By Elhag Paul
June 8, 2012 (SSNA) — Behind president Kiir’s war on corruption declared in New York on 23rd September 2011 at the United Nation General Assembly lies an elaborate deceptive plan not only to defraud the RSS of much needed resource but determination to protect his cronies. This group comprise the cream of Warrap, Abyei and the other insiders from the country. They know themselves very well and they regularly socialise together. This is what one can rightly call a mafia. A gang of ruthless operators operating within the government of South Sudan for its sole interest. The structures of the state are used as instruments for their business and group protection. The masses mean nothing to them and their suffering does not disturb their conscience in any way.
Corruption in the Oyee party is not new. It dates back to its origin. This was laid bare in the Rumbek meeting of November 2004. At that time, president Kiir appeared not to have access to the loot. He was perhaps outside the circles of those who mattered in this game within the movement. He could feel the pain of poverty at his homes in Nairobi and Yei relying on handouts from generous relatives and aid agencies. That must have been a very humiliating time. He has certainly erased this painful chapter from his mind now.
This might have been one reason why he confronted Dr Garang. In Rumbek in November 2004, Kiir was scathing about Dr Garang and the Oyee movement. He lamented, “Corruption, as a result of the lack of structures, has created a lack of accountability which has reached a proportion that will be difficult to eradicate. “ “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 included in this respect.” This was Kiir when he was poor. He appeared as someone who detested corruption and was speaking for the people. Nine month down the road, following the unfortunate death of Dr Garang and with him assuming power, the situation remained unchanged. Corruption not only flourished but got blessed.
Under the watch of president Kiir from 2005 to July 2011 the resources of the RSS was devoured by his cronies mercilessly. In spite of the masses crying loud against the harm done on the country, president Kiir and the Oyee party ignored their cries and pretended that everything was OK. As long as the oil kept flowing to Port Sudan, no worry, let the masses cry and their cries will be resolved by trickle down economics. President Kiir therefore promoted corruption.
From July 2011 to the present, president Kiir has made a number of pronouncements which have not yielded any fruits in dealing with eradication of corruption. The latest is his letter of 1st June 2012 headed ‘Anti-corruption Measures’ in which he outlines steps already taken to address the matter. This letter is so deeply annoying because the contents are just naked lies that have not been thought of properly at least as a respect for the masses. Let us look at this letter critically point by point to illuminate the facade belying Kiir claimed actions.
According to the letter, in the last six month president Kiir appointed a new Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission. This is not a point to be made at all. In the first place there was no need for appointment of new chairman. The former chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission Dr Pauline Riak had not from an objective point of view failed in her duties. She was incapacitated by none other than president Kiir himself. This lady tried against all odds to deliver but the president and his Oyee party ignored her calls for enactment of legislation to give the commission the fangs it needed. So the president and the parliament neglected their duties by failing to do the obvious in providing Dr Riak with the necessary laws to empower her to do the job. Why was this? Why incapacitate a person who could effectively do the job? The reason can only be for president Kiir to protect himself and his cronies.
There is a remarkable thing that the people of South Sudan must acknowledge and that is to give Dr Pauline Riak respect and applause for not lying to the South Sudanese people. The reports she produced during her time could hardly be read as cover up. Perhaps her professionalism led to her victimisation. On the other hand the replacement of Dr Pauline Riak by Judge John Gatwech Lul raises serious problems about the working of GoSS, especially in relation to commitment of fighting corruption. With due respect to Hon. Lul, his recent report on corruption which he talked about in public discussion hosted by Radio Bahkita on 25th May 2012 puts his reputation and professionalism on line. His report which forms points number five and seven in president Kiir’s letter is full of stitch-ups that can not stand up to scrutiny. In any country with proper government, Hon. Lul and his deputy would be considered as accomplish to crimes against the state. Hence future government can prosecute them for dereliction of duty and knowingly protecting looters/thieves of the state. This is made worse because Hon. Lul is a legal person of high level. He should have resigned rather than promote unlawful acts. The legal community worldwide need to be informed of Hon. Lul’s unprofessional and unethical conduct in running the Anti-Corruption Commission of South Sudan. Whichever law association he is registered with as a member should be notified for him to be investigated and struck off for behaviour unbecoming of professional conduct.
