BY: Both Nguot, JUBA, JUN/30/2013, SSN;
Action speaks louder than words, corruption in south Sudan in the highest echelons of the government has become the order of the day. This is to be expected in a situation where there is no accountability of any sort. It is generated by the absence of the rule of law in the country, complications of causes related to mismanagement of public funds which make it impossible for justice to deal withi It becomes monotonous on the eye of public since accountability is at zero level as we have experienced this kind of action, where action speak louder than word.
On many occasions, Mr. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of the Republic of south Sudan, in all speeches he had delivered to the people said that his government had no room for corruption adding that there is going to be zero tolerance on corruption.
People were very happy with the president on his promises, hoping that he (Kiir) will bring the suspects to book particularly when he appointed an experienced judge, Justice John Gatwech Lul as the chairman of anti-corruptions commission and about the letters he had sent to 75 government officials who were suspected of looting $4 billion US dollars as discovered in their respective foreign accounts.
People thought that soon there was going to be accountability on the suspected officials. But did it happen as it was expected? Were those culprits brought to book? Or was there a report that no money was stolen? Was there a public notice about the outcomes of the investigation? Why did the president write the letters to these individual who allegedly stole our public funds if he knew that there will be no accountability?
The president would have remained silent in order to maintain his position and to save his image since people were not aware about the money stolen.
On the other hand, there were forms distributed to all government institutions, the aim was to acknowledge their individual assets. What was the result of those forms in which the chairman of anti-corruption commission himself sent to all government officials in order to declare their personal assets? Was there a report about those forms?
Not only that, there were 60 millions south Sudanese pounds which disappear into the air without the suspects being account for, according to the report presented to the parliament by Public Accounting Committee (PCA) in 2011. Was there accountability or the fact was that the issue was too complicated to be handled?
Recently, on the 15/03/2013, a total of about ssp 208,543 and USD 14,000 were stolen from the office of the president on two separate thefts despite the tight security within and around the office of the president. According to the report, the money was stolen on two occasions, but we don’t know whether it was the same thief who also came back for the second time or it was a different thief.
According to the report, the first thief came on 15/03/2013 where they (thieves) dug a very tiny hole and then took the money. And in the morning hours, the issue was not raised to the police for investigation on the next day. The office remains silent.
The second thief came on the 23/03/2013 and according to the report; the money was taken in the iron box through the window, while the case was belatedly reported to the police for investigation on the 29/03/2013 after six days. Why it was not reported on the next day of the incident? Because the public came to realize that there was money stolen after a length of time when reported by the Sudan tribune website.
Did the thieves come from outside or there were some organs within the office of the president who took this money? If it was from outside, how did he/she knew that there was money in the office, then entered till reached the room where the money was kept, despite the facts that there were heavy securities around the office?
In the order, the president directed the committee to investigate his office’s top administrators. These include the chief administrator, executive director in the office of the president, as well as the controller of accounts, and then the committee shall report after 30 days.
On the 14/06/2013, the committee issues a press release on their final investigation as they were mandated by the office of the president to report after 30 days. Although the commission didn’t identify the names of those involved in stealing of money, the public should not merely put the responsibility on this toothless commission as it has no powers and right to prosecute as stipulated in the transitional constitution (TCRSS).
Therefore, to avoid putting this blame on the commission, the following are the functions of anti-corruption commission as:
(a) protect public property;
(b) investigate cases of corruption involving public property and public interest; and it shall submit such investigation to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution;
(c) combat administrative malpractices in public institutions; and
(d) pursuant to the provisions of Article 121 (1) herein, require all persons holding such public offices to make confidential formal declarations of their income, assets and liabilities.
(2) Without prejudice to sub-Article (1) above, the Commission shall not have any power to question the decision of any Justice, Judge or Magistrate where such decision was made in the discharge of the judicial functions of his or her office.
Therefore, the ball is now in front of ministry of justice to either bring these people to book or put it aside as it always use to, because the commission has no right to prosecute or ask why if there is a delay in the ministry of justice according to Transitional constitution of Republic of south Sudan.
In 2008, billions of US dollars worth of contracts was signed by the ministry of finance with some fake companies to deliver the grain to the ten states as a government’s response to the hunger in the then self-autonomous region.
The grain scam, locally known as Dura saga, was meant to be sold to the hunger-stricken millions at cheaper prices and the money remitted to the ministry of finance. However, many individuals secured the contracts with fake documents, claiming to be companies and ended up getting away with hundreds of millions of dollars without any grain delivered to the states.
Although there were some few individuals who had grown up in good background managed to deliver their grains to their respected areas, however the majority didn’t even deliver a single bag of sorghum to the needy but ended up with billions of dollars.
This month, the ministry of justice, called all companies which signed contracts to bring their legal documents to the ministry of justice so that the culprits on Dura Saga are to be identified and to follow the legal procedure before the law, but will there be accountability if the looters are identified?
What is taking the government so long to end the Dura saga? Why is it so secretive about the issue? Do we know the names of the companies involved in the scandal? Who are the shareholders of the companies? Why does the Council of Ministers seem so reluctant to investigate and prosecute these individuals? Who is willing to tell the truth about the issue?
Do you think the government has the will to tackle it? Dear South Sudanese, as per the proof I have, the whole issue is very complicated. The judiciary cannot do anything about it.
This month, the 18/06/2013, Kiir suspended and lifted the immunities of Cabinet Affairs Minister Deng Alor Kuol along with the Finance and Economic Planning Minister Kosti Manibe Ngai for an incident that involves disbursing funds totalling $7,959,400 to Daffy Investments Group Limited which is a private foreign company whose top executive reportedly is related to some officials in Juba.
The presidential order establishes a five-member investigation committee, under the chairperson of anti-corruption commission, Justice John Gatwech Lul, to scrutinize the necessity and legality of the contract endorsed by Alor and Manibe as well as finding out the current whereabouts of the money.
The committee was tasked to investigate and to report the final finding within 60 days. The terms of reference for the investigation will include establishing who authorized the transfer of the money and whether there was a resolution from the cabinet approving the alleged purchase of anti-fire safes.
The committee will also investigate whether there was a contract approved and signed by the government and whether such alleged anti-fire safes were brought into the country as well as the whereabouts of the money and among others. That were the good steps ever taken since the formation of government of southern Sudan on the issue of corruption.
We wish the president to listen to the call of his people and to bring the other 75 officials as well as those who stole money last time in his office before the law so that people re-gain back their confidence in his leadership otherwise, people will definitely lose all hopes.
There is a saying that when a liar is telling you that there is a snake behind you, you will for sure ignore it because he always tell lies. Although president Kiir is trying now to regain his honesty from the public, it will be very hard because people become bored with his promises that he had made while not implementing any at all.
Anyway, although the above message may not bear the exactitude of what is going on but it at least gives you a clue about the impossibilities, complications and complexities surrounding the issue. It is just impossible for the current government of South Sudan to bring to book those who pocketed millions of dollars.
In conclusion, as a citizen who would wish to live in a better South Sudan, a country whose independence was gained through blood, flesh and tears – let us contribute on the possible solutions to this rampant and shameful precedence our leaders are setting, because if we don’t control it now, it will become part of our culture to steal.
Hence, our country will surely loss its vision and mission in which we fought for during 191 years of our struggle started from 1820-2011.
Therefore, since there is no accountability in all crimes that the government officials are committing, we don’t expect that corruption will ever end under the current government, the worst is that it will become our daily activity, as is happening now where we see new and strange events in our country south Sudan.
The writer is the concerned south Sudanese living in Juba and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org