POWER VACUUM SEEMS TO BE EMINENT IN THE ERITREAN POLITICS, ARE WE READY?
BY AMARE GEBREMARIAM GEBRE
"The challenges faced by strategic leaders in implementing complex and long-range consequential decisions demand that they be sophisticated with respect to issues of leadership, power and influence. The changes that are shaping the nature of work in today's complex organizations require that we develop the political will, expertise and personal skills to become more flexible, innovative and adaptive. Without political awareness and skill, we face the inevitable prospect of becoming immersed in bureaucratic infighting, parochial politics and destructive power struggles, which greatly retard organizational initiative, innovation, morale and performance." (Kotter 1985)
POWER AND POLITICS
Eritrean organizations in the Diaspora and in the heart land, to be innovative, responsive and responsible require focusing on a number of leadership, power and influence issues. In a country where democracy prevails the leadership tries its best to inform, influence, and satisfy the peoples’ demands and needs. It is this attitude and practice that is absent in the Eritrean politics. The Eritrean opposition in general seems to lack the vision and management of change and the panic and helplessness observed in the Eritrean power politics in general with the rumor of death of dictator Isaias whether manipulated or not is vivid and clear. Below are some ideas that I think will help to develop sound strategy, management and assessment of political situation and the need to re-organize.
- Implementing strategic or adaptive change in the face of formidable resistance.
- Fostering entrepreneurial and creative behavior despite strong opposition.
- Gaining resources and support from leaders whose personal agendas might include organizationally harmful political games.
- Avoiding destructive adversarial relationships with others whose help and cooperation are paramount to your success, but who are outside your chain of command and your direct control, and who may suspect your motives.
- Building and developing effective teams in an internal environment where the natural tendency is to conflict with each other and engage in neighborhood battles.
- Avoiding becoming a victim or casualty of destructive power struggles.
- Avoiding the numerous traps that generate power misuses and ultimately power loss.
- Fostering organizational excellence, innovation and creativity, and not getting mired in bureaucratic politics or dysfunctional power conflicts.
SHADOW OF POWER VACUUM IN ERITREA
According to Wikipedia: “power vacuum is, in its broadest sense, an expression for a condition that exists when someone has lost control of something and no one has replaced them. It is usually used to refer to a political situation that can occur when a government has no identifiable central authority. The metaphor implies that, like a physical vacuum, other forces will tend to "rush in" to fill the vacuum as soon as it is created, perhaps in the form of an armed militia or insurgents, military coup, warlord or dictator.”
The present situation in Somalia is a clear example of power vacuum in our East Africa region.
A couple of weeks ago a shadow of power vacuum hovered in Eritrean politics that lasted for about a week. Information about dictator Isaias’s illness leaked possibly from the CIA and PFDJ struggled for cover up. Some Eritrean who claim to be journalists who most of the time creates mountains out of mole- hills released news cast that says Isaias is terminally ill, then promote it to Isias is dead. Then rumor engulfed at least the Eritrean Diaspora. The Eritrean political opposition organizations not to fair the Eritrean public scrambled to release organizational press releases that bear no helpful guidance to the Eritrean public, but feed to the rumor, manipulation and ploy of PFDJ that is haunting them on how to face the public after the debacle of misleading press release. I say these organizations should address the public on how and why they were taken off guard and how they are to correct it for the future if they are to be taken seriously. Isaias resurrected from his apparent death appeased the power vacuum issue just for the moment, but no body is denying that he is sick and the power vacuum issue is eminent according to some insiders.
SCENARIO FOR POWER VACUUM REPLACEMENT
“Scenario planning has become an important strategic planning tool as more corporations, organizations and government agencies begin to use scenarios.
Scenarios are plausible alternative views about how the future may develop. They differ from forecasting in that they do not attempt to predict the future based on linear extrapolations of the past. Scenarios do not seek to project the future. Instead they focus on the identification of discontinuities and how these could potentially develop as a set over time. Scenario analysis allows us to anticipate future developments, and to evaluate strategies for responding to these events or conditions through an exploration of alternative futures.”
Below are the scenarios for power struggle in the event of Isaias’s death for real which is inevitable in the near future.
- Military junta of a general or generals take over.
- Representatives from all the military divisions hold a meeting and select transitional leaders as what happened in Ethiopia with the DERG.
- Popular uprising erupts, junior officers support the public that lead to selection of civilian transitional government.
- The government ministers may organize themselves and take over.
- Ethiopia may make a move with the excuse of peace keeping planting BAYTO AWASSA.
The scenario I prefer and ardently support is scenario “C”. But we have very hard task unfolding and we must prepare for any eventuality.
ARE WE READY TO FACE THE EVENTUALITY OF POWER VACUUM?
The little things we do can all add up and become big things. So in order to make a difference I would like to suggest some points such as; find the path and take what matters most to you, choose your jurisdiction, become your own expert, know how to communicate your issue, build coalition, know your contact, be aware of the system and use different methods.
The scenarios listed above are the expected ones to take place once Isaias expires, becomes vegetative or slips into comma that does not seem to be far away. One or more of those in the list might emerge, but what role is the Eritrean opposition expected to play and how do we prepare the Eritrean public for democratic change? Obviously last month the opposition was surprised with no tangible plan at hand except press release of rumors and willingness to be called upon in case some one fills the vacuum. All what was said at Awassa was thrown into the trash if you read the press release by BAYTO AWASSA on this issue I am sure you will agree with me. Democratic elements, organizations and institutions have the obligation to act according to what we propagate. To say I am democratic element is not rhetoric, but an honest belief in the concept of human rights and equality. Here are some ideas on how we should prepare ourselves and the public for the inevitable power vacuum in our country.
- Organize a body that gathers information; analyze the information and advice the leadership to act.
- Prepare the public to resist any change that does not make the people the center of the change.
- Any body who fills the vacuum should communicate to the people that the rule of law and social justice will be established, respected and observed.
- Any body who fills the vacuum should specify time of transition to multiparty democratic election..
- PFDJ should be banned the moment of take over.
- All PFDJ declarations should be called null and void.
- Slave labor should be abolished immediately.
Glory to our martyrs