To Hr. #Girma #Seifu Maru Ethiopia’s sole opposition MP.

In an Interview with Reuters, you claimed that EPRDF is following the China’s model in a bid to drag swathes of the Ethiopian people, many still subsistence farmers, out of poverty by 2025. You also argued saying, “the Chinese model is that economic development is the primary issue, don’t ask about human rights issues, don’t ask about your freedom, keeping silent on people’s rights so that a few politicians get the economic benefits.”

I certianly agree with you that the ruling party is following the Chinese model by priortizing economic development over democratic and human rights. However, the inference that you made about the association between economic development and democracy is so poor, which is not justified by empirical evidence. Contrary to your argument, the quest for human rights, freedom and other democratic rights come along with the economic development of a nation.

To maintain a sustainable democratic system, a nation must be developed at the bare minimum. On this, as Pears S. #Back demonstrates, history has shown us that democracy has developed only where the dangers and difficulties of human life are reduced to a certian minimum’. Consequently, under developed countries often strive to maintain a democratic system which almost all of them obtain it once their economy is developed.

Often democracy is defined as a form of government which encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. Due to its pervasive effect on the social and political conditions of a nation, it is reasonable to posit that a sustianable democratic system is the outcome of a successful economic development.

As citied by Alex de Waal (2012), Meles Zenawi doubts the relevance of liberal civil and political rights in a context of abject poverty or political chaos. Hence, he argue that development and a strong state are prerequisites for human rights, and Ethiopia need to establish these first. It is this perspective which results in the current government model in Ethiopia.

So , when a country is developed, people demands freedom in all aspects of life primarily in economic choices, social and political life. These aspirations are not compatible with governments that censor what people read and hear, that try to suppress open discussions on politically sensitive subjects, and suppress challenges from political candidates outside of the officially recognized parties.
#Meles Zenawi affirms, when the developmental state has done its job it will undermine its own social base, to be replaced by a social democratic or liberal democratic coalition. This often described by the metaphor “dying like a mute swan”.

These social, economic and cultural conditions are not given by nature but one have to NURTURE them. Development is not only about economic growth, it encompasses the enhancement in social, culural and political conditions. Thus, i posit that democracy is the outcome of a successfull development.

Rather than arguing on the model, which is well agumented by empirical evidence, as a political party, you should focus on the building a sustainable democracy. And systematically, the factor that hinders democracy in Ethiopia is not the model used but the pervasive rent seeking behavior.

The progress in building a democratic Ethiopia is significantly hampered by the pervasive rent seeking behavior which victimizes the whole social sturcture of the nation. As Habtamu Alebachew (2012) argue, Ethiopia has a different nature, operation, and manifestation due to the different social structure and the strange policies of the state that make the state at the very center of the Rent seeking regime.
(I suggest you to read the article by Habtamu Alebachew: Ethiopia’s “Rent Seeking Behavior”: Context of Sociological Perspectives).

As Meles Zenawi argue there is no sustainable democracy in a society characterized by pervasive rent seeking. He also adds that we need value creation to be dominant for there to be a foundation of democracy, for politics to be more than a zero sum game, a competition to control state rents. As Alex de Waal (2012) point out, there is a danger for the EPRDF’s model to degenerate into a set of dogmas parroted by party cadres who scarcely understood the meaning of ‘pervasive rent seeking’ but who knew the rewards of loyally following the party line.

Therefore, the pervasive rent seeking behavior is the core social, political and economic problem of the nation, and also the weak spot of the governing party, EPRDF. Hence, rather than exerting your effort in vain on whether the government model is Chinese or Belarus, you should target this issue. By that, since you address the basic social and economic problems of the nation, it will enables you to achieve a strong and sustained political support as well as broaden its support base.

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