This report offers an in-depth exploration of the corruption that is deeply rooted within various regions of Somalia, specifically those areas serviced by Hormuud Telecommunications. It provides crucial insights into the frequency, distribution, and financial extent of bribery. This investigation was motivated by growing concerns over the government’s anticorruption actions, which have raised doubts about their genuine commitment to addressing the issue.
Marqaati’s 2022 corruption report, released on 31st December 2022, highlighted the alarming misappropriation of funds, with $5,936,316.23 of international assistance and $4,543,045.46 of tax revenues unaccounted for. These revelations intensified scrutiny on the government’s anticorruption efforts.
The situation escalated when the Auditor General was replaced with a politically exposed individual of questionable qualifications on 9th February 2023. This move was widely criticized and raised serious doubts about the impartiality of future audits. The arrest of some officials on corruption charges, seen as a performative measure, has done little to quell concerns, as bribery practices persist.
Further exacerbating the situation, in October 2022, the President dismissed the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Judicial Service Commission, two crucial institutions designed to combat corruption. This questionable move, widely seen as an effort to control these independent bodies, has cast doubt on the government’s dedication to eradicating corruption. To regain trust and make genuine progress in the fight against corruption, the government must recommit to empowering and creating permanent, independent, and constitutionally anchored institutions for anti-corruption. These should replace the temporary, performative measures that serve merely to appease donors.
To delve deeper into the corruption problem, a comprehensive telephone survey was conducted by marqaati between December 22, 2022, and January 12, 2023, involving 1037 randomly selected individuals. The survey revealed that bribe paying averaged more than 20% in many districts in the capital, Mogadishu, and 12% nationwide.
Another alarming finding was the startlingly low rate of complaints lodged following instances of bribery. Over 93% of respondents who admitted to paying a bribe did not file a complaint. The lack of avenues for reporting such incidents was a significant issue, with over 80% of respondents unsure about where or how to report these instances. This was further exacerbated by a general belief that no significant action would be taken against reported incidents of bribery.
Regarding bribe trends, over 90% of bribe-payers stated that the frequency of bribe requests either remained the same or increased compared to the previous year. This persistent trend indicates a significant lack of progress in combating corruption.
Moreover, the data revealed a troubling correlation between an entity’s power and involvement in bribe-taking. The Federal Government of Somalia’s security forces, for instance, were implicated in approximately 44% of bribe cases, suggesting systemic corruption within influential institutions.
This report underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive and effective approach to combat corruption in Somalia. By offering a nuanced understanding of the current state of bribery, it serves as a critical resource that can guide policymakers in devising robust and efficient anticorruption strategies.
Historic Local Elections Held Across Puntland Inspire Hope for Democratic Future
Mogadishu, Somalia, May 25, 2023 – Marqaati, Somalia’s only anti-corruption organisation, celebrates the successful local elections held across seven regions and 30 districts in Puntland today. This landmark event, which saw the active participation of 400,000 registered voters, marks a new era in Puntland’s democratic journey and sets a promising precedent for the future of governance in Somalia.
This monumental event has demonstrated that the people of Puntland are ready and eager to actively participate in the democratic process, exercising their right to vote and choose their leaders. “Today’s turnout is a testament to the resilient spirit of the people of Puntland,” says Mohamed Mubarak, Executive Director of Marqaati. “Their commitment to transparency, accountability, and democracy gives us hope for a future free of corruption.”
Throughout the elections, we observed widespread enthusiasm and commitment to democratic principles. The spirit of civic duty was palpable, an affirmation of the deep desire for good governance, social justice, and development. Marqaati is particularly excited about the potential this event has in inspiring other regions in Somalia to follow Puntland’s path and further strengthen our national democratic processes.
Our organisation extends its deepest gratitude to all those who made these elections possible: Puntland and local authorities, the security forces, election volunteers, and most importantly, the citizens who stepped up to make their voices heard. This collective effort paints an optimistic picture of the potential for collaborative growth and development.
Marqaati remains committed to fostering transparent, accountable governance in Somalia. With the success of these local elections in Puntland, we have taken an enormous step forward in that direction. Our optimism is undimmed, and our resolve is strengthened.
