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Which Political Argument suffers more from a non-Dynamic Way of Thinking?

November 11, 2013

by T. Goshu

Let me first make myself clear that this topic of my comment which I believe is straight -forward and fairly critical is aimed at the recent political argument on the question of how to advance the struggle against an ethnic –based tyranny in our country.  I wanted to be straight-forward because I strongly believe that whenever it is appropriate and necessary, there is a need to address our concerns directly to which it belongs to. I also wanted to be fairly critical because I sincerely believe that forwarding our concerns and views in a critical and rational manner, not in an emotional and passive way of thinking is so desirable if there has to be a productive conversation that could move the struggle forward.  Though it is not as easy as we aspire and talk, there is a need to have bold and straight-forward conversation, not going round about and make much generalized views and comments.

On the other hand, it must equally be underlined that our conversations should focus on ideas or issues we want to deal with, not on personal characterization and attack, especially among opposition forces who claim engaging in the struggle for genuine democracy and the prevalence of justice. I understand that given our political history of non-tolerance and undemocratic practices, this line of thinking (focusing on issues, not merely on personalities) has been and still is a huge challenge. But there is no any other way other than courageously facing all the challenges ahead of us by engaging in a dynamic way of argument that can help move our struggle in the right direction and with fairly acceptable speed.

This said; let me proceed to the view point that specifically refers to the recent conversation between Ginbot 7 and the Ethiopian People’s Congress for United Struggle (Shengo). There may be some fellow Ethiopians who may think that discussing on this conversation or argument any further is not necessary because of their “fear” that it may affect the situation negatively.  My view is quite different in sense that the political argument between the two sides is powerfully relevant to the ongoing struggle against a dangerously irresponsible ruling circle in our country. Yes, the very ill-nurtured and ill-guided political agenda by the TPLF/EPRDF elites   cannot be explained only in terms of dictatorial repression as we know. There is no doubt that the political madness of the ruling inner circle has put the very survival of the country at a very serious risk.  I seriously believe that the attitude of staying away from the issues that could affect the ongoing struggle (be it peaceful disobedience or otherwise) is not a desirable political culture we need to advance. Needless to say, it is this kind of sentiment that has contributed to our terrible failure for the last quarter of a century and prolonged the unbearable misery of the people. Yes, it is this kind of very clumsy, if not self-defeating political “shyness” that has contributed to the continuation of the general crisis (political, socio-economic, moral and cultural) we continue to experience.

To show how a real sense of argument is an essential part of our lives, Gerry Spence, the author of a book, How TO ARGUE AND WIN EVERY TIME (1995) argues that we need to argue whenever and wherever “we see injustice, repression, inhumane treatment, the degradation of moral, national interest at risk.…”  He further states, “Without argument a nation becomes a waste of land where nothing grows, nothing blossoms, nothing is created, nothing lives.” It is from this very powerful truth that the argument between Ginbot 7 and the Shengo is truly appreciated and commendable. The question is how far we have gone in making our political arguments critical, genuine, productive and forward-looking. Let me continue.

I found the interview conducted by Sisay Agena of ESAT (10/29/130) with Ato Aklilu of the Shengo truly interesting. Yes, it was interesting in a sense that the Shengo, leaving aside its power of argument, deserves sincere appreciation for its willingness and effort to clarify its line of argument to the public. What made the interview more interesting to me was the way journalist Sisay Agena of ESAT handled it. I was so impressed with the legitimate and professional intervention made by Sisay Agena. He intervened smartly and appropriately when he strongly felt that there was a point to be clear and sound. That is the way it should be! Great Job Sisay!

I also attentively listened to the conversation between Ato Aklilu of the Shengo and Ato Efrem Madibo of Ginbot-7 hosted by Abebe Belew of Addis Dimts Radio, on 11/02/13. Abebe Belew deserves sincere appreciation for extending his invitation to his guests and let them make their points of argument; and also let listeners ask questions and make their comments.  Remarkable job Abebe!

