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A Few Points on Democracy vs. Development

June 22, 2011

Now I do not want to bombard you with all sorts of definition about democracy. I think, for the present purpose, we all agree that apart from the periodic elections and other rituals associated with them, democracies are generally supported by the triple-pillar of accountability, transparency and legitimacy, which together constitute the supremacy of the law. Where the rule of law is the highest authority, there can be no arbitrary violations of human and property rights, officials and bureaucrats will be held accountable in the event they misuse their positions and public resources, and the media will serve as a strong arm of the country’s justice system by investigating and exposing  political scandals and corrupt practices. To the extent that these things are the main parts and components that make up a democratic society, I do not see why they shouldn’t comprise the precondition for development. After all, development is all about the effective utilization of a country’s available resources to generate the maximum possible benefits for its citizens. If the system in place prevents or discourages the active monitoring and supervision over how these resources are used, then the entire project about achieving all-round development will be an exercise in futility.
 
There is no doubt that the elite everywhere are the makers and breakers of their own societies. But they are more successful in discharging their social duties and responsibilities when they operate in democratic and transparent ways. So, in order to substantiate my case and convince you that democracy is a must for development, at least for Ethiopia, we will briefly look at the role of different elites in morphing their countries’ politics, economy, and social development through some comparative lens that guides us across China, Nigeria, Botswana, and Greece.
 
China
 
Most of the pro-developmental state argument will not, typically, wrap up its journey without showering lots of praises on the remarkable achievements of China, which is often upheld as the paragon of a successful state-directed capitalist society. It is true that China’s hands-on approach has delivered spectacular economic outcomes in terms of ensuring sustained economic growth for over three decades and lifting more than 250 million of its citizens out of poverty during the same period. But no matter how beautifully one portrays the miraculous economic performance China  enjoyed since 1978, the hard facts remain that it is more the result of gradual erosion of the government’s role in directing the national economy and the subsequent rise of private capital and responsibility, not the other way around.
 
Reform, Reform and Reform
One widely dispersed, and often mistaken, assertion about China’s economic successes in particular and the attendant monomania with the “Beijing Consensus” in general is that people wrongly attribute this success to the authoritarian features of the Communist Part of China (CCP), which is often assumed to have controlled the magic wand that kept the country’s unprecedented economic expansion going for a long time now. The truth, however, is that China’s strong growth and prosperity are the result of continuous reform, opening of the economy to foreign capital and expertise, gradual decentralisation in the organization of production, and with it the increasing shrinkage of government presence in the economic scene.
 
China’s reform train began with the Household Responsibility System (HRS) in agriculture which dismantled the Maoist collective farms and allowed greater active participation of families in production and marketing decisions. Though the HRS still imposed quota requirements, it however empowered households to enjoy greater autonomy over the utilization of their surplus value, such as to dispose it at market determined prices at will. This new found relative freedom and autonomy combined with the prospect of making more money from selling their extra-quota produce encouraged farmers to spend more time and resources on their farms which further increased the quality and quantity of food production. Though the legal framework governing land use and ownership rights is far from complete, the there is no doubt that the HRS has played a pivotal role in transforming China’s agriculture for the better. China which lost over 30 million of its population to famine under Mao’s failed collectivization programmes became more than self-sufficient within five year period (1978-1983) and net food exporter (1983-2004).
 
The CCP is not just a self-selected group wishing to hold onto power at all costs. Besides the economic re-organization of production under the HRS, the Chinese political elite have made enormous efforts to modernize the country’s agricultural sector by deploying new technologies and innovative methods of production. When the reform programme was launched in 1978, less than 30% of China’s 13 million hectare of arable land had irrigation facilities; today more than 50% China’s agricultural land is irrigated. China is also among the top countries (after Japan, South Korea and Holland) in the world in terms of fertilizer application per unit of hectare, with fertilizer consumption level more than twice the world average. The government also actively promotes intensive agriculture by earmarking substantial funds for research, demonstration, capital investment, infrastructure and marketing support.
 
The Chinese reformers were far from being complacent. Having achieved remarkable productivity gains in agriculture and having made great strides in ensuring food security, they pushed similar radical reforms in other sectors of the economy albeit “with Chinese characteristics”—on gradual, piecemeal, incremental and cautious approaches.
 
On the industrial front, Chinese politicians followed even stronger decentralization measures by gradually privatizing state owned enterprises (SOEs) and further withdrawing state direction and guidance in economic life. Some of these former SOEs were transferred to individual Chinese investors; others—the so called Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs)–were restructured and put under the nominal responsibility of local governments (though in effect privately operated); still in other cases foreign participation was allowed in the form of joint venture, outright acquisition and portfolio investments. Today, after nearly three-decade-long rigorous implementation of market-oriented reforms, the private sector in China accounts for nearly 70 percent of the country’s total domestic production, which before 1978 was totally and completely micromanaged by central planners and coordinators.
 