“We hope that the momentum from this election will ripple across the entirety of Somalia, inspiring similar democratic advancements,” adds Mubarak. “We will continue our work tirelessly, supporting transparent governance, and fighting corruption to ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Somalis.”
Mogadishu, Somalia – Today, marqaati, an anti-corruption organization, is expressing grave concern and fears regarding today’s removal of the Auditor General in Somalia. The organization is calling on the World Bank and other donors to closely monitor the situation and take appropriate action to protect their projects and investments in the country.
We recently wrote a multi-year analysis of the AG reports, and it was essential to our work, showing how the OAG could be a tool for anticorruption efforts. You may find our report here: https://marqaati.org/en/2022/12/somalia-2022-corruption-report. We believe the AG was removed in response to our report, to bring in someone that would not expose the current administration and prevent marqaati’s ability to use OAG reports to find and report on financial misappropriation.
Somalia has a long history of poor governance, corruption, and lack of accountability, which has hindered its progress and development. The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has been a crucial resource for reports and advocacy, providing an independent and impartial assessment of the country’s financial management and public spending. The OAG was also an important watchdog, safeguarding the interests of the Somali people and ensuring that public resources were being used in an accountable and transparent manner.
The removal of the Auditor General and the appointment of a new Auditor General who is politically exposed, is a major cause for concern. The new Auditor General’s political ties and lack of independence raise serious questions about the impartiality and integrity of future audits, which could have a significant impact on donor-funded projects in the country.
“The removal of the Auditor General in Somalia is a setback for good governance, transparency, and accountability in the country,” said Mohamed Mubarak, Executive Director, marqaati. “We believe that it is important for the International Community to support efforts to promote good governance, transparency, and accountability in Somalia, and to ensure that public resources are being used in an effective and responsible manner.”
marqaati is urging the World Bank and other multilateral and bilateral donors to take immediate action to protect their projects and investments in Somalia, and to support efforts to promote good governance, transparency, and accountability in the country.
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact us on our website contact form.
marqaati is a leading anti-corruption organization that works to promote good governance, transparency, and accountability in Somalia. The organization is committed to fighting corruption and promoting transparency and accountability in public life.
During the five years of the previous Somali administration (2017-2022), the international community was vital in funding the government, covering close to a half of the national budget. This presented it with the obligation to demand accountability of the Somali government, but there is little indication of it having positive influence. Monies were stolen as usual; elections rigged as usual; political opponents harassed and attacked as usual; and democratisation unimproved as usual.
All the undemocratic actions and corruption was subsidised by the international community, including $5,936,316.23in external assistance that could not be accounted for in 2020 in the audit conducted by the Office of Auditor General (OAG).
While the past five years saw some actions taken against a handful of low and mid-level corrupt officials, it was performative at best as little institutional mechanisms were put in place to guard against systemic corruption.
Government contracts continued to be given to political cronies of those in power, enabled by an opaque procurement process. Not only were kickbacks the norm, but some officials were also reportedly shadow owners of companies to which they awarded contracts.
Ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) continued to collect fees and use them at source, contrary to the law. When the Auditor General (AG) reported on MDAs that shared statements with him, he could not find many MDAs willing to share information with him in subsequent years.
To make matters worse, the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act of 2019 was written in such a way as to give MDAs a loophole that allowed them to not share information with the AG if they so pleased. This Act needs to be urgently amended to fix that issue.
Only five MDAs bothered to share financial statements with the AG in 2018 and 2019, showing collection and usage at source of $3,207,570. Subsequent years saw five embassies share their collection and usage at source of $1,335,475.46. This total of $4,543,045.46 is a very small fraction of the monies being collected and used at source by MDAs, making a mockery of the PFM and the annual budget.
Based on our review of the OAG’s reports for the years 2019-21, at least $95,804854 was unaudited.
Reflective of the performative nature of institutional building done in the past five years, two commissions that we have been advocating for were created, but without following the correct parliamentary procedure, thereby rendering the effort useless: The Judicial Service Commission and the Anticorruption Commission were created without senate approval. As expected, they were both disbanded by the new President in October 2022.