It is possible that Hon. Lul capitulated to the corrupt Oyee system out of fear. Fear disables people of all sorts unless someone is absolutely confident. If Hon. Lul’s acts are motivated by fear, it underscores the toxic environment that president Kiir and the Oyee party have cultivated in the country. Once people begin to do things on the basis of lies and falsity, then everything becomes empty and this includes anything called development. No development can stand on ground of lies. Such developments eventually are brought down to rubble such as in Libya, Syria etc.
The second point the president has made in his letter is that “A letter was sent out last week to over seventy five former and current senior government officials in an effort to recover stolen funds.” This is a big joke. President Kiir has just revealed that he is incompetent and not up to the job. Governments do not beg thieves. Governments investigate them and when they have evidence they are arrested and taken through the courts system. Why has this not been done?
The third point of president Kiir is that “several presidential decrees were issued to strengthen transparency and tackle corruption.“ Where is the transparency on this issue of corruption. The whole process of dealing with the anti-corruption issue is shrouded in secrecy. The names of the culprits are not revealed. The amounts involved remains hidden from the public. All these are done on the grounds that the culprits have rights to privacy. These thieves do not deserve privacy simply because they have committed public crime. The politicians involved are not in total private persons. Occupying public office means they are public figures and as public figures they are accountable to the public especially in the cases where there has been the misappropriation of public funds. If president Kiir is serious about transparency he needs to publish the full reports with the names of the culprits and amounts.
President Kiir’s fourth point is that “An estimated 5,000 Declaration of Assets forms were returned by former and current government officials.” What is the purpose of this activity if this information is not going to be acted on? If there is transparency, why is this information not being made public? We all know that until 2005 no dollar millionaires existed in South Sudan. Declaration does not mean innocence and can not exonerate people with unaccounted for properties. What is GoSS going to do with this information?
The sixth point in the president’s letter is that the government of the Republic of South Sudan has opened a bank account in Kenya so that the stolen funds can be returned to this account. What is this point supposed to do? Is it meant to convince the public that something is being done? Why open an account abroad and not use the Bank of South Sudan? Is this logical when South Sudan has its own central bank? This sounds fishy.
The eighth point made by the president is that “In January 2012, president Salva Kiir Mayardit sent eight letters to heads of states in Africa, the United States, Middle East, and Europe seeking assistance in recovery of the stolen funds by current and former South Sudanese officials”. What is the outcome of these letters? Is it not in the interest of transparency to make the result public? Why has the president omitted Australia where his relatives and a number of South Sudanese related to Oyee cream own huge expensive mansions? Is this South Sudan version of libertarianism?
The final point is that “multiple investigations have been underway since January 2012 in an effort to recover stolen funds.” This is utter rubbish. A load of trash and tactless lies.
The above measures of the Dinkocrats are not worth the paper and ink wasted in writing them. There is no iota of truth in them. These are concocted measures designed to convince the people that the issue of corruption has been dealt and thereby gradually consign the matter to the dustbin of history. Additionally on 3rd May 2012 president Kiir in his letter willingly acknowledges that his administration has failed thus incriminating himself. This is very serious admission yet it can not escape being hilarious because it comes from an administration that claims competence. Although most of the letter raises very serious questions and deserve answers, the most damaging is the conclusion. It states, “We fought for freedom, justice, and equality. Many of our friends died to achieve these objectives. Yet, once we got to power, we forgot what we fought for and began to enrich ourselves at the expense of our people.” It is without doubt president Kiir publicly acknowledges he and his cronies ‘enriched’ themselves at the ‘expense’ of the people. Mark the word ‘expense’. This is a clear reference to all those who perished in Warrap, Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states from famine/hunger. Also to those who died due to lack of medicines and other essential services. This amounts to confession of criminal act against the people of South Sudan. With this public confession, do these people still deserve to be in power in charge of 9 million people? Should they not resign now and make way for a government of national unity? After all they have already driven the country into the sea.