Perhaps China’s most important achievement lies in the external sector. Exchange rate reforms, favourable taxation and regulatory incentives as well as stable social and political conditions combined with cheap but competent labour have enabled China to jump-start its export economy, especially by attracting foreign capital and technology in labour intensive manufacturing sector that produce electronic goods, textiles, electric gadgets, etc. for both domestic and export markets. Despite certain irregularities here and there, generally attractive and investor-friendly environment has made China the biggest destination for private capital among developing countries.
 
Still there are many problems that threaten to derail China from its market-oriented heydays. Increasing income inequality, corruption and environmental degradation spring to mind. The financial sector has been overwhelmingly controlled by the country’s four biggest state owned banks, which often make no hesitation to direct big loans to inefficient government owned enterprises often at the expense of innovative individuals and businesses. Its trading partners, and the US at large, are unhappy about Beijing’s deliberate manipulation of the value of renminbi, which has been artificially kept undervalued through massive foreign reserve accumulation, often by purchasing US government bonds. Property rights are far from secure and the Communist Party can sometimes bring down an entire village by brute force followed by the arrest or execution of anyone who questions such government actions or decisions.
 
As tough as these challenges are, Chinese economic and political elites will be determined to find solutions in their own ways and there is no reason to expect that China will reverse course and fall back to its unworkable, complex  and failed communist past. Though the state still controls major industries in finance, energy and telecommunication, its role in organizing the Chinese economy is generally on the wane. Freedom of entry and exit for private players as well as increasing competition and mushrooming entrepreneurial culture are behind China’s astounding economic achievements. NOT increasing government guidance and interference.
 
Obviously, China is nowhere close to being a fully-fledged democratic country. But if despotism is the small price to pay for development, the Chinese elite have a lot to show for it. In less than three decades, they have built the second biggest economy in the world. What do you say about the current ruling elite in Ethiopia who have failed to achieve even national food security goals after twenty solid years?
 
Botswana and Nigeria
 
Consider Botswana and Nigeria, two African countries, with colonial past, endowed with rich mineral deposits, both inhabited by diverse cultural and religious groups. Their similarities end here.
 
Nigeria is notorious for its entrenched, institutionalised corruption and its politicians rank among the most ruthless professional thieves in the world. Both electoral and political corruption is rife and holding public office is a highly lucrative business in the country. Since the early 1980s, Nigeria has received over 300 BILLION US dollars mainly from petroleum extraction. This is an incredibly huge sum of money, at least by African standards. But Nigeria remains one of the poorest countries on our planet, with well over 60 percent of its citizens languishing below the national poverty line. The level of corruption in Nigeria is so deep-rooted that it has become part of the national way of life to the extent that in many parts of the world MONEY and NIGERIANS have come to be perceived as synonymous. Obviously, without all-round cultural and moral revolution, Nigeria as a nation has a gloomy future—it is simply a failed state no matter how you choose to define its failure.
 
On the other hand, Botswana has received lots of praise from international opinion leaders for its open and transparent dealings. In its November 6th-12th 2004 issue, The Economist Magazine lauded Botswana’s British educated presidents for their efficiency, moderate attitude, honesty and willingness to “leave office” when “the constitution says no.” In its 2009 Corruption Perception Index Report, Transparency International identified Botswana as the least corrupt country in Africa (ranking 37 out of 180 countries) with a score of 5.6 (10 being the best score). In this country, fiscal responsibility and social responsiveness go together. The government has effectively used the windfall from its diamond and other mineral resources by focusing on productive infrastructure and inclusive social spending schemes. As a result, Botswana has transformed itself from a poor post-colonial nation to a middle income country, with its citizens enjoying higher standard of living than most of their Sub-Saharan African counterparts.
 
If democracy—that is the legal and institutional foundations to hold public officials accountable—are not the necessary preconditions for economic development, how does one explain the divergence in the economic trajectories followed by Botswana and Nigeria?
 
Even if we accept the need for stronger government activism in guiding the country’s investment and production decisions, Ethiopia, or most of Africa for that matter, is far from the ideal candidate for such serious national endeavours. If by a developmental state we mean the ability and freedom of the state to mobilize national resources to achieve clearly defined social and economic objectives, this will hardly happen in a country markedly divided by ethnicity and riven by corruption. In an environment where people are deliberately encouraged to commit themselves to parochial and narrow nationalist pursuits, the local will always prevail over the national.
 
Of course, this does not mean that cultural homogeneity is the only ideal condition to execute developmental state programmes. Even though homogenous nations have certain comparative advantages that heterogeneous countries do not have, they are not insulated from moral, social and economic degeneration as demonstrated by the recent Jasmine contagion in the corrupt Arab world. 
 
