By Elhag Paul
February 26, 2012 (SSNA) — To the consternation of the ‘Oyee party’ leaders, Mr Arthur Akuein Chol on 10th February 2012 at Home and Away hotel in Juba re-opened the Pandora box on corruption at a very sensitive time thrusting himself and his four colleagues into the lime light.
Did he panic because the auditor general’s report was referred to the ministry of Justice for prosecution purposes and he did not want to sink alone? Or did he want to strike a plea bargain with the authorities thereby saving his neck and sending the others down the drain? Whichever of the two, Mr Chol got it wrong. He misread the working of GoSS on the issue of corruption.
GoSS is shrewdly steering the issue of corruption towards the binning zone. The colossal embezzlement of public resources is not going to go away as president Kiir and his cronies would want and wish it. They can kill the issue now while they are in power but this is only temporary. The report of the auditor general which officially certifies the SPLM led government as corrupt would remain as credible source for any future government to re-open enquiries on the subject.
Mr. Chol’s panic and his reaction have helped in informing the masses about who are actually behind the embezzlement of the public funds in the RSS.
The big five: the former minister of finance Mr. Arthur Akuein Chol himself; the speaker of parliament Gen. Wani Igga; president Salva Kiir; vice president Riek Machar and SPLM secretary general Pagan Amum. The four pointed out by Mr. Chol have interest in ensuring that the corruption saga is brought to an end in their favor. What they did not do was to keep Mr. Chol informed of their plan to kill the issue.
Had Mr Chol been informed or had he read the situation correctly he would have not reacted the way he did for the simple reason that the referral of the auditor general’s report to the ministry of justice was in fact not for prosecution purpose but rather for shredding.
It must be recalled that Mr John Luke Jok, the minister of Justice is on record that he would not prosecute any person suspected of corruption on the report because the auditor general’s report did not cover all the government institutions. During the deliberations in the parliament, Mr Michael Makwei, the former minister of justice and the current minister of cabinet affairs worked hard to discourage the MPs from referring the auditor general report to the anti-corruption commission.
He convinced the majority of the MPs to refer the case to the ministry of justice knowing well that Mr Jok, the minister vouched not to prosecute anybody on corruption. It is paradoxical that this is coming from Mr Makwei, the very person who expressed dismay in the Rumbek meeting of November 2004 saying “the leadership is not committed to fighting corruption.”
Mr Jok’s stated intention of not wanting to prosecute violation of the law in itself raises a number of issues.
1) it is tantamount to abating crime. It does not matter whether all government institutions are audited or not, any person suspected of wrong doing (breaking the law) must be brought to account in court of law. Mr Jok’s declaration and intent not to prosecute in itself is a violation of the law. In this regard he is not different from any criminal in the RSS.
In our constitution under Duties of Citizen clause 46 section 2 subsections C, D and G; Mr Jok is under duty to i) preserve and protect public funds and assets and respect legal and financial obligation; ii) prevent and combat corruption and sabotage; and iii) abide by the law and cooperate with the appropriate agencies in the maintaining law and order. Why is he ignoring his duties to the country and the people of South Sudan?
2) Mr Jok is abusing his powers by not allowing the due process of law to take its course. BY refusing to process the cases of corruption before him, he is setting a bad precedent for the future. This act actually encourages corruption and it is contrary to the president’s declaration in many fora both at home and abroad.
It must be recalled that Mr Jok failed to win a parliamentary seat during the election of 2010. He is not in the government because he represents a constituency, but he is in the government and parliament because of dinkocracy: he is a nominee of president Kiir against the wishes of the people. Mr Jok is known for drafting the infamous transitional constitution which was bulldozed through the parliament with his manipulation. Could he now be repaying his master, president Kiir in appreciation of double appointment: as a minister and an MP without a constituency?
Although the parliament referred the auditor general’s report to the ministry of Justice, this should not be the only department to investigate the issues raised in the report . The anti-corruption commission is entitled to begin its own investigation straightaway into the matter based on the contents of the press conference of Mr Arthur Akuein Chol regardless of the referral to ministry of Justice.
Mr John Gatwech, the commissioner of anti-corruption commission needs to act. He is already empowered by the constitution. The commission is vested with powers under clause 144 section 1 subsections A and B to protect public property and investigate and prosecute cases of corruption respectively. As a high court judge he is knowledgeable in the game and the people of South Sudan expect him to come hard on corruption.
Mr Chol has provided him with the ammunition and there is no reason for him not to act. In this, we have a case to test the effectiveness of the anti-corruption commission and its independence. We wait to see.
In the attempt to save his neck, Mr Chol has made the situation worse for the big five guns of the ‘Oyee party’. President Kiir for the first time is directly implicated in corruption by Mr Chol’s phrase, ‘from above’. His credibility like the rest is highly questionable now and this is what disturbs the big five greatly. They do not want to lose the coveted status of ‘liberators’ to the disgrace of ‘thieves’.
Unfortunately for them, they have been complacent for a very long time on the cancer of corruption. Mr Chol himself has a history on the topic during the regional government (1972 to 1983) when he was the minister of commerce. He should not think that we have forgotten about it. It is rich for Mr Chol to say, “there have been constant attempts being made by some few individuals within the current governing body to discredit and defame me as a significant figure amongst the founding members of this nation (the Republic of South Sudan).”
By trying to salvage his reputation he is stirring interest in people to research further into his biography which may be riddled with scandals. While Mr Chol was in charge of the movement’s finances, Kiir before becoming president complained about corruption in the movement. This was in November 2004 in the Rumbek meeting.
