There is no doubt that Ethiopia’s economy has improved. But beyond the growth statistics, these reports often miss the widening inequality and corruption that belies the country’s economic progress. Leading private enterprises, including some Addis Ababa-based newspapers, are run by the ruling party or associates with links to the higher echelons of power. While the rich saw fortunes rise over the last decade, the poor have lost their land and ways of life to a ballooning foreign investment scheme. The plan to expand Ethiopia’s capital into the Oromia region is one among such development project.
Over the last few years, while largely a state agitprop, the TVO has become a conduit for hitherto neglected Oromo cultural programming. For the majority of Oromo rural dwellers, TVO and its affiliate radio stations serve as the only sources of information. In the last two years, some of its cultural programs and interviews with prominent Oromo personalities have been well-received even among the vocal Oromo diaspora.
According to former TVO employees, the network’s growing popularity has not always been viewed favorably by the authorities and may have contributed to this week’s mass dismissal. Purges are not new to the ruling party either. It is part of a long tradition of suppressing dissent, be it from within the ruling party or outside. What is new, however, is that the discontent with the party’s practices is reaching new heights.