The combination of political commitment on the part of the government and the inception of a demanding public partially explain the state of affairs in the current political system of Ethiopia.
Over the last several decades, the social consciousness of the Ethiopian public has undergone a considerable change. The Ethiopian societies no more pause as passive, inert or indifferent onlookers to issues that concern their daily livelihood. This in itself is a step in the right direction for the development of democratic order in the country and the creation of a single socio-political system.
As the New Year is approaching, the public and the government need to effectively close the gap that has been created due to the disruptive activities of narrow nationalists, chauvinists, rent seekers and corrupt officials who are suspected of robbing public coffers in the most cunning manner.
This is a country that is striving to escape the shackles of poverty by mobilizing its human and natural resources and the country needs every coin it can spare in this protracted battle. However, public fund that is obtained through rough negotiations and hard work is being embezzled by corrupt officials. Constructing a square meter of asphalt road requires an average of millions of Birr but how can this proceed when public fund is being put in a bucket with no bottom? The government needs to take continuous, meaningful and measurable actions to win a wider public trust by wiping out corrupt officials from its rank and file.
There are good beginnings but as corruption is comfortably entrenched in the entire echelons of the political system, the government should closely work with the public to put before the courts of law all persons who are suspected of theft, bribery, nepotism, money laundering, production of counterfeit academic credential and, false business documents.
While self styled tax evaders still persist in the country, the wider public in the business are filing complaints that the government is effectively addressing. This is already helping to create mutual confidence between the government and the public. The government should in practice prove itself to be the people’s government.
Recent events clearly show that forces that are against the development of this country watch on every opportunity they can exploit to discredit the gains so far made to tarnish the good image the country is already depicting. Every Ethiopian here and abroad has a single country of origin. Governments may make mistakes that it needs to rectify as contract workers of the public.
Public property is the property of all Ethiopians. No generation, including the present one is entitled to tamper with public property, finance and historical heritages the country uses to give better life for the present and future generation.
The government has invested huge amount of fund into the construction of railway lines, roads and other infrastructural facilities for public use. Tampering with public amenities like traffic lights, retention walls, public trash collection bins, telephone line accessories, and traffic signs has almost become a daily event both in the capital city and regional town. Some of these materials are purchased with hard currencies incurring a huge amount of loss on public property. In the coming new year let us hope that such careless destructive activities would subside.
While we expect that the government keep up to its job description, the public has huge amount of responsibilities to shoulder in taking care and protecting public utilities and properties including infrastructures built for public use.
Ethiopia is already engaged in developing climate resilient green economy that results of which are gradually paying off. Over 30 million Ethiopian converge over rugged areas and degraded highlands to recover the original forest resources in the country.
However, residents of the urban areas of the country including the capital city Addis Ababa are not doing enough to keep their respective towns clean and green. Despite the efforts made by the efforts of the municipalities in various urban centers of the country, most of these cities are still handling their sewage disposals and dry trashes in a haphazard manner. Unless the public pays its role in keeping the cities and town clean and green, it would be difficult to ensure the health of the residents of these towns and cities.
Every year, the government allocates budgets required for ensuring the uninterrupted development of the country but apart from regular annual audit that is conducted by federal and regional audit offices, the public is denied any chance on monitoring and evaluating on how the budget earmarked for government ministries, commissions and agencies is being utilized.
There is no national mechanism in which the taxpaying public is informed about what has been done with the tax fund they have expended for the development programs of these countries. Some sub cities in Addis Ababa post the budget that is allocated for their operation but the public in these sub cities remain in darkness on what has been done with the budget allocated. This clearly shows the importance of organizing periodic public hearings at all levels and let the public evaluate the activities of the executive sector of the government.
Ascertaining the national security and peace of the nation as a major prerequisite for continuous growth and development of the national economy of this country is a critical area in which both the executive branch of government and the public should cooperate. While the government is entrusted with ensuring sustained public peace and security of the country and its citizens, citizens are also legally obliged to contribute their part is maintaining the sovereignty of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia as provided in the constitution.
The collective responsibility and mutual cooperation between the government and the public also encompasses another important sector. Education and quality education in particular is another critical area for the development of this country. The public need to have voice in maintaining quality education by mobilizing parents and guardians of students to effectively follow up on the daily academic performance of each student. Special consideration should also be given by the public in supporting girls and disabled students so that they can cultivate their potentials to become experts and innovators in their future educational endeavors.
Producing responsible and well disciplined youth is not a task to be left only to the responsible government sectors. The public has a huge responsibility in supporting, mentoring and disciplining the youth so that they can shape up their own visions and goals in consonance with the development needs of the nation.
The year 2010 (E.C) should be a year of leap forward in the rapprochement and cooperation between the government and the entire citizens. There needs to be a practical reciprocity between the needs, interests and values of the public with planned activities of the government. It could be hoped that the year at the corner could be a year of uplifting the nation’s vision and goals to become a middle level developed country in the forthcoming years.
BY SOLOMON DIBABA