Greece
 
If anything the current popular crisis in Greece has shown us it is the fact that the past cannot guarantee the present or the future. For starters Greece is the cradle of much of the World’s civilization—most importantly it is the birth place of democracy. But unfortunately the country is deeply corrupt (ranking worse than Ghana in the Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perception Index) and one of the most difficult places to start business (it was ranked worse than Ethiopia in World Bank’s 2010 Ease of Doing Business Report). The shadow economy (which is based on unreported income) accounted for one-fourth of the gross domestic production in 2007, which, for instance, compared with 11.8% for France and 7.2% for the U.S. Tax evasion is so pervasive that the national treasury loses an estimated 20 BILLION dollars a year, a whopping sum which could have avoided any recourse to the IMF and the ECB for financial assistance to cushion its current sovereign debt crisis.
 
How could a nation that successfully exported democratic values to the rest of the world could suddenly find itself in a situation where national moral standards hit rock bottom? Of course, there is a multiplicity of causes that made the current Greek sovereign debt problem a veritable hot potato. The adoption of the euro and the forfeiture of its fiscal and monetary autonomy to a supranational authority (the ECB) is one of them. But I think no other factor would rival the existence of rampant corruption for the country’s current social and economic predicament. When the elite neglect or abandon their traditional role as social transformers and reduce themselves to mere parasites on their society, the entire nation will simply become cynical about the elite’s superficial rhetoric on patriotism and public spirited ness. Thus, naturally, unable to reign in the astray elite, ordinary people will choose to engage in their own tiny malpractices, which over time develop into major national puzzle. No wonder, in present day Greece, as of 2010, “nearly a third of Greek income was undeclared, with “fewer than 15,000 Greeks declar[ing] incomes of over €100,000, despite tens of thousands living in opulent wealth on the outskirts of the capital.”
 
Greece is at cross roads as a nation. Not because it will be unable to service its debt and fall pray to its domestic and European creditors. It will certainly overcome its current financial challenges with or without its EU members’ support, though ordinary people will have to endure some pain for sometime. Rather what is more worrisome about Greece is the gradual erosion of its critical social norms and institutions. A recent poll conducted to survey the confidence of the Greek people in various public institutions revealed a startling result. The proportion of respondents who said they have NO TRUST for political parties in general was a whopping 89%. Similarly, the have-no-trust response for governments was 90%, for parliament (85%), for trade unions (80%), for the media (72%), for banks (69%). The only two institutions that the people seemed to have some trust were social movements (42%) and fellow citizens (54%).
 
Though Greece seems to have been drifting helpmessly due to the elite’s loss  of moral compass, it has still some introspective and vigilant children who are aware of its problems and who are making loud calls about the urgent need to, “redefine the public debate. Talk about public morality, a new political ethos, and the common good. Cultivate consensus, and try hard to win hearts and minds in the cause of remaking
Greece.”
 
Lessons for Ethiopia
1.      Over all the elite are the makers and breakers of their society.  
2.      The experience of Greece shows that the past or the present is no guarantee for the future. Responsible elite like good school children are to be nurtured and cultivated to ensure their continuous existence in their societies. Where negligence and ignorance prevail, a single demagogue can intoxicate and poison an entire elite generation and turn them into forces of catastrophe. Think about the historical role of Hitler and his intellectual rear guard.  
3.      Cultural homogeneity is not a necessary and sufficient condition to create and develop a healthy society. And heterogeneous communities are not doomed to eternal rivalry and conflict. Altruistic, God-fearing and humane elites from a cross-section of their communities can and should defuse potentially mutually destructive tensions and create cooperative environments if they put their personal or clique interests over and above the interests of ordinary people.  
4.      The Chinese experience, contrary to widely held assertions, reveals that what is critical for achieving rapid and inclusive socio-economic advancement is not government’s heavy-handed, ubiquitous presence in national economic affairs rather it is sustained reforms towards opening up the national economy to the outside world, protecting and enforcing property rights and contracts, encouraging stronger private sector engagement, and above all limiting government intervention to correcting market failures, providing social safety net for the economically downtrodden, expanding infrastructure development, as well as promoting knowledge creation and dissemination. Even though China is nowhere close to being a democratic country, the role of its government in guiding national economic affairs cannot and should not be overrated.  
5.      Corruption is a big, and perhaps the biggest, obstacle against poverty reduction efforts in many developing countries. We were recently surprised to find out that some 8.4 billion dollars left Ethiopia illegally during the past twenty years of TPLF/EPRDF rule. But we should understand that the problem is not a new one and has its roots in the final years of the monarchy and became deeply entrenched during the chaotic Derg era. One insightful study by Léonce Ndikumana & James K. Boyce (2008) which examined capital flight in 40 Sub-Saharan African countries found that between 1970 and 2004 some 17 billion dollars were illegally smuggled out of Ethiopia, of which some 10.5 billion (60%) was stolen under TPLF/EPRDF. The reader can see that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate abject poverty in our country before one can have the appropriate insecticide to fight and eliminate these bloodsucking ticks from the Ethiopian body politic.  
6.      The comparison between Botswana and Nigeria shows that even if two countries have abundant natural resources, strong rules and institutions that support transparency on government activities lead to superior economic and social outcomes (in Botswana) while a culture of endemic corruption inhibits a country’s political and economic progress (Nigeria).  
7.      Though one cannot rule out the practical relevance of developmental state for Ethiopia, it is quite impossible in the current political setting as created and advanced by the TPLF/EPRDF regime. This aspect of the problem is best captured by Dr.Berhanu Nega:  

