Old Faces and New Masks: The ‘Reformed’ EPRDF

Zekarias Ezra

Eight months after the internal “coup” within EPRDF/Woyane that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Haile Mariam and the subsequent tsunami of change, accompanied by ecstatic euphoria, Ethiopian politics seems to be a mirror image of its former self.

The historical importance of the moment in April 2018 and the months following it cannot be ignored. It was hard for many not to participate in the joy of the withering, it seems at the time, away of TPLF/Woyane/EPRDF from the Ethiopian political scene. For too many, it seems,  it has opened the sprit and imagination to endless possibilities for Ethiopia’s future and rightly so after 27 long years of misery. The June 16, 2018 display of support to the new PM had no parallel in history.

The euphoria was so infectious that the North America Ethiopian diaspora had quickly jumped on the “Medemer’ train.  It was sublime.

However, even then some were raising pointed legitimate questions like what is the essence of this ‘Medemer’? With whom are we supposed to ‘Medemer’? Did we even know what we rallied for in that June Saturday?

Many people were vividly angry that this sea of support was being questioned. Understandably, it felt as though their joy was being questioned, and possibly shamed. Vicious arguments spread in the virtual world with polarized camps.

In the background of this euphoria, behind the powerful visuals telling a story of a “new dawn” for Ethiopia, however, horror stories after stories of people being killed, driven out of their homes because of ethnic clashes have become the staple of Ethiopian news.

In the “The Wretched of the Earth”, Franz Fanon, talks about moments such as these in which the people and the country’s post-independence leaders appears to be One. These post-independence ‘leaders’ promise the people that change is coming, working up the people into a frenzy of excitement. Not only that they effectively used the euphoria as an excellent PR campaign for the consumption of the international community in effect saying ‘Look at how excited are the people…we are making changes… the incidents are minor hiccups on the road to democracy…’

The Ethiopian reform leaders are essentially telling the people the same thing as the post-independence leaders did to their citizens. Yet, today in Ethiopia citizens are still dying daily, displaced from their homes and neighborhood, and are afraid to travel to a part of the country where they perceive they might face problems because of their ethnicity.

As reported in ‘Ethiopis’, OPD/EPRDF led government is busy replacing en masse people who are supposedly from the wrong ethnic lineage from their employment without any justified cause. They are doing the same crime the TPLF/EPRDF had done. Old Faces and New Masks.

We must understand this is a problem. We must understand the cynicism this will create. Many who missed no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn such ethnic based actions in the past, and rightly so, are now quite as mute and you hardly hear a whimper.  It doesn’t work. You can’t have it both ways. This is not good for Ethiopia. We must say, as MLK once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

The ethnic politics TPLF concocted in Dedebit is still alive and well. In fact, it has flourished so much so that every ethnic group is demanding their own ‘sovereign state’. It is despicable to the least!

Just the other day, a self-appointed staunch supporter of the ODP/EPRDF, Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni, had the audacity to write the most undemocratic dictatorial edict ever. He said:

“ኢትዮጵያ ከዚህ በኋላ ተወደደም ተጠላም ኢትዮጵያን እና አዲስ አበባን መምራት እና ማስተዳደር የሚችለው ቢያንስ ብያንስ ኦሮሚኛ እና አማርኛን አቀላጥፎ እና አብጠርጥሮ መናገር፣ መፃፍ እና ማንበብ የሚችል መሪ ብቻ ነው።” (emphasis mine).

Here you have it! The gentle man, who served TPLF/EPRDF in the diplomat corp, later defected, now back in the game in Addis is pontificating such vile and divisive ideas with a green light from the powers-to-be.

If there had been confusion before as to the optics of the June 2018 rally, things better be clearer now.
In the mind-frying euphoria of that historic moment in our country, Ethiopians had mistaken things, laughing with EPRDF fake reformers and crowning them their heroes.

It seems that in the excitement of the ‘reform’ wind, the Ethiopian people had unknowingly aided to legitimize the intra-party politricks of EPRDF and in the process betrayed the struggle for the downfall of EPRDF and ended up with “Old Faces with New Masks”.  What a sad state!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Zekarias Ezra,
    You sound alarmist to me. New face, old mask!
    Why don’t you learn Afaan Oromoo if it takes that to serve your country?
    Remember in the past 27 years there has been a growing segment of the population
    that hardly writes or speaks Amarigna. That is the reality. Don’t dream of a world
    that does not exist. Act in the present. How do you expect to get people on your side
    if you have disdain for their language? I hope you are humble enough to see it differently.

  2. Dear Alem, I have the highest regard and respect to Affan Oromo (I ahve uncles and cousins who grew up speaking it long before Woyane came). That is not my issue. I also understand Woyane succeeded in creating a hots of youth that don’t speak Amharic in both Oromia and South region while teaching their kids the language. The mentality of a presumed victor does not help us. Tomorrow another powerful will take power and institute that this or that language should be taught and in 2 decades he would produce millions of people that speak that language. This vicious circle must stop. What I disdain is arrogance as exemplified by the gentle man who pontificated no leader will hold the highest office in Ethiopia unless he speaks Affan Oromo, to a good measure he adds Amharic because he knows full well that language is the legal and defacto official language of Ethiopia.

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