EPRDF must now cleanse the Augean stables

September 08, 2016 (GMN) - In Greek mythology, Hercules is said to have cleansed the stables in which King Augeas kept 3000 oxen, and which had not been cleaned for 30 years. The cleansing of these stables was accomplished by Hercules, who diverted the river Alpheus through them. Hence the English idiom “To clean the Augean stable” has come to mean “To perform a great work of purification.”

The obtaining condition of Ethiopia demands that the Government embarks on such act purification in order to root out corruption and inefficiency from its redundancy of civil servants. In other words, it behoves Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn to talk the talk and to walk the walk in order to restore public trust. The Prime Minster needs no reminding from anyone of the Herculean nature of the task which awaits the EPRDF in the months ahead.

Already speculation is rife that HMD has kicked off this purification process by removing from his cabinet two senior members from his own party, the SPDM. But critics argue over his wisdom of appointing two scandalous former ministers to become “Advisors to The Prime Minister with the rank of Ministers” after they were found to have under-performed at the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing as well as The Ministry of Education respectively.

Ethiopia has been plagued by corruption since the advent of modern form of governance. Who would ever forget the saying during the monarchical era of “He who would not steal while in office, will come to regret it when he leaves office.” Corruption took a blatant form of theft during the era of trigger-happy Derg when it started to sequester the properties of its “class enemies.” Now, however, corruption or corrupt practices are on the lips of EPRDF’s critics, but as HMD had repeatedly reminded the public, the Government’s efforts to weed out corruption will be futile unless the public works in tandem with the all-powerful Anti-Corruption and Ethics Commission to expose the corrupt. What is called for here is there the creation of an enabling environment where the public would be spurred to give vent to their pent-up anger and resentment against corrupt officials could be one way to address the problem of getting to the root of the problem.

 I tend to agree with that agile-tongued communicator of EPRDF, Bereket Simone’s reflections, at an ECB panel discussion of EPRDF’s brass hats – Messrs Abadula Gemeda, Dr Kassu Elala, Abaye Tsehay – on remedial steps to be taken in order to address the demand of the protesters. He opined “there is no such thing as wholesale corruption in EPRDF.” While corrupt members, no doubt, bring infamy, shame, dishonour and disgrace to EPRDF, it would be wrong to conclude that EPRDF is institutionally corrupt. In its self-appraisal, EPRDF highlighted that it has in recent years derailed from its cherished servant-leader mindset. It has now vowed to give an oomph to reawaken the spirit of “Renaissance” so that EPRDF will continue its onward march and deliver enhanced democracy, economic growth and development. Rooting out corruption particularly from the corridors of power, therefore, has now become the litmus test of HMD’s ability to effectively respond to the challenges ahead.