The irksome issue of land to the tiller dismantling TPLF

By Robele Ababya / May 16, 2010
This piece is meant mainly for the young generation born the 1960s and growing to adulthood in the aftermath of the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974 who now carry the burden of the political chaos created by my generation.

The demand by students and the intelligentsia centered on “land to the tiller” rocked the foundation of the Imperial regime and eventually led to its downfall. That was because the Monarch failed to implement his own declaration entitling private land distribution to Ethiopian citizens. His Majesty’s Parliament in its wee hours of the death of the regime was debating a bill about legalizing a landlord-tenant agreement whereby arbitrary eviction of the tenant by the landlord would be curtailed. They failed to read the signs on the wall. The tsunami of public anger erupted and swept them all from power.

The patriarch of the Derg regime, Mengistu Hailemariam issued a Proclamation entitling ten (10) hectares of private ownership of farmland to the peasant. The Proclamation was never implemented choosing instead to adopt the USSR system of collective (Kolhoz) farming and state (Selhoz) farming policy which as we all knows turned the USSR from grain exporters to importers.

Mengistu’s rationale was his fear that private farmland ownership will turn the farmers into not-so-easy to govern multitude of minor capitalists. His myopic views coupled with his ignorance with Marxist ideology led to his disgraceful fleeing from the country leaving in tatters the command structure of his huge army. Too bad the coward Mengistu ignored the advice of even the Kremlin to revisit his policy in favor of mixed economy.

Ironically, Tyrant Meles inherited the policy of coward Mengistu whom he replaced by force. Now the peasant is a tenant at the mercy of the brutal regime. The regime is the sole landlord secretly ceding land to the Sudan, leasing fertile farm lands to unscrupulous foreign investors. So the agricultural sector today is too weak to provide food for the rising population of Ethiopia let alone feed the industrial sector of the national economy.

The land policy of the Meles regime is centered on collective (Kolhoz) farming – same as that of the defunct USSR. Signs are all too clear that the heydays of the totalitarian regime of TPLF are on the verge of seeing sunshine again. The Ethiopian population is growing; cost of living is skyrocketing; the masses are complaining. This is surely a bad omen of inevitable fall of the TPLF party sooner than later. History is repeating itself. The irksome issue of land to the tiller is rearing its head to dismantle the TPLF regime.

Those of us who have this chance of blogging to the websites were educated at the expense of the peasant. Our conscience should dictate that we have a heavy debt to pay to the peasant. There is need to support wholeheartedly our colleagues at home struggling to free the peasant-prisoners from bondage in the serfdom of the minority regime ruling by the gun without popular support.

Succeeding regimes since 1974 condemned their predecessors but the peasants got nothing out of their slogan but misery. As a frustrated wise Ethiopian is reported to have said, God save us from the slogan” Down with the peasants” coming from the admitted failure of the agricultural policies of TPLF to shift the blame to low level of productivity of the peasants.

Medrek and others with similar views have clearly articulated that private land ownership shall be the cornerstone of their agricultural policy. TPLF is going to stick to its collective (Kolhoz) farming policy where, for the sake of its political survival, it is hell-bent on keeping peasants in slavery.

But peasants know that freedom shall triumph. They know that the slogan of land to the tiller is noble and that failure to realize it would detrimental to the ruling party. Any political party coming to power with a promise of private land to the tiller and failing to keep its promise will suffer a similar fate.

Tyrant Meles is at the point of forming a one party nation-state on the Chinese Maoist model at this time when corruption and political intolerance in China are taking a heavy toll on the lives of its ordinary people. The recent spate of attacks on school children in China this year are symptoms of fundamental flaws in a Godless communist system that is indifferent to the freedom of the individual to think and speak critically.

The recent series of attack on school children is sign of the repeat of the kind of open defiance as the one seen in the Tiananmen Square.

The jamming of the VOA reportedly with technical assistance of communist China is a good indication that the TPLF party seeking refuge in the Chinese model of governance. The two have suppression of the press in common in order to preclude transparency in the operation of government. Africans should not be fooled that China has only business interest in the African continent. Political interference in the internal affairs of African countries is all too clear as exemplified by the Chinese assistance in jamming the VOA in Ethiopia.

Ethnic-centered politics is ugly and contagious. African countries should be on their guard to not to emulate the Ethiopian example.

Totalitarian system of government is essentially unstable. It decays with time for it lacks the ingredients of stability such as private land ownership, freedom of expression, transparency, compassion et al.

Mederek and other opposition parties with similar views that are struggling on home soil are well on their way to shorten the life of TPLF.

There is no convincing rationale at this point in time to boycott election 2010.

Free Birtukan Mideksa and all political prisoners!


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