Leader comes and goes but why?

Leader comes and goes but why?

Zeru Hagos 06/24/09

Why are leaders replaced? Take for example PM Meles. Yes PM Meles has been the top leader for his organization for a while now. But, during his time EPRDF has been transformed from a well oiled fighting machine to a formidable organization that won three successive elections. Under EPRDF Ethiopia has become truly a developing country and an aspiring democratic country! Yet, more is to come and more than ever a strong progressive and articulate leadership is needed. Who ever holds a majority seat in parliament in the coming election the next government will have a daunting task to navigate the country from becoming victim of the economic turmoil the world is in today to a proactive one. And if EPRDF becomes the majority seat holder who is there to lead than PM Meles and his team who have showed resilience and true statesmanship to garner world praise! So why change?

The next government will have a daunting task to manage the turmoil that is engulfing the Horn region from Eritrea to Somalia. The Sudanese referendum that will surely split the country in to north south will certainly require an adept government in Ethiopia to manage the dicey situation there. And the biggest challenge of all, for the coming government will be to earn respect from all EPRDF member organizations in order to pass legislation. It is clear that the parliament is becoming more vibrant and may not tip toe to party disciplines when issues come to the floor. Take the current uproar with the Amhara delegation about the population census! The Census bureau has to visit its counting procedures to find any weakness simply because Amhara MPs who are EPRDF members did not like the result.

If EPRDF chooses a new leader out of the non veteran EPRDF circle, who ever he/she may be will have a daunting task to convince the old guards in each front for their support. I see an erosion of camaraderie if the new leader is a former Derge functionary! For such person to take power at the top while long time EPRDF members who gave it their all are side tracked, is simply an additional burden EPRDF can do without. Thus, why would EPRDF want to change leadership at the top today? And why is Ethiopia’s constitution under pressure from Westerners who want to see leadership change to mirror their way of government?

If leadership change is a must no matter what the situation is then why did EPRDF fail to adopt such language in its internal rule and the country’s constitution for this long? Who really benefits a leadership change today? Not tomorrow but today? Tomorrow I agree there must be for no one is immortal!

Would EPRDFites be happy to see Meles and his government replaced? Would anyone be pleased to see Meles alone go and everybody else remain as is…if so what has Meles done for such treatment? Would a new prime minster solve any issue if he is to continue PM Meles government policy as is? If not which policy do we expect the new prime minister to change? Why can’t Meles continue if no policy change is needed? These are questions I have but I am sure there are more.

I personally think PM Meles, unless his medical condition is forcing him to take it easy, like a good soldier that never says I am tired, must continue for another term or at the very least serve a transitional two to three year time so the new leader is not overwhelmed before he /she gets in to the office. That way Ethiopia’s enemy from far and near will know for the next few years things will remain the same. The huge economic infrastructure development and the Sudanese referendum will be over by then and hopefully there will also be a closure with the Somalia and Eritrean issue.

Some say Ethiopia is ready for an Afar, Oromo, Somali and e.t.c prime minister! Ethiopia has been ready for any competent and pragmatist and farsighted leader since God knows when! There was no tomorrow set aside for an Oromo prime minister by the Ethiopian people. Only a dysfunctional opposition and a confused, “aderby” supporters of EPRDF will advocate for such today! The notion that a prime minister who is an Oromo or a Wolayita or Sidama or an Amhara will solve the perception of TPLF dominance is a false one! The perception is simply created by the opposition to break down the EPRDF! Otherwise an opposition that never recognizes OPDO, ANDM and SEPDM as an organization cannot be interested to see a prime minister out of them! EPRDF should choose its next leaders regardless of race creed and religion!

If a new prime minister or an EPRDF leader is to emerge it should be done based on merits and after a genuine discussion. The discussion should be on what is good for EPRDF and the country not what is good for foreign agents! The merits should be valued against tenacity during trying moments, farsightedness and awareness of geo politics! Above all the new leader should be one who has earned great respect among rank and file members of the EPRDF. For the road ahead is still bumpy and when push comes to shove these rank and file members will come handy! No one certainly wants Kinjit type experience when tough times come! Kinjit leaders and supporters run tail behind to Washington DC leaving behind the country and innocent followers cold dry! Can you imagine a weak and unpopular leader leading the country during events like election 2005 aftermath!

