By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala (Uganda), JAN/30/2017, SSN;
In the recent article by Beny Gideon Mabor Esq and published on Sudantribune, which is entitled: “South Sudan: Strategic choice between bribery and right to self-determination for Saharawi people,” one of the problems that many commentators could not comprehend was the reason why Beny Gideon Mabor chose and used the term bribery.
Briefly, in that article, Beny was writing to explain the rationale behind Morocco wanting to go into bilateral relationship with South Sudan. In that article he warned South Sudan to be careful in dealing with Morocco as the dealing may have implications on her duties under the human rights law.
South Sudan has a duty to enforce human rights including the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara which Morocco wanted to suppress.
For that reason, since Morocco’s intention to rejoin African Union after thirty four (34) years of absence from the Union is to use the African Union as a platform to defeat the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, Beny was warning South Sudan and advising its authorities to protect the interests of the people of Western Sahara who have the same history of South Sudanese.
The arguments put forward by Beny in that article read together with the letter of the King of Morocco that he wrote to the African Union in July 2016 in which he informed members of the intention of Morocco to rejoin the African Union as they point to the fact that Morocco is using its soft power (economic power) to ensure that the African Union reverses its previous decision and instead declares the Western Sahara as part of Morocco.
The two sources cited in the above paragraph, show the plan of Morocco that after having gone into bilateral relationships with other African countries including South Sudan and readmitted into the African Union, it will present a resolution of declaring the independent status of Western Sahara as illegal.
Consequently, majority of the countries in bilateral relationships with it will vote in its favour to avoid falling out with Morocco that may bring the bilateral relationships to an end.
To avoid such negative implication, those countries will vote in favour of Morocco and by implication declare Western Sahara as part of Morocco. At that point, Western Sahara will have lost its status as independent entity and the people of Western Sahara will also in the process lose their rights to self-determination.
Beny, therefore, strongly advised the Government of South Sudan that it is free to go into other bilateral cooperation with Kingdom of Morocco for common good of the two countries however, not anything connected with Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
Beny further preempted by warning South Sudan of the consequences of ignoring his advice by saying that “Any attempt by the government to support the position of Morocco over status of SADR is a contradiction of the very principle of right to self-determination where the people of South Sudan fought for decades and finally got their independence”.
He then finally advised the government not take the “blood money” in return of what would be blind support to the kingdom of morocco and by extension support continued occupation of indigenous land belonging to the Saharawi people who have suffered in the hands of Moroccans just like the way South Sudanese suffered in the hand of Arabs.
In using the phrase “blood money”, Beny is alluding to the story of Judas Iscariot in the Bible that betrays Jesus by accepting money that was used to bribe him to show them where Jesus was.
In summary, the arguments of Beny Gideon Mabor as clearly outlined in his article and the communication in the letter of the Moroccan King to the African Union clearly support the view that Morocco is trying to bribe South Sudan and other countries that have already gone into bilateral relationships with it over the issue of Western Sahara.
Thus, this article is in response to unwarranted criticisms from those who have failed to understand the meaning of bribery in the context Beny has used it or subscribe to the wrong concept of the word “bribery “that led them to unjustly criticize him.
What is even disappointing is the fact that those individuals who criticized Beny did support their arguments with any authorities they are relying on to show as to why he is wrong but they only argued based on what they think in their own opinion as to the meaning of the word “bribery”.
For instance, one of the people commented that and I quote, “In diplomatic practice, especially treatment of any sensitive issues between Independent States, the weapons used (soft and hard power) are known as tools of influence but, not bribery, buying or selling” but did not tell us the authority he got it from.
Apart from the lack of authority to back the statement I have just quoted above, it is also backed up by wrong reasons. This is because what he did not understand is that there is a difference between diplomacy and the law.
Diplomatically, his statement might be correct though he might not have any authority due to the fact that countries respect each other and it is in rare circumstances that they may use harsh language against each other.
However, that does not extent to the law and it must be made clear to him that diplomacy is different from law and what may be called in different names in diplomacy due to the respect countries accord to each other may be called by its exact English name as in law a spade is called a spade but not a big spoon as it may be the case in diplomacy.
