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January 16, 2019

Fighting clan antagonism, lack of ethos and exclusivity in Wajir

We all understand Wajir county is in the grip of political clannism borne out of bigoted or tribal hegemony. We lament and condemn this phenomenon, even as we voraciously work towards its eradication. But by fixating on the symptoms, we remain blind to the root causes. Wajir is being ravaged by predictable, destructive political dynamics that follow from the combination of transitioning new democracy and a market-orienting pastoral economy.

Classical capitalism creates a small number of very wealthy people, while democracy historically empowered a poor majority resentful of illegally earned wealth. In our transitioning fragile nomadic setting, there is ever contemporaneous tension. That scorching tension constantly sets in motion intensely destructive clan politics. In transitioning pastoral socioeconomic development, one circumstance in particular has invariably had this effect: The presence of sprouting market — dominant tenderprenuer — a minority group, perceived by the rest of the population as avaricious, greedy, acquisitive, covetous and egocentric focused on primitive accumulation mission by any means control vastly disproportionate amounts of the county’s wealth. The budding primitive accumulation is based on clannish cronyism, subornation, inducement, corruption and thievery.    

In 2014 the national government has admitted there were government ghost workers.  That was admission of larceny, thieving and pilfering of public money. At the time, the government reported blatant thievery and nothing was done. The government as an employer didn’t know its employees? Is that so, really, truly and why? I disagree as that is baloney, hogwash, bunkum and nonsense in my humble and considered opinion. Here is why?

But first, let is peal the onion metaphorically speaking and consider who a ghost worker is. Suffice to say, this was a scandal of monumental scale in government corruption as the thieves were not arrested. It dwarfed all previous and current scandals in terms of scale and amount of money involved.  So to begin with, who is ghost worker?

Ghost as a noun is a nonexistence person – that means an entity that seems to exist on paper, but does not in reality, i.e. a name on the payroll, a fictitious employee on government payroll. Ghosts also mean a supposed spirit remaining after ones death. It is supposed spirit of somebody who has died, believed to appear as a mysterious or shadowy form. As a verb it means write something under another’s name, for example literature transitive verb to be the ghostwriter.

Worker is a noun meaning employee, member of staff, an employee of a person, company, or organisation such as bank, factory, farm, hotel, county, national government, et cetera.  

An employer such as a public or private enterprise or government normally has policy in place concerning employment.  The employment policy contains in an employee handbook (EH), which is an important communication tool between employer and employees referred to as human resource (HR) policy. HR policies and manuals can be effectively used by the employer’s human resources professionals. 

The background of employment policy states the employer is of the opinion that (i) the employee has the necessary qualifications, experience, skills and abilities to assist and benefit the employer and (ii) the employer desires to employ or hire the employee and the employee agrees to accept and enter such employment upon the terms and conditions set out in the employment agreement.

An employee handbook is a compilation of employer policies, procedures and behavioural expectations that is provided by an employer to its employees. EH includes information about the payroll, employee benefits and additional terms and conditions of employment. An employee handbook gets everyone on the same page with the same set of rules and makes sure all employees know what they're accountable for and what employer expects from them.

Moreover, an EH helps protect an employer from potential lawsuits that can occur in the form of harassment, wrongful termination and discrimination claims, and so on. It covers all categories of employees be they permanent full-time, part-time or of a fixed period.

This handbook contains things such as a job title, employment commencement date and terms of employment, job description, employee compensation, place of work and employee benefits, among others. It also covers vacation, personal and sick time usage; workplace safety; payroll processing; employment terms; arbitration procedures; work hours; probationary periods etc.

An employee has a supervisor, in other words there is reporting relationship. At the job performance level an annual performance review takes place. Annual performance appraisals are one of the most important times of the year in any employer-employee relationship. It allows employees to understand how they have been doing and how they can enhance their job performance. An appraisal also helps in encouraging employees and motivates them. Employee evaluation process is handled by the supervisor or HR personnel in consultation with the line supervisor. Annual performance review is carried out by employer to evaluate the job performance of its employees.

