By Leggese Alemu Gurmu
(From Social media via Advocacy for Oromia, 24 April 2014) Ato Mathewos Asfaw, the General Manager of AA/Oromia Special Zone Master Plan Project, is not clear yet on the most important and sensitive public matter. During interview on ETV he said one of the demands for the new Master Plan is the ever growing population. He said currently Addis Ababa has about 3 million people and it is going to be doubled in the coming 10 years i.e it can go up to 6 million. With the Oromian towns, which have been already spatially and functionally integrated in to Addis, the city will have about 8 million people in coming ten years.
According to him, there are huge surges in population and therefore it is very critical to be prepared to welcome these population pressures (giving them the required housing, space, the required services, transportation and other social and other municipal services). There are also huge demands for investment that comes both from local and abroad. He said, when the plan begin to be implemented, there will be huge investment than we never saw before.
During this interview, he was neither asked nor took a proactive role to explain how all these demands can be met without displacing the surrounding indigenous population (Oromo peasants) from their lands and homes. Nor he said about any long and short term strategies that are going to be put in place to deal with these displacements. He was not asked or he did not address these critical issues b/c the main target of this plan is not benefiting the indigenous people from these development activities.
As he rightly said, the main target is responding to the ever growing of population pressure and needs for investment in the City of Addis. This is very clear and almost unambiguous. This mind set up also fits the very historical development of that “garrison”, (Amharic Katama). It has been pushing out the indigenous people from their lands, while they have been diminished and made extinct, Addis has been growing. The current plan is simply the continuum of past policies and practices. That is why evicting Oromo peasants from their home and lands have been considered as almost normal way of development for City of Addis.
The most amazing thing is that when Ato Mathewos Asfaw asked by Ethiopian Reporter, the Amharic vision, that who he thinks going to be the most beneficiaries from this master plan, his answer was this one “የበለጠ ተጠቃሚ ይሆናሉ ከተባለ የሚጠቀሙት ከዚህ በፊት ተጎጂ የነበሩት አካባቢዎች ናቸው፡፡ በዚህ ማስተር ፕላን ሁለቱም ተጠቃሚ ናቸው፡፡ የበለጠ ግን ሲጎዱ የነበሩ አካባቢዎች ተጠቃሚ ይሆናሉ፡፡” To be honest, I do not know to whom he is referring to as “ከዚህ በፊት ተጎጂ የነበሩት አካባቢዎች”. However, most people definitely know who these areas /አካባቢዎች/ are. They are indigenous people:the Oromos. It is Oromo peasants who have been the victims of the development of City of Addis so far. So, are these the people who are going to be the most beneficiaries from the plan that has been designed to respond to the demands of City of Addis or are there any other people / area he is referring to? The fate of the indigenous people has never been even the subject of his interviews so far and how all of the sudden they turned to be the most beneficiaries of this this plan? He thinks he smart or what?
During ETV interviews he said administrative takeover of Oromian Towns and Woradas is not the part of the plan. He is right and most people know this and I do not know why he repeats the most obvious. This is not even the main part of the concerns for now. The main issue is that: First, for the coming 30 years or so the plan significantly changes the demographic structure of the Oromian towns and Woradas which are included in the Master plan.
This is very inevitable if the master plan get implemented properly. Then, it is very clear that it is going to be presented to internal secession according to Article 47 of FDRE constitution, if it stays as it is now. This is also very clear b/c there is no any legal or moral reason why majorly non Oromo population want to be administered under Oromia regional state while they can establish their own autonomous region. The argument in this regard is, thus, this plan is the first of the beginning of breaking down of Oromia National Regional State into so many parts. Is this not very clear and visible?
Anyways, there are many things to be said on this matter. The bottom line is, however, the public and major stakeholders are not getting the information they need most at this critical junction. (The plan begins to be implemented on May 2014). The information available, including the one we get from the General Manager, does not make sense or does not add up. If it adds up, it gives scary pictures for the most Oromos.
Here are the links for whatever purpose: