By Teweldeberhan Gebre
Daniel Berhane has posted an article dated January 31, 2017 under the title “President Isaias Afwerki discloses a road map for Eritrea’s future direction”, lovable for its contradictions. “President Isaias Afwerki has outlined a roadmap for Eritrea, while addressing a question regarding the national constitution and strengthening of People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) in an interview conducted with the Eritrean national media,” says Daniel. “The road map will guide the future direction of the country with broader participation of the Eritrean people-putting the reviews of the past and present situations of the country into consideration,” he added. Soon he contradicts when he says “President Isaias said that the process will require answering questions-where we were, where we are and where we are heading?” Of course, Daniel is not responsible for the contradictions. President Isaias does.
The president told his viewers that he has prepared a roadmap while he contradicts himself when he says “the process will require answering questions-where we were, where we are and where we are heading” that unambiguously reveals that there is no such a document called a roadmap. It is not unusual to hear contradictory messages from our respected president. On the one hand, the president tells us that the roadmap is prepared on the other he tells us that the preparation of the roadmap “will require answering questions- where we were, where we are and where we are heading”. So, Daniel, which one is right?
If the roadmap is not yet ready or at least drafted how come you talk about its details? When you say “President Isaias gave a detailed explanation of the road map including the objectives, content and how it will be organized”, I feel you are contradicting yourself too. If he outlined the objectives and its content it is organized document. But, you are telling your readers the document is yet to be organized. You quoted the president as “[t]he road map outlines including the political questions that will be discussed, development programs, national security and other issues that will shape the journey of the country.” Interestingly, I didn’t hear a word from the Cabinet Ministers on the roadmap during their meeting hosted in Massawa on the 8th and 9th of February as reported by the famous journalist, Ghebremeskel Gherezgihier on EriTV. If there was a document called a roadmap I would expect the ministers to discuss it. But, they didn’t. For me, this so called roadmap is a “ghost roadmap”. It was for this reason the president kept contradicting with himself during his recent TV appearance. At one time, regardless the process, he told his viewers that he has prepared a roadmap and down the lines he got lost when he told us how he is planning to prepare his roadmap. A country needs one national roadmap not two or three. Daniel, which roadmap are you talking about? The current ghost roadmap or the next generation roadmap? I bet there is no such a document called a roadmap for you and me to discuss and debate about its contents at this moment.
Not only that, to my disappointment and I believe to your readers too, you quote Ephrem Kidane, your political analyst, saying “such kind of system, which only exists in the developed and dominant countries, is paramount to ensure the continuity of our independent, self-reliant and confident nation in the face of dangerous global and regional political, securities, economic and social realities that could negatively challenge us.” Really?
Ephrem says “such kind of system, which only exists in the developed and dominant countries…” referring the system in Eritrea. The truth is if there is a country without a system of government it must be Eritrea. A government that went without a roadmap or vision for 25 years cannot be a good example of system of government. In fact, the president has admitted repeatedly that his system didn’t work. If the system of government in our country did work why do we need a radical rearrangement to be led by army generals? Unfortunately, some people chose to be subservient and apologists at the cost of their people and their country. Really, it is unfortunate!
In brief let me discuss how a roadmap or a national strategic development plan (NSDP) under a conventional system of governments (both in the developed and developing world) is designed and prepared. I said conventional system of government because we have unconventional system of government let essentially by army generals. First, what is a roadmap or a national vision? The Merriam Webster Dictionary briefly defines a roadmap as “a detailed plan to guide progress toward a goal”. Just to guide progress toward a specified goal. It is not a plan. Countries and businesses draw a roadmap or development strategy to guide them toward a certain goal or goals. A national development roadmap is a multi‐sectoral and multi‐stakeholder framework intended to implement a national and local development strategies and policies across sectors and regions.
Thus, a roadmap is just a general framework that guides the preparations of national and sector ministries planning processes. It is not an implementation plan. Guided by the roadmap/framework, national ministries, departments, and regions and subregions on their turn prepare their sectoral plans eventually packed as a national strategic development plan (NSDP). In other words, a roadmap is a crude document and its goal is realized through an NSDP and sectoral implementation plans. NSDP draws its key objectives and outputs from the roadmap so that to contribute to the ultimate goal or goals specified in the roadmap. At the NSDP level each sector ministry or department allocates budget to its plan approved prior the finalization of the NSDP. Accordingly, governments declare the 4-5 years NSDP plan officially by their head of governments.
A national roadmap is prepared to advance development to benefit the people while conserving and restoring the natural capital base to continue economic growth and improve livelihoods of the majority. As to the process of preparing a roadmap and NSDP, an Inter-Ministerial working Group (IMWG) must be set to guide consultations between all concerned line ministries and departments who are also responsible for the implementations of their respective sector plans. Thus, the IMWG coordinates and facilitates consultations while contributing substantially to the contents and structure of the roadmap and the NSDP. During the processes of preparing the roadmap and NSDP, comments and inputs should be collected and synthesized into the roadmap and or NSDP documents. At the same time, the IMWG must seek multi‐stakeholder collaboration in both during the design of the roadmap and NSDP and of course during the implementation process. All in all, the preparation of a roadmap and NSDP require full participation of all implementing line ministries, departments, local governments, development partners, academics, businesses, and civic organizations.
Having defined a roadmap and the process it takes for its preparation, let us turn our face to what has been said by our respected president during his recent TV appearance on the issue of national roadmap. I am tempted to call it a ghost roadmap. I don’t believe the president has it. In his announcement for a non-exiting roadmap the president told his viewers that his government outlines a roadmap for Eritrea’s political and economic developments. I call his roadmap a ghost roadmap. It might be offensive for him and his likes but I cannot call it a roadmap because it is only in the brain of the president and nothing is public about it. I am also hesitant that it was in his brain before he appeared on the TV station. Going back to the last 25 years of independence the president is allergic to any articulated sector plan let alone a national plan. A good lesson that need to be learned is the so call “Wefri Warsay Ykealo”, a so called national plan but we have never seen it on paper and was not a consulted program with any responsible entities and the populace. Did it bring any change in the livelihoods of the Eritrean people? Of course, not! In fact, it was a source of all predicaments of the Eritrean people and the mismanagement of Eritrea’s human, natural and material resources. Now the ghost roadmap is replacing the so called ‘Wefri Warsay YkeAlo’, a similar trend to the embezzlement of Eritrea’s human, natural and material resources.
So, in view president Isaias’ ghost roadmap is another name for “Wefri Warsay YkeAlo”, and its structure and contents are only known to him. A new name for an old highway called WWY.