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By Abebe Gellaw
(ESAT) The renowned Ghanaian economist Prof. George Ayittey, who has been one of the most outspoken critics of African dictators, has said that the politics of exclusion, which is reminiscent of Apartheid era South Africa, should come to an end in Ethiopia.
In an exclusive two-part interview with the Ethiopian Satellite Television, Prof. Ayittey, who is currently the president of the Free Africa Foundation, underlined that TPLF’s monopoly of power should give way to a more representative political arrangement.
He described the political and economic system in Ethiopia as a kind of internal colonialism. “Another term for that is Apartheid. It is like what the whites did in South Africa. They monopolized economic and political power and used it to advance their own interests and excluded everybody else.” Prof. Ayittey says the former Apartheid system in South Africa appeared to have been revived in Ethiopia under Meles.
“The Apartheid system is simply based on the politics of exclusion, when you have one group which has monopolized power and use that power to advance its interests by excludes everybody else. That is what happened with the whites in South Africa,” he said adding that such a system of exclusion happened in Rwanda, Brundi and Ethiopia under the TPLF, which has monopolized power and excluded others.According to Prof. Ayittey, Ethiopians, opposed to Meles Zenawi’s tyrannical rule, which employs a divide and conquer system like former colonial system, need to set aside their differences and convene a “sovereign national conference” that draws participants from all sections of the society. “The current trajectory is going nowhere. If you go along with the current trajectory, Zenawi will always win elections.”
The Ghanaian scholar described Meles Zenawi, along with rulers like Paul Kagame of Rwanda, as one of Africa’s bad crocodile liberators. He accused Paul Kagame of exploiting the Rwandan genocide to install a highly oppressive system in that country. Prof. Ayitte pointed out that even if Zenawi also came to power under the pretense of saving Ethiopia from the despotic military regime, he turned out to be even worse than his predecessor, Mengistu Hailemariam.
Speaking about land grab, he said that it made no economic sense in Ethiopia to transfer millions of hectares of land to foreign corporations that grow food for their own people. “Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world. It breaks my heart to see Ethiopians beg for food aid every year…Zenawi is selling off land for cheap,” Ayittey said.
Asked to comment on the so-called double-digit economic growth in Ethiopia in the face of the Meles regime’s failure to ensure food security, the professor said that the claim is nonsensical. “The figures are so inflated and massaged…. How can you claim double-digit economic development and you can’t feed yourself? It doesn’t make sense. Even a child wouldn’t believe this,” he said.
He also talked about the “worst of the worst” list that he published in Foreign Policy Magazine last year. He wrote: “There are at least 40 dictators around the world today, and approximately 1.9 billion people live under the grip of the 23 autocrats on the list alone. There are plenty of coconuts to go around. The cost of all that despotism has been stultifying. Millions of lives have been lost, economies have collapsed, and whole states have failed under brutal repression. And what has made it worse is that the world is in denial.”
The professor noted that Meles Zenawi, who has been described in the list as one of the most brutal and corrupt African rulers, qualifies to be one of the worst of the worst. The professor also accused Zenawi and his wife, Azeb Mesfin, of stealing from the poor people of Ethiopia and buying expensive real estates in Europe and North America.
Ayittey went on to criticize Western governments for taking Meles as an ally against the so-called war on terror. “He [Zenawi] claims to be an ally in the fight against terrorism when he himself is a sponsor of state terrorism against Ethiopians. The world can now see clearly.”
In the era of Facebook and Twitter, the hypocrisy and shenanigans of the regime would easily be exposed, according Prof. Ayittey, who argued that the dictatorships in Africa will come to an end sooner or later. Prof. Ayittey underlined that opposition political groups need to unifying under the cause of freedom in order to be able to dismantle the tyranny of Zenawi.
Prof. Ayittey authored so many articles and a few books including Africa Unchained, Africa Betrayed, Africa in Chaos and Indigenous African Institutions. His latest book, Defeating Dictators: Fighting tyranny in Africa and around the world, was released earlier this month by Palgrave Macmillan.