Featured | Jan 21,2023
May 16 , 2020
By Christian Tesfaye ( Christian Tesfaye (email@example.com) is a researcher and Fortune's Deputy Editor-in-Chief whose interests run amok in the directions of political thought, markets, society and pop culture. )
This month has been attended by developments that point to an escalation of antagonism in the political space.
We saw this as a number of opposition parties came out to reject the options presented by the government for extending the time in office of lawmakers past what is stipulated constitutionally. They claimed that the Constitution has no answers on what happens in the event that an election cannot be held and argued that they should have as much a share in governing as the current lawmakers come September.
In effect, they argued that they should be put in charge of the army, the police, the bureaucracy and tax administration, among other things, in, essentially, a power-sharing deal with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD). They promised that this is not an effort to grab power but an opportunity for creating a grand bargain.
After the Derg, a supposedly transitional military government, and the four-year-long interim government in the early 1990s, the opposition parties believed that the third time would be the charm and the output would be legitimate.
The Prime Minister, on the otherhand, gave a televised statement recently to dissuade any notions of a transitional government. He rightly argued that there is a constitutional way out of the current conundrum. Unfortunately, he seemed to believe that this political and constitutional problem could only be addressed legally. He failed to stress that, without the opposition on board, it may mean very little in the eyes of the public, regardless of the details of the plan.
For a government that will be getting to extend its time in office, it should have been more humble. Indeed, the circumstances justify what the lawmakers and the administration are doing, but as representatives that would add perhaps a year to their time in office, they should have offered to bring in the opposition at least as an organised consulting body.
Instead, the opposition and the government find themselves on the opposite spectrum of the same political space – a cliché in Ethiopian political history. What is more daunting is the militant tone of rhetoric that is being employed. It is without a doubt symptomatic of Ethiopia’s politics, but it is no less astounding to see it in action time after time.
The political discourse, which had tapered off for a few months as COVID-19 took the attention away in almost every bit of public life, is back in its full, ugly form.
The politicians, as we can see from the statements and interviews they give out, are once again angry and deterministic. If it is not their way, they are then sure that it will end in absolute chaos.
They have brought back the militancy in their advocacy. This is the only way they know how to engage. They understand that there is no currency, not even attention, to be gained from being sober-minded. Sensibility is for losers they seem to be saying. They are here to win, and they will do whatever they can to get us to sympathise with their respective causes, at almost any expense.
If the only way they can get their point across is by making us become suspicious of our neighbours, they are not above doing it.
They say they are militant in their discourse because they care and feel so passionately. But this is, in fact, done without remorse for the public, without the concern that the scariest thing of all is their constant rhetoric of war.
They are not trying to engage or make a point. They are trying to frighten one another into submission. This is what has become of political discourse in Ethiopia over almost half a century of exercise.
There is an academic discussion taking place, but what the masses are exposed to is what is on the surface, the mainstream expression of political views. All one could get from the latter is a heavy dose of cynicism, a simplistic overview of history and a misunderstanding of political theory.
There is, for the most part, nothing new here. What we need as a country is a reinvention of our politics and a new generation of politicians that are not informed by the old, and largely male, remnants of the student movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. We need a new breed of politicians who are less idealistic but also far less cynical about the possibility of a progressive and ordered society.
This, I admit, is a lot to ask for.
PUBLISHED ON May 16,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1046]
Featured | Jan 21,2023
Verbatim | Jul 02,2022
My Opinion | Mar 19,2022
Commentaries | Jan 03,2021
Sunday with Eden | Jan 05,2019
Viewpoints | Sep 06,2020
Sunday with Eden | Jan 25,2020
View From Arada | Apr 25,2020
Life Matters | Dec 24,2022
Fineline | Dec 14,2019
Photo Gallery | 63966 Views | May 06,2019
Photo Gallery | 55846 Views | Apr 26,2019
Fortune News | 50926 Views | Jul 18,2020
Fortune News | 50508 Views | Sep 01,2021
Commentaries | Jan 21,2023
Life Matters | Jan 21,2023
My Opinion | Jan 21,2023
Sunday with Eden | Jan 21,2023
Agenda | Jan 21,2023
Editorial | Jan 21,2023
Dec 24 , 2022
Biniam Mikru heads the department of cabinet affairs under Mayor Adanech Abiebie. But...
Jul 2 , 2022 . By RUTH TAYE
On a rainy afternoon last week, a coffee processing facility in the capital's Akaki-Qality District was abuzz with activ...
Nov 27 , 2021
Against my will, I have witnessed the most terrible defeat of reason and the most sa...
Nov 13 , 2021
Plans and reality do not always gel. They rarely do in a fast-moving world. Every act...
Leaders of the National Election Board are in a charm offensive mood, of a sort. Last week, they organised a rare tour for members of the me...
When the country's most senior diplomats and envoys return back to their posts after two-week debriefings, they leave behind a point or two...
Jan 21 , 2023
Eyob Tekalign, state minister for Finance, took to social media platforms last week t...
Jan 14 , 2023
The longing for normalcy and a semblance of individual and collective security in Eth...
Jan 7 , 2023
The hallmark of Ethiopia's contemporary leaders could be a fascination with grandeur...
Dec 31 , 2022
A change of guards in 2018 gave Ethiopians hope for better circumstances from the pre...
I found myself in an awkward situation one of the days last week. The plan was to have lunch with two of my friends, but one of them was fas...
Jan 21 , 2023
Fewer couples tied the knot in 2022 than the year before; the post-pandemic environment could be attributed to over 12,000 more married coup...
A women's rehabilitation and skill development centre foresees construction as Mayor Adanech Abiebie laid...
Contractors are apprehensive about buying a policy from insurance companies as the requisite for collateral is half the performance bond. Af...
Jan 21 , 2023
Two federal offices of the highest stature saw newly appointed young leaders installed last week. Parliam...
Or see contact page