In yesterday’s piece published on this page, this writer argued that ethnic and linguistic based multi-national federal system has answered the age long ‘national question’ of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. In this piece, he discusses the two opposing views on the nation’s federal system and the advantages and major challenges of the system. Excerpts:
Those who stand in favor of ethno-linguistic based federalism in Ethiopia disagree with the advocates of a unitary system by providing that, the only way out to see peaceful Ethiopia is by legitimizing ethnicity as the only valid marker for membership of a homeland regional state. “Politicized ethno-cultural communities are not new products of Ethiopian ethno-linguistic federalism. Rather, ethno-linguistic federalism is an outcome of the old mobilization and struggles of politicized ethno-cultural communities”, argues Dr. Mahari Tadele while responding to those who say that federalism is producing localized conflicts. This politicization of ethno-linguistic groups, or the ethnicisation of Ethiopian politics, he adds, is not a one-day event due to promulgation of the Federal Constitution; it is, instead, a product of Ethiopia’s long political history.
Nonetheless, what is new is that now ethnically-based political mobilization and power-sharing is constitutionally legitimized. Linguistic communities, but also are entities bearing sovereignty with constitutional standing. In a nutshell, Ethiopian ethno-linguistic federalism is a response to the “unfavorable conditions” that prevailed in a unitary system, he concludes.
The, advocates of the current federal system see ethnic based federalism as a means to strengthen unity while at the same time supporting diversity for the sake of unity. Dr. Mahari may call them [the advocates] calculative federalists.
The unitarists see the federalism as a system that is against the assimilation policy which they believe is good to strengthening the unity of the country. This line of thought is similar to the theory of cultural assimilation, which encourages the absorption of minorities into the dominant culture. It is contrary to the principle of multiculturalism which treats all to be equally flourished.
Each of these positions has legitimate concerns that demand serious consideration – but not equally. The strong position held by the unitarists is even dangerous to unity. They wrongly want us to believe them that only a unitary system will guarantee the unity of the country. But such position has led countries to fall apart. This view could lead to policy of forced assimilation and cause total disrespect to democratic rights, group injustice and huge human rights violation, including ethnic cleansing and genocide, which eventually heralds the end of the country as it was about to happen during the Derg regime.
History has convinced us that federal system, if wisely handled, is possibly the finest of all the alternatives for unity with peace and equality. Federalism, as an instrument for conflict management – a political solution to a political concern – and as a tool to contain disintegrative forces and to create balance between the forces of unity and of diversity is tested globally practically.
The special advantage of the Ethiopian federalism
What is more, unique to the Ethiopian federalism is that the (phrase/article 39) right to self-determination up to secession serves as a brake on any form of attempts by a unitarist regime towards the tyrannical and discriminatory treatment of nationalities. It is aimed at making sure that no government will be able to create a system of one ethnic-domination over others as before.
It would be politically costly for any regime that aspires to restore unitary type of system to undo the current article. More dangerously is that any attempt to undo the stated article would put the unity of the country under threat. This would eventually lead the under threat nationalities to be forced to use their constitutional right to secession. Expectedly, the various Ethiopian nationalities are guaranteed under the federal system and it could be said that the current Ethiopia formed is based on the spirit of all Ethiopians. This is called unity based on will.
Limitations of the federal arrangement
Other limitations, talked about over, are attributable to the infancy of the federal system. The main challenges of the system can best be illustrated in relation to execution, understanding, legal interpretation and other shortcomings. The inherently undemocratic culture and submissive behavior of the people inherited from past autocratic regimes could also be major obstacles.
Nonetheless, it will be a necessary that the culture of democracy should developed in all political parties – especially in EPRDF – if the federal arrangement is to work out healthy. The father of the federal system, EPRDF itself – has been one of the obstacles to the functioning of the system, knowingly or not. The organizational culture of the very party - democratic centralism and centralized party structure- undermined the federal system. Dr. Mahari rightly stated that the political constitution of EPRDF effectively antagonizes the federal system it has built.
In short, “democratic centralism is an antithesis of federalism”. For instance, state presidents are more accountable to the party than to their election constituents or parliaments. These practices are virtually seen in the last 25 years while negatively contributing to the functioning of the federal arrangement. The gradual consequence, however, can be shocking for the unity of the country, when such a strong party’s control weakens the federal government. As a result, some regional states may fall into the hands of extreme nationalist officials, distinguished scholars warned.
