OPINION: Politicians Take Note – By Kebour Ghenna
It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you have many things to do and little time to do it…We need to spend the time to deal with democracy, surreal politics, violence, ethno-nationalism, empty coffers.
And we are running out of time.
It’s always time we run out of…
We meant to save for our retirement… We meant to visit the historical sites … We meant to do regular health exams and tests to help find problems before they start, or say something to someone we cared about.
But we didn’t have enough time. We ran out of it. It’s always time, not money. The richest person in the world runs out of time, just like we do.
We meant to spend more time visiting a sick friend or loved one in the hospital … but time got away from us.
We would have… we should have… we could have… but each time, we ran out of time.
We humans are capable of great foolhardiness. We make big mistakes every now and then. All you have to do is read a little history and you will find us doing – collectively and individually – such dumb things as to take your breath away.
Take Mengistu’s war with Eritrean rebels in the seventies and eighties, for example. His own advisors and officers begged him to negotiate with Issayas long before his campaign started to show some cracks; he had them shot all of them… So reckless and hopeless! The consequences of that long war have never been grasped because there wasn’t time.
But there is another and simpler reason the war has been forgotten: people wanted to forget it. It had gone on for so many years, had destroyed so much, had killed so many, when it came to an end, people were glad to be rid of everything about it. In the solemn atmosphere that followed nobody sobbed “We lost the war.” What they all said instead was, “The war is over”, and life continued on that track as though the war had never happened.
Looking back at it now, we just open our mouths and wonder: What a waste?
In our private lives, errors are corrected more readily and more easily – without too much suffering.
The poorly qualified mechanic opens a garage, and soon goes out of business. The bad cook opens a restaurant, and she quickly loses her life time savings. The man forgets his laptop in the bus… the drunk driver… the dentist with bad breath… the blind barber…All these will face consequences and pay for their foolishness.
But in public life – that is, in our collective lives – mistakes are not readily corrected. Instead, they’re made the law of the land. They’re obligatory. That’s the big advantage – and the terrible temptation – of allowing governments to boss us around.
They can mess up things and do things that we would never… ever… do ourselves – if we had any real choice in the matter. They can do things that we know, instinctively, won’t work, things that are stupid, and catastrophic…
For the last 30 years, our political elites downplayed ethnic cleavage and gave priority to ethnic identity ties. It was easy to predict that their unwillingness to create a truly inclusive federal system revolving around individual rights, as opposed to group rights, would create political space for demagogues with easy solutions.
The appeal of ethnic nationalist leaders is that they give voice to the anger of the excluded. They offer a grand narrative as well as concrete, if misleading and often dangerous, fake solutions. Mainstream politicians will not regain lost ground until they offer serious solutions that provide room for hope. They should no longer hide behind the customary wait and see politics, but must be willing to be bold and entertain large-scale reforms in the way the domestic political and economic system is run.
The wider question, however, is whether a greater reliance on AA is really the solution to the EPRDF’s legitimacy deficit. If AA now has more freedom than ever to make the right decisions, the reverse is also true. If he fails, it will only be himself that is responsible.
Yes Dear Reader, as always time will thump us all if we remain inert …if public disorder is not tackled, if industry can’t take resources and add value to them, if parliamentarians fail to exercise their constitutional power… very little will get done. And we all know, time can’t be stretched, it can’t be printed, saved up, stitched up, or reasoned with.
Once again, if not vigilant, all we will be left with may be regrets, fears, and all sorts of emotions!
Happy Holidays folks!
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