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Graduate School of Development Studies
Impact of Ethnic Federalism in Building
Developmental State of Ethiopia
A Research Paper presented by:
Samuel Kenha Bonda
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for obtaining the degree of
Governance and Democracy
Members of the examining committee:
Dr Freek Schiphorst (Supervisor)
Dr Sylvia I. Bergh (Reader)
The Hague, The Netherlands
December, 2011
This document represents part of the author’s study programme while at the
Institute of Social Studies. The views stated therein are those of the author and
not necessarily those of the Institute.
Postal address:
Institute of Social Studies
P.O. Box 29776
2502 LT The Hague
The Netherlands
Kortenaerkade 12
2518 AX The Hague
The Netherlands
+31 70 426 0460
+31 70 426 0799
List of Acronyms .............................................................................................................. v
Abstract .......................................................................................................................... vi
Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Framing Research issue and problems
1.3 Relevance and Justification
1.4 Objective of the study
1.5 The Research Question
1.6 Methodology
Method of data collection
1.7 Organization of the paper
Chapter 2 Conceptual frame work: Ethnicity, Federalism and
Ethnic Federalism
2.1 Ethnicity
2.2 Federalism
2.3 Ethnic Federalism
2.4 Ethnic Federalism in the Ethiopian context
2.4.1 The politics of self-determination
2.4.2 Ethnic Federalism and Conflicts
Chapter 3
Theoretical Frame work and Literature Review:
Conceptualization of developmental state
3.1 A Brief History of the debate in ‘Developmental States’
3.2 The ‘developmental state’
3.3 Features of Developmental State
3.4 Southeast Asian Experiences
3.5 Failed attempts at state-led development in Africa
Chapter 4 Developmental State of Ethiopia
4.1 The making of developmental state in Ethiopia
4.2 Elite Commitment
4.2.1 Human resources in the bureaucracy: Case of BeninshangulGumuz regional state
4.3 Insulated Bureaucracy
4.4 Embedded Autonomy
4.5 Ideological Underpinning is Developmental
Chapter 5 Conclusion
References.......................................................................................................................... 1
I am greatly indebted to my supervisor Freek Schiphorst whose great patience,
understanding and constructive advices, have really made this paper is reality.
Importantly, I owe a great deal to him not only for his intellectual guidance but
also for his understanding my problem which at one point nearly i stopped this
research paper. He was so patient with me at all the time that i was not able to
match any deadlines. Let him stay blessed.
List of Acronyms
Bureau of Finance and Economic Development
Ethiopian News Agency
Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Growth Domestic Product
Growth and Transformation Plan
International Monetary Fund
Millennium Development Goals
Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
Newly Industrialized economies
Oromo Liberation Front
Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End
People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples
Transitional Government of Ethiopia
Tigray People’s Liberation Front
United Nations Conference on Trade & Development
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
World Bank
District administration
This paper examines the impact of ethnic federalism in building successful
developmental state of Ethiopia. The developmental state has two
components: one ideological and one structural. It is this ideology- structure
nexus that distinguishes developmental states from other forms of state. In
terms of ideology, a developmental state is essentially one whose ideological
underpinning is ‘developmentalist’ in that it conceives its mission as that of
ensuring economic development. The main force behind the developmentalist
ideology has usually been nationalism. On the other hand, the state-structure
side of developmental state emphasis the capacity to implement economic
policy sagaciously and effectively. The central to the activities of such
developmental state is a highly competent and autonomous national
However, as indicated in the finding the ethnic federalism in Ethiopia has
negatively impact in establishing highly competent bureaucracy due to the
ethno-language criteria for recruitment and appointment of bureaucrat and
their patron client arrangement. In addition, the creation of country wide
citizenship has declined due to ethnic federal structure of the country.
Developmental state, Bureaucracy, nationalism, ethnic, Federalism, Ethnic
Chapter 1
1.1 Background
Ethiopia contains about 85 million peoples and approximately about 80 ethnic
and linguistic groups, and stands as the second populous country in subSaharan Africa. The main- stay of the economy is subsistent peasant agriculture
which accounts for about 42.9 percent of the GDP. Agriculture provides the
largest proportion of foreign earnings and employs more than 85 percent of
the population (African Economic outlook, 2011). The country is confronted
with complex poverty, which is broad, deep and structural. The country has
one of the lowest per capita incomes- about 1000 USD and is categorized as
one of the poorest countries in the world (ibid.).
Federal forms of government in any country result from unique political
and historical processes. In the Ethiopian case, the federal structure of the
country relates to the problem of a failed nation-building project through
assimilation and centralization. Thus, the ethnic-federal experiment of
devolving public power to ethnic groups goes against the centralized nationbuilding project of the previous regimes. The previous regimes gave much
emphasis to ‘Ethiopian nationalism’ as a unifying concept and promoted
centralization rather than regional or ethnic autonomy (Asnake, 2006).
During the rule of the emperor Haile Selassie (1931-1974), which was
based on absolutism and concentration of power on the king himself through a
patrimonial network of power, resource and privilege accumulation and
distribution system that benefits the rulers and their few collaborators at local,
regional and central levels with very little ethnic references. The major
orientation of the state was to use the state power for voracious appropriation
of resources mainly from the peasantry in order to reward the few ruling
nobilities and their clienteles that maintain the survival of the highly centralised
state (Messay, 1995). Though the predatory state had showed inconsequential
favouritism based on ethnicity, it promoted ‘state nationalism’ and ‘national
integration’ of course, with the perception of national identity as the mirrorimage of the shoan ruling elite’s ethnic and cultural manifestations such as
Amharic language and orthodox Christianity.
The project of building a highly centralised state was intensified during the
reign of Emperor through his twin policies of centralisation and modernisation
(Clapham, 1969). This project, however, faced several challenges from
different corners of the country increasingly radicalised students who rallied
behind ‘land to the tiller’, ‘the nationalities question’ and armed insurgency in
Eritrea. The abrogation of the Ethio-Eritrea federation in 1962 led to a civil
war. In 1974, revolutionary upheavals rocked the country. The imperial regime,
whose structures failed to handle the increasing demands for change coming
from the various corners of the country, was overthrown by a popular
revolution in September 1974 (Clapham, 1988:32)
After 1974, the military regime, repeatedly stressed that it preferred a
‘socialist’ solution to the nationalities question but promoted militaristic
nationalism by means of an authoritarian and strongly centralized political
system. It initiated, however, few measures like broadcasting radio programmes
in Afar, Somalia, Oromiffa and Tigrigna language and drawing a new internal
boundary based on ethno-territorial bases. Nevertheless, it did not make any
attempt to link ethnic rights with politics or governance issues. Rather without
any regional or ethnic prejudices, it imposed its greatest centralisation and
brutal governance system, controlled at the core by junior military officers
regardless of their ethnic affiliation or orientations. Militaristic state
nationalism blended with socialism was promoted by hoping to obliterate
regional and ethnic movements; however, excessive centralization backed by
ruthless coercion did not abate regional and ethnic movements. Rather, it
exacerbated internal turmoil and massive resentment of the population, which
provided a good opportunity for the expansion of ethno- nationalist
The ethno-nationalist movements that took centre stage of opposition
after the 1974 revolution were vocal about their unqualified right to exercise
self-determination up to and including secession. The Tigray People’s
Liberation Front (TPLF), for example, in its formative years ‘claimed that it
was fighting for self-determination... which could result in anything from
autonomy, federation, confederation, up to and including independence’
(Markakis, 1987:254). The Eritrean separatist movements considered Eritrea as
an Ethiopian colony and sought its independence. The Oromo Liberation
Front (OLF), which emerged in 1974, also aimed at the creation of an
independent state for the Oromo. The situation led to decades of devastating
civil wars. The military regime’s attempt to reorganize the country’s internal
administration after its establishment of People’s Democratic Republic of
Ethiopia (PDRE) in 1987 failed to create a new social and political basis for
the country (Clapham, 1994:34).
The incumbent party and government, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary
Democratic Front (EPRDF), came to power by overthrowing the military
regime in May 1991. The new ruling group in power, who had started their
movement for the liberation of their ethnic region (TPLF) from the central
Ethiopia administration, has advocated ethnic-federalism by stressing that it
could empower and equalize the diverse ethnic communities and reduce
conflict. As a result, the overall centralized structure of the previous regime has
been replaced by a federal state.
The July 1991 Peace and Democracy conference that led to the
establishment of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) adopted a
Transitional charter that recognised Eritrea’s secession. According to the
preamble of the Transitional charter, ‘self-determination of all the peoples shall
be the governing principles of political, economic and social life’. It affirmed
the right of ethnic groups to self-determination up to and including secession
(Article 2). Based on the charter, the country’s internal administration was
structured in 14 regions along ethno-linguistic lines in 1992 (TGE, 1992).
The transitional government established a constitutional commission to
draft a constitution. The commission adopted the federal constitution which
was ratified by the constituent Assembly in December 1994 and, which came
in to force in August 1995. Accordingly, the 1995 constitution of the Federal
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE), Article 49, has created a federal
government with nine ethnic- based regional states and two federally
administered city-states (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa). The regional states
were delimited on the basis of language, settlement pattern and identity. These
include Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz, Southern
Nations, Nationalities and peoples (SNNPR), Gambella and Harari. Like the
1991 charter, the constitution affirmed the unrestricted corporate right of all
ethnic groups: ‘’ every nation, nationality and people shall have the
unrestricted right to self-determination up to secession’’ (Article 39). The act of
secession requires a two-thirds vote in the legislature of the seceding ethnic
group to be followed three years latter by a referendum in the seceding region.
Obviously, the federal restructuring of the country brought several changes to
ethnicity and governance. The party in power (the EPRDF) contends that
ethnic federalism will be the basis for a reformed Ethiopian state structure and
bring about a solution to ethno-nationalist conflict.
Since the beginning of 2000s, the EPRDF began to portray poverty as an
existential threat to the country. Presently, one of the development models
which are being promoted as a panacea for Africa is the ‘developmental state’.
In recent years, Ethiopian government had shown its disregards for the other
theories, most importantly the neoliberal economic principles which faced its
dead-end in bringing development and hence adheres to the current economic
paradigm, i.e. the developmental state model. Regarding this, the country’s
long serving prime Minister; Mr. Meles Zenawi advocates the use of this model
not only in Ethiopia but also across Africa (EPRDF, 1995). With the
agricultural sector at the forefront of the development agenda, the government
continuously champions the idea of strong presence of the state in most parts
of the economy. Meles Zenawi stressed that it had made a compelling case for
a strong government presence in the economy to correct the pervasive market
inefficiencies. He cited the experience of Asian countries like Taiwan and
Korea with the same growth strategy that they implemented (ibid.). According
to the government’s Millennium Development Goal report, the double digit
GDP growth rates which the country achieved since 2003/04 has boosted the
confidence of the government in its developmental path (FDRE, 2010:5).