He had this to say, “I would 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 establish in South Sudan considering ourselves indulged in this respect.”
On becoming president of South Sudan within the Sudan in 2005, it was expected that the president would deal firmly with the issue of corruption since he was openly and strongly against it in the Rumbek meeting. But this did not happen.
Conversely, president Kiir presided over unprecedented looting spree in the history of South Sudan. He appeared comfortable in the dirt until he woke up on the eve of his visit to the UN General Assembly in September 2011. Since then he has been crowing loud about war on corruption without any action. He has now set up an elaborate facade on the issue to deflect the international community.
With the ‘Oyee party’ s’ failure to govern, how could they expect to maintain the status of ‘liberators’, ‘men of the people’ etc when the country is slowly sliding into abyss? If the quintet are liberators as they claim they should do the dignified thing and resign as patriotic people all over the world do and let us have an election. If South Sudanese truly see them as the liberators they will be voted in.
Pagan Amum is running left and right threatening legal action against Mr Chol in the hope that the masses will see him as clean. Mr Amum now like Mr Chol himself is desperate to clean his image.
On the other hand Mr Machar, employing the ghost Isaiah Abraham appears totally rattled. This can be seen in the appeal the fictitious Isaiah Abraham made in his article titled; ‘South Sudan anti-corruption investigation drive is on track but……..’ published by Sudan Tribune on 17 th February 2012. “ Ireckoned that it is healthier to put to notice anyone who is on the wrong side of the law, whoever he may be, but in this particular issue at hand, let’s not be carried away by Hon. Arthur reckless revelation. It is prudence again not to dump key liberation leaders under such cloudy allegations. Comrade Riek Machar or Ustaz Pagan Amum to my best judgment can’t associate with such public scams. Mr. Arthur isn’t talking, he could be under pressure from some spoilers to damage the reputation of people like Dr. Machar or Mr. Amum, a few hard working personalities under President Kiir.”
What is Isaiah talking about here? Does he think that South Sudanese are stupid to buy this kind of nonsense? Who in South Sudan does not know that the duo are the moguls of corruption in the country? To cleanse these two Isaiah needs to come with a magic argument. Or perhaps he needs to start praying for them.
Isaiah Abraham’s article when properly analyzed reveals the level of panic and crisis in the person of Mr Machar and the ‘Oyee party’. They want to salvage their status as liberators and also remain in power to continue with mismanagement. I hope that the public can see through this facade. They cannot have it both ways. Either they are dignified liberators or they are disgraced looters of public coffers.
The former is now far fetched and the latter looks like the most eminent conclusion. Hence rather than being taken as the big five guns of SPLM, they will be seen as the quintet squirrels.
Squirreling public funds has been going on in GoSS since its inception in 2005 under the watch of the ‘Oyee party’ leaders who disregarded the needs of the public. South Sudan has paid dearly for the crimes of the quintet and their party. We have lost hundreds of thousands of precious lives to famine which should never have happened had the quintet squirrels not abused their powers.
It is important that we also treat the quintet squirrels fairly. While the evidence overwhelmingly indicates their full connivance in corruption, they are also victims of a broken organization. SPLM, their organization is to a large extent responsible for producing destructive and corrupt people.
We in South Sudan have taken our eye away from the real source of problems in our country. It is not the quintet, but it is the SPLM party itself. To resolve all the problems in the RSS once and for all, the ‘Oyee party’ must be held to account.
First of all, the culture of SPLM clearly shows that it is an ill organization. It is violent, it is a liar, it is an ethnicist, it is a manipulator, it is charming, and it is not only power hungry but an organization gone mad. These characteristics in a human being make a psychopath and similarly in organization it does the same. So, SPLM as a psychopathic organization can not be relied upon to manage our country for the benefit of its people. Mad people are erratic and unpredictable and so is the ‘Oyee party’.
Take for example, SPLM does not empathize with the needs of the people. It blatantly lies on any issue. It discriminates against its own people. It protects and promotes theft. It does not protect the citizens and so on. Do we really expect such a psychopathic organization to deliver? The answer is a resounding No! Its logical products are the quintet squirrels and the chaos we have in the RSS.
Looking at it from this point allows us to also see the fact that it is not entirely the fault of quintet squirrels, but that they are also the product and victims of the ‘Oyee party’. So to address the chaos in the RSS we need to adopt a root-to-branch approach.
Having come this far it is time to sum up. Mr Chol has fairly cooperated by providing us with pertinent information to build up the jigsaw. It is now for the anti-corruption commission to pick up the case. So, the quintet squirrels should now be held to account. They must not be let off the hook. If this saga happened in any other country, there would have been mass resignations followed by a general election. But in the RSS, it is a different story.
The reasons are clear and known – SPLM is violent and is an oppressive party. So we need to ensure that the suspects are prosecuted and let them have their day in court as a starting point in clearing their names and the mess of
As demanded by our constitution they must account for the embezzlement of public resource. It is not up to Mr John Luke Jok to cherry pick the very constitution he personally put in place to appease his masters.
Thieves should not be allowed to masquerade as liberators when they are barbaric plunderers.
With this broken system, we need a government of national unity now followed by a general election for the people to choose who should lead them. Enough with the thieves and mismanagement of the RSS. Vote against corruption by saying loud and clear: Down with SPLM! Yes for a government of national unity.
The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected]