In the country of “I have been a mujahid”, every Somaliland government institution
is a territory. But all territories are under occupation and none can even reach their freedom. All of them are doomed
A territory is but the body of a nation; the people who inhabit its hills, its valleys, its mountains, its coastal areas, and its hinterlands. If Somaliland institutions are then territories, and territories are the body of their nations, why they are under siege and even, as most people believe, are doomed to annexation?
Each Somaliland institution is occupied
by a bunch of scared puppets, who speak peace to people, but mischief is in their hearts. One good example of Somaliland institution is the house of elders that has been occupied for almost thirty years by the so-called Guurti who have become a puzzled jigsaw rather than a jigsaw puzzle, probably a combination of small cardboard pieces that no longer add up to a whole picture.
The secret of Somaliland government lies in the way individuals who occupy Somaliland institutions are connected with each other and what holds them together; what they do for the nation; whether they make decisions rationally, after researching alternatives and
understanding the consequences, or irrationally before ensuring that the consequences that might evolve from their decision would not
harm the nation.
As a story is connected events of what has happened in the past and what happened later, the secret of Somaliland government is an account of events that revolve around the real picture of how this nation is ruled, its affairs
run, its domestic policies made, its resources utilized, its power used, its people divided, its laws still remain unreliable, its constitution disputable, and its politics still remains discursive and directionless.
Hanad, who is too liberal, too learned, too observant, too curious, too open-minded,
but not sympathetic with every ideology,
is the character that compiles the secrets
of Somaliland government.
Starting his investigating research in the country’s capital, Hanad is still in the middle
of the interview which he is having with some members of the council of Hargeisa municipality, Somaliland’s biggest Revenue Generating municipality.
‘Let’s take a break’ is Hanad’s last line of the
last interview that he had with Hargeisa’s municipality council, with the hope that each interview will take him closer to his goal towards finding out the secret of Somaliland government.
Principally, besides upskilling the team to help them be more effective in social responsibility, encouraging and inspiring the council is most vividly the moral of Hanad’s interview.
“Before I start my questions, let me remind you that your answers to my questions not only determine whether you are fit for the positions you hold at this moment as city councils, but also give the guide that will pave the path for you to become, for instances, party leaders, political advisers or MPs. Is that too neat to
be clear?”, said Hanad.
“Certainly”, replied the councillors.
“Good”, said Hanad, after taking few seconds to monitor the outward expression of the interviewees.
Elated at the outward mindset of the councillors that expressed their internatl emotions, Hanad asked, “Mr. mayor, why did you want to become a mayor?.”
“Every citizen has the right to elect and be elected. I am no more no less than a citizen who deserves to be elected as a mayor.”
“Your point is vividly valid, but do you have any experience in this line of work? If affirmative, please mention any experience that you have, be it in a similar administrative position or other position of public trust.”
“Are you going to appoint me to a higher position?”
“No, Sir, but there are political posts that require experiences, if not specialization, and your present position is included.”
“I was an employee of a private company for many years?”
“‘What was your position in the company?”
“Switch Board Operator.”
“That means your duty was to connect telephone calls to the right person or department? Am I right?”
The mayor shrugged indifferently.
“Your responsibility as a mayor requires you to be a problem solver. Sovling problems that you encounter at work brings your problem-solving skill to light. Most problems you face on a daily basis are land dispute. How do you solve such problems?”
“The most dufficult problems we face as councillors on a daily basis are, in fact, land dispute. Most disputes over land arise from two things: One dispute begins from the boundaries between two neighbouring parties, each accusing of the other the extension of the border. The way we solve this dispute is we send a surveyor to the location where the problem of land dispute has arised, to check out the party that extended its border towards the direction
of the other party. The surveyor’s report
then determines the wrong party and with that the case will be finally closed.
“The second land dispute”, the mayor goes on, “stems from land ownership, and this is the most contentious case. What mostly causes the dispute is that both parties claim that the blot or block belongs to them. We then either take the case to the courts, or start mediation.”
“Excuse me, Sir”, Hanad interupted, “one of the disputants is certainly a liar and wants to own a blot that is not rightfully his or her. So my question is:How could you convince the real owner to accept mediation?”
“There are many ways in which land disputes are sorted out.”
“Can you mention some?”
“Chances always favor the prepared mind.”
“He who pays the higher bribe has the prepared mind. Is that what you mean to say?”
“As they say, where law leaves off, loopholes begin.”
