South Sudanese left in limbo while troika group retreats.

BY: Sidani Ireneaus Sebit, KENYA, AUG/25/13, SSN;

I would like to divert a bit from my usual series of leadership to focus at the situation in South Sudan. Mark it at beginning that this diversion is basically to highlight the troubling situation of our country. South Sudan came into existence as a result of not only long and devastating fighting that claimed 2 million lives but also the great efforts of many countries that brought the belligerents to the negotiating table. These countries to my view are pivotal in nurturing South Sudan to maturity regardless of how long it takes a country to mature.

Sadly it appears South Sudan is progressing in the path of maturity without guidance. All along the leaders have used the childhood of the 2 year old country as an excuse to loot and plunder it for their own survival instead of developing it yet the guarantors of the CPA, of course the troika group, look on helpless as if they did not promise to pedagogue South Sudan to a great democratic country that exercise transparency, accountability, service to the people and sustained socio-economic development. However, this particular article is not focused on the role of the troika nations but rather on who precisely is the mastermind of the mega corruptions in South Sudan thus creating the deep suffering in the country.

Since the signing of the famous CPA, billions of USD dollars have been squandered and stashed out of the country. The most recognized pillage of the country by its our leaders is the 4 billion USD where the president himself is on record writing letters to the 75 perceived looters to surrender the loot to secret bank account in Kenya. Up to date nobody knows whether any of this money is returned to the South Sudan treasury. The president himself has kept quiet. The silence of the president on this money would only be interpreted in three different ways: 1) The president certainly new the culprits but he wanted them to secretly return the money without defaming their character or jeopardize their political situation in South Sudan. 2) The president was using the letters as a cover up of corruption that involves also his own character and thus the letters were a ploy to deceive the South Sudanese that he is fighting corruption. 3) The looters have actually returned the money and since the money was return to a secret bank account only known by the president, this money must have also found another outlet.

The second important corruption saga is the dura saga in which millions of USD money was screwed up by bogus companies in South Sudan. Some people have tried to link this dura saga to the 4 billion USD above but I think otherwise. The dura saga is distinct and planned carefully. The most intriguing thing to this saga is the communication between the chairman of the chamber of commerce, the president’s office and the ministry of finance that led to the release of the money to the companies. Let me quote Crook here, “Bol is the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce. He is the owner of the national multi-billion dollar construction company, ABMC. He is also the manager of Home & Away and Alok Company. Why was he writing to President Kiir to pay off contracts, majority of which were bogus? What is the relationship between Bol Mel and President Salva Kiir anyway? In the letter, Benjamin Bol Mel reveals that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, under Deng Athorbei, was deflating the original figures.

“The effort from the ministry for finance and Economic Planning making in reducing the outstanding balances from their original levels is appreciated, but further reduction, along the lines we have suggested, should be a practical step towards empowering our members to be part of the referendum process and for some to get freedom from jails. The Referendum is a make or break affair for us all.” Crook concluded, “so, the President actually ordered Deng Athorbei to manipulate the figures?” This revelation indicates clearly that the registration of the bogus companies was known to the president and were meant to raise funds for traders to support the referendum in South Sudan. The question that arises is why should a president buy support from the traders yet these are South Sudanese who were obliged to vote for the freedom of South Sudan. One is left with nothing other than to conclude that the president would like to create a body of traders who would in future sustain his presidency once time for election came.

The third important corruption saga is the lost of what was said to be millions of USD and South Sudanese Pounds from the president’s office. This is what was said in, “It was shocking news to me when I woke up one morning to learn that millions in cash money which was stored in the President’s office had gone missing, a senior aide close to South Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has revealed”. Although the government later claimed that the money stolen was only 176,000 SSP and 14,000 USD, the fact that this incident took place was intriguing indeed. However, what is the folly is that despite the fact that the committee appointed by the president recommended disciplinary action to be taken against the three administrators who were found to be culpable, these administrators were later reinstated into their positions in the president’ office.

This is how summed the story. “The committee, in its report, said the alleged thefts were not carried out by external culprits, but an organized act by insiders within the presidency. The report said that the manner of the thefts suggested that they were a colluding syndicate from staff inside the president’s office. In spite of the gravity of the crime, there was a remarkable indecision from the senior staff in the OoP [Office of the President] to report the matter to the authorities or even enhance security on site. But Kiir, in a rather bizarre move, reinstated Wol and Luol to their previous positions, raising questions over his commitment in the country’s anti-corruption fight. The two officials, removed through a presidential decree issued in April 2013, were recently seen chairing a meeting in the president’s office, which left many astonished. It remains unclear why the president reinstated the duo, contrary to the recommendations in the investigation report, which demanded administrative measures against the suspects”.

