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Ethiopia: "Adiós Democracy": The Ethiopian Mantra of "Development"
By Kaleab Kassaye*
“There is no direct relationship between economic growth and democracy, historically or theoretically. I don’t believe in bedtime stories, contrived arguments linking economic growth with democracy.” Meles Zenawi (Late Ethiopian Prime Minister)
The EPRDF revolution in Ethiopia, from the very foundation exhibits several unique tenets, political mantras coupled with some unheeded thoughts ranging from the indeterminate ‘revolutionary democracy’ to a constitutionally guaranteed secession right accorded to ethnic nationalities. For Western commentators, this genus of ‘revolution’ is a classic mediocre- a military victory short of clear vision and far below the bare minimum required to build a state that was at the verge of collapse. As a game changer, following the infamous 2005 parliamentary election, the ruling party, waning in confusion and vainly trying to lure the electorate in its favor, found it-self defending developmental agendas at home and for Africa. This perhaps was the only safe option left for the party in a bid to recover from the intense rejection by the electorate. The regime and its allies galvanized every aspect of life (politics and economy) to join the unsacred odyssey. Oppositions arrested, press and media buried in a deep grave, think-tank gestured as enemy and democracy receives a cowed farewell.
Government Medias chanted developmental news loudly and tirelessly. Unconfirmed reports reinforce the regimes’ zeal for eradication of poverty, health care expansion, reducing illiteracy and infrastructural investments, but all with the price of democracy and human rights. As part of this mantra and supplemental to the new policy is the enactment of laws banning non-governmental activists, legislations cherishing censorship, and orders equating dissidents with terrorists. In tandem, fear surpasses citizen’s consciousness and the political atmosphere unveils suspicion and opens the door for brainwashing, anti-nationalism and anti-unity tendencies.
The shift brings a toxic victory for the ruling regime albeit a short-lived. In the long run what Ethiopia attains is a high percentage of unemployed youth, a skyrocketing inflation, unbridgeable economic gap between the massive poor and the few rich and more severely a party ridden economy. For economists and elites, Ethiopia's growth mantra is much of hype than facts on the ground would depict. It resonate the government’s unsuccessful ordeal in evading questions over good governance and related responsibilities that the regime has long dared to conceal. Corruption has turned to be a national culture, the number of citizens on the street has tripled, half the population barely eats three meals per day and immigration to overseas-escaping both brutality and poverty become a defining social aspect of present day Ethiopia.
The quoted remark by the late Prime Minister in the World Economic Forum back in 2012 timidly downgrade the values of human freedom and democracy for the sole reason of justifying economic growth. According to his unexciting analysis, perhaps inherited by his stodgy successor, democracy and human rights are not preconditions for an economic growth rather they are luxuries ‘cooked and served’ in the West. That really sounds absurd and cynical. The absurdity of this thought rests on the fact that making countries flourish is not so simple except there is inclusive political and economic institutions in place. Economic growth, if there is any, brought at the expense of democracy are ephemeral and superficial. A recent study released by Legatum Prosperity Index puts it “It pays to be a democracy.” Indeed, as it stands, 27 of the world’s top 30 most prosperous countries are democracies. This is not true of the bottom 30.
The exit from poverty trap is not an economy saddled with corruption and controlled by the few rather it’s an economy backed by accountable government, extensive participation of the private sector, and respect for the rule of law, with established property rights and independent judiciaries as well. Once there is a government based on free choice, appreciative of optional ideas, and willing to tolerate critics, it won't be difficult to change the future for good. As one commentator said ‘freedom first- freedom bakes bread not the other way’.
The poverty tale reveals the invincible truth that poor countries suffer a significant democratic deficit. In these countries, longest serving leaders unsurprisingly reelected; bribe is institutionally endorsed; independent media is unthinkable.
Eventually there is urgent call in Ethiopia to reconsider such a nasty line of thinking and the regime should embrace an idea that reinforces both economic growth and democracy. There is no doubt that democratic systems based on good governance and the rule of law are more conducive to prosperity than any of the alternatives. As Jeffrey Gedmin argued, consolidation of democratic governments such as in Latin America and some few countries of Africa (Botswana and Ghana for instance) progressed in lock-step with economic development. Establishing well-managed systems guided by democratic principles is a particularly effective route to progress in crucial areas like education, health care, security, and regulation.