Having pointed out and explained in the above the weaknesses of the critics of Beny’s article, it is important now to explain to them the reasons why the action of Moroccan King in going into bilateral relationship and giving a lot of money and at the same time challenging the legality of the admission of Western Sahara to African Union constitutes bribery by explaining with the help of the authorities the meaning of bribery, what constitutes it and its different forms and why action of Morocco is bribery.
Then after that, I will conclude by stating that bribery simply means giving something to a person who one expects to do him or her favour now or in future directly or indirectly as a result of the gift given; hence the action of Moroccan King can be described properly as bribery.
Definition of bribery
To begin with and accordance with Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, bribery is the act of giving money, goods or other forms of recompense to a recipient in exchange for an alteration of their behavior which is to the benefit or interest of the giver. The Black’s Law Dictionary defines bribery almost in the same language that bribery is the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.
In other words, the bribe is the gift bestowed to influence the recipient’s conduct. It may be money, goods, rights in action, property, preferment, privilege, emolument, objects of value, advantage, or merely a promise to induce or influence the action, vote, or influence of a person in an official or public capacity (T. Markus Funk, “Don’t Pay for the Misdeeds of Others: Intro to Avoiding Third-Party FCPA Liability,” 6 BNA White Collar Crime Report 33 (January 14, 2011) (discussing bribery in the context of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).
In economics, the bribe has been described as a rent. Bribery in bureaucracy has been viewed as a reason for the higher cost of production of goods and services as it manifests itself in various ways and appears in various forms.
Nonetheless, what is clear is that corruption, and bribery in particular, is widespread in most of the countries. According Carl Jan Willem Schudel, Department of Government University of Essex, United Kingdom corruption is a widespread problem in many countries throughout the world, as it slows down economic growth and development and corrupt practices, such as bribery, favors for favors, and nepotism, are costly to companies and thereby reduce chances for corrupt states to attract necessary amounts of foreign capital.
As I have labored above to give the definition of bribery, its forms, forms it takes and its relationship with corruption, it has to be stated that in relation to the prospect relationship between South Sudan and Morocco, the action of Morocco amounts to bribery.
As Carl Jan observes above, corruption and bribery exist everywhere and they may arise in any situation especially where a country depends on financial support from a richer country that has interests which may conflict with the primary purpose of the country it is supporting or that seeks aid from it.
For instance, corrupt governments like that of Moroccan Government (Morocco is one of the corrupt countries in Africa and for more information see; www.business-anti corruption.com/country-profiles/morocco) are interested in private gains rather than in public benefits of the recipient country like South Sudan.
Therefore, Morocco being private-gains oriented Country it does not care about its conduct as long as its achieve what it has set its mind to and the developmental and moral damages its behavior may cause to a recipient country is not a source of direct concern to it.
As Beny clear explains in his article cited above, if South Sudan goes into bilateral relationship with Morocco that may be accompanied by massive financial support as Morocco has indicated in its readiness to build the Palace and other projects in South Sudan, then, South Sudan must support Morocco in all areas as Morocco is a friend in need which is a friend indeed except if South Sudan has put a condition on their bilateral relationship.
In conclusion, as I have exhaustively explained the meaning and the forms of bribery in the foregoing discussion, it can be concluded that bribery means giving something to a person who the person giving expects to do him or her favour now or in future directly or indirectly as a result of the gift given to the recipient.
In addition, corruption may appear in any form depending on the interests of the briber if his or her interest is just to see the country he or she is supporting develop then there will be no bribery but if the interest of the one giving is to influence the conduct of the receiving country to do something for him or her then there is bribery and corruption.
On that note, it must be concluded that the action of the King of Morocco in going into bilateral relationships with different countries in African and that may include South Sudan and massive financial supports that follow such relationships amount to bribery thus political corruption.
Hence, in this case the argument of Beny that Morocco is bribing countries to destroy the right to self-determine of the people of Western Sahara is correct.
NB//: the author is South Sudanese lawyer residing in Uganda and can be reached through: email@example.com