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The 488 Million Pounds

Evidence of Corruption in the Presidency

by J. Nguen Nyol

President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit (Photo by Jenny Rockett (jenny.rockett@journalist.com))
President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit (Photo by Jenny Rockett (jenny.rockett@journalist.com))

 

 

BY: J. Nguen, CANADA

To fight and slightly curb any rampant corruption anywhere in the world requires due diligence, political shrewdness and meticulously aggressive policies. As such, an enforcing agent must, as well, be corruption-free in order to ensure that thieves of all breeds face full force of the law accordingly. On the contrary, half-baked political perfectionism is in itself an advancement and endorsement of corruption.

South Sudan is no exception in this voyage, however is part of a whole. The reverse is true in my home country, South Sudan. Outright thieves reign, where looting of public funds occurs in broad daylight by the very enforcer or man-in-charge, always.

For instance, President Kiir tells the people of South Sudan, and the world, the day his government does not condone and will not tolerate abject corruption, while in the cove of the dark, he and his cronies perfected the reverse, thereafter, blaming weak institutions in the country as a pretext to advance false consciousness.

The truth is, a strong leader in charge makes strong institutions, while the weaker are feeble because the man-in-charge is weak and corrupted. This is naturally how it works and why South Sudan is corrupted and failing.

As usual, I am here to help provide fresh, insightful information regarding abject corruption and the misappropriation of public funds eating away at South Sudan under the stewardship of President Kiir Mayardit.

The following commentary provides evidence of corruption in the presidency, and it will also share grounded perspectives on the unconstitutional removal of Taban Deng, governor of Unity State, on July 7th, 2013 through a presidential decree.

First and foremost, I would like to remind readers new to the subject that this is not the first time I have written a commentary about rampant corruption in South Sudan. Indeed, I have done so and pertinent points below are evidences of past corruption on which I have written:

1.     The $3 million (allegedly) caught red-handed from Mr. Stephen Madut Baak at the Heathrow International Airport in London in 2008, where Mr. Baak was un-hesitant to mention that he was working for the president as an adviser;

2.     The $4 billion reported missing by none other than President Kiir himself in 2012 and the $600 million reported allegedly stolen by the former RSS minister of finance, Arthur Akuien Chol in 2008;

3.     The $20 million stolen (allegedly) by Stephen Baak Wuol and $293 million reported by Aaron Young stolen (allegedly) by none other than Salva Mathok Gengdit, the current deputy minister of interior in RSS;

4.     And the $6 million in South Sudan pounds reported stolen from the president’s office 2013;

The lump sum of money unaccounted for in South Sudan and mentioned in my previous commentary is 4 billion and 922 million dollars.

In the recent past however, you might recall, President Kiir suspended two prominent South Sudanese federal government’s ministers on corruption charges, namely Deng Alor Kuol, minister of cabinet affairs and Kosti Manibe, minister of finance and economic planning.

Both men were accused of signing off an $8 million contract to a private business associate without Mr. President’s knowledge and approval. Recent evidence of paper trails about the contract suggested something cynical and untrue.

For example, a prominent figure in the ruling party, SPLM, and paper trails seen by myself, and published by the South Sudan News Agency, presented a gruesome departure from, and hopeless twist of, reality.

On July 7th, 2013 for instance, Mr. Pagan Amum accused the president of leaving the “real culprits” untouched. Mr. Amum blamed and criticised Mr. President for the suspension of the two ministers and he also asserted that the act was politically motivated.

Mr. Amum further explained that the accused Federal ministers were not in any way signatories of the alleged contract, which the evidence I have seen partially contradicts.

As such, there is no rebuttal from the president’s circle, and therefore such deafening silence speaks to something more cynical, which people of South Sudan ought to know.

Besides, the newest corruption scheme in the presidency I would like to bring into my readers’ attention is the $488 million pounds demanded by President Kiir himself on September 5th, 2011. President Kiir ordered $488 pounds to be awarded to ABMC Company without the Council of Ministers’ approval.

In a nutshell, ABMC Company is a private construction enterprise owned by Benjamin Bol Mel and Mr. President is allegedly a close business associate of the company.

Well-placed sources in the presidency and the Ministry of Roads and Bridges revealed that President Kiir personally ordered the Minister of Roads and Bridges, Gier Chuang Aluong to release $488 million South Sudanese Pounds (244 million dollars) to ABMC Company with immediate effect in 2011.

The ABMC Company in this scam was supposed to construct 69 kilometres of road under such a dubious contract, but there is so far little evidence proving the work being done.

Because of this suspicious act from the high office of the land, the people of South Sudan would like to know why Mr. President ordered the payment of $488 million South Sudanese pounds to his business partner without following a proper channel and why he got away with it?

