Published On: Sat, Jul 30th, 2011

Much more required from Somaliland’s ministers

Independence and self reliance are essential characteristics of the peoples of the Horn of Africa. People who for centuries have lived by their wits have survived in a seemingly barren and hostile terrain. To the wider world this steely determination causes considerable puzzlement and results in outsiders misreading the situation time and again. For many foreign journalists and policy makers it is easier to fall back on hackneyed stereotypes or look elsewhere. Periodically outsiders decide the region warrants some interest and dust off the old clichés and recycle them shamelessly. Seemingly intelligent individuals ask inane questions and rarely venture beyond the obvious and so it would appear that some in mankind would prefer not to learn.

The current drought and the resulting famine have elicited the usual headlines. Footage of emaciated infants and forlorn mothers stare out from news reports. Heads of NGOs make impassioned pleas whilst for a time pooling their efforts for the common good. Of course there are strict guidelines as to what constitutes famine and as such the large international NGOs with their superannuated staff adhere to these protocols as if their livelihoods depended upon them, this invariably means they will wait until the eleventh hour before putting their co-ordinated plans into action. Anyone would think that there was an aid industry that requires a tragedy to justify their existence.

For all the regularity of such events it seems all the more surprising that no international giving indices have been established. Some nations with very healthy bank balances such as China, India and Germany would certainly not welcome such an initiative as they invariably prove to be rather parsimonious when it comes to charitable giving. Maybe the UN should be prevailed upon to produce league tables of giving, then again perhaps not the UN, as it is already excessively wasteful and bureaucratic. UN funders ‘buy’ influence shamelessly and seasoned observers know that there are vested interests who have little or no interest in optimising resources.

As states such as Somaliland and South Sudan seek to navigate their way through a complex web of intrigue that makes up life as part of the international community they will soon discover that seemingly intractable political problems at home seems as child’s play when compared with this. Duplicity and insincerity would appear to be the cornerstones of much diplomacy and younger nations soon learn that there is little room for sentiment when it comes to playing with the big boys. Self-interest is largely the order of the day and those alliances that are forged invariably fall back on that old adage – ‘My enemy’s enemy is my friend’. Having achieved international recognition South Sudan is likely to fall prey to those eager to fleece it of its birthright and thus it will need to assemble a talented and determined team of young diplomats capable not only of holding the line but thinking ahead and anticipating risk. Anyone who traces the route of the Nile can foresee potential tensions and flash points, when these flare up all the warm words at a nation’s birth are soon forgotten and the diplomats will require all the intelligence, memory and skill of a chess Grand Master.
Somaliland’s situation is all the more problematic. Currently endeavouring to free itself from a marriage it no longer desires it finds its partner unwilling and unable to accept that things have changed. Whilst it has largely liberated itself from Somalia’s capricious embrace it is yet to be granted the final annulment it so desperately seeks. Many in the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) cannot bring themselves to accept what has come to pass, whilst some in Somaliland are utterly incapable of talking of anything but the quest for a decree nisi. The UN periodically plays the role of a half-hearted marriage guidance counsellor, yet repeated counselling sessions in Djibouti and Nairobi have ended in abject failure. Add to this civil war, Jihadists, drought, maritime piracy and the machinations of various powers in the African Union (AU) and beyond and it is little wonder that many people are at a loss as how to proceed. It is understandable that some in Somaliland feel a sense of exasperation and injustice, but equally Somaliland’s Government must shoulder some of the responsibility for the lack of progress. There is no room for naivety in foreign affairs. The sight of President Silanyo glad handing tyrants such as Robert Mugabe at the South Sudan Independence celebrations was truly distasteful, and this was compounded by the fact that staff/advisors felt it was beneficial to Somaliland’s cause to release such images. If Somaliland truly believes in the justice of its case it has no need to seek endorsement from kleptomaniacs and blood stained despots. Silanyo and his officials should be investing time in establishing cordial relations with a raft of smaller African states and even the likes of the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles. Such nations have much in common for example limited access to water, deforestation, youth unemployment and the fact that they are often overlooked by the wider world. By coming together and establishing cultural ties especially in regards of the arts and sport much can be achieved. Such smaller nations empathise with Somaliland and are far more likely to support Somaliland in its quest for the recognition it so ardently desires.

The situation facing governments throughout the Horn requires a redoubling of effort at every level. Those elected to serve their nation must endeavour to lead by example. In Somaliland Government some ministers have little or no idea of what hard work is, arriving late at their offices and barely putting in an hour or two a day before they disappear off in their land cruisers for yet another heavy lunch. True and lasting respect will only come through hard work and on current evidence some in the Silanyo Government would be hard pressed to score 3/10 in this regard.

