I have read two articles written by Workie Briye titled “It is harvesting time for TPLF spy "diplomats” and “The impudent thief”. Both articles deal with the recent circular issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Ethiopia and the defection/resignation of diplomats.
Let me say at the outset the mass defection/resignation, if true, simply reinforces the known fact that the EPRDF days are numbered or to borrow Professor Clapham’s phrase, “they have lost the mandate of heaven.” While I was writing this piece, I have come across in the EthioMedia a letter written in Amharic supposedly by EPRDF high level official. The letter states the days of EPRDF are numbered. Good! I say Amen! The sad thing is that this official, it seems to me, has just woke up from his/her sleep to tell what Ethiopians have know all these years, that is, what a dreadful regime has EPRDF become.
I do not know anything about who Ato Workie is. But, from his writing it seems to me that he himself was an official within the Ministry. The gist of his argument in both articles can be summed up in the following:
1) 50 or so diplomats allegedly have ‘defected’ or ‘refuse’ to go back to Ethiopia when recalled or resigned. According to Ato Workie, these diplomats have “left the regime refusing to serve what many of them call a criminal regime” implying what they have done is a commendable, patriotic and honorable act.
2) The EPRDF led government itself is drowned in corruption to its neck and thus its effort to accuse or bring to justice those officials including the defectors is groundless.
I think the above is a reasonable summation of the articles any reasonable and principled person can come up with. Assuming we agree with the statement, let me lay out a few points to argue that Ato Workie’s arguments are not convincing at all for a non partisan Ethiopian like me and arguably borders hypocrisy and selfish motives. Here are my arguments:
Assuming that the allegation is true and that these 50 or so diplomats have indeed defected, it is too transparent to see for all that the supposed reason for their defection is not believable. They have been serving this government in some cases for over a decade and frankly until their term of posting has ended and they are called back. So, how are we to buy their lame excuse of ‘refusing to serve a ‘criminal regime’? Has it just downed on them, when they are recalled, that this in fact is a ‘criminal regime’? When did this government become a ‘criminal regime’? I suppose, inferring from Ato Workie’s articles, most probably this year when they are instructed to implement the Ministry’s ‘Strategic Plan’. Of course, they did not defect on the day the ‘Strategic Plan’ was issued notwithstanding their harbored opposition to it. They did defect; it seems to me, when they are recalled. They would probably have continued to serve (or lead a good life) had the government not committed the ‘mistake’ of recalling them.
Unlike these diplomats, the recent Ethiopian history is full of great personalities such as Ato Belachew Asrat (former Ambassador to the former Soviet Union) and Dej. Zewde G/Selassie (former Deputy Prime Minister). These principled persons resigned from the Dergue regime at the height of their career when they saw the Dergue regime for what it was. They did not wait to be recalled. You want another recent example: Look at Ato Woldeselassie Girma. Ato Woldeselassie was appointed Minister of Finance in 1991 but resigned shortly thereafter for policy differences. The same is true with Ato Shiferaw W/Michael. Another example would be Ato Tecola Hagos who left the government around 1993 or 1994. These people might understandably have joined the government on a mistaken contemplation but left when they see the writing on the wall as it were. My contention is this: You just cannot serve a government and implement its policies for a long long time and when the going gets tough, you concoct a reason as to why you don’t want to be associated with the government any more. Granted genuine differences might arise later in time, even then you must be prepared to spell out the differences but defend the past policies you were an instrument to design and implement or admit your mistakes for supporting and implementing such policies. You cannot have it both ways.
On the other hand, if it is indeed true that these diplomats have just discovered the ‘criminal’ nature of the government (after having ‘walked’ with it all these years), then it is good riddance for the Ministry and the Ethiopian people because they should not have been diplomats in the first place as they seriously lack common sense judgment or they are opportunist sycophants.
Finally, the argument that ‘the government itself is a thief and therefore cannot legitimately ‘accuses others of looting the national wealth’ is a totally unacceptable argument. And, I don’t think it is a valid legal argument in a court of law. John 8:32 says “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. There is no reason why these diplomats should freak out just because a circular is out; purportedly to bring to light whatever ill-deeds and ill-gains they have made using their offices. Why? Because 1) If they are clean, who cares about what this ‘criminal regime’ is talking about? 2) After all they all now reside in countries where the rule of trumps bogus charges such as the one they claim is being orchestrated by the regime. On the other hand, if as the circular implies, they have benefited illegally, well, that speaks for itself.
My point in short is this: I don’t think such personalities have any credibility to denounce the government they have ‘willingly’, for whatever reason, served until yesterday while they have every opportunity to resign long ago, I mean long ago. You may say: It may be that they have families or older parents or poor relatives or loved ones to support and understandably did not dare to resign and lose it all. But principle demands sacrifice. It is the sacrifice that gives one the credibility or the higher moral ground to utter truth as truth. They have had their chance but they have chosen not to use it so I don’t think they can claim any credibility now. It is too late. However, it would be in their right to remain wherever they want to remain. It is the inclusion of such types of personalities in some of the opposition parties that constantly baffled me.