TIME FOR THE AFRICAN UNION TO LEAD: MEMORANDUM ON THE LONDON CONFERENCE
By: Abdirazak Fartaag
DONOR WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMALIA
1. As the London Conference approaches, it is vital that the Somali populous take notes of the previous London conferences. Conference after conference substantial pledges were made for Somalia, promising accelerated transformation. Sadly, failing to benefit the wider populations of Somalia, as majority of the funds end up in corrupt hands. In the coming days, President Farmaajo and Prime Minister Khaire are likely to succumb to the donors’ strategies of heavy-handedness by accepting strategies that ultimately benefit the same donor countries. The upcoming London Conference casts a bleak future on Somalia more than ever. Irrespective of the publicly stated goals of the London Conference, there are enormous challenges Prime Minister Theresa May will face. These include the following crucial governance challenges that are besetting the current Somali government:
I. Lack of reference on development of government economic blue print for immediate, short, and long-term programmes since the demise of central government.
II. Lack of internal policy capacity structures.
III. Lack of foreign policy capacity structures.
IV. Lack of internal line ministries’ organizational capacity structures.
V. Lack of an independent integrity institutions (OAG, AGO and CBS).
VI. Lack of an independent pressure groups.
2. The task of institutional building in Somalia remains fragmentary and stagnant. The new and widely coveted Federal Member States also lack good governance. This is in spite of the donors outsourcing governance programming in Somalia to foreign consultancies. More important is that the trusted foreign consultancies almost often ignore the realities of Somalia, only benefitting specific individuals. The aforementioned realities go overlooked:
– The government organization is a superficial set-up; it functions on paper however in reality it only serves the purpose of “keeping up appearances” to satisfy the donors.
– There is a lack of cohesion/unity;regional leaders and government are disjointed.
– There is a lack of accountability; traditional leaders who often corruptly machinate to win favor through traditional clan-political manipulation are not held accountable.
– There is a lack of good governance; the entire public service, entrepreneurs, journalists, civil societies, proxy government employees, and traditional leaders operate on rogue self-governing systems with no good faith.
– There is a loose of institutional memory; marginalized institutional memory groups – Somalis with collective knowledge and experiences with social system, culture and government and parastatal organizations are overlooked and not utilized for the good of the state building.
– There is contempt for the well-informed panel of independent critical thinkers and capable Somali women is brewing.
– There is a misunderstanding of the real issues; donors’ involved Somalian affairs have failed to recognize social and cultural issues and therefore do not have a balanced perspective that can understand the complexitiesof Somali leadership.
– There is a lack of information; Somali diaspora and those involved in Somalian affairs – mainly informers – are not aware of the incompetence that lurks within their society.
– There is an overreliance on international agency insight; most of the socio-economic and policy-related research papers being produced by government agencies are produced bythe World Bank and its sister organization. This has created a situation where Somalis reject this information due to the differences between theory and practice, that is, the real situation in Somalia on the ground.
3. Overlooking the aforementioned factors manifests in strategic errors that continue to be made and have recently been witnessed in the last two months,– Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, and his powerful premier Hassan Ali Khaire, it is they who bear the brunt of historical second-guessing. According to many Somalis both local and abroad, Somalia’s ills can only be attributed to the circularization of what has been coined as ‘Western economic hit professionals’who masquerade as consultants.Ultimately theyserve the interests of their governments, and fail to understandthe local situation – the nature of Somalia power struggle. It’s strongly believed by many progressive Somalis that these Western economic hit professionals lack an understanding of the local social contexts that influence behavior. They inadvertently help skew the amateur political nouveau class’ intofollowing behavioral strategies that are likely to keep Somalia as a permanent failed state.The Somali leaders have continued with this line of thinking:
i. They view different clans as instruments of manipulation, engineered, and to be used as commodities for different purposes, therefore perpetuating the cycle of misery, clan wars, and suffering.
ii. They are not new thinkers, they appear to not be receptive to new ideas or new ways to work with each other, and this lack of forward thinking is a good example of how conflicts are re-created from the grassroots level.