There is also another peril associated with EPRDF’s ethnically-oriented politics when viewed from the perspective of building a democratic system [in Ethiopia]. This problem arises from the distribution of state resources. Usually ethnic sentiment or identity politics is extremely intractable as it is driven by emotional rather than rational considerations. Ethnic nationalism is especially sensitive to feelings of subjugation or grievances. It is very easy to fan the flames of ethnic nationalism even based on sheer rumour or propaganda. Such developments, when coupled with conflicts of interest among the elite groups, will make recourse to nationalistic appeal even more attractive. This is clearly evident among the members that constitute the EPRDF coalition who usually engage in fierce confrontation over federal-to-regional budget subsidy allocation sessions–wrangling so common when parliament convenes every year to ratify annual budget proposals. But the problem is more severe than that. In a government structured along ethnic lines, if there is a dominant ethnic group in it, there will always be the perception that the dominant group is favouring its own ethnic enclave, regardless of the factual foundation of such claims. Even when the alleged relatively better economic activities are not based on explicit favouritism, others will use it as evidence of exploitation to agitate and mobilize their own resentful ethnic groups. In the case of Ethiopia, the all-around accusations directed at Tigray illustrate the severity of this problem. Regardless of whether or not such accusations are true, the mere existence of such perception kills any sense of solidarity among its citizens, who instead become preoccupied with bitter feelings of envy and rivalry. (Berhanu Nega in ‘Yenetsanet Goh Siqed’, my own free translation, pp.99-100)
 
It is true that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has had plenty of opportunities to bring Ethiopians together for Grand National transformation mission. But sadly from the outset he chose to stick to counterproductive “Shoa Amhara” bashing campaign which later on would backfire on him earning him a bad name for leading “Wedi Adwa” robber barons. That is not all. Like his Marxist godfathers, instead of accepting criticisms for his government’s damaging actions and decisions, he preferred extreme reliance on propaganda. He was right in some sense. The Stalinists in Soviet Russia were such loud and determined propagandists that observers in the West had the tendency to speculate that life in Soviet Russia must have been superior compared with the US. This speculation could not have been more plausible especially when judged against the Soviet Union’s demonstrated achievements in cutting-edge space technology. All this propaganda, however, was exposed when Gorbachev “uncovered” Russia to the rest of the world.
 
In that sense, what we wait for right now is the Ethiopian Gorbachev, an Ethiopian leader who values honesty and self-examination more than his commitment to some askew ideological superstructure.
 
Certainly Meles Zenawi alone is not the root of all evils in Ethiopia. Far from it. We have plenty of them among other ethnic groups including the Amhara, the Oromo, the Somali, etc. An OLF activist who vows to stamp out the “children of invaders” from the “Oromo country” or an Amhara jingoist who dreams to impose his language on every other ethnic group are both as destructive as Meles Zenawi himself. It takes a simple principle to bring harmony in our nation: do not do unto others what you do not want others do unto you.
 
So, it must be understood that all-encompassing social transformation is brought about by people we look well beyond ethnic loyalty or even racial barriers (Mandela comes to mind) and who have profound commitment to the promotion and protection of human dignity regardless of their provincial, religious or linguistic background. Genuine transformers are those who lead their subjects by example. The elite can be the light or the darkness of their society depending on how they behave or act in accomplishing certain stated objectives and goals. When our leaders give a penny, we will donate a pound; when Meles Zenawi frequents in and around Gondar, we will make Adwa our home; when our politicians shake hands with respect and genuine smile, we will return to the true Ethiopian tradition where tolerance, love and mutual respect are the norm. You do not create a healthy society simply because you have an excellent constitution or simply because ethics is taught as a subject at schools and universities. In stressing the decisive influence of his predecessors on his great scientific achievements, Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Where are our academic, political and religious giants on whose shoulders the current and future generations could stand with pride?

Wondemhunegn Ezezew

bishangary@yahoo.com

Resources

1. Amvona (2011), The Greek Restructuring Debate, available at http://www.amvona.com/latest-news/foreclosure/14627-the-greek-restructuring-debate.html

2. Eklogika (2011), Confidence in Greek public Institutions (in Greek) available at http://www.eklogika.gr/uploads/files/Dimoskopiseis/pi-skai-all-18-5-2011.pdf

3. Open Democracy (2011), Facing the Greek Crisis: it’s the Politics, Stupid, available at http://www.opendemocracy.net/takis-s-pappas/facing-greek-crisis-it%E2%80%99s-politics-stupid

4. Marangos, J. and Bitzenis, A. (2007), ‘Economies in Transition’, Stamouli Publishers, Athens, pp.397-441. 

5. The Wall Street Journal (2011), Greece Grapples with Tax Evasion, available at 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704182004575055473233674214.html

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21 comments on “A Few Points on Democracy vs. Development

  1. Thank you for the excellent article. I am sure the ruling party knows the right path but what matters to ethiopian rulers is how long they can stay on power. It this attiude that they must change.

