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Ethiopian Satellite TV Journalists: ‘know All Experts’

    Ethiopian Satellite TV Journalists: ‘know All Experts’                            

By Jafar Abamela 4-30-19

The Ethiopian Satellite TV has been on air for almost a decade now. In spite of its denial, many including myself believed and continue to believe   that it was   the mouth piece and propaganda tool of    Ginbot 7 armed group. The leaders of G7 have been leaders of the TV and were in the forefront in mobilizing financial support and participating in the core programs including granting frequent interviews to attract viewers. The fact that it was a platform for disseminating the G7 propaganda cannot be denied nor can it disputed. Let me site one good evidence and justify my argument. Which other media had an access to the training ground of G7 in Eritrea? Which other journalist had worn the uniform of the so-called G7 fighters except for the ESAT ones? Reports   with the uniform of  G7 trainees  is  there for any one interested  to see in YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8kdChJkkKM) In fact it is difficult to consider  them as journalists  in true  sense of  the profession because they   only use  it as a cover to preach the gospel of hate and chauvinism( the suppression of interview by Reeyot uncovered their true color). Of course, in that they are not alone, as it is hardly possible  to find any  professional journalist  in Ethiopia like we see in the western media. Like politicians, they take positions and propagate   the political outlook of a   political party or organization, in this case that of Ginbot 7. That defeated the very essence of neutrality of media operators. It was expected that they refrain from mixing the political outlook with the profession of journalism.  The blanket and blinded hate expressed against a   given group or individual is not the norm of free and independent media. 

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The divisive approach they use to divide the nations and nationalities in Ethiopia was also an act of irresponsible media. The fact that Ethiopia is a nation of diversity is not subject for debate. Promoting citizen based politics is any one’s right but others who promote unity based on diversity should also be allowed as a matter of right to stand for what they believe in. It is disheartening to undermine with contempt the fight different nations and nationalities waged against the regimes that subjugated them to national oppression that is now being dismissed by ESAT. It is also a total disregard of the heavy sacrifices the Ethiopian nation’s and nationalities paid for their right. Fundamental lack of respect to individuals especially from the South is their hallmark, the way they belittle, degrading and dehumanize fellow human beings is inconceivable. Their hate against TPLF and its members and by extension to the people of TIGRAY is unheard of from a media that unashamedly preaches one thing and does something else. How does that make them happy or make them human rights champions as they claim to be?  The first thing in human rights principles is to respect someone’s choice because that is what is called freedom of choice. In some western countries, even your choice to lose your life is legally respected. Whether one agrees or not with the choice is totally a different matter. So is the views of others should be respected. The patronizing attitude and at times insulting manner lacks the basics of journalism; the ethics, professionalism and principles of journalism. Let me corroborate it  with one recent evidence. When the office of the PM established a committee to study the nature of the problem between the Oromia Regional State and the Addis Ababa City Administration, the condescending description given about the two members from the south was unbearable. Forget about the content but it does not even make any sense. Because there is a problem in the South, the leader of the SEPDM, they think should not participate in any national affairs, just does not make sense at all. It is just like labelling criticizing against PM Abiy for his visits in the region to shoulder his responsibility on regional matters. Leaders cannot abscond their international responsibility because they have a problem at home. So do the leaders from South can absent themselves from national duty, because there is a problem in the Southern Region? Their judgment about the two is nothing new but the continued insulting attitude they have been displaying on the leaders from the South. They have the temerity to state one of them as   criminal without presenting the audience with any evidence. That is no less than undermining the intelligence of the audience. That has been the trend over the years and in fact because of such utterances   they could have ended up in a court of law. The use of media platform without bearing responsibility has time and again proved to be fatal. If there was any editorial policy for the TV, accountability was in order. 

One can only wonder how the Ethiopian Satellite Television has created ‘Know all Experts’ who pretend to know everything under the sun. Just watch their Eletawi program, for any issue from politics to economy, from IDPs to Diplomacy to aviation crisis, from legal to scientific issues, you have permanent featuring actors who present themselves as experts and opinion makers on any issue that they so pick at their will and spend good 50-60 minutes of air time. The airtime, as I understand, is financed by the contributions of individuals who just trusted them without any accountability for finance and content and they get away without anything because there is no accountable and transparent governance at  ESAT. The creation of a new ESAT YouTube has been allegedly disclosed by someone because there was no official company account and the contribution ended up in individuals account? It is rumored. Suspicion is out there that anti Ethiopian establishments are behind the financing of this media. What the leader of G7 once said about Egypt donating ½ a million dollar for the TV program (presumably ESAT) cannot be lost on us. Let me challenge them to bring out the audit report to the open and clear the rumors, if they are clean in what they have done so far? 

