Heydrabad (Himilonews) – In recent years, Somalia has been enjoying enormous changes in its political, social and economical environment, but the beauty of this picture has disappeared due to the election season.
In 2012, members of parliament were selected to vote for president. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud became the president of the country and he managed to form the first permanent government of its kind since the collapse of the revolutionary government led by Mohamed Siyad Barre. The government made some progress on security, construction of infrastructure, social welfare such as education, health and other social issues that was supposed to do within its mandate. However, the purpose of the Essay is to highlight some factors that have extensive influences on the stability of the country.
To begin with, we have seen social groups like youth, elders and women who hold meetings and conferences at the hotels. It is understandable what makes Mogadishu hotels busy recent days. People have the choice to select their political representatives through the agreed process. Political leaders and elders are organizing the rest of the society to persuade their agenda. This process indicates that fifty plus one of different sections of the people of each clan will select their MPs to represent the house of the representatives. This process gives a chance to the ordinary people to take a part and have influence in the political process.
Section of the society, which just receives invitations, is the youth who have less influence in the political process, so they remained to be unemployed and despair their future.
Hotels are making excessive money through the follow of the people who are gathering in the hotels by almost on a daily basis. On the other hand, the owners of the hotels have a fear of possible attacks coming from the Alshabab as it happens every time here in Mogadishu.
Although this indirect election will be more transparent, free and fair election then back in 2012, both its risk and its implementation will be much harder than expected, because these figures of people will come from the different parts of the society. It is clear that some of the Alshabab fighters will be members of parliament if they get support from the fifty plus one members of the clan!
The interior ministry has registered more than thirty political parties that are supposed to be participated the upcoming elections. The parliament has passed the required bill for the political parties in order to be able to take a part the upcoming indirect elections. The bill was presented to the president for his assent. Once the president signs the bill, it becomes a law.
This election has some sort of similarities to the one back in 1968 where 88 political parties were registered. They were all competing seats of the house of the representatives’ elections on March 1969.
The previous political parties had a feature that is not similar to the current political parties. The mission of those parties was under the shade of clan and family to realize the political ambition of the clan. They all had a potential political platform for reversing the whole system. They were arguing the autonomy of the other Somali societies and the unification of the five Somali regions into one great Somali republic. They were also claiming to provide an affordable education for all to educate the people and to fight the poverty.
The current political parties are somehow different when it comes to the foundation of the party and how was formed in the first place. The parties were built based on friends and common interest rather than tribal and family criteria. The leaders of these parties are educated diplomats who can change the current statuesque into a more beautiful atmosphere where the Somali children can go their schools without fear and intimidation of possible attack and buried bombs at the roadside.
People were organized by the political leaders to convey their massage. Hotels are the places where the people come together to discuss the current issues especially the upcoming elections. Alshabab fighters have increased their urban warfare by carrying out explosions at the hotels. Alshabab fighters have been targeting lawmakers in the hotels or elsewhere. In this election season, they have increased their war against the government personnel, because there is negligence on the safety of the people relating to the upcoming elections. All the government officials are busy to the elections.
In this section of the paper, I want to illustrate the root causes of the country austerity. Back in 2012, there were international organizations that used to operate inside the country. They used to employ huge number of Somali youth in different parts of the country. The income of those men and women workers goes into the Somali families. The demand of goods and services were higher than the current one, because the people had an income to buy goods and services. NGOs and other associations were delivering services directly without much influence from the government. According to the living standard of the people, that was economic gain in the eyes of the ordinary people. When we look in the side of the government, the government used to depend heavily on foreign aid rather than its source of income that was problem for the government, because the government could not pay the salary of its soldiers as well as its civil servant.
State institutions’ delivery of the services was good for the government for finding a follow of income that the government can use either to pay salary or to implement development projects like reconstruction of infrastructure.
The government’s source of income comes mainly from the seaport and the airport, but there are other sources that the government earn substantial amount of money, which is useful for the government. On the other hand, the government has failed to create jobs to find solutions for the unemployed youth who are scattered across the country. The delivery of international aid by the state institutions is good for all, but also there must be an equal employment opportunities when it comes to the workers of government agencies.
The current administration has a public financial management that gives some sort of power to the government. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told to the international community that all foreign aid and development projects must deliver by the state institutions rather than NGOs. Several international organizations could not abide the government order, so they left the country. People were forced to seek government jobs, because there is no alternative way that people can live. There was a fear of working government agencies, but that seems to diminish gradually.
As I said earlier, the government’s main income comes through taxation. The government comes from the people, so people’s incomes are taxed. For example, the salary of all the workers has to be taxed to generate the government fund. The government takes money from the physical property or real state property such as buildings, land and cars that is known as property taxes.
