By Daniel Teferra (PhD)*

Some may wonder why Ethiopia’s politicians do not agree. The answer is simple.  Politicians are motivated by self-interest like anyone else.

However, there is a fundamental difference as to how politics is applied in an advanced country, on the one hand, and Ethiopia, on the other. Politics can be a way of restricting the natural rights of the individual or a fight to regain these rights.

For instance, in the advanced society, state and people are one and the same; ultimate power rests with the people. As a result, the people choose an individual to hold public office. Compelled by competition for public office, politicians strive to protect the natural rights of the individual—life, liberty and ownership of property.

In Ethiopia, on the other hand, politicians usurp state power by use of force or political intrigue. They then restrict the natural rights of the individual to amass wealth for themselves and pursue their own elite status.

Currently, state power in Ethiopia is controlled by the TPLF regime. Its opponents are fighting to wrestle state power out of its hands. Hence, both TPLF and its opponents are trying to change the conversation of the recent popular resistance in Ethiopia to benefit themselves.

For instance, TPLF officials do not want to acknowledge that the land question is unresolved, and is therefore at the heart of the society’s ills. They believe that Ethiopia is a democracy. They think the real problem is just a lack of good governance.

The people of Ethiopia are clear about what they want though.  They would like to own their own land.  They would like to bring an end to ethnic division and a one-party rule.

Unfortunately, TPLF’s opponents are not in synch with the people of Ethiopia either.  Their discussions are not about what the people of Ethiopia are demanding. Assuming that the TPLF regime would soon collapse, without providing any evidence, their focus is on a transition to a new government.

However, the people of Ethiopia are not interested in the politics of ousting bad guys and putting in good guys. This is of less importance to them than to resolve their demands.

The people of Ethiopia realize that TPLF and its opponents pursue basically their own interests. Thus, they are fighting to regain their natural rights themselves, pressing their demands to own their own land, and bring an end to both ethnic division and a one-party rule.

*Emeritus Professor Economics at FSU; University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; teferrad@uww.edu.