Why it is important to fight the Cancer of corruption in Somaliland?
Somaliland sun – The right to equalityis what propelled the Somaliland people to seek and attain freedom from the corrupt dictatorship of Siad Barre regime in 1988, today transition from conflict to peace is ongoing process yet the situation requires urgent need to strengthen peaceful initiatives, create harmony and establish long lasting democracy for generations to come.According to World Bank statistics in 2014 Somaliland GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is estimated at $1.4 billion, almost 30% of this income derives from livestock industry, 20% from private sector (wholesale, retail, informal economy)8% Crop production and 6% from Real estate. The level of trade deficit is estimated at $496 million mainly supported by the diaspora remittances and external aid. At the time of the data the World Bank regarded Somaliland investment level very low estimated at 180thin the world and GDP per capita at $347 fourth lowest only ahead of Malawi, DRC and Burundi. It also stated that 15-24 year olds in Borama, Hargeisa and Burco are unemployed with 28% for male and 17% female. Poverty levels in urban areas is 29% nearly the same as Ethiopia(26%) but rural poverty is 38% couple these statistics with high inflation, drought and lack of funding for crisis management people suffer especially the Nomadic/rural dwellers. Somaliland’s Gini coefficient that measures income gap for rural areas was 45.7 compared to Ethiopia (27), while in urban centres 42.6. The Gini index measures inequality, 0 indicate perfect equality and 100 as completely unequal. The government tax revenue was estimated at 7% 2012 even though the authority set up Somaliland Development Fund and allocated from the budget 10-13% for investment there has to be greater transparency by setting up independent financial regulatory system, salary/wage reduction(presidents/ministers earning $7 to$10,000), control informal economy and tax large corporations accordingly.
The road to successful governance is paved with obstacles it requires visionary leadership who will inspire confidence,historically it took the European Nation states centuries of warfare to construct political and socio-economic systems and institutions. However even successful Western democracies struggle with tackling the cancer of corruption.The financial collapse of the banking sector in 2007-8 better known as the global financial crisis was certainly due to corruption, it led to devastating economic and social consequences still reverberating until today, from the collapse of housing market, increase in foreclosures, evictions, harsh austerity measures which depressed the economies of many countries further (Greece). Without a doubt a transparent, independent, robustfinancial regulatory systems could have prevented theeconomic crisis but politicians needed to win elections and investment bankers required policy makers that will deregulate. In 1996 James Wolfensohn president of World Bank delivered a ground breaking speech stating firmly to world leaders that ’Corruption is, quite simply, stealing from the poor’ it impedes economic progress, creates poverty, destroys health and education services leading subsequently to collapse of nation states as citizens lose trust in their governments.
Emerging democracies therefore are even at more risk of collapsing in their infancydue to prevalent dishonesty rife amongst political elite in poor developing nations to control state natural resources, conflict thus arises fromlack of accountability creating failure of political consensus amongst warring parties (South Sudan) is prime example, poor constitutions, weak regulatory system, impartial judiciary, lack of civil and human rights movements, curtailment and imprisonment of journalists, closing down media outlet the list could go on. Without question the most corrosive element that undermines newly flourishing democracies is corruption, if political representatives accept bribery, support dishonesty or fraudulent activities it will inevitably lead to collapse of democratic principles. The sacrifice undertaken by SNM liberators, death/ torture and bombardments of thousands of men, women and children, destitutions of millions of Somaliland people in refugee camps in their struggle for liberation would amount to nothing if corruption is allowed to derail Somaliland progress.
The quest for recognition hinges on providing evidence of effective governance, Kulmiye government came into power in 2010 promising better fiscal management, justice and free press but according to advocacy group a non-profit organisation Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) cited the opposite has occurred. Indeed it became common practice to imprison journalists without due process amongst them Yussuf Gaboobe Editor-in-Chief of Haatuf and its sister publication Somaliland Times, the police also raided Daily Hubaal offices in Hargeisa, banned Universal TV a UK station watched by millions of Diaspora and Somali citizens. The irony of destroying authoritarianism 25 years ago only to return to it under different guise hasn’t escaped the notice of many intellectuals and activists who fought for Somaliland recognition.
