After failing to hold elections in December last year, Somalia is tipping beyond a failed state as political statehooders plot to push President Muhammed Abdullahi Farmaajo out of office.
A report by the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies released on March 7, 2021, says Somalia has been dismally underperforming in key benchmarks of good governance namely, rule of law, government effectiveness, political stability, public participation, accountability, transparency, and control of corruption.
Somalia is thus consistently ranked as one of the world’s least transparent and the most corrupt countries, further eroding public confidence.
Titled Impediments to Good Governance in Somalia, the report points out that the incomplete nature of the provisional constitution exacerbates political instability.
The media landscape is listed “not free” to meaningfully monitor actions of those in power, as the voice of the civil society is rarely accommodated by the governing elite due to the fragmented nature of civil society as well as the absence of state institutions interested in amplifying or implementing calls for reforms.
The study aims to assess the impediments to good governance in Somalia, paying particular attention to the federal government which the international community has been providing with financial and political support for 20 years.
According to Afyare Elmi, an assistant professor of International Politics at the Qatar University's International Affairs Department, the Somalia state is dominated by corrupt and dishonest diaspora politicians who are not serious about the country’s future.
President Farmaajo was elected in 2017 when he was an American citizen and was forced to denounce the citizenship two years later due to local pressure.
“The fragility of the Somali state and the embedded bad governance lies in the utter failure to connect citizens to the process of state building,” said Mr Elmi.
The constitutional court, which is supposed to review draft legislations, determine the legality of laws passed by the federal parliament and resolve political disputes between the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States and organs of the federal government is yet to be established
“This, in turn, generates what seems to be an incessant political instability and government ineffectiveness, in terms of preventing random outbreaks of violence and offering nationwide security and service delivery,” says the report.
The report notes that Somalia fits what Douglass North, an American economist and social scientist described as ‘‘limited order’’ of governance in which access to state resources is a privilege and not a right, and there is neither a dominant actor in terms of preventing a random outbreak of violence nor is their respect for the rule of law.
After the decades-long state of regression and despair, the report says that Somalia is on a political cliff where 80 percent of citizens live on or below the poverty line.
This is despite the country being endowed with the largest marine resources in Africa, abundant livestock and agricultural land which, if the country gets its governance right, could easily make it the breadbasket for the Horn of Africa. Somalia has one of the best climate for fruits, especially bananas.
Youth unemployment now stands at 67 percent, given that for 30 years there has been no formal education and the youth are susceptible to Al-Shabaab ideology.
The study was conducted through interview s with 23 government officials, parliamentarians and members of civil society, academics, journalists, federal judges, and attorney generals.
The researchers also interviewed policy practitioners in the banking sector and public institutions and members of the Independent Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission.
The report indicates that benefits of the fragile state have not tricked down to the ordinary people, resulting in citizens who are seriously disaffected from politics. Political actors in Somalia neither seek consensus nor offer incentives to the public for political participation,” it says.
Last week, under the caucus of the Council of Presidential Candidates led by former presidents Shariff Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud accused Farmaajo of sabotaging the discussions that were called by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble with the leaders of Puntland and Jubbaland to solve the stalemate over the September 2020 election agreement.