Indeed, this is one of many, and one of the slightest chucks of rampant corruption crippling South Sudan under Kiir’s leadership. Conversely, this is the second time the presidency has been implicated into a corruption scheme during Kiir’s tenure.

Evidence of such sheer corruption began when $ 6million was reported stolen in the president’s office.

To give my readers the slightest glimpse of how much money South Sudan has spent on non-existing roads construction from 2006 to 2012; the new country has spent $1.7 billion dollars on roads, and yet only 75 kilometres road has been constructed and paved.

In comparison, USAID funded 192 kilometers of road construction in South Sudan and it was built and paved for $229 million dollars.

As evidence suggests, the disparity gap in this regard is real and undeniable, but the gruff manner ensued by the person in charge in our country is categorically appalling.

For instance, on April 12th, 2013, President Kiir fired South Sudan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Elias Wako Nyamellel for acknowledging that South Sudan is corrupted and “rotten to the core.”

This is not an acceptable move because such an act by the president endorses mode of corruption.

Hence, because no one in the government has talked about the alleged $488 million pounds awarded to ABMC Company by the president, it showed that our country is being held hostage by the person in charge and so therefore our country will not move forward.

Thus, I questioned our collective allegiance to the nation for which our people have collectively bled and died.

As we helplessly stand by, watching and allowing a few crooks to milk our country to its death is not going to do us good, but is detrimental, and represents our collective inability.

Similarly, it portrayed that we are too afraid, too ill-informed and too irrational to the core. So much so, our parliament in Juba is also a rubber stamp.

The Members of parliament (MPs) are too incompetent in discharging their rightful duties to further our nation by meaningful progress, but conversely, they became Mr. President’s punching bags and puppets.

Out of their inabilities and fears, they allowed President Kiir to be the supreme law of the land. No more, no less.

As a result, he unlawfully fires public servants and elected governors, and allegedly awards contracts to his business associates as he pleases, with ease. Unfortunately, these are the gruesome realities of a one-man rule.

This brings me to the unconstitutional removal of the Unity State governor, Taban Deng Gai. On July 7th, 2013, President Kiir Mayardit issued a presidential decree relieving an elected governor of Unity State.

Because President Kiir is above the law and does what he pleases, he did not consult with anyone in Unity State, including his Vice President, Dr. Riek. Subsequently, this has generated a lot of political rhetoric at the SPLM’s top leadership.

Similarly, people of Unity State including its parliament, questioned Mr. Taban Deng’s removal from the governorship. They therefore classified such an act as unjustified and also a clear violation of South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution of which Mr. President has wrongly quoted in this process.

Under no circumstance is it clear that Mr. Deng’s removal from governorship is politically motivated. As usual, President Kiir was ill-advised and ill-informed. As a result, he acted emotionally.

For one, Unity State is one of the peaceful States in South Sudan. Since 2011, there has never been major internal unrest in the State, which might have led to Mr. Deng’s removal.

Among the South Sudan States for example, Jonglei is one of the worse provinces regarding internal unrest. Thousands of people die in Jonglei almost daily due to cattle rustling and ethnic conflicts.

Unfortunately, Mr. President did not remove its governor, Kuol Manyang Juuk, because the president considers Mr. Kuol a staunch ally and supporter, tribally.

Secondly, the people of Unity State time and time again have, in the past, called on President Kiir to remove Governor Taban Deng from Governorship before Sudan’s 2010 elections, but all complaints fell on deaf ears.

To be precise, one of President Kiir’s close associates are on record telling the world that Governor Deng will not be removed from governorship so long Kiir is still in power.

That the issue has entered the president’s circle reveals an ugly truth, especially when the people of Unity State complained bitterly about Mr. Deng’s misrule in the past.

Following the 2010 elections, however, the people of Unity State swallowed this bitter pill when Governor Taban Deng was declared a winner. In unison, the people of Unity State threw their unwavering support to their governor without any reservation because justice has prevailed and democracy has spoken, even though there were reported riggings across South Sudan.

Now, it is irrational that President Kiir has violated this covenant at ease and still believes that the people of South Sudan and those of Unity State can still observe and respect his corrupted and distorted leadership.

Unfortunately, I would say this is not how it works, Mr. President.

In conclusion, I must assert that President Kiir has committed a serious political blunder, which might cause him his presidency in the coming years, if and only if he continues to resist well-intended counsel.

The truth is, however, that it’s still not too late for the president to reconsider his actions.

First and foremost, he should immediately allow the democratic process to take its course by reversing his decision on Mr. Deng’s removal from the governorship.

Second, he must allow an open investigation on the $488 million South Sudanese Pounds he allegedly authorized to his business associate, ABMC Company.

 

J. Nguen is a concerned South Sudanese living in Canada. He can be reached at nyolgaar@yahoo.com.

 

This editorial also appeared on Sudan Tribune, South Sudan Nation, allAfrica, and South Sudan News Agency.    


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