Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

7 January 2013

Ethiopia: Inconsiderate Opposition Hampers Democracy

Immediately after the Revolutionary Democrats mistakenly decided to impose an untimely democracy, a sacred but alien concept, on Addis Abeba in 2005, its incapability in shouldering it allowed opportunists to gather and form a group, hijacking the process. The group was convening repeatedly to deliberate on how to design an election tactic, in response to their power-mongering.

They were democracy's illiterates; composed of populist orators, who not only distorted the national expectation, but poisoned a political culture, already ailing with spoiled democratic approaches, with their ill-motive rhetoric. What amazes me is their self-declaration as democrats, although they were far from practicing democracy.

A politician that claims to make a better democratic government, if elected, must possess a great deal of contemporary knowledge of the concept and how to deliver it. It is not enough to only have the knowledge, but also the skills that will enable the customisation of concepts within the peculiar intricacies ofEthiopia, a place where various interests exist hand in hand.

Unexpectedly, the election process in 2005 turned out to be one dominated by talkative opposition figures. The best evidence to prove that they were not the true sons ofEthiopiawas in their failure to disagree with the Revolutionary Democrats, when the latter unexpectedly decided to call for democratic elections.

A political party must indentify its visions and targets before striving to gain power. It has to make sure that, if elected, it would be able to competently undertake the job of governance.

The political culture inEthiopiais very different from this. Political parties, that do not even have policies or strategies, compete for the power to run governmental office. Sometimes, they do not even know why they oppose, or indeed, what they are opposed to.

Surely, the oppositions were more prepared, both technically and tactically, than the incumbent, which was considering the electorate to be what it was not, in actual terms. The former was consistently merging with the realities of the government, hindered by the poverty of the nation, to blur the perception of the electorate.

An evaluation of the structural strength of the political aisle results in a victory for the incumbent. In this respect, the sides are incomparable, in favour of the incumbent by a wide margin.

The electorate was not even aware of the fact that elections are about parties and their relative strengths and weaknesses. Elections are not about choosing nations, nor governments. The realities of the nation must remain there on the ground, whilst casting votes is rather about choosing the one that is most capable of catalysing progression.

The poverty, which has lasted for a long time, cannot be an issue that the incumbent should be indicted for. But, the opposition was hijacking votes using this popular misconception; its fraudulent tactic yielded.

What was the expectation of the opposition, had it been placed in office?

Of course, they should have known that they could not lead the nation towards economic advancement, the moment they came to power. They managed, however, to persuade the helpless electorate that what the nation needed was their empowerment, in order to get rid of its problems, and soon.

The most important tactic they used to win votes was perverting the electorate in to believing that unless they come to power, the nation would never see any progress. But, in actual terms, it is not when the opposition, especially the notorious ones, comes to power that our fair nation will truly realise democracy.

The mischievous opposition not only misguided the electorate, but also injected a flawed political culture that consistently forgets the national interest and is characterised by a quest for power, hostility, enmity, belittlement, trivialities, hearsay, short-sighted political opinions and denial. In its quest for power, the opposition was focusing on the trivial, to the extent of campaigning on the smoking habits of the incumbent's members.

The shameless opposition was even daring to use its campaign to make the electorate panic; claiming that the nation would fall into chaos, like neighboringSomalia, if it was not elected. It was also very outspoken, immorally comparing human beings to industrial products. But the nation is doing very well without them; indeed as good as it has done over the past 3,000 years.

The worst part of their campaign were the attacks against leading Ethiopian figures, who have made costly sacrifices to help enable the national democratic transition, that began in 1991. How can a political party that competes to gain power, sideline a nationality that is part and parcel of the nation?

The peoples of the nationality, especially those who reside in the rural areas, must have been puzzled as to why a democratic process, that their selfless dedication has brought, gave birth to an opposition that stigmatised and blamed them, without any wrongdoing on their part.

Another ludicrous act the opposition exhibited was its move to get permission from the electorate to take on the parliamentary seats that they were delegated with. They did not even know what it meant to win votes. They were acting childishly, further evidencing their incompetence. Their refusal to take the parliamentary seats and the office of the Addis Abeba City Council is simply unjustifiable.

The other ridiculous behavior of the Ethiopian opposition political parties was their effort to invite the international diplomatic community to interfere in internal political issues. They should have known that, in doing so, they were endangering the very sovereignty of the nation.

In 2005, after the announcement of the election results, those who differed from their peers on the issue, made their way to parliament, although they did not perform well thereafter.

Ethiopian political opposition still justifies its weaknesses by shifting the blame onto the absence of a 'level playing field', though it has wasted and abused every opportunity it was presented, back in 2005. They would not be using it responsibly, even if a level playing field did exist.

The Revolutionary Democrats, however, are out of touch. We have no guarantee that their old mistakes will not be repeated again.

Still another flaw of the Ethiopian political opposition is their opinions about the Ethiopian economy. Economics is one of the most sophisticated and controversial disciplines. No one ought to dare give his opinion without the required expertise, capability and necessary data. It was without having any of these essential tools that the opposition was debating on the economy.

The foremost question, thus, is: for how long will our nation tolerate the selfish political opposition, with all of its incorrect political orientations?

It is certain that it all comes from the improper rush of the Revolutionary Democrats towards democracy. The reproach they receive is similar to the one a mother would give. A mother that gives birth to a child would bring her up well. She has every opportunity to shape her the right way at the earliest possible time, before it is too late. But if she lets her go her own way, she cannot account for, or control, her behavior, negative or otherwise.

The opposition currently has nothing to lose or gain, for it has contributed nothing to the process that has contributed to the birth.

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