Meles’ Vision thrives as the Peoples’ Vision

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By Abdirashid Dulane (Ambassador)

Two painful years have elapsed since the sudden passing away of our Great Visionary Leader and Hero, His Excellency Ato Meles Zenawi.  But time and again we are comforted by the very fact that his vision and legacy has, more than ever, become the rallying cause for the fast transformation of our nation and its tens of millions of people, who have made a pledge to change the hitherto unpleasant image of their beloved country and their livelihood for the better.  Meles, with his dedicated colleagues, have made great sacrifices to unshackle the great energy of people who were yearning to tear down the vestiges of poverty and backwardness from their midst. The establishment of Meles foundation in early 2013, which deserves all our wholehearted support, acknowledges those sacrifices and others which he has made on behalf of Africa and is the embodiment of the noble principles he championed, cherished and stood for: advancement of peace, socio-economic development, contribution on climate change negotiations, fostering environmental protection and the like.

It is greatly entertaining and powerful to see millions of Ethiopians, of all walks of life, commemorating and promising to hasten the development efforts the Great Leader has started by emulating his greatly revered character: magnificent industriousness, hard work and humility. Comprehending and saluting EPRDF’s team spirit and its salient organizational discipline that venerates collective deeds/achievements, which Meles so highly respected and faithfully adhered to, as it is, yet one can’t help forgiving himself by appreciating and marveling at his exceptional cerebral aptitude, intellectual competence and analytical faculty. He was the best at whatever he did. Period!

As the government puts the final touches for the preparation of GTP II and move closer to the culmination of GTP I next year, all the necessary ingredients for the realization of Meles’ Vision for Ethiopia to leap towards attaining a medium-income status by 2025 are well in place: people who voluntarily mobilized themselves around the Vision and have pledged to work day and night for its realization, committed and hard working leadership, a nation whose regional leadership, world standing and acceptance is growing fast by the day and is open for business and investment, strong will and dedication to mobilize the required financial resources for the implementation of the Vision and dependable peace and stability, among others.

Meles’ dignified Vision of building a New Ethiopia that is peaceful, democratic and developed is purposefully being carried forward by most his compatriots, who have internalized it and pledged in earnest to see to it that it is robustly brought to fruition. In short, considering the speedy pace of development that is taking place with peoples’ participation, Meles’ Vision is thriving as the Peoples’ Vision.

Peace is an essential element in the existence of nations and their development. In the case of our country a lot of effort has been accomplished in this arena. Today Ethiopia is at peace with itself, its neighbors and is considered a champion of peace regionally, continentally and internationally.  In recent years our professional and well disciplined armed forces have diligently served in Rwanda, Burundi and Liberia as UN peace keeping forces and are currently indefatigably serving in Sudan/South Sudan and Somalia. Their missions’ undertaking has always received great acclaim, respect and adoration by the people and the countries they serve and by the international community. Similarly our country is at the forefront of the countries fighting international terrorism since it has been a victim of terrorism. Besides keeping the peace, our defense industry have become a significant and noteworthy development partner in the country’s renaissance by developing huge manufacturing capacity delivering numerous vital import substitution materials thus saving the country enormous hard currency. This has been the outgrowth of Meles’ Vision.

Provision of education, health, water and other social services are gaining momentum. Ethiopia is amongst the few countries destined to meet most of the MDG targets by next year. Infrastructure development is progressing at a prodigious rate. Road, railway, telecommunication, power, air service, public housing, etc…, network developments are escalating at an unimaginable speed.  Farmers are benefitting from technology packages and are gradually turning into commercial entrepreneurs. SME development is giving hope to hundreds of thousands of citizens that own their businesses and earn a decent living. Their number is expected to soar exponentially in the coming years. Manufacturing is expected to lead the way and overtake agriculture and service sectors soon with modes of production and processes, in nearly all sectors, espousing the highly celebrated and efficient Kaizen approach.

Democratic institutions are burgeoning and good governance, although a lot remains to be improved, is receiving a lot of close attention. The recent two good governance conferences have laid bare a host of problems (service delivery constraints ranging from customs, water, power, telecommunication, justice, housing, SME, etc… were explicitly raised) impeding the advancement of good governance in the country. There is a general concurrence to the existence of those challenges and a great sense of urgency to tackle them fast. Gauging the level of progress on this significant parameter would undoubtedly impact the overall success of Meles’ Vision. Close follow up and scrutiny for a successful upshot is the joint responsibility of all stakeholders.

