More on a Riposte to Earsasu’s Gleeful libel (Dagim Dirba)
Before I continue from where I left off, it is perhaps useful to make one remark. This is to say that as much as we disagree on government policies, as Ersasu does with Redwan’s articulation of key questions in this regard , I would like to believe that all patriotic Ethiopians, Mere included, will readily close ranks when the national interest is at stake, regardless of the party in power. From this perspective, if presented with persuasive argument backed by credible source, I am confident that Erasau too will rethink his uninformed rejoinder to Redwan’s articulation of his serious concerns with the pressure that advocates of Western corporate interest and NGO lobby groups bring to bear on Ethiopia.
Take, for instance, the negative campaign being launched by International Rivers Network against the Great Renaissance Dam on spurious ground of environmental harm and mass dislocation. Witness too, Human Rights Watch’s litany of defamatory report against the GTP’s clusterization program in Gambella, which even a delegation of US congressional-aids, after an onsite visit, found no ground to credit allegations of use of force in the implementation of the program. Recall too the alarmist write-up of the International Crisis Group, warning the whole world that the death of the late prime minster would inevitably lead to violent disunity in Ethiopia.
This, needless to say, has been refuted by reality as Ethiopia remains as ever the stable country, bracing to fulfill its ambitious Growth and transformation Plan. This is not to mention the survival international which has opened a new front of defamation against Ethiopia in the southern regional state. On its part, Survival International claims to have uncovered persecution and harassment of indigenous people to make way for cotton, oil- palm and sugarcane plantations linked to the Gebe III hydroelectric dam, soon to be operational. In fact, every one of Ethiopia’s mega- projects, through which alone the country can once and for all end its humiliating dependency on foreign charity are under NGO attack.
Obviously, had Ersasu been keen on informed exchange rather than shooting from the hip, he would have been less scathing in his criticism of Redwan’s characterization of the agenda that NGOs promote in the name of human rights. For starters, these NGOs are by no means are keen or eager to see a self-sufficient Ethiopia free from reliance on Western handout. For otherwise the aid industry will cease to be a lucrative enterprise if aid- recipient countries were to achieve self-sufficiency as Ethiopia is striving to do so on all levels. Besides, the slew of benefits that accrue from the charity business is not a function of service borne out of moral commitment to the sanctity of human rights.
This may come as a surprise to Ersasu, but there is a shared ideological interest between an influential circle of policymakers and high-profile NGOs in perpetuating dependency. Let me explain. Entrenched in Neo-liberal thinking of market perfectibility, the former, for instance, are hostile to countries like Ethiopia where the state mobilizes resources for strategic mega development projects similar to those cited above. In consequence, much pressure is applied not only to discourage the Ethiopian government from such huge undertakings, but also to deregulate the finical sector and privatize its big public utility providing institutions.
Ersasu himself, I trust will agree that without the revenue that theses enterprises generate, the country could not have raised the kind of capital needed to finance the large number of state-funded medium to mega projects. Indeed, given the neo-Liberal inhibiting terms and conditions attached to the very structure of foreign-aid which places premium on privet initiative alone, the government could not have relied on external funding for its priority public development plans without which transformation is unthinkable. For Ersasu’s information, foreign aid, which he believes is being poured into Ethiopia, is skewed at best in favor of soft social infrastructure and programs designed to treat only the symptoms of indigence as opposed to its root cause. Granted Ethiopia receives aid, but not to decisive state projects, which by their sheer scale requires injection of hard currency.
That is why the Ethiopian government is determined to explore alternative sources and scaling-up its domestic resource mobilization capacity to finance its major GTP projects that play a decisive role in lifting Ethiopia from age-old penury and dependency.
Thus, Western policymakers criticize and deny funding to Ethiopia’s development path precisely because it is state driven. This in fact is not by preference per se, but by necessity. For given its size, capacity, and above all its attraction to only areas of quick return , the private sector cannot be expected, at least not at this stage, to invest in what economist refer to as public goods. Much less in the kind of huge projects that Ethiopian government has commissioned in the Plain as this fact is, yet Ethiopia had to negotiate hard with powerful financial institutions before it could proceed with the planning and implementation of its development plan with minimum negative external interference as possible.
In this regard, Ersasu would have had a better appreciation of the issue that Redwan raised in his interview had he (Ersasu) took the trouble of at least reading Stieglitz’s Globalization And Its Discontent. At any rate, on their part, NGOs take turns to decry every single of Ethiopia’s state-funded projects, though these public investments are bound to lift millions Ethiopians out of poverty. Here again Ersasu Mere overlooks the point that Redwan made vise-a-vise not only the ideological linkage, but also the institutional overlap between the public sector and the civil society, namely international NGOs, which claim to speak for the voiceless in aid-recipient countries.
In fact, alarmed by the high rate of circulation of key personnel between, particularly Human Rights Watch and US government, a group of renowned Nobel Prize laureates took it as a moral obligation to raise their voice against such practice. Ersasu would do well to review the May 12, 2014 petition that these scholars submitted warning the harm that such a revolving-door policy dose to the cause of human rights.
Obviously space does not permit to elaborate on the length that foreign-based NGOs go to harm Ethiopia largely because the governing party refuses to accept their ideologically-driven policy directives. A quick glance at their websites suffices to determine the validity of Redwan’s concern about their ulterior motives, which seem to be driven, as he pointed out, by a hidden agenda of isolating Ethiopia from the international community.
If there is a any doubt here, it should be quickly dispelled by a glimpse at the numerous letters that these NGOS write to US legislative branch, besieging lawmakers to punish Ethiopia. Hence, I believe that any constructive discussion on Ethiopia’s policies and the kind of adversity it has to contend with can only be fruitful if it is based on serious reading. There is indeed a vast academic literature that, despite claims to the contrary, bears out the soundness of Ethiopia’s development strategy, which I believe, from here on Ersasu will at least consult a few before jumping to conclusion.