Thanks to the Grace of God, during the years that We have been entrusted with the leadership of Our people, Our efforts, expended to assure progress in the areas of administration. Economic, social and political growth, in education and social services, have yielded rewarding fruits.
Our people have long enjoyed the tradition and experience of independence. Nonetheless, in recognition of the conditions which then existed, aware of the long-term benefits to be realized, We granted to Our people the nation’s first written Constitution in 1931. The difficulties which We encountered in accomplishing this radical departure from custom, the trials to eliminate surviving feudal traditions in achieving this notable step along the path of progress, were heavy indeed, even wearisome. Even surviving eye-witnesses could have but a vague recollection of those difficult times. How much less can those far removed from that period be expected to appreciate the troubles to which We were put in those days.
When We re-established the Ministries of the Government in 1943, We issued an Order defining the duties and responsibilities of the Prime Minister and other Ministers so that all Government officials would understand their obligations and discharge their duties properly. The Order established the legal basis on which the various Government departments would function and gave clear directives to Government officials. On the whole, the system then laid down has worked reasonably well to the present.
Because of the progress made in the country generally and the high standard of living achieved by the people thereby, We granted the Revised Constitution in 1955 in order to consolidate gains already won and to guarantee continued and accelerated progress. ...Under the Revised Constitution, Our people have been guaranteed the full exercise of their rights. They have, for the first time, directly elected their representatives to Parliament, without whose discussion and approval no taxes can be levied, no duties imposed on the people and no laws enacted. In turn, and also in accordance with the Revised Constitution, Parliament can call upon the Prime Minister and other Ministers to give explanations concerning the conduct of the Executive Department.
Thus, through the members of the Chamber of Deputies, the people have participated directly in the affairs of the Government, thereby enabling the nation to advance rapidly in many areas of national endeavour.
The efforts made to expand educational opportunities in the country and to protect the national unity of Our people have met with success. Our people have benefited from the rights and privileges embodied in the Constitution. In spite of past and continuing attempts of certain alien enemies to create differences based on tribalism and religion, the Ethiopian people have waged a successful struggle against these forces of evil and thus preserved their national unity.
Since We assumed leadership, Our most cherished wish and desire, for which We have laboured unceasingly, with firm determination, attaching to it the highest importance, has been that Our people should attain this goal. We derive great satisfaction today not only in witnessing the realization as a working concern of the system instituted by Us, but in expressing Our belief and hope that Our people shall continue undeterred to guide their destiny.
Justice is the foundation of the modern, well-ordered state. Accordingly, the promulgation of the Civil, the Commercial, the Penal, Maritime and Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes, in the train of the granting of the Revised Constitution, must be regarded as of the highest importance. These laws directly affect the day-to-day public and private life of every Ethiopian. They guarantee the enjoyment of the rights granted to the nation under the Revised Constitution. They have benefited Our people in their daily activities. They have created a sense of faith in the system of government based upon the rule of law.
Within recent years, significant laws and measures pertaining to social welfare have been enacted and put into practice. These include a pensions scheme for government employees; civil service legislation to insure that civil servants are chosen impartially, and that they properly render their services to the Government and to the people; laws regulating relations between employers and employees which, by guaranteeing their respective rights, ensure that both groups can work together, in the interests of the general welfare of making the nation and cooperate in the attainment of greater national development and self-sufficiency.
We have ordered that highly important reforms be undertaken: in the system of land tenure and land taxation; in the administration of justice and the nomination and appointment of judges; in the expansion and growth of education; in the system of provincial administration; in the promotion of efficiency in Government departments. Other important reforms are being studied and will be put into effect, as their details are worked out.
Ethiopia’s socio-economic progress has been substantial. The First Five-Year Plan has been launched and implemented for the purpose of achieving a rational and a larger scale of development. Planning ensures a simultaneous accomplishment of developmental projects with a view to achieving accelerated progress, thus avoiding wastage of financial resources, labour and time. Benefiting from encouraging results of the first Five-Year Plan, and the experience gained in its implementation, the Second Five-Year Development Plan, drawn up on a much wider and enlarged scale, is now being implemented.
Alongside the progress made on the domestic front in the political, economic, social welfare and administrative fields, Ethiopia’s international obligations and duties have grown and have become more complex than at any other time in the history of the nation. As a member of the United Nations Organization and its various Agencies, Ethiopia has been called upon to participate in numerous conferences.
By playing host to the Summit Conference of African Heads of States and Governments three years ago, and by helping bring about the establishment of the Organization of African Unity, Ethiopia has, together with her African brothers, assumed greater responsibilities not only in Africa but in the world at large.