Our Ethiopia needs a stable and progressive government, we should tell Westerners we really are ahead of schedule to become like them considering it took them 200 years to be where they are! After all it took them 200 years to be where they are and still their democratic aspiration is still in progress like ours is!

So why would EPRDF replace Meles today? Do they [EPRDF] not see the situation Ethiopia is in today?

Meles for Mo Ibrahim Prize: The Prize for Achievement in African Leadership1

Meles for Mo Ibrahim Prize: The Prize for Achievement in African Leadership1

(First appeared in December 2006 and updated June 23,2009)

By: Mulu GS


Mr. Zena Marcos, I argue that PM Meles Zenawi is not a liability to EPRDF. From my perspective, he is rather the best asset. However, now that he has repeatedly hinted to relieve himself from the daunting job of premiership it is important that we rationally support him to bid for Mo Ibrahim Prize. It could be an impetus for positive thinking and for reassessing his future role in the political development of Ethiopia. The main aim of this article is not to debate with Zena, it is rather to open an intellectual debate on this issue of stepping down from a government position. For starters though, I argue that he qualifies for the prize. I will forward my points for why I believe he deserves it, but first the major points in the prize:

i. It gives a total of $5m prize for Africa's most effective head of state- award winning leaders $5m (£2.7m) over 10 years when they leave office, plus $200,000 (£107,000) a year for life.

ii. The main objective is to remove corruption and improve governance.

iii. It involves one of the best universities in the world -Harvard University will assess how well the president has served his or her people while in office.

iv. It is supported by the world’s best people ever- Nelson Mandela, former US President Bill Clinton and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Now back to my arguments. The gist of my argument is that Meles deserves to work towards getting the Mo Leadership Prize by the end of his term given he transfers power peacefully. As we all do, whenever there is a prize announcement in academic competition or any other competition we try our best to win. We write our applications and essentially nominate our selves and present our work to achieve it. It is not any different here. If the bylaws of the Prize are to nominate oneself by writing an application statement then he should do it. If it is by third party nomination, then we should support his nomination.

Why does Meles deserve this prize? I will give a few highlights that I think are sufficient to demonstrate why he deserves this prize. First and foremost, he is one of the very few leaders in the world who has successfully transformed himself from a second year medical student to a fighter, commander/leader, head of state, economist and intellectual, and from a communist to an architect of developmental state. He has passed through challenges-jungle life, within party fights (the 1984 and the 2000) and the recent election fights with people who have grave hate towards him and his people. Shortly, he is tested!

On the other hand he is a very disciplined man. He values family- sticking to his “amin” first wife and is a family man. He has been seen accompanying his daughter to a high school graduation despite the hectic nature of being head of government. He has made conversations and letter exchanges with school children at several levels. These are characters that everyone envies. After all, we all know how much key role this type of character plays in the USA elections.

He also has other qualities. As far as my knowledge is concerned he is the only leader in the history of Ethiopia who fluently speaks English, Amharic, and Tigrigna. He probably is the only leader who has achieved the highest ladders of education while in office. If the recent news is true he might get a PhD very soon. That would probably make him the first leader to achieve a PhD while in office. He has demonstrated to friends and foe how brilliant he is in articulating the issues that are fundamental for economic development o African countries. His nomination to the Blair African Commission, His recent role in the China-Africa partnership, his recent invited speech in the EU development conference, the prizes and honorary doctorates he has been getting, the recent invited speech at the G20 summit and the invitation to the forthcoming G8 meeting clearly show the high regard he is winning from the international community. He has had a key role in influencing the World Bank and IMF aid policy for the Third World countries. His recent manuscript on the developmental state is, simply put, a great addition to the debate on the possible strategic solutions to the problems of developing countries (especially Africa). What makes it more interesting is that his background is from the poor like one of us.

I am not ignoring the fact that there are those who would like us to believe that he is a monster. There are those who accuse him for every single bad that has happened during his reign. Some called him Grazianni, some Hitler, some worse than Mengistu. And there are some moderate critics who do not like his style of communicating his goodwill to the Ethiopian people and who think he is arrogant. However, history tells us that nobody even Jesus Christ, would pass from this kind of labeling and bashing. I am not saying that he did not make mistakes, probably a lot, but that is part of what being human is. I wonder how many people would volunteer to be leaders of this very poor country and be able to surpass the infinite expectation of Ethiopians of all walks of life.

