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Quartz Africa: Ethiopia’s humans rights problems may tank its ambition to become a global apparel center May 4, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Free development vs authoritarian model.
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Ethiopia’s humans rights problems may tank its ambition to become a global apparel center

BY Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, 4 May 2017

Ethiopia wants companies that make clothes to view it as one of the world’s most hospitable places to operate. Low employee wages and cheap power have led foreign companies to gravitate towards the Horn of Africa nation in recent years. The government recognizes the strategic importance of garment and textile making, and has continued to invest in the sector by constructing large industrial parks like the Hawassa Industrial Park.

But its land and human rights problems could jeopardize that ambition, according to a new report from risk consultancy firm Verisk Maplecroft. Protests over land reform and political participation have rocked the country since 2015, leading to the reported death of hundreds of people and the detention of tens of thousands of others.

“The sector remains exposed to a host of political, social and environmental risks,” says Emma Gordon, a senior Africa analyst with Verisk. And “many of these issues are unlikely to be resolved over the coming five to ten years.”

These concerns could affect the cotton industry, and limit the opportunity to expand sustainable production. The persistence of child labor, water pollution, the exposure of workers to harmful chemicals, and the possibility of resumption of protests also pose a threat.

Ethiopia is one several east African countries—including Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania—identified as an important center for apparel sourcing. In a 2015 survey by global management company McKinsey, Ethiopia appeared as one of the top countries worldwide where companies wanted to source their garments from in the next five years.

Retail giants such as H&M, Primark, and Tesco have sourced or established textile factories in Ethiopia to diversify from Asian markets like China and Bangladesh. The footwear industry in Ethiopia is also growing, with the Huajian Group, the Chinese manufacturer that produces Ivanka Trump’s shoe brand, talking about plans to move production to Ethiopia.

Industrial parks in Ethiopia
Industrial parks in Ethiopia (Courtesy/ Verisk Maplecroft)

These operations could be undermined by the political and social protests. The demonstrations began over plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa into neighboring towns and villages populated by members of the Oromo community—the country’s largest ethnic group. Although the Tigray-dominated government canceled the plans, protests escalated.

At the height of the protests in August and September 2016, flower farms and foreign commercial properties worth millions were burnt. The government responded by quashing the protests, shutting down the internet, and instituted a state of emergency in October that has lasted to date.

Gordon says that given that the “underlying drivers” of the protests have not been addressed, it is “highly likely that similar protests will erupt again.”

Land problems are also expected to intensify as drought ravages the country. Last week, the government announced that 7.7 million people were in need of emergency food aid. While the economy depends on agriculture, just 5% of the country’s land is irrigated, according to the United States Agency for International Development. The competition over fertile land as well as the government’s controversial plan to lease large swaths of land to foreign investors and private interests could jeopardize prospects for companies interested in doing business in Ethiopia.

“Investors are likely to become increasingly unpopular in the communities that they rely on for both their security and their workforces,” Gordon said.


 

Tyranny of Experts, illustrated August 17, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Development & Change, Economics, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Free development vs authoritarian model, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

An Africanist Perspective

More on this here, here, and here.

H/T Khadija Mohamud.

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ETHIOPIA: AUTHORITARIAN OVER SPEECH AND THE ASCENDANCE OF “DEVELOPMENT FETISHISM” May 28, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Free development vs authoritarian model.
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???????????AUTHORITARIAN OVER SPEECH

THE ASCENDANCE OF “DEVELOPMENT FETISHISM”

In its literal definition, the term development is generally understood to mean an intentionally conceived course of action that aims to realize the full potential of a given population. Though previously the notion of planned development was largely confined to communist countries, it now seems to have drawn some attention across the board.

Probably, the reason why the word has attracted attentions outside the communist block was partly due to the phenomenal success registered with US Marshal Plan and “Reverse Course” program to rehabilitate the war-torn Europe and Japan respectively in the aftermath of World War II.

Later on, several attempts have been made to replicate the success of the aforementioned planned development interventions in most developing countries after they won their political independence. Nevertheless, unlike the European and Japanese case, an all-out success with planned development in many of the developing countries, with the exception of a handful of Asian and Latin American countries, had remained until very recently quite a distant dream.

To the contrary, the net outcome of long years of planned development interventions in many of these countries for the most part ended in creating unbridgeable income gap between the rich and the poor, pervasive poverty, environmental degradation, chronic political dictatorship, civil wars, insecurity and instability.

