Sunday, July 14, 2024

New leaders. Same old story


The past few months I really struggled to motivate myself to write on anything. Just couldn’t make it! Corona, cricket, economic slowdown, inflation, famine, the Tigray war, elections, vaccine… did not help. By the way let me confirm that I am running for City Council of Addis Ababa. To be honest many say I have no idea what I am doing. But since I showed myself willing to go along with all the Arat Kilo aspirants I take full responsibility for my action.
So, dear readers, here I am trying to slowly come back and share with you my puny reflections. As always I like to write about what interests me most, so this time I’ll touch on politics and my mama.
We all know, like all things in nature, rulers age and crumble. Power corrupts them. Wealth weakens them. Over time, each generation becomes greedier and less competent. Check out the EPRDF Party and its reincarnated Prosperity Party. The later a reborn from the EPRDF ashes is like a Phoenix. The Phoenix is a bird with splendid colors in the Greek legend. Whenever it’s destroyed, it’s said to rise from its own ashes. According to legends it always returns to its initial state.
Here is a simple historical equivalence, the expression of the phrase “The king is dead. Long live the king”, which originated in the 1400s in France when young Charles, I believe, took over from his recently deceased papa, Charles VI. All could rest easy. Though he was a whole lot like the old dead guy, someone new was now in charge.
In the same way, the passing away of EPRDF gave way to its own reincarnation as Prosperity. Just check it out:
Prosperity uses the same offices, albeit with new colors and furniture.
Prosperity retained the same structures and advanced similar policies as the old one.
Prosperity is more feminine (I suppose this is about diversity).
Both EPRDF and Prosperity were fond of exercising brute force to accomplish limited aims.
The old and new parties settle old scores like earlier times.
When Prosperity began operating, it mostly used the same people from the old party; they had merely switched allegiance from EPRDF to Prosperity.
Prosperity uses all the resources and assets of the old party (I doubt if it [Prosperity] agreed to assume the liabilities of the old party?
Anyway, the old and now the reincarnated parties, have one major goal, shared among them, they all want to keep the “system” going… and use it to shove more and more status, wealth and power in their own direction.
The whole thing will surely end badly.
Now, to my mama, who is 94 and lived in her Bole house for over 40 years.
Last month my mama received a half page note from the Kifle Ketema administration to start preparing to vacate her property (some 40 owners were also concerned) for the “expansion” of government blocks and the building of a residential home for a top official. In the quest to build their empires, justify their existence and gain more power and control over land for which they paid not one red cent, they trample private civil liberty and violate common law justice, just like that.This is the second time my old lady is thrown out of her residential home in her 60 years as a resident of Addis. Each time rebuilding her life one step at a time; and now, at 94, she’s about to be thrown from her sweet home again and, most probably, die disoriented.
What will my mama and all her neighbors do?
What could they do? The responsible thing would be to take these self-righteous government thieves to court. But that would require hiring lawyers… and costs lots of money. One way or the other, the government would get the land. That’s the law.
But wait, who are the servants…
Isn’t the primary purpose of the new Prosperity administration – a capitalist by inclination – to protect natural rights. Isn’t the right of private property a fundamental right of a free society because it enables people to be truly free and independent of their government? My understanding is that such governments do not abuse their powers to take their citizens homes, businesses, or land. We have all seen that the use and abuse of government power is a slippery slope; the more power the government obtains, the more it tries to grab.
For many years my mama slept well at night knowing that no thief could appropriate her land in any arbitrary manner unless it was purchased at market value. “The government would make a fair offer to compensate your property”, the officials explained. That was the law. But we all know that officials have regularly cut unfair deals based on low-ball offers based on substandard estimates of property values, abusing the government’s extraordinary power to take properties from private citizens.
Alas, land or property titles mean nothing when governments can arbitrarily and forcefully use laws and ‘policy’ to disenfranchise property owners. At least the Derg dictators have the ‘integrity’ to nationalise assets and land by direct means – using guns and force – and openly at that. My mama and all the other mamas of Ethiopia who owned properties then, knew with certainty that the asset was lost and yet maintained the hope that one day it will be retrieved by force or by justice.
And we finally remind dear readers that it is neither homelessness… nor climate change… nor youth unemployment… nor Covid-19 that will crash Prosperity’s Ethiopia.
It’s unearned arrogance. And tribalism that causes conflict and violence, to be more precise.
The king is dead, long live the king.

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