Mareeg Media

SOMALIA: CORRUPTION WILL NOT TAKE A WALK OFF THE MAP the outset, corruption is an alien thing to the African Continent. It is a legacy left behind and learned from the colonial powers of the African Continent when they have conquered an unsuspecting and unsophisticated people and hoisted their flags to settle permanently and backed by strong standing armies to put down any revolt against them. Therefore, root-causes of corruption are abuse of power, injustices, greed and faithlessness characterized by the colonial era on the Continent which has robbed its natural resources and condemned its human resources to backwardness that Black Africa is yet to recover from its after effects. Subsequently, after World War II the colonial masters of Europe seen better days on the African Continent couldn’t no longer keep down with their standing armies the Africans yearning for emancipation and begun giving them a token independence to nations states with artificial borders dividing the same people into different countries which is another colonial legacy and source of conflict and instability on the African Continent to this day. As a consequence, they left behind enclaves loyal to them and put them firmly in their hands the power of emerging nation states that have learned and perfected the ways of their colonial masters and demanded the same entitlements and privileges of their former bosses. For instance, according to Transparency International, Somalia now ranks the most corrupt country in the world and the most corrupt government in the country was the civilian one after independence in terms of abuse of power, cronyism, nepotism, favoritism, clannish and embezzlement of public funds but the military government of Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre that overthrew it has made just what the doctor ordered it. Historically, there are three well-known cases of government corruption in regards to looting of public money. First, was during the civilian government when the Minister of Interior, aged 31 years stole 32 million Somali Shillings ($8000, 000). Second, was the Minister of Industry during military government who has stuffed estimated $60 million in bags stolen from Juba Sugar Factory, Mareerey and flew to Kenya with the stolen money and taking advantage of tense relations at the time between Somalia-Kenya. Third, was again during Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre’s government when a junior Deputy Minister stole millions from “Fondo Auto Italiano” project money intended to develop roads, bridges, airport and the seaport in Bar Region now Puntland. The project was scaled down due to lack of adequate funding. This scandal has touched the Italian government of Prime Minister Bettino Croix who was forced afterwards into exile and dies in Tunis, Tunisia. All three had ties with their former colonial masters who taught them and are considered the Kings of thieves in Somalia in my book. Sadly, none of them ever faced any justices either jail time or restitution of stolen public funds which encourage government officials nowadays to steal.   Nonetheless, corruption has many forms and takes place differently in public and private sectors and in the case of Somali government it is not only stealing public funds by its officials who want to get rich quickly but it involves many improper practices of abuse of power and has definite correlations at least in Somalia when mixing government affairs with clan business to bend the law in order to favor someone or group of people by those in power etc. For instance, the ousted Prime Minister Dr. Abdi Farah Shirdon put on hold all salary payments to civil servants who have not received salaries for the last three months causing more unnecessary delays in the system and also it is more unlikely that Norway will pay these salaries retroactively when the fiscal year ends December 2013. He has demanded that, before he leaves office all his staff to be photographed and thumb-printed to qualify for the Norwegian salary payment plan for civil servants which was supposed to start on July 1, 2013 but it has only been paid thus far two month for unknown reasons and always has never been on time. In my view, the out-going prime minister illegally used his authority to award permanent civil servants status to 123 people while at the same time ignoring that, there is an Executive Order to freeze all hiring of civil servants by October 31, 2013 which remain in effect until now. And what position these people hold? Plus, UNDP supports with funding for capacity building for the offices of the president, the speaker and prime minister including salaries of their political aids etc. However, the question that comes to mind is, does political aids at the office of the prime minister qualify as civil servants? The action of the prime minister was a “classical” clan-based corruption but generally the international in community fail to see it when mixing clan affairs with government business as corruption which has been dogging this country since independence creating clan discord and divisions in Somalia. It was a key to the clan discontent in the country which led to the collapse of Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre’s clan dictatorship government when the oppressed and disfranchised clans took up arms and successfully overthrow him. We are a society governed by a clan system in the country and it has its virtues but it solely belongs to our farming and nomadic communities in order to govern and administer traditionally their affairs and it must remain there. It has no role in government affairs which belongs to all the clans on equal basis to have a say in its governing and administering its affairs and thus public institutions must reflect national clan diversity in the country since its decisions affects their lives unlike the traditional clan decisions of the nomadic and farming communities which are localized. Certainly, the next prime minister will bring on board his own political aides who will be mainly from his own clan like his predecessors but with any luck we hope he would not insist like the departing prime minister to make them permanent government employees.   