Hence, the reconstitution of Ethiopia into an ethnic federalist state poses
sets of opportunities and challenges. This paper examines the impact of ethnic
federalism for building a successful developmental state of Ethiopia.
1.2 Framing Research issue and problems
In the literature, ‘developmental state’ has two components: one ideological,
one structural. It is this ideology-structure nexus that distinguishes
developmental states from other forms of states. The state-structure side of the
definition of the developmental state emphasises capacity to implement
economic policies sagaciously and effectively. Such a capacity is determined by
various factors- institutional, technical, administrative and political.
(Mkandawire, 2001:290). In terms of structure, the essential features that
characterized successful developmental states are a strong core of state
institutions with the capacity to promote economic growth without being ‘
captured’ by particular interests groups. This is what Peter Evans (1995) has
called ‘embedded autonomy’. Thus, the developmental state establishes its
autonomy through the creation of a rationalised (core) bureaucracy
characterised by meritocracy and long-term career outlooks.
The state-led model of development intends to bring about
industrialisation and entrepreneurship through intensive and deliberate effort
and state intervention. The problem associated with state interventions were
rooted in ‘state capture’: influential interest groups used the state to foster their
own interests and extract rents rather than to promote a developmental vision
(Malloy, 1997). Very often, the perverse dynamics generated by large state
involvement in the economy enabled politicians and bureaucrats to build a
basis of political support by manipulating markets (Bates, 1981).According to
Khan (2005), state capture implies not only that benefits from state
interventionism are diverted to private pockets, but more importantly that the
policies themselves no longer are driven by a logic to yield development but
rather are intended to yield benefits for limited groups (Khan, 2005).
The civil service structures and other benefits generated by state-led
development were frequently manipulated by the government apparatus and
ruling elites as a source of patronage. The state was captured by narrow
interests more concerned with building clientelistic networks than with
fostering a transformation of the country’s economy (Van de Wall, 2001;
Bayart, 1993). Eventually, this lead to a ‘predatory state’. As Evans, the
predatory state is the developmental state without bureaucratic competence. As
developmental state, the predatory state also directs the trends of business and
picks the ‘winner’. However, the criteria for the intervention are not technical
competence based on assessment of expertise, but nepotism and corruption.
Thus, government officials act as rent-seekers, giving government facilities and
protection to business people and getting personal benefit in return. The result
is the very antithesis of development.
Ideologically, a developmental state is essentially one whose ideological
underpinning is ‘develop- mentalist’ in that it conceives its ‘mission’ as that of
ensuring economic development (Castells, 1992:55). At the ideational level, the
elite must be able to establish an ‘ideological hegemony’, so that its developmental project becomes, in a Gramscian sense, a ‘hegemonic’ project to which
key actors in the nation adhere voluntarily (Mkandawire, 2001:290). In other
words, the main force behind the develop mentalist ideology has usually been
nationalism (ibid.). Similarly, the underlying requirements of the developmental
state are thus the creation of a nation-wide public (Ghani et al., 2005). As such,
a nation-wide public needs not be rooted in a unified sense of ‘nation’ based
on linguistic lines, but in the form of a more ‘civic’ identity. The important
issue is that all citizens see themselves as Ethiopians more than their ethnic
However, the ethnic federal structure of Ethiopia is still remain a
challenge to bring ethnic tension and conflicts that emerged at local and
regional levels on a range of issues such as self-determination/secession, the
politics of resource sharing, political power, representation, identity, ethnic and
regional boundary and others(Asnake,2006). Hence it worsening ethnic relation
and divides rather than unites peoples by creating mutual suspicions. Hence,
the ethnic based socio-political structure declines nationalism to subordinate
the energy of the people behind a single national goal to the successful and
sustainable developmental state of the country.
Despite, the ethnic federalism is granted regional states to administer
themselves and promote their language and culture (FDRE, 1995), the
ethnicization and politicization of staffing the bureaucracy is still problematic.
In other words, the recruitment and appointment of bureaucratic staff is
mainly ethno-language criteria rather than competitive meritocracy. As a result,
state capacity and effectiveness is still a key bottleneck to implement the policy.
Moreover, the ethnicization and politicization of state bureaucrats in the
country is critical challenge which ‘capture’ by influential groups. This paper
examines how the ethnic federal structure affects the recruitment of competent
bureaucratic staff and also how it reduces nationalism by creating ethnic
tension and conflict.
1.3 Relevance and Justification
The debate about the nature of development is still important for Africa where
myriads of developmental models failed. One of the development models
which are being promoted as a panacea for Africa is the ‘developmental state’.
The Ethiopian government has explicitly committed it selves to build a
developmental state. As a result, the country achieved consecutively doubledigit GDP growth. Despite the continued economic growth, there is growing
discontent with the government ethnically defined state in fear of continued
ethnic tension and conflict as a consequence of ethnic-based politics.
Development is more of a political process; According to Leftwhich (1996),
development in human societies always involves the organization,
mobilization, combination, use and distribution of resources in new ways,
where the resources take the form of capital, land, human beings or their
combination. And because resource are to be used and distributed in new
ways, there will inevitably be disputes among individuals and groups about
how such resources are to be used as they calculate who will win and who will
lose as a result of different configuration. As such, when the political system is
based on ethnicity, partition and federalism forms a challenge for sustainable
developmental state.
Furthermore, the empirical findings of Evans (1995) and Leftwich (1996)
about the common features of the developmental states in the history of many
countries include: highly competent economic bureaucracy that is well
insulated from patronage and rent seeking networks; highly competent
bureaucracy that enjoys embodied autonomy in the surrounding social
structure and developmental elites and nationalism. Thus, the lack of capacity
and effectiveness of the bureaucracy is detrimental to implement the
developmental policy. The establishment of such competent bureaucrat is
badly affected by the ethnic federal policy. Hence, the relevance of this study
lies in making a contribution to the understanding of ethnic federalism and
developmental state in Ethiopia.
1.4 Objective of the study
The objective of this study is to investigate the impact of ethnic federalism in
building a successful developmental state of Ethiopia. As such the main
objectives are:
 To explore the possible linkages between ethnic federalism and state
bureaucrat capacity and effectiveness in turn to assess its impact in
building developmental state in the country.
 To investigate possible linkages between ethnic federalism and state
1.5 The Research Question
To achieve this objective one main research question and three other related
sub-questions were posed:
1. How does ethnic federalism affect the building of a successful
developmental state in Ethiopia?
To what extent do the state bureaucrats staffed in meritocratic
principle? How is their political neutrality? How is their capacity
and effectiveness to implement the policy?
How does ethnic federalism accommodate state nationalism?
What are the possible implications for the developmental state
of Ethiopia?
1.6 Methodology
The research methodology largely employed qualitative approach by
qualitatively examining and interpreting texts. It examines ethnic federalism
debate on developmental state in the country, along categories such as state
capacity and nationalism as its two key variables. The time frame for this
research is limited to political development in the country since 1991.
Method of data collection
The research is conducted by studying a wide array of documentary sources
using both published and unpublished materials. These include government
and non-government report, books, journals, party documents (particularly the
EPRDF), newspaper, magazine and internet sources are used.
1.7 Organization of the paper
This paper is organized into five chapters. The first chapter presents the
problems that the paper aims to examine. In particular it provides an overview
of the research topic, the research problem, the research objectives and
questions. The second chapter is the examination of theoretical debates on
ethnicity, federalism and ethnic federalism. It also presents the historical and
ideological basis for ethnic federalism in Ethiopian context. Chapter three
discusses the concept of developmental state and also outlines the feature and
characteristics of developmental state. It also examines the experience of South
East Asian Miracles. Chapter four aims at examining the construction of
developmental state in Ethiopia and the impact of ethnic federal structure for a
successful and sustainable development in the country. Hence, it discusses the
impact of ethnic politics in recruiting and appointment of state bureaucrat by
taking Benishangul-Gumuz region. It also discusses the debates on the impact
of ethnic federalism on ethnic conflict which in turn affects the countrywide
nationalism. The last chapter gives a conclusion.
Chapter 2
Conceptual frame work: Ethnicity, Federalism
and Ethnic Federalism
Ethnicity and federalism have become the major factors in organizing the
political and territorial space in Ethiopia. Hence, this chapter is aimed to
explain the theories of ethnicity and federalism which help in setting up a
framework for observation and examination of the actual working of ethnic
federalism in Ethiopia. It could help to clear up the ground for the study by
indicating tensions in synchronising ethnicity and federalism at least in
theoretical level.
2.1 Ethnicity
There is no generally agreed definition or theory of ethnicity; scholars define
and describe the term in various ways, such as a modern cultural construct, a
universal social phenomenon, a personal identity, a peculiar kind of informal
political organization. According to Fukui and Mar- kakis, define ethnic
identities on the basis of genealogical or cultural criteria by claiming that a
complex pattern of fusion and fission among group is the reality. They argue
that ethnic identities are to be understood as essentially political products of
socially defined and historically determined specific situation (Fukui and Mar
kakis, 1994:6). Likewise, for Thomas Eriksen (1993) ethnicity simply refers to
relationships between groups whose members consider themselves distinctive
and, these groups may be ranked hierarchically within a society. He therefore
describes ethnicity in terms of ‘the classification of people and group
relationship’ that has ‘a political, organizational aspects as well as a symbolic
one’ (Eriksen, 1993:13).
