Suspension of identified corruption lords is urgently required
South Sudan Democratic Forum Party
May 12, 2006
The move taken by the President of the Government of South Sudan, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, to expose and name the Ministers who embezzled public funds is very encouraging. The South Sudan Democratic Forum and the media have been waiting for the President to take such a move. It could be regarded as a change of heart for the President to rebuke his own Ministers in the closed door SPLM meeting by stating that the South Sudan Security Service discovered the trail of money paid by the National Congress Party to four South Sudan Ministers. We would not expose the names of the four Ministers accused by the President of receiving bribes from Jellaba Arabs since the President himself would inform the public after returning from Uganda.
However, it is the duty of the Democratic Forum Party to advise the President how to handle the problem. Although President Kiir said he would launch an investigation soon, our party is of the opinion that he should follow the mechanisms usually pursued to uncover unethical practices like corruption. The first thing to be done is the formation of inquiry composed of dignified members of South Sudan Parliament representing all parties. A representative inquiry is needed so that the investigation process would be impartial.
Before the investigation takes place, the Ministers mentioned by the President should be suspended and relieved from their duties until the investigation is complete. Investigating the said Ministers without being suspended from their duties would jeopardize the investigation process because the likelihood of interfering with the investigation process by covering up the evidence is very high. Although the President has enough evidence against the accused Ministers, they could try to destroy any further evidence that may link them to corruption. The only way to avoid that is for them to be suspended as soon as possible.
We have been bombarding the President so many times to fight corruption in the government. However, he has either been intentionally omitting his duties to prevent his subordinates to engage in corrupt practices or has been negligently allowing corruption to flourish. Nobody from the opposition parties would question the integrity of President Kiir when it comes to ethics. Before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, he was reduced to begging because he didn't want to join Garang's corruption club. Moreover, he is a man who attends church twice a week and prays twice a day. His spiritual commitment may indicate honesty in his part to deal with corruption lords who are amassing wealth at the expense of development. He is known to read the Bible when he is stressed with the huge task on his desk.
Unfortunately, the President ignored the advice of King Solomon when he formed the government last year. King Solomon warned that the first enemies of a leader are people around him. These are the people who could determine the failures and successes of leadership because they are capable of feeding the leader with lies or truths. In South Sudan context, President Kiir has been given wrong advice since he formed the GoSS in September, 2005. First, he appointed individuals who are graft suspects as Ministers. Within eight months, these suspects continued doing what they had trained themselves with, which is, stealing public funds and receiving bribes from enemies of the South. The failure to understand the wisdom behind the proverb of King Solomon has led the President to omit his Constitutional duties of checking the performance of his Ministers on a weekly basis. This failure gives the corruption lords incentive to loot public funds.
One of the psychological means the corruption lords employed to discourage the President from cracking down on them is to fill his mind with fear that there are groups within the SPLM who want to take power from him. Whenever decent members of the SPLM join hands with members of the Democratic Forum to formulate modalities of combating corruption, the corruption lords would convey a false news to the President that there are individuals who want to stage a coup d'état. Since last year, President Kiir has been living in fear. The message the corruption lords send to him is “to choose between his allies and enemies”. Actually, the so called “allies” of the President are in fact the ones he accused of embezzling public funds and received bribes from the enemies of the CPA. The individuals accused of being “enemies” are in fact the angels who want to clean the government.
The future of President Kiir on earth would be determined by what he would do to his closed friends. Failure to punish them as demanded by South Sudan's Constitution would lead future government from another party to prosecute and put him in jail for the failure to prevent corruption from taking place. In criminal law, failure to prevent a crime from occurring is a punishable offence. So many leaders have fallen because of willful blindness when they are in power because they don't usually believe to be prosecuted after becoming powerless. Crimes related to corruption have no limitation period. It doesn't matter whether President Kiir ordered looting of public funds or not; the fact that he appointed individuals with criminal records of corruption is an evidence of omission of duty to prevent corruption from taking place. When President Richard Nixon failed to prevent his subordinates from wiretapping a meeting of Democratic Party, he was forced to resign in humiliation by the Congress.
