ON STRENGTHENING THE NATION’S
….. Throughout Our life time, We have always unceasingly sought an ever-increasing degree of participation by Our people in the conduct of the nation’s affairs. In 1931, when We granted Ethiopia’s first written Constitution, We were motivated by this desire.
In 1955, We paved the way for an even deeper and wider involvement of Our people in the direction of the affairs of their country. The Revised Constitution which We promulgated then is both the basis for and an immutable manifestation of the unity of the Ethiopian nation. The presence of you Parliamentarians here today testifies to the wisdom of those steps.
This past year, two additional measures have been taken to accelerate this process and insure the country’s future political stability and growth.
The first, and perhaps the most significant political development of recent years, occurred only eight months ago. We then announced that the principle of collective responsibility embedded in Ethiopia’s constitutional framework would be enlarged by the designation by Us of Our Prime Minister who would, in turn, select his cabinet for appointment by Us.
This innovation, coupled with the principle of Parliamentary responsibility enunciated in the 1955 Constitution, prepares the way for the introduction of a totally new series of modifications into Ethiopia’s institutional framework and guarantees the continued dynamic evolution of the nation’s political structure.
We are convinced that this step, taken in accordance with the nation’s Constitution, will inject new strength into the political framework of the nation, and that the permanence of the advances already accomplished will be secured.
The first consequence of this major reshaping of Ethiopia’s political framework may already be seen.
In order to emphasize and give full scope to the priority of co-ordinated economic planning, a separate Ministry charged with wide responsibilities in this field has been established, and work has already been commenced on the preparation of a Third Five-Year Plan.
Land reform and administration, an area deserving of the highest consideration, has been confided to another new Ministry created at the time of the reorganization of Our Government in April.
Responsibility for social affairs has been consolidated under the direction of the Ministry of National Community Development and Social Affairs.
Information and tourism functions have been combined in a single Ministry in order that fuller and more complete publicity may be given to the many varied aspects of Ethiopia’s life and activities.
The institutions earlier created to assure that all Public Servants would receive the recognition which their work has earned for them and that they may look to their future security with confidence have now been consolidated in a single agency.
The Ministry of Public Works has been given the special task of ensuring that adequate provision is made for the furnishing of housing, an increasingly important requirement in these days of rapid urbanization.
All of these changes have been carefully considered before their introduction. They will assist in insuring the efficient and effective conduct of the affairs of Our Government and the proper discharge of Our duties to the Ethiopian nation and people.
The second of these vital political measures was initiated several years ago when studies were launched into one of the most significant and critical exercises in national political growth yet attempted in Ethiopia. This work matured in the scheme of local administration based at the Awraja level introduced by Our Order only a short time ago.
This vast project has slowly taken form through years of painstaking research and profound examination of the needs, the beliefs, the aspirations and the capacities of every segment of the entire population.
As this programme is implemented, major responsibilities in many areas of pressing concern to each individual and community throughout the nation will be entrusted to locally elected Awraja Councils. Council members will be chosen in formal elections. The judgment and discretion of the Ethiopian people will be tested as never before, as a large portion of the decisions shaping their economic and social life become their responsibility.
Pending before this session of Parliament is the draft Proclamation dealing with Awraja local revenues which will give final substance to the form already devised for this great and crucial experiment in government. You should act upon this proposal as a matter of urgency in order that this immense programme, so vital to every man, woman and child in Ethiopia, may proceed on schedule. Other financial legislation of vital importance to the nation will also be laid before you in the coming year.
The sum of all the developments we have described are consistent, We believe, with the basic policy of Our Government, a policy which is aimed at the adoption and implementation of national programmes having the greatest impact upon the largest number. This is our goal and purpose, as it should be the goal and purpose of every Government sincerely and deeply devoted to the well-being of its people.
The system of responsible cabinet government placed in effect last March endeavours to bring to each member of Our Government a more immediate and lively awareness of his responsibilities for sharing in the total task of governing the nation and, below him, to encourage each Government official and employee to discharge more effectively the greater measure of the authority which has been delegated throughout Our Government’s structure.
The increased emphasis placed upon development planning is intended to produce ever-increasing economic activity at every level of the economy down to the smallest village and community.
Land reform measures are calculated to affect and improve the living conditions of literally millions of Ethiopia. The introduction of a widespread system of local administration is directed to the involvement of substantial numbers of Our people in the conduct and regulation of their public affairs.
Our concern is with the many and not the few. The benefits of education must be enjoyed by every Ethiopian. Health facilities must be made available to all who require them. The ownership of a plot of land must be brought within the capacity of everyone who so desires. The benefits of an expanding economy must be enjoyed by all.
It is Our task and responsibility, as it is of Our Government, to transform these objectives into coherent, acceptable and realistic legislative and financial programmes and to see to their accomplishment. If this is done, the duty owed to the Ethiopian nation and people will be discharged. To succeed will require the single-minded, tenacious and unselfish dedication of each one of us …..
Nov. 2, 1966.