OROMIA: The Colonized and sold country
By Rundassa Eshete


Economic hardship and lack of freedom are the two major perennial challenges of Oromia and the worries of its people. The causes are, to be occupied by the minority Tigre tribe from north Ethiopia, the sell of their natural resources such as land, gold and coffee, multiplicity of imprisonments and killings, and  the cultural degradation which are magnified by the colonial power of the Tigre tribe, starvation and ever deteriorating living conditions are the major problems.

In Oromia, any political authority, past and present, whose governance is arbitrary and fails to give careful attention to these truisms have nothing to offer to the people than repeating failure after failure. A look at  Oromia’s recent past for a quick review of the policies and practices of the  present government divulges the secret that things are already going astray in  this occupied state whose wealthy natural resources did cost dearly to generations of Oromia during 150 solid years of it’s colonial experiences under the Amhara and the Tigre rules.

The Tigre Liberation Front (TPLF) is on record affirming that uprooting the land owners from their land will cause a flood of jobless refugee to cities, yet, all of the sudden it started Tigre dominated nation-building process with wrong approaches of selling Oromians land to the Arabs and the Indians and therefore, more painful years are ahead for  35 million occupied nation of Oromia. 

Since Oromia is occupied by the Tigrians in 1991, the  state of   Tigri have celebrated the 18th anniversary of its liberation from  Amhara ruled Ethiopia. Yet as an occupiers, the Tigrians in Oromia recorded a tragic failure practically in all fields of endeavor. The common feeling that the Oromians are facing today is more difficult than the times when they were ruled by the Amharas. On top of the economic hardship that they have brought upon the Oromians, their divide and conquer political game have caused the Oromo nation to lose social harmony as they intentionally introduced tactics of division between Oromia’s clans and it’s neighbors. This serious divisions are mainly caused by faulty and callously arrogant policies of the occupying Tigre rulers in Oromia. Each decree and proclamation passed by the ruling tribe from Tigri has come as yet, another recipe for unimaginable poverty and civil strife.

Each of the laws and decisions made by the Tigre ruling occupier can be taken randomly in order to test the manner in which their dictatorial government is driving Oromia towards an inevitable doom. The assertions of the TPLF regarding the long term disastrous consequences of the decrees and proclamations churned out by the TPLF are being authenticated by expert judgement reached through independent assessment and research.


One such corroboration of TPLF positions is a conclusion reached by many experts around the world regarding food shortage and the looming danger. Please log on to (www.oromiannationalacademy.com and click on OROMIA:THE SOLD NATION  to see the Video presentation.


As you will see it, the experts have concluded that the food shortage around the world will end up generating serious political and economic disasters especially for the nations such as the Oromians.

 
SELLING OROMIA’S FARM LANDS WILL CAUSE POLITICAL CONFLICT AND STARVATION

The history of land holding in Oromia attests that 75 percent Oromians are practicing agriculture, 20 percent are engaged in a mix of cultivation and 5 percent are tied to different practices alone.

After the 1974 revolution in empire Ethiopia, the right given to the Oromians to hold land, and the security of land holding to peasant farmers are the few positive aspects of the Proclamation of land to the tiller.    For that very reason, the selling of Oromians land will have revolutionary consequences as they eventually start fighting to have the same rights that they have had to a plot of land.  Today, large segment of the population is totally disregarded and such a disregard will affect the farmers and  pastoralists in such a way that it harms and  befall this vulnerable social group.


The selling of Oromia’s land to the Arabs and the Indians, as it now stands, offers no special provisions protecting the grazing rights of Oromia’s farmers who traditionally practiced pastoralism or agro-pastoralism. As a result, the Oromo farmers will face greatest chance of being the losers in this land selling aggression by the Tigre rulerssince this practice will force them stop working for themselves and seek employment for the Indian and Arab capitalists.



Given the experience of other African countries, the decision to legally give Oromo land to Arabs and Indians is puzzling. It also poses dangers for the society as a whole, in threatening to underline the cleavages between immigrant Arab and the Indians on one side and the Oromians who are already tired of slavery on the other.

The Selling of Oromians land involves the migration of the Arabs who will be bringing their sexist and racist cultures that will significantly affect African indigenous culture and traditions while it also  affect food prices and outputs.  Arabs access to Oromo land means access to our wealth or subsistence" and because of these attributes the allocation of land is "a politically charged process which should not have been the colonial practice  of the ruling Tigre tribe of empire Ethiopia.


