Bad Politics, Poor People

Aug 16 , 2020

Ethiopia's politics continue to divide and terrorise its people, all the while failing to consider their interests and challenges. Personal agendas and grievances that do not target the people’s interests continue to creep into this poor nation's politics.

It is not surprising. This is what our political history shows. Elite politics, the unfettered competition for power and influence, have led to the death and dispossession of many and the continuation of poverty.

Why do we let our political elite still do this to us? Have we not learned from their predecessors of their capacity to leave us worse off than we were? Is it not clear that they will always have a self-serving interest that is impossible to quench?

We have had at least three years of “politics-this, politics-that” that has left us weary and, some of us, bloodied. It is about time that we cease to be complicit in it and focus on what matters most: the economic improvement and well-being of citizens.

Some damage has been done. Many talented young people have left the country for good, unable to handle the political chaos and the lack of opportunities that plague this country. But all hope is not lost. Those of us who are left have enough of the resources, energy and willpower to lift this country out of its miserly position.

If this sounds somewhat defeatist; it is not. It is merely an acknowledgement of the position we find ourselves in. Our expectation that resistance politics will deliver us out of our predicaments is untrue. Its purpose has mainly been to traumatise citizens and divert attention away from developmental efforts. It is time we turn our attention to the fundamental problem underlying our political problems – poverty.

Perhaps, when our political elite recognise this, they will choose a different stance or at least moderate their rhetoric. The national discourse will be focused on matters that make the most long-lasting differences. This can occur the more we can move away from our current political dispensation and attempt to generate debate more, or at least as much, focused on our present and future challenges as we are eager to reminisce about our past.

Peace and stability are fundamental to this, and here the government’s willingness, consistency and insistence on upholding the rule of law is necessary. It is not possible to discuss anything but politics under circumstances where these are met. The sooner that people feel secure to travel and invest, the likelier we will be able to talk about something else.

Still, we may feel that we are living in a broken country, where justice and democracy have not been instituted. Indeed, living with such a system is annoying. But we should never bail on our country. We can make a conscious decision to give as little space as possible to the toxicity of politics, which can never be expunged entirely.

When we do that, we can focus on our country, which deserves attention, and inoculate ourselves against the endless stream of negativity that we are being preached. We can disassociate ourselves from the scandalous politics of Ethiopia.

Let us not be bottled up, confined to bad politics. Our desire for harmony, peace and development will always keep us going. Although it does not seem like it, many people in this country want to work hard and contribute their fair share to society. The masses may be silent, but they are alive and well, ready to rise to the challenge.

When it is people we focus on instead of the abstract ideas that we argue, it will be possible to return our attention to their basic needs and wants.

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1059]

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