Mahiga Must Go
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Mahiga Must Go
Since the collapse of the State, Somalia has been a dumping ground for successive mediocre Special Representatives of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (SRSG). Almost all failed in their mission but at least left no everlasting damage after their departure to the country's most important aspect- its unity. Augustine Mahiga, the current SRSG, was seen until now to belong to that mould. A jolly affable former Tanzanian diplomat and erstwhile UN staff, he exudes that quintessential Swahili penchant for la Dolce Vita (good life and fun-loving) and an irresistible urge to ingratiate himself with all and sundry, unionists or secessionists, by telling them what they like to hear.
Mahiga's posting to Somalia as SRSG offered him the best of both worlds: to be based in Nairobi and be part of its high international and diplomatic high society and yet to be so close to his home town, Dar Es Salaam. Otherwise, his exposure to Somalia, the country to which he was technically assigned, is limited to rare fleeting appearances at Mogadishu airport where he would meet his Somali counterparts in the TFG. Much as he is another failed SRSG despite his appearances to the contrary, Somalis nonetheless had tolerated his shortcomings until now for the simple reason that he was not better or worse than his predecessors. The fact that he is from a country in the region (Tanzania) for which Somalis hold much empathy was hitherto in his favour.
Mahiga has now done to Somalia what no other SRSG before him has done: call for the break-up of Somalia by advocating the recognition of Somaliland. This is precisely what he did on a visit to Hargeisa, the capital of the one-clan secessionist enclave, on December 4th, reportedly in the presence of IGAD officials and British diplomats based in Addis Ababa. This is an incomprehensible action from any Senior UN staff and more so from Mahiga whose trade mark is risk aversion that could in anyway upset his applecart.Continued