Nepotism in the Hiring Process of the Public Sector in Somalia

Staffing skilled and competent employees is very crucial for both private and public sectors. Educated and productive workers help companies achieve its goals of increasing profitability and maximizing profit growth. Similarly, professional public employees also help governments realize its main objectives of serving own citizens by working either in mid-level or senior positions in one of ministries, agencies, district offices or any other government institutions that provide various social services to the general public. Somali provisional constitution clearly stipulates that public sector recruitment process should be merit-based and the whole process from application to the final job offer should be fair and transparent. However, current hiring process in public sector both at State and Federal level are marred by nepotism and widespread corruption. Several factors make nepotism inevitable in Somalia that produced very bad consequences on state effectiveness and public service delivery.  Although there are still many prospects to turn the page and embark a structural change to reform the system in place, this post just examines current nepotism in the country and some of its major causes.

Transparency International defines nepotism as a “form of favoritism based on acquaintances and familiar relationships whereby someone in an official position exploits his or her power and authority to provide a job or favor to a family member or friend, even though he or she may not be qualified or deserving”. The main elements that are responsible for the endemic nepotism in Somalia include poverty, family pressure, clan factor, safety concern and political affiliation especially Somali Diaspora’s unique culture of acquaintances.

High poverty rate in the country promotes nepotism since public sector employment opportunity is among the meager available resources to manage the daily life and large numbers of applicants compete for few positions. Therefore, those in power offer the job their poor relatives as a poverty alleviation effort. Family pressure also contributes to corruption in public sector jobs. For instance, several Director Generals at different ministries recruited family members either in their ministry or in other ministry as recruitment swap deals with other DGs. It is usual to find some Ministries or agencies are overwhelmed by certain family member or relatives. Likewise, many consider clan factor the number one root cause of nepotism in the job finding process in the public sector because political power is shared by 4.5 clan formula where various ministries are dominated by the staff of certain clans. It is noteworthy that many essential projects by multilateral agencies such as World Bank’s Somali Capacity Injection project hadn’t achieved its key deliverables due to widespread corruption and nepotism. According to World Bank “the project development objective is to strengthen the staffing and institutional capacity of selected line ministries and central agencies to perform core government functions in Somalia”. Some senior officials don’t regard the qualifications of the applicants so one of the funnies events was that an applicant with a nurse degree was recruited as an economic analyst in some federal member states.

Safety concern is one of the lame excuses put forth by some politicians who intend to recruit their relatives or acquaintances for senior positions or consultant experts but sarcastically they offer the job opportunity to someone who have no the required qualifications that is why we have so many advisors who don’t give any advise whether it is verbal or written one but they just take big bucks and several allowances. It is true that safety concern is pressing issue in Somalia but reference background check can be resorted instead of refusing job to a qualified candidate. Political affiliation is also main factor for joining the public sector. Many exchange their political support for high paying jobs and job promotion pledges. Now Federal election campaigns are underway and the majority of the youth support some politicians expecting to be nominated for key government position or get their dream job when their political candidate elected. Furthermore, Somali Diaspora especially those from the west are strongly connected where they only recruit from their network pool and deny any employability chance to local applicants particularly consultancy jobs. For instance, to recruit their colleague they fit him/her the job requirements such as age, language fluency and sometimes demand EU passport or experience.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs as well as National Civil Service Commission have the responsibility to devise recruitment policies that is merit-based as the federal constitution and other national laws demand and inject the state competent civil servants who can perform their duties well and improve current public service delivery.

By Hussein JIMALE


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