The alternative political forces have yet to garner the confidence and allegiance of the population.

This is our biggest predicament.

The people have lost complete confidence in the regime’s leadership. The ruling regime stands condemned and morally sentenced to the dustbin of history. What is left is mapping out the practical way of getting rid of the defunct regime without adding more burdens to the already suffering people.

This critical task requires a different kind of leadership.

It demands a leadership that is not only united on its condemnation of the ruling barbaric regime but also on clearly defined and articulated positive agenda that can pull the people away from despair to a sense of empowerment so that they can practically start contemplating about the positive post- Isaias Eritrea.

At this juncture in the Eritrean political theater lecturing the people, for the umpteen times, on how the regime is inhuman and unjust will only be an unproductive use of time and talent. Ten years ago when the intensive political national drama started 80% of our task (the negative agenda) was to expose the regime in the eyes of the people. With the direct help of the authoritarian leadership this task has been accomplished brilliantly: too well for that matter.

The issue now is how to shift 80% of our collective energy and effort into mapping and implementing the positive agenda-assuring the people that we do not only excel in exposing a brutal regime but also that we have an alternative positive agenda and a unified pragmatic leadership that understands the process and management of change. The construction (in the eyes of the people) of the alternative agenda is still an ongoing task.

The Eritrean people, due to the betrayal by the Isaias regime, have developed a legitimate sense of skepticism, doubt and a good dosage of mistrust when it comes to national leadership. This is natural, necessary and more importantly it is healthy. The people must always question leadership. Aspiring leaders of change must accept this heighten sense of scrutiny as a given and proceed to sale their positive agenda with a skill of a modern professional marketing manager.

If we believe just because we opposed the regime in power the people will accept our certificate of opposition as a license to govern post- Isaias Eritrea that means we have not grasped the depth of the toxic political culture the regime will bequeath to the forces of change.  If building a pragmatic opposition has been a taxing job governing a ransacked nation will be an extremely daunting responsibility. We have to incrementally, through clearly articulated policies and well thought-out actions, convince the people we are worthy of their trust. The leadership has to prove its worthiness. The people’s responsibility is to evaluate.

Political leaders, civic activist and citizens trapped between rejecting the regime and not fully trusting the opposition needs to understand that the time for  bickering, jockeying and hesitation is a luxury that the neither the nation nor the people of Eritrea can afford. All minds must now be focused on the bigger agenda: how to remove this regime and transition Eritrea into functioning democratic nation. This is the task and the only task that should occupy the mind and heart of everyone.  

We can be a nation of complainers, endless pontificators or chose to stand up and assume our historical responsibility and make a contribution to the rebirth of Eritrea. This cannot come about by exasperating minor difference amongst us or by assuming that we are so indispensable to the struggle that without us nothing can happen. The national challenge is so vast that there is a wide space and ample opportunity for everyone who cares about his people to make a meaningful contribution.

The time is ripe for transforming our compartmentalized discontent to an open social movement. A movement dedicated for justice, equality and freedom. We should reach out through actual and imaginary divides and start a wholesale mobilization of the forces of democracy and justice. Our collective challenge demands a concerted response. It is time we own the air wave, the street and the conversation. It is time that we stop being reactive narrators of Isaias’s misdeeds and atrocities and build a sustained proactive posture so that we can sell the change agenda to the people. Without the people buying into the agenda of change the status quo will prevail.

At this juncture it is not the regime that is delaying the change we badly need. It is our inability to unite across the board, focus on the bigger picture and stop worrying about who gets the credit that is hampering us. We need to stop taking ourselves so seriously. The salvation of our people is the sole agenda. We must find ways to serve this agenda. Everything else is an exercise in futility.

The privilege of standing up in defense of our people must be the reward. Doing our share to alleviate their massive suffering will reinforce our humanity and reinvigorate our very soul. If we are looking for purpose here it is: Eritrea and Eritreans need our full support-not tomorrow or next year. Today- Now!