“The way you show up in one area of your
life tends to be how you show up everywhere. Gentlemen, do you agree or disagree that this statement is true? Take time to ponder”, Hanad said, trying to find out whether illogicality or illusions of power have corrupted the mayor and his team.
“‘I think this statement is controversial, arguable and open to discussion”, said one councillor.
All others kept silent.
“Mayor, what is your say on this?”
“No comment”, replied the mayor unenthusiastically, clearly unhappy at the interviewer’s question.
The mayor’s behavior brings out the fact that competency-based interviews are hard on unskilled government officials. Experiences show us that incompetent goverment officials always come near to a breakdown when journalists interview them. Surprisingly, they tend to tremble with fear. Their fingers turn into thumbs; their dress won’t button; nor pins find their place.
It is no wonder that, instead of tyring to form the right answers to the questions, unskilled or incompetent Somaliland government officials start to argue with the interviewers even in an offensive way, blaming them for things that have had their course, just to escape their own mistortune and mendacity.
It is not an exaggeration to say openly that mujahids, ministers and other government officials couldn’t be able to form the concept that when they blame thenselves, they learn from it. But when they blame others, they don’t learn anything, because someone else’s fault is not another one’s fault. If Somaliland politics was so wrongly presented by our former politicians, could all those who came after
them be equally wrong?
Reality teaches us many things. It teaches us
the obligation to know what our government is doing all the time. To know what our government is doing is not a question of whether, but it is a question of why we should not make our government fulfill what must be done and what it has promised to do during the election compaign.
Here is a good question if we could make it walk and make it work. How we could crush low mentality of the unskilled government officials? Take a time to contemplate.
We, as Somalilanders, can crush incompetent officials by asking them what they do for our country and how they do it. Their shrill outcry will tell us something.
The infected, unskilled mujahid, minister or officer begins to rant instead of respond, accuse instead of argue, vilify instead of explain, froth instead of talk. The prove that the mujahids and their ministers or any other body appointted to a political position are dull and devoid of wisdom lies in how they react and respond to journalists who try to ask them what they have done for Somaliland during their stay in government agencies.
If the government officers cannot convince their critics with conviction, they are surely incompetent people, not having or showing the skill to do any duty successfully. And more importantly their incompetency is actually what brings the death of our government even more quickly than their failure to evolve. The only thing they habitually try to defend themselves is to repeat lies that are not new to Somaliland people and make sure no one listens to them, particularly those who know well
about their personalities.
As discerning eye needs only a hint, Hanad
who already has in his mind hints that most of government political posts are occupied by people who are incompetent to carry out their duties efficiently has found in Hargeisa local government clues confirming symptoms of system incompatibility with the regular public service delivery.
He was shocked when he saw masses of citizenry moving from building to building, running here and there, oohing and aahing, chasing the mayor in order to obtain either an approval or objection of land tenure, the legal way in which land is owned by an individual.
In situation Hanad was a witness, there were motions for this and that, requests to have seating here and there, concerns about who would be allowed to see the mayor and who would not, trials to reach out councillors who could look into what the people wanted or at least hear their say. There were no signs of respect or regard for the aged citizen. The element of work ethics was invisible, totally unseen to those mischief was not in their
There was an element of astonishment in
seeing scenes of such kind. Land tenure is a nasty business, but none of us could ignore to do. Dispute over land is even nastier than land tenure, but none of us would miss the stress of the heavy guarded office, that bosses occupay.
Hanad is a researcher and researchers, like journalists, don’t recognize barriers. They never fear to jump over hurdles, leap over fences, penetrate wired walls to arrive at where things are very much in the air.
Penetration was the best way for Hanad
to understand the outcry of workplace inefficiency in the local government. He got into the crowd, pretended as one of the crowd, kep an imaginery hanging file under his shoulder, throwing intentionally saliva droplets out of his mouth, keeping fingers crossed, sometimes shouldering his way through the crowd, and opening and closing the file sporadically.
As most researchers do, Hanad was testing and trying to watch on how his objectives play out through the citizens, evesdropping on every two-way flow conversation, observing and taking note of who had his deals done behind the curtains.
A man of middle age noticed Hanad. The man saw and sensed that Hanad was nervous. He felt that Hanad had a problem, which he did not know how to solve it. The man thought that Hanad was a member of Somaliland diaspora who know nothing about how things work in Somaliland and decided to help him out of the problem.