The writer is a contributor to nazret.com and a Researcher in Comparative Constitutional Law at the Institute of Federalism (www.federallsm.ch) in the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.
somebody ones said, Egotism is the anesthetic given by a kindly nature to relieve the pain of being a damned fool.
It looks like the diaspora opposition are trying to mend their failure to connect with ethiopia’s progress, with their usual nonsense denial filled dogmatic reasoning.
For these losers Ethiopia is their pocket book they can dictate whichever way they like.
Ethiopia is doing well even if you blow trumpet to reduce the support for the regime. You better encourage rather than discouraging the officials. They took care of the problems the country had received from the previous regimes.
“The quoted remark by the late Prime Minister in the World Economic Forum back in 2012 timidly downgrade the values of human freedom and democracy for the sole reason of justifying economic growth.”
Well said, Kaleab! I support the intervention of the government in infrastructural developments but any one with common sense can tell free people participate in development efforts much more than those who are unfree. It is ludicrous to say people who are not free, subjugated by the few and corrupt societies are better environment for economic development.
They (I mean the occupiers) tried democracy in 2005. Not out of the goodness of their empty hearts, rather to please their ferengi bosses. Barya teezaz mekkebel yaw lemadu new ena. But they failed miserably, they were wiped out in Addis, and most of the nation. That was why they let loose their Agazi gestapos on the Ethiopian people. They shot thousands, screaming with a language non understood. They arrested tens of thousands. But the people came out by the millions to show their displeasure. One by one elections were rerun, lol, to bring back loosers to parliament. One prime example the Eritrean (Amara negne bay) Berebekkt Simon. The Ethiopian people have not forgotten that. But besides the points the article tried to raise, the number one issue today in Ethiopia, even more than democracy is the illegal ethnic bantustan forcefully imposed by the apartheid regime. It has nullified our fundemental right to exist as a people. I am born of many ethnic groups, I will not choose one and abondon the other. I am a Shewan, and I have a legal right to stay as such. If they don’t want to live in fake Tigre zone, don’t expect me to settle for fake Amara or Oromo zone. It is our right, let alone to live in our home Shewa, the rest of Ethiopia was put together by disproportionate
scacrifice paid by Shewans. The same people who turned their face from four corners of Ethiopia and trekked thousands of miles to pay in blood to defend your ancestors from Maychew to Adwa. You desecrate them, noone will listen to you if you talk all day the wonders you did for Ethiopia. As for Zenawi, be afe marat wanaw tegebaru nebere, gena endesu ye banda wusha lij selalhonkugne I would pass to comment on what he said. He thought he was invincible, but GOD silenced him for eternity, all but to be buried in Shewa among those great patriots he hated and belittled so much. As the old saying goes, SHEWA ASHEWA NEW, quick sand,lol.
Some of us knew and remember how panoche of chile dictator turned chiles economy in late 70-90 as one of fastest developing nation in south America. He used a very radical economic and political system by introducing a new extreme political operation over western democracy that killed over 200000 thousand chileans young students and others lives and a mass immigration of it’s people to as far as scandinavia and beyond. While the rest of south American countries end up in economy
crises following 2008 global economy cries ,chile economy stood stable and managed to overcome all crises, that economy achievement was because of Augusto Pinocle economy policy he carried during his time and most economist admire how he turn his country chile to rich middle class society ,that my fellow Ethiopia teach us the same democracy policy Ethiopia is heading. One should not forget the lives of innocent chiles students massacred by general Augusto pinocle but look what is now chile, a stable economy ,moderate democracy system and became more example to the rest of South America.
The way I see Ethiopian economy and political situation is as the same as chile was in late 80, transferring gradually to more and more middle class ,mass immigration because of poverty and hard political control over opposition parties. But because of geographical position where Ethiopia is now and plus where Islam religion is expanding like fire with all sorts of madness created by oil rich Arabs to destabilise any nation that are around them to be converted to their mad religion and brings civil war as we now witnessing in Syria and else were. Ethiopia is not immune to these sorts of religion fanatic and sooner or later it will happened unless the current weyanne govt. Stands hard to any one who are in their way and take action that includes opposition to guaranty the future Ethiopia like chile did to it’s citizens. We will have one day a democracy in Ethiopia but not now as the so called opposition think they will be served a free meal in their bed room.
