Destiny Ethiopia Initiative is an indigenous response to the current political circumstances in Ethiopia. The initiative is led by a Core Team [list attached] comprising nine concerned Ethiopian nationals from diverse walks of life, political perspectives, ethnic groups, faith affiliations, and professional backgrounds. Forum of Federations, a Canada-based international organization that has been operating in Ethiopia for several years and won the support of the ruling coalition and other major opposition parties, hosts the initiative.
Destiny Ethiopia Team has been exploring options to break the deadlock in Ethiopia drawing on experiences from various countries. While it undeniably helps to learn from the experiences of failed states, the team firmly believes that more positive lessons could be drawn from countries that have transcended political deadlocks. According to experiences of countries like South Africa and Colombia future-oriented approaches that necessitate dialogue among diverse groups would greatly help to unlock stalemates while complementing other ongoing peace and reconciliation processes.
In this regard, transformative scenario planning, as a national peace-building tool, was first implemented in South Africa during the early 1990’s as the country was struggling to resolve the longstanding political crisis and impasse. A couple of university professors took the initiative to bring together about 30 influential and insightful people from the entire political, economic and social spectrum and build possible future scenarios for South Africa.
This process helped to forge relationships, mutual understanding and trust among the various participants including representatives of the ruling party and the challengers such as African National Congress and Pan African Congress helping them to chart a new pathway wherein each party made compromises so that the profound political crisis in the country would be resolved in an amicable way. These decisions had reportedly contributed a share in avoiding potential clashes and fragmentation by ushering in new dimensions of personal and national transformation. Since then, this tool has been deployed in many other countries such as Colombia, Guatemala, Thailand and Mexico.
The Coordinator of Destiny Ethiopia consulted Reos Partners, the team that facilitated this process in South Africa and other countries, about the realities in Ethiopia and spent a few years planning, deliberating and drawing lessons from other countries. The idea was then shared with other members of the Destiny Ethiopia Team, who have agreed to commit to convening the TSP process in Ethiopia. At the initial phase, the team drew a multi-criteria assessment framework to help identify key influential and insightful Ethiopians representing diverse political perspectives and administrative regions in the country. We then overlaid sensitivity markers like gender, age group, ethnicity, religion, and profession to make the selection more credible. Based on this framework, we identified and selected about 50 people from the entire spectrum which we thought would form the best possible personification of the present-day reality of Ethiopia.
As a matter of necessity, we sought for political buy-in from the government and went through all echelons spanning the legislative, executive, and judiciary, and garnered the support we needed to launch the initiative. In the same vein, we approached Speakers of both houses, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Head of Office of the EPRDF and the leadership of all EPRDF member parties to solicit a ‘no objection’ and advice in further refining the process to better serve its good purposes. The Core Team has its operational principles where neutrality to the process has always remained central. The team has also reached out to key opposition parties and political activists to secure their political support and solicited their willingness to participate in the process. Besides, some prominent personalities from the media, private sector, civil society, and academia have been approached and included in the process.
The initiative is neutral, non-partisan, and inclusive and aims to build scenarios for Ethiopia through a collective iterative process involving concerned, influential and insightful individuals representing diverse political and apolitical groups. It is not a negotiation or reconciliation process though it has a huge, proven potential to contribute to negotiation and reconciliation processes. The main goal of the initiative is to contribute to creating sustainable peace and security in Ethiopia by structuring thinking and contributing to the formulation of common language and, potentially, shared national vision across the spectrum of players spurring positive action towards a better future.
The process involved three key phases: recruiting of participants for the scenario building process, conducting three closed workshops to build the scenarios, and dissemination of the final product.
The three workshops were successfully conducted in Arba Minch and Bishoftu between June and October 2019. All workshops enjoyed adequate turnout of participants. The State Minister of Peace, the Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives and the Vice Chair of the National Reconciliation Commission addressed these workshops. Moreover, resource persons were invited up on the request of the Scenario Team to provide necessary information and knowledge on topics such as Ethiopian history, economy, constitutional and federal issues, food security, demography environmental issues and climate change.
The Scenario Team [of 50 people] has now produced a final report that depicts four possible futures of Ethiopia in 2040. The report explains the trajectory for each scenario and its possible consequences. The role of the Core Team has always been to facilitate the process and provide technical support.
The Scenario Team will continue to work together in disseminating the scenarios to their respective constituency, key individuals and institutions, and the general public through a unique dissemination modality that primarily targets the constituency of the scenario team members themselves. The process is hoped to forge more positive relationships among diverse political actors through transforming their thoughts, understanding and trust. The team is currently holding consultations with the National reconciliation Commission and the National Election Board with the intention of positively influencing the upcoming election and reconciliation processes in the country.