Mogadishu, Somalia –
During a parliamentary committee question session, Jibril Abdirashid Haji, the Minister of Commerce and Industry in Somalia, shockingly admitted on live TV that he would prioritize hiring his family members and relatives if job opportunities become available. His sickening remarks, which shocked the Somali public, virtually endorsed nepotism and political corruption.
On a Tuesday Parliamentary session, Mohamed Abdalla Ahmed, a Member of the Parliament (MP) of Somalia, confronted Mr Haji with nepotism and favouritism when hiring employees. The MP claimed that qualified Somali workers had been dismissed while the Minister’s clan and family members were appointed instead. Some of these newly appointed individuals reportedly did not fulfil their work responsibilities, yet, they still received a competitive salary.
Shocking everyone present, the Minister jumped into the MP’s speech, interrupting Mr Ahmed by rhetorically asking: “Who said they can’t be hired?” The Minister assured everyone he would hire his brother or sister without hesitation. “The person closest to me in terms of family is the one I hire or employ, and I’m telling you. … Don’t accuse me of what you would have done if you were in my position,” he added astonishingly.
“Not only those you [the MP] have named. If I get new positions [to fill up], I will employ family members. If I get the budget, the first people I will hire are the ones that voted for me,” said the Commerce Minister with no apparent sign of shame.
Approval from the highest places
Proclamations like this, which seem too bizarre to be true, could not be so blatantly displayed without a sense of security. It is hard to imagine that in other parts of the world, a cabinet member would openly subscribe to family hiring – an utter display of political corruption – and stay in their office for more than a few more minutes.
To openly admit family favouring without even an element of shame, one needs to feel safe within the whole political system. Notably, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said it is OK for the President, Prime Minister, or Ministers to hire their relatives because they are citizens like anyone else and therefore have the same rights.
The President pointed out instances where people complained about certain positions or offices being reserved for specific clans. According to Hassan Sheikh, this would be an unfair accusation and denial of rights for high-ranking government officials and their relatives. The President emphasized that the nation’s leaders are citizens chosen by the people, and their relatives, friends, children, and families deserve equal rights and should not be subjected to any restrictions.
The President’s words have empowered the Ministers to abuse their authority, as they perceive the highest office in the country has given its approval. This may lead to a situation where the Ministers feel justified in terminating workers within their respective ministries and replacing them with close family members. The lack of restrictions or accountability can result in favouritism and nepotism within the government, undermining fairness and merit-based employment practices.