Another third source of income through taxation is production. The government gets money that comes from the agricultural seeds like sorghum, wheat e.t.c. The government was supposed to relay on such taxation and to adopt a proper system of tax collection. A tax is a money burden that the taxpayer is not expecting to get back it individually.
There are important underlying principles that are required before the government begins to tax. The government should have a complete and detailed plan for what to do the money that is collecting. The government should invest into development projects to boost the economy as well as the well-being of the people. Every development project that starts demand to hire an employee, so both the country and its citizens will benefit from it, meanwhile The government will also use it as a recurring expenditure to continue state activities.
There is none income taxes, which the government earns money. Those sources of income include the services that the government provides to its people, public dept and printing money. The government does services to the people for example, lesson fee charges, passport fee charges and penalties. The government can also borrow money either internally or externally. Internal dept comes from its citizens who are relatively rich people or businesspersons while external debt is expecting to come from the international financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). These financial institutions provide a long-term dept that will have negative consequences if it is not managed carefully by the state.
My mindful and what I know about the economy, I belief that a proper system of tax collection which is free from embezzling, fraud and theft will gain our economy up within short period. This country has the potentiality of producing minerals from inside the ground as well as on the ground that can attract the eyes of investors who are willing to come, but waiting an atmosphere that is reliable and enable their dreams come true.
The current president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has improved the foreign relation when he took the office. A months later when he was elected, he went to the United States of America where he received a full recognition for his government. USA told that Somalia has chosen its right path and they respect their decision while supporting the government in terms of the fight against
Alshabab, and providing humanitarian assistant that Somalia needs. This kind of foreign relation has lead many countries to join by opening their embassies here in Mogadishu.
Although international community gives enormous support to the government, there is a conflict of interest, which needs to be resolved politically. Thousands of foreign troops are operating on the ground without doing a meaningful job right now. To remain those troops in Somalia is the interest of international community while training and empowering our national troops is our interest. Amisom troops have played a key role of the fight against Alshabab, but allowing them to stay the country for a long time without their primary job and spending a huge amount of money does not sound logic.
Somalia has taken federal system of which each two or more regions can build their own regional administration. Without prior knowledge about the system, regional administrations were formed. They were established before it was not even agreed their boundaries. The boundary committee was announced after some regional administration begun to clash. Interest of the clan is higher than the common interest in each regional administration. A classical example based on this argument is that Galmudug state of Somalia consists of two regions Mudug and Galgadud as it was written in the constitution of that regional administration, but the reality on the ground is that Galkacyo city, which is co residents of two clans, will not be allowed to control one regional administration! This shows that the interest of the clan is bigger than the common interest. These regional administrations create tensions based on clan among the Somali population.
Hiiran and Middle Shabelle are expected to form their own regional administration, but a conflict of interest has remained to be the common challenge.
The turning point has created a conflict of interest between the international community and the elders. For example, the international community is watching very closely the participation of women in the political process. Women were allocated 30% Quito in the parliament seats. This is not the same how the elders perceive women participation in the political process. Culturally, women were supposed to stay home and keep the children where the men go to work to feed the children including the mother.
In my perspective, this is not how the world works in twenty first century. Based on our religion, women are allowed to hold any position in the government and other ordinary work positions other than the highest office in the country.
Somali elders are the backbone of the society in many ways. One aspect of their role is the reconciliation. Traditionally, Somali people used to fight on water and grass in the rainy season. Somali elders were those who mediate clans. They had a very important role of coming both clans together under the tree and solving their differences peacefully without foreign intervention. I believe that this bright role is applicable right now in our political process and deserve to be maintained. Too many foreign interventions will not bring solution for the society. However, in this current situation, Somalia needs Somali elders who have a united vote for making the country move forward.
This turning point affected day-to-day activities of the government. Government workers are busy with the ongoing selection of MPs; they neglected to provide government services to the people. Each public office holder thinks how he/she would get back to his/her position or other government positions. This means that state activities were kept to a minimum.
Despite we are encountering political, social and economical setback at this turning point, the hope of Somali people is high towards the future.
Based on the information we have discussed, the following recommendations were given.
1. Since the government is responsible the security of the country, it should come up with a comprehensive plan which tights the security. For example, the government can increase the pay of the Somali forces to motivate them at this particular moment.
2. The independent electoral commission should exercise its power by minimizing the government’s involvement in the electoral process, so the government will do its job rather than manipulating the process.
3. Regional administrations should unite the common interest of the nation and put their differences aside at this critical moment.
4. Selection of MPs should be participative, more inclusive and carefully handled process.
Mr. Ahmed-Nor Hassan Sheik Ali, Lecturer at Alma’rifa University Institute, former Instructor at Banadir Institute and former chairman of EYAD.
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