Costs and Opportunities of Pre and Post the Death of the late PM Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia

By Melese Diribsa

The death of the late PM Meles Zenawi has been gone with creating different notions in Ethiopian mind. Nobody expected the untimely death of the late PM Meles Zenawi, 57. Meles was in front of Ethiopian and he was the frontrunner in the Ethiopian politics for more than two decades since the toppled of the Derg regime of Mengistu Hailemariam. Ethiopian remember the late PM Meles Zenawi with various things from pleasant to unpleasant one.

In Politics nobody could have hundred percent pure legacies. Leave alone those on the top positions to satisfy millions, any notorious individual has mixed legacy in his/her life. When we come to the high profile personalities, they also have mixed legacy on their career and in their life. What the big thing is, if the good legacy is prevailed, he/she would remembered for goods. If his/her bad legacy is prevailed, it is nasty that is why everybody would remember he/she with that unpleasant legacy. If he/she was moderate person, he/she would be remembered with both.

So from my point of view, the late PM Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia was also as any politician has mixed legacy. I am not in a position to categorizing him whether under the pleasant legacy prevalence or unpleasant legacy prevalence as well as moderate one. But I am trying to point out the opportunities and costs during his reign and then after.

The late PM Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, his personal intellectuality and rhetoricness was grace for Ethiopian as well as African at large on the world stage. He was capable person and in his mind tactful as well. He was a mastermind for the entire Ethiopian politics and any other affairs.

His personal intelligence and ability has bold him in Ethiopian politics. Beside under his administration government come up with many more policies and strategies that could pull out millions from poverty and destitute. Under his administration the neglected rural millions pulled out of extreme poverty. During he was alive what world leaders have said and they have tribute him when he passed away for what he has done to bring out millions from insufficiency.

In addition the rate of infrastructure and social service development such as healthcare institutions, schools, road, electricity, telecommunication, etc during the reign of Meles Zenawi could have been seen as a miracle. The infrastructure development especially in the previously had been forgotten area has magnificently imprinted Meles in the heart of rural society.

The late PM Meles personal brainpower and intelligence is not limited in Ethiopian only. His diplomatic ability on the continental and world’s stage, divulge him how much he was enough capable person through diplomacy and international stage. With the foremost of the late PM Meles Zenawi Ethiopia has become one of the influential country in the African Union. Ethiopia has play the vital, pivotal and pioneer role in ensuring the continental peace and security. Ethiopia through diplomacy and military peace keeping has been boldly seen in the continent. The late PM Meles Zenawi was not only across the continent, but also on the world stage had been strongly struggled for African benefit. He had been served as the voice of the continent on the world stage such as UN’s summit, world climate change summit, etc. He had scored a lot of diplomatic victorious for Ethiopia as well as the continent at large.

Even though the proponent of the late PM Meles Zenawi praising him by raising the above mentioned and other triumphs; his opponents criticizing him for many more drawbacks. Let as see them as follows:

The opponents criticizing the late PM Meles and his administration for the lack of equality in the redistribution of resources. They argue that the growth rate that government revealing through a time as double digits far from the reality on the ground. With various arguments the opponents blame the government unveiling false report regarding the development scenario in Ethiopia.

Opponent argued that, in addition to the false report; the economic growth is not profiting the lower income society. The lower income people just as before today also living in the spoon feeding life. Even though the development on infrastructure is undeniable, the income of the vast majority people is the income of the below poverty line income society. Even if the income is increased, that has been also overshadowed by extremely high inflation rate in Ethiopia. Despite the late PM Meles Zenawi had been pledged to ensure Ethiopian to eat three times a day, it is far back from the pledge.

So according to different sources the economic growth in Ethiopia is not equivalently help the people. A few benefitted but a big majority suffered with development rather than being beneficiary. Various economists arguing that during the late PM Meles Zenawi administration the economic growth in Ethiopia is missing its balance. The most focus is on GDP not on per capita income with purchasing power parity. They argue that to use only one economic instrument to measure the change in Ethiopia is fail to know what about the majority lower income society. So only to use GDP should leads for miss calculated conclusion in Ethiopian context.

With the controversial in the being beneficiary of economic growth, the rampant of corruption also glooming the development activities. Especially government administration bodies including the high profile personalities involvement in corruption scandal has created confusion on the national struggle to pull out of millions from desperate.

The government has been blamed to fail to prevent corruption in a long term and also to unable to take strong legal measures. So this condition has created a big suspicion in society regarding the stance of the government on the battle against corruption. So these kinds of pitfalls have overshadowed the battle to ensure good governance in Ethiopia during the late PM Meles Zenawi.

Regarding human rights, despite as stated on FDRE constitution Art. 13 No. 2 “Ethiopia confirming to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenants on Human Rights and International Instruments adopted by Ethiopia”, human right activists and right groups criticizing the administration of the late PM Meles Zenawi to fail touchdown the ground to what stated on the constitution and proclamations. Regarding the democratic rights; right groups also have blaming the late PM Meles Zenawi administration to empirically not constitutionally limit the right of thought, opinion, expression, etc.

