By Kebour Ghenna
Politicians are funny creatures. Let’s take the bunch of Ethiopian politicians we endured for the last two decades. They knew… all of them from top to bottom knew, that their system was breeding corruption and injustice. They knew that the bosses were looting the people, they knew that the politicians had no alternative vision. And they knew that the bosses knew, they knew that. Everyone knew it was fake, but because no one had any alternative vision for a different kind of society, they just accepted this sense of total fakeness as normal. I remember the last election, where EPRDF politicians won almost 100% of the seats, people were relieved. Why? Because they felt the beast will be distracted enough to leave them alone. So much so no one saw AA coming.
There is a sense of everything being slightly unreal; that you want to free yourself by killing those who do not speak your language and believe this will have no consequences whatsoever; that you could bring economic growth without sacrifice or even hard work; that you can go forward without knowing which direction you’re heading; that killing the messenger may make you feel liberated but can’t be a solution. It’s all slightly odd and slightly corrupt.
Today people know lots of things are not going well, they also know that those in charge know that the people know that they don’t know what’s going on. They know the old EPRDF sort of died soon after it took power and has been replaced by a system that manages its own oligarchs. The party realized that in time of peace managing people by instituting some kind of discipline was no more possible. People were less and less interested to join parties unless there is cash heading their way. The bosses were getting all the deals and so why not them. And because the old EPRDF failed to allow mass politics to challenge power, it has allowed corruption to carry on without it really being challenged properly.
Easy to say ‘things don’t work’ or ‘what can we change’? For a start we need leaders and citizens that understand why things don’t change after injustice is exposed. It could be, say, that the kind of measure that it would take to repatriate money hidden in the US or Dubai by politicians and their cronies and sort out all this injustice would require a very bold and radical set of proposals. But proposals that are bold and radical are always a challenge to stability.
But stability is what Haile Mariam and his handlers chose and failed. They wanted people to think that their system was going to go on forever knowing well that it wasn’t working. You can’t remain static and still be a winner. Check out AA, the man opted for something more than the repetition we hear every day, he introduced the politics of imagination giving the people a sense that they’re part of something that’s moving onwards, and so far he (AA, the saint)) has captured the imagination of large number of people. That’s what politics is about. It’s exciting and dynamic.
In contrast, the current TPLF leadership (the jealous husband) is still in its old position, not offering something better than the one on the table! It lost the idea of politics, that of telling the people a simple, powerful and romantic story of where it wants to take their people and why. These are questions that people do ask themselves. People ask why they can’t they prosper and live freely, but they also have this thing in their heads asking what it’s all about. One of the reasons we have politics is because it gives answers to those sorts of questions.
By Kebour Ghenna