The government owns the numbers
I read your cover page story with great interest as it tries, not successfully though, to answer a question that is always in the back of mind, (Who owns the numbers? Feb, 2015). I said not successfully because your article, great as it was, didn’t push the limits to show your readers how the government is fabricating the country’s GDP. For example, how is that being done? Who are the main culprits of that? How are the Bretton Woods institutions (IMF & WB) negotiating their version of Ethiopia’s GDP with that of the government? Questions like these need to be thoroughly addressed. However, as a bold idea that has not been tried by the mainstream media in Ethiopia, I appreciate your efforts to throwing the right question, probably at the right time.
It should be the prime task of the general public to question the final destination of the soaring GDP in terms of reducing the level of poverty in the country. You have rightly quoted the World Bank’s report that “even for its generous estimates, the World Bank cautions that of the +90 millions Ethiopians, “37 million Ethiopians remain either poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty in the wake of a shock.” It also admits that “the very poorest in Ethiopia have become even poorer.” For me this statement bears the reality more subtly than the GDP, even if the later were true at all times.
Ethiopia’s policy towards the AU
I enjoyed reading your article on Ethiopia’s policy towards the African Union (time to look beyond unique contributions & special responsibilities, Fe. 2015). It is not only an excellent academic article but also indicative to the necessity of such policy that shapes and make ready the country to play grand roles in the regional, continental and progressively in the UN. Ethiopia should know how important it is to grab such positions as it is the victim of Egypt’s strong roles in such organizations. To do so, however, there should be earnest and strong commitment to build and capacitate institutions that train the human resources in various expertise levels. On the ground, such effort is, however, very weak and politically motivated. We can start with the Addis Abeba University’s political science department. It is very traditional and ill equipped to produce relevant and competent graduates. It has no major improvement or modernization. This is not unique to one department but to all aspect of the country’s educational standards. The country’s politics has to be open and give chance to experts to serve the country than enlisting based on political favoritism. To this fact, we can see the ambassadors and embassy workers appointed in the country’s missions abroad. Majority of them have no knowledge and are not expert to the post they are holding. They are just appointed as a retirement plan, favor and sometimes to distance them away from the central politics. The zero sum game of the county’s politics should be stopped and the foundation should be built in consensus. If that is done, whenever there is change in government, none will go to start from ground zero.
Competence should be given priority and respect.
I hope think-tanks like the Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development (EIIPD0 will contribute to shape the new diplomatic path for better engagement and success in this regard.
Old habits never die
Thanks the insightful analysis on your magazine (Old habits die hard, Feb.2015). As to me, the reason for countries like Ethiopia to continue experiencing a communist ideology and not keeping their promises to open up to a genuine democratic engagement with their people is down to lack of democratic culture.
It may seem that some governments are committed to ensuring democratic values and principle when they seize power. Due to the fact that issues of human rights and rule of law are highly popularized concerns worldwide, repressive governments present themselves as if they are guardians of their citizens’ rights for the sake of securing legitimacy from the international community. But as their time in office prolongs democratic spaces get narrow thereby exposing their true colors. The same holds true in the case of the ruling EPRDF in Ethiopia where rights of citizens and the rule of law are being dashed one after the other with no government official held accountable so far. Under the guise of having a multiparty system and democratic governance in place as prescribed in the constitutions and other legal documents, citizens are paying the real price by being ruled under the brutal oppression of their masters.