by Kebour Ghenna
Very soon, I will be celebrating my sixtieth birthday in Addis Ababa. My son was born in Addis Ababa. I was born in Addis Ababa. My father was born in Addis Ababa. My grandfather also!
Last week’s EPRDF arbitrary edict, offering Addis Ababa an absurd affirmative action model has come as a surprise and shock to me… I am sure to many others too. This decree reinforces further the attempt of the government to divide of Addis Ababians according to ethnic lines, and disenfranchises a huge number of residents.
It’s a foolish edict of injustice that is discriminatory and contrary to the fundamental principles of the Constitution.
Yes, EPRDF may have done this to address the grievance of Oromia, but why do it in a way that undermines and weakens the nation. Why chose to create new problems faster than solving old ones? No doubt the legitimate concerns of Oromia should be addressed through open dialogue and negotiation between all the antagonists, and not through some arbitrary edicts prescribed from, we don’t know where.
Only a democratic political system could create effective governance in Ethiopia and earn Oromos and other ethnic groups trust in the state. In today’s Ethiopia, for political reform to succeed, declaring the ‘right’ policies is not enough, creating an enabling environment that lead to the debate and implementation of that policy is no less important.
The monumental blunder of this edict will likely lead this peaceful city to unprecedented ethnic discord, division and conflict. At best, it will open the door for a whopping corruption. At worst it will start us down a costly, intellectually draining, dead-end path into a world of overwhelming unknowns. More important, it will waste time and influence that otherwise could be devoted to repairing the politics of the nation to which we are inevitably tied.
It’s plain sad to see politicians care only for themselves, as opposed to everyone’s interest. Yet even EPRDF can’t ignore reality forever! How can it proclaim such absurdities: ‘Oromo residents of the city shall be entitled to the right to self-determination’ or ‘Oromo residents shall be entitled to 25% of the city council, besides to their representation as residents of the city’ or ‘Afaan Oromo shall become “the working and official language” of Addis Ababa [Now, why not of Ethiopia?!!] along with Amharic’ … and many more similar incredible array of stipulations.
Why this trail of blunders? Is this the best EPRDF can come up with on the status of Addis Ababa?
Where are we heading with this?
Actually, I’m not sure if it’s incompetence… or sheer complacency. But frankly, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that EPRDF opted to damage the state to gain popular support and thus further strengthen its political power by dividing people along ethnic lines. What is new is that even the ordinary person is beginning to see the scam.
My point today is not to moralize, but to point out the practical implications of this decree on Addis Ababa. This policy will destroy the social cohesion that made the trade mark of the city; a city with no distinct ethnic enclave. It will wreck the existing community bonds and shared sentiments that are visible all across the city. More importantly, it will obstruct the assimilation of ethnics, and inhibit the creation of a closer bond between the people and the federal government.
Indeed, it’s necessary for the Federal government to negotiate with Oromia the status of Addis Ababa and its relations with neighboring woredas, but make no mistake the final outcome should be an independent and democratic city, with clear boundaries and with no favoritism to any ethnic group. A capital city for all! Period.
If we want an Addis Ababa that is democratic and prosperous, if we want Double A to become the beacon of Africa, for the sake of the nation, and the preservation of its polity.It’s high time to ensure the state government is for every citizen alike, otherwise the problems will ruin not just Addis Ababa, but also the entire nation.