Scholars of federal system and concerned politicians should conduct extensive open debates and discussions on the current realities of the federal system. Thus, the public would be well aware of the system governing them. Hence, scholars, opposing politicians and the public at large should play very vital role in strengthening the federal based statehood process. Government officials must understand the shortcomings pointed out during the debate and they should lean to correct them. Hence, the role of the media in entertaining these issues is indeed vital.
I, hereby, recommend academicians, political parties and officials to hold open debate on the media regarding the disadvantage and advantage of the current federal system by taking lessons from other federal states so that they could be able to correct shortcomings and deepen good practices. Extensive trainings on the characteristics and conduct of federal system should be offered to officials at higher and medium level so that they can rightly commit to implement it as it is visible to witness officials who lack knowledge on federalism.
While addressing historical grievances that came about due to previous exclusionist regimes and rejecting any new political tendencies to bring back the old regimes of discrimination and exclusion, at the same time a lot of work has to be done in championing historical legacies that are commonly appreciated and accepted. In this regard, a deliberate policy for promoting consensus and unity in diversity around positive historical legacies has to be designed and implemented. The victory of Adwa, Ethiopia’s tolerance and long acceptance of all major religions, etc. could serve as unifying historical symbols for Ethiopia. The acknowledgement of the iconic leaders and emperors of Ethiopia would contribute much to a ‘unifying project’. Last but not least, the government should exert efforts to nurture the feeling of Ethiopian-ism among the public.
BY ZERAY HAILEMARIAM
In between reducing poverty, maintaining consistent double digit growth, improving human development indicators and conscious commitment to build democracy and good governance, Ethiopia strives to pull out over 90 million people from the quagmire of poverty and prove exemplary to other countries in at a similar level. But,the country's ambitions and goals cannot be achieved without taking into consideration the disproportionately represented group of people such as People with Disability (PWDs), who are among the country's poorest.
Due to the rise in the living standards of Ethiopians in general, the living standard of many PWDs has also improved. Unlike in the past, many parents of children with disability are now convinced and are sending their children to schools. As a result, an increasing number of people with disability are completing secondary school and even are graduating from universities. As a result many youth and adults with disability are now involved in the workforce, earning income and contributing their potential to the country’s development.
But still, PWDs have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty. This is partly because they experience barriers in accessing services that many of us have long taken for granted. The problem is attributed to the distorted and negative cultural attitudes of the society, parents and care givers as well as implementation loopholes.
Despite the high numbers of women and girls with disabilities, they are still kept in the dark and still carry the triple burden of disability,poverty and existing gender inequality. They continually live under the state of powerlessness and lack of protection, suffering under several forms of abuse at home, school, and at work settings. Thus, a full understanding of the gender dimension and its inclusion in the analysis of PWDs economic status will have considerable importance in setting program priorities. It also contributes in choosing appropriate strategies that applies to the needs and interests of the targeted group during policy interventions.
Disability does not just affect individuals, but has impacts on the whole society. The cost of excluding PWDs from taking an active part in community life often leads to losses in productivity and human potential. A person is disabled when he or she is denied the opportunities generally available in the community that are necessary for the fundamental elements of living.
As Scott Hamilton said, 'the only disability in life is a bad attitude.' Disability is part of human condition. Almost everyone can be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life. There is no guarantee. In the years ahead, disability will be an even greater global concern because its prevalence is on the rise. This is due to aging populations and the higher risk of disability in older people as well as the global increase in chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health disorders.
There is no doubt that the government is committed to address the disability issue. One only has to look at the National Plan of Action of Persons with Disabilities (NPA), that indicates the intention of the Government in assisting PWDs to become self-reliant through creating an enabling environment and participation for the betterment of their own life. It provides the most appropriate rehabilitation services that encompasses disability prevention at national level with the involvement of relevant government and non government bodies engaged in the field.
The achievement in increasing rehabilitation centers and support to PWDs is very impressive but performance evaluation reports indicate that the targeted achievements still remain way off target. While the efforts to change the situation and enhance PWDs involvement is appreciable,the need for strong enforcement, allocated budget , continued support to targeted interventions as well as scale up efforts to mainstream disability for an inclusive development is clear. Providing an opportunity for dialogue, enhancing harmonization, strengthening collaboration, and facilitating coordination of efforts to achieve more sustainable results and greater impact as well are needed.
The PWDs themselves also need to exert collective effort for protection of their constitutional rights. They have to fight to take a full advantage of the nation's growing economy by participating in social and political spheres. The public also needs to discharge its responsibility through creating national capacity that can fully address the situation of PWDs, ensuring their social needs and security.
