The goal should be to take back the market & the business from the TPLF!

Taking back the market and the business from the TPLF Should Be the Goal!
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Note: This article was first published by Berhanemeskel Abebe Segni on his facebook page.

In 1990, in the words of the former Prime Minister and TPLF leader Meles Zenawi, before the TPLF conducted large-scale government institutions supported nationwide robbery, theft, and dispossession, there were only 40 trucks and a handful of small businesses in the whole of Tigray.

Nothing is more descriptive of the economic condition of Tigray in 1990 than the famous interview of Meles Zenawi with CIA Agent Pual Henze. The interview was conducted on April 3 and April 5, 1990, in Washington DC.[ At the time, Tigray was under full control of the TPLF at least for about two and half years.]

Meles was very candid with Paul Henze. Mr. Henze also asked very valid and interesting questions. The implications and impacts of the answers Meles gave to Mr. Henze’s questions are still visible in many ways, making this interview very important document to understand the strategy of TPLF.

In addition to Meles, three other TPLF representatives were present at the time of the interview. Namely, Berhane Gebre Christos (European representative of the TPLF, based in London), Seyoum Mesfin (TPLF Foreign Affairs chief), and Assefa Mamo (Washington representative of the TPLF). The conversation was exclusively between Meles Zenawi and Paul Henze while these three TPLF officials were silent observers.

On the economic segment of the questions between the Meles Zenawi and Pual Henze the conversation went like this:

” Paul Henze: Are you permitting businesses to function?

Meles Zenawi: Yes. There was nothing but small business in Tigray. We never nationalized it. Bakeries and shops and craftsmen are operating as they always did. People who own trucks are in business. There are about 40 of them now. Hauling famine relief grain is good business for them. But they have great difficulty getting gasoline or diesel fuel. It had to come from Sudan. We cannot get any from Eritrea because the EPLF does not have enough either.”

The follow-up question by Paul Henze was equally telling. It is about the export sector in Tigray.

Here is how the question and answer went:

“Paul Henze: Are you producing anything that can be sold? One of Tigray’s exports used to be incense. Is it being collected?

Meles Zenawi: The incense business is dead. People don’t collect it because it cannot be exported. But the trees are still there and it could be revived. We have recently set up a group called the Tigray Development Association (TDA) which we hope can collect enough money abroad to finance development projects in Tigray.”

Now, 27 years later, the TPLF robbery, theft and dispossession changed the situation. All known Oromo people export resources including cash crops like coffee, Chate, gold, oilseeds, grains, live animals, leather products, mineral waters, cement, textile products and all other resources are forcefully overtaken by the TPLF.

The TPLF now controls the manufacturing sector, the service sector, the mining sector, the export and import sector, the construction sector, the education sector, the health sector, the finance sector, the real estate sector and above all the urban and rural lands of the Ethiopian people including all extractive materials. The TPLF created no value in overtaking these sectors. They are all unlawfully overtaken by the TPLF and its supporters and affiliates.

As the Ethiopian people hold market boycott to force the regime to release all political prisoners, the focus should turn to starving the beast and taking back the market and the businesses from the TPLF businesses and its affiliates.

The evil side of the TPLF businesses and its affiliates do not end by its act of theft, robbery, and dispossession. They are part of the security apparatus that kills, evicts and dispossess the Ethiopian people.

For instance, TPLF business empires like EFORT, REST and TDA run hundreds of billions of dollars in yearly revenue and profits. Yet, after TPLF and Somali Janjaweed Militia’s joint war displaced, evicted and dispossessed over one million Oromo civilians in Eastern and Southern Oromia, no single TPLF businesses gave a single penny to help and save the life of our displaced population.

Just imagine that and think about it again. One may think, TPLF businesses and its affiliates are Ethiopian peoples resources that the people can count and rely on at the time of need and an emergency. I wish that is the case. Unfortunately, that is not the case. American taxpayers money is likely to arrive fast to help and save Ethiopians life than any wealth in the hands of the TPLF and its affiliates. There shouldn’t be any mistake here. The TPLF businesses and its affiliated businesses see our people as an enemy population. The Oromo people cannot be the enemy population and sources of the TPLF wealth and consumer of its goods and services at the same time.

Taking back these forcefully and unlawfully taken Oromo businesses by controlling the market and systemically boycotting and bankrupting the TPLF businesses should be built into the resistance. A clear and practical strategy should be immediately designed and implemented.