Analysis: The snollygosters hiding behind COVID-19

One day you will be held accountable for every penny that has ever entered your pocket the wrong way.

By Ajang Longar,

South Sudanese members of prisoners of war and political detainees holding hands after their release in Juba, South Sudan(Photo: file)

South Sudan President Salva Kiir attends a South Sudan peace meeting as part of talks to negotiate an end to a civil war that broke out in 2013, in Khartoum, Sudan June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

May 13, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — The Republic of South Sudan was free from Corona virus until April 5th 2020 when she registered her first patient of Covid 19 who had travelled into the country on 28th Feb 2020 from Netherlands. However, within 2 weeks the country had recorded 34 of which 25 patients were members of the Tonj Peace Mission and were all contacts of the 5th patient and the country now stands at 176 confirmed cases, 174 active cases and 2 (two) recoveries. This has agitated fear amongst the south Sudanese having others think whether the Government’s policy to track down contacts and implementation of her directives to curb the disease were efficient or Maybe these cases are political cases so as the govt can get some of the donations given by the international bodies (okay that’s another thought). Put in mind that the lockdown has been lifted so imagine how many more case will be confirmed.

The fight against Covid 19 is spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and The High-Level Task Force headed by H.E the President of South Sudan (SKM) and deputized by The First Vice President (RMT). However, it’s been the First Vice President that has been appearing on TV highlighting what has been discussed and the new measures. This has made many people questioned of the whereabouts of the president who only appeared twice to address the nation since the outbreak of the disease.

WHO ARE THESE MAFIAS?

South Sudan's new cabinet ministers taking oath of office in the capital, Juba, on Monday, March 16, 2020(Photo credit: SSNN)

South Sudan’s new cabinet ministers taking oath of office in the capital, Juba, on Monday, March 16, 2020(Photo credit: SSNN)

Given the weak nature of the Health sector in South Sudan plus it being the spearhead in the fight, measures have been approved by the government and other International bodies to allocate funds to the sector to ease its fight against Covid19. With these approvals, the question then comes in How has the High-Level Task Force (HLTF) spent the funds to strengthen its fight putting in mind the principle of transparency? 

In early March, the Government in conjunction with the HLTF pledged 3 millions US DOLLARS to support SS students in Covid 19 affected countries (with the exclusion of East African Countries). Well this was only for those students on government Scholarships and to the dismay of the citizens, 1 million dollars was withdrawn to support them with each getting $100. The question then is where is the remaining 2 million dollars and How many students got hold of this $100? The only conclusive answer is their Bank Accounts. Even before it was approved, many had given up due to the corrupt trait of our leaders and how it was being downplayed. What puzzles me and others is what criteria was used by the Secretary of Higher Education to allocate this money. In such circumstances, those with power are the beneficiaries and the intended recipients (citizens at large) are the beggars.

The ministry of Health has been the biggest beneficiary in this hard time which many of us would applaud given its spearhead role. International bodies have supported in terms of “donations”, well we all know these are loans with strings attached in the long run. The Government allocated 2M (two million) US dollars to strengthen its activities towards Covid 19 which is a good move, but then are these officials trusted? The South Sudan citizens have partially entrusted them with this work and up to now nothing has been availed to citizenry on how that money was used. Would it be that it’s the money used to purchase the 60 Ventilators that were to land on a certain weekend, but then where are these ventilators? Or maybe the Central Bank did not release the money, am yet to learn of this.

Similarly, on the 11th of April, MoH requested for the payment of 3 Million US dollars to A.F.T Concept Ltd to procure equipment and Medical Products to prevent and manage fight Covid 19. However, there are a few questions on this company. Its alleged that it’s a construction company that was once contracted by Tut Kew (current Presidential Adviser on Security issues) last year and that it has worked on Houses of many government officials, we are yet to know the truth. The undersecretary of MoH indicated that it was part of the approved budget for the financial year 2019/2020. Up to date, the requirements haven’t yet been communicated. It’s always great to be aware of what one’s country is doing and how it intends to use the Taxpayers money and donations or grants given in the name of citizens. Where is the principle of transparency in the government? Are these funds really being put to use as requested? I think in such hard moments, collective work for the country is desired to eradicate misuse of state funds because Covid 19 isn’t the end since there are more developments needed to be satisfied e.g. transport sector, mining sector, Education sector and greatly payment of soldiers and other public servants who haven’t yet tasted their hard work for 6 months now. They say in hard times, there are those that make good use of it to swindle money to their survival and the peasantry increases and this is exactly what is happening in South Sudan.