Examples cited regarding conflicts caused by land laws which ignored social segments directly affected new land laws include
bitter experiences in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe and other African countries.

Resettlement of uprooted Oromo refugees, the Habasha  immigrants and landless Oromo peasants will increase the competition for land in Oromia. This will lead to the marginalization of the Oromo farmers.

In Oromia, because the Tigre government of empire Ethiopia has already committed millions of acres to Indians and the Arabs, the native Oromians are guaranteed to lose their land for ever. That means, their chance to develop their own land is gone for ever while the conflict or political alienation they are going to face will be very high. Because the conflicts that are set to develop will happen in country sides part of Oromia, the rift of conflict will run directly along the cleavages which have existed among the Oromians and the Abyssinians throughout the political struggle years for independence of Oromia.


More clearly, Muslim groups in Oromia may side with the Arab occupiers while none Muslims struggle against Tigreans program of Arabnizing Oromia.

If political parties, in particular those who represent the interest of the farmers oppose the selling of Oromo land to Arabs and the Indians, the ruling occupying force from Tigri will refuse giving legal recognition to such political parties and the potential for conflict will not be minimized or resolved through public debate. Hence, selling Oromians land as investment corporation in the countryside is a serious mistake.

One of the most surprising facets of the Tigre government of empire Ethiopia land selling practice is its seeming revival of modernization theory and its agricultural applications. Two parts of the land reform give evidence to this paradigmatic retreat: the seeming lack of understanding of the value of Oromo farmers as a mode of production and the emphasis on external investment as a key factor in developing the countryside".

What the prime minister of empire Ethiopia forgot is that he himself protested against the Haile Silase government  modernization theories of the 1960s saying that the uprooting the farmers ands selling their land to the Moojaa family wrongly considered the role of farmers in economic production to be marginal. One such an example is the Arusha Declaration of 1967 which assumed that pastoralism was a 'backward' system of production until experience proved that assumption to have been wrong. That old assumption led governments to organize resettlement schemes with the aim of promoting development and self-sufficiency.

By analyzing diverse literature on African land reform, and experiences of other countries, one can argue that the later reconsideration of pastoralism as a mode of production have posited that, rather than being inferior to agriculture, it is a positive response to an arid environment where agriculture alone would be untenable in supporting the population. Adding to the renewed understanding of the productive capacity of
pastoralism has been evidence that, given the choice between irrigated agriculture and pastoralism, some groups will choose pastoralism, investing in cattle wealth even after practicing settled agriculture.

The Tigre ruled government of empire Ethiopia land selling  practice overlooks these very important experiences which show both the intrinsic value of the pastoral mode of production as a response to arid environments and the difficulties experienced by governments attempting to eliminate pastoralism.  There is no justification for this disregard of pastoral and farmers interests in Oromia.


In short, the TPLF government of empire Ethiopia has not concerned itself with understanding the interests, either social or economic, of the pastoralist and farmers of Oromia.

Investment in rural Oromia

The rural investment policy accompanied the selling of Oromia’s lands appears to overlook the theoretical developments of the Derg era in which people were forced to leave Tigri and Wallo and settle in Oromia. 

The allocation of these lands for sell in the name of investment is one of the disruptive mechanisms in the land reform intended to promote investment in the countryside.   If the purpose of selling Oromo land to the Arabs and the Indians is for encouragement of  investment in the countryside,  or for an expansion of cash crops or for the creation of employment opportunities, or for the introduction of new technologies etc, such a wish-list is irrelevant to today's realities. Case studies and empirical evidence suggest that it is not investment in projects, technology, or import-substitution, which develops the productive output of rural farms. Rather, it is concentrating resources in the hands of small holders and 'getting the prices right' that leads to increased output.


Studies throughout the developing world have demonstrated that land used by small farmers has higher output because of an increased level of labour inputs... Arguments for economies of scale that may be present in the underlying, assumed benefits of large farms, fall through in areas where labour is a comparatively abundant factor of production as is the case in this upcoming Arab buy out of Oromians lands.

It is also important to understand that the selling of natives land to the so called investors will have a serious environmental consequences because limited term investors deplete the land of its resources rather than contributing to the overall development of the countryside. flower farming is one such depleting practice in current Oromia. Therefore, if the Tigre government of empire Ethiopia’s intentions are to generate revenue for the state of Oromia via the selling of Oromo land, then failure is inevitable and may also lead to irrevocable environmental damage".


