President Farmajo’s Patrimonial System of Governance: A recipe for renewed conflict and Insecurity

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Simply put Paul D Williams explains [su_highlight background=”#fff599″]“neopatrimonialism regimes are hybrid, uncertain, unstable and usually authoritarian systems of governance”.[/su_highlight]

In the context of Somalia, the risks of renewed conflicts are probably considerable, when considered the asymmetric daily attacks of Al-shabab and the politics of prebendalism coalesced around the system of patronage politics. For two years, the external assistance and off budget Qatari funds have perpetuated and sustained president farmaajo’s patrimonial system of governance. External resources have allowed president Faramajo to use state machinery to silence dissent voices, and through elite patronage and clientelism shrewdly established factionalization to divide and control the public.

This MOL editorial will analyse the patrimonial system of governance adopted by the president Faramajo as well as evaluate the dangerous insecurity it poses.

President Faramaajo has ingeniously used state security apparatus to suppress constitutionally enshrined rights such freedom of association and expression. The suppression of freedom of expression by silencing dissent voices, closure of political space and denying political opponents to hold public gatherings in Mogadishu in violation of [su_highlight background=”#d1ff99″]articles (18,19, 20) [/su_highlight]of the provisional constitution are few of the undemocratic and autocratic approaches used by the current administration. The use of excessive and undue force by NISA against political opponents has become prevalent. The consolidation of power through the purging of independent institutions of judiciary and the office of Auditor General and coalescing them into the executive, while suspending all other political programs clearly reflects with the autocratic behaviour of leaders who practice patrimonial systems of governance.

Nominating the chief justice of the country to 36 years old chap with no legal experience and no legal background clearly demonstrates the web of elite patronage created by president Farmajo for staying in power. In semi-democratic countries like Kenya, it takes approximately 30 years of judiciary experience to be appointed as the chief justice of the country, and to be confirmed must be exposed to a grilling vetting by the parliamentary oversight committee. In a similar manner, bribery is used against the legislature, by putting members of federal parliament including the two deputy speakers on the payroll of the executive branch, a known fact as admitted by some MPs last year in a VOA investigative dossier interview.

Consequently, the parliamentary oversight committee that found $42 million misappropriated funds by the Minister of finance was purged and replaced with handpicked MPs illegally and in violation of house rules and procedures. The two deputy speakers as fixers were paid off by the current administration to do the job, in fact the 1st deputy was rewarded with a new armourer vehicle worth over $ 140.000 and cash for an apartment he recently bought in Istanbul, Turkey. Resulting in a legislative oversight without check and balance on the executive- that is fictional in existence.

Patrimonial systems are sustained by a network of elite patronage and clientelism, president Faramaajo has cunningly setup a web of clan elites comprised of former politicians and current MPs on government payroll to stabilise and at times change public perception by spreading government propaganda, all these in the midst of widespread insecurity and daily attacks on civilians in Mogadishu.

Additionally, the fact the government misappropriated external resources allocated for security has compromised security and allowed Alshabab to be more aggressive in their daily attacks against civilians.

This insecurity is compounded by the vacancy of the position of the director general of National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) for more than 8 months and allowing the deputy director general Mr. Fahad Yasin who is president Faramaajo’s close friend and former campaign manager to run the agency. Mr. Fahad Yassin is a former Islamist who was a member of the defunct Al-Itahad Al-Islamiyah, then he became an active member of Islamic Courts Union from 2006-2010, he Joined Alshabab later and participated a reconciliation meeting to mediate Al-shabab and Hisbul Islam dispute, where he led the representatives from Al-shabab side, which comprised Ibrahim Afghani, Zakaria Ismail, and Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor, on Hisbul Islam side was represented by Hassan Dahir Aways, Omar Iman and Ahmed Islam aka Ahmed Madobe.

Mr. Fahad Yassin is also alleged to work for Qatar intelligence. No wonder, Mr. Fahad Yassin who was on the official delegation list of the Prime Minister to attend the world bank/IMF spring meeting was rejected to travel with Prime Minister at the departure gate by Homeland security staff. When the person entrusted to lead our intelligence is not welcome to a country that is our closest ally in the fight against Al-shabab insurgents- that speaks volume.

The common Achilles heel of patrimonial systems is satisfying patronage elites when the external resources dry out- a plausible phenomenon that explains the recent action of Somali national army in vacating defensive positions, as such reaction and public protests could slide the country back to a renewed conflict.

Now, the Faramajo administration can’t sustain the political patronage and public perception has changed and the public may take their frustration on the streets of Mogadishu as external resources are drying out and security deteriorates. If profound changes don’t take place within the next few months, and the patronage elites can’t keep up with their clans. The consequences of president Faramaajo’s patrimonial system of governance will be dire and the likelihood of renewed violence and insecurity.