By Ephrem Madebo
I enjoyed reading Dr. Mogus Mochena’s latest article. As I understood his article, Dr. Mogus makes a call for the formation of a new Southern Ethiopia party. According to Dr. Mogus the struggle of Southern Ethiopians goes beyond just getting rid of Meles Zenawi’s dictatorial regime. The Ethiopian South is a place where imposed culture and language was/is a substitute for local culture and language. The resourceful South is also a place that is reduced to poverty by the deliberate actions of all past Ethiopian governments. This is evil. I don’t think Mr. Begashaw, who wrote a rather insipid comment on Dr. Mogus’s article, seems to understand this overarching evil and fails to get the gist of Dr. Mogus’s article.
The concept of the ‘South’ in Dr. Mogus's article is not only geographic; it is also a political concept. In Ethiopia, the concept of North and South represents the dominator and the dominated. This is a fact. Mr. Begashaw’s fear of division among the opposition based on Dr. Mogus’s article is an irrational one that does not reflect the political reality of Ethiopia. The CUD is primarily an urban party and the UEDF is an agglomeration of parties that are primarily based out side of Ethiopia. In the midst of such configuration of opposition parties, the stubborn leaders of the SEPDC, purportedly representing Southerners, are sitting like dummies in the illegitimate parliament. As a result of these factors, a political vacuum has been created in the South and it needs to be filled and Dr. Mogus’s article addresses this vacuum.
I also find Mr. Begashaw’s call for Ethiomedia web site not to post articles which he deems "divisive" to be very disturbing. There is a wide array of views among the Ethiopian opposition and Ethiomedia is well advised to continue to accommodate them. Mr. Begashaw should be ashamed of himself when he tells Ethiomedia to act like Ethiopian Radio and Television. I thought we were struggling to have a free press. I thought some of us left Ethiopia because we couldn’t freely express ourselves. The South fears attitudes like that of Mr. Begashaw’s and that is why most Southerners feel their interests are better served if they have their own party. It is high time that Mr. Begashaw and his ilk learn to appreciate the diversity of Ethiopia and respect the desire of Ethiopians to organize in any way they wish.
What is a specific current situation in Ethiopia that warrants us not to fill a political vacuum? When is the right time to form a party? I do believe Dr. Mogus’s article initiates a dialogue among Ethiopians and contributes positively to the formation of a true democratic Ethiopia. The effort to get rid of the Meles regime and form a government of national unity should be inclusive; no individual, group of individuals, or no single party is given a sole historical task of fighting for Ethiopia. Mr. Begashaw may not like the idea of new party in the South and he should be entitled to his point of view, but he should be mature enough to recognize that there may be many others who may like the idea and want the dialogue continue. At the end of the day, it is the majority of the people in Southern Ethiopia who will decide whether or not it is a good idea to start a new Southern party at this point in time.