With the region briefly in the international media spotlight, albeit for many negative reasons the peoples of the Horn deserve to see statesmen like behaviour. Whilst there will be much wringing of hands this is not a time for countries to hold out the begging bowl. Nations need to demonstrate their resourcefulness, resolve and determination to address difficulties with or without the help of the world beyond. As Ramadan approaches there will be a need for minister to demonstrate a sustain commitment and resolve not token charity for the benefit of the media.
Mark T Jones

Displaying 19 Comments
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  1. Dayeer says:

    This is excellent advise from a true friend of Somaliland and its cause, for only a true friend would give such sincere and cogent advise, uncomfortable as it may be for some holding high office. In fairness, the criticism Mr. Jones makes of some ministers in the current government apply equally to some minsters in previous administration, however this can neither excuse such behaviour, nor render more palatable.

    The important point that Mr. Jones' piece highlights is that the manner in which Somaliland pursues its quest for recognition must itself form an important and integral part of the rationale it advances for such recognition. In essence, the way in which we govern ourselves, and the manner in which our elected officials conduct themselves, must form part and parcel of our claim to statehood and self government. If the fact that Somaliland has existed as a separate and defined territory since the 1880s and secured its independence from Britain on 26 June 1960 form the de jure rationale of our claim to recognition, then the representativeness of our government, the diligence of our elected officials and the openness of our democracy must form the de facto rationale.

    Thank you Mark Jones, may your advise be heard and heeded.

  2. Abraham says:

    Silanyo and Saylici as our elected leaders will have their record and reputation ruined if they do not decipline their ministers and sack those who are incompetent or unwilling to improve.

  3. Kayse says:

    The current gov isnt perfect and Mr Jonest advices are sound ones however they are far better than what we had before. We should not be worried about Kulmiye but rather who would replace them when it comes to the box pallot…Ucid is in total disarray, UDUB is no better…we need a strong opposition with new views and policies.

    The current government has made some progress and we wish to congratulate them on that but there is huge room for improvement.

    I am saluting President Silanyo and the Kulmiye government…keep up the good work and listen to your people.

    Yesterday the foreign Minister of Somaliland addressed the Chatham House, with British, American, Swedish, African, UN delegates, ministers, MPs and it was fruitful…Berbera corridor which will generate jobs and networks to Berbera to Wajale will now be under taken…

    Britain is doing fantastic job, we salute David Cameron, thank God Labor Party is gone, all they ever talk about is welfare, union, welfare and union.

    Somaliland is vital to the stability of the Horn, right now we can see at first hand the effect of the drought, many Southern Somalia's displaced families who would put more pressure on Kenya are now seeking shelter in Somaliland.

    We cant put all resources and pressure at one point, lets distribute the pressure…and resources. Somaliland is deserving.

  4. Dr. Bashe says:

    I have been reading this article without looking who the writer is. Thank you Mark. It is time for our leaders to give the good example to the population. Do their work and spend at least 10 hours in their offices. It is really unbelievable when you hear a delegation of 67 people has visited the Somali province of Ethiopia recently. The question is don’t these people have no work to do?

  5. Somalilander says:

    Thank you for your point of view 'Mark'. I must say that you have brought up some very valid points that need to be addressed but again fall in the category of 'Fighting is easy for a seated (spectating) hag'.

    On the ground here in Somaliland we are very proud of our current administration and advise them to the best of our ability and receive a genuine response every time. What must be understood is that they inherited a government in disarray and are working to the best of their abilities to make up for the lack of resources they are working with in order to fulfil their mandate.

    With regards to the lunches you mention, I know many of the Ministers and you would be hard-pressed to know that the only reason they go for these 'heavy dinners' is that because with their busy schedules they barely have time for meetings and even less time for lunch and have to kill two birds with two stones by conducting meetings during their personal breaks. And about the Land Cruisers? Would you prefer they drive smaller vehicles when they are our elected representatives and when many have volunteered to come here leaving six figure positions and a luxury life abroad?

    Making a difference is a hard thing and is a great sacrifice for those of us who choose to live in Somaliland and actively participate in its rehabilitation, nowhere as easy to be that 'old hag' that provides her two cents. I agree whole-heartedly with Kayse's statement above and as outlandish as some of his comments are sometimes, I honestly feel his comment trumped your entire article as he has a much more realistic perspective of the situation on the ground.