Nabudere (1999), writing in the African context, notes that there are
two aspects to ethnicity: positive and negative. The positive side of
ethnicity, which he calls ‘post-traditionalism’ is a ‘a form of ethnic
identification that is forward looking in that it tries to cope with
modernity whilst also at the same time defining one’s identity for needs
of stability and self-definition’(1999:90). The negative aspect of ethnicity
he describes as ‘class manipulation and mobilization of the ethnic
sentiments for purely narrow and self-serving interests of a small
minority of elites who continuously struggle for positions in the state’
In the Ethiopian situation, ethnicity was associated with narrownationalism, tribalism or conspirators’ agenda by the previous regimes, where
as the new ruling elites as the emancipator and valuable asset to be protected
and promoted. As Markakis states that ‘over-night, ethnicity became a
legitimate and preferred principle of political organization, and provides the
foundation for a reconstructed Ethiopian state’ (Markakis, 1994). The most
relevant situation for Ethiopia is the position that takes it as an ideology of
mobilized collectivises that may be used both as a weapon of resistance by the
marginalized ethnic groups and as a political instrument for elites (Merera,
2.2 Federalism
According to Elazar, one of the leading experts in field of federalism,
‘federalism has to do with the need of the people and politics to unite for
common purposes yet remain separate to preserve their integrity. Federalism is
concerned simultaneously with the diffusion of political power in the name of
liberty and its concentration on behalf of unity (Elazar, 1987:33). Here the
basic federal principle is concerned with the combination of ‘self-rule’ and
‘shared-rule’. It is the framework that involves the linkage of individuals,
groups and polities in lasting but limited union in such a way as to provide for
the pursuit of common ends while maintaining the respective integrities of all
parties. Accordingly, federalism is considered as a comprehensive system of
political relationships which emphasis the combination of self-rule and sharedrule within the matrix of constitutionally dispersed power (ibid.).
According to Burgess (2000), federalism is an ideological, in the sense that
it can take the form of an overtly perspective guide to action, and as
philosophical, to the extent that it is a normative judgment up on the ideal
organisation of human relations and conduct (2000:27). However he adds an
operational dimension by considering that federalism can also as loaded up on
as empirical fact in its recognition of diversity—broadly conceived in its social,
economic, cultural and political contexts- as a living reality, something that
exists independent of ideological and philosophical perceptions. This means
that in practice, authority should be divided and power should be dispersed
among and between groups in a society (ibid.).
On the other hand, Graham Smith questions the notion of considering
federalism as an ideology. Rather than considering federalism as an ideology
that has developed and exists autonomously from the main tradition of
political thought, he writes that ‘federalism is best treated as traversing a broad
range of what we can more usefully call programmatic orientation (Smith,
1995:4). In his opinion, the term ‘federalism’ has been subjected to different
meaning and applied to different situational contexts. He states that ‘
federalism as ideology is best considered as an amalgam of doctrines, beliefs
and programmatic considerations reflect in the very paradoxes and tensions
inherent in thinking about the politics of modernity’(ibid.).
In contrast, Riker understands ‘federalism as a range of phenomena rather
than a single constitutional things’ (Rikker, 1975:103). A federal arrangement
does not always mean that the boundaries of power are clearly fixed on a
permanent basis, but rather a continuous political bargain and process. It is not
a static and fixed phenomenon (ibid.). Riker places federalism on a continuum
scale with respect to centralisation and decentralisation. According to him,
‘federalism is a political organization in which the activity of government are
divided between regional governments and a central government in such a way
that each kind of government has some activity on which it makes final
decision’(ibid.). As John Agnew put ‘federalism is an evolutionary political
arrangement rather than a fixed formula for the territorial division of
government powers. The balance of power between central and regional units
could change over time’ (Agnew, 1995; 294).
2.3 Ethnic Federalism
Though it remains difficult and complex to establish a federal arrangement
based on ethnicity, many scholars in the field argue that one of the
characteristics of federalism is its aspiration and purpose to generate and
maintain both unity and diversity simultaneously (Watts, 1999:6). As Elazar
argues that federal systems operates best in society with sufficient homogeneity
of fundamental interests, he thought of Switzerland as the first modern
federation built on indigenous ethnic and linguistic differences that were
considered permanent and worth accommodating. Political integration—
federal or otherwise is likely to be more difficult in places in which strongly
rooted primordial groups continue to dominate political and social life (Elazar,
1987:191). Nevertheless, in his view, federalism might be the best political
framework in the existence of essentially permanent religious, ethnic, cultural
or social groups around which political life must be organized. Besides, he
added ‘territorial divisions of power can also be used to protect minorities and
minority communities by allowing them greater autonomy within their own
political jurisdictions’ (ibid.).
Accordingly, with the aim of accommodating ethnic diversity, Elazar
specified two forms of federal frameworks (1987:236). The first form is the
structure of a polity cutting across ethnic cleavages and thereby diluting them
through the creation of a cross cutting civic community and, the second form
is structuring a comprehensive polity to give each people a primary means of
expression through one or more of its constituent polities. Elazar, however,
held the idea that federalism should transcend the recognition of differences
eventually by structuring relationships that permit the groups bearing those
differences to function together within the same political system. As a result,
Elazar supposed that under certain circumstances, federalism offers the
possibility of creating a civic community that transcends the divisions among
ethnic collectivises and thereby makes possible the establishment of civil
society and workable political order (Elazar, 1987:232).
Federal arrangements could be structured on the basis of territorially
segmented ethnic, linguistic or religious groups, but the trouble is associated
with institutionalising primordial entities in political organization. As a result
the ‘ethnic nationalism’ is probably the strongest force against federalism,
because ethnic ideology could undermine power sharing arrangements and
consequently, ethnic federalism could degenerate in to civil war. Thus it is
preferred to promote political order based on non-primordial or civic ties
without disqualifying ethno-linguistic federal arrangements (Elazar, 1987:232).
If ethnic groups are geographically concentrated, federalism could offer an
excellent opportunity for group autonomy. Thus, by accepting the inevitability
of drawing federal arrangements based on ethnic boundaries in case of
geographically concentrated ethnic groups, the federal framework with
relatively many and small constituent units could make the federal dividing
lines coincide as much as possible with the ethnic boundaries (Lijphart,
2002:51). However, if ethnic groups are geographically dispersed and
synchronized, Lijphart (1997) recommends ‘convocational democracy’ which
includes four essential attributes: grand coalition, segmented autonomy,
proportionality and minority veto. Grand coalition entails power sharing of all
significant groups in political power, particularly in executive power.
Segmented autonomy entails a delegation of decision making power to every
significant group. Proportionality entails that political representation, civil
service appointments and allocation of public funds, etc. should consider
proportion of each significant group. Lastly, minority veto entails the power
given for minority groups to veto any decision that can put their vital interest
at sake due to majorities out votes.
Empirically, Lijphart enumerates a variety of more or less functional
power-sharing models in deeply divided societies. Some of the models were
such as executive power sharing in a form of grand coalition cabinet of ethnic
parties like in Malaysia and South Africa; equal representation of ethno
linguistic or other groups in government like in the Belgian cabinets; and
proportional shares of ministerial positions to the different linguistic groups,
states and regions like in India (Lijphart, 2002:46).
On the other hand, Donald Horowitz argues that federal management
based on ethnic homogeneity is detrimental to the creation of inter-ethnic
cooperation. Horowitz recognises the importance of power-sharing and
territorial devolution, as he states that territorial compartmentalization with
devolution of generous power can have tranquillising effects in countries with
territorially separate groups, significant sub-ethnic divisions and serious
conflict at the centre (Horowitz,1985:164).
Moreover, Horowitz contends that a political framework that crystallizes
and legitimises ethnic cleavages would be of limited utility to bring about
compromised power-sharing arrangement in states with desperate ethnic
groups, because elites of majority groups would not be so easily self-abnegating
as to give some of their political power and privileges to the minority groups.
He maintains that both ethnic majority rule and ethnic minority rule are very
ineffective and destructive type of arrangement in ethnically divided societies.
Majority rule permits perpetual domination of the majority group or the
‘tyranny of the majority ethnic group’ (Horowitz, 1994:46).
In severely divided societies, matters such as equal control of the state ,
the designation of official languages and educational issues, such as languages
of instruction, the content of curricula are very divisive question on which
groups are not very willing to concede; they are more worried about ‘who gets
what’ in a kind of zero-sum competition. As a result, approaches or models
that could crystallize or encourage ethnic entitlement may not be a viable
option to bring inter-ethnic compromise and cooperation, because of the fact
that ‘divisive issues are not easy to compromise’ and symbolic demands such as
language seem to be less compromisable than claims that can be quantified
(Horowitz, 1985:566).
Related to federalism, Horowitz argues that in severely divided societies,
such as in Nigeria, India and Malaysia, federalism has helped to reduce
conflicts at the centre because many contested issues become state-level issues
within ethnic groups; it has dispersed the flow of conflict in linguistically
homogeneous states in to sub-ethnic channels; it provides career opportunities
for groups not well represented at the centre and it helps to restructure
institutions so as to alter ethnic balances and alignment. He also observed that
ethnic federalism has mitigated or exacerbated minorities’ exclusion: ‘a group
that is a minority at the centre may be a majority in one or more states and may
be in a position to rule these states, at the same time it may also produce other
minority groups that feel exclusion and domination at the local areas’
(Horowitz, 1994:613).
Federal model or territorial autonomy could be worthwhile in maintaining
unity while conceding claims of self-government by allowing ‘ethnic or other
groups claiming a distinct identity to exercise direct control over affairs of
special concern to them while allowing the larger entity to exercise those
powers which cover common interests’ (Ghai, 2002:155). In ethnic federalism,
the normal tensions of federalism like resource distribution and regional
influence are likely to be aggravated by assuming ethnic dimensions. ‘Interregional mobility is likely to be contentious and distinction between the private
and public spheres may be less sharp than in other types of federalism’ (ibid.).
Furthermore, the federal arrangement need great administrative capacity,
political skill, and abundant resources therefore narrow group or ethnic
interests alone may not create a desirable arrangement. It could produce
‘poorly equipped provinces struggling to carry out new responsibilities which
they neither understood nor wanted or producing less efficient bureaucracies
or with politicians not given to compromises (ibid.).
2.4 Ethnic Federalism in the Ethiopian context
Historically, the Russian revolutionaries who were forced to confront the
plight of subordinate national groups and minorities in Tsarist Russia
developed what came to be known a Stalinist theory on nationalities. Initially,
Russian revolutionarily leaders like Lenin were dismissive of the role of
nationalism in the Russian Empire (Hirsch; 2005:23). In 1905, Lenin even
opposed the idea that was proposed by the social democrats to provide
territorial and extra-territorial autonomy to the nationalities in a post-Tsarist
Russia (ibid.). But when the revolutionary upheavals began to gain momentum,
he reversed his earlier position and came to embrace the concept of national
self-determination. This reversal of position was necessitated by the desire to
gain the support of non-Russian ethnic groups in the struggle against the
Tsarist regime and during the civil war that followed the 1917 revolution which
brought the Bolsheviks to power. The principle of self-determination and
federalism were also used to build the soviet state (Duchacek, 1970:137).