The ever changing economic models and strategies which these countries have opted to on various occasions such as economic growth approach, centrally planned socialist economy, growth and transformation plan, structural-adjustment program, poverty alleviation program, participatory development and all that could well be symptomatic of the crisis of planned development in the past decades.

Of course, in speaking the adoption of a development model, it is worth noticing that there may be several internal and external factors that directly or indirectly impact the choice made by a given country. The competing major international ideological orientations, the fashionable development discourses, the leverage and influence of hegemonic powers, the influence of global financial and economic institutions, bilateral and multilateral diplomatic relationships between and among countries and the political and ideological orientations of the powers that be are to mention but a few.

Be that as it may, in this article I would like to argue about Ethiopia’s adoption of the ‘developmental state’ ideology that can largely be attributed to the incumbent’s political interest to mend legitimacy crisis and carry on with its repressive rule. And for this to happen it has apparently resorted to different political strategies as briefly discussed below.

Mystifying development

One of the biggest lessons learned from the failure of the first ever attempted ‘economic growth’ model that sought only to enhance the national economic wealth of the nation – GDP – was that a true and sustainable development must give due attention to all-round development which includes, among others, the economic, social, moral, intellectual and spiritual needs and demands of the larger population.

Subsequently, this has led to the new concept of an inclusive, participatory and human-centered development that has found wide currency since the 1980s. Such concepts of development also compel the need to make citizens active and conscious actors in a development process that ultimately determines their destiny.

Contrary to this, what is now transpiring in Ethiopia largely looks a full-blown psychological campaign to instill false-consciousness among the people by elevating the notion of development to a mystique and idol stature. The intention behind this clearly lies in making people unconscious and unquestioning actors who would readily submit to everything that comes in the name of development.

Consider the unrelenting media propaganda which scarcely misses mentioning development in the course of the day. Now, each and every government initiation comes wrapped with the tag of development. While a view or an action that aligns with the government would soon receive the honorific title of ‘developmental’, in contrast, any dissenting view or action would quickly be admonished as ‘anti-development’. In short, observing how the term development is used today in Ethiopia, probably one gets the impression that it might have acquired a new meaning which approximates something ‘sacred’.

Just imagine for a moment what a message of a sticker commonly put on the door of a soon-to-be-demolished shop that reads, “Sealed for Development Purpose” implicitly implies. In this connection, it is also worth to recall the occasion some years back when the top religious leaders had appeared on the public media to ‘consecrate’ the “Great Renaissance Dam” whereby they pronounced any non-consenting gesture towards the construction of the dam to be viewed as a kind of blasphemy that deserves some sort of admonition.

When people attempt to make the things that they themselves have created an object of worship, in the Marxist economic discourse, it is often said to be a form of fetishism. Thus, the unrelenting effort that the Ethiopian government has been waging supposedly to mystify and idolize the notion of development could be none other than “development fetishism”.

Development as a pretext

One major reason for instilling the attitude of “development fetishism” among the people seems to lie in the government’s ambition of attaching itself with a rather eye-catching infrastructural and building construction activities now underway in the country irrespective of its effect on the living realities of the ordinary mass and thereby portray itself as an indispensable actor without which Ethiopia’s development would be impossible to think of.

In this regard, it’s worth looking back at the circumstances that led the government to proclaim the status of ‘developmental state’ some few years back. Apparently, the government switched to the idea of ‘developmental state’ following the infamous 2005 election when it lost its credibility with the larger public. Furthermore, it was followed by the time when it kept itself busy with issuing some draconian laws. From this it follows that the declaration of ‘developmental state’ was but a tacit act of openly installing an authoritarian system.

After all, the notion of ‘developmental state’ is often associated either with those Asian countries with a communist political system or naked authoritarian regimes that have clung to power for so long, except Japan.

Evidently, all the messages and actions that now emanate from the ruling party in connection with the upcoming election also well signify how the ruling part is determined to use development as an excuse to cling to power indefinitely without any serious contender. Ironically, all this is not only against the unrelenting rhetoric of democracy and freedom but also in flagrant contradiction to the spirit of the constitution that itself has given birth to.

Fought for the sake of development or justice?

