Saving Somalia From Itself
by Mohamed Abdi Mohamed
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I will attempt to explain some reasons for the present conditionof Somalia and offer some insights as to how forces of goodwill can save Somalia from itself.Since the fall of Siad Barre, there have been four transitional governments. Each has failed and we must face the unpleasant reality that over the past twenty years, there has not been measurable progress in any sphere of Somali life.
Let us not be oblivious of the fact that people are dying every day in Somalia. There is widespread hunger, malnutrition and displacement. There are thousands of young people who have never been to a school; their only training was learning how to shoot a gun.Currently, there is no single State institution existing to provide basic services to the nation. For example, there is no public finance system in place, no judicial system, no health care system, and no national educational system.
What seems to be missing is the issue of whether these Governments could have succeeded in the absence of functioning institutions of state.
It is my thesis that, there is no guarantee that any new government will perform much better than its predecessors. The simple reason is that there are no viable institutions through which governance can be executed. We need institutions to regulate the behavior of government; in the absence of a constitutionally controlled regulatory environment we cannot rely on the intrinsic dignity of the human spirit to behave in a highly ethical and democratic manner. Further, the recent history of Somalia, highly suggests that it is highly improbable that this can be achieved in Somalia which is a clan based society.
There are many inconvenient truths (among many) that all stakeholders in Somalia must face.
One such truth is the Government is not able to provide basic services to its people and as such there is no real material difference to the Somali people whether there is a government or no government. It is this reality that needs to be factored in any strategy aimed at the reconstruction of Somalia.
Another inconvenient truth is that international assistance will not have its intended impact in the absence of viable institutions of state. In its current state, any assistance (non military) to Somalia will be an encouragement to perpetuate corruption and waste.
Another inconvenient truth is that Somalia suffers from an Intellectual deficit at all levels within Somalia.
First, I have concluded that the establishment of viable institutions of state should preempt the installation of any Government. These institutions would be both central and regional as sanctioned by the constitution .This would require the following:
1. A period of NO ELECTED GOVERNMENT for Somalia for a period of two years.
2. That Somalia is placed under some form administrative guidance/supervision of the UN for the same period.
3. That the period of NO GOVERNMENT is used to establish those key institutions of state with guidance principles of accountability, transparency and democracy firmly entrenched.
4. That upon expiration of this period, each ministry will need to have a UN consultant(s) to provide human capital development and administrative guidance to all senior staff for each ministry. This will need at last two years for the Government to be self sustaining.
Second, after 40 years of political wilderness, it is not realistic to expect that any democratic framework for Somalia will result in democracy in action. It is not just a matter of legality, it is also a question of constitutionally mandated culture change thatenforces accountability, transparency, ethical behavior and punishes corruption.If any opportunity to enforce these is missed, Somali will continue to be a failed state.
Third, I would respectfully submit that what is needed is the establishment of the NEW SOMALIA. Nothing will be gained by patching a leaky ship; we need to bury the carcass of failure and build upon the ruins of the past.
Somalia cannot achieve this on its own. We need international intervention and assistance to save Somalia from itself.
These views and opinions are solely my own and do not represent the views and opinions of any group or organization.
Mohamed Abdi Mohamed
Washington DC, USA