By Assefa Getachew | May 16, 2013
The historical impacts of land-grab in Ethiopia were characterized by brutal conflicts, cultural extinction, and even genocide through mass killings. The war of occupation and land-grab in the last decades of the nineteenth century resulted in the death of about five million people in Southern Ethiopia (OSA 2013). The current problems associated with land-grab are especially complex in Southern Ethiopia; the local people are not represented in the government of Ethiopia that is dominated and led by TPLF. Mistrust between TPLF leaders who come from the North and the Southern peoples of Ethiopia is rampant, shaped by a bitter history of war, occupation, cultural domination, and inherited hostility. The non-Tigrayan population of Ethiopia sees the decision of the TPLF regime as a deliberate and conniving move to dismantle the cultural fiber of the South and expand Tigrayan cultural and economic domination. Land-grab is indeed perceived among the Southern Ethiopian population as a hostile trap targeting their most sacred property, their land.
Since 1996, the total area of agricultural land transferred to the investors is more than 5 million hectares. A total land transferred to investors will be 10 million hectares of agricultural land by the end of 2015 (OSA 2013). Over 94% of the land assigned to TPLF officials and foreign investors is located in Southern Ethiopia (ibid). To seal the deal, the government developed ‘a conniving and exploitive strategy’ and to implement this, it made policy decisions and then signs land lease contracts on behalf of the peoples of the Southern Ethiopia. The policy thoroughly comes from the TPLF leaders who are ethnic group of the North. It is discriminatory as it applies only to the Southern regions of Ethiopia/non-Abyssinian parts of the Empire /- such as Oromia, Gambella, the South, the Afar and Benishangul/Gumuz. It is to be noted that Emperor Meles Zenawi who was the head of the TPLF regime, once outlined this strategy of land-grab as being only focused on these areas. This strategy came to surface with five phases that immensely subjugated and endangered the Southern Ethiopian farmers by imposing four major limitations. This is discussed in two ways– I) Phases of the Conniving and Exploitive strategy; and II) Impacts of the Conniving and Exploitive Strategy in the Empire.