UN asks South Sudan to repatriate $2 billion in diverted funds, cites accountability problems

Posted: September 29, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

By Associated Press, Published: September 28

JUBA, Sudan — The U.N. representative to South Sudan is asking the country to repatriate diverted funds.

Hilde F. Johnson told a news conference on Wednesday that hundreds of millions of dollars meant for South Sudan’s government have been wired to private bank accounts abroad. She called such acts unacceptable.

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Johnson lauded South Sudan President Salva Kiir for announcing at U.N. headquarters that steps were being taken to end impunity for perpetrators.

South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July to become the world’s newest nation.

Violence in the new country this year already has killed 3,000 people. More than 300,000 others have been displaced by fighting.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/un-asks-south-sudan-to-repatriate-2-billion-in-diverted-funds-cites-accountability-problems/2011/09/28/gIQAE1mY4K_story.html

Past Articles about corruption in South Sudan.

South Sudan SSDF urges Salva Kiir to unmask $60 million dollars culprits

South Sudan Democratic Forum

Press Release

Jan, 27, 2007 — The 2nd anniversary of the CPA unfolded serious dramas that took the Sudanese masses by storm. They did not expect such an important event to end up in such a disastrous manner. The serious confrontation between the two generals, Field Marshal Omer Al Bashir (President of the Republic of Sudan) and Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit (First Vice-President of the Republic of the Sudan and President of the GoSS), has exposed for the first time to the people of Sudan what used to be regarded as closed doors discussions of the presidency within the palace, leaving nothing confidential for the presidency to keep away from the public. With such a showdown, can the people say that the palace is no longer in control of the affairs of the state and therefore the time has come for the Sudanese people to take over the reign of power? Was that showdown between the two leaders a way for enlisting the support from their constituencies? If so, who emerged victorious? Is it the SPLM or the NCP? We leave that for the Sudanese public to make their verdict.

Coming back to the question of sixty million dollars scandal, which is the main subject of this press release, the question the ordinary Sudanese can pose is: Why did it take that long for the public to know that the Government of National Unity (GoNU) released such amount of money for the purpose which President Bashir alleged to be the case, i.e., the repatriation of the SPLM’s members from Diaspora and the setting up of institutions in the South? Could we say that the revelation might have come as the result of frustration and a rebuttal from President Bashir to serious indictments brought against the NCP, i.e., lack of implementation of Abyei Boundary Commission Report, delimitation of border between the North and South, the LRA and the controversy surrounding the share of oil revenue? Could it be a conspiracy from the NCP or the so-called Awlad el balad to discredit the leadership of the GoSS and the South in general, thereby justifying their age-old claim since independence of Sudan that the South is incapable to rule itself—that the two civil wars the South fought were all in vain?

Whichever way the people would like to look at the second anniversary of the CPA, we feel that the Southern public has been robed of a wonderful opportunity, at least to know what has been achieved since the formation of the GoSS. At last, we are not surprised why it turned out to be so because we are fully aware that the SPLM still suffers from lack of accountability and transparency. However, the great relieve is that the scandal has exonerated the two leaders of the SPLM, i.e., former SPLM’s Chairman, Dr. Garang and the current chairman of the SPLM, Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir. As the result, we would expect Lt. Gen. Kiir Mayardit to track down culprits who handled sixty million dollars and kept the funds away from public treasury. We hope, with the revelation given by the Minister of Information of the GoSS, Dr. Samson Kwaje, and the Secretary General of the SPLM and adviser to the GoSS’s president, Mr. Pagan Amum, that the thieves who slipped through the net of Dr. John Garang and were not caught would now be brought to justice and be nailed in their final coffins—therefore reducing the number of thieves Dr. Garang talked about from 4000 to 3999 or less.

In examining the two statements made by Dr. Kwaje and Mr. Pagan Amum, it now appears that there is a tug of war between the handling of funds by the Finance Minister, Arthur Akuen, on one hand and the SPLM leadership on the other. However, the controversial comments made by both Dr. Kwaje, as the chair of investigation committee, and Mr. Amum, the Secretary General of the SPLM, tend to prejudice the process of investigation before it even takes off. Furthermore, the serious indictments made by Pagan Amum against Arthur Akuen—given the fact that Dr. Kwaje previously alleged that the money was properly used—may complicate the whole issue surrounding the scandal, thereby making it extremely difficult to establish a credible line of investigation that may come up with findings that will satisfy the general public. The saga of sixty million dollars scandal has dented the credibility of the GoSS and the SPLM as the ruling party since the arguments presented by Dr Samson Kwaje rendered the whole episode a mess of inexplicable nonsense.

