Saturday, June 10, 2006

finger pointing

No one can deny the EPRDF is hard working. They’ve been busy blocking websites and denying the blockages. They’ve been directing the trials of the CUD leaders and creating interesting “facts” submitted as evidence. One of the most amusing parts of my day is picking up the Ethiopian Herald to read what these crazy kids will come up with next.

The EPRDF has been doing a lot of finger pointing. And the thing with pointing a finger is there are three fingers pointing back at you. The harder the EPRDF works to prove that both bloggers and CUD members aren’t with ’em, the more they establish their own government as a farce.

Some simple points on democracy:

1. The right to speak out against the government.

Previously this year, journalists were beaten and/or arrested. Now the EPRDF is censoring the internet by blocking certain websites and blogs; we’re waiting to see if bloggers will actually be targeted next.

2. A certain amount of faith in the population to make their own choices.

By censuring and censoring the media, the government denies the public the ability to make their own decisions as to what to read and what to believe. If the government is concerned about the slanted views expressed on the internet or elsewhere, have faith that ETV and the Herald offset this bias.

3. An opposition party is necessary.

The CUD leaders were arrested on charges of treason, await their fate in prison and are now being subjected to circus trials.

4. Respect for due process and rule of law.

Circus trials. Need I say more?

Mr. EPRDF, you claim you are part of democracy. If you block information, you are not part of democracy. If you view your public as an incapable mass, you are not part of democracy. If you charge the opposition with treason, you are not part of democracy. If you use the opposition’s campaign as evidence of treason, you are not part of democracy.

Dissent is a healthy part of democracy. The harder the EPRDF works to show who the dissenters are, the more it distances itself from democracy. There are many of us, Ethiopian or otherwise, who believe the actions and/or inactions of the EPRDF will be its own downfall. It’s a slippery slope and we hope the slide is fast.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

getting things done

In the movie Office Space, the main character complains about the lack of motivation in working harder. He doesn’t see any extra money if the company does better. He decides he only works hard enough not to get fired. That, and not wanting to get hassled by other employees. It’s a rather cynical view of work and it’s meant to be.

For a lot of other people, you could add your own intrinsic value placed on doing a good job as motivation.

Getting things done is about the request and the follow up. The request is made (e.g., get me that file) and the other person’s follow up (e.g., getting the file). Ethiopia appears as some strange vortex where the link between A and B can vanish for various reasons.

The response to “get me that file” could be any of the following:

- "The file cabinet has been moved and I don’t know where.”

- "We’ve run out of paper for that particular file.”

- "Zzzzzzzz”

- "I was talking with So-and-so and they claim that Another-so-and-so took the file home to secretly copy information to leak to another company.”

- "Oh I thought you said to make a copy of the entire file so I’ve been doing that instead.”

- "Sure no problem, here’s the file.”

Frustrating? Yes. Joking? No.

My theory is a “top-down” one. Let’s take a look at Meles. The request was made by the World Bank (among others) for Meles to engage in a true democratic process or suffer donation cuts. Meles’ follow up involved shuffling paper. The result? Money and lots of it. What lesson can we learn here? There is little or no accountability in Ethiopia.

What does this mean for the average worker?

If you’re caught sleeping on the job, will you get fired? No.

If you have lots of three hour lunches, will you get fired? No.

If you steal from the company, will you get fired? No.

If you punch a fellow employee, will you get fired? No.

If your negligence causes someone else to be hurt, will you get fired? No.

If you do only 15 minutes of work in a day, will you get fired? No.

If you’re “absent” for one month, will you get fired? No.

Motivation here is lost in a mess of disorganization, gossip, unhealthy competition, mismanagement and shuffling of papers.

In response to Tobian, yes. Ethiopia needs Ethiopians with a positive work ethic to be an example for all those that get away with so much. Opportunities can be created. Things can get done.