Like every professional person, my attention over
the past Ethiopian year was divided into several
areas of responsibility. My daily chores revolve
around discharge of my academic duties and
commitments; pursuing matters relating to my
political . . . engagement and following up on
To these, one can add keeping abreast with current
world affairs as part of the daily routine.
Within the limitations of the objective condition I
discharge, my academic duties have been rewarding
achievements. These include classroom teaching and
advising graduate student thesis and dissertation
research work. I was happy to see the fruition of my
efforts as more than 10 students graduated with
M.Sc. degrees with extraordinary performance.
The satisfactory progress of my PhD students with
their dissertation research, given the severe
limitations of resources, was also another
encouraging achievement. The culmination of success
of an academic, is in his/her being able to publish
the research findings in a reputable scientific
journal. It was a highly productive year as there
were quite a few papers already published during the
year and there are some that have been accepted for
To put it more modestly, my political engagement was
much less rewarding during the year.
The effort made by eight opposition political
parties and two eminent politicians, over the year,
to form the "Forum - Forum for Democratic Dialogue
in Ethiopia", is the most laudable achievement. I
could also add the withdrawal from Somalia of the
Ethiopian Armed Forces as a positive outcome of the
year's long campaign by our political activation.
On the other hand, looking too hard to find what
good may have transpired in the parliamentary
atmosphere, would reveal the issuing of the detailed
working procedures of the House of People's
representatives (HoPRs) in the form of pocket-sized
booklets and made accessible to every member of the
parliament as one achievement.
On the other hand, what prominently figures out
around parliamentary environment is the fact that a
series of controversial laws have been enacted
during the year. To pass these laws, the ruling
party has used its absolute majority in the
parliament as the only leverage with a total
disregard for the concerns and reservation of all
Among these is the CSO Law that in effect makes the
task of civic education totally out their reach. The
media law, which very much legalizes what earlier on
used to be considered as breach of the
constitutionally, provided freedom of the press and
access to information. The new party law has
tightened government control measure on the
formation and activities of political parties. The
worst of all is the anti-terrorism law, which is
dubbed as "draconian and a declaration of terror
against political parties", by many.
On the whole, the mundane nature of the
parliamentary proceedings had worsened, as a result
of which my attendance of parliament was much lower
than the years before.
Furthermore, the country continued to face economic
difficulties over the year. This was evident in a
manner that affected the livelihood of each and
every Ethiopian - food price inflation, fuel cost
increase, power shortfalls, and foreign currency
deficit and the attendant overall economic slump
were obvious to all. Although the government
initially tried to portray that Ethiopia is "immune
from the global economic crisis", this later on was
rescinded and found to be a futile denial of reality
on the ground. On top of this, the misery of the
rural poor was compounded by the poor rains as food
shortage threatens the lives of millions in several
parts of the country.
Likewise, it was upsetting to witness the harassment
the Ethiopian civil servants were subjected to, by
the government, using the pretext of "Business
Process Reengineering", infamously known as "BPR".
The lack of trust in fairness and transparency of
the process and the assumption of "ill-motive" on
the part of the implementers has created a sense of
extreme insecurity and despair in the workforce of
the country. It is very sad to witness the sharp
division among the population between those who are
benefiting from the process and the bulk of the
experienced and seasoned workforce which is being
marginalized or totally put out of duty.
I naturally hate to take on a pessimistic outlook. I
would have been the happiest person if the outlook
of the Ethiopian New Year has a positively
predictable omen in all aspects of life.
Unfortunately, predictions do not point towards
I am seriously concerned about the impending famine.
The doomsayers are already talking about the 'famine
cycle', which very sadly has become synonymous with
Ethiopia. The failed and late rains that affected
most parts of the country simply re-enforce the
From the political vantage point, the chances for
free, fair and genuine elections in the year 2010
are non-existent as of now. This situation can only
be normalized by the goodwill of the ruling party to
negotiate the outstanding issues that have been
impeding democratic elections in the country.
To be sure, negotiating the 'Political Party Code of
Conduct' is a necessary step; but a minor one at
most. This situation seriously concerns us because
we do not want to be once again subjected to the
post election nervous outcries, accusations and
counter-accusations, which might lead to untoward
consequences from which no one would benefit.
Thus, as prospects for improvement in economic,
social, political and governance regimes are bleak,
I only hope that all able citizens would understand
the impending dangers our country is facing and
contributes his/her share to ameliorate the worst
May the Almighty give the citizens of this country
the needed wisdom!