All these letters from president Kiir tell the people something like this:” I, president Kiir am prepared to lie to you even when the lie is half baked and I know that even if you know you can do nothing about it because RSS is run by a totalitarian group led by me. So, I Kiir will protect my special group at all cost even if you the people die in drones due to the actions of my special group.”
Last year I attended a highly informative and thought provoking lecture on corruption in Europe given by the American professor Robert Klitgaard who is a world authority on the subject. Klitgaard forcefully argues that the first step to combat corruption is for the concerned authority to start by “frying a few big fish”. Without this any promises made by leaders are as good as nothing. So, if president Kiir genuinely wants to deal with corruption he can fry some of his colleagues. The opportunity to ‘fry’ Pagan came up and it passed smoothly with the oil on the pan without the master chef turning on the fire underneath it on the cooker. In this sense effectively the fish swam away. Has president Kiir really got the will to address corruption? It seems he is extremely weak, or maybe because he is one of the fishes. The evidence to this can be gleaned from his charade of letters referred to above.
Klitgaard coined a formula to define corruption. In his master piece article on corruption ‘International Cooperation Against Corruption’ published in the journal of Finance and Development in March 1998, he argues that corruption is equal to C=M+D-A. That is “corruption equals monopoly plus discretion minus accountability.” Klitgaard goes on to say that whether the activity is public, private or non profit and whether it is carried out in Ouagadougou or Washington, one will tend to find corruption when organisation or person has monopoly power over a good or service, has discretion to decide who will receive it and how much that person will get and is not accountable.
If one applies this analysis of Klitgaard on RSS, it becomes clear why corruption is proving to be a serious unsolvable problem in the country. The crux of the matter lies on monopoly of power wielded by the Oyee party fraudulently together with the exercise of that power in form of discretion without accountability. Remember to date the audit for the period 2006 to 2011 remains undone. Thus ultimately if South Sudanese want to eradicate corruption they need to address the issue of power imbalance in the country. The power held by the Oyee party needs to be drastically reduced or better still if eliminated. Those Oyee members who are dissatisfied with the management of the country Dinkocratically need to abandon the Oyee party. They need to move on in huge numbers to other parties to create party plurality which in turn creates a conducive atmosphere for democracy. That is the only way out of this morass. The question then is: Are South Sudanese ready to say enough is enough with the Oyee Party in the interest of the country? Without each citizen answering this question honestly Don Salvatore and his group who seem to operate under the allegiance of code of Omerta will continue to feed the public with rubbish on this matter without any tangible action and change while the rot develops from inside bowls of RSS.
The interview on Aljazeera under the title, ‘Inside Story: Can South Sudan combat corruption?’ featured on 6th June 2012 by Ghida Fakhry with panellist: Professor Paul Moorcroft, director of the Centre for foreign policy in UK; Mr Jonathan Temin, director of the Sudan Programme at the US Institute of Peace and Dr Barnaba Marial gives insight into the mentality of Don Salvatore’s government. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2012/06/20126664714931231.html These are people without any shame. They are prepared to lie even when everybody can see through it. They do not care to preserve the image of credibility of the government of South Sudan.
Penning off, it is abundantly clear that Don Salvatore is playing with people’s mind. He is not prepared to deal with corruption because he and his group are the beneficiaries. He is only interested in protecting himself and his cronies. Nowhere respectable could this type of charade go on without the government being forced peacefully to resign. Thus, corruption in South Sudan can only be dealt with by a neutral government of national unity. South Sudanese patriots should desert the Oyee party now to create political balance of power in the country. Efforts should be exerted towards that end and bringing the Oyee party to account. At the same time the international community must not under any circumstance extend support financially to Don Salvatore’s government. Any support must be in kind and administered by the donor agencies themselves to the people directly. Enough is enough with this government of looters.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected]