A letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Gedi

By Abdirahman D. Beileh, Ph.D A.

Mr. Prime Minister, as you endeavour to put together a representative government (whatever that means!), and as you try not to fail again, you would need some advice and lots of luck. Dealing with such a group under such a circumstance would be like herding cats. A very difficult undertaking, indeed.

let me provide you with some of my views on one approach that could probably help as you forge ahead. I would like to propose quantification of the process by assigning specific weights to the main positions of the government, discuss and agree on these weights before nominating any one. The 4.5 formula will then be used to distribute the points to clans. Such a process would ensure comparability among the 4.5 clans which would further mean that getting such and such a Ministerial portfolio would no longer be an issue as long as the points given to each clan is equal to those given to the others. I hasten to state that this is not the way to go about selecting candidates for such important government positions but this is made inevitable by the current abnormality of the situation. The fact remains that any approach that could minimize friction of clans ( politicians in fact) and could enhance reconciliation should be given a try. Of course, needless to say that it is up to you to take this approach or not. Only to remind you all that what you do there in Nairobi and how you do it will have an everlasting effect on the lives of men and women of this beleaguered nation. It merits your recognition and undivided attention that history is being recorded and written as you deliberate on the future of the country and, like it or not, your actions will have a place in this history. A great opportunity for you to collectively make the necessary turn and bring back the dignity of this nation as a useful member of the international community of nations.

Proposing a small government will do you a lot of good and gain you credibility among the international community whose recognition and resources you so desperately need. Granted, you are forced by the prevailing circumstances to satisfy a great number of faction leaders to give peace a chance but, surely, you can not satisfy every Dick and Harry whose sole aim is to get nothing less than a ministerial post, regardless of his/her capacity to manage such an awesome responsibility. I suggest that you do not waste too much time trying to satisfy all. Let me also remind all, if it would help, that the mighty USA has only about 15 ministerial posts, and the idea that Somalia, one of the poorest of all nations needs to feed and clothe over 80 Ministers, Deputy and Assistant Ministers is simply ludicrous. To insist on such an arrangement yet one more time would, I guarantee you, simply add to the collection of jokes and ridicule that have become a characteristic for the Somalis and their leaders over the past 15 years.

I also saw somewhere that some of the appointees to the Government recently disapproved by the Parliament, argued that some of the ministerial positions were "juicier than others" and therefore, declined to take up the "less juicy" ones. You wonder what the fuss is all about when the salary structure of all ministerial posts would hopefully be the same! Well, there is a news for these guys. It may have been 15 years or so ago when some of these folks last had positions in Government. In fact, I understand that for some, this will be their first ever government posts. It is instructive to note that the situation of governance today is much different from what it was 15 years ago, thanks, in part, to the demise of the cold war. There is now, moving in full gear, something called Good Governance, both economic good governance and political good governance, as the prerequisite for accessing donor funds without which no government of yours could move an inch forward given your current economic situation. So, juicy or not, no portfolio should be seen as anyone's own property but, instead, as a set of activities that one is mandated to manage for the PUBLIC against a fee called "Salary". No more, no less. Please take it that way and take it seriously.

Let me now present my proposed formula which, if agreed upon and implemented, may provide some elements of equality and balance among clans. The formula is based on the 4.5 idea but goes further to quantify and attach a value to each of the main positions, in terms of the work involved in these positions, starting from the President on down to the Parliament Speakers and Cabinet Positions. I also propose a leaner but more effective government that is based on the following assumptions.

Clan distribution formula and the assumptions:

1. Lean government of 17 Ministerial posts. Experience shows that large Governments are costly and terribly inefficient. But if deemed absolutely necessary to have a few Deputy and/or Assistant Ministers, then, their weights will be: 200 for A Portfolios, 150 for B portfolios, 100 for the C portfolios and 80 for the D Portfolios (see below for details);

2. Formula of 4.5 and the weights assigned to the positions will be used for distribution among clans;

3. No one clan gets more than 2,167 points of the total proposed points of 9,750 or according to the formula of 4.5 if additional posts are deemed necessary;

4. The Half Clan gets no more than 1,084 of the total proposed points of 9,750 or according to the formula if more positions are deemed necessary;