The Soviet Nationalities policy which was on the main developed by
Joseph Stalin incorporated Marxist Leninist ideas and sought to legitimize the
vanguard role of the communist party (ibid.). This led to the creation of the
Soviet Union as a multitier ethnic federation in which power was monopolized
by the unitary communist party. And the right of self-determination up to and
including secession was incorporated in the constitution (ibid.). Similarly,
almost all of the leftist political movements that emerged after the 1974
revolution in Ethiopia accepted the ML ideology and Stalin’s theory of
nationalities (Young, 1997:154).Right after its assumption of state power in
1991, the EPRDF began its project of reconstituting the country in an ethnic
federation. This process was highly influenced by Stalin’s principle of ethnic
self-determination up to and including secession (ibid.).
Consequently, the Ethiopian ethnic federal system is significant in that it
provides for secession of any ethnic unit. Opponents of ethnic federalism fear
that it invites ethnic conflict and risks state disintegration (Ottaway, 1995). The
Ethiopian state, they worry, may face the same fate as the USSR and
Yugoslavia (Solomon, 1993). Others, of an ethno-nationalist persuasion, doubt
the government’s real commitment of self-determination; they support the
ethnic federal constitution per se, but claim that it has not been put in to
practice (ibid.). Supporters of ethnic federalism point out that it has maintained
the unity of the Ethiopian peoples and the territorial integrity of the state,
while providing full recognition to the principle of ethnic equality.
According to the 1995 FDRE constitution, the federal arrangement of
Ethiopia had two levels of governments: The federal government at the centre
and the regional governments at the regional level. The central government
was responsible for foreign affairs, national defence, economic policy,
monetary and fiscal policies, Building and administrating major development
infrastructures and establishments. It was provided with a power for budgeting
allocation to the regional governments. Likewise, the regional governments
were provided broad powers on all matters with in their territorial jurisdiction
except for those assigned to the federal government. Some of the major
responsibilities provided to the regional governments were:
 Full power on matter related to language, culture and education
 To establish a state administration that best advance self-government;
 To formulate and execute economic, social and development policies,
 To enact and enforce laws on the state civil service (Article, 52).
2.4.1 The politics of self-determination
Ethnic-based federalism is the most controversial EPRDF policy. Celebrated
by some as the panacea for holding multi-ethnic Ethiopia together. It is decried
by others as a dangerous concept that will eventually dismember the country.
For nationalists, the policy is a deliberate ploy to undermine national identity.
They see the constitutional granting of self-determination to ethnic group as
deliberate step backward from the nation building process. Many describe
ethnic federalism as a malicious TPLF tactic to plant divisions among ethnic
groups so as to facilitate rule by the Tigrayan minority. The allegation that the
TPLF manipulates ethnic identities and conflicts to stay in power is made by
most opposition supporters. Critics decry worsening ethnic relations as a result
of ethnic based competition. In their view, the political system divides rather
than unites people, by creating mutual suspicion and rancour and instituting
tribal dynamics that could easily spiral out of control. The constitutional clause
that gives nationalities the right to seceded is touted as proof of the EPRDF’s
anti-Ethiopian stance. Eritrea’s independence, which turned Ethiopia in to a
landlocked country, is viewed as evidence of a desire to dismember. A
recurrent claim that the EPRDF has unduly privileged its Tigray base and
regional state to the national detriment (Paulos, 2007:378-380).
Proponents of ethnic federalism, however, acclaim the recognition of
group rights, seeing creation of ethnic-based administrative entities as the only
meaningful approach for defusing ethnic discontents. According to this viewactively propagated by the government- Ethiopian’s ethnic and minority
groups have suffered centuries of domination by a central state that forced
Amharic language and culture up on them. Granting ‘nationalities’ their
culture, ethnic, and political aspirations is necessary to redress historic injustice.
Thus, it brought important recognition of their culture and language to many
2.4.2 Ethnic Federalism and Conflicts
Though there is no necessary connection between ethnicity and conflict as
Horowitz argues, the basic for confrontation may emerge due to the inclusion
of two or more ethnic communities within a single or adjacent territory of a
state characterized by discriminatory and uneven status and resource allocation
(Horowitz, 1985:148). As Ted Gurr (1994) in his cross-national study of
communal based conflicts, shows that in many instances ethnic tensions and
conflicts are more likely when certain groups perceive discrimination or
exploitation in the context of state formation. Ethnic conflicts are usually
centred on three general issues: ‘the desire for ‘exit’ or independence from the
state, the demand for greater autonomy within the state or the recognition and
protection of minority interests within a plural society (Gurr, 1994:111). He
also adds that ‘ethnic identity and interests per se do not risk unforeseen ethnic
wars’ rather; the danger is hegemonic elites who use the state to promote their
own people’s interests at the expense of others (Gurr, 2000:64).
In the Ethiopian case, the most noticeable change regarding ethnic
conflicts after the formation of the ethnic federal structure has been the
emergence of localised violent conflicts involving several of the ethnically
constituted regions (Abbink, 2006). At the same time, there are secessionist
movement’s engaged in low-level armed guerrilla warfare (ibid.). The EPRDF’s
conception of ethnicity did not always match the multi-ethnic makeup of many
cities and areas. The southern region, Gambella, Benishangul- Gumuz and
Harari are inhabited by multiple ethnic groups. Tigray, Amhara, Oromo and
Somali states are dominated by one ethnic group but host others (
International Crisis Group, 2009). Granting self-administration to dominant
ethnic groups thus created new minorities. In some case this minorities didn’t
speak the language of the new administration. The principle was interpreted by
some groups as an opportunity to claim exclusion rights over land by evicting
settlers and other newcomers. These tensions have often been nurtured by
politicians from local indigenous groups. Examples include the conflict
between the Berta and Oromo settlers in Asosa zone the exploded during the
2000 federal elections. Sometimes the conflicts take on the character of ethnic
cleansing; ‘non-natives’ have been chased away in Arussi, Harar and Bale
(Abbink, 2006:153).
Beginning in the first half of the 1990s, a wave of local conflicts gripped
the country as groups were incited by the transitional charter to settle old
disputes or claim territory they felt was rightfully theirs. Some of the most
severe were between Amhara settlers and Anuak in December 2003 in
Gambella. ‘In Somali after 2000, several hundreds were killed in repeated
fighting between the sheikash, a small clan that sought to establish its own
district, and Ogaden sub-clans. A border dispute between the Guji and Gedeo
exploded in to large-scale fighting in 1998 over control of Hagere Mariam
district. Land disputes triggered by administrative boundary changes incited a
confrontation between the Guji and Borena in June 2006, causing at least 100
deaths and massive displacement. Some 70,000 fled the border area between
Oromiya and Somali after conflict erupted. By a very conservative estimate,
several thousand peoples were killed in inter-ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia
between 1991 and 2005’ (Abbink, 2006:408).
Chapter 3
Theoretical Frame work and Literature Review:
Conceptualization of developmental state
3.1 A Brief History of the debate in ‘Developmental States’
The role of the state in promoting economic growth and social progress in the
developing world has been a subject of contestation among international
development experts and policy analysts for the past 50 years. After the end of
World War ll, with the emergence of newly independent states in Africa and
Asia, the international community embraced a state-led model of development
intended to bring about industrialisation and entrepreneurship through
intensive and deliberate effort and state intervention. By the late 1970s,
however, the state-led model of development had come under strain in Africa,
as well as in Eastern Europe and Latin America. State intervention in the
economy in many of these countries was often wasteful (Fritz and Rocha
Menocal, 2007).
Many of the problems associated with these ‘failed’ state interventions
were rooted in ‘state capture’: influential interest groups used the state to foster
their own interests and extract rents rather than to promote a developmental
vision. In Latin America, for example, state intervention nurtured- and became
dependent on- a particular kind of populist politics (Malloy, 1997). Very often,
the perverse dynamics generated by large state involvement in the economy
enabled politicians and bureaucrats to build a basis of political support by
manipulating markets (Bates, 1981). At the same time, protectionist policies
deprived states of imports often without stimulating domestic production of
sufficient quantity and quality (Lockwood, 2005).
By the early 1980s, a growing coalition of reform-minded academics,
policymakers and political elites was calling for the abandonment of the stateled model of development and a return to a market-based economy. The
international assistance community, led by the IMF and the World Bank,
embraced a set of neo-liberal economic policies that converged in what came
to be known as the Washington Consensus (Williamson, 1990). At the core of
this thinking was an insistence that aid-recipient countries adopt structural
adjustment programmes designed to reduce the size and reach of the state.
Instead, these countries should relay on the market as the most effective
mechanism for allocating resources and promoting economic growth (ibid.).
As put forth in 1991 by the World Bank in the World Development Report,
government intervention should be used sparingly and only where most
needed. ‘Put simply’, the report argues, ‘governments need to do less in those
areas where markets work, or can be made to work, reasonably well’ (1991:9).
Since the mid-1990s, however, another shift in understanding the role of
the state in development has become perceptible. This new thinking is based in
large part of the recognition that there has been a very different experience of
state-led development in a number of Asian countries, especially in East Asia
(Deyo, 1987; Haggard, 1990; Johnson, 1982; and Wade, 1990). Over a period
of 30 years, the so-called ‘Asian tigers’, which include Hong Kong, Singapore,
South Korea and Taiwan, underwent rapid economic growth and a radical
socioeconomic transformation, moving from being poor agrarian societies or
city states in the 1960s to producers of high technology, high value-added
goods by the 1990s (Fritz and Rocha Menocal, 2007).
The 1997 World Development Report was thus dedicated to ‘rethinking
the state’, and reaffirmed the position that ‘the state is central to economic and
social development’. Since then, there has been a growing awareness among
development practitioners as well as academics of what this means- namely;
that the orientation and effectiveness of the state is the critical variable
explaining why some countries succeed whereas others fail in meeting
development goals. In 2005, the report of the Commission for Africa reflected
this thinking, recognising state capacity and effectiveness as a key bottleneck in
Africa’s ability to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (Fritz and
Rocha Menocal, 2007).
Hence, Asia’s sudden emergence as an economic colossus stimulated
scholars and policy makers alike to begin a grail-like quest for what Meredith
Woo-Cummings has called the ‘’regional solipsism’’ of an ‘’Asian
developmental model’’ (1991:5). One of the most powerful and persuasive
attempts at a political explanation for East Asian success has been the concept
of the ‘’developmental state’’ (Johnson, 1982). The East Asian states, it is
argued, have been successful because governments there have acquired control
over a variety of things presumed critical to economic success. Initially and
most forcefully articulated by Chalmers Johnson with specific reference to
Japan (and subsequently to South Korea and Taiwan), the developmental state
is seen as one of the three ideal types of states, all categorized by the state’s
relationship to the domestic economy (ibid.).
