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The Economics of Good and Evil December 30, 2012

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The Political Functions of Land grabbing policies of successive regimes of Ethiopia December 9, 2012

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Land grabbing is the major source of military, political, and economic powers of successive regimes of Ethiopia. Each regime distinctively designed land governance system to maintain colonial ownership of land of peoples of Oromia and Southern Ethiopia. After incorporation of South Ethiopia into the Abyssinian (North Ethiopia) empire at end of 19th century the relationship between the Southern and Northern is characterized by inequality, exploitation, and resource extraction by collection of tributes and taxes, and slave and ivory trades (Dereje, 2006 and Donham, 2002). Gebar land tenure system in the South Ethiopia as well as the Rist tenure system of North show some esemblance to the current land tenure system and with some reservations also resemble that of the military regime, with the exceptions that the communal Rist system is replaced by the organs of state, i.e. the peasant associations (Crewett et al. 2008). Power of domestic colonial politics is highly centralized with absolute land ownership right of governance core of Abyssinia to sustain rule of dictatorship through chains of colonial agents at regional, provincial, and local levels. Government of Ethiopia (the TPLF regime) is the owner of land, but the rights of individuals and communities are ‘holding (use) rights’ (Proclamation No. 456/200550). Though ethnic equality is now legally recognized, in practice, emergent regions are still politically marginalized and permitted less autonomy, partly due to the federal development strategy, which requires central control of local land resources and changes in livelihoods (Lavers, 2011). Centralization of Abyssinian land governance politics is manifested by five levels of land use rights: (1) owner-ship, (2) management, (3) sanction, (4) full accessibility right, & (4) limited accessibility right (Table7). Land tenure politics of both imperial and military or TPLF regimes are generally sharing similar political goal, i.e. manipulation of land use rights to maintain monopoly of governance powers. The commercialization of land has served as a political advantage for the state, because it enhances greater concentration of authority in the hands of the governors. A woreda (district) or an urban administration shall have the power to expropriate rural or urban landholdings for public purpose where it believes that it should be used for a better development project to be carried out by public entities, private investors, cooperative societies or other organs, or where such expropriation is decided by the appropriate higher regional or federal government organ for the same purpose (Proclamation No. 455/200558). The TPLF regime is intentionally violating the land accessibility right of rural communities of Oromia and Southern Ethiopia to achieve political goals of suppressing national struggle of colonized peoples. The regime has already institutionalized practices of human right violations through manipulation of constitution. It formulated politically motivated proclamations (1) to limit humanitarian activities of NGOs using charities proclamation and (2) to crash political opponents through manipulation of anti-terrorism  law in order to protect its monopolistic ownership of military, political, and economic powers (Mulataa, 2010b). The regime is not hesitated to practice arbitrary arrest, long detention, or extrajudicial killings of tens of thousands, and torturing peoples suspected to be supporters of opposition political organizations to sustain fears in civil societies. As society becomes more fearful, many individuals yearn for the safety and order promised by strong, controlling regime: and that the fears create conditions under which such regime gains control (Alan Hall, 2010). The regime is systematically advancing level of insecurity by aggravating poverty, expanding borders of food insecurity, manipulating conflicts, degrading safety of ecosystem, and advancing violation of human rights in order to produce the poorest of poor peoples. Thus it can easily use victims of poverty as political animal through manipulation of land use right. The regime easily regulates rural communities’ support of opposition political parties by threatening subsistence livelihoods of about 75% of 85 million populations. Therefore the rural communities are directly controlled by the regime and they cannot be free in any means to vote opposition political parties during election. They will loss land use right, if they vote for opposition.
Power of the regime is frequently dependant of external aids. During 1974 – 1991 financial, material, & technical supports of the international donor communities were channeled through political NGOs of the TPLF to areas under its control to support both military and emergency programs (Mulataa, 2010a). The aids were resulted in increase of peasant-based supports, legitimacy expansion among the civilian population, use of aid resources to support organizational structures, and quantitative capability in feeding the armies (URD, 2002). The regime received very huge sum of financial aids since 1991. It has received a sum of US $ 26 billion in development aid as of 2009 (Helen, 2010). Ethiopians remained in the most wretched poverty, despite decades of development policies (The Economist, 2007). The regime is manipulating foreign military and development aids as instrument to suppress peaceful transfer of political power since1991 through marginalization of opposition political parties. The government of Ethiopia used donor-supported programs, salaries, and training opportunities as political weapons to control the population, punish dissent, and undermine political opponents—both real and perceived, that the local officials deny these people (i.e. supporters of opposition parties) to access seeds and fertilizer, agricultural land, credit, food aid, and other resources for development (HRW, 2010). Policies of aggravating poverty through destruction of livelihood of rural communities are systematically implemented by the TPLF regime to sustain political manipulation of aids, because either emergency or development aids are political instrument of the regime to enforce political support. Increasing level of poverty is tactically increasing enforcement of peoples electing the regime. The regime is frequently manipulating food aid distribution to crash supporters of political opponents. It uses food aids as an instrument to achieve political objectives and to protect its governance powers. Land grabbing policy of the regime is systematically intended to increase size of people dependant on food aids in order to secure political support. For example: “Despite being surrounded by other communities which are well fed, a village with a population of about 1700 adults is starving. We were told that in the two weeks prior to our team’s arrival 5 adults and 10 children had died. Lying on the floor, too exhausted to stand, and flanked by her three-year-old son whose stomach is bloated by malnutrition, one woman described how her family had not eaten for four days. Another three-year-old boy lay in his grandmother’s lap, listless and barely moving as he stared into space. The grandmother said, we are just waiting on the crop, if we have one meal a day we will survive until the harvest, beyond that there is no hope for us (BBC, 2011).” The message is clear and simple. It increases climate of insecurity and fear in society that for who depend on food aids they must support the ruling party in order to survive from a threat of systematic assassination. Therefore political loyalty to the state and the ruling party (the TPLF regime) governs the very existence of rural communities of Ethiopia.” Malkamuu Jaatee and Zakaariyaas Mulataa

A final review of land grabbing policies of successive regimes of Ethiopia


Click to access A%20final%20review%20of%20land%20grabbing%20policies%20of%20successive%20regimes%20of%20Ethiopia.pdf

Ethiopia: Left to Starve – Zenawi’s Reign of Terror




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