Some of the shortcomings that I share with my fellow Ethiopians have to do with EPRDF’s handling of the Eritrean issue (I am not against the principle of self determination enshrined in the constitution). My problems are mainly with the fact that why Meles and other leaders of EPRDF were not forthcoming in explaining the rationale for their handling of Eritreans and the Eritrean issue. The monstrosity of the Eritrean regime towards Ethiopians and especially Tigrayans starts from the road blocking of relief food by Shabia during the 84 famine which for any sane person is unforgettable and intolerable. In fact, I do not forget how Meles in his own words described this horrendous event in one of the Yekatit 11 anniversary speeches. Add to this all that happened to Ethiopians who lived in Eritrea which is opposite to what the Eritrean on the Ethiopian side have been enjoying. I am still waiting to hear any justification for this. Frankly, he does not take all the responsibility but as a leader he gets a fair share of the blame.

The debate on whether Meles should stay beyond his current term or not has been in both directions. There are those who nicely argued that having Meles Zenawi stay for one or more terms can be advantageous. For instance, Getachew Mequannent3 gives three reasons, which all make sense (1) he has increasingly become self-conscious of his reputation and this means that he will be pushing ahead with policy reforms and the democratization process, (2) he has spent years learning and accumulating political and diplomatic experiences, which are assets and (3) he has a natural ability for sharp articulation of development issues and this will promote a good image of Ethiopia. Getachew argues that in many cases what matters in politics is not a change of leadership, but a commitment to working towards reducing poverty which Meles has been doing. There are also others who have beautifully argued otherwise. For instance, Mekonnen Kassa4 argues that by peacefully transferring power Meles can leave behind a great Ethiopian legacy for the first time in thousands of years of our existence. Similarly, Belihu Aychilim argued that, “even for those who support most ideas behind the present government, the devolving of power from Meles to another fresh blood is a matter of credibility and renewal of commitment to the EPRDF. It is important to be assured that EPRDF could handle change and continuity without having to narrowly rely on a single individual and clique. Meles should take the road less traveled - which is always the difficult path.”

I do like both sides of the debate and frankly I am torn in between. However, if he has enough of public service, the key to be eligible to the Mo Prize is going to be the peaceful transfer of power to his successor. And I pray to God to help him in this respect.