  2. What is this obsession with ‘ how long they can stay in power’? What we should be obsessed about is what is being done to resolve the country’s multitude economic problems ?

  3. Belai, Abraha Belai, or Belai Zeleke or whoever you are, the point here is that after 20 years in power they have not delivered on their promises. How many more years do you want to give them?

  4. Belai,

    The electorate said enough in 2005. Meles Zenawi suddenly appeared on ETV and declared that his party was the winner of the election way before the vote counting was completed. He imposed emergency law, outlawed any form of public rally or demnstration and you know how the electorate reacted. Unless you are one of the oppressors in Ethiopia, you know that Meles does not rule by the consent of the electorate.

  5. Naturally when you are on the losing side you make all sorts of excuses. Emergency law was needed because the now defunct Kinijit which lost the election decisively was inciting violence. Series matters need strong measures, mate. You can only come to power if you have the support of the electorates ; any other way, it would end in tears. No oppression in Ethiopia today, but there was before the advent of EPRDF. We all know who the oppressors were, and I can assure you that they will never ever make a come back. Their fate were sealed in Dedbit. See you,mate.

  6. Belai,

    The more you speak the more you expose your true colour. First of all, how do you know that the Kinijit were there to incite violence before the outcome was announced?

    Your statement that there is, “No oppression in Ethiopia today, but there was before the advent of EPRDF,” says a lot about who you are and your mentality. It is such juvenile attitude which invites more extreme reactions from the oppressed side. Any one who actively follows political events in Ethiopia would never write such childish sentences. It suffice to go through the well documented annual reports on human rights conditions in Ethiopia to understand the level of political oppression in the country.

  7. Solac,

    What does ‘ the more you speak the more you expose your true colour’ ? What you see is what you get. No reason to cover my ‘colours’. If you are unable to tell from what you have read so far, then consult other people.
    Solac, you need to grow up. When ever you hear differing views, don’t start shooting. No need to say–‘juvenile’ ,’childish’, ‘oppressor’. Before you talk about freedom of expression , you need to know what it actually means. It is bullocks to hear about ‘democracy’,and ‘ human rights’ from people like yourself who are intolerant and incapable of accommodating alternative opinions how ever unpalatable they may be.
    I repeat no oppression in Ethiopia today. The constitution is your guarantee, and as long as you respect the law of the land. If you don’t, the long arm of the law would severely deal with you. Human rights issue will be here and there as is in Europe and America.This is what it does to you when you ‘follow’ political events in Ethiopia from afar. Pay your home land a visit and you will see the difference. It will help you to form your very own opinion ; you will also be able to see how far the country has moved in only ten years. Another ten years Ethiopia would be the hub of East Africa. Feel sorry for the feeble opposition. see you, mate.

  8. Belai,

    Stop this bs about Ethiopia going to be the economic hub of East Africa. No need to go back to Ethiopia. My friends are relative are all over the country and I get updates on a daily basis.

  9. Stop this bs about Ethiopia going to become the economic hub of East Africa. No need to go back to Ethiopia. My friends and relatives are all over the country and I get updates on a daily basis. May be, just may be, you are talking about the minority mafia club who are thriving at the expense of the majority of Ethiopians.

    Most of the economic vuvuzelas that your bosses blow ad nauseum are just empty, cheap talks when it comes to verify them against hard facts that detail the living conditions of our people. In your la la land called Ethiopia there are over 10 million people relying on emergency food handout; 46 percent of the adult are willing to leave their hopeless country if given the chance and according to the UO Multidimensional Poverty Index, the country you brag about its grand achievements is the second poorest nation after Niger. This is the country which is going to be East Africa’s economic power house? Phew!

    The TPLF regime is not even helpful to the People of Tigray in whose name it makes business, and therefore quick money. According to a recent UN survey one in three households in Tigray are dependent on food assistance. Without any doubt people like you who are the immediate beneficiaries of the criminal organization aka TPLF are so blinded by short-term perks and appointments that you are unable and unwilling to recognize the bitter truth about our country in general and Tigray in particular. I have been to Tigray many times over the past few years and I assure you life for most Tigreans is as miserable as it had been in the past. The only thing Tigray has profited from the TPLF divisive project is mere hatred and enmity from other ethnic groups.

