Somaliland’s bad politics deserve to die

Somaliland’s bad politics deserve to die.
Kulmiye has been chosen in the hope that their veteran politician will bring better future, change the government from systematic corruption to good governance, from stagnation to development, from nepotism to fairness, and implement the rule of law.
Unfortunately very little of the above has been achieved. The president and his team spare no time to lecture us bragging about their list of achievements such increasing salaries for government employees and making primary education free. They wrongly want us to believe that we owe them re-election. In reality, each item in their list is a fundamental human right for which governments are formed and leaders are elected. I don’t have to rebuff their claims completely but I would say to them, “You could have a done a lot better”
Going back to the list, one is reminded our government’s constant claims such as, we have increased the budget from $47 million to $300 million. It is true that government budget has been increasing yearly but nowhere to see where and how the surplus affected people’s lives if we exclude doubling salaries for government employees. Increasing salaries for unproductive government employee is fine but it would have been better if the surplus was invested on development-targeted sectors of the economy. Instead, they unnecessarily shattered the surplus to dozens of ministries, agencies, tribal chiefs, fake president advisers and the list goes on. We would have been in better place today if they reduced the size of the government and invested the surplus to grow the services that we desperately need. Few good examples are, building one good national university that has the disciplines needed by the market such as medicine, nursing , education, construction and architecture engineering , few skill-oriented colleges, two major hospitals in the western and eastern regions, importing farming tractors to cultivate the good soil in the western regions, importing deep water drilling rigs, starting animal farming industry in the east, developing fishing communities on the coastal towns such Zeila,, Heis/Maid and Lasqoray, making winning recognition for the state a top priority, creating a commercial banking system to attract deposits, encourage banks lend business so they can create jobs, and imposing capital gains tax on medium and large businesses.
The recent debate over banking laws has proved to us a series lack of leadership. It’s unfortunate that our president and the parliament leadership have surrendered to the pressures from few interest groups and Salafi fanatics who succeeded to kill the most fundamental law for growing the economy. They said Somaliland will go to hell if we let banks open on our holly land. No one raised an eyebrow and asked how come it is haram on us and not for Saudi Araba and the rest of the Muslim word. Saudi religious leaders, in their way to the Holly Mosques, don’t bother to open their eyes as they pass Saudi American Bank, Riyadh bank, Alahli Bank, to name few, on every street in Makah and Medina. They refrain from interfering financial laws and leave the sin for political and business leaders who dare to go to hell for the good of their beloved country. All Muslim leaders know the importance of international banking system and that is why Salafi fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia and Iranian Khameneis couldn’t rule it out.
For so long, injustice has been infested in Somaliland. During my last visit to Hargeisa, I have witnessed an alarming quarterly profit gains reported by Telesome. Believe it or not, it was 200%. Making 200% rip-off profit and paying no tax or very little tax is a breathtaking. Telesom at least reports its profits while other privately owned sacred cows like Somtel and SomCable are above the law. This tells us that the political elites are working hand in glove with the wealthy few. It is the worst injustice when a poor woman selling a basket of tomatoes in a Hargeisa flea market is paying taxes to local municipality. In the meantime, and above her head, multimillionaires are looking down at her through their glass windows and happily getting away with murder. Something big is wrong with that picture!
It is not that we are not part of the problem. Yes, we are. Since we adopted democracy, we have chosen bad voting behavior. We base our decision to vote on one issue “tribal loyalties”. By default, each candidate gets the votes from his tribe. Besides, he will need to maintain the political alliance of his tribe during the past elections or win over new tribal alliances if possible. Politics not based on issues and the needs of the country but on tribalism has been keeping Somaliland in the dark.
Governments are tested at the time of crisis. Ours has failed the current drought test. The livelihood of millions of people has been decimated. More than half of the nation’s livestock died for the lack of water and grass which could have been imported. When asked, how could this happen? They said, drought is from Allah and we had no control over it. It is true that they have no control over raining and drought couldn’t be stopped but at least it could have been predicted. Do we have any drought mitigation strategies in place? It is not that we couldn’t imagine this disaster coming, last year the western states have seen a similar drought. They chose not to care about our nomads. As Mohamed Ali Bile said recently, “Every pie in the economy is consumed in the cities. Nomads are forgotten” This is not an exaggeration. The main tax that we collect is the tax that we levy on exporting livestock. Imported goods are taxed indirectly where only end consumers pay the tax. For example, a tariff on a bag of sugar or rice paid in Berbera port by Omar group or Deero group is added to the price of a plate of rice sold in Mansoor hotel or a cup of tea sipped in Balidhiig. Neither the national budget nor international aid has been distributed fairly.
To be fair not only our current government has failed us. The two legislative bodies and their selfish leaders exemplify the bad leadership that crippled Somaliland. They deserve to go in disgrace. Irresolute Irro and bullheaded Gaal has been yearly approving bad budgets as long as they get their salaries increased and prolonged their stay in power. Mr. Behi is running on the failed ad hoc policies of his party, make no mistake, he is not an agent of change.
With the election coming, it is time not to reward the ones who failed us because of tribe and party loyalty. We tried tribe loyalty for thousands of years and party loyalty, if there is such a thing, for the past elections. What did we get other than lousy leaders?
Somaliland is a country at crossroads whose leaders dishonestly claim it reached a high peak. Its hostile neighbor has made radical changes as they elected two young and dynamic leaders who replaced their civilian clothes with military uniforms even though they never fired a shot. It is not secret that bellicosity is a deep-rooted culture in the south. Today they are waging war against AlShabab militarily. If they defeat AlShabab today, tomorrow they will fully take on Somaliland. Mr. Farmajo has made lifting the arms embargo a policy priority. If he succeeds to lift the embargo, countries like Turkey and Qatar will not hesitate to donate their out-of-service military weaponry that are superior to ours and other weapons that we don’t have such as helicopters. When that happens, our fancy biometric voting machines and the elections that are costing us millions of dollars will not repel an Apache helicopter.
Somaliland’s foreign policy is another disaster. We never exploit the fact that we deny pirates and terrorists to operate in the Gulf of Aden and easily cross to the Middle East. In spite of the West and the Arab world stand by our political enemy, we fail to seek new friends like Russia and negotiate a recognition against a military base in the Red Sea. Westerns patting Somaliland on the back and saying “good boys” is not enough. Ethiopia is eating our lunch with trade deficit that exceeds half a billion dollars a year. Djibouti overlooks Somaliland as if it borders Somalia and not Somaliland. On top of that, it influences our democratic elections through its wealthy individuals. Our approach towards Somalia is hand-off which is very passive and naïve.
It is time to defy rotten tribalism and stupid party loyalty. It is time to vote opposite and radical. My hope for change hinges upon the youth in colleges, in high schools, the educated class, and even the nomads who have been forgotten in the dusty land. For that reason, a protesting vote is the fair answer in the ballot box.
As president Trump said to African American voters, what the hell have we got to lose? I will ask a similar one, what the hell have we got to lose if try Faisal? He is the only one who has the guts to shake up the system and turn around Somaliland from upside down.
By Khadar Calolgeele, Austin TX.


Ku Xayeysiiso