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In what sense the case of Taye Dendea can be teachable?

by T.Goshu

Let me from the outset be clear that the specific case I am using in this comment of mine is just to show how the very undesirable direction things are moving in our country should make us deeply and painfully concerned. In other words, though I am using this case as a case in point in discussing my point of view, I want to argue that the political reality of our country is not short of quite similar if not much worse cases. This is not surprising or unexpected in a country whose political power is still under the same ruling circle (EPRDF) though it is true that very few of its members have made a relatively encouraging and courageous move (step) and assumed the leadership role being mindful of the power of peoples’ resistance to the very brutal ethno-centric political system for a quarter of a century.

The cases of clumsy if not very superficial (cosmetic) political games in the name of reforming and strengthening institutions is not simply quite visible but quite impactful (negatively). The very recent appointment and assignment of the “newly” formed cabinet and all other previous appointments of other officials and authorities are clear indicators of how the ongoing struggle for fundamental and genuine freedom and justice is facing serious challenges.

I do not wat to say much on this reasonably controversial case of the cabinet as it needs a very serious and seriously thought- out discussions and arguments for good. But I want to straightforwardly underscore that coming forward with this kind of cabinet which absolutely consists of individuals who are nominated and confirmed based on their membership of a ruling front (EPRDF) which has never been and still is not a good source of independent thinkers, creative actors and efficient doers is self-evidently ugly. To continue business as usual at this very time when the country desperately needs otherwise is not just unfortunate but stupid way of doing politics which is prone to failure and consequently stifling the very nascent change for the realization of democratic freedom and justice for all. Agree or disagree, this is the reality we are facing and will continue to face as long as the very godfather of it (EPRDF) stays in power by making its  “extensive and intensive reform” cosmetically smart and beautiful . Yes, agree or disagree, this political behavior and practice will continue as long as the so-called opposition political forces are either good for nothing , or choose to beg the ruling circle instead of forcing it for a serious political engagement without wasting time and energy, or keep  messing with the very ugly and mutually destructive politics of ethno-centrism and parochialism.

If we carefully and genuinely observe, digest, and comprehend who has been and is being appointed and assigned to various institutions and agents including the executive branch of government, or who has been and is being transferred from one institution or agent to another; it seems that the country is running out of knowledgeable, capable, creative/innovative, independent thinking, considerate/passionate, trustworthy/honest and efficient citizens. That is why we continue to painfully witness those who are holders of the membership cards (IDs) of ethno-centric and parochial political system of EPRDF and its “partners” are allowed to move from one institution or agent to another and continue to behave and act without being held responsible and accountable despite all the serious and nonsensical wrong doings they repeatedly did before.

Transferring those cadres of the ruling front (EPRDF –now over dominated by ODP /Oromo Democratic Party) from one  institution to another or reassigning from one  position to another not for genuine cause but to keep those cadres (officials) in positions seemingly with less public attention and outrage and allow them do things behind public arena  is self-evidently ineffective and outrageous .  This has created a very conducive political environment for those who are working hard to advance their own individual or group interests at the very expense of ethnic groups that do not gain any advantage from the very divisive and mutually exclusive political identity.

The moment we intentionally disregard merit-based appointments or assignments or transfers of individuals for a reason of sectarian or parochial political affiliation or identity,    we become deeply prone to causing a very serious damage to the very essence of not only citizenship but also humanity itself. This kind of behavior and practice gets worse when those individuals who deserve either to be disciplined or appropriate punishment for their  terrible failure to behave and act up to the expectation of the public are given honorable transfer or reassignment. This is what we have come across for a quarter of a century and we are still witnessing without any significant change.  The very stupid reason? It is because of a system deeply and chronically characterized by ethno-centric and all other parochial way of doing politics which is manipulated and exploited by groups of political elites and their co-actors.

Can we mitigate let alone heal the self-inflicted wounds of socio-political illness and terrible pain by adhering to the politics of appeasing (making the ruling circle feel happy and bossy)? This is absolutely a stupid or cowardly way of doing politics. This is what we are witnessing from opposition political forces with the exception of those die – hard ethno-centric ones such as OLF and of course their surrogates hiding behind other political entities including the former OPDO and the current ODP. I always strongly argue that unless we go to the extent of calling a spade a spade when it is appropriate, we cannot move forward let alone make a qualitative change of a political system and make what we have gone through the thing of the past.

It is safe to say that the very case of Taye Dendea is not an exception at all.  I strongly argue that the government (the ruling front) knows very well that he will be a much more effective (negatively) agent in his new office than he his previous one. The very reason for doing what they have done is not because they (those leaders right at the very top) believed that the new office with the same type of job will make him change his mind and behavior for the better.  They know very well that he will use this position as a great opportunity and environment to go with his ethno-centric mentality and agenda in a much more aggressive and systematic way. The very inflammatory political situation is becoming ugly and damaging not only in Oromia but also in Addis Ababa. This is an open secret of the political reality of the country. Transferring politicians such as Taye Dendea to this highly inflamed ethno-centric political identity environment cannot be a genuine and wise way of doing politics.

By the way, have those leaders at the very top tried to positively criticize and make him behave accordingly as a public relation head (officer) of one of the most essential braches of a Federal Government which represents one hundred million Ethiopians? If they have tied, what and how? We can only assume they might tired, but failed to convince him or to use their legitimate authority that could force him to change his undesirable attitude and behavior.

Absurdly enough, they transferred him to a new office just to avoid his outrageous behavior which has made them subjects of public attention and outrage.  They do not seem genuinely and responsibly concerned about how his behavior that was/is not possible for them to positively influence would be appropriate and in line with the interests of not only the Oromos but also the people of Ethiopia in general as the deputy public relation head of the OPD headquarters.

