Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

7 January 2013

Ethiopia: Army of Cadres Aims to Secure Party's Place

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An army of cadres known, in the EPRDFites world, as 'middle rank leadership' has, two weeks ago, completed a two-month indoctrination session, under the watchful eye of Addisu Legesse.

A veteran Revolutionary Democrat, Addisu now heads the ruling party's nascent training institute, temporarily housed in the Civil Service College; that is up until EPRDF's training facility, planned for construction in Sendafa town, is completed, according to gossip.

Many of these middle rank leaders are also chiefs of the numerous federal and regional agencies, gossip suggests. They also include people, recently recruited from the bureaucracy, deemed by party operatives to be "talented and with potential", claims gossip.

In addition, there are many others, from non-EPRDF parties, that are, however, affiliated to the ruling party, from areas such as; Afar, Gembella, Harer, Benishangul Gumuz and Somali. Such cadres are required to read the five booklets, believed to be authored by the late Meles Zenawi, with a helping hand from Bereket Simon, his spin-doctor, gossip claims.

These are booklets that inform people about the body and soul of the ruling establishment, with its top leaders of the conviction that, theirs is a role of transition in the reengineering of Ethiopian society, according to gossip. They talk about many issues, from the history of the EPRDF, from formation to 2010, and its renewal to an ideological opposition to neo-liberalism; and from leadership transitions to foreign policy, and the nitty-gritty of the GTP.

These booklets should take barely more than a week of focused and intensive reading, claims gossip. Yet, many of the cadres who have gone through such sessions, which are designed to be continuous, with series of batches enrolled, firmly believe otherwise, gossip noticed. Not only do they take the sessions as an opportunity to get to know one another, as they have come from different parties in the ruling coalition. They also see it as a moment to debate and bring everyone on to the same wavelength, gossip observed.

Nonetheless, they are used as instruments to measure who among them is the most intelligent, hence promotion in positions follows, gossip noticed.

Now that the indoctrination for the current batch is over, these cadres are left with a crucial assignment; to ensure their party and its affiliates will claim complete political hegemony in the local elections, scheduled for April 2013, gossip disclosed. Top leaders of the party have an assessment of the political landscape as one with little, if any, opposition, claims gossip.

As a starter, they are of the view that the political opposition is not interested in having a presence in local political structures, claims gossip. Even then, no opposition is capable of fielding over 30,000 candidates in each region, an electoral rearrangement, made subsequent to the 2005 electoral debacle, gossip disclosed.

Hardly worried about the possible challenge that may come from the political opposition, strategists of the Revolutionary Democrats are, rather, apprehensive of the overwhelming withdrawal, displayed by voters, who are deemed vexed at the opposition and frustrated by the ruling party, according to gossip. They are deeply concerned that a low turnout of voters, in Addis Abeba and major regional towns, may have the potential of displaying a vote of non-confidence on their legitimacy to rule and give a red flag to the upcoming national elections, gossip disclosed.

In death, as in life, they appear to be determined to use their late ideological father as a political currency to persuade voters, claims gossip. Convinced that the vast majority of voters liked and supported Meles - they are convinced that the show of unprecedented grief by the public was a proof of this - strategists in the EPRDF camp have made up their mind to convince voters that EPRDF are the vanguard of Meles's vision and legacy, gossip claims. That explains why there are so many shows - almost becoming a source of fatigue - currently being broadcast about Meles, by the state controlled media; particularly that of the national TV, gossip observed.

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