By Melaku Yismaw: There is nothing as damaging in political discourse and struggle as throwing in the bone of irrelevance and muddying the political discourse. Yakob Haile Mariam’s diatribe against the Left and almost all the political groups is one clear example of an irrelevance thrown unto the political podium to kick out the real issues out of sight.
I never knew that Yakob HM cut his tooth or teeth in Marxism Leninism though he pretends to have done so. He was a short time member of the EPRP for sure but that does not make of him an automatic ML as many within this party were actually unaware of the essence and intricacies of the ideology. This is why Yakob dares to assert that Marxism Leninism is against tolerance and civil discourse and goes on to mention that Lenin called his enemies scoundrels and vermin. Poor Lenin! Pretentious Yakob. Calling Lidetu a traitor and Yakob himself an opportunist and one time TPLF lackey is no insult but just a statement of the fact. Yakob preached compromise with the Weyane and he thus cannot understand those who say no compromise with this ruthless enemy of Ethiopia. The man who expounded so eloquently on petty bourgeois infantilism (Lenin) knew and said more about compromise than Yakob the self declared one time Marxist Leninist. Where Yakob differs is in the fact that his compromise involves principles and comes out as damaging and dangerous opportunism. Like working with Meles Zenawi, like diluting the struggle of the CUD and causing its break up and like betraying one’s own comrades and friends. To allege that civil discourse was alien to the Left in Ethiopia is utter nonsense shouted without shame. As for compromise, there are so many examples of exemplary compromise that make Yakob’s allegation one nig lie to cover one’s present political yoyo and abandonment of an imprisoned person he used to hail as a leader. Yakob was a visible person at the Toronto meeting that tried to form a united front in which former foes like Meisone, EPRP and EDU were trying to come together. That effort was sabotaged by the CIA (read commodore Tassew’s memoirs for details) and subsequent efforts to form a united front in time were sabotaged by Yakob himself in league with Efrem Yishak, the TPLF and others. When the TLF came to power, Yakob abandoned all pretext of struggle and went in hands up to suffer the vile insults of the balege Netsanet Asfaw. Is this the example of compromise? Was not the UEDF, sabotaged later by Lidetu and others, a very good example of compromise Is calling Weizero weyane Netsanet balege an insult? Is calling Azeb Gola a thief and a scum of the earth an insult?
Yakob’s attack against the Ethiopian Left and those who struggled and still struggle steadfastly against the Meles regime confirms who he really is and no more. He is talking about something he does not really know about, be it the ideology, be it the rigors of firm struggle and/or be it the meaning of sacrifice and courage in the face of adversity. Yakob has muddled ahead by trying to make the age of the political leaders a big and primary issue. Yet another bone of confusion in the beggar’s soup. He calls upon those he calls the old guard to reign and hand over to younger elements. Old is bad and young is good does not work as is even for wine. Mengistu was relatively young man when he slaughtered millions and most Derg members were not old also. Meles was and is not old though Sebhat Nega is. Even Sebahat was stale and narrow back then in his youth. Lidetu betrayed the people and he is young. Political problems are linked to political stands and views and not to the age of the person. Yakob has not handed over to Bertukan but has handed her over to Meles and abandoned her in her hours of need. We can of course claim that the UDJ is better off without the likes of Yakob but that is not a line of argument the good doctor and rich poultry farmer would accept. CUD’s problem was not also linked to age but to political atrophy, rivalry, ego and because some sold out to the Weyane.
In general, the assertion that the young should replace the old is not to be contested. In general. But in the present Ethiopian context, this is not the issue; this is not the core of the malaise that is weakening the opposition as a whole. Age is a non issue except for some political Turks who want to oust their older rivals or others who want to resign claiming they are doing so to give place to younger ones while in reality they are abandoning to avoid an impending storm or catastrophe. Age is a non issue brought up by Yakob to confuse the whole political discourse and hence the Yakobian muddle that ought to be avoided. Our main problem as an opposition force is not because the leaders of organizations are old age wise but because they are outmoded politically and ideologically, As Yakob shouts against leftist ideology with all the confidence of the uninformed he does not mention the fact that his present ideology leaves much to be desired in all fields. Political struggle is inherently tied to ideological struggle; it deals with stances and choices. Political struggle involves labelling and name calling, it is aimed at getting the opponent no support or backing. Even in western democracies political struggles are intense and someone like Yakob could even consider them uncivilized. In other words, calling a traitor traitor, a Banda banda, an opportunist an adr bye, a thief a lebba and a coward a feri is not to lack civility at all. It is not calling the spade a spade that should be considered a mistake. Parties and groups have been split or attacked by the virus of division not because one has insulted another but due to political differences. And some of these differences cannot be reconciled, you cannot “machachal” them at all. Those who say the Weyane regime is not our enemy and those who say it is cannot compromise. The banda and the patriot are not one and the same. That Yakob still fails to understand is symptomatic of his malady: sickening political opportunism. Now that is a real problem we should all discuss in order to find a way of ending it.