  10. I can tell you are an Amhara. We never cried this much when your ilks were in power for over 100 years. And what did they do to the country— brought it to its knees. What did the TPLF do– rebuilt it from scratch. I was in fits when you said’ The only thing Tigray has profited from the TPLF divisive projects is mere hatred and enmity from other ethnic groups’. If you mean the Amharas I agree with you. Why would the other ethnic groups hate us for liberating them from the Amhara oppressors ? Next in line for power are the Oromos and you know how they feel about you.This time it is not only the Oromos who will sort you out, but the Somalis, Afar, Southern peoples and the rest as well. Deki-Alula will set in the background and watch the drama unfold.

    Solac, the bad old days are over. No turning back, accept this and move on. If you want to continue crying, feel free but you will do it for such a long time. In the mean time, the TPLF has a lot of work to do, you and the like of you can keep dreaming. Don’t for get to reserve a place in old people’s home. From here you will hear from your relatives the number of new clinics,universities, roads, clinics etc.. See you mate and keep your hair on.

  11. Belai,

    When I corner you with irrefutable facts, you make a complete U-turn and bring the Amhara thing into our discussion. I do not know how you can telll with 100 percent certainty that I am Amhara. Good for you if it helps you avoid the hard rock and the tough wall into which I latched you like a wet mouse.

    From your writing I understand that you are impulsively Amharophobic and that the Amhara are your only nightmare in your desperate attempt to sustain your totalitarian rule in the country. FYI, regardless of your hateful outlook vis-a-vis the Amhara people, its leaders had introduced every technology the world then knew from banking and electricity to tap water, cinema, photography, fiat money, hotels, telephone, train, automobile, printing press, news papers, schools and universities, TV and aeroplanes and what have you. There is no technology that our country was not introduced to during their rule.

    As for your wish for all other ethnic groups to ravage on the Amhara people and for ‘you’ to enjoy their destruction, I do not know what to say. But one thing is for sure. You belong to the subhuman, beastly creatures of this world.

    Even if you are a narrow-minded Tigrean, I am quite sure that you do not represent the pulses of all Tigreans and I will never wish the same destruction for Tigray because of lowly people like you.

  12. Mission accomplished, we have placed you in a straight jacket. It is hilareous indeed for to say ‘the Amhara leaders had introduced every technology the world then knew from banking and electricity to tap water…. blah, blah, blah….’ Do you mean to your own people ? The rest of Ethiopians, excluding you know who, would emphatically say yes. In any case your so-called Amhara leaders spent a great deal of their time not introducing the fancy things you mentioned, but working with foreign enemies for a few bullets.

    I would agree with you without any reservations if you say the TPLF introduced and ensured higher education( 31 universities), health care, clean water supply, electricity, roads, elementary and high schools in every part of Ethiopia. Instead of saying I heard it from my relatives and the UN said this and that, go and see it for yourself. You cannot stomach the fact that the Tigrians have transformed the country beyond recognition. All Ethiopian are benefiting from the change not just the few as it happened before the TPLF came to power. You went on to say-‘ I am quite sure that you don’t represent the pulses of all the Tigrians….’ Only if you knew. FYI, no one, I mean no one, can destroy Tigray. Even shabia failed. Tigray=Ethiopia, Ethiopia=Tigray. See you mate and keep your hair on.

  13. Belai,

    Now that your anti-Amhara fervour has reached boiling point, I will still give you more time for your bubble to burst. How in the world could you claim that the Amhara leaders were keeping those technologies to Amhara people alone? Please come up with facts to support your hearsay that Amara provinces were the only beneficiaries of the schools, the universities/colleges, the telephone….Even Meles Zenawi and his comrades are living witnesses regarding the schools where they were educated in Tigray. Who built them? Weren’t there hospitals in mekelle, adwa, axum…?

    You boast about 31 universities built by Tigreans (I do not know if they were built by Tigreans). But you do not want to mention that your Tigrean leaders received more than 31 billion dollars in foreign aid since 1991. If those Amhara leaders had all this financial assistance they would have built more than 31 universities. Moreover, the credit should go to the IMF and the WB and the EU and the UK and the US who have generously donated and lent this money to TPLF. You know the Derg regime had built lots of roads, schools, colleges, clinics throughout the country without receiving any single dollar from the West. Additionally, if secessionist TPLF and EPLF were not seeking to tear the country into pieces, Derg would have diverted all human and capital resources from war to infrastructure. If TPLF has built anything, it is because of massive aid money pumped into the country in the past two decades.

    You also said, “no one, I mean no one, can destroy Tigray.” You are right if you mean the ordinary people of Tigray as a whole and there is no reason for me to destroy ordinary Tigreans. But I guess you wanted to tell me that the current minority rule of Tigre gujile will never be dismantled. But you should know that Lehman Brothers was a going concern just an hour before it declared bankruptcy. Yeqome yemimeslew endaywodiq yitenqeq

    As to the shoddy equation that Tigray=Ethiopia, no you are wrong. The correct notation should be Tigre < Ethiopia or Ethiopia > Tigre.