But most of all, designing a national disability policy considering the number,specific needs and experience of PWD in line with CRPD ,which serves as a guideline to ensure disability main-streaming, must be given priority.
“ Apart from being noble and charitable deeds, donating blood is a priceless gift. It is also equivalent to giving or saving life.”
Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute General Director Dr. Kassahun Tesfaye made the aforementioned remark yesterday at a blood donation program.
The General Director also said people always offer gifts to their beloved ones and receive as well.“But the blood we donate to someone, particularly who is on his /her deathbed, will definitely bring us great satisfaction when we see the person walking and breathing again because of the blood we donated.”
As to the program, he said it was arranged as part of exercising the two core values of the institution which are enhancing integrity and creating difference.
“It’s purely the staff’s initiative to exercise integrity and create difference, we do not limit ourselves to research only, but we participate in social activities as well,” he noted.
At the event, Dr. Kassahun reiterated that using biotechnology ,the institute has been working to overcome the multidimensional challenges of the agriculture, health, industry, and environment among others,
While abundance of biodiversity, qualified human capacity, and biotechnology infrastructure are the key ingredients to succeed the nation’s as well as institution’s vision, the latter two elements are not scarce in Ethiopia, he pointed out.
Therefore, adequately building quality professionals and biotechnology labs is what the government should strive for, he suggested.
The blood donation program was organized in connection with the 1st anniversary of establishment of the institute. BY SINTAYEHU TAMIRAT
St. Paul's Hospital Millennium Medical College announced that it is putting extra efforts to enhance the existing kidney transplant service via upgrading the knowledge and skills of the professionals as well as increasing the number of Nephrology physicians.
College vice Provost Dr. Birhane Redai told Addis Zemen Daily that the college has been working in partnership with Michigan University for supply and installation of Kidney treatment equipment and technical assistance as well.
“The Michigan university has already offered scholarship to four Ethiopian physicians . They are now pursuing their studies there,” he said.
According to him , when the doctors come back home ,they will give new impetus to the Kidney transplant service .One doctor has been rendering the transplant service so far.
Since 2016, the college has carried out 40 kidney transplant surgeries for free of charges .
On the occasion ,he noted that the major problem behind dialysis treatment is shortage of medicines.
It was learnt that the college is toiling to get additional kidney medications and working in collaboration with other hospitals to render the transplant service through lending surgical equipment.
BY YOHANES JEMANEH
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Tombola Lottery sales is in full swing, said Office of National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the GERD.
The office also announced that the GERD overall construction has reached 58.4 percent and its ongoing electro-mechanical works has come to over 70 percent.
Office’s Media and Communication Directorate Director Hailu Abrham further said yesterday, Zablon Trading PLC bought bonds and tombola lottery worth one million Birr and 255, 000 Birr respectively.
The Ethiopian Tour Agencies Association also donated 100,000 Birr to GERD. On the occasion association board member Worku Yitayew said: “We are glad to see the construction of such mega project by ourselves. As we have a great sense of ownership for the project, we will keep on extending moral and financial support to GERD,” he said.
Meanwhile , the Ethiopian Press Agency bought GERD Tombola Lottery worth 11,775 Birr. Representing the agency ,Fekadu Ketma said: “We have been playing major roles in the office's fund raising and public mobilization activities through our publications.”
According to him, the agency would actively involve in mass mobilization and other activities until the construction of the dam comes to end.
Likewise , Public Service Social Security Agency workers have bought a total of 30,225 Birr tombola lottery for the same purpose.
The tombola lottery will be drawn on June 7, 2017.
BY ALAZAR SHIFERAW
States' spending demand, revenue potential indicator
- Harmonizing measures
The 94.92 billion Birr States' annual spending demands exceeds their overall revenue potentials which stands currently at 15. 89 billion Birr marking a 79.03-Billion Birr deficit, shows a report of House of Federation.
House's recently passed federal subsidy formula indicates that state tax collections from various sources including income, incomes of private farmers and farmers incorporated in cooperative associations, land usufructary rights, profit and sales, turn over, VAT covers 90 percent of their tax revenue.
Grant Budget, Shared Revenue and Balanced State Development Standing Committee Secretary Hailu Yifa told Addis Zemen that the formula has been prepared considering states' spending demands and revenue potentials. The federal government levy taxes and collects revenues from major revenue sources reserved to it by law, he said, revealing that states' ever increasing service delivery is causing a spike in their spending demands. Thus, he said the federal government makes up the deficit.
