coordinated campaign to divert aid food from the destitute of Ethiopia.)
4. Climate change is a reality in Ethiopia.
Climate change is already impacting or is anticipated to impact nearly every facet of our economy, including infrastructure, agriculture, residential and commercial property, as well as human health and labor productivity. The climate crisis is code red for humanity, but especially so for Ethiopia, where many Ethiopians (80-85%) depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. We can already note today there is not (has hardly been) enough food, not enough water, not enough employment, not enough dollars, schools, hospitals, houses …not enough of anything. As always, those least able to least afford the impacts will be hit the hardest. In other words: We’re heading into uncharted economic territory of devastation.
So, what do our revered government suggest we do before the situation is completely and irredeemably out of control? Make war? Add new taxes, search for fresh loans, plant trees, drive electric cars, sell Ethiopian to the Chinese, export aid wheat? Not too sure, but I doubt if these “non-solution solutions” will save Ethiopia.
Editor’s note : The article was first shared on the facebook page of the author and Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the view of Ethiopia Today.