As the headquarters of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the number of African and international conferences held in Addis Ababa is growing. And so also does our responsibility become greater.
As Ethiopia’s socio-economic development has become increasingly complex, the nation’s administrative framework staffed by responsible officials, has expanded to ensure a high degree of efficiency and effectiveness in the conduct of public affairs. In addition to Our Ministers, an increased number of Vice Ministers, Assistant Ministers and Deputy Governors-General have been appointed to cope with the ever-expanding volume of work which has been the consequence of the progress of the nation.
In 1943, We promulgated an Order which defined the powers, duties and responsibilities of Our Ministers. In doing so, We empowered them to issue the rules and regulations requisite to the proper functioning of the departments confined to their care. Now, nearly a quarter century later, We have reached the stage where each Minister must assume full responsibility for the discharge of his duties, including the measure of responsibility to Parliament which was foreshadowed in Our Revised Constitution of 1955. If Our aims and objectives are to be realized, each one of us must labour and assume his share of responsibility for the progress and prosperity of the nation. If We do so, We are satisfied that acceptable results will follow. We are encouraged to see Our people each day participating more actively in the affairs of the nation, for it is in this way that the imperative acceleration of the nation’s progress shall be attained.
We have said that each Minister is fully responsible for his duties; nonetheless, when major policy issues require Our attention, Our Prime Minister or, if necessary, the Prime Minister and the Minister concerned, shall bring them to Our attention. It is the duty of Our Prime Minister to assure that the work of Government is performed; but this does not in any way relieve the Ministers of their individual responsibilities. To place all responsibility upon the shoulders of one individual while all others sit idly by and seek only to criticize and find fault is, in our era, to act contrary to the movement for the progress and advancement of the country.
If We ponder deeply on our situation today, We shall find that we lack for little. The resources are available; the nation’s youth are gaining knowledge and acquiring experience; it is only necessary that We resolve to work with determination and diligence. The socio-economic policy that we have adopted, a policy founded deep in Ethiopia’s national heritage and tradition, is well-calculated to assure the progress of the present and future generation; all that We require is co-operation, mutual assistance and the profound consciousness that We are fulfilling Ourselves in the discharge of Our planned and assigned responsibilities. This spirit, whether We term it communal, socialistic or the philosophy of the welfare state, is not new or alien to Ethiopia’s way of life.
The problems consequent upon the growth and development of the nation which have so significantly expanded Ethiopia’s international responsibilities and obligations have also multiplied apace. And if We are to meet these mush-rooming domestic and international obligations and demands, We must design and implement methods which will, without wasteful duplication of effort, recognize proper principles of administration, maintain discipline, and respect and observe a strict division of labour.
We were aware of all of this. And during past decades, with exacting care and deliberate forethought, We laid down the broad guide-lines for a greater future development. And, now, after the most detailed review and painstaking scrutiny of the advances achieved during this period, We have determined to introduce further innovations into the structure of the nation’s administrative system, and We have set them forth in an Order which We are promulgating today. The changes which We have ordered will enable Us to devote Our hours to assuring the execution of the highly important and urgent programmes designed to accelerate national growth and development and to meet international obligations and commitments into which Ethiopia continues to enter.
This Order, which amends Order No. 1 of 1943 defining the duties and responsibilities of the Prime Minister and all other Ministers, provides in substance as follows:
(1) That the Prime Minister shall be appointed by Us, and that he shall submit to Us for appointment by Us the proposed members of his cabinet to head the ministries of the Government;
(2) That the Ministers shall be responsible to the Prime Minister;
(3) That the Prime Minister and the Minister shall be collectively responsible to Us and to Parliament in accordance with the provisions of the Revised Constitution of 1955.
This fundamental reform of the structure of the national administration is founded upon the authority of Article 27 of the Revised Constitution, which empowers Us to determine, revise and modify the administrative structure of the Government. It is designed to increase Governmental efficiency and enable Us to devote Ourselves exclusively to matters of high policy.
Each nation elaborates its programmes according to its custom and cultural heritage, suiting them to its own development aims, changing and improving its institutions of Government as experience and the requirements of the times dictate. A particular structure of government may be apt and practical for one nation; it may not be so for another. Each nation must determine, shape and adapt its governmental pattern to conform to its customs and its cultural heritage.
We have provided for this improved and reformed system of Government according to the ideals of modern Ethiopianism, building upon the accumulated experience of the years, preserving those elements of the past which have proven useful, modifying and improving those parts which call for change. We envisage that future changes and improvements may be introduced in the future as the need arises. When change is required, paramount in Our thoughts and those of Our officials will be interests of the Ethiopian people.
Mar. 22, 1966.
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 429 –