While proclaiming the status of developmental state which is in many ways repressive, the present day rulers seem to have forgotten why in the first place they had fought a bitter war against the former repressive regime, the Dergue. Surely, it was not so much for the sake of primarily economic development as it was for social justice.

As a matter of fact, development – especially that of material and physical – is just one among many other important duties and functions that a just government is required to carry out. This is not to say, however, for poor countries like ours the issue of development is not an imperative one. Yet, to promote development at the expense of justice, the rule of law, freedom and democratic rights, which in fact are crucial for sustainable development, presumably by virtue of being a ‘developmental state’ is very much unbecoming of such a sort of government.
Above all, the essence of a truly democratic government lies in its commitment to advance the freedom and democratic right as well as the welfare and security of its citizens. Indeed, the prime difference between authoritarian and democratic government rests on the fact that in the latter such great questions as development that evidently bears great stake in the life of people are to be decided not by whims and illusions of an individual or a group of tyrannical rulers but by well-informed, rational needs and demands of the larger citizens. Certainly, no thoughtful and rational government would attempt to reduce citizens to be blind worshipers of an idol that is created for political purpose. As the eminent classical sociologist Emile Durkheim had put it, “A healthy political system requires good faith and the avoidance of force and fraud. It requires, in a word, justice.”
Ed’s Note: The writer can be reached at tayesosa@yahoo.com

As Ethiopia votes, what’s ‘free and fair’ got to do with it? May 18, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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???????????Ethiopia's scores on freedom

As Ethiopia votes, what’s ‘free and fair’ got to do with it?

By Terrence Lyons, The Washington Post

Ethiopia, Washington’s security partner and Africa’s second most populous country, is scheduled to hold national elections on May 24. The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allied parties won 99.6 percent of the seats in the last round of elections in 2010. There is no doubt that the ruling party will win again.

The party has ruled since 1991 when it seized power following a prolonged civil war. It dominates all major political, economic, and social institutions, has virtually eliminated independent political space, and opposition parties are fractured and harassed. Ethiopia has jailed more journalists than any other country in Africa.

The EPRDF is an extremely strong and effective authoritarian party. Yet Wendy Sherman, the Under Secretary of Political Affairs in the Department of State, recently said, “Ethiopia is a democracy that is moving forward in an election that we expect to be free, fair and credible.” What roles do elections play in authoritarian states and what, if anything, do they have to do with “free, fair, and credible” standards?

Part of the answer is to recognize that elections and political parties in autocratic states play different roles than they do in democratic states. Electoral processes are used by authoritarian regimes to consolidate power and to demonstrate the ruling party’s dominance, as argued by scholars of comparative politics such as Schedler and Gandhi and Lust-Okar. Research by Geddes shows that single-party authoritarian regimes tend to be more stable and last longer than military or personalistic ones. Strong partiesmanage instability by encouraging intra-elite compromise, co-opting opposition, and institutionalizing incentives to reward loyalty. Elections and strong political parties thereby contribute to “authoritarian resilience,” as scholars note with reference to China, Iran and Syria, and Zimbabwe.

Non-competitive elections are common in authoritarian states and incumbents often win by incredible margins. In Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir won 94 percent of the vote in April 2015 elections, Uzbek President Islam Karimov over 90 percent in March 2015, and Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev 97 percent in April 2015. Rwandan President PaulKagame, when asked if his 93 percent landslide in 2010 represented the will of the people, reportedly answered: “So, 93 percent – I wonder why it wasn’t higher than that?” The EPRDF’s 99.6 percent victory in 2010 createdcredibility problems in North American and European capitals where diplomats often asked, “Couldn’t they have just won by 60 or 75 percent?” But the point of elections under authoritarian rule is not to obtain a working majority or to win international approval. The purpose is to dominate domestic politics completely and thereby deter any leader from thinking he or she could challenge ruling party successfully. The dramatic, overwhelming victories send an important domestic message of strength and power, even as they strain credibility abroad.

The EPRDF recognizes the dangers it faces from competitive elections and that it democratizes at its peril. In 2005 Ethiopia held competitive elections, complete with significant opposition participation, major rallies, and televised debates. According to official results, the opposition’s share of seats in parliament increased from 12 to 172, representing 31 percent of the total. The opposition parties swept all the seats in Addis Ababa and many cabinet ministers and high-ranking officials lost their positions. This shift represented the potential for an important advance in democratization and a major break in the ruling party’s domination.