iii. They are too focused on policy rather than the ongoing slaughter of the tens of thousands of innocent Somali youths in the name of fighting insurgencies – Al-Shabaab.
iv. They do not appear to be interested incollective debate on substantive issues such as security, justice, employment, entrepreneurship, infrastructure, and counterfeiting illegal and substandard drugs.
v. They have not taken on the responsibility to initiate concrete measures in the fight against corruption – accepting fully the “rule of law”, in the form of “accountability,” “transparency,” and “democracy,” the sanctity of democratic values, clan sensitivity, and tolerance.
vi. They lack the goodwill for the people, they do not organize their politics and public policy on the basis of a win-win principle, and therefore the failed state remains intellectually and economically regressive.
vii. They have created a situation wherevarious independent vital groups -institutional memory groups, free thinkers, and capable Somali women-have been marginalized. These groups have been overlooked in favor of stronger local NGO cartels, and toa large population of Somali diaspora members. The diaspora is put forth to be ‘Somali informers’ to Western embassies and foreign consultants’ in Somali politics, in line ministries, parastatals, and in the regional politics. The solidarity among them; NGO cartels, informers, foreign consultants and donors, is about to give the powerful energy dealer premier Hassan Ali Khaire’s agenda much of its cachet over the next four years.
4. The continuum of these behavioral tactics has led to a situation where Farmaajo and his premier Khaire already have encountered several problems, as any reading of the public opinions will confirm. It appears that the UN’s Michael Keating, and the donor communities in fact limit their authority. This creates a situation of a toothless government and the lack of control over its own affairs is akin to not having any government at all.
5. The fact that the transformation of Somalia by the Western community has lasted over 26 years is troubling. Neighbouring African countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, underwent transformations in far shorter times. In view of this, it’s imperative to understand the unique features in Somalia that were not prevalent in other African countries. This supposes that the United Nations may not have an understanding of the root cause of the country’s situation and its systemic specificities. It is important to contextualize Somalia in its own capacity, using different parameters and within an African perspective. Former African leaders even former Somali presidents, premiers, ministers, generals, ambassadors should be brought into the conversation who would constitute the think thank advisory group. Their input would be of utmost importance due to their knowledge and experiences with the social system, culture, government, and parastatal organizations.
6. This research proposes that the new school of thought led by African leaders should be initiated in Somalia and should take into account the complex clan cultural relationships. Significant supplementary support efforts should be initiated by the North African Block, West African Block, Central African Block, East African Block, and Southern African Block. Additional further primary contributionsshouldcome from the African Economic Communities – MENA, ECOWAS, COMESA, and SADC, together with AFRICAN CAPACITY BUILDING FOUNDATION.
7. The United Nations should remain the lead international coordinating body in budget funding and technical operational logistics. The African Union should be the organization to drive the process in terms of self-independent negotiations, reconciliations, unitary formidability, repatriations, self-development programmes, future development of the country, international relationships, etc.
8. This research also proposes that the stakeholders – think tank advisory service groups – be included in the programme to provide accountability and transparency. This group should have a very clearly defined mandate to work with the federal and state government and backstop. This group will set up to assist the government effectively transform.
WHO IS IN CONTROL?
9. For a country with a short democratic tradition and long running clan hegemony, the very idea of power sharing is a hard sell. Without a doubt, ordinary citizens find themselves powerless to effect political change. Some would argue that their leaders, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (aka “Farmaajo”), Hassan Ali Khaire and Mohamed Osman Jawari) are also powerless to this. The underlying issue we are seeing in Somalia is that the president, prime minister, speaker and ministers do not share a common principle when it comes to the use of force within their clan based societies. It appears that the incumbent government does not have control on the use of force within its borders because each clan claims a territory and they tend to be independent from the government.Furthermore, social division is also represented in the division in Somali soil. In order to strengthen their clan, each clan has seized a section of a territory they feel rightfully belongs to their clan. Today Somalia is about to be divided into seven main territories, each dominated by one specific clan.
