Strathink’s Winners and Losers in 2015

Our Winners are Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegne, the People of Eritrea, Tanzanian President John Magufuli and Rwandan President Paul Kagame

The Strathink editorial team would like to begin by congratulating Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn on being named AfricaWorld “Man of the Year.” Moreover, the team would like to congratulate the people of Ethiopia for making possible the Prime Minister’s success on a number of fronts. Successful leadership in a country is impossible without the support of the people. With the sudden and untimely passing of Prime Minister Meles, then Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Hailemariam Dessalegn had the unenviable position of stepping into the shoes of a giant–a man who had led Ethiopia into a renaissance following the dark years of authoritarian rule, social fratricide and economic stagnation under Mengistu Haile Mariam. Prime Minister Hailemariam has taken on his responsibilities with the rigor, commitment, dedication and dignity we have come to expect from Ethiopia’s leaders. We also salute the people of Ethiopia, who have helped usher the new Prime Minister and his government through the transition and met the challenges of continuing Prime Minster Meles’s extraordinary legacy.

We would like to acknowledge the strength and stamina of the Eritrean people to survive yet another year under the rule of President Isayas Afewerki and his cronies. The Eritrean people fought for thirty years to build an independent Eritrea, free from oppression and based on the respect of universal human rights. The Eritrean people have been stoic in maintaining the spiritual gains of their long struggle for independence in the face of increasingly onerous oppression from their own leadership. The dignity of the Eritrean people remains stalwart despite the economic hardship and political tyranny imposed by those who fought alongside them. Their days are numbered. Foremost among the cadre of traitors to the Eritrean struggle is ailing President Isayas Afewerki. He has tarnished his once golden legacy and will soon be remembered not for winning the war of independence but losing the dividends of peace. Strathink salutes the Eritrean people.

Newly elected Tanzanian President John Magufuli caught our eye when he cancelled traditional independence celebrations, saying “it would be “shameful” to spend huge sums of money while the country was facing a serious cholera outbreak. He then took part in a massive public clean up of Dar es Salam, cut the budget on the inauguration of the new parliament, banned unnecessary foreign travel by government officials, and fired the head of hospital he visited where he saw patients sleeping on the floor. Here’s to President John Magufuli, affectionately known as “The Bulldozer,” and his drive to clean up, literally and metaphorically, Tanzania!

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is another one of our 2016 winners. Despite international pressure not to seek a third term, President Kagame is staying the course. The international community is bold in its declarations against the embattled President, ignoring the circumstances that brought Paul Kagame and his government to power following the genocide in 1994. It is easy for the international community to look at Rwanda today and prescribe notions of Western political theory and the neoliberal paradigm of development on this small nation of less than twelve million people. In 1994, however, the international community turned its head away from the deadly onslaught of machetes that brutally took the lives of over 800 thousand people unlucky to be identified as Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Rwandans must-re-live the horrors every time the West promotes of the views of the genocide perpetrators over airwaves that include the venerable BBC. Let the Rwandans decide who will lead them further into the era of peace and prosperity begun by President Paul Kagame. Long live President Kagame!

Our Losers are Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza and the EU Member Ana Gomes (Portugal)

It is impossible to express the utter contempt Strathink’s editorial team holds for South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his partner in crime against humanity, Riek Machar. The sheer transparency and audacity of their struggle to achieve power in the face of the growing desperation of the people of South Sudan is mind-blowing. The egos of the two men who hold the fate of the South Sudanese people in their blood soaked hands are so outsized for human beings that there is no room for the IGAD mediators in even the largest ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel. It would be facile to offer any kind of potential solution to the chaos and mayhem created by two such despicable leaders. Shame. Shame. Shame.

While Rwanda looks towards the future with hope, Burundi is burdened by the past. Emboldened by the gun and the ghosts of ethnic conflict, Pierre Nkurunziza has opted out of peace and chose violence over the ballot. Burundi is caught yet again in a never-ending cycle of bloodletting based on the fragility of Burundi’s ethnic co-habitation. Like a creeping coup, the violence increases incrementally daily, weekly and monthly—raising the people’s tolerance little by little until it explodes in a cataclysm of death and destruction. Unlike Rwanda, the international community has not turned its head but watching it does not prevent it from spiraling out of control. Again, shame. Shame. Shame.

Who is Ana Gomes and why does she join our list of losers in 2015? Ana Gomes is the discredited member of the European Parliament who invited the self-proclaimed terrorist and leader of Ginbot 7, Berhanu Nega, to address the parliament on Ethiopia’s drought. Ms. Gomes, a member of the anti-terrorism committee of the parliament, disgraced herself and sullied the honor of her governing body by inviting such a person. Her attachment to the leader of Ginbot 7, based in Eritrea and vowing to use violence to overthrow the government in Ethiopia, is confusing given her position in the parliament. Shame. Shame. We only give Ms. Gomes two shames because, in the bigger picture of Ethiopia’s past, present and future, she is irrelevant.



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