While the intentions of the selling of Oromians land is seek to maximize the cash flow for the ruling elite out of poor state, Africa’s history has demonstrated such a fund raising practice as ineffective for the nation even for the dictators who take the money and save them in their own over seas accounts.  Hailesilase who stole over 11 billion dollars and Mobutu Seseseko passed before using what they have stolen.


Further more, the TPLF regime has been re-settling  thousands of its former fighters in Oromia creating new round Klanshikovnya (Nafxanya) and these new settlers have done their own share of  evicting the Oromo farming communities around Finfinnee and elsewhere in Oromia.

So, the current land sell by the Tigre man only reminds us the the method that Emperor Menelik had used to subjugate the southern and eastern regions of empire Ethiopia during the past century. He settled there hordes of armed 'Neftegnas' from the northern and  central parts of the country.

One way or the other, this scheme will have the dangerous consequences of dispossessing and dislocating the local population as well as disrupting their traditional mode of life by  inevitably leading the region to serious conflicts based on religious lines, whose consequences would be disastrous.



Malasa’s Illusory Economic Growth

by Bari Ayano


It is a known fact that over 85% of Ethiopia’s labor directly and indirectly engage in the agricultural sector for survival. For the Oromos the figure may be higher, around 90%. For Annuak people the rural share may reach as high as 97% of the total population.  Real economic growth and development unlocks the productive potential the dominant labor force of a country. Productive employment of the majority is a way forward for growth and the key to real development. Malasa and cos illusory economic growth agenda ignores this fundamental fact.

There is widespread consensus in economic development theory that the questions of majority employment, betterment of the material conditions of majority people’s life, the development of the rural markets, and social, economic &political emancipation are intricately intertwined, indeed organically linked. Attempts to address one or the other in isolation can proceed only up to a point, whereupon they get stalled or take distorted forms. An integrated approach is required, centering on the question of productive employment of the majority of a country.

The question of productive employment is not limited to whether the existing dominant labor force is engaged in any activity in the hope of somehow surviving. Malasa’s land lease policy, which evicts the small scale farmers, does not release labor force for productive employment in the industrial and/or service sector. Ethiopia’s industrial and service sectors absorptive capacities for excess labor force are non-existent except in Rev. Belina’s daydreams. Therefore, evicting small scale farmers through foreign-owned industrial (large scale mechanized) farms only end up producing landless laborers. It is a well known fact that due to their nature mechanized industrial farms (agriculture) do not also absorb all the labor force it releases. Most of the evicted small scale farmers will end up unemployed migrants to towns and cities.Many of them will end up urban homeless and lumpen.

Therefore, leasing lands in hundreds of thousands of hectares for mechanized foreign-owned industrial farms does not better productive employment of the dominant labor force in small scare agriculture. Genuine economic growth calls for productive employment of the dominant labor force since the wealth of a country is the sum of the productive activities of the dominant labor forces of a country. Malasa’ and cos land lease policies adds to unproductive labor force of Ethiopia. Worse still, it weakens the most dominant small scale agricultural sector.  

It is crystal clear that only a small class of Ethiopia can become wealthy by maximizing profit per unit of investment. A large part of the labor force will be kept unemployed, and hence the wealth of majority is restricted in the process. Although the current  maintenance of a large pool of workers out of the labor market, unemployed, or under-employed in small scale agriculture, the eviction of small scale farmers without reliable alternative absorptive capacity is even worse. It is more a sign of great inefficiency, which lead to weak economic base for growth.

Separating "Growth" from Real Employment

Malasa and cos illusory economic "growth" separates growth from real (productive) employment of the majority. In poor countries like Ethiopia, when the process of so-called economic ‘growth’ is divorced from productive employment of the most dominant labor agricultural force, it leads to a number of negative consequences on general welfare of the masses.

First, much of the economic growth Malasa and cos claim itself is more illusory than real, in that various activities are proliferated which may add to the GDP but do not add an iota to the betterment of welfare of the majority people in Ethiopia, even in the broadest sense of the word growth, including spillovers.

Second, to the extent the illusory economic growth does not deliver material benefits to majority poor, these benefits and the material wealth of society get cornered by a small section.