Members of the opposition, however, refused to accept the results and claimed that massive fraud had denied them outright victory. Some opposition leaders boycotted the parliament. Post-election demonstrations turned violent and were brutally put down by the Ethiopian military, leaving nearly 200 dead and an estimated 30,000 arrested. The 2005 election began with a democratic opening but ended with what the Department of State characterized as the criminalization of dissent.

In the aftermath of the 2005 crisis, the EPRDF responded by demonstrating its extraordinary strength in using the levers of state power and its considerable organizational capacities to control all aspects of political life. New laws largely eliminated civil society institutions and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation has been used against journalists and other critics. Just before a visit by Secretary of State Kerry in April 2014, the regime arrested a group of young bloggers who called themselves Zone Nine and charged them with terrorism. Washington recently urged Addis Ababa “to refrain from using its Anti-Terrorism Proclamation as a mechanism to curb the free exchange of ideas.”

As a consequence of its restrictions on politics over the past decade, the ruling party has little to worry about with regard to the opposition parties competing in the upcoming elections. The limits on formal political competition have made social mobilization outside of the electoral process more important. A series of non-violent protests in 2012 by Ethiopian Muslims provided an important model of sustained, peaceful social mobilization. The regime arrested the movement’s leadership and has tried to link the protests to external enemies and terrorism. In 2014, the security services quickly suppressed demonstrations on university campuses by Oromos, highlighting the historical sense of marginalization perceived by many in Ethiopia’s single largest ethnic group. In April 2015, a government organized rally to mourn the killing of Ethiopian migrants in Libya by the Islamic State (ISIS) ended with arrests and clashes between security forces and protestors. The Ethiopian regime has managed each of these challenges without significant difficulty but the underlying grievances remain.

blob:https%3A//www.youtube.com/4b8fffcb-345b-4b23-b7b3-e2a218263c28

Editor’s Note: This video contains graphic content. Clashes broke out in Addis Ababa at a government-organized demonstration against the killing of Ethiopian Christians by Islamic State militants in Libya.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/05/18/as-ethiopia-votes-whats-free-and-fair-got-to-do-with-it/

Related: Widespread brutalities of the Ethiopian government against the Oromo people in different parts of the State of Oromia, Oromian Economists May 17, 2015 Report

Ethiopia’s poverty reduction – who benefits? February 20, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Corruption in Africa, Ethiopia the least competitive in the Global Competitiveness Index, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Free development vs authoritarian model, Uncategorized.
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OEthiopia poverty reduction

 

Tigray first

The answer is clear: it is the people of Tigray, whose party, the TPLF led the fight against the Mengistu regime and took power in 1991, who benefited most. What is also striking is that the Oromo (who are the largest ethnic group) hardly benefited at all.

This is what the World Bank says about this: “Poverty reduction has been faster in those regions in which poverty was higher and as a result the proportion of the population living beneath the national poverty line has converged to around one in 3 in all regions in 2011.”

The World Bank does little to explain just why Tigray has done (relatively) so well, but it does point to the importance of infrastructure investment and the building of roads. It also points to this fact: “Poverty rates increase by 7% with every 10 kilometers from a market town. As outlined above, farmers that are more remote are less likely to use agricultural inputs, and are less likely to see poverty reduction from the gains in agricultural growth that are made. The generally positive impact of improvements in infrastructure and access to basic services such as education complements the evidence for Ethiopia that suggests investing in roads reduces poverty.”

Not surprisingly, the TPLF under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and beyond concentrated their investment on their home region – Tigray. The results are plain to see.

martinplaut

The World Bank has just published an authoritative study of poverty reduction in Ethiopia. The fall in overall poverty has been dramatic and is to be greatly welcomed. But who has really benefited?

This is the basic finding:

In 2000 Ethiopia had one of the highest poverty rates in the world, with 56% of the population living on less than US$1.25 PPP a day. Ethiopian households experienced a decade of remarkable progress in wellbeing since then and by the start of this decade less than 30% of the population was counted as poor.

There are of course many ways of answering the question – “who benefited” – were they men or women, urban or rural people. All these approaches are valid.

The Ethnic Dimension

But in Ethiopia, where Ethic Federalism has been the primary driver of government policy one cannot ignore the ethnic dimension.

Here this graph is particularly telling:

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