The past three years have been a time of considerable social unrest and political instability in Ethiopia. Once the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) led coalition of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) made way to Abiy Ahmed’s reformist government, social unrest has sprung up in all corners of the country. A large number of people have lost their lives while millions became internally displaced. The tensions in the political environment have transpired into crisises that amonts to ethnic and religious conflicts. On the other hand, deepening economic problems make it easy for some ‘politicians’ to easily lure the youth into conflicts. It has become incredibly easy for politicians to mobilise the oublic by describing any given ethnic group in the country as the most socially, economically, and politically suppressed. Denied of their hopes for a better life, the youth opt to showcase their anger violently, is in many cases.
The unrest in Oromia that followed the assassination of the popular Affan Oromo singer Hachalu Hundesa in early July is one of the most recent in the country. Some politicians and activists actively incited violence right after the killing of the singer, urging youth to come out and attack a certain group of people. Police reports show that at least 166 people lost their lives as a result of inhumane and heinous attacks.
On the economic side, the youth went out and destroyed businesses in a number of cities in the state of Oromia. The level of destruction they caused was so severe that hundreds of businesses were burned to the ground in just a few hours. Some of the highly affected cities are still left in ruins. A large number of people remarked that cities such as Shashemene and Batu have lost wealth that took 50 years to build.
The government failed to protect citizens and businesses from being vandalized. Despite its responsibility to ensure monopoly of coercion and instate a sense of peace and security throughout the country, the government has repeatedly failed to live up to this task. As a result, a large number of people lost their lives during the social unrest stated above while a large number of people who established businesses that created employment opportunities for thousands of fellow citizens lost the fruits of decades hard work overnight.
Once the extensive damage was done, the government itself confirmed that its officials were involved in derailing the system. Although hundreds of officials have been held accountable, it is common knowledge that the number of people implicated is just the tip of the iceberg.
EBR believes that these major failures raise the level of governmental responsibility to come to the rescue of businesses and investors. The recent effort by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to raise ETB500 million in three months to support investors whose properties were damaged during the unrest through a program called “Employers to Employers” is a sign signaling governmental awareness of its immense responsibilities to reinstate businesses. However, the scheme can only be a sign of goodwill as the amount to be raised is far lower than the ETB4.7 billion worth of property damage that occured during the unrest. Therefore, the government needs to make sure that businesses shall access the financial resources they need to rebuild themselves. EBR
9th Year • Oct 16 – Nov 15 2020 • No. 91