Lessons from the Qalbi Dhagah inquiry? – UM

Abdikariim Sheikh Muse, Qalbi Dhagax Photo/ Google

Mogadishu, (UM) – The Parliamentary Committee on the review of the case regarding Qalbi Dhagah has come to an end. Somalia’s Parliament agreed with the confusing judgment of the Committee which appeared to have made no solid decision. The Committee spread the blame well and raised further questions regarding the bigger picture, as they saw it, surrounding the matter.

Ummadda Media was the first media to call for an independent inquiry into the Qalbi Dhagah matter and we are glad it has now concluded. However, there are vital lessons to be learnt from the overall experience.

Lesson 1: Facts

The facts are always important in any independent inquiry but in the case of Qalbi Dhagah it was always going to prove difficult to ascertain. There was too much emotion surrounding the whole matter and the contradictory statements and misinformation by the Government and its key officials made the situation worse. The opposition MP’s and activists were no better as most saw this as an opportunity to exploit to weaken the Government which it really was not.

The Committee’s report must be commended for its honesty regarding the lack of credible facts and evidence to make a sound conclusion. However, they stopped short of admitting that they may not have been the most qualified to investigate the matter given their lack of expertise and own biases. Next time, hopefully for the sake of this Government it is a long time away, all investigative matters must be assigned to the relevant and most qualified agencies or persons who should be tasked with presenting their findings publicly without fear or favor.

Lesson 2: Government coordination

The Qalbi Dhagah issue exposed the Government’s vulnerability in responding effectively to the barrage of complaints and accusations against it by sections of the Somali people. The Qalbi Dhagah issue was most terrifying for the President and Prime Minister because both have championed anti-Ethiopian sentiments in the past to win popular support. In the end, political and diplomatic necessity shut them both up when the Somali people expected them to scream. Opposition is a luxury and Government is responsibility. This is the fact that both the President and Prime Minister must recognize and act on by organizing their Government better, coordinating its activities and disciplining rogue elements in the Security forces that appear to act like internationally jet-setting movie stars capitalizing on their short period in the limelight at the expense of their authority. Strategic coordination, clear guidance and control of security forces and their respective civilian oversight mechanisms will not only avoid another Qalbi Dhagah scenario but it will increase public confidence in the Government.

Lesson 3: Crisis management

Crisis like Qalbi Dhagah must be managed quickly and effectively otherwise it spreads like a disease and any representation by the Government after the fact becomes defensive. Couple that with Minister’s the people have not elected directly, know well and do not trust and the situation becomes much worse. The Qalbi Dhagah issue was blown out of proportion by the poor response and communication of the Government. The silence of the President and PM sabotaged their case in the eyes of the public and there can be no denying this.

Everything that happens has a reason and undergoes process. The Government must work quickly to understand these and communicate it as honestly as possible to the people. Attempting to appease both diplomatic partners and the Somali people with silence will always fail.

The sacking of the NISA and Police Chiefs after the Naasa Hablood two and Zoobe attacks helped to calm the situation but the former’s initial blunders in the Qalbi Dhagah arrest should have seen him sacked sooner for his incompetence and to save public face. Crisis management is a skill this Government needs to get better at because it appears to be a recurring issue that will only increase in frequency given the great challenges this Government is facing including Security and the federalism process.