When it comes to Ginbot 7, I do not have much to say because I believe that its leaders ( specifically Ato Andargachew Tsegie ,Dr.Birhanu Nega and Ato Efrem Madibo) have  tried to make their points of view about the struggle; and why they reached a decision to get themselves organized and prepared in Eritrea as reasonable as possible. Well, expressing our concerns with this not only merely tactical choice but also with kind of strategic implication is the right thing to do. In other words, it is quite legitimate and desirable to not only remind but also to keep Ginbot 7 cautious in the process of advancing its political struggle. This is because although the struggle is first to get rid of a chronically ill political system of TPLF/EPRDF and subsequently create a democratic society in Ethiopia, there is a compelling reason to take the struggle towards the creation of common understanding and mutual respect between the people of the two countries (Ethiopia and Eritrea) in particular and in the sub-region in general is truly desirable. With all its weaknesses and difficulties as well as the very poor support from the community in the diaspora, I sincerely believe that Ginbot-7 as an opposition political movement has a relatively rational and understandable argument over the Shengo.

How about the Shengo? Well, I sincerely believe that the first thing that deserves due recognition and appreciation is the effort it has made to bring opposition political parties, civic groupings as well as individuals together so that they can play their part in a more concreted manner. The other one is its effort to get the voices of the Ethiopian people heard throughout the world in general and in the Ethiopian community abroad in particular.  And of course, expressing its serious concern with the trustworthiness of the Eritrean government is something to be taken into consideration and should be dealt with appropriately. If we take the statement of October 2, 2013 by the Shengo which rejects any co-operation from the Eritrean government and the subsequent interview given to various media as well as the argument with members of Ginbot-7 leaders as helpful parts of the “dynamic” political process, we can say that the points of concern that the Shengo has tried to raise are legitimate.

The problem is when it comes to the question of whether our political thinking and performance is in line with the political dynamism of the country, of the continent and of the world at large. In other words, there is a need to adjust both our political thinking and actions to the very dynamic political circumstances of the time. Unfortunately, my impression about the way the Shengo performed in the above mentioned specific case (Ginbot-7 and the Eritrean government) has suffered from non-dynamic political way of thinking. I really do not know why a “Congress /Shengo” that comprises some members who claim to be members of the generation of the 1970s such as EPRP and Meison could not make its view point rationally and substantially relevant to the dynamically changing political arena.  Let me jot down some of my specific points as follows:

