While we await for Wikileaks to unravel the much-anticipated secret treasure of political gossips , assessments and observations on our country Ethiopia , the speculation can go on about what US diplomats and others may have said of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s health.
Foreign based Ethiopian websites and e-newspapers such as Ethiomedia and The Jimma Times have published indications that the secret diplomatic documents globally leaked this week contain reports of deterioriating health for the 56-year-old TPLF chair and prime minister of Ethiopia.
If and when these reports are published to confirm in full the veracity of such a story , it wouldn’t be the causes of his poor health that people would find surprising. In stead what would come across as hard to believe would be despite his alleged poor health , the former rebel leaders ability to stagger through the many challenges thrown at him by his political opponents since his leadership began some 20 odd years ago
Meles Zenawi is of course a well publicized chain smoker whose rebellion years in the norther Ethiopian mountains were coloured by his trademark on-stage appearances at party political education gatherings where he was the star performer and the party’s chief ideologue of Marxism and Leninism.
Previously , there have been unconfirmed reports of a short foreign trip Zenawi was alleged to have made to Israel although little is known of what the causes of his poor health on that occasion might have been.
What makes reports of Zenawi’s poor health ironic to those who have observed the man closely over the years is of course his consistent presence on the domestic and global political scene often delivering widely publicised speeches , forcefully stamping his authority during his ocassional parliamentary appearances and travelling around the world promoting ties with key players on the world stage.
If rumours of declining health were to be true, Meles would be yet another addition to the growing list of terminally ill ruling party veterans such as Tefera Walwa , Addisu Legesse and even the longest-serving cabinet minister Seyoum Mesfin.
Banned tabloid hack Eskinder Nega recently revealed that the former defence and capacity building minister Tefera Walwa, who has for long been rumoured to be suffering from some sort of serious ailment , is battling lung cancer.
For his part Seyoum Mesfin whose political career out-spans that of his political master Meles Zenawi was also on the little trusted Ethiopian Review website recently where his appointment as an ambassador at large was regarded as a favour to facilitate medical treatment abroad for his poor health.
It is probably not so unlikely that Meles too could be battling one or another form of ailment like some of his colleagues given the number of personal and political challenges he has had to fight off to remain at the top of his party and government fr so long. He is clearly a man who has found himself on the wrong side of the political divide on a number of key issues affecting his party and the country he has taken over from his defeated predecessor.
It doesn’t therefore come as so much surprising if he has in deed paid a price with his health to retain his political hegemony in a country some western observers have described as difficult to govern.