Listening to their analysis is entertaining. Watch and listen to their recent commentary on the postponement of the census. By the way, the first census in Ethiopia was conducted 35 years ago and not 45 years ago as the moderator stated. Let me quickly add that Ethiopia is conducting census not for the first,    the second or the third time but for the fourth time. It was the same Central Statistical Authority that conducted the 3 previous censuses and many other national surveys that generated statistical data that were used for national planning and for socio economic and political purposes. The role of  the CSA was and is to provide technical and secretarial  services to the census commission. In developing counties   like Ethiopia, no one single agency can carry  out a national project like census by itself  as this  requires massive  nationwide  mobilization.  That is why the constitution provided for the establishment of National Census    Commission. No single agency will have the capacity to conduct such massive undertaking. The main responsibility of the commission   is essentially to provide the necessary policy guidance and all the necessary logistics and financial support to the successful conduct of the census. Secondly, there are several international partners and UN agencies that do provide financial, technical and expertise support to countries like Ethiopia when conducting such a huge national exercise.   Conducting census is based on a scientific methodology and it is not something that  you do informally as purported by one of the discussants. The data for each individual must be collected in a scientifically designed data collection form   so that it easily be coded and serve    the analytical methods to be used later in data processing and analysis. It is not something you gather head counts for a kebele administrative purpose as proposed. This, however, does not mean that information cannot be gathered   for administrative purposes. However, the reliability, completeness and accuracy such data is not guaranteed. Taking sample survey is normally done around midterm in between two censuses so that the projections are supplemented by the results of survey. Surveys also have their limitations and that is why countries, under normal circumstances, conduct census every ten years. 

The repeated and unduly criticism of the capacity of the CSA discredits the work of the agency. CSA is one of the oldest statistical agencies in the continent of Africa and for that matter a respected one. It is a victim of our own attitude that we do not trust and respect our own institution which is held with esteem by others. We are good at belittling our own and glorify others. It is a curse for the nation. We undermine our own achievements. I am not trying to suggest that CSA is a perfect organization. No one for that matter, whether it scientific or professional or political organizations or media is perfect.   The necessary capacity including the enumerators and supervisors and logistics is mobilized by the commission for the purpose of the census. Census is a national project and it should is conducted under one arrangement. No power of delegation is given to regions to carry out census in their respective regions. That is untrue. The regional leaders are members of the commission because their support is indispensable. In reference to the last census all sorts of allegations and theories regarding the size of the Amhara population has been an issue of political debate. However, CSA with the support of renowned international scientist in the field scientifically reviewed the entire data by deploying all available scientific knowledge and technology. No different finding or explanation was found. But one thing was for sure, there was no systematic omission on the side of those who conducted the census. By the way the Chair of the Commission was Ato Addisu Legesse who was the DPM then. It would be absurd think of any ill motive against the Amhara to have been conspired   under his watch.

There is couple of concerns that I share    regarding the postponement of the 4th national population and housing census. The first is the peace, security and political stability in the country. Census, elections or any nationwide project of such magnitude, undoubtedly, requires a conducive environment. As things stand now, the look of things warrant postponement of the census conducting. Postponement came, regrettably, when countdown to the census day started long ago. It was assumed that the political and security situation with the wind of change blowing will prevail. Therefore, neither the commission, nor the CSA   can take responsibility for the situation the country finds itself.  Secondly, population size has been politicized in Ethiopia and worries that the outcome of the census will be inflated are a legitimate concern many also share. Population size has been a denominator in power and resource sharing. Apparently no one seems to care about quality of population but only size. The question now is how we tackle this serious matter is something that the nation should take it upon itself. The political leaders, the religious leaders, the scientific community and media institutions should all endeavour their part in depoliticizing population. Inflation or deflation of population size is no one’s interest. Our preoccupation should be on providing the basic necessities for our societies. That should worry us more than anything.  Add to this, the recent analysis of Ethiopian Foreign Policy, on foreign currency and the economy can only amuse experts in the fields. They could better served their audience by inviting professions and experts in the field to give their professional accounts and analysis on the matter. 

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