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Many Somali Gov Workers "Ghosts"

FILE: Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addresses lawmakers in a photo posted on his Twitter Nov. 15, 2022.
FILE: Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addresses lawmakers in a photo posted on his Twitter Nov. 15, 2022.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed says the vast majority of paid government workers - 3,500 out of 5,000 -were neither in the country nor working. The president termed them to be so-called "ghost workers," as Ahmed Mohamed reports.

President Mohamud talked about the so-called “ghost workers” while addressing officials during Friday prayers at the presidential mosque.

He said the government's biometric time and attendance system shows the number of staff that are present. Mohamud says the machine does not lie but indicates whoever puts their thumb on it. Civil servants are more than 5,000, he says, but only 1,500 are present.

Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre on Saturday confirmed the problem and ordered ministries to inspect and ensure that staff follow working hours.

University graduate Deka Elmi says the president and prime minister must swiftly deal with the issue of ghost workers.

She says the government is paying more than 3,500 people who are not present at their offices while students who completed their education are jobless. Elmi says the president and prime minister should urgently do something about it.

However, University of Somalia political scientist Mohamed Matan doubts there are so many government workers not actually working.

He says threats from al-Shabab militants, who target public servants, may also be keeping some away.

Matan says fear of al-Shabab has forced everyone to trust only a few and to keep away from others. Although, he notes, civil servants cannot be fired and that has also led them not to be committed (to work). And even if they do go to the office, says Matan, they do not work.

Somali Public Agenda Executive Director Mahad Wasugwe says ghost workers should be removed from public service, which should be reformed.

The better-governance NGO chief says that can be achieved with a broad government plan regarding the reform of the civil service, which is based on open, transparent recruitment.

Wasugwe says even director generals should be transparently recruited because they are not politicians but are there for administration and technical expertise.

Somalia is hoping to secure debt relief from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank by the end of 2023.

But that outside funding requires strict adherence to fiscal procedures, including prudent management of public resources and streamlining Somalia’s public service.