The newspaper closures stems from fear and accountability avoidance propagated by greed and avarice, political representatives are elected by the people to safeguard national interests, to benefit, maintain and provide adequate services such health, education, infrastructure etc. The misuse of political office to gain national resources and assets impedes development and scares investors because without checks and balances chaos and mistrusts ensues. Somaliland constitutionsexplicitly state how and what democratic rights and principles of governance should be, it is not difficult or impossible toregulate and promote equality indeed Somali code of social conduct (dhaqan) and customary law (xeer) are still valid until today to resolve issues. The younger generation devastated already by lack of employment opportunities will seek the route of illegal migration drowning in the Mediterranean sea these risks are tragic, wholly avoidable and can change for the better by eliminating the cancer of corruption. Some of the youth who decide against migration become addicted to Khat, the production of this highly addictive plant imported from Ethiopia and Kenya ($500 million) industry destroyed the lives of many Somali families hence why it is banned in the UK, US, Europe and Canada. Khat addiction leads to severe mental health issues (psychosis, depression, paranoia) and physical ailments. Somaliland health system is already struggling immensely from poor inadequate facilities, there are veterans and people who require serious rehabilitation from the deadly effects of the civil war thus the government should and could’ve have intervened in regulating the Khat industry but it hasn’t done so Why?
The constitution of Somaliland Republic Article 11 paragraph 2; The National Economy state
In order to ensure that the economic system does not lead to the exclusive enrichment of a group or small section of the public, and to avoid(both) the creation of economic classes consisting of those who are prosperous and those who are not, and the widening of the economic gulf between the urban and rural communities, the state shall ensure that social benefits and economic opportunities are provided in a just and equitable manner.
The selling of national asset be it land (Ghandi Library),allegations of Chinese companies involved in mining extractions in Somodi mountains north of Boroma generating ($196 millions) according to former minister of Minerals and Energy under Egal administration Ahmed Bihi or theallegations ofrigged local elections in 2012 local elections by Kulmiye government described as ‘free but unfair’ by international observers creates have and have not system which is unconstitutional. The kulmiye government thinks by reshuffling ministers to different posts the discontent, unfairness will just wither away into infinity but the savvy and wonderful people of Somaliland are aware and well informed regardless how much media banning and Rapid Response team is sent to arrest and detain unlawfully.
There is a misconception that exists in those who are involved in diverting public funds for their own gains that the public will not oppose, that apathy and mobilisation no longer exits but they are mistaken. Take for example Brexit and the UK response to ingest fear of economic meltdown into those who voted against Europe, by June 23rd of this year the British government has a new prime minister negotiating Brexitterms. The entire financial system IMF, US, European Bank, Major Co-operations and Banking sectors tried to persuade the public to avoid voting against Europe, yet the British people decided to use their democratic rights to change the status que and won by small margin.
The next government cannot be tainted or associated with shady deals, nepotism and bribery culture especially now more than ever with the advent of much anticipated economic prosperity on the horizon with DP world agreement and Berbera Corridor investment
The possibilities are endless for the people of Somaliland, with effective and efficient leaderships that exudes dignity and courage many obstacles and hurdles will be overcome.The Somaliland government recent political success at reconciling and beginning dialogue with the people of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn provinces to end hostilities is a grand legacy for HE President Silanyo. One could argue and pontificate why the region felt unable to participate in Somaliland government elections for years and the reason for alienation, perhaps the lack of investment in those regions fostered feelings of oppressions. It is something for the leadership of Kulmiye to digest while they plan a land slide win in 2017 which I doubt very much. The Somaliland citizens will exercise their full democratic rights by voting for a president that has an understanding of international relations, someone that has the best interests of the country rather than familial clan affiliation