Robele Ababya, 24 January 2013
Emulating the Pakistani uprising against corruption
This piece is prompted by the recent development of crisis in Pakistan where “Pakistan‘s Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of the country’s prime minister on corruption charges, heightening the already extreme political uncertainty and fears the country’s fragile democracy could be derailed.”
Pakistan is a conservative Islamic state where one would have expected least corruption but, lo and behold, endemic greed is surprisingly becoming the foremost issue threatening to plunge the fragile country already beset with severe politico-economic problems into a more catastrophic situation.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, has been arrested in connection with a scandal involving contracts for power stations. The news broke on television stations as a “Muslim cleric, Islamic scholar Tahir-ul-Qadri, addressed tens of thousands of protesters who have massed on the capital city for an extended sit-in to protest against corruption and electoral malpractice by Pakistan’s politicians.”
Qadri declared to his supporters that the “false mandate of the rulers is over” and ordered President Asif Ali Zardar to dissolve parliament immediately. He told the crowd that the power of the President is over adding: “There are only two institutions in Pakistan that are functioning and doing their duties of the people. One is the judiciary of Pakistan and one is the armed forces of Pakistan and nothing else.” Qadri declared: “Victory, victory, victory by the grace of God!” Source: Google
Rampant corruption is increasing at an alarming rate in Ethiopia as admitted by the inactive EPRDF government waiting for its own downfall by popular uprising because the courts in the country are mere stooges of the ruling party. The determined public display of Pakistanis against corruption is one that impoverished Ethiopians should emulate knowing that the kind of support the judiciary and the military enjoyed by the former may not be available to the latter although it is worth soliciting through persuasion. Nevertheless, the Ethiopian people have the all the justification to stage a series of debilitating and massive protests publicly to hold their incompetent and greedy leaders to account for, among other things, have failed miserably to bring corruption under control. Only an all-inclusive uprising comprising all stakeholders can effectively deal with the draconian and multiple problems created by the EPRDF over the last 21 years.
Lesson for Ethiopian opposition in fighting the corrupt EPRDF regime
Pervasive corruption is increasingly engulfing our global village threatening to topple governments in some countries. It is triggering popular wrath and fury at the scourge wrought by greed ushering in widening gap between the rich and the poor even in countries that had chosen scientific socialism as a model of growth for many years. Some interesting examples are provided below:-
1. China: In my article titled “Reform in China vs. crisis within EPRDF” dated 15 November 2012 I wrote: “The GS in his speech to leading officials underlined the unprecedented stride in economic growth achieved in the last decade but asking them “to exercise strict self-discipline and strengthen supervision over their families and staff.” He said “Leading officials at all levels, especially high-ranking officials, must readily observe the code of conduct on clean governance and report all important matters” adding that “If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the Party, and even cause the collapse of the Party and the fall of the state”. He made a passionate plea that “the CPC must make unremitting efforts to combat corruption, promote integrity and stay vigilant against degeneration.” He singled out corruption as a major problem in his closing speech also. And the incoming General Secretary (GS) Xi Japing strongly underscored the same thing in condemning the rampant corruption.” Emphasis added
The CPC and its government made a phenomenal progress in amassing wealth in the last decade but with poor distribution of that wealth going to members of the CPC top echelons not to mention flagrant abuse to human rights over the period.
One has to watch the CCTV the progress China is making in fighting corruption, openness to the outside world and transparency at home.
The lesson from China’s experience for Ethiopians is logically to take into account equitable wealth distribution, respect for human rights, social justice, and economic development together – respect for human rights taking precedence at all times.
2. Uganda: President Museveni has realized the danger that rampant corruption is posing to the stability of his government. So he is leading a concerted effort to fight the pervasive corruption in Uganda under the slogan: “Zero tolerance for corruption”. He is in part driven by the pressure of donors withholding funding for development projects and direct budgetary support plus the public cry demanding accountability for corruption. The opposition FDC led by its newly elected Party President is also promising to play a constructive role leaving behind the blame game of the past eight years. The recently formed group, which has christened itself: “Black Monday Activists” is also seen on the streets envy Monday wearing black dresses and sensitizing passers-by on the severity of corruption in the country and distributing brochures to that effect. The free print and broadcast media in Uganda and the East Africa region report profusely on the pervasive corrupt practices.
