EDITORIAL: Part One: On the Interview Given by Sebhat Nega
By Tecola W. Hagos
I. The Treason of Sebhat Nega
In one ignominious interview on May 28, 2007, Sebhat Nega, the man regarded by many as the father of the TPLF, totally exposed his record of long struggle for utterly parochial cause against his own motherland Ethiopia. I listened to the interview a week later on June 3, 2007. I was shocked to my very core by the arrogance of Sebhat Nega’s uncalled for bravado and treasonous confession. I was appalled by his self-congratulatory expose of his past and present undying support of Eritrea at great cost and detriment to Ethiopia. I lost what ever little residual respect I might have for this man and his associates for just being human beings after listening to his interview.
I am wondering that we really are governed by such treasonous people who used patriotic Ethiopians as canon fodder to carry out their twisted and destructive political agenda. May be this one incident tells us how far we have failed as Ethiopians by trusting despicable brutal traitors as our leaders. May be, in a round about way, God is giving Ethiopia a helping hand to recover its lost territories and costal waters and get rid of a treasonous mercenary leadership currently running Ethiopia to the ground by making one of them blubber out his role in the scheme to destroy Ethiopia.
The statements of Sebhat Nega during his interview, once and for all, confirmed or established the unvarnished truth that the TPLF and its leaders are the impeccable enemies of Ethiopia; not even the EPLF of Eritrea would compare in the degree of harm done to Ethiopia by Sebhat Nega and the TPLF. I am writing this with great remorse for having at anytime in my past supported such a diabolical and anti-Ethiopia group of third-rate thinkers and treasonous mercenaries. Sebhat Nega, Meles Zenawi et cetera are all criminals whose damage to Ethiopia will survive them for several generations. They have misled so many well intentioned patriotic Ethiopians coming just after the brutal government of Mengistu was overthrown. Our pain and suffering and our hope for the future of Ethiopia blinded us from seeing the monsters that came into our bosom dressed and camouflaged as liberators. The remedy to heal Ethiopia will take also several generations. And the punishment of such leaders need be also generational going from father to children and grandchildren and so on.
The responses of Sebhat Nega of May 28, 2007 to questions asked by a friendly interviewer are against the territorial integrity of Ethiopia in the extreme, which would send any patriotic red-blooded Ethiopian into uncontrollable rage. When Sebhat was asked how far the TPLF was involved in promoting the independence movements of Eritrea, he answered with arrogance that the TPLF even more than any Eritrean political organization had put tremendous effort and resources within Ethiopia and outside of Ethiopia in order to effect the breakup and independence of Eritrea from Ethiopia, even going against the desire of the EPLF to reach a negotiated settlement with Mengistu and his government. And furthermore, he boasted that there is no other organization than the current government lead by Sebhat’s organization that will defend the independence of Eritrea. I could not believe my ears what I was hearing was coming from a sane person, and had to hear it over and over to be sure that it was not some illusion.
It is both surrealistic and infuriating to hear the blabbering of a degenerate mind that seems to have lost all senses as to where he is in fact residing when making such treasonous remarks—Sebhat Nega resides in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia not Eritrea. Ethiopia is the nation that has fed, clothed, and provided Sebhat Nega with all the luxuries he could only have dreamt about in his provincial little town of his birth over seventy five years ago. Here we hear Sebhat boasting in defending the independence of Eritrea at the cost of landlocking and strangling over seventy million Ethiopians. Sebhat Nega is the proverbial dog that bites the hand that feeds it, and still feeds it. This is unbelievable, even in a case of the most deranged situation, for Sebhat to be defending Eritrea that still treats Tygreans like dirt, especially people with a particular local ethnic background of Sebhat Nega. It is ironic to hear a man who gorged himself all of his life with the bounty of Ethiopia to be defending a community that will not throw him scraps.
It is a shock to me to learn from the answers of Sebhat Nega that the EPLF and TPLF were working together to such great degree to dismantle Ethiopia not just to defeat Mengistu’s Government. This recent interview of Sebhat Nega confirms the fact that the EPLF and Mengistu had had serious negotiation underway and that the TPLF is the one destructive force to have derailed such peaceful settlement of the problem. It is quite reveling to what extent the leaders of the TPLF, such as Sebhat Nega and Meles Zenawi, have harmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia. It is disgusting, to say the least, to hear this decomposing old man from over drinking and womanizing, peppering his answer with broken-English, making the absurd assertion representing Eritrea as a colony of Ethiopia. Such statements confirm the mercenary nature of the current “TPLF” and its leaders. If we use Sebhat’s ridiculous logic, then Ethiopia is a colony of Tygrei! May be it is in Sebhat’s perception and lexicon.
