When the Somali Government demanded late last year that the National Chamber of Commerce appoint the leadership of the Banaadir Chamber, businessmen in the city were summoned by Al-Shabaab to Lower Shabelle for directions on the appointment, a report by VOA Somali reveals.
The leadership of the national business association led by Mohamud Abdikarim Gabaire would subsequently settle for Ahmed Abdullahi, a vehicle dealer in Beletweyne to lead the city chamber. Immediately, the Ministry of Commerce moved December 2019 to dissolve the Banaadir Chamber of Commerce.
These and various other accounts point to an increasing trend of Al-Shabaab securing control of the business sector in Mogadishu which contributes the largest bulk of tax to the government and contributes immensely to nation-building.
That businessmen had to travel to Al-Shabaab strongholds in Lower Shabelle to get instructions on who will head the country’s foremost chamber of commerce speaks volumes of how much the group has held hostage not only the business community but by extension the government which generates revenues from these businesses.
WORRIED BUSINESS COMMUNITY
In a report by Kenya’s Standard in February, businessmen spoke of fear and helplessness in dealing with the militant group. “They are making tremendous progress to take over all formal institutions in Mogadishu except for the main government. The fact that we are baring it out speaks volumes,” a businessman said.
According to businessmen interviewed by the publication, there is fear that the militant group could seek to legitimize its activities using the chamber and other avenues for the business community.
The Washington Post reported in August last year that businessmen affirmed paying taxes to the militant group failure to which they would be hunted down. According to the Post, Al-Shabaab operatives fix taxes for imported goods as they already have shipment manifest.
Even Finance Minister Abdirahman Beileh admitted the government was not in a position to stymie the group’s activities.
“It is a very scary situation. We have not been able to address it. It is the number one problem in this country,” said Beileh.