BY Mohamed F. Yabarag
As widely anticipated, the mayor of Borama accused of stealing public money (taxpayer’s money) in the tune of hundreds of millions of Somaliland shilling by the auditor general had been let off the hook, thanks largely to the governor of Awdal and the inept minister of interior. Ahmed Xaddi Sidci aka Xaddi Oromo has fought tooth and nail to make sure that his man – and not the mayor elected by the councilors – stays in office. The rumor mill is that bribery money was the determining factor in this sensitive case.
Consequently, fourteen elected officials were simply overruled and tossed away by un-elected officials on the false pretense that they did not follow the local government procedures.
For governor Sidci and the minister of interior, the strict adherence to the procedures and formalities of the local government is more important than protecting the public purse, if we have to believe their words. In this latest Borama fiasco, democracy is simply pushed aside and replaced by dictatorship and bureaucracy. The so-called investigation carried out by the deputy minister of interior, who just arrived in Borama yesterday on the taxpayer’s money to tackle this divisive problem, had simply turned out a whitewash.
What a farce! In Silanyo’s Somaliland corruption, embezzlement and misappropriation of public fund seem to pay dividends. It is a common practice in Somaliland that both central and local government officers loot public money with impunity. And all they need to do to steer clear of hot water i.e. to avoid the long arm of the law (if there is one) is to share the loot with their immediate top bosses.
Oozing with confidence, the man many believe to be the most corrupted mayor ever to graze in Borama council had now been given a new lease of life to continue doing what he does best: misappropriate and misuse the meager resources of Borama council for his personal and clannish use. While high ranking officials are currently lurking in the filthy jail of Hargiesa for allegedly stealing a few hundred sacks of donated food, the lowly mayor of Borama, believed to have stolen millions, literally millions of taxpayer’s money collected from the poorest section of the community is simply let off the hook and may be laughing all the way to bank.
In yesterday’s verdict, the deputy minister of interior had simply given the mayor a free license to further embezzle the public fund. For those who are not familiar with the background of the story, the mayor of Borama had allegedly set up a whole new tax collection system outside the official one and a whole new staff was recruited for this illegal undertaking. In the meantime, vouchers/receipts were clandestinely printed in Hargeisa printing house to facilitate this fraud. Indeed, a very serious crime had taken place and no one is accounted for thus far.
Following a tip-off by members of the local government, the office of audit general had immediately started an investigation into the matter, which resulted several members of alleged fraudsters either in jail or on the run. A fraud as serious as the one allegedly committed by the current mayor should never have gone unpunished. The deputy minister of interior should have the guts and courage to ask the mayor to step aside, at least temporarily, until a thorough investigation is completed. No discussion about the misappropriated public money, no discussion on the auditor’s accusations against the mayor and no reprimand on the future conduct of the mayor. Everything is swept under the carpet. The auditors must be kicking their heels.
In the press conference that followed the meeting between the deputy interior minister and the councilors, it was crystal clear that the official from Hargeisa was totally biased towards the mayor and his supporters. The expression of his face said it all. According to Moumin Gadeed who spoke with Harowo.com, the man who should be running the council as the new mayor, the ministry of interior had chosen to side with the alleged fraudster instead of siding with the public and its elected councilors.
As mentioned by another councilor, Nuur Rayaale, a new dawn of corruption had begun for Borama council where “thieves” (his words not mine) are glorified. The irony in this sorrow saga is the fact that even the educated elite, community leaders and clan leaders have all put their weight behind an accused public figure instead of waiting for the final outcome of the story. Some have even threatened with public disorder and violence if their man was removed. It looks they got their wish.
On the other hand, a campaign is currently under way on the part of Borama traders to avoid paying tax until this mayor is if office. This will spell disaster for a cash-strapped council. In Ahmed Silanyo’s government, corrupted officials are not only tolerated but rewarded in their malpractices.
Mohamed F. Yabarag
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Dillapress.com editorial policy