Dr. Josephine Lagu’s case exposes the nasty face of tribal politics in South Sudan

“Suddenly one hears that a verdict has been passed by a court in south Sudan, when we have almost forgotten that courts ever exist in our post CPA era.”

By Justin Ambago Ramba, MD

May 11, 2010 (SSNA) — The news about the acquittal of Dr. Josephine Lagu Yanga from the corruption charges directed against her by the government of south Sudan (GoSS), to many came as a complete surprise not because that they have any disrespect to the judiciary in south Sudan, but because in the first place they thought that the courts didn’t even exist, given the stories of rampant corruption and lowliness that have lately swarmed the region. 

Of interest for sure is of course is how did Dr. Josephine Lagu Yanga of all people ended up in the court in the first place given her status,   her social and academic back grounds and the widely known fact that all those suspected of involvement in the countless multi-dollars scandals and grafts in the GoSS often walk away unquestioned.

Dr. J.L. Yanga, daughter of the veteran south Sudanese Anya Nya- liberation movement leader, former vice president of the republic of Sudan and president of the High Executive Council for the Regional Government of South Sudan, under late president Jaafar Nimeiri, General (retired) Joseph Lagu Yanga,  was accused of financial fraud and dishonesty and  was immediately and humiliatingly relieved of her duties as undersecretary in the service ministry of education, science and technology (MoEST), in the government of south Sudan,  thus allowing the court to conduct thorough investigations and judgment without immunities.

However throughout the investigations period, Dr. J.L. Yanga maintained her innocence against the charges and vowed to defend herself against accusing fingers. Notwithstanding her assertions, majority within the ministry blamed her for involvement in the transfer of scholarship to South Sudanese students studying in the neighbouring Uganda.

Something not yet fully discerned was the way the GoSS ministry went around handling the case, which immediately raised eye brows because soon after her suspension, the ministry of education, science and technology before even carrying out the necessary preliminary departmental investigation, immediately rushed out and released a detailed personal information about the identity of the Undersecretary and the reasons for her suspension.

Whatever crudely gathered information on the case was made available to the media both locally and internationally and was thus broadcasted over the BBC and printed on a Ugandan newspaper. This same crude information was soon pushed into the internet blogs and was, quickly turned into every house-hold’s saga. As it was calculated, the entire story spread like wild fire and became public discussion in social gatherings in Juba, in the Sudan at large and as far as the communities in the Diaspora.

In a very rare move and as if the damage was not yet satisfactory to predators, these very crude findings and unconfirmed rumour was again raised in the South Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA), by minister (the hand behind everything in the case), in his response to the Motion by Hon Nartisio Loluke Manir, on the “Status of education in southern Sudan".

This particular case has hit very deep in the fabric of the south-south politics as it gathered momentum from political, civil and social groups. It represented the peak of how tribal politics can go wrong. And as this article is no longer a plea for Dr. J.L Yanga’s innocence, that she had already won in the court of law, it must be understood in its right context, which aims to bring to light the awful level to which our political leaders and their cronies in administration of the civil services have terribly degenerated.

We are here dealing with a case of a highly educated member of our community who once rightfully occupied a high position is south Sudan’s public service. She became the undersecretary in the ministry of education, science and technology not because of her family background that many rudimentary thinkers would want us to believe.

Looking at the broad sheet with the names of the various undersecretaries in the GoSS, the first thing one notices is the unequal representation of all the other people who don’t belong to the dominant ethnic groups, although they are well known for their unmatched academic merits and experience that could have easily qualify them even to run offices in the international arenas like the UN and others. Dr. Josephine L. Yanga was indeed a minority not just for her ethnicity, but as well for her calibre and academic stand. 

It is thus widely believed that Dr. Josephine Lagu Yanga was a victim of internal defamation and image damaging campaign within the ministry of education, science and technology. It is also speculated that there are some elements who continuously think that they should monopolize everything in the GoSS and especially so if it is to do with money. These money vampires were in fact threatened by the reforms brought about by Dr. J.L. Yanga in as far as the way the scholarship money was managed in the presence of the huge ghost names being presented as students within and outside the Sudan. And it was fairly concluded that these conspirators didn’t want her there in the ministry so they smeared her with false accusation, in order to vacate her post for a preferred tribesman. 

From the accounts received from a wide range of true and genuine students both in East Africa, Egypt and Sudan, they all agreed that right from the time Dr. Josephine L. Yanga took up the job in the ministry, she had acted as a barrier to unlawful flow of money within the ministry by breaking the chain that existed between officials and how they went around looting the public money using ghost student names.

>In her several defenses Dr. Yanga has said it time and time again that she is aware of the fact that she was in fact a victim of conspiracy because some powerful people in the GoSS are not happy with the reforms that she brought about in the ministry of education, science and Technology scholarships department in which she introduced a data base system for all the scholarships offered by her ministry, a fact confirmed by a wider t cross section of the students.

It shouldn’t take any body by surprise that there had been huge corruption going on in the MoEST especially on issues pertaining to scholarships. Many students with not only forged certificates but people who are completely bongus in every sense of the word were given scholarships to East African or even South African universities and huge sums of money was wasted as a result of their substandard performances. 

Dr. J.L. Yanga is a first class educationist and academician in her own right. For her to be mistreated partly because of being a woman in a man’s world that still exists even amongst Africa’s top intellectuals and elites in a ministry headed by a professor is indeed shameful. Her being the daughter of veteran General Joseph Lagu Yanga whom some people love to hate, has also added another unwelcoming dimensions in our public service.

Now let us face it, because this unethical way of going around with business in the GoSS, which is only known for its outstanding records on tribalism, nepotism and corruption has brought upon the entire south Sudanese community worldwide a challenge as Dr. J.L. Yanga’s acquittal in the high court only proves the existence of a conspiracy against her and by her immediate colleagues.

However the battle   is not yet properly won until Dr. J.L. Yanga gets all that she deserves in as far as her re-instatement back to her job and settling all her dues plus the full payment of any liabilities as her character was not only assassinated but she was indeed tormented and was made a laughing stock by those who falsely targeted her.

This should also take us to the next step, and that is to see into it that all those accused of corruption and mismanagement of public funds MUST appear before the court of law without ant exceptions. There are already cases that made shocking headlines and terrible revelations e.g. the 2 billion dollars Dura scandal. This must be immediately pursued and promptly taken before the court; otherwise the way in which the incumbent Finance minister is going around the case is a sure blockade to justice.

The families of late Ms. Mariam Biringi who was assassinated last year in the town of Yambio, where her corpse was dragged with complete inhumanity on the public roads of the town and later left in the middle of the main street to be scoffed by the passer-bys, are still waiting for justices. And a justice delayed is justice denied.

Still in Yambio town, those behind the random shooting of the school children still remain at large. But if the judiciary in south Sudan has finally come to life, then we look forward to hear more justice being done.

Dr.  Justin Ambago Ramba,  M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). The party that stands for the independence of South Sudan. Can be reached at either[email protected] or [email protected]

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