We have made our position clear to the public that the President should set up anti-corruption Commission composed of individuals representing various South Sudan parties. The reason is that a commission filled with SPLM members would not carry out a Constitutional duty of investigating corrupt SPLM officials for political reasons. There is an ill-advised belief among members of SPLM that the party has a divine right to embezzle public funds. Most SPLM's officials resist criticism by hiding behind the veil of ignorance of the party being the main signatory of the CPA. Such arrogance has culminated into culture of entitlement that led to evaporation of the 2005 budget. When the Democratic Forum raised the issue last year, we were accused of being agents of Jellaba Arabs. Paradoxically, the chairman of the SPLM party, H.E. Salva Kiir, has now confirmed from his intelligence officers that four Ministers of the GoSS from SPLM received bribes from the NCP to spread Arabization, Islamization and paralysis of South Sudan. The SPLM party is like a priest who preaches that adultery is immoral while he is having extra-marital affairs. Those who cover corruption have never produced tangible evidence against the opposition parties of being used by the enemies of the South. In contrast, the President of the South has now acknowledged that four Ministers from SPLM have received bribes from National Islamic Front (NCP).
The question the people of the South should pose is whether it is the SPLM or South Sudan Democratic Forum Party that is responsible for the mysterious disappearance of over two hundred million dollars which could have been used to rebuild South Sudan infrastructure. If it the SPLM party which is currently in power, the responsibility for corruption rests with the SPLM leadership. The traitors are not those calling for corruption to stop but those conducting parties every day in Juba to celebrate corruption. It is an insult to the intelligence of the people of the South for the SPLM to accuse other parties during the day of collaborating with the enemy while sleeping with the enemy at night.
There is no doubt that corruption flourishing in Juba is a crime against development. The President has a constitutional responsibility to deal with it. All the contracts signed by Vice-president Riek Machar need review. If the allegations linking him to corruption are proven, the President should not hesitate relieving him from his duties. There are corruption lords within the SPLM who are currently misleading the President not to fire Riek Machar for allegedly receiving bribes from Ascom Ltd and Ugandan companies that are supposed to start construction of roads for fear of what they called "Nuers uprising". The Nuers should not be insulted by the lords of poverty who think that they would be against the removal of Riek Machar if indeed it is proven to have signed contracts that were financially induced. There are many Nuers within the SPLM who could occupy the position of vice-president if it is designated for the Nuers. There are competent Nuers who could constitutionally execute their duties without indulging themselves in illegal practices. Contrary to the misguided wisdom of the lords of poverty, what would compel the Nuers to take up arms is the denial of development by corruption lords in Juba. If Dr. Riek Machar is indeed proven to have engaged in corruption, failure to remove him would lead to uprising of the people of the South who yearn for development.
We call upon the President to avoid being hypocritical to the public. In 1989, Commander Salva Kiir, as he was known then, fired squad three SPLA freedom fighters for illegally taking three sheep from a farmer without permission. His rationale was that robbing of civilians by his own forces could not be tolerated. Based on today dollars, the price of three sheep is less than two hundred dollars. Although a freedom fighter cannot be killed by stealing a private property less than two hundred dollars, the question the President has to answer now is whether the four Ministers he identified to have embezzled more than a million dollar should be fired squad. Failure to judicially kill them would amount to hypocrisy. The souls of three SPLA fighters he killed would never forgive him. If the President is a religious man, he should not only suspend the four Ministers but also ask the prosecutor to lay charges of treason punishable with life imprisonment as stipulated in the South Sudan Constitution. Since four of them are accused of receiving bribes from the enemies of the South, they have committed a capital crime.
We assume that the same capital punishment the President applied on three SPLA soldiers seventeen years ago should also apply to Ministers who embezzled public funds. They should be brought to justice and try in a free and fair trial that should prove beyond reasonable doubt that they had committed crimes of corruption and treason. When they are found guilty of said offences, the court should sentence them to life imprisonment. If the President wants to show his friendship with them, he should only take care of their dependents while they spend their time in prison.
While the investigation is underway, the President should also inform Interpol to freeze the assets of the four Ministers in foreign banks. Nobody should be allowed to benefit from his criminal acts. The President should send a letter to head of States of Kenya and Uganda to return the stolen money to South Sudan people. Moreover, the four Ministers should not be allowed to leave Juba town before the investigation is complete.
Gordon Buoy, South Sudan Democratic Forum-Canada
Email: [email protected]
South Sudan Democratic Forum
Juba, South Sudan