August 13th, 2020
Somaliland: Urgent Demand for public accountability
Somaliland managed to establish considerable political and economic stability from 1991 according to its surroundings. Apart from these signs of progress, it has experienced its own pitfalls in different eras. It demonstrated peaceful democratic power transfer for many times, with huge economic growth. Over the years, many intellectuals are rising hopeless expectation of how plundering public properties and siphoning off collected taxes can make things worse in the future if not cut off. Most of the people believe they are plagued by callous political leaders in cahoots with businessmen, and tribal elders. These three groups forge the voting direction of the people in a synergistic manner, ignoring the competitiveness of the candidates, and then later implementing their personal interests. Rising concerns from the previous Kulmiye’s leadership has not spurred Muse’s regime to end embezzling public assets, albeit his words heralded a new era during the campaign rallies. Musa Bihi being the leader of the status quo has pulled ahead new waves of taking away land mainly in Hargeisa claiming he is going to establish a new presidential palace in the nearby countryside. Citizens are alleging him of illegal expropriation without considering their consent.
Public services like health, electricity, and water are below the standard and are based on the arbitrary price-fixing of the managers. There is a rising public concern on social media recently led by educated youth who refused to succumb to despair and merciless capitalism. They are a good sign of rational maturity and revolution, albeit there is a discrepancy between existing strong social norms and their educated determinations. Basic services like education and health are not considered by those who are at the helm as pivotal for the community development in Africa, both in terms of budget allocation and management. Hargeisa hospital which is not far away from the presidential palace encounters rampant corruption and mismanagement which halts providing better services for the citizens. Burao, Borama, and other cities are considered the second option in every sector, no matter how the situations are there.
In Somaliland, an elected/nominated person can possess a villa, latest car, and myriad other assets within one year, which he had not before. Intuitively, you can fathom how corruption is languishing our budget with zero accountability from any governmental audit. How we are unaware of these scenes, and how it is normalized is another thought-provoking factor. One more thing worth-noting, people who are represented by this person cannot identify what they were expecting this man to accomplish before the election, rather than being hailing from the same clan. This rapacious appetite for possession led to a systematic demise in the public sector. These multi-dimensional factors have been hampering effective public services and employment growth and there is little hope of reviving transparency and accountability in near times.
Corona virus prevention and treatment donations from both the local community and the international community has left a footprint on how Somaliland government is evading from transparency and accountability. The committee that was nominated for Covid-19 management escaped from a TV program that was planned to be interviewed by the public. On May 30th, vice president Saylici’s press conference about the way they managed the donation was not persuasive and got controversial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rVJMpsjocQ). In like manner, drought relief funds that were collected in 2017 from various sources had created huge mistrust among the society. People are more likely to become dubious about whether their charity will reach the needy hands any more.
There are ideas hovering in the minds of the educated youth, but many others hypothesize the notion that as long as there are no legal restrictions against corruption, no age group will let the public-owned properties untouched. It seems a little bit elusive to insult someone where there are no functional regulations to put your faith in. Finally, I would suggest that initiating new plans by the president may rectify the loose system accountability currently existing in Somaliland. Only the president can halt this miserable vicious cycle with committed promises and implementations.
Jamal Abdirahman Bulale