3.2 The ‘developmental state’
The developmental state is back at the centre of the international policy debate.
Policy thinking shows an increasing willingness to abandon value-laden
prescriptions about governance and to adopt approaches rooted in
comparative history and evidence –based analytical theory. The concept of the
developmental state serves as a marker of this trend. Although the language
was hardly new even in the 1980s when the first flood of studies of East Asian
industrialisation brought it into currency, the idea of the developmental state
has enduring value as an anchor for discussions among researchers and policymakers on how to bring evidence from history to bear on today’s policy
challenges (Fritz and Rocha Menocal, 2007:531).
Drawing on the work of Johnson (1982), Deyo (1987) and Evans (1995)
among others, we understand a developmental state to exist when the state
possesses the vision, leadership and capacity to bring about positive
transformation of society with a condensed period of time. The transformation
can also take various forms. In the classical East Asian examples, it was aimed
at speeding up growth, while at the same time enhancing opportunities to
participate in the modern economy---most commonly through the expansion
of public services such as education, health care and agricultural extension. The
state was associated with rapid processes of industrialization and/or the
adoption of new technologies--- that is, moving in to higher value-added
activities relative to the starting point. Typically, there was a shift from
subsistence agriculture to more commercial, export- oriented farming, or to
textile processing, or to tourism, or a mixture of these.
Developmental states are marked by a combination of capacities, visions,
norms and/or ideologies. They are not associated with specific policies; at
different times and in different places, very different policies have ushered in
social and economic transformation (Fritz and Rocha Menocal, 2007:534). At
most, as Woo-Cummings explains, the developmental state is ‘neither
socialist... nor free-market... but something different: the plan-rational capitalist
developmental state... (Which links) interventionism with rapid economic
growth (1999: 1-2). Similarly, according to Bollesta, developmental state
position between free market capitalist economic system and centrally planned
socialist economic system makes it neither capitalist nor socialist in texture
(2007: 106).
According to Castells, ‘a state is developmental when it establishes as its
principle of legitimacy, its ability to promote and sustain development,
understanding by development the combination of steady high rates of growth
and structural change in the productive system, both domestically and in its
relationship to the international economy (Castells, 1992:55). As Chalmers
Johnson contends that, developmental state was one that determined to
influence the direction of and pace of economic development by directly
intervening in the development process, rather than relying on the
uncoordinated influence of market forces to allocate economic resources
(Johnson, 1982).
There is of course a major problem of defining states simply from its
economic performance: not all countries with good growth rates are
developmental state (Mbabazi and Taylor, 2005:45). According to Mkandawire,
the definition of developmental state runs the risk of being tautological, since
evidence that the state is developmental is often drawn deductively from the
performance of the economy (Mkandawire, 2001:290). This arises because a
state is defined developmental if the economy is developing, economic success
is equated to state strength and the latter is measured by the presumed
outcomes of policy (UNCTAD, 2009:28).
It is possible to avoid this tautological view, in which outcomes are used as
explanations of phenomenon in question, by recognizing that the governments
in developmental states are certainly develop mentalists in their vision, their
priorities and their ideology, but they may fail to achieve their objectives (ibid.).
From this perspective, developmental state as a state in which the political elite
aim at rapid economic development and give power and authority to the
bureaucracy to plan and implement efficient policies. It aimed at rational and
deliberate development and implement state driven industrialisation policies,
with co-operation between the government and private (Abe, 2006:8-9).
According to Mkandawire developmental state has two components: one
ideological, one structural. It is this ideology-structure nexus that distinguish
developmental state from other form of states. In terms of ideology,
developmental state is essentially one whose ideological underpinning is
develop mentalist in that it conceives its mission as that of ensuring economic
development (Mkandawire, 2001:290). At the ideational level, the elite must be
able to establish an ‘ideological hegemony’, so that its developmental project
becomes, in a Gramscian sense, a ‘hegemonic’ project to which key actors in
the nation adhere voluntarily (ibid.). The main force behind the develop
mentalist ideology has usually been nationalism. The centrality of ideology also
points to the naiveté of the de-politicised quest for technocratic ‘governance’
(Mkandawire, 2001:291). Supporting Mkandawire, Bagchi argues that:
Developmental state puts economic development as the top priority of
governmental policy and is able to design effective instrument to promote
such a goal. The instruments would include a forging of new formal networks
of collaboration among the citizens and officials and the utilization of new
opportunities for trade and profitable production (Bagchi, 2000:398).
Mkandawire defined the structural side of developmental state as the capacity
to implement economic policy sagaciously and effectively. Such capacity is
determined by various factors—institutional, technical, administrative and
political. Undergirding all these is the autonomy of the state from social forces
so that it can use these capacities to devise long-term economic policy
unencumbered by the claims of myopic private interest (Mkandawire,
2001:290). Developmental state act as a facilitator by steering, assisting and
inducing the private firms to attempt new production challenges in areas which
are of high priority by allocating credit, limiting import competition, or even by
providing subsidies(M. Cipher and L. Dietz, 2009:215).
According to Pempel, ‘developmental state’ defines their mission primarily
in terms of long-term national economic enhancement. They actively and
regularly intervene in economic activities with the goal of improving the
international competitiveness of their domestic economies. Rather than
accepting some predefined place in a world divided on the basis of
‘’comparative advantage,’’ such states seek to create ‘’competitive advantages.’’
I n this sense, the developmental state is a logical descendant of the German
historical school with its emphasis on economic nationalism and
neomercantilism. Central to the activities of such developmental states is a
highly competent and autonomous national bureaucracy (Pempel, 1999:139).
3.3 Features of Developmental State
Recent writing on developmental states has emphasized the importance of
both infrastructural powers and political commitment. According to Michael
Mann’s, infrastructural powers defined as the ‘capacity of the state to actually
penetrate civil society, and to implement logistically political decisions
throughout the realm’. The extraction of resources (human or material) from
society is a key element of such infrastructural power (Mann’s, 1993). Leftwich
emphasises commitment; an ideal-type developmental state is one that
demonstrates a ‘determination and ability to stimulate, direct, shape and
cooperate with the domestic private sector and arrange or supervise mutually
acceptable deals with foreign interests’ (Leftwich, 2000:167-8). Similarly, a
developmental state project must possess at least two essential attributes. First,
the state must have the capacity to control a vast majority of its territory and
possess a set of core capacity that will enable it to design and deliver policies;
secondly, the project must involve some degree of reach and inclusion (Ghani
et al., 2005).
Hence, a common factor among developmental states appears to be a
committed leadership that is embedded in the ‘right’ context of demands. The
leadership should strongly commit to developmental goals, and which places
national development ahead of personal enrichment and/or short-term
political gains (Ghani et al., 2005; Leftwich, 2000).
Another key characteristic of the developmental state is ‘embedded
autonomy’. According to Evans, the developmental state is autonomous in so
far as it has a rationalised bureaucracy characterized by meritocracy and longterm career prospects, traits that make civil servants more professional and
detached from powerful rent-seeking groups (Evans, 1995:12).
‘Embeddedness’ he defined as good communication and ties with the private
sector. But this factor was bound up with ‘autonomy’ which would
simultaneously allow state officials to make policy professionally and
independently of special private sector interests (Evans, 1995:45). An
embedded state possesses a variety of institutionalized channels where in the
state apparatus and the private sector continually interact in a constructive
manner via ‘’Joint project’’ of fostering economic development (Cypher and
Dietz, 2004:213).
Therefore, embeddedness is not enough, for there is always the danger
that state apparatus can be captured by the very interests and sectors it seeks to
guide promote and control. In order to guard against the risk of capture, the
state apparatus must have integrity, loyalty and cohesiveness. In short, state
must also exhibit the characteristics of autonomy (Cypher and Dietz,
2004:213). For embedded autonomy to work, Evans observed the state must
create a meritocratic bureaucracy of highly skilled people who can freely
combine their close contacts with the private sector with their independent
understanding of the global market to help steer economic planning in
directions good for the national economy as a whole (Evans, 1995). The
interdependence of these factors was crucial, social embeddedness without
political autonomy would leave state officials vulnerable to private pressure,
leading to corruption and cronyism. Autonomy without embeddedness would
leave state officials isolated from real events, prone to bad decision-making
and, in the worst scenarios, ruinous miscalculations (Evans, 1995).
Another of the underlying requirements of the developmental states is
thus the creation of nation-wide public (Ghani et al., 2005). A nation-wide
public need not be rooted in a unified sense of ‘nation’ based on cultural and
linguistic unity, but may well take the form of a more civic identity. The
important issue is that all citizens see themselves as Nigerians or Tanzanians as
much as or more than as Igbo or Nyamwezi.
3.4 Southeast Asian Experiences
The current thinking about the developmental state has been strongly shaped
by research into the experience of the East Asian tigers. Although there is
some disagreement in the literature regarding the core set of policies that
enabled the original Asian tigers (and now others) to achieve high levels of
development and economic growth, there is a general consensus about the
essential features that characterized these successful developmental states.
Most of all, a strong core of state institutions with the capacity to promote
economic growth without being ‘captured’ by particularist interests is regarded
as having been essential (Fritz and Rocha Menocal, 2007;8). This is what Peter
Evans (1995) has called ‘embedded autonomy’.
Two factors are assumed to have enabled such a bureaucracy embodying
embedded autonomy and the developmental orientation of the state to arise in
the East Asian cases: a political leadership that was committed to development
and, in most case, the uprooting of traditional elites. In Asia, political
leadership committed to development was often motivated by regional
competition, nationalism and the desire to ‘catch up’ with the west. As a result,
development was regarded as a ‘national project’ of the first priority. Such
determined political elites were either relatively uncorrupted or limited personal
gains to non-predatory corruption which did not impede investments and the
expansion of national productivity (Fritz and Rocha Menocal, 2007:8-9).
Subsequent analysis has shown that neoclassical reading of experiences of
development in Asia had downplayed the role of the state in the ‘success
stories’. Mounting evidence showed that the state had been the key agent
behind the spectacular success of the East Asian ‘Four Tigers’. This has led not
only to a re-reading of the role of the state in the development process, but it
has also raised the question of the replicability of their policies and experience
in other developing countries (Mkandawire, 2001:292). The ‘market failure’ is
so prominent in development economics is still a problem that warrants
government intervention and that, since such ‘failure’ differ in intensity, scope
and location, a selective set of interventions is required. The most significant
lesson has been the central role played by a ‘developmental state’ in the process
of development (ibid).