Then comes the unfinished business of suspension of two ministers over their alleged transfer of 7 million USD to a private company to procure fire equipment without authorization from the president or the cabinet. To unearth is corruption the president went ahead to form an investigation committee and banned the two ministers from travelling outside the country. The investigation committee was to report its findings and recommendations within two months.The people, this time around felt that the president had woken up and was now flexing his real muscles about corruption. This was not to be. Two months have since gone and no report is forthcoming. The only thing everybody knows is that this incident has lead to the dismissal of the then Vice President, Riak Macer and suspension of the SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum because of their objection to the president’s handling of the whole issue. It is also reported that although the president has not lifted the ban on the travel of the suspended ministers, one of them was seen aboard Kenyan Airways flight to Kenya quite recently. Here one is left wondering whether the president realized that he had touched a wrong button or risked opening a pandora box which could have reverberated in whole country and perhaps shaken the core of his presidency.

Just as everybody was settling down to await the report of the investigation committee into the Manibe-Alor affair, unfortunately for the president, came the two bombshells of the 600 million USD and the 6 million USD that seems to clearly implicate the president in these deals. The president, in defence of his nominated minister of Justice; Telar who was his legal advisor, admitted that he authorized Telar to approve 600 million USD for purchasing a piece of land for the security apparatus in South Sudan. First there is no article in the constitution that mandates the president to authorize any legal advisor to approve funds for the government neither is there any provision that authorizes the legal advisor to do so. Secondly even if this amount was authorized by legal body such as the cabinet, there is nowhere in South Sudan that a piece of land costs 600 million USD. Furthermore, nobody in South Sudan has heard that any community in South Sudan has sold land worth 600 million to the government. Even the military headquarters in Juba has never been bought. It was taken from the Bari community by force and all of us are aware of the incident that transpired between the community and the army then when the army seized the area. So the president must come clean on this money. It is possible the name of the security was used to disguise mega corruption because anything said to be in the name of the security or army touches on the security of the country and therefore cannot be questioned.

The other money, the 6 million USD was paid by the central bank of South Sudan to one, Garang as compensation for two plots in front of the bank. This has also brought to disrepute the person of the president directly. According to Telar, the former legal advisor to the president, he was obliged to write to the governor of the central bank to compensate the owner of the two plots because of the bank’s failure to implement the president’s directives. Telar’s letter, which was also copied to the president, reads in part, “It is hereby directed once again, that the directives of H.E, the President be implemented by compensating the owner of the plots at the market rate as may be agreed upon by the bank and the plots owner,” The main question that arises from here is why was the president wanting the compensation to be done without valuation of the two plots by any competent government body that could have ascertained the actual cost of the plots. In addition, everybody is aware of the two plots in front of the bank and by any measure these plots cannot be worth 6 million USD. Certainly the overinflation of the price of theses two plots points to yet another disguised corruption involving the person of the president.

Having pointed out all these mega corruptions, there is no doubt that in all the president was aware or actually got involved in the process. Therefore, the mastermind of the mega corruptions. This being the case, one wonders if there is anyone in the country who is fighting corruption. The loud pronouncements coming out from the president’s office condemning corruption are nothing other than hoodwink the people to believing that he is fighting corruption yet he is deeply involved or protecting corrupt individuals in the country. It is not clear whether the dissolution of the entire government was not meant to remove those buddies who have eaten enough and bringing in new ones to also engage in the eating. I believe time will tell. However, the problem now in South Sudan is that the president has become a law unto himself. He is above the law. He even threatened to close the parliament if it did not approve his Vice President’s choice and by sheer fear the parliament cowardized and obliged.

Therefore it appears no South Sudanese would like to raise his head against the unconstitutionalism of the president or his role in rampant corruption in the country. As such as it was during the struggle I think it may be wise enough for South Sudanese friends in the troika group to intervene by questioning the workings of the government and the leadership style in the country. This may be the only to bring to an end the impunity, massive corruption, and dictatorship in the country. Remember when the America House of Representative recently wrote to the president regarding the human right abuses in Jonglei, we are now hearing of a General of Army being arrested to answer for the impunity there. These are the kind of voices South Sudanese would like to hear from their troika friends. Sustained pressure on the president himself will lead to change in character, attitude and modus operandi in the presidency.

God bless South Sudan.

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