Somalia is entering in an electioneering season that is characterized with lobbying, political traps, begging for parliamentary seats and undisclosed plans.
There are squabbles between the Federal Member States and the Federal Government, bickering among the top leaders of the Lower House, severed and sour relationship between Upper
House and the Lower House, series of inter and intra clans/sub-clans meetings to establish political allies and worse more grievances from certain clans that their seats were relocated or they have no representation in the Parliament/government.
The hotels in Mogadishu are teemed with politicians, thronged to swing the parliamentary seats into the direction of their interest to ascertain their re-selection. The electoral process is not yet clear, however there are attempts to agree on a viable electoral process. In politics, the closest friend forgets the ordeal you underwent together and becomes a foe because of vested interests. That’s why Somalis say,
“Siyaasad dan joogto ah moyee maleh saaxib joogto aha” meaning politics has regular interests but no regular friend.
History indicates that some seats in the parliament were nullified by High Court in 2016 due to the election irregularities involved. Blood was shed and lives lost (in some cases) in the struggles to occupy a parliament seat.
The inevitable altercations that even ended in blows still haunts many. The 2016 parliamentary elections symbolled baleful predictions of what the presidential elections could be.
The Honourable MPs who sat on the 2016 seats are of two folds regardless of how they occupied the seat: one fold were and are still in connection with their constituents and try to solve community needs or empathise with them if solution to community needs is beyond their reach.
Such MPs are seen visiting their constituencies launching or handing over projects or even mobilizing resources to solve a communal problem. This kind of connection breeds loyalty to the sitting MP and propensity of their re-election is beyond doubt.
The second fold of MPs are those with nagging fear or insecurity that their office terms is numbered and cut bonds of their constituents. They never visit their “community” and their last time to interact with people from their constituents is the day they were begging for the seat.
They went into complete hibernation and some of them are entangled into the wrangles between the government and the oppositions. Such Honourable MPs may have never raised their voice during parliament sessions or vocalized their sentiments about the suffering of their “community”.
To the dismay of their constituents, the second fold of MPs (not all) were not seen after securing the seats by means of violence or by peaceful negotiations marred by bribing the selection committee and championing through other vices of corruption.
To many, elections in Somalia is that fortunes and misfortunes are intertwined: one wins a parliamentary seat to become extremely devout MP to support his/her constituents or vanish completely and to be seen or heard when election bells are ringing. It is a four years term of insanity. The other side of the coin are the losers (they lost through legal or illegal means) to see the seat disappear from their sight and waiting for the four year term to come to an end so that they retry their luck.
Imagine! The same MP who vanished, never connected to the best interest of the community, never mobilized resources to answer needs of his/her constituency and never contributed in community groups is seeking my vote again to disappear another four years! As the election approaches, I would like to amplify that this kind of representation is completely egregious.
How can you persuade me to vote for you (or even select you) when I still feel the pain of the past four years you were MP? What signs of development at least have you initiated to pave the way for your re-selection? If you have no answers to these questions, please step aside and clear the way for the devoted candidates. Somalia is staggering towards accountability and transparency and we shall never go back to the dark days.
My clarion call to the Somalis is that elections are the only times we can attest to those who did well in their tenure and those that failed the nation. Let us ensure we lend the seats to those who deserve in terms of ability and credibility. Let us consider the interest of our nation as one good MP can inspire fellow MPs to steer the country in the right direction.
Let us not try to repeat the same mistakes again by re-electing those who never passed the litmus paper.
To change the status quo, vote for those who unite but never divide, those who connect to the community but never distance themselves from the community, those who appear when need arises but never disappear during hardships, those whose presence is felt in Parliament but not those who only warm desks, those whose children stay in the country to feel the pain but not those who evacuate when situation becomes hard, those who are cordial enough to heed to your call but not those that close their offices/houses when you need them.
History tells us that youthful MPs have been approachable to their constituents and had regular connections with their community. Let’s not select or vote for a candidate because he is of your closest clan/sub-clan but based on what we do expect from him/her. Let’s base our arguments or justification of the candidate of our choice on national interest but not on lines of clan. If we don’t act on our senses now regret shall be our end result.
I pray that we have MPs with sense of nationalism and patriotism in the next Parliament, that are deeply connected to their constituents who feel pity for those dying because of poor roads or lack of health services. I pray sincerely that we select those who deserve to occupy parliamentary seats because of their qualification not because he/she if from my line of clan.
Muktar Abdi Hussein (Fodey)
Public Policy Analyst and an Independent Researcher
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Jowhar.com’s editorial stance.