For Solomon Gebreyohannes, Mekele University Political Science and Strategic Studies instructor, the deficit could be ascribed to states' constraints in establishing efficient tax collection system which discourages tax evasion, limitations in terms of planning in compliance with their budgetary capacity and states' inability in fully tapping the manufacturing sector.
Mekele University Asst. Prof. Meresa Tsegaye on the other hand argued that the deficit is emanated from the national ambition of poverty reduction and fast tracking growth efforts which received priority both from federal and state governments. According to him, the former toils to achieve mega the project undertakings while the latter endeavors to devise own development capacities.
However, he said the revenue potential and base varies from one state to another. This also explains the demand and revenue potential gap, he added.
Meressa also said states' institutional limitation in exhausting their tax collection and the increasing demand also widens the rift.
Another factor which may hamper states' revenue collection is their dependency on the federal government, hinted Meressa.
He, therefore, suggested the critical importance of finding more revenue sources that meet the demands of the growing number of their populations. “Ensuring modern tax collection systems, broadening the tax base which currently rests on some voluntary parts of the society and public servants, raising the attitudes of tax payers, building states' capacity of undertaking mega projects, and diversifying investments are important measures which boost states' revenue potentials, he added.
According to him, states should build capacities of undertaking mega projects.
For this to happen, he argued that subsidizing states on account of their performances would help them build better capacities. The subsidies need to be directed to support development projects, Meressa stressed.
Hailu also seconded the remark, and added that more researches should be conducted to fill the gaps.
Strengthening the implementation of reforms, drawing lessons from advanced countries, adapting modern technologies, promoting investment and ensuring efficient budgetary use are another mechanisms to boost states’ revenue earning capacity, Hailu pointed out.
Solomon who also regards the solutions forwarded above went on to say that ensuring fair business competition and immunizing the export and import trade from the hands of few oligarchies and encouraging states’ to take part in this sector could help increase their earnings.
According to him, decentralizing federal institutions - headquartered in Addis - except those rendering international and security services, is also another way out of the deficit.
Sino-Ethiopian partnership exalted to a spectacular stage in the last twenty six years with a current 6.37 billion USD trade exchange, 3.86 million USD investment inflow, and development cooperation in a number of social and economic infrastructure, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ministry Spokesperson Meles Alem told The Ethiopian Herald that as a result of the intensified Ethio-China bi-lateral relations over the last two decades, the trade exchange between the two countries is now growing with a rate of 22.2 percent annually.
The trade balance between the two nations is inclined to the advantage of China, said Meles, adding that with series of efforts to modify the trend, Ethiopia's manufacturing output in leather, natural mucilage, and oil seeds, are getting increased market demands in China.
Meles also said: “Chinese investors in Ethiopia have dispensed in a total of 624 projects with a total investment of nearly four billion USD, securing employment opportunities for 57,555 permanent and 53,669 temporary employees.
Partnership between the two countries is also strong in the field of development cooperation, according to the Spokesperson. This is highly beefed-up due to the ever growing Chinese economy, allowing the nation to increase its capacity in providing loans. Accordingly, beyond the provision of aid, China is now capable of providing concessional and non-concessional loans which Ethiopia is also taking advantage of, Meles said.
Ethiopia has become a member of Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which coincided with the recent visit of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn to China, which ensures an alternative funding source for Ethiopia pursuant to its infrastructural development projects. The bank was established in 2012 by China and other Asian countries.
According to Meles, it was possible to convince Chinese mega companies to tune their investments to Ethiopia through face to face forums channeled for 17 Anchor Investors in Shandong, Fujian, Hunan, and Sichuan states of China.
Moreover, discussion was held with representatives of Chinese textile and apparel industry associations, leather industry associations and other 35 company representatives, added Meles.
According to a journal published recently, more Chinese investments are making their way to Ethiopia and this has significantly impacted the country. The journal claims that as Chinese investments in Ethiopia are concentrated in infrastructure and in the manufacturing sector, they are expected to play a transformative role and give rise to a “win-win” outcome.
It further says: “China has certainly played a useful role in Ethiopia by setting up industrial zones, financing infrastructure, and encouraging Chinese firms to move some manufacturing production to Africa, thus contributing to the industrialization process [of the nation].”
Ethiopia and China enjoy a flourishing historical bilateral relations that goes back to 1970, which now is hitting a raised prominent partnership bar.
BY HOMA MULISA