  14. Good morning Solac,

    FYI, I am as cool as a cucumber. Now let me deal with the feeble points you mad:

    You equate Lehman Brothers with the TPLF. Not possible mate. Because the former was built on sand and collapsed like a pack of cards, where as the latter has firm and solid foundation and can with stand a massive hurricane. It has been tested over the years, and proved to strong and formidable Hard facts as follows: the biggest army in black Africa was destroyed in a mere 17 years; shabia the scourge of Ethiopia for over 30 years was sent packing with its tail between its legs in just two years; the same fate for ELF, EPRP, EDU, Kinijit, and of course your G-7( Tigre gujile). Need I say more ?

    You said–‘ Additionally, if secessionist TPLF and EPLF were not seeking to tear the country into pieces, Derg would have diverted all human and capital resources from war to infrastructure. If TPLF has built anything, it is because of massive aid money pumped into the country in the past two decades.’ Ha ha ha– very funny indeed. FYI, TPLF is not secessionist but EPLF is. And how did this organization come into existence ? Menelik gave away Eritrea to the Italians, and Hailesellasie dissolved the federation that existed and annexed Eritrea to Ethiopia by force. The Eritreans did not consider themselves as Ethiopians and from this day on the struggle for session started and lasted for over 30 years. Your emperor started the war and the Derg took over and continued with the war, and the TPLF came in the nick of time to rescue the country from total disintegration. A classic case of Amhara ineptitude at its best. Your ilks used ‘financial’ support from the WB,IM, EU and others to wage un winnable war. Where as the smart TPLF used it to rebulid the country.

    As to the universities– yes you are correct there was one university in Makelle called Hailesellassie I University were all of us were thought. Also Gondar Health College in Gambella. I wonder why the vast majority of Phd, Msc and Bsc holders are from Benshungual Gumz ? I also wonder why I was thought in Amharic at school when my mother’s tongue was orominga ? See you mate and keep your hair on.

  15. I thought you had packed up your package and made a strategic withdrawal like your Shaebia cousins. Welcome back.

    Most often I hate to discuss along ethnic lines but as you deliberately plunged into Amhara denunciation crusade, I have decided to defend them, where appropriate comparing with your cousins.

    I agree that Menelik was responsible for the origin of Eritrea’s problems. Despite this weakness, there is no doubt that the world admires him for his great leadership that unified and created the present day Ethiopia and for his glittering victory against the Italians at Adoa. You recognize that. And one cannot talk about present day Ethiopia without the Great Amhara Emperors such as Teodros II and Menelike II. And Emperor Yohanes IV was great too as he tried to forcefully convert Ethiopian Muslims into Christianity and invited the Mahadists in a religious alliance for the destruction of Gondar. His greatness had its origin in his creative collaboration with the British army against Teodros. He was also admirable for reducing Gojjam to ashes because of a perceived secret relationship between Tekle Haimanot and Menelik. Yohannes also built upon the modernization project started by Teodros II. On top of the Sabastopol, the motor boats and steam spindling tools built by Teodros II, Yohannes IV introduced nothing, not even a grinding mill. Wow how great are these Tigrean Emperors!

    The allegory about Lehman Brothers still holds for TPLF. Because it relies on extensive spying and intimidation does not mean it is undefeatable. We saw TPLF in 1998 when Shaebia overrun you in a matter of a week. It is at this critical moment when Tigray was between life and death situation that TPLF called upon the Amhara and Oromo fighters for salvation. The Ethiopian flag which your midget once called ‘chereq’ was raised high into the sky and the Amhara patriotic songs were every were from Fana to Eth Radio to ETV and even Dimtsi Woyane started to broadcast in Amharic! You know without the Amhara support TPLF cannot patrol the country with comfort. You cannot survive for a day. Whether TPLF is undefeatable time will tell.

    Regarding colleges and universities and factories, what about the Agricultural College in Alemaya/Amara, the textile factory in Nazret/Amhara, the HEP generation dams at Fincha and qoka both Amhara, the rail way to Djibouti/Amhara, the military base at Debre Zeit/Amhara, the health and teachers training colleges in Harar/Amhara (now upgraded to university level)….

  16. Packed up and retreated, you must be joking. We don’t do that. Yes you are correct that Menelik unified the country using brute force. I don’t think the Oromos would be happy with you. You know full well Menelik humiliated them and to avoid his brutality they went as far as changing their names. Why was the OLF hell bent on destroying the statue of Menelik in piazza? The problems we are having today in the northern and southern parts of the country are the direct creation of your emperor. His atrocious legacy is what is making the country prone to periodic instability.

