#EZEMA and Urban Land – #AddisAbaba
On August 31, 2020, EZEMA, a political party in Ethiopia that is birthed out of remnants of EPRP, All-Amhara Organization, Medhin led by a fascist individual known as Goshu Wolde, and remnants of former landlords once again betrayed the ongoing revolution; first it stood by when Oromo comrades were killed and jailed; and then it temporarily ended up forming what could be a short unholy alliance with PM Abiy’s Prosperity Party (PP).
The two joined hips not because they love each other but because they want to break the Oromo spirit. Their unholy unification is based on the ever-elusive pan-Ethiopianims – a crude ideology that sacrifices regional and local histories in favor of a never substantiated Solomonic history – a history that is more of a myth than a real history based on the histories of the peoples of Ethiopia.
To cement its image as the guardian of a radical version of Ethiopianism negotiated on the concept of Andinet-fusuminet, a narrative that seeks to protect the left-over of an old oppressive system, EZEMA has hastily released what could be perceived as its land policy. In it, it falters on the question of urban land of Addis Ababa.
Reading EZEMA’s 15-pages report, I understand that there is an attempt to delineate the distribution of about hundreds of thousands of acres of vacant suburban land and the distribution of 96,000 condominiums. It would have been a high toll if their study was not politically charged. EZEMA makes an accusation without showing any proof that a large portion of the 96,000 condominium units are reserved for workers belonging to the Oromia regional state. It adds that the rest is distributed to Dr. Abiy’s cronies.
There are some truths to EZEMA’s accusation, especially when it accuses the government of PP of handing keys of finished units to government bureaucrats. Such a practice is common even in the regions. It is customary for both federal and regional governments to give prime land to cronies. PP functionaries in the regions are as guilty of this accusation as they come. In the process, often legitimate owners of such lands are pushed aside.
Having said that, the spirit of EZEMA’s August 2020 report is to express its philosophy on the land question pertaining to Addis Ababa. In the report, EZEMA saws the unprovable suspicion that Dr. Abiy’s government is illegally handing finished units to Oromo. In a clever way, it reinvigorates the debate on the question of Addis Ababa and comes to saying that urban land is grabbed by Oromo with the approval of Dr. Abiy’s government.
But how does this accusation sit with the killings of Oromo politicians and Oromo activists by the same government? It is this argument that makes EZEMA’s August report nothing but a false pretext to cleverly revive the debate over Addis Ababa at this sensitive time when Oromo advocates are in jail and have no freedom of expression. The thin thread that holds EZEMA and PP has always been to silence the Oromo and other nationality voices so that urban land of Addis Ababa is “managed” without resistance. In other words, the EZEMA report is the tool for a fight for the control of one of the most important resources that belongs to Oromo – LAND.
And this fight is an affirmation that Ethiopia’s history in the last century has been the looting and defending of land by different forces. The urban land question finally saws a wedge between two wrong sides whose unholy alliance is unsustainable. The clash over Oromo land will soon foment open conflict between EZEMA and PP.
A Somali adage says: a stolen she camel will never produce a legitimate calf. The original sin of stealing Oromo land must first be corrected before land is legalized to consumers. We need a serious and democratic land policy.
– Faisal Roble