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  • on 15.07.2015
  • at 02:53 PM
  • by Naomi Cohen

Giving Lip Service to Good Governance No More Sustainable 0

The table of the Revolutionary Democrats seems to be full of issues that need their attention. If one is to go by appearances, it is easy to see that this could be one of the busiest times of their governance. It all relates to the convergence of schedules.

With the election business done successfully, though discomforting in the larger outlook of competitive multi-party democracy, there is a need for the ruling elite to bring a convincing economic roadmap. And there is a need to align the roadmap with upcoming international commitments, mainly the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A more pressing issue for the ruling elite, however, is the rebalancing act they ought to do amongst their own rank and file. Certainly, a complete monopoly of the political space by a party makes this task all the more difficult as it sidelines essential political competition and hence feedback. Even so, the upcoming EPRDF Congress, second since the days of Meles Zenawi, will be important not only for the party, but also for the nation – especially so with the multiple headwinds blowing in this direction.

As it stands, Ethiopia under the leadership of the Revolutionary Democrats looks like a ship struggling to stay afloat, and is hugely challenged by a buoyant political force. Much of the floating has to do with the economic forces that are playing in its favour.

Factors, such as cheap global credit, changing donor attitude, increasing factor costs in emerging nations, revitalised investor interest, resurging commodity prices and conducive weather, are helping the ship stay afloat. The situation is furthered by local policymaking, including an expansionary fiscal policy and a passively following monetary policy.

But this is not the whole picture. What is happening on the political front is challenging the ship so much that its sailing is far from being smooth. The choppy waves entail the absence of a competitive political space, with essential traits of tolerance, fair play and effective representation, and credible institutions of public participation. Of course, this is not to mention the non-existence of functional separation of power between units of government and checks and balances.

A complete control of federal and regional legislatures by the ruling EPRDF means that competitive politics is rapidly losing ground. There can be no more worrisome fact than this. Having competitive politics, in and of itself, is an asset, providing leverage for the system. In addition, the positive energy that it could contribute to the economy is so huge that no factor endowment could replace it.

Sitting at the deck of the ship, then, the EPRDFites seem to be confronted with a decisive moment. It is in light of the state of the waters and the play of the various forces that their upcoming congress will have a definitive role.

At state level, the whole situation relates to essential imperatives guiding its function, the standards of services delivery and the level of public acceptability. Gone are the days when access to services was considered the only metric of state function. Other aspects, such as quality of services, responsiveness, cost of accessing services and fairness, do matter.

Continue reading on Addis Fortune

by the Editorial Board of Addis Fortune

Photo Credit: Addis Fortune/Hani

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