Somaliland Times Editorial
Sunday Feb 11, 2007
President Rayale of Somaliland – “Either unwilling or incapable of reforming his administration”
It is widely acknowledged that corruption is one of the biggest factors that contributes to underdevelopment. This can be deduced from the fact that corruption is a common factor for most impoverished countries. The debilitating effect of corruption is most clear in countries that are well endowed with natural resources but are characterized by extreme poverty. Take the example of African countries that have oil, gold, diamonds and other mineral resources but whose people live in dire poverty. Somaliland does not export oil or diamonds, so the dollar amount that is lost to corruption may be smaller than let us Nigeria, nevertheless, the principle is the same. If your economy is smaller but corruption is widespread, the impact is no less damaging. In Somaliland, corruption has reached such an advanced stage, it is assumed to be part of most transactions that have anything to do with the government. In addition to eroding the society’s moral fiber, corruption undermines the proper functioning of the economy because it transfers undeserved gains to some people and adds to the costs of transactions.
A quick look at the situation of real estate in Somaliland will make this clear. Many Somalilanders used to invest in Somaliland through buying real estate and building houses. But along with the building construction boom came a practice called ku qabso ku qadi mayside (claim it, you will get something for your claim), which worked this way: someone (usually an expatriate) would buy a piece of land and right away someone else would appear out of nowhere and claim that the piece of land is actually his. The expatriate then would have to pay a lump sum to the person who made the bogus claim so that he would drop his claim. The result was that many expatriate Somalilanders stopped buying undeveloped land in Somaliland.Some might object that greedy individuals exist everywhere and it is unfair to blame the government for their behavior. True, greedy, unscrupulous people exist everywhere, but in the case of land problems in Somaliland, the greedy individual usually has some false documents that were issued by a government official. Another reason why the government shares in the blame is because, not only does it tolerate these practices, but the government itself, including the president, is known to engage in corrupt practices, thereby setting a bad example for the rest of the population.Corruption is such a serious problem in Somaliland it has even led to a riot among Somaliland’s police. The immediate cause of the riot was that the police did not receive their salaries for months. The police believed that their salaries were embezzled by their superiors. Consequently, irate armed police barged into the parliament’s building in protest. President Rayale did react in this case by firing both the police commissioner and the minister of interior for creating the situation and failing to prevent it, but his reaction came only after the damage was done and the sanctity of parliament was violated.Another more recent riot that was caused by the corruption of Rayale’s administration is the cement factory riot last year. Let us go briefly through the circumstances that led to it. The President left Somaliland on a visit to Europe and possibly the United States. Several weeks later, he announced in Germany that he could not go to the United States to participate in the SOPRI conference because he had found a company that was going to invest in the cement factory and wanted to quickly get back to the country in order to start the project. However, instead of re-building the cement factory and creating job opportunities, what the people saw in motion was a scheme to dismantle what remained of the existing factory, which resulted in riots. Since then, President Rayale has not said a word about his cement factory project or the promised jobs, which has only strengthened the suspicion that the promise to build a new cement factory was only a ploy to allow him to sell the existing factory for scrap.Haatuf newspaper’s latest revelations have provided only more details into an already established pattern of corruption in President Rayale’s government. Instead of cleaning his act and reforming his administration, President Rayale responded by jailing Haatuf journalists which has only provided more evidence that President Rayale is either unwilling or incapable of reforming his administration. With their president so thoroughly and stubbornly tied up to corruption, more and more Somalilanders are looking at ways to save their country.Source: Somaliland Times, Feb 11, 2007