The Uganda example is something opposition activists and civil entities back home in Ethiopia may consider to intensify civil disobedience against the inactive government. I hope that the broadcast from the CCTV station to Africa will not be used in fostering the “vision of the dead man” Meles Zenawi, the former friend of Communist Party of China (CPC) China should act in its long term interest to side with the vast majority of the Ethiopian people by rethinking its policy of underpinning a minority TPLF party trading in the good names of the valiant people of Tigray.
3. Ethiopia: The late Zenawi openly and in full view of the public complained about pervasive corruption in his government and the business sector. The mother of corruption Azeb Mesfin, the former TPLF ideologue and Chief Executive Officer of Endowment FundforRehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) Sebhat Nega (the enemy of Amhara and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christian Church) and others in the den of thieves should face justice soonest by popular demand. No audit report of this mammoth business monopoly has been made public. Azeb Mesfin, the widow of Meles Zenawi, replaced Nega as CEO while her husband was alive.
The do-as-told Prime Minister Hailemariam is the flag bearer of the nauseating legacy of his predecessor. He is not expected to address the colossal corruption problem for he has already proved himself timid, habitual liar and incompetent leader. He cannot be relied on to follow the example of President Museveni in leading the fight against corruption.
President Obama’s Inauguration Address (21/01/2013)
President Obama alluded to the Declaration of the United States of America on July 4, 1776 in which the immortal words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are enshrined.
The part of his address that attracted my attention most is captured in the words: “Today we continue a never ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing. That while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by his people here on earth.”
Yes, indeed! As the old adage goes God helps only those who help themselves. We Ethiopians must rise up in unison to secure our rights, which are not “self-executing” unless we actively move to claim them. This we must do by ourselves at any cost; it would however be a bonus if the President would keep his pledge this time around to support our quest for democracy and be on the side of the overwhelming majority of the Ethiopian in the best long-term interest of the United States of America. Extremists and terrorist are better fought and defeated by siding with the majority seeking peace, stability, democracy, prosperity and harmony in earnest.
The TPLF is a terrorist organization identified as such by Genocide Watch, the Global coalition to end genocide and mass atrocities. Genocide Watch has been vindicated by the recent plot of assassination on the renowned journalist and human rights Abebe Gelaw in the United States. We Ethiopians everywhere should relentlessly plead with the Obama Administration to rethink its policy of working with a terrorist organization perceived as such by the international community and verified by the heinous plot of assassination intended to be carried out on the homeland of the US citizens.
Pervasive corruption in Ethiopia is certainly one of the top crimes of the EPRDF leading to the collapse of the regime. Opposition forces and civic organization at home and in the diaspora should seize corruption as a weapon to expedite the downfall of the EPRDF repressive government.
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has realized the grave danger that rampant corruption is posing to his government and has taken the lead in fighting the scourge. The same cannot be expected of Desalegn Hailemariam, the puppet Prime Minister of the EPRDF regime. So the best choice for us Ethiopians is emulating the Pakistani uprising against pandemic corruptionin Ethiopia of which the massively unemployed young persons are the main victims.
In closing I would like to renew my solidarity with the 33 opposition parties in Ethiopia vying to initiate popular protest to assert their right to participate in the forthcoming local elections.
My mantra: “The Almighty God has done His part leaving to us what we in the opposition and the Ethiopian people can do together. It is critical to act in unison to save Ethiopia. It is high time to boost the morale of renowned main opposition political entities and civic movements at home!!!
Release all political prisoners including Andualem Aragie, Eskinder Nega, Bekele Gerba, Reeyot Alemu, Leaders of the Ethiopian Muslims et al!
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!