Ethiopia: Describing What Transpires Inside the Most Powerful Governing Party of Ethiopia As an Intense Power Struggle May Sound a Bit Far-Fetched


Describing what transpires inside the most powerful governing party of Ethiopia as an intense power struggle may sound a bit far-fetched, says gossip. The power dynamics and alliances are fluid; it can be misleading to discern formations of groups neither on party affiliations nor ideological preferences, claims gossip.

There are however tensions simmering among various individual leaders of the party, whether veterans or belonging to the second generation, gossip observed. The collective sense of alarm at how much things are getting out of shape is compounded by a widely shared feeling of a rather disabling ineptness at the highest echelon of the government, claims gossip. But, it marks an era of confusion and a sense of loss of direction in the camp of the Revolutionary Democrats, says gossip.

Such was a frustration evidently and loudly voiced by the army of senior and mid-ranking cadres of the part, who have completed the third round of training that has been going on for some months now, gossip disclosed.

A little over 800 of them assigned to the federal government and regional states – some of them as senior as ministers, state ministers and chiefs of regional states – had congregated at the Civil Service College (CSC), for the third time. The crux of the training is to sharpen their understanding and worldview of leadership, although other issues on political communications and the tenets of the doctrines of Revolutionary Democracy were also on the menu, claims gossip.

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It would only be the expected outcome if there were practical illustrations drawn from experiences of the many cadres raised during the training as evidence of what works and ails the “good old part” of the EPRDF, gossip says. There were many cases of troubles debated, such as the competence of the party’s leadership; its industrial policies; the role of foreign direct investment in the growth agenda of the party, and the place the domestic private sector should have in the economy; the nature of the ongoing crackdown on corruption and its desired goals; and the practice of federalism and the casualties that have surfaced among the various regions that are at loggerheads with each other, gossip disclosed.

These issues matter because they are part of political gymnastics ahead of the ruling party’s convention scheduled for March 2018, claims gossip. The kingmakers in Ethiopia’s power politics are cadres who get delegated to the convention, many of which were those who passed through the training at the CSC, according to gossip. And the power brokers are the veterans of the four parties in the coalition, claims gossip.

Among these veterans who were active in providing training and attempted to dazzle the cadres were Abay Tsehaye and Bereket Simon, two of the ideologues who stand tall among their contemporaries, many of whom are now effectively sidelined by Hailemariam Desalegn, chairman of the party, gossip observed.

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Abay had declined to continue with the training during the third round just after he delivered the first of the two courses he was scheduled to give, revealed gossip. He did not return when the third batch completed the training two weeks ago, claims gossip.

But it is customary for the party’s chair to give the sermons at the conclusion of such training; hence, Hailemariam spoke to the cadres two weeks ago, according to gossip. Unlike the second round, where he had limited himself to only making a scripted speech, he had a list of items on his note he did address, gossip disclosed. Many of the issues were in response to criticisms made during the training on the policy implementations or deviation from the party’s convictions, claims gossip. Falling short of naming names, he fired back claiming “whoever” made these criticisms have neither the knowledge nor the understanding of the tenets of Revolutionary Democracy, gossip claimed.

Many of the cadres have taken this as a statement in reference to, if not, a direct attack on Bereket, who was vocal in raising those very issues during the training, according to gossip. Yet, Hailemariam denied the opportunity for rebuttal when Bereket raised his hand afterwards, disclosed gossip. Such was a small incident well noticed by the many cadres, signalling a changing power dynamics within the ruling coalition ahead of its crucial convention, claims gossip.

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