10. This division has led to Somalia being a vulnerable state. Not only is Somalia incapable of managing its internal strife but it also the interest from various countries that have identified the potential in natural resources of the country. Countries such as US, EU, UK, China, India, and Turkey have allegedly expressed interest in extracting natural resources; the divisions previously mentioned could potentially hinder this. Even though the benefits of territorial division in Somalia are positive, the problem remains that unless clan balkanization is resolved; profits from natural resource income will continue to benefit key individuals from specific clans inside their respective territories; regardless of the various clans living within a region. This would ultimately compromise territorial integrity. For instance, currently, the state of Khatuma (comprising Sanaag, Sool and Ein) in Somalia renounce being part of Somaliland, given the fact that bilateral assistance and profits from the Port of Berbera and the Airport of Hargeisa are not being distributed to the local Sool, Sanaag and Ein districts. This will most likely be the fate of the country’s natural resources, unless the social division is resolved.
11. Today, specific clans control the ports in the country and the benefits do not trickle down to everyone in this regions. Airports are also coming under the control of clans, however, ports do have foreign countries like Turkey, and UAE as well as specific individuals control the ports. The balkanization of resources in the specific territories hinders repatriation of resources to the central government. The central government has not reinstated the ports as national assets, under the control of the central government. However, given the central governments weak capacity to regain complete control of the resources, ports have remained idle and underutilized. This would be a good role for the advisory groups to come in and help re-establish the ports as public property and holding local officials and port authority accountable.
12. The new administration needs to recognize that UN, international non-governmental organizations, local NGOs cartels, and ‘other donors’all continue to undermine any hope of progress in Somalia. These groups appear to be the bottleneck to the transformation. The government institutions conduct their affairs through these groups who have little knowledge of the situation in the country. These groups primary interest are the fees they accrue. It is unfortunate they have been able to the government representatives towards accepting their ‘anemic’policy. These donors have failed to go to the grassroots to verify their information with local leaders who are abreast with complexities affecting the country.The obvious way to break the impasse is to get stakeholders, in the form of think tanks from each development sector to join the proposed advisory service groups to supplemented by the government (prime minister). The AU Chair and former African statesman should agree to undertake a non-partisanship intervention on the transformation process for the sake of the country. Full list of proposed advisoryservices groups in www.fartaagconsulting.comand www.rajo.so.
THE PROPOSED ROLE OF ADVISORY SERVICE GROUPS
13. This research proposed that all major economic related projects in the upcoming London Conference should be temporarily stopped to allow for the advisory groups to go through the on-going and potential projects, that is the implementation and also to measurethe economic impact in the country. This would positively contribute towards budgetary funding for the country. Natural resources should be managed by the national government to minimize resource balkanization. It is important to note that thepredominant challenges, which the successive and incumbent government either overlook or deliberately ignore, are within the domain knowledge/experience of the advisory groups.
Predominant challenges faced:
i. Absence of past government official policy records.
ii. Majority of the current civil servants do not havesignificant working experience/training background.
iii. Majority of the civil servants are overshadowed by informers (diaspora),who are by extension in the payroll of the Western donors.
iv. The Western donors are also contributing to the poor performance of the civil servants by interfering through the use of informers who act as the go between for government policy formulation developments.
v. The Western donors undermine the successive governments and the incumbent government through direct budget funding to the international and local non-actors. Their programmes are not within the envisaged development plans and nobody knows their objectives (its believed donors are guilty of sponsoring anarchy).
vi. Several conferences were held and resolutions passed but without any formulated mechanism of monitoring/evaluating the progress or setbacks.
vii. The successive governments were all based on clan interest representation, the international community failed to ascertain that this is the will of the majority from the local communities.
