Measuring TPLF's Flying Altitude 
 
This viewpoint is an analysis of Mathza’s second part writing titled “OPPOSITIONS DURING EPRDF ETHIOPIA: SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ” and posted at www.aiga92.org. The writer has again come out in staunch defense of the EPRDF government and faulting the critics of the government which he lumps together and calls the oppositions. He fails to make distinctions between well founded questions from the internet café talks. For him, every kind of criticism against the government comes from his conveniently defined oppositions and what all of them say are his conveniently defined lies. One wonders why he should spend his time to write such self-serving long commentary to defend the government if there were no well founded concerns. 
 
His readers are persuaded to believe about the improvements in the socio-economics of Ethiopia, citing some data without discussing the dependability of the sources. The readers are also told that the “gain in development is absorbed” by population growth leaving the GDP per capita hovering around $100. By such assertion, Ethiopia would be in stagnation unless the population growth is curbed, which is another challenge by its own right, given the peoples cultures. Interestingly enough, he also tells his readers about the significant foreign aid which amounted to about 16 dollars per capita in 2001. According to this data, the GDP per capita in Ethiopia might actually go down if foreign assistance did not exist. There must have been some gains from the spilling over to Ethiopia of global wealth and technological breakthrough. The TPLF ought to admit that its job has been greedy positioning of itself to tap into this inflow right at the gate. It controls the very powerful premiership, the foreign ministry and its recent addition of the mayor of the capital, Finfinne. 

He refers his readers to the development projects reported every day on Walta, a website that appears to be the government mouthpiece. What he didn’t tell his readers is similar reports from the former regimes mouthpieces such as “Serto Ader”, the objectivity of which we are all familiar with. It is not what these mouthpieces tell us that matters, but the reality on the ground. A few years ago, Meles went public to assert that if the 1984/85 drought were catastrophic, the one that threatened Ethiopia recently was too ghastly to contemplate. 

Constructing schools is one of the noble things and that is perhaps why the TPLF government gets all the assistance from foreign sources specifically for this purpose. The question is whether the TPLF can be trusted for fair management. In recent days, university students were dismissed in mass and the high school educational institutions in Oromia became dysfunctional. All these is because of the domino effect of TPLF’s decision to evict Oromo institutions and hence Oromos from their ancestral land, although Mathza would have his readers believe that his so called oppositions are to blame for such callous actions of the government. The reality which should not be denied is whether the TPLF government and its actions regarding the rights of the peoples are legitimate. The TPLF, which was set out to liberate Tigray from Ethiopia, has no right to come to Oromia by force and make all sorts of decisions for Oromos including determining where their capital city should be in their own land. Meles seems indifferent to the attempt at erecting a wall in the middle of Afar land, despite their cry that they do not wish and allow that to happen. Isn’t such indifference as insane as the indifference at splitting Lucy into two pieces? In the face of history, it will be unforgivable. 

He tries to confuse the readers by listing what activities the government is doing or is planning to do in the areas of health, agriculture, mining and so on. Irrespective of whoever is ruling from Finfinne, the farmers in Oromia or other regions in Ethiopia have ploughed their land, and have paid their taxes to the rulers since Menelik. The point is not about some simple facts such as how many government ministries are present in Ethiopia, who get their share of the taxpayers’ money and foreign assistance both materially and consultatively in the name of these people. No one has a doubt that there is a government with all its bureaucracies. What he could have also told his readers are the total taxes collected from the peoples in Ethiopia and what they have been used for every year since the TPLF came to power. Interestingly enough, he seems to take pride in poverty by stating “Ethiopia’s recent inclusion in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) benefited the country for the first time from debt cancellation amounting to 700 million Birr.” One would only guess that in the TPLF world, there is a competition to become poor for whatever reason. He asks for aid from Ethiopians in the Diaspora, although he doesn't make clear if he means for the EPRDF government or the people? If he expects aid to the unpopular government, one can’t help but be amused. On the other hand, it is a known fact that aid to the peoples from the Diaspora has been flowing and continues to flow to Ethiopia in terms of support to relatives left behind. 