Today’s selection of the new president by the Somali parliament reflects the internationally-enabled failures of the past two administrations in Mogadishu. Despite committing to hold direct elections in the country, the past two administrations have chosen to have a narrow electorate to enable them to buy votes and rig elections.
The election cycle of 2016/17 was fraught with vote-buying and candidates choosing their own electors. The results were predictable for the individuals that rigged the elections, encouraging them and others to emulate them in the election cycle of 2021/22. This cycle was even more corrupt and less open, with almost all seats closed for selected candidates.
Without doubt, the 2021/22 parliamentary elections yielded the desired outcomes for those who rigged the elections. They succeeded in electing virtually all their desired candidates to parliament. The only lesson here is that it is politically advantageous to rig elections and that there is no accountability for doing so. Rational political actors will calculate that they would have to be even more vicious in their vote rigging and buying in the next election cycle.
As the Somali public does not pay the bulk of the funds that run the federal government, its leaders have no respect for them or their priorities. The government has more respect and is more responsive to the international community that pays its bills and gives it physical protection. It is therefore unlikely that universal suffrage will ever be achieved in Somalia in the foreseeable future, as long as the international partners do not tie their support to democratisation and good governance.
Continuing in this path will not only progressively degrade public confidence in the government but will also fail to achieve the goals of the government’s international backers. Security will further worsen as security forces are used for political reasons; immigration will pick up as the country is mismanaged without accountability; and piracy may see a comeback as economic opportunities decline. Of more interest to the international partners, terrorist groups will continue expanding in the country and using it as a base of operations to destabilise the region and beyond.
Therefore, the international support for Somalia needs to focus on democratisation and good governance in Somalia, not for the interests of the Somali people, but for theirs. Remaining on this path will only waste their taxpayers’ money while attaining negligible effects in support of their respective national objectives.
The elections that have happened to date have been entirely rigged, with four main methods being used to do this. The first method involved the “closing” of seats for a particular candidate, with the candidate selecting their opponent who normally ends up resigning moments before voting begins. An open vote would then ensue, guaranteeing the sole candidate to win in a landslide. Of the 54 senators in the upper house, 22 were elected in this manner. The second method of rigging the elections was by denying an undesirable candidate the security clearance. The third method was by creating fake voters that were not representative of the clans to whom the seat belongs – this was done by ignoring the real traditional elders and having someone else pose as them. The last two methods were primarily used in the lower house elections, with all candidates unwanted by the Federal Member States (FMS) presidents being sidelined. The fourth method was by using monetary incentives to ensure that the wanted candidates were elected by the FMS parliaments and electoral delegates.
Upper House Elections
The upper house elections in the FMSs of Southwest, Puntland, and Jubbaland were totally controlled by the leadership in the respective FMSs. The candidates were handpicked for loyalty, and the FMS parliaments that were electing the senators were paid directly by the FMS leadership. In those three FMSs where the FMS presidents maintain a tight grip on the FMS parliaments, all MPs were paid $3000 each. The candidates were expected to pay for their registration fees and that of their fake candidates. In turn, some candidates received that money from individuals running for president or from the FMS presidents themselves.
The other three FMSs saw the candidates privately paying the FMS parliamentarians. As before, they were largely funded by individuals running for president. In HirShabelle, the most expensive position saw all candidates paying a combined $9,000 per seat. As HirShabelle has 99 FMS MPs, that seat cost close to one million USD. Bribes were paid to a “committee” representing the MPs. This committee would in turn go about disbursing the loot.
In Galmudug, the state “closed” seats for its selected individuals but did not pay for them. The desired candidates were expected to bring their bribes, which were usually $2,000 per vote, to the leadership of the state, which disbursed the funds on their behalf after keeping a cut of the loot. As Galmudug has 89 MPs, this is $178,000 for every desired candidate. The candidates all brought along fake candidates that resigned before elections occurred.
In the Somaliland elections that occurred in Mogadishu, six out of the 11 seats were “closed”, with the desired candidates bringing along fake candidates. As there is no FMS president or parliament for Somaliland, the bribes were among the lowest, at $1000 per vote, which equals a total of $54,000 per seat.