14. The primary responsibilities for the advisory groups should be:
I. Initiate the restructuring of government operational institutions in regards to delivering the required goods and services
II. Initiate the re-organization of the government institutions making them transparent and accountable to the public
III. Initiate good working relationships between the executive, judiciary and legislative
IV. Initiate and restructure the country’s devolution network of working relationships
V. Initiating and mapping out the short/long-term strategic government development policy programmes
VI. Initiate and prioritize the economic development of the youth and gender empowerment
VII. Initiate and sensitize the local communities on national cohesiveness
15. The above tasks would be executed with comprehensive consultation with the incumbent government. The broad characteristics of the advisory groups will consist of the following but will not be limited to them:
i. Somali representation (Advisory Service Groups)
1. The preceding former presidents, prime ministers. With institutional Memories
2. Parties and political movement.
3. Economic advisers. With institutional Memories
4. Culture and Education Adviser
5. Domestic and foreign policy advisers. With institutional Memories
6. Public security advisers. With institutional Memories
7. Religious advisers
8. International law and natural resource advisers. With institutional Memories
9. Free thinkers. With institutional Memories
10. Capable Somali Women. With institutional Memories
11. Youth and Sport advisers.
ii. African representation
1. Former heads of state Winners of Mo Ibrahim Prize
2. Former ministers With public integrity
3. Sitting ministers With public integrity
4. Technocrats With public integrity
5. Public finance advisers With public integrity
6. Security advisers With public integrity
16. The former Somali presidents who will bring on board all their local representation groups shall initiate the programme. They will initiate a local conference for all the stakeholders. The conference will subsequently elect the office bearers (chairman, vice chairman, secretary, treasurer, etc.). They would also elect the working secretariat for the day-to-day operations of the advisory groups. The working secretariat should consist of trained and experienced personnel in their respective sectors. The working committee would be supplemented in their task executions by the outreach operational personnel (regional committee). At the forefront of the conference discussion agenda would be ‘the fact that for 26 years the country has not actualized transformation development. These primary resolution objectives would be discussed with the state governments and on the blue print conference output decisions. The discussions would be led by the chair to the advisory groups and his committee members. The subsequent meeting will be between the federal government and the advisory group. These would either improve or down grade the blue print resolutions arrived at the state level. The conclusions of all the meetings will be deliberated upon and a decision made as to formalizing the approval of the advisory group. The final approval for the official operalization of the advisory board would be arrived through a consensus meeting with the African Union. The chair would make the request conference meeting with the African Union chair to the advisory group with copies to the federal government and state governments. The meeting with the African Union chair would also include budget funding and operational logistics.
17. In the event, protocol processes are frustrated in the implementation process; the advisory group will have the recourse to the African Union Chair. Local pressure groups will be brought on board in public rallies for the adoption of the group policy. The African Union Chair would take the lead in mobilization as well as lobbying the federal government and the states for its adoption.
18. The working engagement between the incumbent government (prime minister), African Chair and the advisory groups would be as illustrated below. The office composition and responsibilities for the three stakeholders would be characterized by transparent management. Each of the office bearers shall not undermine one another but rather take on a supplementary role for the facilitation of development transformation. The working engagement relationship should be as follows:
i. Federal/State Governments
i. The president would chair the final deliberations between the premier office and the chair to the advisory group (secretariat). The African Union would also have representation in the final approval deliberations. However, her significant role would be in moderating the deliberations and arriving at the most feasible ones.
ii. Premier Office
i. The whole infrastructure of the premier office would be subjected to research evaluation performance by the regional secretariat. This would cut across all the line ministries, institutions as well as the following geographical locations; federal, state, districts, divisions, locations, and sub-locations. This would also include the public security performance as well as government delivery of goods and services. Parliament (speaker) shall also be an office for enquiry, they would be charged with enacting beneficial legislation for the development of the country.
iii. Regional Working Secretariat
i. The advisory groups with the core mandate of verifying delivery of goods and services by the governments would constitute the Regional Secretariat. They would validate their research findings from the premier’s office with the local communities. The geographical scope for the validation would be at federal level, state level, district level, division level, location level, and sub-location level.
iv. Premier/Advisory Chair
i. The report compiled by the regional working secretariat, and from the evaluation performance by the government and the public would be subjected to a meeting between the premier and the chair of the group. The two offices should make the final report analysis to the president/state governors for further and final approval consideration.
19. The objective of the research examination is to identify the existing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT ANALYSIS). This would constitute the basis of instilling the current status with the advisory services from the group and determining the next course of the country’s development transformation.