By Robele Ababya — Ethiopia is blessed with abundant resources including large population, hardworking people, vast arable land that citizens have proven record to develop, and plenty of water. The dependence on her rivers by neighboring countries including Sudan, Egypt, Somalia and Kenya coupled with the present scramble for her fertile farmlands underlines her strategic significance to these countries and beyond in the global community because food and water are increasingly becoming scarce.
It is essential to have strength, internal piece and good governance in order to deter those jealous of Ethiopia’s life-sustaining resources. Unfortunately, the brutal ruling regime is deliberately eroding that strategic strength of deterrence through its divisive politics, sellout of vital national interests and systematic abuse of the country’s indispensable natural resources.
Human resources mismanagement
The last 20 years has seen exodus of Ethiopians on a massive scale and gruesome conditions unprecedented in the history of Ethiopia. Productive Human resources including professionals, experts, and highly skilled technicians in various disciplines have left the country some as refugees and others in search of greener pastures. According to a study disclosed by the German radio (jammed in Ethiopia), 65% of Ethiopians would leave their country, given the chance. As if adding wood to the fire, citizen workers are being demoralized by importing foreign laborers. The reported importation of 5000 workers from Philippines is a typical example of the indifference of the brutal repressive ruling regime in setting up training facilities to develop skills within the country in the spirit of self-sufficiency and long term saving of resources. Massive unemployment especially among the youth is another worrying factor driving people out of the country in droves.
Academic freedom is absent in tertiary institutions. The youth as leaders of tomorrow and in this age of information are denied critical thinking and free debate within their premises. They are denied access to independent sources of information to determine which areas of specialization would be relevant in their studies to cope with rapid changes in science and technology in the 21st century. The regime is adamant on glorifying its revolutionary democracy driven by obsolete socialist ideology even as the once diehard communist Fidel Castro is admitting the failure of the command economy of Cuba. One would be quick to add that the nouveau-riche in communist China are making it to Forbes’s List of billionaires, thanks to the economic reform introduced after the death of Mao. Of course the rising demand for political reform and spiritual freedom is worrying the Chinese communist leaders. And rightly so, for it is written in the Holy Scriptures that “Man does not live by bread alone”.
The horrifying exodus of Ethiopians is certainly due to the sustained reign of intimidation, not to say terror, by the ruling regime in the last 20 years; people do not run from democracy and double digit economic growth in their country; they do not run away from a regime that is providing three wholesome meals a day in a peaceful and democratic environment. The truth is they run from abject poverty and political repression in the hope of finding greener pastures. But it is unfortunate that some of our fellow citizens die on their way to their destination and the remaining others who make it to the end of their journey fall victims of gruesome human indignity that is more acute in the Arab world than any other place on earth.
This kind of exodus, mostly comprising Oromo migrants, is unprecedented in the entire history of Ethiopia in terms of its magnitude. The arduous and very unsafe journey leads the refugees to despicable indignity in the host countries. Sadly, such human suffering is often with the connivance of the TPLF ruling regime.
To most Ethiopian parents to live in the Meles’s reign of oppression replete with lies and false promises is a torturing misfortune; and to bring up their children watching them brainwashed by revolutionary songs aimed at ensuring their subservience to the brutal regime is severely painful. That is one of the reasons why given the chance 65% of Ethiopians express their desire to leave their motherland.
Mismanagement of physical resources and sabotage
1. The secret ceding of large tract of fertile farmland to the Sudan has been a hot issue for long. It is a time bomb ready to explode leading to war, domestic unrest, and further deterioration of regional instability. The ceded farmland must be reclaimed not only because of its substantial contribution to national economy but also of the historic and prophetic words of Emperor Theodros II that the Ethiopian soil is sacred and priceless to cede even a spec to foreigners.
2. Leasing of large tract of fertile farmland is an insult to Ethiopian farmers who in the period before 1974 had shown remarkable acumen in farming large plots for and garnering bumper harvest of various grains, vegetables, fruits, coffee, linseeds et al for exports and domestic consumption. The question is why leasing so much fertile farmland to unscrupulous foreign investors? Why not foster good governance, incentives, and create a stable political environment conducive to attracting back Ethiopian farmers with proven track records who were forced to flee the country due to the atrocious policies of the Derg and the TPLF regimes? What happened to the much talked about capacity building policy of the ruling regime?
3. The critical manpower built by the Imperial regime has been wiped out or demoralized by successive regimes. Now the ruling regime has relegated its rhetoric of self-reliance in manpower, through capacity building, to the backburner. It will take a very long time and huge capital to rebuild the required manpower for the ambitious five-year plan. It calls for salaries and wages incentive policy as well as good governance to attract back professionals, experts and highly skilled technicians who have left the country.
4. The regime was badly beaten by the opposition in the debate on the issue of small scale irrigation in the run up to the stolen election 2010; the point was made in the debate that there are hardly any large scale irrigation undertakings in the country despite immense possibilities. Utilization of subterranean waters is minimal; rivers and lakes are polluted or dead. Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. The big issue of the River Nile has been resurrected by tyrant Meles as if he did not surrender, according to the 1993 framework agreement with Egypt, Ethiopia’s rights to use her fair share of the waters under international law.
5. Surprisingly and shamefully the document was written in the Arabic and English languages, both being equally authentic (Source: ECAD website). One would have expected Amharic to have been used as the official legal working language instead of English which is not our official language of Ethiopia. That was a rude insult to Ethiopia. I shall come back to this point and contents of the rather short frame work agreement, which highlights the River Nile as the centerpiece, signed by Mubarak and Meles in my next article, God willing. At this point, I am convinced that tyrant Meles is gambling to project his image as ‘Statesman leading Africa’.
The ruling party has claimed 99.6% of parliamentary seats and over 93.3% of poplar votes although Meles has evaded the latter by saying “just over” 50%. He has cited successive double-digit growth in the last seven years. However it is a contradiction in terms that his shaky government still lacks confidence as it is already facing constraint of resources to cater for its 5.6 million unproductive cadres in the sense that they are deployed to make an obsolete ideology forcibly function. Therefore Ethiopians will be leaving the country in droves to the indignities, hunger, disease and death awaiting the migrants in the increasingly unkind world for refugees.
Indeed tyrant Meles is a highly qualified candidate for trial at International Criminal Court (ICC) considering also his hitherto compiled heinous crimes including genocide, war crimes and sellout of vital national interests including access to seaport not only serving as economic lifeline but also essential for security.
There is no hope that the rubber stamp parliament will impeach Meles for rampant breach of the constitution. So the ICC is the only entity that will restrain or deter African despots like Meles from arbitrary killings or incarcerations of innocent citizens.
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!
Free Birtukan Mideksa & all political prisoners in Ethiopia!