For the past weeks, I have been hearing the word “CORRUPTION” coming from Mogadishu, Somalia. two prominent authors come to my mind, Joseph Serio, who wrote the book about “Investigating the Russian Mafia: An Introduction for Students, Law Enforcement, and International Business” and Roberto Saviano wrote the “Gomorrah”. Roberto and Serio had different experiences of what has been going on in their respective countries. Both didn’t know what was going on until they investigate more about the real problems. Roberto from Italy, particularly Naples see his city controlled by Mafia without the knowledge of the rest; while Serio from Russia could not get any one with knowledge about whether there is mafia in Russia, as most of the responses he got was “there is no mafia in Russia, but the Mafia is in Italy”. During my research years, I had the privilege of writing about this mafias. The connection I would like to make is that Somalia was colonized by Italy and later have close relations with Russia as Somalia was partly a USSR ally and somewhat socialist state. did Somalia learn anything from those countries? is there a corruption or mafia groups in Somalia?
Mafia in Russia
The first issue to know about Mafia in Russia was difficulty in studying or understanding about mafia in that region. Problems in terminology, it was hard for many to know the right definitions or meaning of mafia. During the soviet period, organized crime in Russia started as long as the time of the imperial Tsars and had been practicing until the Soviet era that “thieves-in-law” arose as heads of prison groups in gulags (Soviet prison labor camps), and their honor code became more defined. after Joseph Stalin’ death, followed by the fall of the Soviet Union, more gangs emerged in a prosperous black market, exploiting the unstable governments of the former Republics, and at its highest point, even controlling as much of Russian economy. There are no outside gangs but the top officials who enrich themselves from the wealthy of the citizens run everything now. They become the wealthiest oligarchs. The police firmly state to anyone asks them whether Russian Mafia exists “there is no Russian Mafia” basically saying mafia is in Italy not in Russia (9).
This has started late 60’s on the Brezhnev regime famously known for corrupt bureaucracy as the people become dissatisfied. During this time “the word Mafia was conveyed an idea of access rather traditional criminal organizations and their structures and activities”. the stores owned by soviets were controlled by managers and clerks they take everything they want to sell or exchange without consent. It was state owned property, so no one had really cared”. when goods are in shortage only friends and family will be served, if you don’t know anyone in the area you have to bribe otherwise you will not get that goods. Restaurants pretend to be closed while they are open, and only who gave them bribe will be allowed to enter. (12,13). The whole environment was almost based on corruption. After late 80’s up to 90’s crime groups become apparent Mafia as the media now freely reports about the Mafia in Russia.
The state as the mafia: The communist party was operating like mafia style such as corruption, bribery. A system that ordinary person cannot do anything because those in power are strong.
Serio’s view during his stay in Russia that there was mafia presence and influence in every sector of Russia both private and public. He came across to a man reporting that one of the mafia boss attending ministerial meetings. But there are difficulties in dealing or publicly denouncing the mafia. The journalists had difficulty in investigating the Russian mafia because of the continuous change “a criminal yesterday was a businessman today. What was illegal yesterday is legal today”. (61) The existence of these Russian mafia is benefited the Russian government officials. The media also benefits in getting good stories to attract more viewers. The Russian law enforcement will get more funds. The number of organized groups in Russia were uncountable. A good example is “in 1987 police uncovered 12,000 criminal groups that displayed ‘signs of organization”. Also, later in 1992, almost 3 million people were reported to be part of that groups (86, 91,92). Other problems encountered during their investigations were so many such as the statistics unreliable fake and misleading because reports come from the corrupted store managers, so what do you expect from them.
Most of the activities of these criminals were going after the money by any means, whether it’s gambling, prison gangs, making fake documents, drugs. Students and tailors go into the gambling business and started making a lot of money. activities related to the organized criminals has impacted every sector, every business and every position. stealing of such thing become widespread and common to enrich themselves.
It has been agreed later that there were thousands of organized groups both in Soviet Union and post-soviet Russia. “those collection of three or more people engaged in criminal activity with some degree of organization and planning” (213). It was traced back to the communist regime of the USSR. In the private sector, the successful capitalists are the oligarchs that have control of industries thus make them billions of dollars every year, which they use to corrupt politicians and public services for their own gain. The criminal underworld has its fingers throughout the political and economic world of Russia and use this to their advantage every chance they can. Corruption and bribery dominates all. With these the average Russian stands small chance at success. No one can compete or try to win from them.
Italy: The Commorah – Gomorrah is a book written by Roberto Saviano on his direct account on what has devastated his city of Naples in Italy, the most ruthless rulers with the most organized crimes whose networks operate internationally. Gomorrah is the name used to Mafia based in Naples………….. In politics, they pay everything to the state, have a lot of control in the area. they change government, control politicians, buyoff politicians. Determine who is to be elected to the office so politicians need them. They cannot be elected without them. Saviano’s devastating account of his homeland is highly emotional, the mafia uses organized crime to continue their dominance and existence throughout the world. They kill the small business and create an environment that no one can compete with them. They enslave people especially immigrants, test drug on people; The whole society are all impacted by the drugs making almost everybody to become drug addict. they corrupt the government officials and kill any one opposes them. is the whole system in Somalia just functions just as the mafia in Russia and Italy? For sure Al-Shabaab fits the number one mafia group very close to Gomorrah.
what’s is corruption? we even don’t know. Some would say there is no corruption in Somalia. current administration has zero tolerance to corruption and have arrested some of the government employees for corruption. Recently some officers were found to be getting double salary (It’s very common to some states to prosecute low level employees found of corruption; If you steal millions, you are save but if you deal with less than $100 thousand, then you will be in trouble). The Federal Parliament’s Committee on Budget, Finance and Planning recent report that millions of dollars are missing or spent to agencies created/owned by top officials, but when Asked the ministry of in charge said that there is no corruption because IMF and World bank give this administration an A+. to prove further that there is no corruption, those parliamentary committee reported about the corruption and mismanagement of funds is disbanded/dissolved, so no worries about any future report about any misuse of funds or corruption.
It needs to be thoroughly investigated whether there is corruption in Somalia, whether there are mafia groups that operates in Somalia, and how many mafia groups? do you think there may be no less than 20,000 mafia groups in Somalia? because everything is corrupted, you cannot know whether there is corruption just the way Joseph Serio could not get a real answer from Russian’s whether there is Mafia in Russia.
Let the whole budget be divided to all people in Somalia. budget 2019 – $340,060149 divide by 15 million Somalis become 2.2 thousand dollars per year to somali citizens in the region. In this way no one will complain about corruption.
Privatize the government – for example let a private company owns and builds the police, another company on military, another company on Courts and so one, in this way there will be no one complaining about “didn’t receive salary last month”. Prove private companies in Somalia (like hormud) employees, agendas, policies, revenue are well developed and managed.
Sell the country to highest bidder and distribute the money to citizens in this way no complains of corruption, power, 4.5, and so on will not be heard again; everyone will become reach and live freely anywhere.
May God save Somalia.
By: Mahad Wayax