By Ismail D. Osman
My critique of that piece is directed at three analytic principles that were present in the narrative of essay, namely the leadership qualities, the modus operandi and the outcome of the processes and lastly the knowledge base in the context of the political and cultural environment of the affected nation.
Let me start with the leadership quality: the essay states and I quote that “Ambassador Augustine P. Mahiga seems to be a man with a vision to come up with concrete steps that can lead Somalia out of the mess of this prolonged chaos for over two decades “. This raises the question of whether the descriptive attribute bestowed on Mahiga is a reflection of leadership quality. It is said by definition leadership is the ability to convince others to follow.
Firstly, since Mahiga initiated this grand project of the Road map to end the transition, we see members of the Somali parliament, civil societies including youth groups women’s movements and the Diaspora all opposing the direction Mahiga is taking the country, and now it has become obvious the donor community is skeptical on funding a project that is likely to fail. Let me now put this leadership quality into a historical context. To illustrate differences in leadership during UNOSOM I and UNOSOM II, Ambassador Sahnoun and Oakley’s diplomatic instincts allowed them to be flexible and judicious, whereas Ambassador Howe’s rigid, stubborn, and mediocre led to the complete failure of the mission. The leadership of such large operation as UNPOS must be carefully selected. The assessments of Mahiga’s performance are merely an approximation of personal view and does not reflect on the facts on the ground
With respect to the structural deficits in the context of modus operands; There is no coordination and working relationship between UNPOS and the TFG and there is no UN offices on the ground in Mogadishu despite repeated request from the TFG to relocate to Mogadishu so that service delivery can take place rather than the president or Ministers being told to come stay in hotels while they wait their per diem remunerations. There are capable cabinet members who challenged UNPOS staff to be equally accountable and transparent to the TFG. There has been consultative meetings scheduled and changed dates without notices due to internal infightings, there are procurement and sub-contracting of TFG jobs to private companies and close business colleagues. There is disconnection between UNPOS and the TFG in terms of capacity development of TFI. Ministries exist by name as they lack the funds to operate in their ministerial portfolio, while Mr. Mahiga is busy traveling around holding mock consultative meetings.
Within short period after Mahiga was named to SRSG for Somalia, he let go the only popular PM who was committed to bring peace back to Somalia, he concocted with Ugandan President his grand project of the Kampala accord where he intentionally violated the TFG charter by extending its term without due process of parliamentary ratification. Mahiga has contributed to the confusion during the end of the transition by holding conferences for emerging states and encouraging them so as to create more fiefdoms and mini-states in Somalia, in his latest trip to Hargeisa he was on record for promoting the break-up of the nations by telling Somaliland can secede from the union thus advancing policies that annul the integrity and sovereignty of Somalia
Finally, Mr. Mahiga lacks the knowledge and experience to be effective in a conflict zone and his modus operandi has been trail and error based process. One should not experiment as guinea pigs the lives of people affected by intra-war for more than two decades. Despite the concept of peacebuilding only added to the existing repertoire of UN operations after 1989, Mahiga and his UNPOS office lack the capacity to be engaged in other areas of concern which is interrelated, the relief and reconstruction of societies, the development of political and socio-economic institution through TFI support and developing of mechanisms to build trust and increase of sense of security by holding a genuine reconciliation process owned and led by Somalis.
In conclusion, the road map is bound for a failure when you consider the following facts; the security of the country has not improved even after Alshabab left from Mogadishu, AMISOMn forces and the TFG forces failed to secure areas vacated by departing Alshabab militias. The draft constitution is incomplete after four years of drafting without any wider consultation with Somalis inside and outside of the country and after 60 Million dollars spent, it still remains a half baked pie. As far as the Somali reconciliation process neither is concerned we Somalis never had a real and genuine reconciliation nor did we ever addressed collective clan and individual grievances. With regards to good governance International transparency once more put Somalia the most corrupt state in the universe, thanks to Ambassador Mahiga and his entourage of unskilled staff at UNPOS. Isn’t UNPOS main role is to stabilize the country’s political reconciliation for the past 16 years.
I must say without benchmarks in place to measure the success or failure of his leadership one should not write a self gratifying opinion essay about Ambassador Mahiga. In contrast, the facts on the ground point out differently that Somalia will remain in this conundrum unless Mr. Ambassador Mahiga is shown the door and that should be the wishes of Somalis across the country before the year 2012.
Ismail D. Osman
Executive Director of Somali National council.
Email: [email protected]