By Yilma Bekele
The Ethiopian TPLF Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died three weeks ago. He died at St-Luke University Hospital in Brussels, Belgium. His Party kept him in the freezer while trying to determine what to do regarding the rules of succession, which the leader deliberately kept vague. For three weeks his Party made a mockery of the Ethiopian people by issuing conflicting press releases and unconfirmed reports. The death of the TPLF patriarch Aba Gebremedhin seems to have given them the opportunity to unthaw or defreeze his stiff body and prepare for a state burial in tandem with the wayward priest.
De mortuis nihil nisi bonum (“Of the dead, nothing unless good”). Is this maxim appropriate under the circumstances? I would say normally yes. The dead are not able to defend themselves. Is this always true? Not really, a few speak for many years after they are gone. They leave a legacy of evil behind. The living uses the negative experience to avoid future mistakes.
The same Ethiopian TPLF regime that was lying to us regarding the health of the tyrant has already began revising history and started the manufacture of fairy tales and Holly Wood style fiction. No adjective will be spared to build the resume of Legese Zenawi. Our airwaves will be inundated by lies, false testimonials and Mamo kilo stories. No one will be allowed to breath any truth in the land of the Abeshas. The TPLF controlled TV, Radio, Internet will be playing 24/7 how lucky we were to have such a visionary lead us and how difficult it would be to replace a giant of a leader that ever existed in human history.
It is important we the victims set this story in proper context and use this occasion as a teachable moment. No one relishes speaking ill of the dead. But the situation goes beyond saying a few bad words about the dead when the dead is still speaking thru the work he left behind. That is the work we would like to talk about because the death of the evil gives us the opportunity to undo the harm. We learn from the history of those that were confronted by that kind of situation and see how they dealt with it.
The best example I can think of the ill famous Adolph Hitler and the legacy he left behind. If you notice no one dares speak good of the Furher. He has become the personification of evil. It is possible to say a few good things about the Furher but the problem is his negatives outweigh his good deeds. One can speak of the economic miracles of Germany under the Nazis. At the end of World War I and the imposition of the Versailles treaty on Germany the country was in ruins. One can say Hitler and his Nazi Party united the Germans and built an economic juggernaut the dominated all of Europe. Germany’s prosperity was the envy of the world.
You don’t judge a book by the cover alone. There was the dark side of Hitler. That is all that is left of his legacy today. Today the German people use that period to teach their children the danger of demagoguery and blind allegiance to a person or a cause. They cannot undo the crime but they will keep reminding their people and the world the danger of what a single individual with a false vision can do to a people.
That is how Ethiopia can learn from the crimes of Legese/Meles Zenawi. He came into the picture with our country weakened from years of civil war, our economy in shambles and our moral compass out of balance. He used our confusion and lack of direction to take us on a road that has brought us nothing but misery. No matter how much some try to build the non-existent accomplishment of the TPLF party the reality will never confirm any of that assertion.
The World Bank, The Economist Magazine, the IMF, the US State Department and all foreign who is who will be telling us the double digit growth under the leadership of Ashebari. They will bring out pictures and graphs to prove to us how well off we are. The TPLF lie machine will repeat this to our people using all available media. Even a few of our own will be echoing the good virtue of Ashebari and the wonderful Ethiopia under his tutelage.
But we know better. We the victims tell a different story. There are over eighty five million Ethiopians. Why are they telling us about less than a hundred thousand of us? Does eating more than three times a day by the few substitute for the not eating of the three to four million who live on less than a 100 calories a day? They tell us double-digit growth but why are our children dying in Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda and the coast of Yemen? Why are our daughters committing suicide all over the Gulf and Lebanon? Why are more standing in line to change their names and go to where they know danger awaits them? Isn’t it hopelessness, the feeling of dejection and no tomorrow that is permeating our society?
Ato Meles Zenawi ruled our country for over twenty years. How do you think he will answer if asked what do you have to show for twenty years of absolute rule? It is a fair question that requires a real answer not some made up excuse. There was starvation when he came he left with starvation still the norm. He came in times of civil war he left with his people watching each other with suspicion and his Federal Police everywhere abusing, killing and feared. He came with the economy in ruins he left with his country loaded with debt, our land leased to foreigners and our central bank printing money like there is no tomorrow. He came when there was no political order and no rules of governance and he left with a Constitution not worth the paper it is written on, a parliament that can not read and write, a judiciary that is the laughing stock of the nation and a country serving one ethnic group.
Those that are in the process of inheriting his style of leadership seem to have learned no lesson from his debacle. They still lie, still show no respect and still play the same old game of fear, divide and rule and behind the scene deal making. They have written a new amendment to Constitution that they will make the Parliament approve and put the hapless Deputy in charge. He does not have a party, he does not have a constituent to fall back on and he does not have authority over the military or security services. He is what is called a figurehead. He cannot even give order to the TPLF guard outside his office. That is the reality of the situation no matter how we deny it.
It is time we start assessing the legacy of Meles Zenawi based on reality. It is time we stop repeating made up statistics by foreigners that tell a story based on their self-interest. There is no denying he sold land to the highest bidder and the facilitated the construction of condominiums. There is no denying he borrowed money in our name and built shoddy roads while scamming most of the money. There is no denying he established Universities in every Kilil but forgot to train competent teachers or well-equipped libraries. It is fair to say Meles was into appearance but not into essence. Let us use this occasion to repair what is broken, change what is not working and open a new chapter of building a fair society that embraces all the children of Ethiopia. We are given another chance to right what is wrong. Let us seize the opportunity and start anew.