    You think the victory of Adowa is down to Menelik ? Not at all. It is down to the brave people of Tigray lead by Commander Alula and Basah Awalom. The ingenious intelligence gathering system laid down by this two gentlemen was what brought about the humiliating defeat of the hapless Italians. Solac, what you need to ask yourself is this— Menelik was armed to the teeth. Were did all the weapons come from ? I will tell you– some came from the Egyptians and the Madhists as he was secretly working for them. But the vast majority of Menelik’s armaments came from the Italians. How ? Menelik signed the ‘ Neutrality Convention’ with Italians behind Yohannes’ back. What does the convention entail ? To remain neutral in the event of war between the Italians and Ethiopia. Betrayal of the worst sort. FYI, Yohannes never invited the Mahadists , he died fighting to defend Gondar. Where were Menelik and Teklehimanot ? Hiding ! Yohannes was fighting enemies of Ethiopia left, right and centre, he did not have a tranquil moment to develop the country. Menelik’s era was relatively peaceful and managed to do bits and pieces here and there.

    As to the schools and other developmental activities, I have made my point and no need to go over it again. One thing I agree with you is that, Emperor Teodros was a great Ethiopian leader who did his best for the country under difficult circumstances. I wonder why Emperor Teodros put Menelik behind bars for ten years ? See you mate and keep your hair on.

    Again FYI, TPLF knew how to deal with shabia and certainly there was no need for the Amhara to get involved. They tried for 30 years and failed.

  17. So you have not packed up and retreated? We are as if in border conflict stand off like the one we have in the north.

    Menelik is the most controversial figure because of his enviable historical achievements. Of course, like all human beings he was not immune to erring and made a serious mistake with Eritrea. But I do not know why you guys keep accusing him for creating modern day Ethiopia. If it is okay for Meles Zenawi to sponsor Eritrea’s independence because Menelik had sold it to the Italians, why isn’t it acceptable for Oromo and other southern nations to become independent? After all, you claimed that they were incorporated by force and there fore there is no reason for Meles to perpetuate Menelik’s colonial project against these people. Please stop this funny double standard.

    The truth however is that the South is a great region with lots of unexplored and unexploited natural resources where most of the country’s exportable coffee and animal products come from. The main reason TPLF did not care to keep Shaebia within the Ethiopian political union is that on the one hand you thought that it was preferable to focus on the goose/oromia that lays the golden eggs and on the other you did not like Shaebia to partake of the spoils from the national looting enterprise that would be implemented in these regions. Even though you make superficial arguments to demonize Menelik and the Amhara people, you will never ever allow Oromos and others to get independence from the ‘colonial’ construct formed by Menelik. This is because without these regions the mafia organizations under EFFORT will become lifeless. If Menelik colonized these areas, I demand they must be allowed to be free. How does it feel for a TPLFite?

    Regarding the betrayal treaty Menelik made against Yohannes, you may be right. That is why I pointed out Yohannes’ treacherous collaboration with British against Teodros. Conspiracy has always been part of our culture. What upsets me most is that, while we should be recognizing this as part of our culture, which sadly persists till today, people like you single out every historical blunder to be an Amhara trait! How wrong!!

  18. Can you too stop this unproductive discussion. We don’t want any ethinic conflict and hatred. By the why what relationship you two have got between you and Yohannes and Minilik. I think Menelik and Yohannes are more related in action and blood as a ruling class than with their peasants like yourself.  What got Yohannes and Minilik has got to do with you except you are probably among million of subject. Ethnically, Yohannes  is more of Agew and Minilik is more of Gurage. The ruling class had always been a product of political marriage and assimilation  and have very little with you guys, the naive and hypocrite peasants, who has nothing to proud of with your achievement but want to feel good by associating yourself with dead people. 
    Even now things haven’t changed.  The power is in the hand of assimilated but cunning individuals. Look 

     If you look at who are on power in the last 20 years you wouldn’t have fought over non-existent Tigreans and Amharan rulers. Look  Can you tell ethinic origin of say the top three persons. Aren’t they predominantly  Eritreans? Melese, Tamerat and Bereket. Then Melese, Adisu & Berket. Now Melese and Bereket. So please do not be hypocrites in insulting and dividing our history, our kings and queens and our ethinic origins in attempt to score a point against each other. The kings and queens have done to the best of their mind to go. The article economics. If you understand it then you can comment. If not you are in the wrong thread to talk about Amhara and Tigree. in short, stop it or take your Amhara- Tigray hypocrisy somewhere else. if not I appeal to the Admin to delet your scribbles and close the topic. Freedom goes with responsibility.

  19. It was nice taking to you Solac. Don’t take it personally and wish you all the best. Many thanks to Ethiofact for allowing us to express our views, and also thanks goes to ‘Silent Observer’ as well.

  20. Belai,

    Thank you for calling unilateral cease fire.

    Seriously though, I liked our chit chat except the detestable ethnic antagonism. My piece of advice to you: please refrain from labling people along their ethnic lines. Our Emperors, whatever their ethnic origins, have done both good and bad and we must judge them as individuals, not as some one representing their ethnic group. Actually i recognize that the advice also applies to me.

    Silent observer, thank you for your peace making role.

    Dear Ethiofact,

    My last but not least appreciation comes to you. It takes great wisdom and maturity to host such rough exchanges between Belai and me.

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