5. No one clan gets a combination of the President and a Category A Ministerial Portfolio positions;

6. No one clan gets a combination of the Prime Minister and a category A Ministerial Portfolio positions;

7. No one clan gets more than two of the category A portfolios;

8. All Permanent/Principal Secretaries and substantive Ministerial Directors will be professional technocrats and therefore will out for political consideration. The Governor and the Deputy Governor of he Central Bank, the Auditor General and Attorney General will also be technocrat non-political staff and will be procured on merit and competitive basis. Perhaps, initially, these positions could even be filled through Technical Assistance;

9. Activities that are short term in nature could be done through a short term arrangement, perhaps under one of the existing Ministries or by special committees/Task Forces attached to the President, Vice President, or to someone else. You do not need to create a whole Ministry for a short term ad hoc activity;

10. All the small balances, less than 80 points, remaining from any clan will be abandoned and reverted back to the pool for the discretion of the Prime Minster. If the sum of points remaining from all clans reach a position, for example, the Prime Minister will use it as a reconciliation gesture to one of the clans or as he sees fit.

It is advisable that these assumptions and the weights be discussed and cleared first with the Parliament before implementation. Once the weights and the positions have been agreed upon, any discrepancy in implementation could then be identified and rectified without too much problem.

I. The Ministerial Portfolios

I propose the following 17 Ministerial posts based on the experiences garnered from other comparable countries and given the present. Even this is too large a government and any attempt to reduce it further will be much welcome

1. Ministry of Finance (MOFIN)

2. Ministry of National Reconstruction and Economic Development (MONRED) {International Cooperation activities, including mobilizing resources for reconstruction and development are here.}

3. Ministry of Education and Culture( One PS and three main directorates, namely, higher education, lower education, and cultural affairs) MOECA
4. Ministry of Public Works and Transport (One PS and two main directorates) MOPWT.. {Ports and airports are here}.

5. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development ( includes, Livestock (one PS and three directorates, Traditional Agriculture (Crops and food security, Livestock and Rural Development) MOARD,
6. Ministry of Interior and Regional Governments MOIRG { Federal and Regional governance issues are here}

7. Ministry of Water and Natural Resources (One PS and two main directorates) MOWNR.. {Environmental issues are here}.
8. Ministry of Information and Tourism (One PS and two main directorates) MOIT
9. Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Private Sector Development. (One PS and three main directorates) MOCIP

10. Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW)

11. Ministry of National Defence (MOND)

12. Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MOPT)
13. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)

14. Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs (One PS and two main directorates) MOJRA

15. Ministry of Labour and Employment affairs (MOLE)

16 Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (One PS and two main directorates) MOFMR

17. Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS)

II The Government will comprise the following

1- The President

2- The Prime Minister's Office
    Deputy Prime Minister

3- The Speaker of the Parliament
    First Deputy Speaker
    Second Deputy Speaker

2          Cabinet

Name                                                  Category                                 Weights

1.          MOFIN (1)                                        A                                 550

2.         MOFA (13)                                        A                                 550

3.         MOEC  (3)                                        A                                 550

4.         MONRED (2)                               A                                 550

5.          MOND (11)                                      A                                 550

Total Points for Category A Ministries                                              2,750


6.            MOARD (5)                                      B                                  500

7.            MOWNR (7)                                     B                                  500

8.            MOIRG  (6)                                       B                                  500

Total points for category B Ministries                                              1,500


9.            MOJRA (14)                                      C                                 400

10.          MOHSW (10)                                    C                                 400

11            MOCIP (9)                                        C                                 400

Total points fro category C Ministries                                              1,200


12        MOPWT (4)                                       D                                 300

13.       MOIT    (8)                                         D                                 300

14.       MOPT (12)                                         D                                 300

15        MOLE (15                                          D                                 300

16        MOFMR (16)                                      D                                 300

17        MOYS (17)                                        D                                 300

Total points for category D Ministries                                              1,800


Total points for all the positions                                                  9,750                         

According to the FORMULA

- The 4 main clans will each get a maximum combined points of 2,167, which means a total for the 4 of 8,668

- The half clan will get a maximum combined points of 1,084

- The total points will then add up to approximately 9,752 for all positions.

· One example of how the FORMULA would work for a typical main clan:

Positions Points

President 1,000
1. Category C Portfolio 400
2. Category D portfolio 600
1. Category B. Deputy Minister 150
Total points 2,150
Balance to revert to the pool 17 points

Good luck

Abdirahman D. Beileh, Ph.D A.beileh@AfDB.ORG