However, the unstated truth is that Sebhat and his fellow conspirators within the leadership of the TPLF were fully aware of the deficiency of their scheme and of the fact that with Eritrea in the picture, the TPLF would have difficulty achieving independence for Tygrei or exploiting the rest of Ethiopia exclusively. Thus, no matter how the rest of Ethiopia suffers, Sebhat and Meles decided to pursue that short sighted and short term interest of their locality (Tygrei). On the other side of the equation, the Eritreans were duped into believing the independence-carrot dangled in front of them was for their benefit. What the Eritreans did not perceive in their blind ambition for “independence” was that they would have nothing to live on once cut off from the rest of Ethiopia. They did not anticipate that their dominant position in Ethiopia as the top business men with political clout to match throughout the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie will all be replaced by TPLF and its leaders, which did happen. As we come to realize now, Eritrea without Ethiopia is nothing. It cannot sell any of its meager industrial output in the Arab countries because it simply cannot compete with well established business partners of the Arab countries from Europe, the United States and Japan and now China. Its population will not be as welcome as migrant workers from other poor countries in the rich Arab States, for Eritreans are not Arabs and forty percent of them are Christians.
We must remember the fact that this form of conspiratorial program that Sebhat Nega is proud of, in the main, has nothing to do with the people of Tygrei. In fact, the people of Tygrei were victimized as were the people of the rest of Ethiopia in the last fifteen years by the brutal dictatorship of Meles Zenawi and associates. No one can deny that the types of development achieved in Tygrei exceeded the development (if any) that of the previous fifty years rule of Haile Selassie and Mengistu put together. However, the current leaders of the TPLF, as controllers of the development programs for the whole of Ethiopia, have created fracture and friction between Tygreans and the rest of the population of Ethiopia. Tygreans must take into account that all of the development schemes credited to the TPLF in Tygrei would have been done in much acceptable manner than the form of monopolistic business atmosphere created by the current leaders having their hand in every business pot. Even though the general population of Tygrei may not have benefited as much as the Opposition group seems to portray the condition in Tygrei, there is no question as to the fact that close friends and family members of the present leaders of the TPLF have become super rich and some even have become overnight
milliners several times over.
However, all this corruption and consolidation of economic and political power in the hands of two families and their extended chain-structure of beneficiaries is nothing compared to the harm they have done to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ethiopia. Let us not overlook the fact of the enablers, the Mahel Sefaries, the bureaucratic functionaries in the current Ethiopian government that maintained the current Ethiopian leaders in their entrenchment and monopoly of economic and political power. The Mahel Sefaries are no less responsible for the Hellish situation in Ethiopia than their masters the likes of Sebhat Nega and Meles Zenawi. With over five million HIV/AIDS infected population, with an out of control population explosion, with failing cognition for lack of food and proper schooling, with soaring unemployment rate being the highest in the world, with the lowest personal income in the world et cetera, Ethiopia is on the brink of total human implosion of great suffering.
In my 1994 book Democratization…, to my great embarrassment and sorrow, I have written glowing admiration for Sebhat Nega and members of the TPLF of the period. I wrote such piece because I thought Sebhat Nega was being bushed aside and was maligned with rumors of being too old and worthless. My contempt for such individuals who were promoting Meles Zenawi totally overshadowed my better judgment and I ended up writing after I left Ethiopia in 1993 the defense of Sebhat Nega as a true revolutionary overlooking his treasonous involvement in the destruction of Ethiopia. The part of the book I wrote dealing with both the TPLF and Sebhat Nega is written without proper understanding of the situation and with very shallow knowledge of the role played by many leaders of the TPLF in the political process underway at the time.
I have learned much since that monumental mistake on my part, and have tried to correct that error since by writing in 1999 another book Demystifying Political Thought, Power and Economic Development wherein I have set the record straight but not sufficiently due to lack of insider information about the depth of the corruption of the Leadership of the TPLF and the depth of its entanglement with the EPLF. Just for the record, the pre-1991 TPLF is long dead and gone; what is now masquerading as the “TPLF” is no different than a Mafia gang with members selected for their loyalty and subservience to the two families of Sebhat and that of Meles. If there is any feud within the current TPLF leaders, it is a fight between these two groups as reported over and over in recent years. The fight is for absolute personal power and has nothing to do with public responsibility even for Tygrei let alone for Ethiopia.