In addition his grand vision to see a peaceful, strong, integrated and respected Africa is gaining pace. As he championed, Africa’s ownership in regional peace keeping is advancing in earnest. Peace keeping operations in Somalia, Sudan/South Sudan and Mali, among others are telling examples. On climate change, all of Africa is reading from the same page, as he advocated and initiated.  Africa will continue to articulate its firm and unified position in international fora to shore up its interests as Meles has eloquently, diligently and responsibly imparted. Similarly, his vision for a “green and carbon neutral economy” is gaining strong acceptance internationally (provision of funds and technical know-how by advanced economies are forthcoming) and locally.  For instance locally, nation-wide movement in which many millions of nursery trees are sowed by energized fellow citizens (senior officials, farmers, government workers, business people, women and youth associations, etc…) to commemorate his noble undertaking is steadily greening and swelling the forest cover of the Country. This commendable initiative could be replicated in other sisterly African countries to assuage the drastic effects of deforestation, desertification and soil degradation.

His vision for Africa’s integration is also going well with countries empathizing to the myriad benefits of pulling their resources together for their mutual benefit. The strong and aggressive tapping of Ethiopia’s huge energy resources, besides satisfying the country’s power needs could, in less than a decade, bring more African countries into the grid thus integrating them economically. The eagerly awaited completions of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Gilgel Gibe III and a number of hydropower, geothermal, solar and wind power projects in the pipeline (all from renewable energy source) will do the job. Another case in point is the fact that Ethiopia is an active member in the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Project which has various components besides the port including the construction of major infrastructures (oil pipeline, highway and rail lines, airports, electricity lines, etc.) that provide regional integration by mutually benefiting the economies of Kenya, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, Uganda and beyond. The recent meeting of the Heads of States of these countries in Nairobi early this month and their joint lobbying for private funding in Washington during the USA- Africa Summit is a further affirmation of their steadfastness and solid commitment for the realization of this strategically vital project.

It would be unfitting if the primarily central role IGAD is playing to economically, politically, socially and security-wise integrate the Horn of Africa member States is not acknowledged. The contribution of Meles’ leadership as its Chairperson and Ethiopia as the Chair country,  in building IGAD into becoming the viable and requisite Organization that it is today, to say the least, is unrivaled and truly beyond compare. IGAD has become a relevant and essential Organization that advances regional security and one of the major international focal points in the fight against global terrorism.  His modest yet strong persona, exceptional wit coupled with his superior power of persuasion and excellent diplomatic prowess has resulted in gaining the support and respect of many in the diplomatic community. A case in point refers to the thorny issue of Abyei region, which arose after the birth of the newly independent State of South Sudan and had the potential to nearly reverse the course of the hardly won peace and stability and thus engulf the two States back into an all out war. After intense and delicate negotiations, both parties agreed to cease hostilities and, in the interim, accepted to allow stationing of UN brokered peace keepers on the Abyei border region between the States. Ultimately the two warring States have mutually agreed to a shinning and unique decision, the first in UN’s peace-keeping history, by consenting to a contingent of peace keeping force from their neighbor, Ethiopia. Repeated instances to pacify Somalia by hosting numerous reconciliation conferences are laudable examples, among others.

Meles’ legacy has become intertwined to the yearning and destiny of his people, who although proud and with rich and glamorous past have for so long been struggling hard to reclaim their glorious past and join the group of nations that have skillfully sailed through and succeeded in unmasking the complexities shrouding  poverty, under development and backwardness. By embracing his much deliberated and thought out Vision and joining forces, with our unflinching resolve to work hard for its realization, it would not be a far away journey to arrive at the “land of abundance, development and prosperity”. The experience of the recent arrivals illustrates an arduous and challenging journey ahead, which can be covered fast once its secrets are unlocked. Meles’ vision, which read pages from the guiding book of successful arrivals, would undoubtedly save us precious time and energy and  facilitate our safe arrival lest we fail to work very hard and retreat to our previous comfort zone. Finally, let’s instigate real action by further bonding with Meles’s Vision with a great sense of dedication and strong will to bring about a meaningful positive change on the lives of our fellow citizens within a short time.

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