The role of government in East Asia also went beyond the autonomous
bureaucracy to one of close partnership between government and business: in
the successful Southeast Asian developmental state, a positive relationship
exists between the business community and the government. In these countries
where the government may directly influence the conduct of private enterprise
for the benefit of public good, and in turn, government is expected to assist
and protect the private enterprise. The incentives and resources provided by
government also included the creation of rent. That is, policies were devised to
ensure that private companies would secure profit above normal market
conditions. Such rents were particularly important for inducing new
investments and innovative activity. The management of rent-seeking is thus
an essential part of governance in successful developmental states. In this
model, rent-seeking was not in itself bad. But the key governance issues was to
ensure that rent were derived through activities that had social as well as
private returns that the rent, when earned as profits, were raised in a way that
supported national development(UNCTAD, 2009:34).
3.5 Failed attempts at state-led development in Africa
Many African countries experienced some sort of big push for development
during the early independence years. However, subsequently governance
deteriorated due to clientelistc and/or neopatrimonial social structures
strangled the potential of promising economic sectors and undermined
attempts at state-led industrialisation. Efforts to spread education stalled, inter
alia when increasingly authoritarian leaders found that those with some
education, but lacking good employment opportunities (due to the clientelistic
throttling of the economy), become politically dangerous. National armies
discredited themselves through bloody coups and internal divisions along
ethnic lines. The project of national integration failed (Fritz and Rocha
Menocal, 2007:535-536).
In many African countries, benefits generated by state-led development
were turned in to rents for small elites and clientelistic networks who captured
the state- making investments successively less productive (Van de Walle, 2001;
Chabal and Daloz, 1999; Bayart, 1993).Hence, the difference between
successful and failed attempts at state-led development does not appear to be
primarily attributable to corruption-which was generally present in both- but
rather to the problem of ‘’state capture’’(Hellman et al., 2000; Khan,2005). A
key ingredient in avoiding state capture and other forms of predatory
behaviour is a competent, meritocratic and ‘result-oriented’ core bureaucratic
system. In a majority of African countries, a committed and competent civil
service failed to emerge or was eroded (often despite repeated attempts to
develop it) (Rocha Menocal, 2004). Civil service structures and other benefits
generated by state-led development were frequently manipulated by the
government apparatus and ruling elites as a source of patronage. The state was
captured by narrow interests more concerned with building clientelistic
networks than with fostering a transformation of the country’s economy (Van
de Wall, 2001; Bayart, 1993).
Political leadership is crucial because of the way it affect the quality and
autonomy of the bureaucracy in developmental states. Importantly, political
leadership in Africa has not been uniformly poor since independence.
However, even development-oriented post-independence leaders failed to
build a sustained ‘embedded autonomy’ of the state (Fritz and Rocha Menocal,
2007). The tendencies militating against successful state-led developmentleadership which lacks a motivation to prioritise development and the dearth
of a competent and efficient civil service- are perhaps most evident and
perverse in sub-Saharan African states. While unfavourable geographical and
economic factors have certainly had a detrimental impact on development
prospects (Sachs, 2005), the dynamics embedded in a political system rooted in
neopatrimonialism have played a central role in engendering and reproducing
underdevelopment. No African country- with South Africa, Botswana and
Mauritius- has truly achieved an encompassing and sustained developmental
orientation; the underlying reason increasingly identified by academic scholars
and other observers is the neopatrimonial character of many African states
(Chabal and Daloz, 1999; Van de Walle, 2001).
One argument often advanced, sometimes by Africans themselves, relates
to the lack of an ideology of development anchored in some form of
nationalist projects. Fanon’s (1967) tirades against the ideological numbness of
the emergent ruling classes in Africa remain among the most sustained
statements of this position. Many other political leaders and analysts have
elaborated on this lacuna. Onimode (1988) talks of the ‘ideological vacuum’
that he attributes to petty bourgeois commitment to their class interests and
their fear of ‘revolutionary pressures’.
For some, the lack of ideology is inherent in personal rule under which
loyalty is not to some overriding societal goals but to individuals, often holding
highly idiosyncratic ideologies that they themselves flout with impunity and
with no moral qualms (Sandbrook, 1986). Consequently, such leaders are said
to have no moral basis on which they could demand enthusiastic and
internalised compliance to whatever ‘national project’ they launched. AS
Mkandawire explained that, the quest for an ideology to guide the development
process inspired African leaders to propound their own idiosyncratic and often
incoherent ‘ideologies’ to ‘rally the masses’ for national unity and development.
The centrality of ‘development’ was such that it acquired the status of an
ideology (‘developmentalism’) that provided the ideological scaffolding of
development plans (Mkandawire, 2001:295).
Chapter 4
Developmental State of Ethiopia
4.1 The making of developmental state in Ethiopia
Ethiopia was a quasi-feudal, one-party socialist’s state with virtually no
experience with representative democracy or capitalism. The coming to power
of EPRDF, which is a coalition of different ethnic-based groups, witnessed a
wide range of policy reforms in the social, economic and political spheres. The
socialist-oriented command economy has given way to a market-based type of
economic system, albeit under the ideological guise known as ‘revolutionary
democracy’. Its preferred conception of democracy has not been the liberal
bourgeoisie variety, based on individual participation, a diversity of interests
and views, and plural representation. Rather the revolutionary democracy is
based on communal collective participation, based on consensus forged
through discussion led by the vanguard organisation (Vaughan and Trouville,
2003:15). Under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the country has become
Africa’s ‘donor darling’: still one of the poorest countries in the world, it
receives billions of dollars in aid annually. At least partially as a result, the
government has embarked on gradual and limited liberalisation of the
economy- it retains ownership of key sectors and all land, but an embryonic
independent private sector has begun to emerge. This has been accompanied
by high levels of economic growth and substantial advances in the human
development of its largely rural population (UNDP, 2010:3).
The year 2001 saw a division within EPRDF members. Among others, a major
one centred on ideological differences, and divergence of development strategies. After a complex debate that took the party close to disintegration, the party came up
with a declaration that expressed its commitment to building a developmental state
in the country (EPRDF, 2006). Since 2003/2004, the Ethiopian Economy achieved
a double-digit growth (see table 1.1 below). However, the country has been struggling with the twin macroeconomic challenges of high inflation and very low international reserve since 2007/2008 (African Economic outlook, 2011). The government argues that its success is fundamentally related to its rejection of the ‘neoliberal’ economic policy, following its own indigenous ideology of ‘revolutionary
democracy’, and above all the government attributes this growth success to its embrace of the idea of a ‘developmental state’. Ethiopia’s growth and developmental
trajectory that was adopted after the 2001 ‘tehadso’/ resuscitation movement is a
very much contested issue. There is no consensus among different elites of the
country as to whether the government is truly ‘developmental’ or not, and the argument goes even to extent of questioning the growth success achieved.
The example of East Asia is inspiring Ethiopian governmental elites to
place double-digit growth at the forefront of their national development
strategy; this would certainly be consistent with much of the literature on the
East Asian Model and Beijing consensus. The East Asian Model puts
economic growth and the fulfilment of the material needs of majority at the
heart of government policy (Gore, 2000:796), often becoming the main source
of governmental legitimacy (Peerenboom, 2002:245). In Suharto’s Indonesia,
for example, economic recovery and ‘material expansion.... became an ideology
in the strongest sense of the term, describing the purpose of political activity,
the method used to achieve that goal, the attitudes which public figures should
express, as well as serving as an effective ideological weapon against opponents
of the regime or proponents of alternative visions’ (Chalmers, 1997:3). The
emphasis is on productivity and competitiveness rather than on welfare, and
other economies are used as reference points which bureaucrats can emulate
and use to measure their progress (Johnson, 1982). The strong parallel between
Ethiopia and East Asia’s drives for economic growth thus seem rooted, at least
partially, in processes of emulation.
The other and related lesson from East Asia is the strong role that the
state is perceived to play in the economies.“Ethiopian elites saw East Asia as
an alternative to the ‘neo-liberalism’ they so decried in the west and its
conditionalities”, Elsje Fourie (2011:14). State intervention in the economy is
the other very visible role the government is still playing. The state needed to
intervene because it has a firm belief that market failures would make the
development of rural areas unprofitable and unfeasible for the country’s
nascent, particularly in the sector of physical infrastructure (ibid:15). Thus,
State intervention in the economy in Ethiopia is so pervasive to the extent that
recently the government has fixed the price of certain commodities, devalued
the value of the currency and manipulates exchange rate in response to the
changes in the economy (EPRDF, 2006). According to the prime Minister of
Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, one of the lessons that development draws from
South Korea and Taiwan is their alleged ability to free rural communities from
rent-seeking private landlords and to build ‘developmental structures’ through
selective government intervention(2006).
This thinking has carried over into policy as well, primarily by preventing
from liberalising the economy at the speed that donors would prefer. The
government continues to practice import substitution, impose control on
foreign exchange, and protect and promote key industries from outside
competition. All land remains public, and key sectors such as banking and
telecommunications are wholly government-owned. Regarding to this, the
Bertelsmann Transformation Index, which assigns countries a score from one
to ten depending on the extent of market liberalisation, accords Ethiopia a
score of 4.11( Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2009:1).
Although most countries in East Asia experienced a degree of state
intervention during their periods of rapid growth, South Korea’s government is
often seen as having been most interventionist of the Asian Tigers (Lairran and
Vergara, 1993:257): government banks fuelled the country’s large corporations,
strict import controls and export quotas were in place. Ethiopia’s emulation
from South Korea is significant. According to (MoFED, 2010a), import
substitution policies, government directed private sector development
programmes, institutions established by the ministry of industry to promote
exports in certain key sectors--- all were expressly cited as being influenced by
observation of East Asia.
The Ethiopian government overwhelming emphasis on economic growth
has manifested itself in official documents and in practice as well. The
government’s highly ambitious five-year plans are the clearest example of this:
in 2005, the plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development To End Poverty
(PASDEP) made ‘a massive push to accelerate growth’ the second of its central
pillar, and aimed to achieve an annual average of 7-10% growth in real GDP
for the five years to follow (MoFED, 2006:165).The lowest of this numbers is
said to come directly from ‘the best experience of Eastern and Southern Asia
countries that have registered accelerated growth’ (ibid.). The even more
optimistic Growth and Transformation plan (GTP) in 2010) aims to double
the country’s GDP by 2015 and achieve ‘middle-income status’ by 2025
(MoFED, 2010b).
4.2 Elite Commitment
In the literature, a developmental state’s leadership is strongly committed to
developmental goals, and which places national development a head of
personal enrichment and/or short-term political gains (Ghani et. al, 2005).
