The Ethiopian Political Opposition, The Wizard of OZ and David Steinman:- What is The Connection?

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Abbay Media News
Yassin Ibrahim

David Steinman is a well known democracy promotion strategist who has consulted nonviolence movements all over the world for the past 30 years. He is the author of the book named “Money, Blood and Conscience” – a novel about Ethiopia’s quest for freedom from repressive rulers and the struggle for democracy in the world. He recently wrote an article on Forbes.com titled “Ethiopia’s Cruel Con Game”, in which he exposed the depth of corruption by the ethiopian political elite. He explained to his western audience how that elite use hunger and Al Shabab in Somalia to scheme the much needed foreign currency. The funds donated by the United States and the West are wired into the individual foreign accounts of the ruling party cliques. Steinman has also launched a social media campaign called “Operation Conscience: The Campaign To End Ethiopia’s Genocide” on facebook that urges readers to share the message with friends and family.

His involvement in Ethiopian politics predates the current government. In fact it started when the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front was just a rebel movement in the rural parts of northern Ethiopia. In an interview on ESAT’s Insight with Abebe Gelaw on August 08, 2017, Steinman talks about Meles Zenawi. Specifically his regret working with the former rebel movement leader against the brutal communist regime of Mengistu Hailemariam, that resulted in replacing one dictator for another. Steinman described his disdain calling him “a crook, a liar, and a murderer and genocidist”. The late TPLF’s leader and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had an estimated net worth of $3 billion according to the website Celebrity Net Worth.

In this a little over an hour interview, Steinman, who advised the famous opposition coalition in Ethiopia called ‘Kinejit’ (ቅንጅት) during the  2005 election, articulates “The failure by the opposition to unify is the single greatest reason that non violence hasn’t yet succeeded [in Ethiopia] and the day the opposition unifies will be the beginning of the end for EPRDF’.

The Upenn trained economist draws similarities between the South African apartheid regime with the current TPLF led Ethiopian government in that a small minority group in both cases becomes in total control of the country’s wealth at the expense of the majority. He explains that in South Africa Apartheid was used to justify economic exploitation of the majority black africans by minority whites and in Ethiopia we see a small ethnic minority imposing on other people the ethnic tribalism while at the same time this minority is drawing all the resources from the vast majority. He believes this wasn’t a coincidence but a well calculated move purposefully practiced on hard working, industrious people of Ethiopia

During the interview with Abebe Gelaw, Steinman talks about the main character (Dorothy Gale) in the famous American children movie “The Wizard of Oz”. Dorothy Gale lost her home by a tornado and was blown away with her beloved dog to unknown land. She fought for survival in the new land and goes through a lot of hardship to find her sweet lost home.  In the end Dorothy Gale becomes aware of the magic shoes. She makes the three clicks on her magic shoes and was instantly brought home. And Steinman concludes that “The unification is the magic shoes the opposition needs in order to find genuinely democratic Ethiopia” that everyone has been fighting for the last 26 years.

According to David Steinman the common misconception thwarting that most wanted unification is that groups believe they will have to give up their critical beliefs and leadership positions in the process. He recommends three major steps the Ethiopian opposition must do for it to succeed in dealing with the current repressive government of Ethiopia and transform the society  to a democratic one.  He says the three magic steps the opposition needs to do are:

  1. To not merge but coordinate their activity, by forming neutral, mutually agreeable coordinating committee;
  2. To agree for Ethiopia to have a free and fair, genuinely democratic election and
  3. To agree to differ all other points of disagreements until after victory and then will be decided through negotiations and thru genuinely democratic means and processes to deal one problem at a time.

In “The Wizard of Oz” Dorothy Gale made the three clicks on the magic shoes and was transferred to her long lost home in an instant. Will the Ethiopian opposition, which by all accounts, is well aware of “the magic shoes”, click thrice and end the pain and agony of our people?