Somaliland’s Syndicate: Politicians, Traditional Leaders, Businessmen
In Somaliland, there is a syndicate group who work together to get as much money and power as they could at the expense of the public. This syndicate group consists of three sub-groups: politicians, traditional leaders and businessmen. Together they are less than 10% of the population but they own more than 90% of the wealth. Not only that, they also control the state and the people. Each group has its power or authority and uses this power/authority to enrich themselves.
In order to make my argument simple and clear, let me simplify for the reader. Remember, each clan has its own syndicate group—politicians, traditional leaders and businessmen. To show how a syndicate group works together within their particular clan, let us take a hypothetical scenario. Let us take one particular clan and call it “Clan X.” The following is how Clan X’s syndicate group works together.
Traditional leaders have full authority over their clan and use their power/authority to get as much wealth as they could. The way they use their power/authority is to make deals with politicians and therefore sell their clan’s vote or support to the highest bidder (within every clan there are many competing politicians). Usually, when a politician seeks to be elected, re-elected or appointed, he seeks to secure the votes or support of his clan. But the politician cannot get his clan’s vote or support unless he gets the support and approval of traditional leaders who speak on clan’s behalf. So, the politician has to pay the traditional leaders in order to get their approval.
But most politicians do not have enough money when they run for an office or seek to be appointed. Therefore, they seek financial help from the businessman while promising that they—the politicians—would help the businessman if elected or appointed. Therefore, the businessman helps the politician financially by either paying directly the traditional leaders on his behalf, or giving the money to the politician in order for him to pay the traditional leaders. As soon as the traditional leaders get paid, they recruit their clan members to support the highest bidder.
Now, the traditional leaders owe the politician and the businessman a favor because they pay them. The politician owes the businessman a favor because he helps him financially. And the politician and the businessman owe the traditional leaders a favor because they gave them their clan’s vote or support. It is a quid-pro-quo agreement—which means, “I want something, you want something. You give me what I want and I will give you what you want.”
Now the politician is in a public office and has the authority to implement policies or has access with other public officials. It is time for him to return the favor and also to enrich himself. The politician pays traditional leaders regularly or when he needs their assistance. In return, the traditional leaders protect the politician whenever he is accused of corruption or abuse of power.
Then the politician shows the government that his clan supports the government since he has the approval of his traditional leaders. To prove this to the government, the politician gives traditional leaders money and asks them to go on TV or websites and announce their support for the government. They usually say, “We are traditional leaders of ‘Clan X’ and we fully support the government.” If the politician is an opposition to the government, he does the same thing. The traditional leaders go on TV or websites and announce their opposition to the government. We see this on TVs or Somaliland websites all the time.
Now, the government will not rush to replace the politician because they don’t want to upset his traditional leaders and, therefore, his clan. This authority and protection gives him the confidence to steal taxpayers’ money and misuse of his power with impunity.
The politician also makes deals with the businessman. Let us say that the businessman wants to pay less taxes and tariffs when selling, buying, importing or exporting. Therefore, the businessman needs the politician to help him pay less taxes/tariffs. For example, the businessman imports goods and has to pay taxes. If the businessman thinks that the tax he owes is too much, he contacts with the politician and seeks his help to reduce the taxes.
Now, the politician calculates the amount of the tax that the businessman owes. Then the politician contacts the port manager and asks him, as a favor, to reduce the tax amount that the businessman owes. After he discuss with the port manger, he tells the businessman to pay one-third of the taxes he supposed to pay. For example, if the businessman owes US$50,000 of taxes, the politician asks him to pay only two-third (approximately US$33,000). No businessman refuses this offer. When an agreement is reached, the businessman gives some money to the politician as well as the port manager. As a result, the businessman does not pay the required tax.
The result: traditional leaders get paid by initially selling the votes of his clan and regularly from the politician; the politician steals tax-payers money with impunity; and the businessman pays less taxes or tariffs. This cyclical maleficence led this poor country to get even poorer.
To appease the public, the syndicate sub-groups take different approaches.
Traditional leaders tell their clan that they should support a particular politician (especially who pays them) or a political party (which also pays them or promised them to appoint their politician). Traditional leaders appeal to their clan by using an explicit clan language and clan sentiment. They unequivocally tell their clan members that since their “son” or “clan member” is holding such a position, they should support him.
The politician takes another approach. He constantly tells the public to keep their peace and stability; that our budget is too small to solve their problems; that their situation is going to improve when Somaliland is recognized; and my-all-time favorite “dalkeena nimcaa fadhida” which loosely translates to “our country is prosperous,” etc. These are sickening and deliberate lies.
The businessman takes different approach. He doesn’t talk to people publicly as traditional leaders or politicians. But he makes secret meetings with other clan businessman and clan members and encourages them to support their traditional leaders and politicians.
This syndicate group are social parasites and should be exposed and challenged.
Abdi Husssein Daud
He can be reached at: email@example.com
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