EPRDF sources (EPRDF, 2011:39) stress on Taiwan and South Korea as
being typical East Asian models that the government strives to emulate. These
governments, it claims, were committed to developing their economies and
took the issue as a matter of life and death. Similar to them as one feature of a
developmental state, the government considers itself committed to
transforming the country to a middle-income country within a short period of
time. Not only this, the government also views ensuring development as an
issue that determines regime-survival (EPRDF, 2011: 67). During the time of
the resuscitation movement which was also the time the Eritrean government
invaded Ethiopia, government sources further claimed, there had been conflict
between the ‘develop mentalist’ and ‘rent-seeker’ leaders of the party which
the former was able to win. Expressing it in other ways, it also rests its
premises on the nature of the region (Horn of Africa) the country is placed in,
saying, “taking the question of development as a matter of life and death and
achieving fast development and structural change does not require deep
knowledge in a region where majority of nations are either failed or in a crisis”
(EPRDF, 2006:72). Political leaders in Ethiopia, Aaron Tesfaye (2010) claims,
envision a break from the past leading to rapid economic growth while
guaranteeing political autonomy to ethnic regions (Aaron, 2010).
As it is the case to many issues in the country, however, there are different
views reflected regarding the nature of the elite. Supporting the government’s
position, there are some who conceive of the leaders as truly committed to the
process of re-building the country with the Prime Minster Meles Zenawi
emerging as unchallenged intellectual and ideological guide of the party and
government especially after the ‘tehadso’ movement (Medhane and Young,
2003:401). Foune (2011) said, “Elites [in Ethiopia] viewed economic growth as
important for its impact inside a country, but also as crucial for achieving
international independence and gaining the respect of others.” While for
others, elites in Ethiopia are regarded as dictators and tyrants owing to “the
politics of exclusion” which the government purposefully uses (Merara,
Thus, according to Evans (1995), the state must be embedded in society,
that is connected to concrete set of social ties that bind the state to society. In
the case of south East Asian, political leadership was committed to
development and in most case the uprooting of traditional elites. The political
elites were either relatively uncorrupted or limited personal gains to nonpredatory corruption (Fritz and Rocha Menocal, 2007). However, in Ethiopia
scholars Mesay, echoed that the state are used to marginalized and exclude rival
elites. The practice of exclusion instead of integration or coalition denotes the
lack of development-oriented elites and the preponderance of rent-seeking and
predatory elites (Mesay, 2010).
On the other hand, the degree of political stability is a precondition
sustainable development. For multi- ethnic societies, as argued by
Lijphart(2002), a grand coalition of power sharing of all significant groups in
political power is contributed to the stability of the country. For instance, as
Sebudubudu (2009) argued that Botswana national elite to form a successful
‘grand coalition’ which in turn contributed to political, social and economic
stability (2009). Moreover he noted that one of the factors to Botswana’s
developmental state was the absence of a dominant ethnic group (ibid.). As a
result, the elite in Botswana has forged a ‘grand coalition’ since independence,
and this inclusion of different groups in society, including the traditional chiefs,
has granted a stake for all groups to take part in the politics of the new nation
which in turn promoted the goals of a Developmental State to be achieved,
granting legitimacy for state policies (ibid.).
In Ethiopian case, as stated by Mesay, should not be cited as an example
of grand coalition, given the hegemonic position of the TPLF (Mesay, 2010).
This is the feature that lacked Ethiopia when the new state/TGE was formed,
failure to have consensus and ‘national reconciliation’ across elites that were
struggling to bring the downfall of the military regime has been one factor
inhibiting the success of government policies, until recently where we have
different associations and leagues that carry the objective of participating
different sections of the society (particularly the youth and women) in to
government agendas. Thus,Mesay stressed that, the only way by which the
present ruling elite can be begin its transformation is through the establishment
of a grand coalition materialized a power sharing arrangement among various
elite groups(ibid.). Therefore, this impacts on the subsequent political and
economic developments in the country and puts its own limit on succeeding
the goal of a developmental state.
4.2.1 Human resources in the bureaucracy: Case of BeninshangulGumuz regional state
In accordance to the 1995 constitution of Ethiopia article 49, Benishangul-Gumuz is
acquired the status of the member states of Ethiopia. It has located in the western part
of Ethiopia. It has a population of 939,000 and composed of different ethnic groups
includes Benishangul, Gumuz, Amhara, Oromo and others of which Benishangul and
Gumuz accounts the majority. According to BoFED, the main economic activity of
the region is agriculture and cattle breeding which account 90% of the livelihood of
the population. The region has a huge fertile land with abundant water resource to
develop advanced agricultural production. In addition, the region is rich in mining
resource like gold, copper, zinc, base metal and marble resources (BoFED, 2003).
Despite its potential, it lacks industrial activities.
Benishangul- Gumuz suffers from shortage of trained and educated
manpower. In 1999, the regional state had about 9063 civil servants, of which
only 167(2 percent) were professionals. Adult literacy rate was about 15
percent (BoFED, 2003). However, virtually all professionals and educated
human resource were from non-indigenous groups. Despite resistance from
the indigenous elite the regional state has employed professionals and trained
individuals from across Ethiopia without ethnic preferences. For instance in
1997 alone, more than 225 non-indigenous professionals were recruited
(Young, 1999:338). Since the regional state officially uses Amharic language in
government structures and education, it has been easier for professionals
across Ethiopia to work in the region.
However, key political, bureaucratic and administration posts have
remained in the hands of individuals from the indigenous ethnic communities
in line with the right of the ethnic self-administration discourse in Ethiopia’s
ethnic federal principles. This situation has created a type of dual responsibility
and tension within bureaucratic structures in which the professionals are
responsible for the technical inputs. However, the decision within these offices
are controlled by indigenous individuals who have no relevant knowledge of
the activities they are leading
The ascriptive criterion of ethnic federalism has exacerbated the problem
in the region. For instance, development projects like micro-dams, medium
and small-scale irrigation projects and improved agricultural and veterinary
services could not be executed or implemented because of lack of skilled
human resources. Due to the ethnic federal principle which has drawn a
dichotomy of ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’; the ‘insiders’ have no professional skills
where as the ‘outsiders’ are not happy and willing to work in the area which
considers them ‘outsiders’. As Vaughan and Tronvoll state that ‘there have
been widespread complaints that the combined requirements to recruit
personnel on the basis of ethnic quotas, and political affiliation or loyalty
means that the most able and efficient functionaries are continually
overlooked’ (Vaughan and Tronvoll, 2003:14).
In addition, as Young observes, the internal party factions, inter-ethnic
hostilities and the dichotomy of indigenous and non-indigenous categories
have intensified a high degree of rent-seeking and favouritism in regional
administration. He observed that ‘the whole complex of partially completed
government building can be seen in the region testimony to corrupt relations
between politicians and contractors’ (Young, 1999:336). In its third regular
conference in 25 October, 2002, the regional council urged to get rid of tribal,
parochial and widespread corrupt practices in the regional government, and the
same call was repeated in 2005 and the problem has continued to be the major
problems in the region (Ethiopian News Agency, October 25, 2005).
According to scholars,Mesay argued that ethnic federalism in Ethiopia
discourages the free movement of labour and capital which has serious
consequences for the country’s development (Mesay, 2010).Despite the
potential for investment, the Benishangul-Gumuz region could not attract
significant amount of private capital. This is mainly due to the dichotomy
between ‘indigenous’ and ‘non-indigenous’, which has spread fear and
suspicion among the peoples. Such environment would not encourage bringing
much needed investors to the region from other parts of the country. Beside,
this policy also harms the unity and national identity of the country.
Thus, Young concludes that Benishangul-Gumuz region ‘is not meeting
its potential in either agricultural production or industrial development, and
again political factors seemed to be the major obstacle’ (Young, 1999). The
federal government pressured the regional state to use professionals from
outside the region to head bureaus and other offices that need qualified and
trained manpower. In 1998 ‘approximately half of Benishangul’s bureau heads
were outsiders and 17 out of 225 appointed professional were indigenous
(Young, 1999:338). As a result the federal government has played a vital role in
Benishangul-Gumuz regional administrative functions due to lack of
experience in administration by the indigenous elites. This situation has created
an opportunity for the EPRDF to play a controversial role in shaping and
affecting politics in the regional state. Furthermore, a civil service college was
set up by the federal government to train regional officials and bureaucrats to
produce professionals from the indigenous ethnic members.
4.3 Insulated Bureaucracy
The capacity of public institutions especially the bureaucracy is crucial to
economic performance in a developmental state. The bureaucracy constitutes
“the soft underbelly of the state” which advises the political executive and
formulates and implements public policies professionalism. Discipline and
technical skills are core issues in administrative, competence and capability
(UNECA, 2005:138). Similarly, Mkandawire argued that one of the key features
of developmental state is the capacity of the bureaucracy to implement the
policy. Such capacity is determined by institutional, technical, administrative
and political (Mkandwire, 2001). Evans also explained that the state must
create a meritocratic bureaucracy of highly skilled people who can freely
combine their close contacts with the private sector with their independent
understanding of the global market to help steer economic planning in
directions good for the national economy as a whole (Evans, 1995). For
example, Johnson argues that developmental in Japan is a rational
development-oriented strategy developed by the state. The goal of the political
establishment is rapid economic development as a means of legitimizing itself.
Thus it gives power and authority to the bureaucracy to plan, supervise,
regulate, and implement efficient policies (Johnson, 1982).
Furthermore, Abdi Samatar, in his most recent work ‘An African Miracle’
(1999:6), argued that Botswana’s status as a developmental state is located in a
professional Weberian-style bureaucracy that has conducted and implemented
policy efficiently. In this respect, Botswana has maintained a strong and
relatively autonomous and effective bureaucracy by insulating the bureaucrats
(Mbabazi and Taylor, 2005). Botswana then echoes the developmental state of
Chalmers Johnson where the politician reign and the state bureaucrats rule
(Johnson, 1982:12).Thus, Botswana bureaucracy has contributed to its success
Regarding to Ethiopian bureaucracy, Desta put ‘is managed by civil
servants that have clearly spelled-out functions. The government functionaries
and technocrats are by and large recruited on meritocracy and are expected to
serve competently. However, the institutions in which the functionaries
operate are not autonomous. They are strongly influenced by the ruling elite.