He accuses the oppositions for not using statistics. Well, can he get us the statistics of the age and educational qualification of the members of Caffee Oromiya (Oromia Council)? Aren’t most of them those who did not succeed their high school leaving exams and in their twenties or early thirties when they were elected? Is such a council capable of critically evaluating any policy handed to it let alone formulate one for a nation roughly about 30 million? Who in the world would do this except the unashamed children from Tigray who think abusing a great nation such as the Oromo will not have a black mark in the history book? 

Mathza would also attempt to drag reluctant international bodies into the political problem in Ethiopia, which has become TPLF’s show since 1991, by trying to convince his readers that these bodies support the government. He uses comments uttered once in a while by international dignitaries to convince us about his support for the TPLF. Many international organizations have been operating in Ethiopia during past regimes including Haile Sellassie and Mengistu rules. Did they stand in the way of those governments irrespective of the latter's failures? Former president Clinton went as far as including Meles and Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea in the new brand of African leaders, but the world was taken back when the two leaders displayed in the face of the international community their adulthood emotions instead of leadership capability when they waged the 1998 – 2000 war that cost nearly 75,000 – 125,000 lives; the numbers depend on the source. Their modest and measured call for far sighted political solution in Ethiopia is often ignored by the shortsighted leaders until it is too late. 

He concludes as before that most of the criticisms labeled at the government are lies. It comes from a limited number of vociferous persons who find time to do so. In the first part of his paper, he told his readers that the oppositions constituted separatists, parties, organizations, groups, private press and individuals. His readers are left with the homework of understanding his conflicting logic of “a limited number of vociferous persons” and “oppositions” with a long list of entities. Or he thinks he can confuse the readers with such blatant fallacy. In the world where there is freedom, a 14 year old girl, Flavia Bujor, writes a book that makes it to the best seller list, but Mathza wonders how those who write pieces of criticisms on the political situation in Ethiopia find the time to do so. 

He goes on to write that the oppositions have made themselves irrelevant and lost credibility and respectability. One wonders why he should spend so much energy to convince his readers if that was the case. The reality is that the TPLF seems to have been cornered and finds itself in confusion. Didn’t Meles himself recently express publicly that the organization he is chairing is dying? Who should the readers believe more? Mathza or Meles, assuming that they are two different persons? Of course, he doesn’t end his writing without stating that the “continuation of the belligerency of the oppositions could darken the ray of hope at the end of the tunnel”. The fact may be that the TPLF is coming out of its self deception and submitting to the cause of the oppositions. As Voice Finfinne wrote in its previous viewpoint, the writer failed to understand the three dimensions of Ethiopia’s political landscape: the freedom forces, the government and the proper oppositions. No one should deceive his intelligence that the system is working healthy under this condition. Dealing with such delicate situation will not be easy, especially for the TPLF. 

It may be true that many professionals from Ethiopia and, perhaps, all countries where there is unpopular government who get involved in politics is proportionally higher. However, one should not fail to ask if such high proportion is the result of the government actions that draw the attention of some of them towards politics. One example is the recent decision by the TPLF to move Oromia’s capital from Finfinne to Adama. The Oromo people rose against this from every corner around the world. As Addis Tribune wrote in its March 26, 2004, editorial, in its rare reference to the Oromo question, the “foolish leaders” of Ethiopia often rush in “where the angels fear to tread”. If the TPLF didn’t decide to remove Oromia’s capital from Finfinne, it would have saved itself from the current crisis throughout Oromia. Mathza can be assured that some of the professionals prefer working in their profession and wouldn’t spend their time “cooking articles” if their people’s fundamental rights were respected by the self-styled leaders. 

An interesting analogy Mathza shares with his readers is about the birds eye view at a low vis-a-viz high flying altitude. He fails to understand the fact that if the TPLF were flying at a higher altitude, it should have concluded that it has no business in Oromia and if there is any improvement in Ethiopia's economy it has much to do with the so called “mixed economy” policy that was brought about by the new world order. Mengistu succumbed to it before he left, and TPLF continued it thus allowing a spill over of global wealth and technological breakthrough to Ethiopia. It should extend credit to the victory of capitalims in the cold world war. The assistance it gets from foreign sources may be seen in this context. 

In the final analysis, the TPLF has the options to continue to deceive itself as it wishes or let all the peoples become free from its tight grip. It put itself in this position by choice and getting out doesn't seem to be easy. How to proceed is its own homework, which it can’t afford to ignore or miscalculate.