The man stepped up to Hanad and said, “Cousin – inadeer – is something different than that annyoys these people irritating
“Yes, of course”, replied Hanad.
“What is it? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean anything other than to give you a hint of how things work in the local government”, said the man.
“I have problem with the people who work in the local government.”
“Cousin, all people have problems with the local government and that is not anything new.”
“Sir, mine is newer than the new”, Hanad replied.
“Tell me cousin”, says the man, “what makes your problem unique?”
“I bought a land three months ago, which I want to register and issue a file for it in my name, and still I am unable to make the file.”
“Why you are unable to get it done?”
“Because everyone says to me get approval
from the mayor and the mayor is not reachable. Sometimes he is in a meeting, at other times
he is away, at other times he is busy with a conference call, at other times he goes out of the office with few files in his hands and never comes back to office. I don’t understand whom this guy works for”, Hanad said.
The man chuckled at astonishment in what Hanad told him and then said, “Your problem is very easy and can be solved in a day, or two maximum.”
“How?”, asked Hanad.
The man took Hanad by the hand and led him to a place that was a litte farther from where they were before, to show Hanad how to solve his problem.
“Listen cousin”, said the man. “Facilitation is part and parcel of Somaliland life. No businessman, bank, professor, or person with or without money can get his things done in the local government without going through the services of a facilitator.”
“What sort of facilitation does the facilitator use to provide?”
“In a country where corruption practices are sprawling and accepted as a norm, facilitator is the man who knows the higher athorities, public notaries, city clerks, judges, station police officers, and even customs authorities. The facilitator knows the system and how to grease it. He knows who sits in every office, who heads every section, and who has the authority to approve every document and every service to
be provided to the public. No service is provided, nor document is obtained from the local government without a facilitator. He knows
well what the local government employees understand, what makes them work, what seasons their work with a wit and wakes them up. Hope you understand now how things work in Somaliland”, concluded the man.
“Thank you very much, cousin. I appreciate your help so much”, replied Hanad.
Having so much information of how the local government works, Hanad who looks like a doctor who suddenly identified an illness from its signs and symptoms said, “Outcry inefficiency is always the main complaint against Hargeisa local government. What is the cause of workplace inefficiency in your territory, Mr. mayor?”, asked Hanad.
“I don’t see inefficiency in how the local government provides services to citizens. What I personally see and feel is public requirements are more than resources available”, replied the mayor.
“Mr mayor, we know that ability is limited and that your wallet (local government budget) will not allow you, as a mayor, to meet every public demand desire. But the clarity of purpose regarding requests is important. So what kind of requirements that exceed resources that people use to place to local government?”
“Public requests and requirements are unlimited regardless of their kind and shape”, returned the mayor.
“Could you mention some, Mr mayor?”
“No need to mention them. It is not important
to let the public know everything the local government is doing. Policy is what governments actually do, rather than what they say to people and intend to do.”
“There are three basic types of public policies which all governments, great or small, have to fulfill. Which one are you talking about, Mr mayor?”, asked Hanad.
“We have not yet reached a level in which we could have different policies for different issues?”
“Mr. mayor, are you telling me that Somaliland government does not have at all regulatory, restrictive and facilitating policies?”
“‘W-we d-do w-what i-is p-perfectly a-applicable a-and a-cceptable t-to citizens”, the mayor replied as if he has a stutter.
“Let me re-phrase my question. No citizen places a service request that local government can’t afford or offer to. Specify the public requirements that exceed available resources and local government cannot provide. A clarity is what matters most to people, Mr. mayor.”
“Excuse Hanad. I have very important meeting with the mujahids and I have to
go right now.”
The best excuse to escape from telling the truth is to tell people that I am in a meeting
or have an appointment with higher authorities, or have other plans to do.
In the first excuse, the person you are talking to is not seeing where you are at that moment. In the second excuse, the person or the people you’r telling that you have an appointment cannot argue why you should have an appointment. Appointments are always personal. In the third excuse, no body has the right to ask your plans. It is none of their business to know what your plans are. I did that once and was caught at my home chewing Qat. But I told them that was what my plan was.
The mayor didn’t have a meeting with the mujahids and was seen sitting in a coffee
shop minutes after his collegues, other councillors, took a break from the interview.
What could happen if we say what we mean and mean what we say? Trust and clarity of purpose regarding social responsibility! And that is the essence of human life. To mask a lie with a fake excuse is a sin and sin is an act that God hates most.
To be continued
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