The higher positions in many governmental departments are assigned
according to an ethnic-based quota system’ (Desta, 2011). Another scholar,
Mesay, echoed that the cumbersome weight of political intervention does not
allow the autonomy of the bureaucratic sphere. He further stressed that, far
from allowing autonomy, the bureaucracy is using an extended organ of the
political machinery, thereby undermining impartiality and professionalism, and
distributing favourable treatment on the basis of political patronage and, ethnic
affiliation. Thus, what must be emphasized here is that the ethnic basis of the
country, as fashioned by EPRDF, is structurally adverse to the autonomy of
the bureaucracy (Mesay, 2010).
Notwithstanding this, though the bureaucracy might be recruited on the
basis of meritocracy, due to the perception held by the public, willingly or
unwillingly they are expected to operate in conformance with their ethnic
affiliation rather than in pursuit of the goals of their organization. Because of
this, instead of transparency, the desire to fulfil the wishes of the political
agenda introduces the temptation for corruption that has become endemic in
the functioning of the Ethiopian bureaucracy. Despite this, some of the
government initiated development plans were very rational and if systematically
implemented they could successfully achieve their intended goals. But, many
fruitful projects were unduly delayed because the functionaries lacked the
professionalism and commitment needed to mobilize the limited resources of
the nation for development (Desta, 2010). Thus, according to Desta, ‘ if
Ethiopia desires to use the state as an important vehicle to tackle its deeprooted developmental problems, it needs to improve the competence of its
public bureaucracy and keep them politically neutral’ (Desta, 2010).
Furthermore, as Mesay stressed, in order to build a competent and professional
bureaucracy, recruitment and promotion must be based on merit rather than
on ethnic affiliation and political patronage (Mesay, 2010).
4.4 Embedded Autonomy
According to Evans, one of the important characteristics of developmental
state is ‘embedded autonomy’ in which the state must be embedded in the
society. In other words, the elite must create concrete social ties that connect
the state and society in a mutually binding way (Evans, 1995). In addition,
Evans defined embeddedness as the state must establish a good
communication and ties with the private sector. For embedded autonomy,
Evans argue that, the state must create a meritocratic bureaucracy of highly
skilled people who can freely combine their close contact with the private
sector with their independent understanding of the global market to help steer
economic planning in directions good for the national economy (ibid.).
The government claims that it was able to preserve its autonomy from
private interests based on two premises. The first reason it presents is that the
party had a strong support base of the rural (beginning from its inception) as
well as of the urban population that the political and economic influences of
capitalists had less influence in affecting its autonomy. Second, its control over
major institutions of the economy that were inherited from the military
government granted it power to deal with capitalists (EPRDF, 2011). Even if
the legitimacy of the government in Ethiopia is greatly contested especially
following the formation of the new transitional government (TGE) which
resulted ethnic- based federal system, and following the infamous 2005 election
(Merara:2003), embeddedness is a factor stressed by promoting a
developmental state in Ethiopia regarding pro-poor inclusion(Tesfaye, 2010).
In fact, this feature of developmental state is perhaps the most visible in
Ethiopia. EPRDF’s perception its own role as well as that of society is central,
whether government institutions have the required capacity or not. Regarding
to this, Melaku Tegegn argues: ‘the EPRDF assumes that it is not only
omniscient but should also be omnipotent. It drives from this the notion that
society should be led by the vanguard (the government in this case) in both
development and democratization. Because of this, the relationship between
government and society is not based on equality, mutual recognition of
sovereignty and freedom’(Tegegn, 2007:14). This shows that the elite fail to
expound a vision that connect the state and society and provide
institutionalized channels for the continual negotiation and renegotiation of
Elites in Ethiopia wish to emulate aspects of the East Asian
developmental model and they attribute the growth record achieved for the last
successive seven years to the developmental path the government is following.
There is every reason to believe that growth becomes a main source of
governmental legitimacy (Wade, 1990). In Ethiopia also this general rule seems
to be working, especially owing to the successive growth record being
informed by the government in its effort to make the developmental thinking a
‘hegemony’(EPRDF, 2010), which will serve as an input to facilitate growth
through mobilizing the population at large.
Even if the government praises of its achievements, there are critics
against the whole project of building a developmental state in the country. If
we are to label Ethiopia as a developmental state, it must be said it is at the
very early stage and much remains to be done. According to Tesfaye, the
government fails to develop institutions and policy instruments, to win the
hearts and minds of the majority of the population round ‘ developmentalism’,
to secure resources, particularly foreign savings, to build an efficient,
meritocratic public service, and to insulate the state from private poetical
pressure enough to allow ‘inclusion’ to be a positive form of ‘embeddedness’
(Tesfaye, 2010).
4.5 Ideological Underpinning is Developmental
Ideological underpinnings are required in order to give the developmental
project a hegemonic aspect to it, in the sense that the project gains consensus
and attracts broad sections of the populace. As Woo-Cumming (1999), argued
that nationalism and a national vision lie at the heart of a developmental state.
It was argued that the success of the East Asian miracle is driven by
nationalism. In addition, for example, the success of developmental states of
Botswana the slogan: ditiro ts a ditlhabololo. (‘Work for development’)
underpinned the trajectory post-1966 under Khama with a strong sense of
nationalism (Taylor, 2005).
According to Ghani et al., (2005), one of the underlying requirements of
the developmental state is the creation of nation-wide public. A nation-wide
public need not be rooted in a unified sense of ‘nation’ based on cultural and
linguistic unity, but may well take the form of a more civic identity. The
important issue is that all citizens see themselves as Ethiopian more than their
ethnic line. According to Mkandawire (2001), the main force behind the
developmental ideology has been nationalism which seeks to subordinate the
energy of the people behind a single national goal. With this backdrop, this
part of the paper presents finding of the impact Ethiopian ethnic federalism on
conflicts at local and regional levels in turn it affect the project of an
overarching countrywide civic citizenship. Thus, my argument here is that due
to the ethnic federal structure of Ethiopia the sentiment of state nationalism is
declining and ethno nationalism emerges which adversely affects the unity of
the country.
Since the project of ethnic federalism in 1991, Ethiopia’s ethnic groups the
right to self-determination would lead to peace and provide a new basis for the
unity of the country. However, ‘decentralisation and proliferation of conflicts
at local and regional levels accompanied the federal restructuring of the
country’ (Asnake, 2006). In addition, according to the Crises Group report,
‘ethnic conflicts have not disappeared but have been either transferred from
the national to the regional and district levels. Relations between ethnic groups
have become increasingly competitive as they vie for control of administrative
boundaries, land and natural resources’ (2009). Hence, after the introduction of
this policy ethnic conflicts happened in different parts of regions.
Ethiopian ethnic federalism includes ethnically defined national
citizenship, self-administration on an ethno-linguistic basis as enshrined in the
constitution, ethnically defined political representation and decision making at
all administrative levels (FDRE, 1995). In fact, the ethnic federalism is a clear
break with the past, which allows people to be involved with and understand
local government. However, ‘with the exception of linguistic and cultural
autonomy, so far the constituent members of the ethnic federation cannot
exercise administrative and political autonomy’ (Asnake, 2006:243). Thus, ‘it is
possible to explain the wide gulf between the theory and practice of Ethiopian
federalism in terms of political autonomy by the emergence of a dominant oneparty system under the EPRDF. Hence, ‘state and society relationships in
Ethiopia today, are mainly characterized by the hegemonic control of the
masses (or the majority) by the few who maintain control over the state and its
economic and military assets’ (Asnake, 2006:243).
One of the crucial impacts of ethnic federalism was the generation and
transformation of intra-regional autonomy conflicts and inter-regional
conflicts. Empirical evidence has showed that, in the Somali region, autonomy
led to intra- and inter-clan divisions and conflicts. According to Asnake, ‘the
most important division affecting the Somali region and its relations with the
political centre was the division that emerged between the Ogaden and the
non-Ogaden clans’. (Asnake, 2006:246). Moreover, ‘the identity and autonomy
question of the Bantu minorities and the Sheikash-Ogaden conflict over
administrative structure (territory) demonstrated how federal restructuring
affected inter-clan relations’ (ibid.). On the other hand, the ethnic politics
created the organization of clan in political unit in the region. As a result, ‘the
politicisation of clan relation led to one of the worst localised conflicts in the
region between the Ogaden and the Sheikash.This conflict led to the death of
hundreds of people and the displacement of thousands’(Asnake, 2006:246).
Similarly, in Benishangul-Gumuz region show the impact of federalism on
the generation and transformation of conflicts. According to Young, ‘in the
pre-1991 ethnic tensions in Benishangul-Gumuz areas were limited to conflict
between adjacent communities for various reasons of livelihood challenges and
social facets such as land grapping, cattle raiding and cultural clashes. Very low
intensity sporadic clashes used to occur between Gumuz and Amhara and
between Gumuz and Oromo in the south part of the region. However the
post-1991 ethnic tensions are very new and induced in connection with the
establishment of the regional state government. Competition for political
leadership, position in the state bureaucracy, group’s hegemonic ambitions and
language issues’ (Young, 1999). Empirical evidences showed that ‘there are
two trends of autonomy conflicts in the region, conflicts between the titular
ethnic groups and conflicts between the titular and non-titular groups. In the
first case (Bertha-Gumuz dispute), it was happened that the availability of
resources at local and regional levels like the office of the president, financial
resources and other caused a dispute between the two dominant titular ethnic
groups of the region’ (Asnake, 2006:246). Hence, in post-1991 the region has
been practice the politics of inclusion and exclusion based on two categories of
peoples, titular and non-titular. This generated violent conflicts in the region
Chapter 5
This study has provided a glimpse to the link between ethnic federalism and
the developmental state model in Ethiopia. It has employed whether the ethnic
federal structure has accelerated or affected to the sustainable and successful
state-led model of development.
In general, Ethiopia has scored a GDP growth after the country has
shifted to a developmental state model. However, the country is required a
prerequisites in the developmental state theory which is a crucial to the
continuity and the sustainability of development. Thus, it is still remain a
challenge to established a highly competent bureaucracy and the creation of
countrywide civic citizenship in other words to build nationalism.
The finding indicates that due to ethnic federalism, ethnic entitlement
produced a weak bureaucratic structure which is a key to developmental state.
It was mainly due to the prioritization of ethno-language criteria rather than
meritocratic which adversely affect to establish a highly competent bureaucratic
staff. In addition, the political neutrality of the bureaucrat is still a challenge.
On the other hand, the ethno-language criteria discourage the free movement
of labour and capital which has its own limitation for the country’s
The other finding shows that the project of ethnic federalism has further
exacerbated the rise of ethnic classification as a consequence it divide rather
than unite the people. Moreover, it generated more inter-ethnic and intraethnic conflicts which have a negative impact to the creation of civic
countrywide citizenship for successful developmental state of Ethiopia.
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