Meles Zenawi, a staunch fighter for the promotion of democracy, a seasoned statesman and eloquent diplomat of the highest caliber, architect of democratic development policies with charismatic personality passed away five years ago on 21 August 2012.
The legacy of the late Meles is compounded with a major paradigm shift in the transition from neo-liberal and liberal thinking which was considered as the only and the highest level of democracy in the world to a philosophy of developmental democracy as a viable alternative for Ethiopia and Africa.
Meles’ personal and organizational contribution was exhibited through his dynamic leadership in the EPRDF in developing the first democratic constitution of the country conspicuously stands out a cornerstone for the establishment of a new political system in Ethiopia.
The developmental democratic policies were without doubt the brain children of Meles Zenawi. For the first time in the history of Ethiopia, full-ledged policy and strategy documents in which the developmental democratic priorities of the country are explicitly charted out were prepared during his time.
During the Transition Period, Meles came up with a strategy document on Agriculture Development Led Industrialization (ADLI), a masterpiece document which showed a viable alternative and a blue print for the transition to industry.
Among the policy documents produced, is the Foreign Policy and National Security Policy and Strategy. Meles was the originator of the nation’s foreign policy that emanated from the domestic policies of the country.
The reciprocity between the nation’s foreign and domestic policies introduced a new shift from personal charismatic diplomacy to institutionalized economic diplomacy that paid off.
Meles argued that democracy and development are linked internally primarily because without poverty reduction development program, it is unthinkable to put in place an inclusive democratic system from which the peoples of Ethiopia would benefit. He called for participatory, representative and human rights oriented democracy from which all would benefit.
He expounded on the major principles and strategies of developmental democratic state in which the sovereignty of the peoples of Ethiopia is assured.
The proper use of public property was a priority area. He masterminded the establishment of Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to defend against misuse of public property.
Meles’ contribution in voicing Africa’s interest on various international arenas and his ability in forecasting the future development of Africa has won him a global recognition and admiration.
As the leader of a nation with history of thousands of years, Meles personally shouldered the responsibility of ascertaining sustained peace not only in the country but also in Africa. He led the national struggle against terrorism in all fronts and charted out strategies for peace and security in Africa.
The major credit in initiating the energy policy that promoted the development of renewable energy sources goes to the foresights of Meles Zenawi. He originated the very idea of the construction of GERD based on the ownership, finance, skills and multi-faceted resources of the peoples of Ethiopia.
Major leaders of Africa are paying frequent visits to Ethiopia to see how the strategies have been implemented. Some countries have already started to bench mark on sectoral development programs of Ethiopia.
Meles was a dedicated son of not only Ethiopia but also Africa at large. He charted the way for Ethiopia which led the nation to assume a respected position at the international level. Today, Ethiopia has become a priority country for regular and conference tourism. The country is already engaged in linking Africa with air and land transport and hydropower grid.
As the nation marks the fifth year of the passing away of Meles, the peoples of Ethiopia once again vow to take the vision of the great leader right to the end. The rapid transformation of the country will continue and the visions of Meles Zenawi will certainly be accomplished.
(Solomon Dibaba – ENA)