Lower House Elections
The lower house elections were easier to rig because it did not involve the FMS parliaments. Here, the security clearance was the main tool to deny candidates from running. After that was done, desirable voters would be selected by bringing in delegates that were handpicked by the chosen candidate, regardless of whether they represented their constituency or not.
The elections that have happened to date at the lower house were more expensive in Galmudug where it could reach $2,000 per vote ($202,000 per seat), and it was cheapest in Southwest where the cheapest seat was for $150 per vote ($15,300 per seat). However, it seems most of the money did not reach the voting delegates in Southwest state; the money was paid to middlemen representing the FMS leadership. The delegates were given a fraction of the actual bribes paid by/for the candidates.
Outlook and recommendations
With most of the lower house elections remaining, and with the FMS leaders united in their pleasure with the way things are going, it is very likely that what we have seen will continue. The elections are not only illegitimate, but it also risks causing Somalia to slide back into civil war. Although the process is itself undemocratic, unashamed stealing of seats would further weaken what little trust the public have in the process. And with some politicians and clans threatening to start a parallel process, chances of violence are elevated.
Our recommendations are:
Unless the candidates are wanted for crimes, the security clearance should be discarded. If a candidate is rejected for security reasons, the reasons should be made public.
No elections should be held for a seat while its traditional leaders are maintaining that fake voters are involved.
All the lower house elections that have been held should be discarded.
The Ridiculous Results
Here we have the list of all elections held to date and the unbelievable winning margins.
Type of vote
Cabdiraxmaan Maxamed Maxamuud
Maxamed Cali Yusuf “gaagaab”
Maxamed Cabdi Cusmaan Majiino
Cabdullaahi Cali Xirsi Tima-cadde
Cabdisamad Yuusuf Maxamed
Daahir Ayaanle Siciid
Farxaan Cali xuseen
Zaynab ismail Mohamed
Cabdiqani Geelle Maxamed
Samiiro Maxamuud Xaaji Cawad
Sareedo Maxamed Xasan 64
Zamzam Ibraahim Cali
Ayaan Aadan Cabdullaahi
Aadan Cabdinasir Maxamed
Dr. Xuseen Maxamed Daahir
Maxamuud Maxamed Cabdinuur
Xasan Xuseen Xaaji
Cali Sheekh Maxamuud Gacal
Cabdiwali Maxamed Ibraahim (Xaabsade)
Cabdi Xaashi Cabdullaahi
Saalax Axmed Jaamac (Wasiirka dastuurka Soomaaliya)
With poor rule of law and non-existent institutions to hold those in power accountable, bribe paying is on the rise in Somalia, especially in areas with strong state presence. While overall bribe-paying is 14%, it is a deflated number because the state is weak or not present in most of the country. In some districts in Mogadishu, where the state is strongest, bribe-paying is as high as 50%. Demand for bribes is highest with the federal government security forces, regional security forces, and Al-Shabab. The FMSs of Southwest State and the Banadir Regional Authority (a de facto FMS) see a disproportionate bribe demand, strengthening the assessment that heavier state presence is characterised by increase in incidences of bribe paying.
Securitisation without strengthening the rule of law is leading Somalia towards having a state that is unconstrained by law and unresponsive to the will of the people. Those investing in security in Somalia have a moral obligation to demand and invest more in the rule of law and democratisation, including anticorruption, or risk creating an authoritarian state. Such a state will not fulfil the aim of Somalia’s donors, as terrorism will continue to go unchecked, and those in power will continue to misuse donor funds for their own security and not for the reason they received the funds.
Somalia’s state collapse in 1991 was preceded by 22 years of dictatorship that saw the suspension of accountable institutions and the erosion of the rule of law and the brutal use of the state’s powers to keep the ruling elite in power. Unfortunately for Somalia, it seems little was learned from that chapter in our history. In the reconstituted Somalia, the bulk of investment has gone into strengthening the state without strengthening the rule of law or building its accountable institutions. This is analogous to building a car without safety features such as breaks and airbags. Without the necessary institutions to check the power of the security forces, public trust in the state and their willingness to respect the rule of law is diminished as state power is used against political opponents and the law favours bribe-payers.
