by BIZUAYEHU TSEGAYE
Not that previously unfamiliar to the readers; having a dialog about a topic and end up debating totally different issue or specking twice on a topic and end up having two different closing arguments…it can happen in every day of our life. But, not easy-thing to skip when public officials do it. Such miscommunication can have two reasons:
One; could be due to communication barriers attributed to inefficiency in communicating or lack of focus; which is unintentional.
Second; could also resulted with diversion. Deliberate change of subject with out disclosing it‘s bad intention. Though both can be equally destructive.
In relation to the subject, most might have caught with the repeated hierarchically inconsistent public announcements made by EPRDF’s officials earlier and currently on Zenawi’s disappearance from media.
Having the fact EPRDF is animus to communication; one may look for answer wither it’s weak public communications are intentional or attributed to lack of proficiency?
In effort to forward my reflection I want to share you…the readers the following story first.
It was a while a go when a person having the opportunity to get in touch with EPRDF officials and whom I was very close too shared me about the attention diversion strategies been followed by the consecutive administrations including the current one. It has helped in shaping my perception about the actions taken by EPRDF.
The example this person has used was also the incident that caused our discussion; which was the 2005 Addis Ababa University students protest against the EPRDF’s administration. He explained that the protest having national political agenda, the regime occupied the university compartment with the excuse to secure peace. Concurrently replaced the university civil security workers with the federal police. The frustrated students face with urgent demand for the federal police to live the compartment. EPRDF achieved success while it becomes the matter for negotiation instead off the original demand.
One may identify this as the kind of miss-communication through diversion using adding urgent demand as a tactic.
Thus there exist such intentional miss-communication; in my observation, EPRDF do it with the stubborn, the humorous and the experimental way.
Other kind of the stubborn way of diversion is lowering the demand even before any negotiation. This is attributed to giving time for a situation or using expiration time or buying time to cool down the heat of the issue, fad the moral and initiation of the other party and eventually force to lower it’s demand. The aftermath of the 2005 election can be a good example. The opposition voice the votes has been stolen, EPRDF clamed victory…protest erupted. Third party involved…opposition’s original demand for power changed in to negotiating for the future….big victory for EPRDF…easily rejected the points for negotiation as it get the lop of opposition’s claim for power.
In this case one may note negotiation and communication are ,off course, different but complimentary. The two parties were not having proportional bargaining power, even worse for the opposition the bargaining power were expiring as time lapse. EPRDF as it did not face opposition with strong bargaining power does not sought the need to communicate with rivalries; also enjoyed the merits of manipulating the media in miss-communicating facts about the whole situation.
EPRDF don’t always do deception in the stubborn way as it did in 2005; it also put a flavor of hummer. This has happened in 2010; with a narrowed political stage for oppositions and less public participation in election, EPRDF clamed victor with 99.6 %. This time people did not go out to protest against the regime basically because of two reasons; one, protest against the regime was banned since the 2005 dispute, second there were less public interest and participation in the election. Also the international observers might have expected to see some protest at least for there paper work; ironically, TPLF lead EPRDF unofficially closed public work…gather it’s members and public workers to go out protest in support of the regime on the streets; miss-communicating the word ‘Respect our voice!’.
EPRDF also experiment cleaver way’s to deceive through miscommunication. A particular example for this is the event following the popular uprisings in middle east and North African countries. In 2011 the Ethiopian society as it is also the suppressed one gave attention. The communication were between the free media and the people. The government disposes the free media and want the communication to be between the party and the people. The party’s intention was to occupy the public attention with the sudden Nile Dam construction announcement and divert the public attention from demanding freedom. Also previously miss communicated the international communities anti-terror law to clampdown dissents, EPRDF seemingly was having (also experimenting on) the perfect plan in bridging it’s interest with the international communities’.
EPRDF, having such trend as an organization; it can be rationalized the party’s serious of miscommunications with the public are strategic deception purposely planed and executed. However, the officials role in the process and there ability to communicate can also be considered to have holistic end result on the topic.
To intentionally interrupt communication and put in place miscommunication one or more of the communication attributes can be manipulated. Either the encoder, decoder, the medium of communication, the environment or the combination of them can be made to malfunction.
Officials making the announcements are just one of the communication attributes; encoder the party is using. As the messages are coming form there superiors, there role is restricted in delivering it to the public. Playing the role being taking order and do exactly as been told, one has to serve as an apparatus for that specific purpose.
We have seen repeatedly, officials making public statements contradictory to there subordinates and even to there own previous statements.
There proficiency and focuses might be questioned and discussed as possible reasons for the confusion they have tried to make. But, had this happened with out the party’s knowledge it can be said EPRDF’s communication is fragmented; which also implies that it is getting weak. Such an incident having the effect of this magnitude, the party could have solved it’s problem easily through maintaining the encoders or replacing them with focused and efficient one. Yet, we see them on same position making same contradictions. This makes impossible to have the thought that their miscommunication is unintentional. Instead pushes toward generalizing that there actions are committed in the disposal of there respective orders.
Hence, we may share the conclusion; the current public announcements made shows miscommunications being used in dealing with existing problems and EPRDF’s strategic deception being channeled through the officials as usual.
May 3rd, 2013
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