In any case, not many Somalis are so lucky like these princesses of thieves who are selected and appointed by the international community every time when a new government is formed and yet they amass an ill-gotten wealth of public money without a consequences etc. Maybe, the president should establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate all financial crimes in the country and bring to justice those held responsible for a jail term and restitution of stolen public funds. It is indeed, regrettable that without a face-change or wearing a mask those who have stolen enormous public funds from Somalia are still boldly active in the country’s politics whether present in parliament or in the cabinet or held high level positions in the government’s armed forces or in the foreign service such as Ambassadorial positions with the full knowledge of Somalia’s international Partners. These dishonest people mingle with international community members including the New Deal Members and yet occupy a centre stage at the international level and increasingly debate Somali issues with them to make their views heard on these issues and have a working relationship with them. It really, concerns me though how little this sort of behavior bothers the New Deal Members who is paying this money which is continually stolen. It is getting far too weird. I have provided the international community, especially the New Deal Members with advice and insights to chronic problems of Somalia whether it is corruption, impunity, terrorism, human rights, leadership, piracy and on how to resolve them successfully and well as leaders to empower but without much success and more challenges.       Another, corruption issue about the country which is not talked about it quite often and much worse in my opinion than the alleged government corruption is the UN Agencies that seem to have developed an unquestioning obedience towards the same local Somali NGO’s who have been receiving huge amounts of money from them over the years since the collapse of Somali government but their work made no difference in the lives of those intended for the assistance. Why would UN Agencies and even foreign Embassies accredited to Kenya have provided with big budgets to local Somali NGO’s whose staff has thin educational backgrounds and patchy employment records and their work not consonant with the interests of Somali people? See in your mind’s eye, these local NGO’s are chosen on an unknown selection criterion and live large; driving expensive vehicles frequently travel between Mogadishu-Nairobi mostly on UN chartered flights where they live in posh houses and offices in both places and have luxury offices too. Of course, these local NGO’s are partnered with foreign NGO’s who doesn’t set foot in Somalia but receive every year funding for their “humanitarian” work in the country. Of inferior quality, these clan-based local NGO’s are financed at the expense of the government and have suppressed the true birth of a genuine civil society groups in the country which is needed for their advocacy role in the democratization process of Somalia. Oddly, they areonly “accountable” to their funders who are happy to receive false information about the country and bogus yearly reports which have been attributed to the negative attitude and political disengagement of the international community in relation to Somalia of more than two decades and half. Also, these phony NGO’s on the take have been and continue to be an integral part of Somalia’s myriad problems and they were holding back the country more than two decades, like the political or the religious warlords and many with questionable qualifications, some borderline illiterate. Believe, me you most of the information gathered about Somalia since the collapse of its government were either false or of no importance and misleading due to the foreign countries and individual Somalis providing it and always taking sides.   I firmly believe that, we need external assistance from our international partners as a developing country and emerging democracy in order to build our capacity in terms of security and stability, economic recovery and development, functional institutions building and to participate in the emerging knowledge societies of the world etc. In this context, Somalis have became more aware and now take time to understand what a cabinet is about, what its heritage is and in particular scrutinizing the support and political commitment of the New Deal Members to progress in these areas. The question is how can we strengthen our human resources and better utilize donor assistance to be able to cope with the challenges we face when donor countries and in particular the New Deal Members are smug about corruption in Somali government? How, can we mobilize strong national and international support and political commitment to contribute to the development and promotion of universal principles and norms in Somalia, based on shared values and to protect and strengthen the “common public good” in the country?Accordingly, there is uneasiness and total disenchantment with the New Deal Members who only point a finger at the alleged government corruption while at the same time close their eyes to the corruption in the local Somali NGO’s and yet continue to finance and promote a non-existent and clan-based so-called local NGO’s in the country. Therefore, I urge the New Deal Members to address immediately the issue of corruption in the NGO’s in the country which they continued to fund up to now without apparent reasons to do so, and who have been an incurable cancer in the country and widely perceived to be foreign spies which tragically as a result some have lost their lives in the process. In this regard, the New Deal Members must address all corruption in Somalia whether it is in the government or in the local NGO’s and their foreign partners without fear or favor to preserve its credibility and integrity in order to gain the trust and confidence of Somali people which is in short supply when it comes to these groups. Dr. Abdi Ulusso

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