    Maxamuud-Aar 'Somalilander' Xuseen

  6. Somalilander says:

    Edit: With one stone.

    Also, while the President's shaking hands with Mugabe may have been questionable, you have to understand that our current foreign policy is that of making friends and not enemies.

  7. Boqoljire says:

    It's easy to critizise, but hard to understand reality on the ground. Mr. Mark is talking like a country that has everything abundantly and the elected ones must have time [100%] for the job entrusted. Its fair that they should do the job they should, but there are things that equaly needs to attend certain meetings, because the people [some of them] want that, and they need encouragement from the elected representative.

    The current government is doing its best and has done many during the short period of time, but our critizisms should only be 'the jokey raises his stick to show the horse that he needes to run faster". We should not deny that this government is doing its best, and has a vision to develop the country within their tenure of office.

  8. Jaabir Ali says:

    masha allah what a nice article Mr Mar T Jones, I appretiate what you wrote…J

  9. Abraham says:

    Wow today everyone is sounding like the Kulmiye Party chairman!! Mr Maxamuud-Aar, are you the government spokesman or perhaps its PR guru by any chance? You said the ministers are extremely busy to take their lunch break, right? Well on my last visit to Hargeisa I paid a visit to one of the ministries (I will not name and shame them here) two to three times and the minister was no where to be seen. I can tell you their lunch break starts shortly after the offices open their doors in the morning. Moreover, both Dr Gaboose and the minister of Health Dr Haashi I guess divide their time between their lucrative surgeries, their respective ministries, and their afternoon nap. Somaliland is full of patriotic, sincere, and well educated people who are willing to lead their country in the right direction. So if the current patch of ministers are not up to task, they should politely vacate their offices for other more capable leaders to move in.

    • Somalilander says:

      Did you have an appointment? Did you ask if the Ministers were in the country or in a meeting? Did you ask if the Ministers were preoccupied with their ceremonial duties? Why did you need to see a Minister? Could the DG of said Ministry not assist you as they are more technical than the Ministers who are actually mere politicians? But back to did you have an appointment?

      FYI: There is a weekly day designated by Ministries for them to conduct meetings with the general public without appointments, you can’t just waltz in and see them at your whim like they’re your uncle.

      Regarding why I defend: I do not support Kulmiye, I support the current administration. Until there is actually a better option I will continue to advise them of their faults while hoping for the next ‘party of change’ to emerge.

      I already see the same thugs from UDUB trying to regroup and ‘take back their throne’ under the guise of ‘change’ so they can go back to the good ‘ol days of milking the government coffers. I am open to alternatives but cannot see any clear opportunity as of yet.


      • Abraham says:

        No I neither had an appointment nor was I looking for the minister. Indeed, I was called by one of my uncles who works as a director in the ministry to meet him at his office and so took the opportunity to play a gentleman detective. But don't get me wrong, I am very happy that Kulmiye is in power as at the moment we have no better party; however there are a lot of things the government can do that needs no money but will make a great positive change in our society.

  10. amal says:

    Ramadan Mubarak to everyone!

  11. mohamoud says:

    Kulmiye leadership are incompetents comparing to Udub party leadership. The unity of Somaliland is disbanded and there is formation of states in the region such as SSC, Awdale and many others. Be realistic and change your political leaders ASAP.

  12. somaliland4ever says:

    Rather than criticize the government, why don't we work with the government to deliver the expectation we want. For us to change our leaders we want a party which is better and stronger and as far as I'm concern I don't see strong opposition party that is better.

    and mohamoud what can of a leader do you want for somaliland if you are so critical of kulmiye

  13. mohamoud says:

    Northern Somalis are not one tribe and they are not united in the current government. They have rights and no body can force them to be under the rule of Isaaq. There are other regional groups who were disbanded by the current leaders of Somaliland. Why Kulmiye are employing the worst people like the information minister. Do you call what he is doing in Lasanod is a good approach of getting Dhulbante people to be happy part of Somaliland and what is happening in Berbera, Buroa, Borama and Eregavo are not right and the people are disappointed. If you are sincere to yourselves how you can say that the people are happy and united to one cause? After the incident of Kashaale very thing in Somaliland are different and there are many political changes in the region.

  14. John Paulson says:

    My favorite Warren Buffett quote is this: Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it.

  15. A fixed exchange rate, sometimes called a pegged exchange rate, is a type of exchange rate regime wherein currency's value is matched to the value of another single currency or to a basket of other currencies, or to another measure of value, such as gold.

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