History repeats itself; so they say.
The truism of this is nowhere more relevant than,
perhaps, in this country.
A few years ago, the Revolutionary Democrats camped
out in Adama (Nazareth) to train their senior and
middle rank cadres in leadership. Their chief priest
was the lead trainer, via video conferencing.
It had been realised that ensuring quality
leadership among senior leaders suspected of
corruption was impossible. That had led to a series
of self expositions and criticisms among the leaders
of the four parties in the ruling coalition. The
process was described as the “mother of all
criticisms and self-criticisms.”
Hopes among the rank and file were high that heads
would roll, and the party was serious about
cleansing itself of corruption.
To the frustration of many, it did not happen.
Ironically, a few weeks ago, senior party leaders
were dispatched to rural Ethiopia with the
assignment to train midlevel party leaders on how to
provide leadership in order to realise the ambitions
incorporated in the GTP. The top leadership feels
that these leaders are yet to be fired up.
The chief priest had instructed the leaders of each
party to retreat to their respective capitals to nip
corruption in the bud, when the EPRDF’s executive
organ met in Addis two weeks ago, gossip claimed.
However, at the camp they found themselves back at
square one, according to gossip. A rather fed up
rank and file was blunt in asserting its views that
the party’s top leadership should steer clear of
corruption, according to gossip.
Not surprisingly, the tryout of sorts began with
the Oromia Peoples Democratic Organisation (OPDO),
whose leaders are considered to respect the issue
more than others in the coalition.
The leaders had planned to meet for three days,
claimed gossip. Well, a very sceptical cadre held
them for 10 days. Chaired by Alemayehu Atomsa,
chairman of the OPDO and credited for being clean,
and Kuma Demeksa, mayor of Addis Abeba, with whose
reputation the cadres are happy, these meetings
often extended well past midnight, gossip disclosed.
The result was the dismissal of almost half of the
cabinet members of the regional administration, the
swapping of the administration’s deputy presidents,
and the arrests of several wereda administrators,
particularly in Sebeta Town, located 24km west of
The target of the fierce criticism was Abadula
Gemeda, now speaker of Parliament, and, once upon a
time, a high ranking military general before he
became chairman of the OPDO and president of the
largest and richest regional state in the republic,
Although he took part in the rather tense meeting
of the OPDO’s politburo, he failed to appear before
the 450 mid-level cadres camped out in Adama, and
many of them had insisted that he attend.
During a visit to Bangkok for health related
reasons (viewed by many as an excuse not to face the
crowd), his absence did little to stop the cadres
from slinging mud at him, claimed gossip.
Abadula was blamed for listing a modern upscale
residential house estimated to cost over eight
million Birr, located in Bole, in his disclosure of
assets to the Federal Ethics and Anti-corruption
This is the same house he vowed to surrender to the
OPDO when he was questioned during the “mother of
all self-criticisms” about how he came to posses
such an expensive house, gossip claimed.
The manner in which some of his former bodyguards
came to be rich businessmen was also raised during
the meeting, while the granting of several plots to
developers in a direct order from him, as chief of
the regional administration, were hot issues raised
during the meeting, gossip claimed.
Abadula returned to town late last week, after the
OPDO wrapped up its self-flagellation. Others in the
coalition began theirs last week.
Many in the leadership vowed that this time is
different; the party is serious about dealing with
issues of morality and integrity, according to
Yet, there are many among the EPRDFites who find
this hard to believe. The aphorism, “The best
predictor of human behaviour is past behaviour,”
resonates louder than the leaders’ declaration of
faith in their determination to stamp corruption out
of the system, claimed gossip.