1 http://www.moibrahimfoundation.org/mif_prize.html

2 http://www.aigaforum.com/Commentary_on_should_PM_Meles.htm

3 http://www.aigaforum.com/Reflection_on_Meles_Zenawi_s_Possible_Retirement.htm

4 http://www.aigaforum.com/Meles_comment.pdf

Multiple Crises Affecting Development

By:-Eyasu Solomon

The ongoing global financial and economic crisis has the potential to usher in a period of a global recession that may seriously undermine all countries’ process of economic growth and transformation, and also jeopardize efforts to widen economic and social opportunities and improve the livelihoods of ordinary people everywhere. In particular, the crisis may put a brake on and also reverse efforts in developing countries and by the international community to assure development gains from trade, promoting achievement of internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The crisis has triggered a slowdown in global economic growth that is manifesting itself in a demand-driven fall in international trade exacerbated by the deficit of
credit and trade finance; falling commodity prices; declining remittances; contracting foreign direct investment (FDI); and the potential of declining official development assistance (ODA). These effects have been superimposed onto the ongoing global food crisis, volatile energy prices, and climate change challenges. The aggregate impact is such that most developing countries are being heavily hurt through declining exports, rising unemployment, and thus falling family incomes, bringing millions of people back into poverty or aggravating the conditions of those in extreme poverty. This has given rise to the most significant challenge facing the global community today – how to focus on buttressing development and poverty-reduction efforts globally and in developing countries, and on setting in place the conditions that will avert future crises and facilitate a sustainable process of economic transformation for all countries.
By virtue of globalization, the moment the financial crisis hit the real economy and became a global economic crisis, it was rapidly transmitted to many developing countries through a contraction in trade finance and a slowdown in demand affecting bilateral trade flows. These transmission channels were particularly visible in sectors composed of global production and supply chains.
As most developing countries are heavily dependent on developed country markets, the slump in demand from latter due to the crisis has had an adverse impact on the former.
The world economy is currently facing a severe global crisis that spilled from financial sector to the real economy in the last quarter of 2008, leading to steep falls in industrial production and a rapid decrease in international trade, and to a slowdown in foreign direct investments and potentially in development assistance. The crisis has brought about a slump in economic growth in most countries, and has been accompanied globally by increases in unemployment. The current global crisis – preceded by the food crisis, volatile energy prices and climate change challenge – is a major blow to attaining the MDGs for developing countries. Addressing the dampening impact of the crisis on international trade and investment to restore growth, and reviewing development policies and partnerships to create sustainable practices and greater resilience to future shocks, must be key priorities in the multilateral agenda.
Most developing countries are now closely linked with the global economy by trade and foreign direct investment flows, and their economies are more sensitive to falling international demand (and
conversely to expanding demand). The degree of exposure and integration of developing countries’ economies to external markets has greatly increased in recent years. Developing countries’ exports on average accounted for more than half of their gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007, up from about a quarter of GDP in 1995.
The ongoing reduction of trade and investment flows is starting to restrain the development prospects of developing countries. They are currently seriously hurt through falling commodity prices, demand driven drops in exports exacerbated by the deficit of credit and trade finance, capital outflows, declining remittances, and contracting investment. The prospects are more dire for export-oriented developing countries, especially those with a small domestic economy, where the reduction in international demand is more likely to raise unemployment. In some developing countries, workers are shifting out of dynamic export-oriented sectors into lower-productivity activities. Potentially, all these effects could bring millions of people back into poverty.
The decrease in merchandise trade appears to be affecting all developing regions and most types of goods. Moreover, South–South trade, which has been the most dynamic component of world trade for over a decade, is declining too, especially intra-Asian trade. The quick contraction of developing countries’ manufacturing trade is largely due to today’s highly globalized production and marketing schemes. Among the most affected sectors are automotive products, office and telecommunications equipment, and electronics, as well as textiles and clothing.
Many commodity exporters, particularly those in West Asia, Africa, and countries with economies in transition that benefited from the commodity price boom with considerable terms-of-trade gains, are now facing the downside of their commodity dependence, manifested in a substantial shrinking of export revenues. More than 90 developing countries earn at least 50 per cent of their exports from commodities (47 of them being non-fuel commodity exporters). Most developing countries are now closely linked to the global economy by trade and FDI flows. As a consequence of the crisis, the significant reduction of these flows is starting to restrain their development perspectives. Developing countries are currently seriously hurt through falling commodity prices, demand driven drops in exports exacerbated by the deficit of credit and trade finance, capital outflows, declining remittances, and contracting investment. The prospects are more dire for export-oriented developing countries, especially those with a small domestic economy, where the reduction in international demand is more likely to curtail their exports and raise unemployment. As observed in some developing countries, workers are increasingly shifting out of dynamic export oriented sectors into lower-productivity activities (and moving out of urban areas back into rural areas).
UNCTAD currently estimates world merchandise trade to fall between 6 and 8 per cent in 2009. Exports from developing countries and countries with economies in transition could potentially decline in the range of 7 to 9 per cent in volume, in 2009. Developed countries’ exports are projected to decline by up to 8 per cent this year. The trade contraction in value would be much greater.
The crisis is also spreading to trade in services and to service sectors in general. Maritime transport is particularly affected, as are tourism and construction services. There is also a growing reduction in the employment levels of migrant workers from developing countries. This is expected to lead to a further fall in remittance inflows to developing countries, which began to slow down in 2008. Conversely, trade in ICT-enabled services appears to be less influenced by the economic downturn, as companies see the offshoring of services as one method of enhancing their competitiveness.
