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SPECIAL REPORT: Corruption allegations rattle Somaliland’s government

In Somaliland, political and corporate influences play a key role in evading public scrutiny

by Judy Maina,

NAIROBI– The finance minister of the breakaway northern Somalia territory of Somaliland who is responsible for the annual fiscal budget and the issuance of adequate regulations for their executions is under criminal investigation over allegations of fraud, bribery and misuse of public funds, officials said.

The scandal surrounding more than $2 million in state spending, parts of $6 million budget meant for various public sectors that Ms. Zamzam Abdi Adam’s had allegedly used to purchase personal properties and farms in the region has shaken public trust in the government.

A senior Somaliland official told Alleastafrica that the minister’s significant relationship with the president made it difficult for the anti-corruption commission to conduct a proper investigation into the allegations of corruption.

Some of the commission’s members have also been bribed by the minister to avoid public scrutiny, officials say.

Some of the funds missing from public coffers were approved by the government to execute public projects including Agriculture, Land Management, Local Production Motivation, Good Governance, Economy and Public property.

One official privy with the probe by the president’s office alleged that the minister, a Somali-British economist had used some of the money to buy shares from the local telecom giant Telesom, using her stooges at the ministry.

Somaliland's finance minister Zamzam Abdi Adam
Somaliland’s finance minister Zamzam Abdi Adam

Using its corporate influence, the company had reportedly pushed for a tax exemption status, which resulted in a partial relief from taxes, thanks to the minister who succeeded in implementing a 60% tax exemption for the company.

However, analysts warned that efforts by the officials, mostly from opposition parties to bring criminal charges against her for alleged misuse of state money will fail due to corruption tolerance by leaders, a scenario which was attributed to the increasing corruption culture in the enclave.

Ms. Adam whose tenure has been hit by allegations of state graft hasn’t returned to calls seeking comment.

However, local media reported that corruption cases increased since the incumbent president of Somaliland Ahmed Silanyo came to power four years ago

”Millions of dollars have been stolen from the people by the group of individuals close to the current system. Corruption is one of the main factors damaging the dignity of our nation.” reported by the local Somaliland Informer Daily.

The breadth of the corruption now coming to light has astonished even government officials.

“This calls the government’s publicity of transparency and good governance into question.” A Somaliland minister said by phone from Hargeysa, Somaliland’s capital. He declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Millions of dollars are channeled through the Somaliland government by donors every year to promote good governance, infrastructure and security.

Somaliland, a breakaway region in northern Somalia has declared a unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991; however, no country has so far recognized it as an independent state.

(Additional reporting by a stringer in Hargeisa, editing by Jeff Mwaura)

You can contact our stringer in Somaliland at:

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