We need Flameproof Regional Boundary
Amen Teferi 07-06-17
For a long time, war, famine and oppression were the hallmark of Ethiopia. Unable to create a conducive political environment that accommodates the diverging views, Ethiopia had repeatedly failed to address its political problems through peaceful and democratic means that would save it from squandering its meager and precious resources on devastating protracted civil wars. That was the quintessential political feature of Ethiopia, which was finally removed with the demise of the Dereg regime in 1991 that was exhausted and had run out of ideas and energy to move the country beyond those multiple calamities. Thus, our federal dispensation in fact has rescued the country from total disintegration and avoided the intractable civil war that has ravaged the country for decades.
In the last two decades and half Ethiopia has been in ascendancy in all spheres of development. It is moving forward with tremendous energy that could help her to embark on developmental course and assuredly lead her to join the club of the world’s middle income countries. Ethiopia is moving forward with Promethean spirit.
This all began with the restructuring of the oppressive unitary political arrangement into a federal system of governance where every nation, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia will enjoy equal rights and freedoms that allow them a self and shared rule.
The EPRDF led government may legitimately claim several other major accomplishments. For instance, last year, the country faced with the worst drought in half a century, it has successfully thwarted the disaster and created a road map to respond to future climate emergencies. Again this year it is admirably trying to avert the looming catastrophe of the drought that is endangering the lives of millions in the pastoral areas.
To be honest, Ethiopia does not totally ameliorate the population's vulnerability to drought, but it has avoided the catastrophic famines that used to take hundreds of thousands of lives. Moreover, there has been an increase in the volume of foreign investment in the country and the rate of economic growth has been substantial despite starting from a very low base.
Ethiopia has confronted droughts, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and political upheaval with staunch optimism and resilient nerves. The trials of the job have helped Ethiopia to develop confidence in managing risk and disasters. The economic development program has turned the country into one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, with levels of GDP growth over the last decade at 10% per annum– without the oil or mineral wealth that have largely powered growth in other parts of the continent.
The Ethiopian government has created a physical infrastructure that is better than what was left behind by all the previous regimes combined. The road network that spans to most regions of the country can facilitate national integration and development if progressively used.
The electric grid of the country has been expanded and more hydroelectric dams have been built or are under construction and this has expanded the country's energy supply in an unprecedented manner. The growth in electricity production bodes well for the country's economic growth and the intensified mineral exploration would deliver dividends for the country in the long run.
Above all, we know that the number of public universities has substantially increased over the last decade and many young Ethiopians have gained access to some form of higher education and this would not only contribute to the country’s economic growth but it would also be instrumental in fostering amicable relationships amongst the various ethnic groups.
Unfortunately, amidst these promising scenarios we are witnessing intermittent border conflicts that both the anti-federalist chauvinist and narrow nationalist elements would like to exploit. The conflicts are being exploited by the anti-federalist to demonize the federal arrangement, and the “rent seekers” are taking advantage of the problem to advance their personal ends.
The rent seeking attitudes and the interest in territorial expansion thereof has created a situation where drawing ethno-regional boundaries difficult, if not impossible. These elements have manipulated the emergence of regional states to transform traditional conflicts into inter-regional conflict. They maneuver the otherwise old and protracted traditional conflict to promote their rent seeking interests.
This has adverse implications on the management of territorial conflicts. The heavy emphasis on ethnicity as the key instrument for the territorial organization of the federation not only reinforces territorial claims and counterclaims by rival/competing ethnic groups, but also fails to appreciate the difficulty of putting all people/s of the country into predefined ethnic categories.
The Ministry of the Federal Affairs (MoFedA), established in 2001, has tried to resolve the boundary conflicts that arise between any different regional states. Without being discouraged by the daunting weight of the tasks, it has tried to discharge its responsibilities. MoFedA has tried to bring together disputing regions and helped them to establish a Joint Peace Committee and has undertaken detailed studies in the disputed areas and organized public platforms where the people could present their recommendations on how best the conflict that may arise between any two regions could be resolved. However, we have still some miles to cover. We need to have flameproof regional boundary delimitation and thus quash the cases of narrow nationalist and chauvinist elements and let flourish the democratic unity Ethiopia seek to build.