By Hassan Keynan
Here he goes again. Somalia’s finance guru doing what he does best: mixing imagination, fiction, and deception to finance a gigantic fraud. For four years he toured the world, paid homage to the headquarters of the World Bank, IMF, and associated lender clubs. For four years, he attended myriad multilateral and bilateral meetings and held endless press conferences and media briefings. For four years the good doctor was engaged in a charm mission that painted the image of a country under a new management, led by a dynamic enlightened leadership, and in the trusted hands of a competent, effective, and clean government. He tweeted, wrote and talked about a country with great economic prospects firmly on the path to a smooth and full recovery and uncontaminated by corruption.
Obviously, this was an exaggerated claim aimed at impressing and courting the international community in the hope that it would keep propping up the colossal fiction he and Villa Somalia have been peddling. He cared less and knew little about the country and its traumatized people. Informed foreign observers and patriotic Somalis were fully aware that the country was in a fragile state and frequently prone to multiple and devastating shocks, risks, and threats. Villa Somalia and the government it led have been blighted by endemic corruption coupled with a corrosive culture of rent seeking and impunity.
Most importantly, the federal government was confined to a few enclaves in Mogadishu which were protected by African troops contributed by poor countries led by despots and whose salaries were paid by European tax payers. Villa Somalia governs only Mogadishu and depends on revenues extracted from the inhabitants of the Capital only. In fact, Farmaajo’s money man transformed the fleecing of Mogadishu into a predatory relationship built on an extreme version of taxation not only without representation but also without protection, social services, and accountability. To this can be added the taxes levied by Al-Shabaab, which makes Mogadishu a city saddled with the heavy and horrendous burden of double taxation.
Villa Somalia’s fork-tongued money man has shown he is exceptionally skilled in begging and borrowing for a predatory cabal. He is quite adept in cooking books and crunching numbers when the figures do not add up. But his eyes do not see the rot and evil all around him, and his ears do not hear the deafening cries and gut-wrenching ululations ringing across the country. The good doctor prefers to live in and operate from a cocoon of denial and self-delusion, unable and unwilling to see the sinister plot aimed at subverting the fragile constitutional order in the country. He is blissfully unaware of the mighty rage of grief and rebellion rapidly encroaching in on the sequestered enclave inhabited by him, his boss, and other members of the predatory squad.
As if all these were not enough, Farmaajo’s money man has never given up groping for another opportunity to deceive. He just announced yet another con trick to prop up an administration that is broke, irreparably broken & now illegitimate. When the honey pot of international dole dried up, he now calls on the Somalis at home and in the diaspora to fill the coffers of a kleptocratic administration. He appeals to the tired and deeply traumatized citizens of Mogadishu and elsewhere to come to the rescue of those who impoverished and tormented them, those who wantonly breached their trust and betrayed their country. He and the system he serves are not only broke economically. They are also morally bankrupt. No amount of shame, indignity, or disgrace is big enough or too grave to poke their thick sin or prick their cold conscience.
Farmaajo’s finance guru is blessed with a special flair for creative accounting and fictitious economy laced with a generous dose of self-delusion. If Somalia were Wakanda, Villa Somalia and its money man would have won plenty of Oscars, including best screen play, best director and best actor.
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Hassan Keynan is a former Professor at the Somali National University and a senior retired UN official who worked in Africa, Asia and Europe.
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