Manufacturing “opposition”: Opportunism, Betrayal, and Tyranny In Ethiopian Politics

“He who has lost honour can lose nothing more.”  —Publilius Syrus

The term ‘honour’ comes from the Latin honos in which a person is assessed based on the individual’s actions, mainly his or her honesty, dignity and integrity. The recent political theatre performed by four honourless characters (Hailu Shawel, Ayele Chamiso, Lidetu Ayalew, and Meles Zenawi) is an atrocious act of deceit, lies and dishonesty that has appalled all of those who long for democracy, freedom, justice and human rights in Ethiopia.


It is not far fetched to say that politics is perhaps the lone profession in which some dishonourable individuals are granted the title of ‘honourable.’ What a pity. Dishonesty and deceptions are honoured and dignified. How long should the people of this magnificent land be subjected to such cheap gamesmanship. It is this very fact of political opportunism that considerably delayed the process of democratization in Ethiopia.


We all know too well that if it wasn’t for the support provided to the military junta by some opportunistic intellectuals the duration of the regime’s power may have been shorter and the suffering of the Ethiopian people could have been less traumatic and extensive. Those who betrayed the Ethiopian people at the time did it for nothing more than a few crumbs thrown at them from the military regime.


The recent choreographed publicity stunt, primarily prepared for the consumption of donor countries, is so juvenile in nature that we would hope it could impress neither donor countries nor the people of Ethiopia. No self-respecting soul with minimum integrity should buy into this vicious assault on the hopes and aspirations of the Ethiopian people for a true democracy.


It is an open secret that the history of TPLF shows its unmatched record of manufacturing surrogate political organizations deliberately created to advance its goals and objectives at the expense of the Ethiopian people. Before, coming to power TPLF used captured soldiers of the military regime to invent ethnic-based political parties, which currently form the so-called EPRDF. No one, particularly the Ethiopian people, believes for a fraction of a second that a TPLF led regime has truthfulness or an inch of integrity.


I remember what one of my good friends from Ethiopia told me during a telephone conversation. “ The only reliable information we get from the TPLF run TV, radio and print media is the date. The rest is pure lie and deception.” Well, ironically, the same was said about the military regime. The publicity stunt shown on the national TV and posted on the pro-TPLF website is awash with the declaration that Ethiopia has made a great advance toward democracy. Sadly, as long as TPLF is in power there will never be democracy.


As I said above, no one expects truthfulness or a hint of integrity from the TPLF regime. Some, however, would be surprised by Mr. Hailu Shawl’s political acrobatics and the bow of loyalty that he delivered to Meles Zenawi. The question one needs to ask is this: Did Mr. Hailu Shawel betray the cause of true democracy, justice, human rights and freedom in Ethiopia or did he come full circle in returning to where he began his political life? We all know that Mr. Hailu Shawel was a Minister of Agriculture under Mengistu Hailemariam’s military regime. Although he claims that he resigned or left his post because of his profound difference with the regime’s policy, one could ask a question about his rise to a cabinet position under a regime that terrorized its citizens for 18 years. Even lower level bureaucratic positions are rewarded to those who showed unwavering support to the regime and participated in the atrocities committed against the people of Ethiopia. Therefore, the question is what don’t we know about Mr. Hailu Shawel? Is he a born opportunist that will say anything and do anything to have that “honourable” title and the power that comes along with it?


Political compromise and concessions are part of a political discourse. However, such deals are often made under one condition and that is the advancement of the greater good. In the case of the recent so-called ‘electoral code of conduct’ deal, the only thing being advanced is the strangle hold of power by the TPLF. The reality is that the TPLF and the common good are irreconcilable. The political principle of TPLF is deliberate polarization, oppression and the infliction of maximum suffering and trauma on the people of Ethiopia. As for Lidetu Ayalew and Ayele Chamiso, well they don’t even deserve being mentioned by name.


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