Too Many Egos in Ethiopia’s Politics

Apr 26 , 2019
By Hintsa Andebrhan

Last Friday I attended a neighbourhood social event where most of the guests, of course, discussed and debated contemporary political matters. Surprisingly, their insight and analysis into the problems of our country was more enlightening than most of the shallow reflection by people who are presented on TV as political commentators and analysts.

This was because they were discussing matters close to heart, about incidents and episodes they had to go through, and their own experiences. This is not an isolated incident, and our politicians would do well to listen more to these people and talk less.

One of the points of discussion at the event was about the conduct of public figures and how they keep misleading the public, offer few complex ideas and rush to score political points. It is creating confusion and fear and providing fuel for a national crisis. This is an opinion that has been gaining ground over the past few months and is now impossible to refute.

Ego is driving our politics. Too much precious time is being wasted pontificating on matters of little significance, which is distracting from problems that are dragging down the social and economic development of the nation.

What is incredible is that even those that were behind bars or unable to enter the country are wreaking havoc on a public that fought to win them their freedom.

How is it possible that when Ethiopians accepted them with open arms, they are unable to work out their differences, and contribute positively to the political transformation?

What Ethiopians saw in those that became the face of the struggle against oppression was hope. These people were a symbol of our freedom, for ushering in a new era where basic political and human rights are defended, the rule of law is respected and prosperity is ushered in. This is not what is happening though.

It is almost as if they are scared we will forget their struggles, and that they should continue to struggle much the same way they did before. But the resistance of today cannot in any way be the same as what took place before. The problem in the past was that there was a government that was unwilling to listen to the demands of the people.

This role is now being fulfilled by the same people that struggled against the EPRDF. The same people have become as dogmatic and uncompromising as the very force they were fighting against. They do not have a vision for the country that they are able to articulate or a practical alternative they can suggest to any of the country’s problems.

Only a year since a sincere opening up of the political space, and already, the EPRDF, for all its flaws, is proving itself the only party that can properly govern. This is not because it has the best economic or social policies but merely because it seems like the only grown-up in the room. At the end of the day, it is still preferable an amateur drives the car than allowing eight-year-olds in the driver’s seat.

This is a country that deserves better from those that claim to represent the different parts of society. What we have already gone through has drained us, and we are not ready for another bout of confusion and conflict. At this point, we are ready to forfeit all hopes of prosperity in the future for some stability and clarity in the present.

The political games that are being played now are not productive to the country. They only serve to stroke the egos of actors whose sole purpose seems to be to keep themselves constantly in the news. They are leading the country into the abyss, a matter they should be attentive to.

What we expect from them is maturity and sophistication. They should understand that they are gambling away our future, and that history will judge them for that. Citizens have dignity. Their emotions, expectations and daily struggles should not be used to advance personal and political careers or cater to their ego.

Most of those that have struggled should be aware that the sort of change they have been fighting for can indeed be realised. For all the flaws of the current administration, its heart is in the right place. They are the one’s spoiling the future now. They should indeed contribute to the current political transition but only if they have something worthwhile to say. Otherwise, they should hold their tongues.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 26,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 991]

Hintsa Andebrhan ( worked as a researcher with the United Nations Population Fund and IPAS International Ethiopia. Interested in history and politics, his work was on social affairs.

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