However, to make sense out of nonsense, we still can say that the allegations made by Mr. Pagan Amum tend to incriminate strongly Mr. Arthur Akuen, the Finance Minister of both the GoSS and the SPLM—therefore questioning the credibility of any attempt to justify how these funds were spent under his control since nobody knows which bank he deposited the money in. Was he hording the money? According to Pagan Amum, in his interview with Al Sahafa newspaper, he alleged that it was after along struggle with Mr. Arthur Akuen that the latter was able to release $18m dollars out of $60m to SPLM’s bank account. Up to now, $42m remained unaccounted for and Mr. Akuen Chol should tell the GoSS and the GoNU where he is keeping the money; otherwise, suspicion that Mr. Akuen Chol has diverted the money to Gogrial-Aweil enterprises will not be far from the truth.

The other issue that raises serious legal question relates to the status of $60m dollars. Did the central government release the money in 2005 to the SPLM as the liberation movement or to the Government of the South as it was recognized after the signing of the agreement after Jan, 9th, 2005? If the $60m dollars was released to the SPLM as the primary beneficiary rather than the South as Pagan Amum claims, then he might be right to claim the money for the SPLM. But if it were to be for the government of the South as president Bashir stated, then Arthur Akuen was right to withhold the money although he horded the funds for his private use which is now causing him a migraine because he cannot produce authentic receipts that could be vouched by a credible accounting firm.

Contrary to claims made by Pagan Amum, common sense has it that the funds the central government released in 2005 were for the GoSS, not SPLM as a liberation movement because a sovereign state cannot issue such amount of money to a liberation movement that was regarded as an enemy of the state, unless the Secretary General of the SPLM is still suffering from the hangover of the SPLM/A when it was a liberation movement before it was recognized under the CPA as a political party. If that is the case, then he might be excused for his lapse of memory because, while he is sitting comfortably in Juba, his memories are still in Rumbek, which used to be the head-quarter of SPLM/A as a liberation movement before the conclusion of the CPA.

Mr. Pagan Amum should understand that the $60m dollars given to Dr. Garang was a share from the oil revenue earmarked for the GoSS’s budget of 2005, not a donation to SPLM as Hon. Kwaje correctly assumed. Mr. Pagan should also be made aware of the legal and constitutional implications to his claims of such funds, as it may raise serious issues from other political parties that are partners of the GoSS. Therefore, the $18m which Arthur Akuen has already released to SPLM’s account should be returned to the public treasury. Pagan should know that the debts the SPLM had incurred in establishing their political offices—both in the North and the South—is the responsibility of the party, not the GoSS. While they were setting up their own offices, other parties too were doing the same, but were depending on their own resources and donations from their friends or other political allies. Unless Pagan Amum does not believe in God or wants to justify the SPLM’s culture of corruption and looting spree—where it is often difficult to differentiate between what is public and what is private—otherwise, his claim of such amount for his party would tantamount to broad daylight robbery of public funds and abuse of power by a ruling party.

What the Secretary General of the SPLM should understand is to wake up from rip van winkle and nocturnal sleep so as to be able to see clearly what is happening in the real world, i.e., making a distinction between a liberation movement and a legitimate government. In this regard, we would have expected the Secretary General to present the case of sixty million before the president of the government of the South so as to make him aware why the funds are being kept away from public treasury, instead of demanding the money to be transferred to SPLM’s account—given the fact that there are seven parties that formed the GoSS. Had he done that, he would have saved the people of the South and in particular the interim president of the GoSS, the embarrassment and humiliation which he suffered during the celebration of the 2nd Anniversary of the CPA, almost making him a lame duck president.