The current trajectory of the reconstituted Somali state does not inspire confidence that the end result will not be state failure if and when international support is halted. This report will show that bribe-paying is not only very high across the country, but also significantly higher in areas where the state is strongest. This suggests that the disproportionate investment in security as opposed to the rule of law and democratisation has resulted in security forces that are unaccountable except to their paymasters; justice that is sold to the highest bidder; and a disregard for state authority by the citizenry.
While Somalia’s international donors have spent a lot of their people’s taxes on supporting democratisation in Somalia, little has changed in the past nine years. Members of parliament are selected by gatekeepers that have little to no representative authority. Without an accountable government, it is impossible for the public to affect their future or trust the government as representative of their interests.
As we mark the International Anticorruption Day today, we are pleased to announce the fruits of marqaati’s efforts in the past seven months: a mechanism designed to combat disinformation in the Somali media, improve the quality of news, and educate the public in identifying fake news and reliable sources of news. We have created a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome. We also have an Android app in development that will be available in the next few weeks.
The period since our last report of September 2018 saw elections held in the Federal Member States (FMS) of Puntland (8 January 2019), Jubbaland (August 2019), and Southwest State (19 December 2018). As predicted in that report, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) was heavily involved in said elections, trying to promote a candidate in line with its vision of Somalia. The result was a tightening of FGS influence in the FMSs nearest to the capital and further losing influence in Jubbaland and Puntland.
In Mogadishu, the government took modest steps to improve transparency and accountability. It increasingly shared data on government reports and published expenditure reports from 2018 and the first two quarters of 2019.
On accountability, the Auditor General released his first report. The report provided a useful outline of the institutional weaknesses of various government departments. It showed an utter lack of bookkeeping in some departments; lack of an internal audit; misspending of funds for goods and services not included in the budget; lack of transparency in contracting; poor and illegal procurement procedures; and millions in missing funds. It was a brave and important step in building credible institutions.
As we head into an election year in 2020 and as anticorruption mechanisms remain weak and unimproved, incidences of bribery and vote-buying are expected to continue being a problem. Likewise, the lack of an electoral model so close to when elections are supposed to take place means there will be a delay that has the potential to cause political instability and a further weakening of the FGS relations with Puntland and Jubbaland.
The election of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo on 8 February 2017 was exciting as Farmaajo seemed to be the friendliest candidate for accountability. However, the President took little interest in governing and ceded much authority to his Prime Minister. The PM, as a veteran in the corruption campaign of the former president, put anticorruption in the backburner. By rhetoric, accountability became the centrepiece of his talking points. However, he extensively used bribery to buy political opponents with funds raised by siphoning off of Banadir Regional Administration funds and bags of money originating from a Gulf country.
When bribery and co-optation did not work against all critics, outright repression and silencing became the tools of choice. Mogadishu was on the brink of collapse multiple times in 2017 and 2018 due to the policies adopted by the PM with the support of the President.
While the PM was busy repressing Mogadishu, the President focused on undermining the federal system after the regional governments failed to fall in line with the government on the Qatar-Gulf crisis. This culminated in the removal of one regional president and no-confidence motions prepared in the other regions. The moves seem to have had the opposite effect, and the federal government is less influential today with the regions than it was when the power play started.
On institution-building, the federal government has done nothing to build the constitutionally-mandated organs of government that are essential to the formation of the Somali state. These include the Constitutional Court, which could have arbitrated between the federal and regional governments; the anticorruption commission, which could have seized stolen property; and the Judicial Service Commission, which must exist in order to reform the judiciary.
The priority of the executive seems to be to have unchecked power. To that end, they have removed the speaker of parliament and installed their own; removed the chairman of the High Court, and installed their own; removed members of the High Court, and installed their loyalists. All three arms of government are currently firmly under control of Villa Somalia.
The executive is further attempting to cement its authority through the constitutional review, which should produce more power to the centre and less for the regions for it to reach their expectation. If that happens, it will only cause more gridlock and further destabilise the Somalia state formation process.
President Farmaajo is not known to have personally benefited from financial misappropriation. However, all his major anticorruption promises have been unfulfilled. He still has an opportunity to leave a shining legacy if he takes the recommended steps towards accountability.