The plan to build a house for former Somalia President sparks a moralistic debate

Bile D. Essa

Moralising the plan to build a house for a former president shows the opportunistic deployment of moralistic arguments to make a political point

Former Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed does not own a property in Mogadishu.

Kismaayo (Commentary) — Are supporters of former Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed right to pitch in to build a house for him? This could be an essay question in a political philosophy examination.

Opponents of the plan point out that fundraising for drought victims is a relatively defensible proposition. Supporters of the plan counter that, since President Mohamed does not own a house in Mogadishu, he deserves to have one built for him by supporters.

The gap between the two groups cannot be bridged easily. The successor of President Mohamed, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, owns properties in Mogadishu and abroad. How he acquired those properties is questionable. Even the The Economist, the propaganda-spewing newspaper, has mentioned “rampant corruption” during President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s first term (2012-2017).

President Mohamed oversaw the introduction of annual audit reports published by the Office of the Attorney General. That he is not accused of tolerating corruption is a remarkable record now being used as a yardstick for President Mohamud’s performance.

When President Mohamud returned to Mogadishu three years to begin campaigning and forming a political alliance, he stayed in one of his palatial houses in Mogadishu. Between 2013 and 2016 he issued presidential decrees that turned public territories in the capital into residential areas, and sold public properties to private entrepreneurs, as verified by the Financial Governance Committee.

Opponents of the plan to build a house for the former president argue that it is morally acceptable to divert money raised for the “presidential house” to funds administered by the Somalia Envoy for droughts and disasters Abdirahman Abdishskur.

The start-up capital for the newly created office for Abdishakur comes from United Arab Emirates, which claimed to have donated money to drought response in Somalia. The money UAE “donated” was illegally handed over to Emirates Ambassador in Somalia by the Somalia Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble who had been restrained by a presidential decree before President Mohamud took office.

In 2018 Mogadishu Airport security seized money in diplomatic pouches from UAE. Earlier attempts by Roble to release the money to UAE government was blocked by the former Somalia President. Moralising the plan to build a house for President Mohamed hints at the opportunistic deployment of moralksyarguments to make a political point.

Bile D. Essa