  • Ato Aklilu said that the statement of 10/2/13 does not particularly refer to Ginbot-7; but it is just to make public awareness about the danger of being associated with the government of Isaias Afeworki. The question of being genuinely and critically straight-forward is terribly missing here.  I think starting his conversation with this kind of not- honest approach has contributed to the very weaknesses of his subsequent argument. What was and is the problem with saying, “yes, it includes Ginbot-7” and then justify it without being disingenuous?
  • For that matter, was it not genuinely wise to take courageous initiative to contact Ginbot-7 and other political movements and express the concern instead of rushing for press release (statement)?   I really do not know how the political coalitions like the Shengo can deal with those forces that are very difficult if they do not dare to ask for clarification from movements which claim standing for the same cause.
  •  When Ato Akliu was asked what his group is doing at this critical moment; he said that his group creates public awareness (hizbin enastemiralen), produce press releases, conducts diplomatic campaign, and takes its concern to the attention of human rights organizations, and supports the peaceful struggle back home. Well, these are very routine things which we recite year after year being most of the time difficult to verify and with no significant effect. Moreover, I was wondering how the recent complaints made by a couple of members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Synod (Addis Ababa) against the damaging intervention by the ruling party was used as a huge step to which the Shengo has played a significant role.
  • Ato Aklilu tried further to justify his argument by saying that Gibot-7 and others who are trying to get organized and prepared in Eritrea have done nothing feasible. I think trying to undermine the efforts being made by politicians such as Ato Andargachew Tsigie who happened to be on the ground and tried to create a well-informed movement from that direction of the country is not a convincing line of argument at all. There is no doubt there is kind of dynamism there. And whether we like it or not, an effort to use Eritrea as a stepping stone with a wise and cautious approach toward the government of Isaias afeworki is part of a dynamic way of political thinking and action.
  • Ato Aklilu could not (did not) want to answer a very straight-forward question, “if his grouping recognizes Eritrea as an independent country?” He instead kept going back to the story of how Eritrea was separated from Ethiopia. He argued that it was the work of TPLF and Shabiya. True, the people of Eritrea had no time and chance to choose what was better for them, let alone the people of Ethiopia. It must equally be admitted that there has never been a wisely fair and popular mechanism to settle one of the longest civil war in contemporary political history due to the absence of a political system led by statesmen leadership that should extend its efforts beyond its self-serving political power. And therefore, I do not think simply singling out ugly political games played by TPLF and Shabiya but ignoring what our own rulers had negatively contributed is helpful if we want to deal with the ongoing challenges appropriately. Whether it was by hook or crook and we like it or not, Eritrea is an independent state being recognized by international law, not by de facto. Well, it is the right thing to use how serious mistakes have been made in the process of the separation that includes Asssab as a teachable experience during the argument about how to turn the bad into the better. I do not think we need to stick ourselves to a very static political sentiment of “historic animosity”. I do not believe that it is a good line of argument to deny a hard fact because it was created wrongly and we did not like it. Instead, we have to recognize it and try to deal with it accordingly. That is why I wanted to say that Ato Aklilu’s line of argument suffers from lack of recognizing the political dynamism that has taken place for the last several years.
  • It has been repeatedly argued by Ato Aklilu that Shabiya ( Ato Esaias Afeworki) has unfinished agenda to make sure he could not only  maintain but also strengthen his political power at the expense of Ethiopia’s national  interest. Two points: a) this is not either surprising or unusual behavior or practice in any international politics let alone the relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea which was not only characterized by very terrible and complex ups and downs for a long time but characterized also by the ongoing huge challenge. I do not think any genuinely concerned political group or individual with a reasonable level of political understanding can be naïve enough to expect the Eritrean government to extend its assistance to the Ethiopian opposition forces merely because of its generosity/magnanimity. The question is how to deal with this given fact and get something good for the goal we want to achieve, not take a chance and be victims of the outcomes. b) I do not think those Ethiopian opposition forces who are trying to get prepared in Eritrea are naïve about all the horrible historic factors, and the current significant political difficulties that require wise and cautious way of doing things. It is from this perspective of mine that I would like to say that it is not a strong line of argument for Ato Aklilu to consider those Ethiopian opposition forces simply as “puppets” of Ato Isaias Afeworki. Ato Aklilu has also tried to justify his argument with the failure, if not very sad end of some Ethiopians such as colonel Tadese, and Getachew, the former university student. Well, I do not want to question the patriotic efforts of those fellow Ethiopians. However, I want to say that a) it is necessary for Ato Aklilu ( the Shengo) and for any genuinely concerned Ethiopian for that matter ,  to know why and how those great Ethiopians have become victims of the situation in Eritrea; instead of simply talking about the very bad fate they ended up . b) arguing that making any association with and getting support from the Eritrean government is necessarily doomed to fail because those who tried before have failed does not sound logically  convincing and  politically realistic as far as the very dynamic political environment we witness is concerned.

Let me conclude by reiterating that the whole purpose of my comment is not either to praise Ginbot -7; and simply undermine the efforts of the shengo. It is to express my impression that the Shengo has suffered from a static way of thinking as far as the argument I tried to discuss is concerned. I hope we all will strive hard to engage in sensible and critical conversations and play complementary roles towards each other, not in an endless and mutually destructive tug of war.

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3 Responses to Which Political Argument suffers more from a non-Dynamic Way of Thinking?

  1. Tazabi

    November 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Who is shengo ? Never heard about them.

  2. Ancient Ethiopia

    November 11, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    The so called ” shengo” is the collection of lossers who are being driven by EX- WEYANES. one has to be a man to follow ginbot’s way. those lossers are preparing them selves for the future political power by collecting non sense and dead orgznizations like meison, EPRP, TAND , AAPO, AND and non existed civil orgazazations. what they are doing is, let ginbot7 does the job, and we will join for election . these garbages will never see ethiopia at all. they are mostly criminals who killed the Amhara like rates.

  3. abel

    November 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    shengo is a collection of worthless ethiopians who cant do anything except writing long nonsense and screaming all over cyber….go g7 go…and ginbot 7 is the heart of ethiopians

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