Being a good politician is essential for winning a mayoral election. But the qualities that make a good politician are not necessarily those that make a good mayor.
By Eng. Abdirisak Itaqile
Emphatically, Hargeisa city desperately needs something it hasn’t had in four years: a leader. To say this city has drifted under the rhotacistic (unable to pronounce the letter ‘R’) Mayor Abdirahman Soltelco is to give him too much credit. It’s been far worse than that.
His epic incompetence resulted in a city hall racked by turmoil — four years of lost opportunities, shrunken potential, embezzlement of public funds, widespread land grab and other policy missteps, ethics violations and appalling episodes of abusive behaviour.
Somaliland’s largest city became a nationwide laughingstock courtesy of its corrupt and incompetent Mayor.
The biggest challenge for Hargeisa’s next mayor will be to repair that damage, if Soltelco quits or local councilors decide to remove him from office. And it won’t be easy. At this dispiriting time in its history the city requires a leader with a rare mix of skills.
First of all, we need a model of ethical behavior. The endless conflict-of-interest allegations, misuse of city staff and code of conduct violations that characterized the Soltelco era must not be repeated.
The departure of Hargeisa’s corrupt and incompetent mayor won’t be enough. It will take an exemplary leader to restore people’s trust in public office after years of embarrassing scandal.
Therefore, Hargeisa city needs a compassionate leader, someone who makes it a priority to make life better for all, including and especially vulnerable people. He or she should demonstrate an appreciation for all who make up this marvelously city. The mayor should guide city council toward progressive public policy, helping a wide cross-section of vulnerable people.
Hargeisa needs someone alert to inefficiencies and real waste, who is also prepared to invest in the services that are important to residents and has the wisdom to know the difference.
And Hargeisa needs a diplomat — a leader who can reach out to various factions, rally support and build consensus on council. This is vital to get things done since there’s no party system at the municipal level.
Finally, Hargeisa needs a leader capable of inspiring hope and generating optimism about the city’s future. It needs a passionate and persuasive city-builder, someone ready to unite residents behind a shared vision of a better Hargeisa.
Eng. Abdirisak Itaqile is the Founder and Editor-in-chief of Somaliland Monitor English news magazine. Prior founding Somaliland Monitor he served as the editor-in-chief of The Independent English newspaper, a sister publication of Hubaal daily Somali newspaper.