The year 2016 was the worst year for accountability in Somalia as political actors sought to use whatever means possible to win the indirect elections process. Civil servants and members of the Somali Police and NISA have been unpaid for 7 months; while salary payments for most units of the Somali National Army (SNA) were discontinued in late 2015; although, until mid-2016, some units continued receiving stipends that was not paid for by the Somali government. In addition to the non-payment of salaries, the Somali federal government sold off public lands, all with the intention of funding allies and loyalists to the ruling party in the indirect elections.
The elections, as a consequence, were rife with corruption. When delegates refused to take money and vote a certain away, they would be replaced, intimidated, harassed and, in some incidences that occurred in Galmudug and HirShabelle, shot. Adding insult to injury, candidates that had been disqualified for engaging in public corruption or violence by the conflict resolution body were reinstated, and others held sham elections and won.
As a result of the plundering of the state’s wealth in order to fund the election campaign of the president and his allies, security significantly worsened in 2016. Security forces take part in criminality in order to support their livelihood, further eroding public trust in the government. Extortion, robbery, murder, and torture are some of the more than 500 reports marqaati has received, mostly concerning the security forces.
As the election season comes to an end, the year 2017 will see less high-level corruption than 2016, no matter who wins. However, massive mid and low-level corruption will occur especially with the expected increase in food aid as a result of the drought. Officials and security officers that had not been paid for months will be expected to oversee the delivery of food aid. Unless they are paid their dues, even the best of them will take part in the loot.
While 2017 presents an opportunity to tackle corruption in Somalia, as most presidential candidates that have a good chance have said they will combat it, there needs to be more commitment by all stakeholders to demand transparency and closer monitoring of government activities by independent non-government third parties. Somalia’s international donors have a special responsibility to their taxpayers to demand accountability for their misused and embezzled aid monies.
Not keeping the rampant corruption in check will continue to erode public support for the government and lose it the little legitimacy it now has. Inaction will lead to insecurity that will affect not only Somalia, but the whole world, and also lead to mass migration of youth running away from a merciless terrorist group and a kleptocratic government . For the full report in PDF form, click here: Marqaati 2016 Corruption Report