Most Ethiopians agree that a pragmatic solution to the existing political impasse is important to prevent disintegration. Whether we choose to believe it or not many Ethiopians seem to be so terrified of the floating indication that the country will be disintegrated from statehood to tribal-hood, if the hovering potential ethnic conflict is unabated. When the regime supporters exploit the fear to justify for TPLF dictatorship indefinite rule, even well-wishers seem to see a variant of dictatorship as an alternative for keeping Ethiopia’s integrity. One can speculate both sides may have been forced to favor dictatorship out of sense of hopelessness of the stifled democratic struggle in Ethiopia. However, be it for pragmatic or other reasons dictatorship should by no means be viewed as better alternative to democratic governance. For positive traits of dictatorship a handful of Asian countries may be cited, but hundreds of other countries can be cited for its negative traits.
The jobs that dictators are championed to do better, the democratic governance had done the same jobs best. The TPLF propagandist often championed dictatorship for keeping territorial integrity and advancing economic development. The argument to favor dictatorship is its ability for swift decision it can make because of the military and security power Dictators control. Dictators are capable of implementing practically any policy they initiated without seeking public consent. However, the argument neglects to consider the policies dictators initiate are sources of economic stagnation and risks territorial integrity. Most importantly, they neglect the fact that dictatorship resulted long-term societal decay of a nation. What we see in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa is deep hopelessness among citizens and unprecedented brutality by dictators towards fellow human being, which rarely had seen in any of democratic countries. It is ironic to think that the same entity that caused the instability and insignificant economic development are expected to give solution for the same problems they caused.
Ethiopians have experienced decades of oppression. Thus, the problem of dictatorships is so wide in scope and lengthy in time. Unquestioning submission to authority figures and rulers has been part and parcel of the culture. From the modern history of Emperor Haile Selassie to the current Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) tribal regime, all three consecutive governments created and used state institutions to subordinate society. However ineffective, during the Emperor’s time few independent civic and societal institutions initiated. The “derg” junta destroyed the few. Other than those initiated to advance socialist ideology, “derg” never attempted to create independent civic institutions or allowed the public to create one. The TPLF tightened the noose more than ever before, and weakened and subordinated primarily the judicial systems to destroy, incarcerate and legally torture any opponent. The little independence the judicial institutions enjoyed in the past withered away. Ethiopians witnessed unprecedented mockery of legal system. Over the phone and under-the-table directives, the ghost of security officials and brutal cadres presided on the respected chambers and rendered unlawful judgments on defendants.
Most of all, TPLF had set the condition for breakdown of Ethiopia by enforced ethnic administrative systems and encouraged toxic ethnic relationship. For a moment, let’s admit the truth what Ethiopia got out of current dictatorship. Forgetting insidious racism that are driven by extreme hate, in the last 25-years, TPLF produced ethnic administrative “killils” if a fellow Ethiopian citizen go to these ethnic “killils” will be ethnically stereotyped and likely be discriminated. In these ethnic “killils”, Ethiopians are discriminated in various ways. One, the fellow Ethiopian citizen is discriminated for not speaking their language and not knowing their culture. Two, they simply assume that he/she has no right to come or live in their “killil” and forcefully displaced. Three, the administrators including police force most likely stands against the fellow citizen in official places. Four, the property the fellow citizen owned do not actually belong to the fellow citizen and see his/her success with resentment. To say the least, the university campuses are challenging to ethnic groups that came from elsewhere. To tell the gravitas of the problem in the simplest term possible, TPLF produced a lot of regressive ethnic advocates and politicians who argues in straight-face that discriminatory action against other ethnic groups is heroic, progressive, and shows the love of their ethnic group. Among these crowds, a fair minded person who welcome all Ethiopians as citizens and sees things in broader and inclusive ways is often branded as an ethnic traitor. All such societal ills, including ethnic discrimination, corruption, nepotism, brain drain, migration, eliciting money, poverty, reached unprecedented level during TPLF dictatorship.
Ethiopians became under control by merciless tribal dictatorship of Tigre brethren. Currently, fear, not laws and regulations, controlled Ethiopians. What Ethiopia produced out of the various dictatorships is a terrified society. Professionals and commoners alike are too frightened to share their resentments to dictatorship. Political parties are divided along ethnic lines and unable to work together to achieve freedom. Even those political parties organized by political philosophy are divided by security official manipulation or intimidation. Trust among citizens eroded to not believe in each other even to not do anything at individual’s own initiative. Notice the close down of organization initiated by individuals such as commonly known EHRCO (Ethiopian Human Rights Council).
What Ethiopians need is freedom to revive societal spirit and morale integrity, which are going down to the drain. Perhaps societal spirits soared temporarily because of the short-lived resistance of the near past of “kinijit”. The resistance turned out to be insufficient to overcome fear and change the dictatorial regime. Sadly, those resistances may even have brought more fear and suffering. Out of these gloomy mist, the wide spread protest broke in Oromia killil. Obviously, with the suspicions and disdains inculcated in citizens other Ethiopians are watching from sideline. The same way as kinijit fall, the protest in Oromia killil might fall short to get the much-needed freedom. In the mean time, Ethiopians continue suffering under TPLF dictatorship without future hope and with widespread societal ills.
When people propose dictatorship over democracy, clear thinking is needed because of the dangers and negative societal traits described above involved. It should be clear there is no real peace under dictatorship. No matter how much well-intended submission of citizens to cruel oppression by ruthless dictators who inflict atrocities on millions of people is no real peace. As has been seen in Ethiopia for the past several decades, there is no freedom and justice or development in dictatorship, but long-term societal moral decay.