With the democratic right; the government of the late PM Meles Zenawi rather than creating the favorable environment for multi-party democracy, has been criticized for narrowing the political arena in the territory. As the rule and regulations government has the duty and responsibility to widening the political arena while what the late PM Meles Zenawi administration has criticized with is beyond the curtain the government narrowing the way and has taken the advantage for itself in political game. So this was also the other source of criticism on the late PM Meles administration. Not only narrowing the political sphere on oppositions, but also criticized with as during the late PM Meles alive the hegemony and dominance of TPLF in EPRDF and political affiliates. Analyst says TPLF has taken the lion share in the party and government activities.

Despite by de jure all parties are equal, by de facto the leading of TPLF has been seen on different things. For instance, on the FDRE constitution article 87 No. 1 stated as the composition of the national armed forces shall reflect the equitable representation of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. When we come to the reality on the ground is so opposite of what stated on the constitution. The security apparatus which is the powerful sector is mostly in the hand of Tigrean and those loyal to TPLF. In other side, the late PM Meles leads the country and party for more than two decades since the toppled of the Derg regime through the passed away. Bear in mind that with the early death of Meles EPRDF has been decided to the PM not more than two terms in charge. From my point of view this implies two things. 1st Why EPRDF fails to pass the decision when Meles was alive? I think the main reason is the then time nobody has the real power to challenging the late PM Meles. Again it shows that TPLF in EPRDF no wanna to lose the hegemonic momentum. 2nd Why EPRDF unveiled the limitation of no more than two terms PM in charge within this short period? Again it implies as EPRDF member parties waiting for such a decision for the right time for them. When Meles was alive, they were afraid to do so. Then, they used the death of Meles as the opportunity and have passed the decision. Again it seems like not before, after the death of Meles, TPLF would not to continue the premiership without term limitation.

Therefore, from the above mentioned scenario it should be derived as in EPRDF also the late PM Meles Zenawi was boldly seen with his influence. With the above mentioned pleasant and unpleasant legacy Ethiopian live with the late PM Meles administration for more than two decades. Lastly as philosophers argued with premises…all human being is mortal, Meles is human being…so…what are the opportunities and costs with the death of the late PM Meles Zenawi? Late we discuss as follows by kick off with costs and heading to opportunities.

Firstly, to miss such intellect and political technocrat for Ethiopian has a great disadvantage. De late PM Meles Zenawi was the strong leader just as praised by the world leaders when he passed away. What he was done to pull out many from poverty is so great. This and other strengths are bolding Meles in front of Ethiopian. His personal outstanding was grace for Ethiopian. Not only grace, but also he was a means to ensure Ethiopian benefit in diplomatic world. So for Ethiopian to miss the late PM Meles Zenawi is the great lose. When we come to what he was mean for Party (EPRDF), he was the mastermind for the dominance of the party in Ethiopian politics. Meles was everything for the party. From the battle ground through peaceful time Meles as he had been tactful person rescued the party from different jeopardies. So the pass away of Meles Zenawi could greatly hurt the party. Especially as for more than two decades he had controlled everything, the new leaders might be take time to play the crucial role as Meles. So this could challenge the party to continue as influential. But when am saying these am not in a position to undermining the new leaders. Because the capability and failure of the new leaders should be tested with the position they in charge on.

When pass through the TPLF; without Meles TPLF could not keep its hegemonic momentum in EPRDF as before. As Meles was the head of TPLF in EPRDF circle TPLF has been the hegemonic power. Therefore, with the death of the late PM Meles Zenawi, TPLF could lose its momentum. Thus, to miss the late PM Meles is great loss of TPLF.

Secondly when I traverse to the opportunities, with the death of the late PM Meles Zenawi we can stare at different things. 1st from ma point of view during Meles was alive, he had dominate the politics and entire leading. De power house was unipolar. The power had concentrated in his hand.

Then, the death of the late PM Meles could create the multi power house in the executive body. As the new PM Hailemariam Desalegn stated on the televised speech, the mutual administration will put in place. This could create the opportunity to exercise the real democratic essence within the government apparatus. So the way would ahead from unipolar to multi power in EPRDF and government. 2nd as mentioned earlier during the leadership of Meles, TPLF has been hegemonic power within EPRDF. Therefore, the death of Meles Zenawi may create the opportunity for other member parties of EPRDF to be competent. The power could be balanced among them, even though it would takes time to change what the image and legacy of TPLF hegemony which has been built by the passed away PM. From my point of view for the member parties of EPRDF now is the right time to ensure the check and balance of power in the party. The check and balance in the party is not only the matter of party. It has the beyond implication for the equality of every nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. 3rd Despite no fundamental change on policies and strategies expected from the new leaders, opposition would be reviving from depression. During the late PM Meles Zenawi opposition had lost momentum, because of their own problems and the tactful leadership of Meles. Then with the death of Meles oppositions would whether revive or stay in fragile. The possibility is mostly tending to rejuvenation. The multi-party system would be recovered from the edge of death.