II. Meles v. Sebhat?
Nevertheless, it seems to me that the subtext of the interview by Sebhat Nega is some kind of lashing out, a form of last minute stupor of a dying man losing his political power and clout to a younger more ruthless Meles Zenawi. In the interview, Sebhat is trying to undermine Meles Zenawi by pointing out that Meles Zenawi is the real ideologue behind the secession of Eritrea and the land locking of Ethiopia. Sebhat pointed his finger at Meles Zenawi and his book "The Eritrean struggle: From where to where?" People seem to have missed or overlooked that aspect of the interview. The infighting between Meles Zenawi (spearheaded by his wife) and Sebhat Nega is underway, which came to the fore at the last TPLF annual meeting where Sebhat failed to be elected to the Central Committee of the TPLF and had to challenge a recount whereby he barely squeezed through. He failed to make the Politburo. May be Sebhat is too engorged with his material success to realize that he and his group have already lost a few years back the political power-game to Meles when they let loose the rabid power hungry Meles and kicked out the ten dissenters from the Central Committee of the TPLF. Seye the great patriot is labeled as a narrow ethnicist by Meles Zenawi and the Mahel Sefaries because containing such a dynamic personality works to benefit and promote their personal ambitions.
The much-talked-about-confrontation between Sebhat and Meles, if true and not some sinister scheme to confuse us further, is going to be ugly and humiliating after the interview given by Sebhat. The next move for Meles is to liquidate without delay Sebhat Nega and his supporters who may be well represented in the Central Committee of the TPLF. Meles is more and more identified with the Amhara and Oromo members of the EPRDF, and is perceived to be moving away from his earlier blind support of Eritrea. In other words, Meles is becoming a Mahel Sefari further complicating the feud for power. He has already replaced many TPLF appointees such as Ambassadors, Generals, Ministers or deputies et cetera with diversified non-Tygrean appointees. Because of such populist shift of the base of his power, Meles Zenawi has created a new opposition within his own party. There is a buildup of resentment swelling up within the TPLF. The boldness and the tone of Sebhat’s interview seem to depend on such upsurge of support from within the TPLF and from the Eritreans.
The recent call by Meles Zenawi for auditing the “books” of account of all the diversified business enterprises and non-profit organs of the TPLF is a direct challenge to Sebhat Nega and his family members and supporters who are entrenched as managers and share holders in the businesses and non-profit organizations controlled by the TPLF. We are talking here about a conglomeration of huge business investments and holdings including foreign investments and holdings worth hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions. This call for auditing is a direct challenge to Sebhat Nega who is personally responsible for almost all of the investment, non- profit funds et cetera of the TPLF. Of course, it is impossible to conduct a thorough audit since there are no formal books of account that can be considered authentic under a controlled system of bookkeeping and properly identifiable base to start with the auditing. The whole economic aspect of the TPLF is a cesspool of corruption; there had never been any public accounting of such investments and holdings as well as the millions raised by non-profit affiliates of the TPLF. The people of Tygrei and of Ethiopia by extension have all been cheated; they will never see a penny of that fabulous wealth.
III. Conclusion and an Appeal
Here succinctly is the moral of this editorial. Despite the fact of this great opportunity to replace Meles and his atrocious government with a democratic one, what we have in the wings waiting to replace the Government of Meles are Kinjit members dominated by ethnic hardliners, Amhara
supremacists, and Dergists. I suppose to most knowledgeable Ethiopians as well, it is a choice between the fire and the fire pan. I urge young Ethiopians to learn from my experience and my monumental mistakes. I appeal too you all not to jump into supporting groups without adequate knowledge. Do not be suckers. Especially, I address young Ethiopians in the Diaspora, mostly those children of former officials (of Haile Selassie and later that of Mengistu), do not rush to wear your parents old political vestment—it did not serve them much either.
There are many criminals with blood of innocent Ethiopians on their hands from the Red Terror era who are now masquerading as Opposition activists that you be wary of and not end up supporting another round of brutal dictatorial leaders. There is no point also in telling me “I told you so.” No time to gloat over the mistake I have made, but let this be a lesson to all and a time to mobilize all to save Ethiopia from the jaws of our proven enemies the likes of Sebhat Nega and Meles Zenawi. Think for yourselves, and think using the exposure you have had having lived in a democratic society. Be creative and visionary, and you can afford to do that since you carry very limited negative cultural baggage. A fresh perspective for the future of Ethiopia is what is needed.
This is also a call to all Ethiopians and particularly Tygreians who may have any residual sympathy for the TPLF and its leaders in the past to reject the TPLF and its leadership in toto, specifically Sebhat Nega and Meles Zenawi. Now, we all have a clear picture of both Meles Zenawi and Sebhat Nega, therefore, there can be no excuse to support or sympathize with such mercenaries any longer. This is a call to fight fire with fire, and to stand for Ethiopia. This is a call to all brave sons of Tygrei who are duped into believing that they are serving Ethiopia to wake up and see the new reality that they are being used by mercenaries who have no allegiance to Ethiopia and its people. Rebellion against such treasonous leaders is a noble act of heroism and patriotism. All the people of Ethiopia have one enemy right within the bosom of our beloved Mother country, and that enemy is the group with Sebhat Nega and Meles Zenawi as its leaders.Ω
Tecola W. Hagos, Washington DC, June 5, 2007
To be continued:
Part Two: Dumping the Decision of the Border Arbitration Commission