There are certain preset parameters on which the employee is evaluated — known as key performance indicators (KPIs). A good performance review can mean a healthy raise; bonuses and lots of other career opportunities as a result of assessment of the employee's functional expertise, or how an employee performs job duties based on her/his qualifications and skill level. It rates the employee's core competencies and how employee blends them with functional expertise and ensures recognition and reward. Let us share that in the contexts of Wajir county.

Since 2013, what has happened and is happening in Wajir is looting with the intention of getting rich quickly and buying clan loyalty. This naked clannism is a disease, a delusion, a toxic mentality. It’s encouraged and manipulated by promoting “us vs them” hoopla. Its characteristics are numerous and to various degrees widespread and long-lasting if not confronted now. At what point does looting, robbing, thieving county resources based in the context of clannism rise to the level of fascism?

Clannism like fascism is Orwellianism, to some degree. That is, it markets corruption as anti-corruption, irrationality as reason, and suppression as freedom of speech. Its version of anti-corruption is total trust in the most corrupt figures around. Its idea of reason is barbaric bigotry announced as arrived at by reason and evidence and inevitable obvious natural laws. It’s a conception of protecting our clan interest and buying clan loyalty that gives birth to arm clan militia. These behaviours are extreme versions of new political practices, but here it’s easier I think to figure out where the fascist line is crossed. That is why the clan based militia hibernates among them and is not reported. It’s unfortunate that the clan, particularly those in terror hotspots, see no evil and report no evil regarding their thugs in the name of police reserves, their spies, reconnaissance parties, sympathizers, financiers and or resupply networks.

Clannism is anti-intellectualism, anti-education, anti-progress and anti-peace. It substitutes unreality for intelligent observation and deliberation. Clannism favours hierarchy, tribalism, nepotism and neighbour busting — because in safe neighbourhood people join together across tribe- or clan-line or other considerations, as well as because they interdepend and intermarry. That is why clannist minded politicians create continuous conflicts for political survival. 

As an example, in the United States to survive President Donald Trump deviates from contemporary political norm. He doesn’t give a damn about geostrategic issues. He doesn’t care or understand the destruction he’s doing. If he smashes up the international economy, fine. If he undermines NATO, who cares? The only thing Trump cares about is himself, literally, and everything he’s doing follows from just the recognition that he’s a narcissistic megalomaniac who wants to make sure that, you know, he’s on top. In his twisted mind he “wins” everything. And he has to keep his fascist base happy and under control. And he excels in doing that.

He knows exactly what buttons to push to keep angry illiterate racist people — angry for good reasons, for the most part — to keep them sort of following him.

Just take a look at American wages. Since Trump became President, real wages have declined. They were actually starting to rise under President Barack Obama, and they started to decline under Trump. But he’s keeping his fascist base in line against their own interest. And the way he does it, by just undertaking one crazy idea after another, which looks as though he’s defending his deplorable racist base. And they’re passionate and revere him. Enough about Trumpisim! So let us go back to mismanaged Wajir county economy — cry the beloved county!

So how do  you eliminate negative clannism and corruption from Wajir? Clannism is not easily eliminated and not best eliminated by simply any random opposition to it. Eliminating despotism and how best to do it is a reasonable topic of discussion, which necessarily involves opposing some tactics as less effective than others. This means that it is possible to oppose clan based despotic act without being a clannist - although not without getting been called a clannist.

As reported, Wajir County government pays ghost workers and ghost promotion takes place. People are employed based on family and clan relations without qualification and other false, made-up, imagined, and fictitious consideration. They are on the county payroll, but nobody knows them. Who has hired these non-existent or ghost workers? Who placed them on the county payroll? Who is supervising them in each line department? Who is doing ghost promotion? Was there an annual performance review? How was the annual performance review conducted with an imagined worker? What happened to checks and balances to our fledgling county? 

Let us find lasting solutions and cure clannism disease and pursue shared objectives of tackling clan antagonism and negative competition, lack of ethos and exclusivity. Let us work towards inclusivity, peaceful coexistence, safety and security for all. Let us dialogue and fight corruption, bribery, and tribe and clan egocentrism in order to develop successful devolution as a shining star among 47 counties. We can turn crying county to modern progressive, prosperous and smiling one. Yes, we can together as reer Wajir as this is possible and doable!



Prof Osman Warfa is researcher, consultant, and author of the book “Somali Diaspora Organization Development: Implications for HRD”. 


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