Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Posted By: Nomonanoto Sidama | At: 1/06/2015 08:24:00 AM
Federal government plans to take over the entire corridor of 25km between Hawasa and Shashamene. Both Sidama Zone or SNNPR and Oromia have not been consulted yet.
Major cities in Oromia are administered in what is termed as “special zone.” Jimma and its surrounding is special zone; Addis Ababa and its surrounding is special zone; Adama and its surrounding is special zone. Now the federal government of Ethiopia is considering to create one for Shashamane because, sources disclose, the city is becoming home for ”nations and nationalities” and economically very significant to be left for the regional government. In fact, the federal government wants to take over the entire corridor of 25km between Hawasa and Shashamene. And both Sidama Zone or SNNPR and Oromia have not been consulted yet. The plan will land on table presumably after 2015 election and EPRDF secures majority in the house that is already decided at the council of ministers in their last successive meetings.
As a tradition, top-down orders from the Government of Ethiopia (GoE), which is mostly controlled and manipulated by the Tigrayan minority group TPLF, would not be questioned by the regional states and the ruling regional “allies.” Any form of divergence from what the GoE says would not be tolerated and often officials are intimidated. The Addis Ababa master plan for example faced stiff resistance and after about months of “mediation,” the GoE via Addis Ababa city administration is bracing for what is thought to be a potential escalation of dispute with Oromia when the plan is once again put for test in January 2015. The exact terms reached between Addis Ababa and Oromia with more arbrating than mediating role of Federal officials will never be known until documents are available for media and public. As to Diriba Kuma himself, he is nervous because he wants to return back to Oromia with his little left reputation. Aafter all Oromia is much formidable place for officials than the federal government, and this master plan is not making things easy for him. Again, he also wants to stay and turn things around, and that would risk him for intimidation by GoE.
The word ‘’federalize’’ is only used in this context to describe the intention of the Federal government. As it is dictated by the constitution and other bylaws, federal government can’t own land. However, the GoE acts as if it owns everything in the empire amplifying the stark reality and difference between what is on paper and what is being practiced. In fact, the creation of special zones can be taken as a strategy of weakening the regional governments by snatching economically viable and productive areas, at the same time, strengthen the much talked about TPLF’s economic empire.
Creating a special zone is not new thing in developing countries. The noble motive of creating such geographic and administrative demarcation is to facilitate development and ensure smooth and dynamic rural-urban divide, and reduce the negative impacts of emerging industries on the the environment and the society. However, the case of Oromia is quite different, or perhaps as the source indicates, disastrous.
In Addis Ababa, rampant mismanagement and corruption of land is source of fortune for few and destitution for most. Although rarely, this has been acknowledged by the city government itself. The last wave of urban land grab was right after the 2005 election. The so called Land Bank was fabricated to ration land to Tigrayans; following that campaign, Ex-Minister Ermisa Legese tells, over 150000 Oromo farmers and their families were displaced in what is now understood as systematic genocide. The second wave of land grab, this time deep into Oromia, is an ongoing project since 2012 right before Mele’s death. And many believe this Adds Ababa master plan legitimizes what has been done under the radar for the last 10 years. We should be afraid that It might take another 15 year but a complete social and economic Abyssinianization of Jimma, Adama and Shashamane is quite possible within this regime unless change is pending.
As smooth as it looks from outside falsely to handle investment and industries, the creation of special zone is an administrative hurdle because it is a redundant procedure. Creating a zone within Zone, society within society, economy within economy, is not sustainable and fair. There are experiences from other federal countries how to develop both social and economic sectors of the population without adversely impacting the livelihood of the people and the ecology. And the best way to do that is not to disconnect the rural surrounding from its urban epicenter.
Special zone model is attentively and particularly geared to be applied in Oromia as neither in Amhara nor in Tigray regions that they have special zones in a way they are in the former. In the later two regions, there are Mekele zone and Bahirdar zone but it is only purely for economic reasons since they have a smooth and consistent social transition from urban to rural settings. Without bold social and economic policy changes, my source thinks, these cities such as Jimma or Adama are administratively would soon be out of Oromia. because of their economic and administrative model and their social mix, which are not according to the interest of the Oromo people, just like Addis Ababa.
Apart from serving as a new hotbed for corruption and mismanagement, the new special zone around Shashamane and its link with Hawasa is intended to create an ‘’atmosphere of cooperation’’ between the two regional states. The increasing hostility between regional states were an intense topic during several federal security meetings. Most of these disputes are over land and border. Tigrayan controlled GoE, heavily influenced by Amhara individuals (not ANDM persei), wants to check and demise the little autonomy of regional state in pretext of ‘’creating one socioeconomic community’’ rhetoric of the constitution thereby pleasing the assimilative and border-phobic motives of some influential Amhara elites to restore their nostalgic interest of the empire and at the same time ensuring the continuous economic hegemony of Tigrayan minority.
Federal government plans to take over the entire corridor of 25km between Hawasa and Shashamene. Both Sidama Zone or SNNPR and Oromia have not been consulted yet