March 7, 2017 (NAIROBI) – A huge financial scandal threatens to undermine the work of South Sudan’s Crisis Management Committee (CMC) as leaked documents, Sudan Tribune obtained, show how ministers and other senior government officials swindled over SSP 360 million.
- South Sudan’s vice-president, James Wani Igga, speaks at a press conference in the capital, Juba, on 28 December 2013 (AP)
Formed through a presidential decree issued on 30 April, 2014, the CMC, headed by Vice-President James Wani Igga, was tasked to assess the political, social, economic, security and diplomatic effects of the conflict that broke out in the young nation in mid-December 2013.
Part of the committee’s work was to provide strategies for mitigating the consequences of the conflict and formulate an awareness raising strategy targeting the population, region and international community about the government’s version of events and how to better respond to a crisis that has displaced millions of people.
A number of senior government officials formed part of the crisis management committee.
According to the report, out of the SSP 447 million that was disbursed to the committee’s account, its leadership could only account for SSP 84 million, raising questions on the whereabouts of the remaining funds.
“The rest of the money were spent without the knowledge and approval of the CMC leadership by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning”, Vice-President Igga wrote in the executive summary of the report.
“Honorable ministers, this progress report helps to clarify some circles peddling gossips that the work of the crisis management committee might end up in crisis itself”, he further observed.
Also of concern was that the SSP 100,526,761 reported by the secretariat in their summary balance sheet report annex does not correspond with the amount on the printed bank statement from the CMC’s account and it does not, in any way, reflect the SSP 84 million, which it said could be accounted for.
Further investigation revealed how the balance sheet figures availed could have either been deliberately under estimated or else the numbers doctored to suit the interest of the committee’s leadership.
The report details how ministers, military generals, political and other government officials as well as business people received cash payments from the CMC secretariat and the Bank of South Sudan in complete disregard of the country’s Public Financial Management and Accountability Act, 2012.
Among the list of senior ministers paid cash, according to the report, is that of National Security Services in the Office of the President, Obuto Mamur Mete, who received SSP 5 million on 5 February, 2014, wired on account number 00269192001203 in Bank of South Sudan.
Another payment of SSP 3.5 million was made to Mamur on 4 March, 2014.
Also implicated in the report is the deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology and Postal services, Akol Paul Kordit who received a cash payment of SSP 444,345 on 22 January, 2014.
Also indicated in the report to withdrawn cash is the acting chief administrator in the office of the president, who doubles as the chief of state protocol at South Sudan’s presidency, Ambassador Bol Wek Agoth who received $173,594 for unknown reason.
Others are Adut Salva Kiir was paid a staggering sum of SSP 14 Million to supply fuel and other unexplained expenditures, Machok Majong (Member of Parliament from the newly created Gogrial State), who received cash payment of SSP 412,500 on 18 February, 2014, Hellen Andrea Juma and Mabior Nhial Mabior (both senior cashiers at the Office of the Vice President), who withdrew huge sums of money indicated on the bank statement, yet no accountability appears on the narrative of the report.
One Clement Vito, according to the report, received cash payment of SSP 1.5 million on 21 February, 2014, but this was unaccounted for. However, no where, in the report, was it mentioned that beneficiaries of money from the CMC, accounted for it.
The report also accused ministers who headed the sub-committees of the CMC for not submitting, as required, expenditure reports to the secretariat in order to make accountability for money spent by those line ministries a possibility.
“It is important to note that expenditures, assets and liabilities shown in this report and its related annexes do not included inputs from the other CMC Sub-Committees who despite our repeated calls have ignored to submit their accountability statements”, partly reads the report signed by the Cabinet Affairs Minister, Martin Elia Lomuro.
It add, “Also part of the expenses was incurred after the dissolution of CMC to clear portion of the bills resulting from the preventive accommodation of government ministers, members of parliament and other VIPS [Very Important Persons]”.
According to the report, the office of the country’s Vice-President and chairperson of the committee spent $1 million to buy personal armored vehicles, which were accounted for in the report as a loan.
So much as this was a committee tasked to respond to humanitarian needs of the population, its head saw it as an opportunity to stoke up on his bullet proof cars during the difficult times in the country.
In the report, for instance, the Vice President’s private secretary Bosco Eluzai Mabe received the $1 million meant for purchasing the cars, but there is information, in the report, on unit costs for each car.
HUGE ACCOMMODATION EXPENSES
The report also details how ministers, members of parliament and other senior government officials were accommodated under the CMC budget in luxury hotels around Juba in complete disregard of the public who bear the brunt of the crisis.
What proved more shocking in the report were the names of senior ministers with government houses and enough security to protect them in these houses, living in hotels and bills paid by the committee.
The total hotel bill, amounting to SSP 22 million, could have supplied enough food to the country’s 100,000 people, who are facing starvation, according to data provided by United Nations agencies.
While testifying before the country’s lawmakers on 23 June 2014, the Cabinet Affairs Minister, declined to respond to questions about the unaccounted funds of the Crisis Management Committee, saying all queries related to accountability of the fund be directed to its chair.
However, as Secretary to the CMC, Minister Lomoru had complete knowledge of the working of the crisis body, and directly served as accounting officer to the committee.
A senior official from the Ministry of Finance told Sudan Tribune that the sum of money misappropriated by the CMC could be higher than what the report indicated.
“This report does not show us where all the money went. There were a lot of money spent on defense and security services particularly by the SPLA and the National Security Service that have not been shown in the report”, the official, who preferred anonymity, said.
Meanwhile, Sudan Tribune is compiling a ’list of shame’ of the ministers, senior government officials and business people who, according to the report, benefited from the CMC money.