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Title: Review of Land Grabbing Policies of Successive Regimes of Ethiopia
Authors: Malkamuu Jaatee and Zakaariyaas Mulataa
Published: Oromo Studies Association (OSA) – Presentation at Annual Conference 2012
Keywords: Land, colonization, livelihood assets
Land is a foundation of natural resource of a country. Management of land affects political stability, socioeconomic prosperity, and cultural identity of a nation. Land grabbing policies of successive regimes of Ethiopia are generally reviewed to understand their impacts on social stability, economic prosperity, cultural identity, human rights, and political power of peoples living under colonialism. The current land grabbing policy of Ethiopia is critically analyzed to understand whether it is progressively architected development plan to improve livelihood assets of all peoples of Ethiopia or it is systematically articulated political strategy of Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) regime to destabilize subsistence livelihood assets of rural communities of South Ethiopia in general, and Oromia in particular, to sustain 123 years old colonialism. Land ownership right is not only a customary or a legal right to access a plot of land to produce sufficient amount of crop and animal to secure supply of food for demand of a family, a community, and a nation at all time. It is directly linked to sovereignty and territorial integrity of a country and its citizens. The right to access land in Oromia and Southern Ethiopia before colonization was governed by customary law based on traditional principles. However, traditional land ownership rights of indigenous peoples were dismissed by military power of successive Abyssinian regimes basically rooted in technical, material, and financial aids of foreign organizations since 1880s, the era of scramble for colonization of Africa. Land tenure policy of Ethiopia is politically grouped into two levels, customary and colonial land use policies, respectively in North and South Ethiopia. It is coded as (1) Rist and Gebar, (2) state, and (3) public & investment land tenures during imperial (1889 – 1974), military (1974 – 1991), and the TPLF (1991 – current) regimes, respectively. Very dangerous land grabbing policy is intentionally designed by the TPLF regime to destabilize livelihood assets of peoples of Oromia and southern Ethiopia through aggravation of poverty, expansion of food insecurity borders, intensification of conflict, degradation of ecosystem, and advancement of human rights violation. The regime is systematically maintained insecurity through synergistic interconnection of effects of poverty, food insecurity, conflict, human right violations, and violence in order to sustain its military, economic, and political dominance over its colonial territories. These vicious cycles of violence and insecurity negatively affect legitimate national liberation struggle of oppressed peoples of Ethiopia.