Third, the top segments of society develop into a distinct market, which further distorts the pattern of growth, which could potentially benefit the majority poor. The few rich cliques shift investments to quick high-profit sectors catering to these top segments of the market. This kind of investment generates fewer jobs per unit of investment than in industry geared to the lower segments of the market-the majority poor, and a higher share of these fewer jobs for the rich is unproductive. This process in turn reinforces the same skewed pattern of income distribution. Very few rich will get richer and the majority will get poorer. 

Meanwhile, the sector, which predominantly makes items consumed by the dominant poor stagnates for lack of their effective demand, low purchasing power, as a result of which incomes in this sector are constricted. This further depresses the demand for the marginalized and neglected sector’s products, since such demand originates largely from within the marginalized sector itself – i.e., from the dominant workforce in agriculture. In the entire process, the dualism of the economy gets reinforced and the existing social divisions and hierarchies get congealed, preventing the development of human potential of the dominant majority in agriculture and demoralizing the subjugated poor. This in turn suppresses overall development, which in turn compounds illusory economic “growth”, alienated from pulling the majority poor to better purchasing power.

The resolution to this problem would involve unlocking the productive possibilities and scope of the dominant agricultural labor force – both creating employment for it and enabling it to develop its capabilities in an all-rounded way. It would involve employing the bulk of the potential labor force in producing the material needs of the vast majority, despite the relatively low rates of profit in such activities. Real economic growth is not quick fix as Malasa and cos pretend. Employing the dominant majority would simultaneously create a vast, widely dispersed as well as sustainable market for goods. Such an unlocking of productive potential would require a vast struggle by the subjugated masses themselves for social emancipation, political and economic freedoms. And it would in turn enhance the material conditions for continuing that struggle.Malasa and cos war against Oromos and others is all rounded, includes economic disenfranchisement and planned impoverishment of the majority.

Majority's plight integrating real economic breakthrough is impossible to emerge under the TPLF regime, which is purposely geared towards making fast profit for its few cliques. We know the constellation of TPLF gangs in power, and the specific historical process through which they have changed during the last 20 years; they all pose obstacle to such a resolution of the major economic problem in Ethiopia for the majority poor.

At the heart of such a resolution is the transformation to be wrought in the dominant small scale agriculture. For it is there that the social process must begin which can lay the base for all-rounded economic betterment of the majority. TPLF regime seems to care less about the majority as long the gangs make profits. The economic policies they follow are quick profiteering.

Fertile Land Concentration in a Few Hands

Over 85% f the Ethiopian population is rural and poor. The abysmal poverty of the rural masses constricts the market for goods and services. Rural economic elites cannot emerge from marginalized majority small scale farmers. The only dynamic agrarian class that will emerge under TPLF policy, beyond foreigners, will be very few, who can lease large scale lands at the expense of the rural majority. This will lead to concentration of the major fertile land in the hand of foreigners and few local absentee landlords of the 21st century. And Malasa and cos claim this as some economic growth-"growth" that impoverishes the majority of the people in the Ethiopian Empire for generations.

The dominant majority in the small agricultural sector will not end up a dynamic class driving the growth of productive forces in agriculture, but as the main parasitic class, flourishing as the helplessness of the landless. Without releasing the stranglehold of these sections, agricultural development is impossible. Land lease to foreigners just does the opposite: further impoverish the already poor majority by making them landless "farmers".

In the course of the land lease and evictions, the share of the erstwhile poor peasants and (farm) laborers will significantly rise. The effect is double-edged. Malasa’s policy of land lease to large scale industrial farms does not expand rich small scale farmers. Underutilized land will not be available to be redistributed to the poor and landless peasants. Once the large scale industrial farms produce start entering the agricultural goods markets in Ethiopia, the fate of the small scale farmers in the agricultural markets will be doomed. The small scale producers do not have a chance to compete with the mechanized farms. Thus, Malasa’s recent agricultural policy of land lease to industrial farms is, at best, impoverishing the mass in the small scale agriculture and enriching foreigners leasing the fertile lands, with small spillover benefits to TPLF gangs and cos. It is the WORST economic policy Malasa has experimented with so far-damaging, indeed.

The only sensible economic policy to pursue in Ethiopia is sustainable agriculture that takes into account the majority in the small scale agriculture. Of course, by dually considering the growth and development of  other sectors of the economy. Land lease for mechanized agriculture is anti-thesis to widely accepted sustainable agriculture recommended by experts through out the world. Real and sustainable economic growth is anchored in changing the welfare of majority for the better. 

Barii