The Future of Banadir Region: Has Mayor Thabit Jumped the Gun? M. Ibrahim

Former Banadir Mayor, Thabit Abdi Mohamed

It is without a doubt Mayor Thabit has been instrumental political figure in Government and his short tenure as a Mayor of Banadir Region. His political commitment, dynamism, energy and compassion for the people of Banadir Region have been self-evident for the past six months. It is fair to say he has galvanised a large constituency of support home and abroad because of his willingness to go the extra mile for the people of Banadir Region. He was currently riding on the good will of the people of Banadir Region.

However, he has politically miscalculated the political environment and therefore, could not contain his political ambition. In my view, he has forgotten who has employed him and the lack of mandate his current office has in asking for more powers from the Federal Government. In the absence of direct Mayoral elections, it is the Federal Government that controls the destiny and make of Banadir Region under the Provisional National Constitution, which is not yet finalised.

At the time of writing this, I am already hearing the Mayor has lost his job due to political disagreements between him and the Prime Minister Hon Hassan Ali Kheyre. While there is no doubt a degree of personality contest between the Mayor and the Prime Minister exists, there are, however, fundamental political disagreements between the Mayor and the Prime Minister or Government. The political vision and reforms Mayor Thabit has aspired would have created a political constitutional crisis, which he has no mandate for.

Lobbying and working towards more fiscal autonomy and powers for Banadir Region is one thing, but to structurally reshape the political shape of Banadir Region is politically ill-considered vision that will create unnecessary political conflict across the country. The end goal of such vision would be a Federal State for Banadir Region with its own elected President. This will render the Office of the Presidency and the Prime Minister null and void. This would have left Mogadishu City having two competing presidents, which will be unconstitutional and a political quagmire at best.

Former mayor, Thabit has failed to appreciate Mogadishu city already enjoys the political and fiscal privileges of other major global cities such as London or Paris. Mogadishu city is unique to other cities/regions in the country as being the capital of the Somali nation, a unifying base for the identity, political and economic shape of the whole of the country.  Within these privileges, Mayor Thabit has a unique opportunity to collect and exercise more taxes/resources and political capital efficiently for the city. This required small reforms and better management of resources within the Banadir Region. Such task does not need a constitutional change of makeup of the Banadir Region – this would have been unnecessary power grab beyond his Office.

In summary, there are other means available at his disposal for protecting the rights of the Banadir region residents.

Assessing from far, it is my conclusion Mayor Thabit, despite his good will and energy, has jumped the political gun and the Prime Minister is right to sack him if the Mayor has refused to make political concessions on this fundamental political vision, which is likely to create unnecessary political confusion and constitutional crisis across the country.

My message for our political leaders is that they must show more political maturity. They must stop the culture of political smears before such news becomes official. It is sad, but it seems our political leaders and culture has no secrecy. This is not the way to run a Government or society. This to the detriment of an already a recovering fractured society.

This political dispute was unnecessary and ill manufactured. The Mayor and the Prime Minister are young and dynamic in their own right. They have a lot to contribute to the country. This sacking and dispute was entirely avoidable if our leaders have shown political leadership, negotiation and political maturity behind the scenes.  They should have behaved like a Government with a joint political purpose.

The end result is, the loss of a young talented political figure that has clearly miscalculated but has much more to offer to residents of Banadir Region and the people of Somalia.

Mohamed Ibrahim BA/MSc from London School of Economics and Political Science, a London based, UK, Social Activist/ keen Author – he can be reached via:
@Mi_shiine (Twitter)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Ummadda Media.