The Benefits of strategic communication among the Eritrean Opposition political and civic organizations

By Fesseha Nair

The Eritrean Opposition either political or civic are now in a complex and uncertain environment internally and externally. In the past 15 years of struggle to unite them and build a common platform was bumpy with up and downs of many difficulties not based on strategic planning but on short personal interests and rivalries provoking each other in every meeting when they used to meet. This has been the practices of the Eritrean opposition political leaders in Ethiopia/ Addis Ababa and by the Eritrean civic organizations in Diaspora.


This article will address the lack of strategic communication is the main reason that fails the opposition not to be able build a strong and united opposition confronting the dictatorship in Eritrea. Let me explain first what I mean by strategic communication and later the benefits of it.


  1. What is strategic communication or planning and when and how do we implement it?


Strategic communication is the way you think and how you  communicate your values,  ideas, objectives, visions and missions that enables your organization to survive amid internal and external uncertainties and complexities.


The day-today multiplication of political and civic organizations opposing the dictatorship in Eritrea were the products of spontaneous building of alliances and coalitions that exists temporally and splits after sometime. Most of these experiences of building of alliances between  political organizations during the 1999(Eritrean National Forces Alliances/  so called,Mehznet) and later the building of EDA/Eritrean Democratic Alliances, and the last one the alliance of the political organizations and civic organizations formed after the Awasa Conference called the ENCDC were all the time the experience of crisis not of success. Most of the organizations whether they are civic or political have no strong membership and constituents who can control their leaders. Most of them are individuals with 4 or 5 members without no connection with  the Eritrean population. Looking them from the three levels of organization most of them does not fulfil  the three levels of organization, strategic , management and operational levels. An organization lacking such levels is not organization  but a one man organization leading to dictatorship and corruption.


The school of building alliances and coalitions or fronts in the opposition camp was never based on the learning that can enable to develop and determine their long term vision and direction, activities and performance. They lacked and still lack to look the big picture/ Eritrea.


With the, ” Big Picture” I mean our approach should focus on issues focusing on removal of the dictatorial system in Eritrea. this time is time of struggle from dictatorship to democracy, This time is not the time of reckoning the past wrongdoings and injustices.  The time of reckoning the wrongdoings and injustices are the issues that can be investigated after the fall of the dictatorship. This period is called the interim arrangement dealing with past wrongdoings and crimes against humanity. It is not the duty of political leaders but is the responsibility of the people.


Some leaders  representing the Eritrean Islamic and Ethnic organization are just pointing fingers against the secular organizations/ ELF and EPLF as criminal or organizations and the Eritrean political and armed struggle was a bandit style organizations and those who are now in the opposition camp must be rejected, what a shame and immaturity of political leaders calling themselves as advocates of all rights, I don’t know why such leaders( Religious and ethnic) come out with such arguments as this time after 15 years of struggle with their co-partners.


The approach applied during the former building of alliances was not deeply based on solid common understanding based on the “big picture of Eritrea ”  and was without medium and long term strategic thinking. The key strategy today is to identify what we do, why we do and how we do it and have the knowledge of communicating with others. One of the most characteristics of leadership is how the leader communicate with people and issues. But the Eritrean political or civic has been and are still sharp antagonistic with each other, instead of attacking the problems they attack each other. Such culture of  communication never lead to succeed and work together in harmony.


Creating and maintaining Partnership is a hard task that requires a good and well prepared process building good professional relations with all partners characterized by its broad participation and inclusiveness addressing both the medium and long term national issues.


The former building of Eritrean Democratic Alliances ( EDA) and the later building of ENCDC principles were based on broad participation and inclusiveness. As I understand, the principle of inclusiveness across religious , ethnic and other political organizations and later the civil society organizations was the opportunity to actually include all the diversities in Eritrea. All the members of the EDA and ENCDC were  not committed to these principles and have missed the benefits of the strategic planning and communication.


  1. What are the benefits of strategic planning or communication


The objective of building  EDA and ENCDC were to strengthen the struggle against the dictatorship and enhances participation and inclusion of all forces against the common enemy of the Eritrean people- the one man dictatorship. Some member EDA political organizations seem to split, merge or find groups or individuals with which they will build front or alliances.


The ENCDC composing EDA political and non-EDA political organizations and civil societies is now facing challenges by those political organizations who will rebuild fronts declaring that the ENCDC is dead and cannot be repaired. Can changing names and rebuilding fronts strengthen the Eritrean opposition is to wait and see. Have these religious and ethnic political organizations shared  values and ideas, visions and missions? Have they reached a common agreement how, what and how they are going to implement their plans?


The EDA and ENCDC were the initiatives towards enhancing institutional capacities and offered clear benefits by contributing to the broad participation and inclusiveness. It has formulated the first substantial grand strategy mapping the present struggle against the dictatorial system and laying foundation for the future. ( see the ENCDC Charter, Road map and Organizational Constitution)  it was towards unification of all forces for democratic   change  but this was not without obstacles. The EDA and ENCDC helped the member organizations to communicate their core ideas and accept each other but not achieved.


Denying these benefits and escaping from the house( ENCDC) you built shows irresponsibility and never have your own decisions.


  1. C. Shifts of alliance building in the opposition camp


Building partnership is  a modern method of integrating your organizational functions and units into a more cohesive and broader partnership to improve the organizations performance under uncertain and complex circumstances.


The EDA and the ENCDC were formed by this perspective. This partnership was volunteer and no one is enforced to join it. The founders of this pertnership have agreed to work together by co-owning this partnership and signed constitutional and legal terms to abide by it. But as we see now the EDA and ENCDC are in crisis at its highest level/leadership. Some members of the EDA and ENCDC will leave the partnership and rebuild new partnership because the former EDA or ENCDC has not functioned.


This article writer is not against freedom of choice but believes in the principle of freedom of choice. Those political and civil society organizations who were members of the ENCDC and those political organizations who were members of the EDA are free to leave the partnership and join new ones but not by provoking their old partners and giving responsibility to others on the defunctioning of the ENCDC or EDA.


The Eritrean opposition political landscape is rich in splitting , emerging and creating every time new organizations with 5 or 6 persons and give their organization special name and this shows the incapacity of those who shift from one organization to the other.


The Eritrean political landscape has been experiencing splitting, conflicting at all times in its political history. This is the experience of crisis inherited from our past history. What we need today is to change this attitude of negation and conflict ridden culture and build attitude of conflict resolving and management skills and knowledge without any external intervention or any involvement of facilitator like that we are now experiencing in our neighbouring countries.


We are not against facilitation but we don’t accept involving of facilitator in our home affairs.


A leadership guided by facilitators has no acceptance by the Eritrean people.




Values are how you do things and with whom you do things. It is not in what you do but how you do it. if you are partner in an alliance or coalition you must show respect, honesty, integrity and caring trust. These are the desirable in any organization

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Posted by on Nov 10 2015 Filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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