Now that the scandal of the sixty million dollars has become a public knowledge, would it not be appropriate for those SPLM’s supporters, members and leadership to withdraw their statements of condemnation against Bona Malwal whom they regarded as the source of rumor in 2005? When Bona Malwal revealed that the SPLM was given $60m by the central government in August, 2005, he was accused of negative propaganda against the SPLM as well as vendetta against late Dr. Garang—sparing him no room to breath. President Kiir, during his first visit to U.S. after taking oath as the first Vice-president, denied the allegation raised by Bona in his meeting with SPLM members in Washington. The same denial was also issued by the SPLM’s prominent member in London, who even went further to say that if Bona Malwal continued to smear the former chairman of the SPLM, the party would consider taking legal actions against him. Now that Bona Malwal has been proven right or exonerated, could the SPLM leadership take the courage to send a letter of apology to him since he is an adviser to President Bashir who might have been informed earlier about the money?

Given his sworn testimony to fight corruption to the last, and breaking away with the protocol of cabinet responsibility, i.e., going as far as saying that each individual Minster should clear himself whenever accused of any malpractices in his ministry, will president Kiir relieve the ministers accused of malpractices, corruption, as well as having skeletons in their cupboards, from their duties, so as to go to courts to clear their names—in order to give the government a clean bill of health? If he does that, then, the Southern public will indeed be encouraged and perhaps will begin to take him seriously, as he has now taken upon himself to confront so-called Awlad el balad, who are used to discrediting the Southern leadership since the dawn of independence.

For Contact

Gordon Buoy, Chairman of South Sudan Democratic Forum-Canada Ottawa.

The Celebration of Corruption and Underdevelopment in South Sudan

South Sudan Democratic Forum

Press Release

January, 8, 2007 — Now that the South Sudanese masses are poised to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the CPA, all people will expect the leadership of the SPLM, in particular Lt. Gen. Kiir Mayardit, to present to the public the major achievements the GOSS has achieved between Sept. 2005—Dec. 2006, since during that time the legislature passed two major budgets of $800m and $1.3 billion respectively. The total amount of budget for that period is $2.1 billion, almost more than half of the amount of money donors pledged in Oslo.

We hope the interim president will have the courage and the guts to tell people what had been achieved so far in the following areas: How many trunk roads that have been built? How many schools that have been built or rehabilitated starting from primary up to further and higher education? How many primary health centers, district and regional hospitals have been built or rehabilitated? What improvement has been made in the area of clean water in the major capital of ten states and the rural areas? How many government houses have been built as well as resettlement villages for returnees and the internally displaced peoples? How many agricultural schemes have been set up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to alleviate the problem of food insecurity and pave the way for self-sufficiency?

We hope the interim president will give a satisfactory account on the expenditure of $2.1 billion over the fifteen month period when he formed the government in September, 2005. Of course, we have no doubt that Lt. Gen. Kiir Mayardit is a honorable man who does not tolerate corruption as he had been fighting it in the past 22 years. His speech in Rumbek in 2004 confirmed his commitment to combating or rid the South off corruption and corrupt practices. In that conference, CDR Salva Kiir challenged Dr. Garang and had this to say about the corruption: “I would also like to say something about rampant corruption in the Movement. At the moment some members of the movement have formed private companies, bought houses and have huge bank accounts in foreign countries. I wonder what kind of system are we going to established in South Sudan considering ourselves indulged in this respect”.

With such a statement, we have no doubt in our minds that the interim president will stand by his own words and therefore would expect the committee that was set up by parliament to investigate corruption in the Ministry of Finance to come out with the recommendations that would be the beginning of weeding out corruption and malpractices, even if it means taking firm and stern measures that may affect some leaders who are abusing the system. Or to put it in the words of Dr. Samson Kwaje, former Spokesman of the SPLM/A and the current Minister of Information, on the East African News Paper of August, 2003 that “there are people in the SPLM/A who’re rotten; those who’ve committed gross human rights violations. In peacetime, they’ll be weeded out”.

Of course, we do not expect the GOSS or interim president to perform miracles overnight, but given the amount of money the South obtained within that short period, it is common sense that the president would like the public to hear how these funds have been disbursed, how much that has been spent and on what? And how much is left for the task a head? We hope the rampant corruption that he is struggling to combat has not eaten up a large proportion of these amount as we have been told that out of $2.1 billion, about a third of it is unaccounted for. This is now causing a great concern among members of South Sudan legislative assembly and the public and they are wondering whether the budget of 2007 should be passed without hearing the report of the Minister of Finance about the expenditure of two years budget starting from September, 2005 to December, 2006—although we know that is far cry from legislators knowing the stubbornness of Minister of Finance, Mr. Arthur Akuen Chol, who refused to testify before the House Committee on corruption within his ministry, which was set up following the suspension of top five senior finance officers, including the two under-secretaries.