The crisis has translated into a sharp decline in FDI inflows, both for developed and developing countries. UNCTAD estimates that global FDI inflows declined by 15 per cent in 2008. An outright decline in FDI inflows to developing countries is very likely in 2009. FDI flows to financial services, automotive industries, building materials, intermediate goods and some consumption goods are among the most significantly affected, but so is FDI into activities ranging from the primary sector to non financial services. FDI outflows from the South are also set to slow down, but to a lesser degree than those from the North. Thus the share of developing countries in global FDI outflows continues to rise, highlighting an increasing presence of transnational corporations (TNCs) from the South.
Multilateral policy responses are required to achieve a sustained global economic recovery. These need to address developing countries’ concerns and enable them to continue to grow through trade, investment, remittances, aid, and technological innovation. Strategic intervention by governments is also required to provide new directions in order to achieve the United Nations MDGs.
At the international level, restoring trade finance and mitigating the risk of increased protectionism are immediate challenges. Concluding the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round on balanced and pro-development terms will help, as well as harvesting some of the key development deliverables such duty-free and quota-free treatment for least developed countries (LDCs). Maintaining and increasing ODA, including through aid for trade, will be important too, especially to build and strengthen productive capacities of developing countries, and related trade-efficiency and facilitation infrastructure.
At the interregional and regional levels, expanding and diversifying South–South cooperation is a viable solution to support and to increase developing countries’ trade and investment performance.
The crisis offers opportunities for strengthening South–South trade and investment linkages, including through reshaping the existing production supply chains (and creating more regional demand).
Available policy instruments such as the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP) and more comprehensive and effective regional trade and investment agreements should be consolidated and enhanced.
At the national level, the crisis has made it timely to review development strategies so as to make them more sustainable against future external shocks, focused on delivering broad-based and inclusive development, and responsive to the imperatives of preserving the environment, while also providing new economic opportunities. Developing countries need to continue to address income inequality and to invest more in education, training, trade-adjustment assistance, health care, community development and tax policy. The role of the state in promoting development has increased in light of the crisis, and there is a need to reflect on how this role can be effectively articulated.
A major challenge for developing countries is to continue to attract foreign investment during the crisis to stimulate economic activities, especially for such investment that serves long-term development goals and enhances competitiveness. Public investment programmes can help. Public–private partnerships are also important. Bilateral and regional investment agreements can encourage FDI. However, national efforts to maintain and attract foreign investment must not result in “race to the bottom” policies.
The United Nations – and in particular UNCTAD – has a special role to play in monitoring the impact of the crisis on trade and development, suggesting coping policies and measures, and building a new consensus on sound and suitable strategies at the national, regional and global level. Given the global span of the crisis, inter-agency collaboration will be crucial.
These impacts are being combined with the effects of the ongoing food crisis, volatile energy prices, and the climate change challenge
1). Many
developing countries are also dependent on ODA, which may shrink during the crisis. Potentially, the aggregate of all these effects could bring millions of people back into poverty,2 and worsen the conditions of those presently living in extreme poverty. This threatens to stall and reverse many years of efforts to achieve internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs.
The global crisis and its lessons will be subject to extensive in-depth analyses as it progresses. There are many challenges to be addressed, but there are also policy areas which countries can develop – nationally and globally – to sustain trade and development. One challenge is to analyse specific development implications of the crisis, and suggest policy proposals to cope with its detrimental impacts in the short term and rethink development policy for the medium-to-long term. Significantly, signs are emerging of fundamental shifts in the way market economies operate and in the role of governments in economic activities. The crisis affecting development may require rethinking of the whole economic and social paradigm that has prevailed over the last decades and has nurtured the process of liberalization and globalization. It may involve the articulation of ideas on trade and trade-related policies and sectors that have shown some resilience to the crises and can serve as a bulwark on which to restore confidence, build recovery and foster inclusive development. For the moment, however, it is still too early to assess the real depth of the crisis and its likely duration, and also the effectiveness of the mitigating measures being undertaken by various governments.
Countries are responding to the global crisis. At the national level, some countries, both developed and developing, have undertaken national stimulus packages to mitigate the detrimental impact, especially by providing credit, supporting affected domestic industries, and promoting jobs. At the level of the G20, leaders of the G20 countries met in London in April 2009 and pledged to undertake and promote measures to restore credit, growth and jobs in the world economy. At the global level, the United Nations General Assembly has agreed to convene “a United Nations conference at the highest level on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development” from 1 to 3 June 2009. This provides an opportunity for the United Nations as a whole to reflect on the causes of the crisis, assess the impacts on all countries, and suggest adequate responses to avoid a recurrence of the crisis and to restore global economic stability. The preparatory process and the conference will draw upon the report of the Commission of Experts of the President of the General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System. These, and other initiatives, are indicative of the commitment of countries and the international community to comprehensively addressing the crisis and preventing it from ushering in a sustained period of global recession.