Whenever and wherever the criteria of political group affiliation and ethnic identities are rampant and powerful, there is no room for merit-based and independent way of thinking and performance. I strongly believe that the very question of what is to be done in this regard remains unanswered   until we  meaningfully and courageously free ourselves from the very ugly politics of not engaging in critical, straightforward and constructive conversations to the extent of calling a spade a spade .

I am well aware that there are many compatriots who may get me wrong as if I am encouraging or advocating a confrontational approach with both the government (ruling front) and political groups or parties including the die- hard ethno-centrists.   What I can say to this type of wrong perception is that I strongly believe that arguing for the existence and development of well-principled, rational, critical, well-informed, well-founded, knowledge-based and straight-forward conversation and dialogue has nothing to do with neither making things worse nor confrontation.

It is from this perspective that I strongly argue if we should not fall back to where we have gone through for a quarter of a century  in a much worse degree of socio-political quagmire, we need to free ourselves from the cynical and opportunistic way of political engagement.

It is a very fresh memory how this guy, Taye Dendea presented himself as a genuine and courageous critic of TPLF/EPRDF right before the incumbent Prime Minister assumed power.  I do not know him personally or in any physical appearance of political platform. I was one of those genuinely concerned ordinary Ethiopians who were closely following when he was one of the victims of arbitrary arrest and detention during the very critical stage of peoples’ resistance movement.

It was good to see him freed and become head of the public relation division in   the Fedreal Atterny General Office. Unfortunately enough, he recently made his real and ulterior political motive (ethno-centrism and parochialism) in the name of the ethnic group he belongs to loudly and unequivocally clear.

Now, we hear that this guy is moved to another place and position (ODP headquarters).  Well, this may sound the right and genuine decision by the government of PM Dr. Abye. I wish it could be genuine and something that could bring significant change of heart and way of doing politics.

However, simply moving these kinds individuals with their crooked way of thinking (political mentality)   from one place or position to another without changing the very nature, behavior /attitude, character, way of thinking and political action of EPRDF as a system is just like moving any stuff or object from one place to another with no any purpose of doing better but to cause more damage.

So, the very political decision of moving individuals such as Taye Dendea from one place and position to another is neither surprising nor significant in terms of the positive impact it may have on the ongoing change for good which is of course very shaky and frankly speaking at stake if we do not exert a well-thought and coordinated efforts urgently.

The very position he is given now is much better than the previous one as far as  the very mentality and objective of these kinds of guys is to make the very ugly ethno-centric politics their source of not  power sharing but power  domination and  advancing their voracious and wild personal or group interests is concerned. As long as  this kind of  way of doing  politics remains intact and more aggressive, transferring or moving individuals from here to there and vice versa does not make sense at all .  It may serve to fool the people for a while; but its real consequence in the long run will be disastrous to all of us as Ethiopians if we do not do something mutually desirable and advantageous right now, not later!    .

Frankly speaking, the so-called Federal Government has lost any meaningful exercise of its power and authority in regional states, more particularly and severely in Oromia. This has become an open secret when the youth and even those relatively moderate OROMO political groups are badly affected if not infected by the very ugly and dangerous ethno-centric political virus of so-called OLF which apparently looks victorious thanks to our very clumsy way of dealing with the current political reality in our country .

I strongly want to argue that as long as EPRDF stays in power as a system of political thinking and governing by simply undertaking cosmetic reform, we should not be surprised if things fall apart and we go not only back to square one but much worse than that. This guy, Taye Dendea has now a much more fertile playground (position) to play his very sick political mentality and act of making ethno-centric politics much worse in the name of the Oromo people who have never and will never be willing to abandon the struggle for the collective cause which is living together in a country in which the both the rights of individuals and various ethnic groups should be respected. Yes, I truly believe that the Oromo people will not allow themselves to become victims of elites who foolishly think that they can make unlimited profit out of the very ugly and mutually exclusive politics of ethno-centrism.

We cannot and should not continue playing the political game of political correctness at this dangerously critical moment. The people of Ethiopia  cannot and should not allow themselves once again  to be victims of  replacing a very devastating  minority-based ethno-centric political game of a quarter of a century by another devastating  majority -based ethno-centric politics. I strongly believe this is the very interest and aspiration of each ethnic group if it is given a real sense of opportunity and conducive rule of political game! It is only those elites who stupidly convince themselves that the shortest and easy way for them to be big fishes in small bonds are against this interest of the people.   And it must be crystal clear that this political madness is not going to benefit any Ethiopian or any section of the society or any ethnic group. It will destroy us all together.

To sum up, one of our serious political problems for the past many years was the problem of not taking critically teachable moments seriously and severe lack of mutual understanding and collective effort that could lead to the fulfillment of the common good. We repeatedly and terribly failed to make Ethiopia a truly democratic and sovereign country in which we live together as good citizens who also recognize and respect all cultures and values of ethnic groups which we belong to.  To end this ugly political path, there is legitimately compelling reason to seriously and responsibly deal with all political absurdities of certain political groupings while we remain straightforwardly and constructively critical of the ruling front (EPRDF) as well as the government of Prime Minister of Dr.Abye Ahmend.  I strongly argue that as EPRDF stays in power with its culture and practice simply by undertaking seemingly (superficially) attractive and colorful  reform , there will not be any convincing reason to believe that we are for sure moving in the right direction of a democratic change. The cases I have tried to argue about are meaningfully teachable to remind ourselves how to deal with the challenges and positively exploit available opportunities in order to bring about a mutually satisfying democratic system in our country for the first time and transfer it to the next generation.

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