If his refusal to testify before the parliamentary committee investigating corruption is true as we gather from reliable sources, what steps will the president take when the report reaches him? Will he suspend the Minister of Finance for defying the parliamentary committee investigating corruption? Or will he dismiss him, arrest him, or leave him at large to continue with his looting spree? Has the president not learnt from his mentor, Dr. Garang, regarding combating corruption when he said in Rumbek that “on the issue of corruption, this animal has grown bigger, to the extent that we cannot catch it using nets”?

Perhaps the current corrupt practices and the move toward the institutionalization of corruption may be the work of corrupt individuals who were recruited during the struggle as Dr. Garang told New York Times Magazine’s Journalist in June, 1994 interview when he was asked about corruption. Dr. Garang, in his reply, said the following: “For every hundred men I recruit I may have two thieves”. With 180, 000 SPLM/A fighters recruited between 1983 and 1991, based on this logic, nearly 4000 rascal thieves and corruption lords were recruited during that period. There is a possibility that large proportion of that figure survived the war and they are members of SPLM party who may be occupying higher positions, as the news of corruption we receive daily are associated with some whom he had appointed to the leadership but could not give them assignments because of corruption—but he needed them to fight the war at the time.

Knowing that there is a large significant number of robbers, rascals and thieves recruited by Dr. Garang who might be members of the GOSS under his leadership, what plans does he have to discipline them or give them honorable retirement since they were used in the struggle but survived the war? Will they be treated as SPLM/A veterans of corruption and should not be questioned and be left as such? If the president cannot provide safeguards to protect public funds and resources from SPLM veterans of corruption, where does he expect people to turn to? Has he forgotten the question posed by Tiger Battalion?

Tiger Battalion posed the following questions: “1. People’s army, ask the whole World, what took us to bush? 2. Why did the people of South Sudan take up arms?” The same Tiger Battalion provided answers for their questions. First, it was to liberate the South from the domination of the Arab North. Secondly, it was to fight against economic, social and political injustices which were imposed by the successive Northern regimes leading to marginalization of South Sudan. Tiger made it clear that the men and women of South Sudan will fight against the northern domination up to the last two persons.

With the twist of events, where the enemy of the South is no longer with us, but has been replaced by our own new found oppressors masquerading as liberators, is it not high time for the people of the South to revisit the Tiger Battalion’s enquiries into our struggle? Will we not take seriously into account the remarks made by Chairman of Parliamentary Committee, Prof. Bari Wanji, investigating corruption within the Ministry of Finance when he said that “corruption is a social, cultural and economic genocide”? Is it not high time that those who committed “economic genocide” should be brought to justice? Perhaps Tiger Battalion’s veterans would recommend to the GOSS to form a committee to investigate not only the Ministry of Finance, but the whole web of Gogrial-Aweil dynasty and other Ministries that have been accused of mismanaging public funds—as clearly stated in the press release of SPLM/A Veterans against corruption and nepotism titled “Incompetence and Corruption are the Hallmarks of GOSS”.

With Prof. Wanji’s remarks, perhaps we should in all earnest reflect and take account of what our spiritual leader and Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wacko said about corruption in Southern Sudan. The most reverend made it clear that corruption in Juba is widespread to the point that anyone can practice it with impunity and even with pride. With such a remark coming from a revered and well respected spiritual leader, what is then left for Salva Kiir Mayardit to salvage? As a practicing Catholic who often goes to attend church services and take his mass (serve holy communion), is he not well aware of the role of the Roman Catholic Church in rendering services to the poor and liberating them from the bondage of poverty, oppression and corruption, as they have done in most of the third world countries particularly in Latin America where the church has a powerful role to play? Has he forgotten the role of the churches during liberation struggle which led to the formation of the New Sudan Council of churches and made the whole World to understand the flight of the people of South Sudan from Arab domination?