The world Bank, European Union and IGAD donated 8 million dollars, 5 million Euros and 100,000 dollars respectively towards the fight of Covid 19 pandemic. Well on whose account were these chunks of money deposited, is it the HLTF account or a shadow account. The common trait in Africa is that governments announce these donations but they do not enlighten the citizenry on how they intend to spend and how they have spent the money. It’s no surprise that our very own government hasn’t yet updated us on what has been done. Maybe these donations are being used to facilitate the High-Level Task Force (HLTF) meetings (49th now) carried out in Pyramid Hotel with some of the SPLM IO officials residing there. Why can’t these meetings be carried out at the Ministry of Health or any government buildings to reduce over expenditure on non-priority activities? Of recent, Palm Hotel issued a debt statement of 2 million dollars owed to them by the government for the past year and maybe just maybe the government has paid them using these donations, well that’s a thought for another day          

The Ministry of Finance and Planning.

The hand that dips into the bottom of the pot will eat the biggest snail. 

Hon. Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, the minister for finance and economic planning

Hon. Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, the minister for finance and economic planning

It’s not news to most south Sudanese to hear the many scandals happening in this ministry. It has been on the forefront pocketing the state funds in a broad daylight way back before the formation of the Unity Government when millions of dollars were stolen. The duty bestowed on it by the Constitution has been slavishly treated by it to an extent of withdrawing 30 million south Sudanese pounds for a funeral rite for the son (RIP) of the Minister of Finance. Where in the world (only in South Sudan) does a minister’s, personal responsibilities have to be catered for by State funds? It’s alleged that the son committed suicide. Where is the Anti-Corruption commission to investigate on these scandals? I guess the undercover team that has been publishing these documents (employees) too are tired of the theft cases that’s why there has been leakage of these documents (I say thank you so much).

It’s in the same ministry that the Head is alleged to have stolen 50 Million USD in early March but this was covered up by the beneficiary brothers (big people) with a statement that the Minister borrowed and would pay it back. Who does that? And up to date nothing has been paid back to the central Bank. I can’t even say that there will be apprehended one day because they have Mastered the Art of theft in the county and I guess the judiciary is shut by these ministers (the thought that the judiciary is the weakest arm of Government seems to manifest best in South Sudan). On 23rd April 2020, the Ministry of Finance approved the withdrawal of 4 Million SSP on a monthly basis for the Minister’s House and Office emergencies. Notably the reason was to avoid unnecessary disturbance, so at the end of the year it will be 28 million SSP (4,000,000 X 7). Remember this money was approved for the same person that borrowed 50 million USD and given 30 million SSP for the funeral rites. Where do our Ministers spend their stolen money because even their expenditures are not felt in Juba? Remember soldiers and civil servants haven’t been paid for over 6 months now. So, then what is the priority of the Government?

Where is the respect for RSS Motto, FOR JUSTICE, LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY?

THOUGHT

The Anti-Corruption Commission established by Article 143 in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice should investigate on these corruption tendencies. But is it Independent? will it do its work? given that the members are appointed by the President. Well, then that would be an answer for another day, however, they should bring out the image for which it was established.

It’s also time for the courts of law to be tested and deliver the justice all citizens have been waiting for since the struggle. The judiciary has been redundant lately in its role as an over seer of the two organs of government (Executive and legislature) enunciated in the principle of Checks and Balances. The South Sudan Law Society should step up and challenge these corruption scandals if the Anti-corruption Commission cannot challenge these practices. Also, private practicing Lawyers should endeavor to keep an eye on these mafias otherwise we shall all one day wake up without any penny in the central Bank.

These mafias will continue to loot and spend extravagantly if the responsible bodies don’t team up and question their accountability. 

~ Edited by Deng Elijah

The author, Ajang Longar, is a concerned South Sudanese who can be reached through his email at ajanglongar@gmail.com for more information on this article.


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