In typical fashion Addis Zefen, the ethnic baiting a former shabian servant loser, is calling diaspora that powers the economy a country to the tunes of 2 to 3 billions dollars a year losers.
The poor idiot is on nazret.com to counter anything that opposes ethnic baiters like himself. Well the bad news is for people like him their short and brief shelf life is fast approaching before they rotten and stink the country.
funny man……what is democracy?
Right on brother Kaleab! There are few types of democracy including authoritarian democracy and participatory democracy. The first type or authoritarian democracy, which purports to promote economic, developmental, and nationalistic at the expense of corruption issues, freedom of expression, human rights and voting rights , was practiced by the former South Korea and Chile regimes among others. The current China`s situation also may fall in that category. This kinds of democracies, if you can call democracies at all, don`t last that long and they have to give away a genuine and multi-party participatory democracy sooner or later. After more than two decades in the driving seat and with all benefits and privileges that come with it, it is about time the EPRDF and its cohorts to secede the power to a genuine and functioning democracy for the sake of our existence and future stability.
to be honest,I don`t want to be ruled, offended, harassed, mislead, exploited and abuses daily by an ignorant tribal buffoon in the so-called Somali kilil, who has never been in school and who never knew the difference between politics and tribal or personal business before he was appointed position of power. It is about time the Tigrinian elites and its cohorts face the realities of unfettered injustice, corruption, tribalism, power excesses and unaccountability. Enough is enough. Anything less is unacceptable proposition to the frustrated and exploited masses
Adgi Kelbew ,who the hell are Financially assisting the country by helping their families .As you know the Diaspora Peoples ,not your bandit masters who of course are using the misery and poverty of the Ethiopian Peoples as their Pocket Moneys . Destination in Ethiopia of IMF ,WF ,EC ,USAID and UN moneys always into the pockets of Agazi Bandits and Tigre Mafiosis while the peoples are starving . SHABYAN STOOGE YE AGAZI FANDYA AMICHE WUSHA BANDA !!!!!!!!
Agazi Ass Holes and Moron Bandas ,todays Ethiopia Under the rule of your bandit masters is not the late Chile or South Africa .But a miserable country where 99%
of its peoples are starving and where Agazi
Bandits and Tigre Mafiosis Invaders with the complicity of local opportunist Bandas own everything .Where its Citizen are sold for Arab Slave Traders ,its Fertle Lands offered for Foreign Looters ,its youth Geneartion exposed of Exile Evil Life .
KEFFO RAS MORON BANDAS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Since you are out of the site, at least for the time being..we couldn’t track you and smashed your head…but remember the diaspora bigots aren’t the safe heaven for you Mr Kaleab.
Thank you Mr. Kaelab for your analytical article how the Tyrant defacto regime had rediculed Democracy.
They ( the shiftas at arat kilo) not only squashed Democracy but crafted a unique looting mechanism called - EFFORT.
The rest is a sad story for our nation which is languishing at the hands of these “cave beasts”
when are we going to stop this Wetader Vs Gebere type childish arguments and focus on what is critical for the country. let me ask the writer one thing, there is no democracy (free/fair election, free media etc..etc..) in ethiopia and it doesnt look like we are going to have it for few more decades whether or not the current leadership stays or not, so in the mean time what are we going to do for living???? are we suposed to fold our arms and sit, as we did for the past century or are we to work hard as the other wiser nations before us did??? this is a no brainer.
these are some of Teddy’s daily prayers and night mares. He can not afford to waste a day without saying (cursing) them out loud. He is addicted to them. That is the only way he could live his agonizing and horrible life. And obviously, his misery and stress in his life is getting worse by the day. Because Ethiopia’s success is being witnessed in an amazing and miraculous manner.
Loser and denkoro
You prefer having democracy rather than bread because you or your families never experienced starvation, extreme poverty, or child mortality. You’re living a comfortable life in some western country and wants to decide the Ethiopian people should go to bed empty stomach while you eat kitfo and Tibes every single day.
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