If Kiir doesn’t take seriously the advice of spiritual leaders, perhaps he should be reminded to take note of the remarks made by CDR James Wani Igga in Rumbek Conference of 2004. CDR James Wani, among others, listed problems which he envisaged were responsible for the crippling of the SPLM/A movement and its institutions, i.e., rampant corruption, the existence of kitchen cabinet, tribalism, nepotism, and regional discrimination. Unless Mayardit is still maintaining his position which he stated clearly during the conference that he was much concerned only about the welfare of the people of Bhar el Ghazal whom he regarded were being marginalized in the Movement—as he alleged that “there are people among us who are more dangerous than the enemy”—only to be rebuked by CDR Oyai Deng Ajak, current Chief-of-staff of the SPLA that CDR Kiir Mayardit should show statesmanship and behave like a South Sudan leader, which has now come to be true having taken over the rein of power after the tragic death of his dear leader and mentor.

Coming back to celebration of the 2nd anniversary of the CPA, we would expect the president to give a statement on the current state of affairs that has affected some members of the top leadership of the SPLM regarding allegations of misappropriation of public funds. The public would expect him to endorse the proposal of honorable Yasser Arman, the member of politburo of the SPLM and leader of SPLM Caucus in the National assembly, who recommended the formation of ad-hoc committee at presidency level to investigate and fight corruption in the apparatus of the state. Such a panel should probe into rampant corruption and the allegations that have been brought against the Vice-president and Minister of Housing, Dr. Riek Machar, Madam Rebecca de Mabior, Minister for Roads and transport and Lt. Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak, Chief-of-staff of the SPLA army.

According to our own reliable sources, the May, 2006 GOSS budget was $1.3 billion in which some of the institutions that had the lions share were the SPLA Affairs with the budget of $526 million; Roads and Transport with $165 million and Ministry of Housing with $120 million. Could there be a correlation between the allegations brought against Riek Machar, Rebecca Nyandeng, Oyai Deng Ajak and the handling of funds under these institutions as we recently experienced the JIUs’ protest and the deterioration of roads in Juba including lack of housing for the government employees? Perhaps, this question should be answered by the president himself as he is fully aware of the monumental task of development that waits the GOSS. We assume that the president has the master plan for the development of the South as it was laid down by Dr. John Garang where he identified the priority areas that should be addressed immediately within the eighteenth month period after the signing of the CPA and the formation of the GOSS.

Among some of Dr. Garang top priorities were trunk roads that would have to be completed in the first eighteen months of the formation of the Government of Southern Sudan and which would come into service after twenty four or thirty six months. According to that schedule, Southern Sudan would have a reasonable road network by 2008. Food security was a common sense objective that had to be achieved at the shortest time possible. This was to be done through the direct empowerment of the family to expand and improve production of crops and livestock. Self sufficiency was to begin at the household level. Dr. Garang was going to use the oil revenue to fuel agriculture—the only economic sector in which all the people are involved in one way or the other. The policy objective is to evade the tendency of oil dependency and economic policies aimed at creating small super-rich elite of the SPLM party and a vast poor majority of South Sudan.

So far, we can only see that the Ministry of Roads and Transport is receiving a reasonable amount of budget for the realization of Dr. Garang’s vision. However, the way the Ministry is handling the matters pertaining to roads construction may not lead to meeting the deadline Garang suggested. As for other ministries, particularly the Agriculture—which is the backbone of Southern Sudan economy—we have not seen any step towards increasing agricultural production that may give incentive to rural farmers to reach the level of self-sufficiency and move towards cash crop economy that may spur economic growth both in the rural and urban sectors. Kiir Mayardit should understand that what sustains the rural and the urban poor is their local economy based on informal sector, i.e., sale of local produces (fruits and vegetables) and the local beer brewing, which make them earn their living as well as providing some sort of social amenities. That is why foreigners who visit Juba usually find government employees and their bosses busy taking their beers to encourage them to go back to work in order to boost productivity, or to put succinctly, in order to cripple productivity in government offices. It should be made clear to Kiir Mayardit that Garang’s vision of developing economy of the South is very important and must be taken up seriously by the GOSS if they still maintain his legacy.

For Contact

Gordon Buoy Chairman of South Sudan Democratic Forum-Canada Ottawa, ON

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