Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 28 May 2013

Corruption: The untold facts of South Sudan’s Dura scandal

By Mel Wal Achien

May 27, 2013 - The "Dura Saga" has been a problematic issue for the fast five good years after the council of ministers of the then government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) passed a resolution, revolving funds to buy a national reserve food to the states that were badly rip off by natural and man-made calamities.

On this point however, the council of ministers had not passed clear appropriation policy or terms of reference along with the resolution to guide the operationalization of the funds or pass it to Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA). There was also no supplementary budget for oversights formalities and no proper legal initiative taken to investigate the gaffe saga unequivocally.

And as everyone is aware that there have been no basic regulations to combat frauds and malfeasance among the senior government officials specially, the unqualified procurement officers in the ministry of finance and economic planning of the then government of Southern Sudan made it worst and baffling even further.

All those who talks loudly about the saga sometimes jokingly scare Mr. President that the Dura issue is “a time bomb” that can detonate anytime if not handled with prudent care. To be honest, none of the speakers was free from this scandal, except the president who always fish of zero tolerant to corruption net with no catches. Presumably, the sea monsters had grown beyond the capacity of zero tolerant net. Most government’s senior officials and their relatives are complicity to the Dura saga fraudulent in one-way or another.

To my literal research and findings, the Dura saga was an extractive plan set forth by the plutocrats and barons or narrow elites with their political allies all over the region, so that they are able to control both economic privileges and political powers. The victims of the saga are the plebeians and tenuous business class who are totally purged off from the markets by these man-made immiseration.

Those who are in controls of markets at the moments are either, the agents of the Arab traders from Sudan or the oligarchs thus, the brothers of plutocrats the senior government officials who are known to have sold the fake or obsoletes contracts papers to poor modicum business class, and facilitates imaginary contracts from foreign racketeers for only 20% in return.

The poor modicum business from former SPLM liberated towns whose money where coned by the saga oligarchs, remained the squatters or the miserable venders and dollars hawkers in Juba town fighting for their hand to mouth livings. While those criminals who started their businesses by hand bag companies and empty Dura applications with no basic capitals, and who are known to have sold undelivered Dura contracts to the afore mentioned class are the tycoons or self-proclaimed successful businessmen/women of the new born nation. Meanwhile the obsolete contracts papers which the relatives of baron likes cabinet sold had demised in the hands of our poor national businessmen. The question one would like to ask is:

1. Since, the government is seriously looking after the culprits of Dura saga then who will pay back the money, which was taken from the poor businessmen/women by the relatives of plutocrats that are known to have sold hundreds of thousands of white papers of undelivered Dura contracts worth of hundreds of millions of USD to individuals or companies?

2. What will happen to the poor people whose capitals were intrigued through these useless undelivered contracts by the relatives of barons like cabinet as their companies were made redundant for the fast five years?

3. Will government punish the complicit culprits and then, compensates the poor businessmen with interest rate as from 2007-2013?

4. What will be the fate of those who delivered their contracts with proper documents and they were denied payment on impunity ground by either state authority or national ministry of finance and economic planning before economic backwater strike the nation? Is there a fair way to deal with such politically motivated cases?

5. The gaffe Dura saga scheme had affected the image of our new nation in the eyes of international community, and as a result it has ranked our new born state to top list of the world’s most corrupt countries. The type of the payment that has been reported to have been spent shows 3.6 billion USD. The World Bank’s new revelations was lamentable, especially in parts which noted where payees are asked to pay a secrets prerequisite equivalent to quarter of the amount of the contract he/she demanding from the government by the vicious brokers who are known to be the closed relatives to the big people.

The other tricks that was used to extract these huge amounts of public funds was through infinite recycled payment to some companies that are owned by the brothers of the vicious concentric and interconnected circle within and outside ministry of finance. These huge amounts that had been mismanaged by insensate and unpatriotic politicians would have built and developed a powerful infrastructure to run the country towards the vision of taking towns to rural areas.

And would have save million lives of poor South Sudanese who are now grappling with periodic famine and acute poverty that was wreaked to the nation by protracted liberation war between SPLA/M and successive Islamic governments in Khartoum Sudan. The recent endeavors conducted jointly by the ministry of justice and the world bank to tract down the records of the saga scandals nationwide through an international company namely STAR. STOLLEN ASSETS RECOVERY was the way forwards to get into reality.

But the question everyone is curious of is; how, on earth did star gets the facts when the ministry of justice, which is the lawyer of the government, is the part of recovery processes? It’s inextricable to distinguished Dura saga scandal issue and the ministry of justice. The reason being was that, the briefcase national contractors, foreigners and imaginaries companies were certified by the contract department in the then ministry of legal affairs and constitutional development without clear bank accounts worth of the money that qualifies both national and the foreign companies to gets business certificates. The World Bank and ministry of Justice will not and cannot dig out the truth of the matters on Dura saga unless the following facts are met:

1. The so called owners of the real and imaginaries contracts who had subcontracted the subcontractors that are known to have gone away with billions of US dollars and who are still claiming infinite unknown amounts from the government to justify of how much really did they delivered, to where, when, who received the delivered food items and what have the state government did with money?

2. The payment section in the ministry of finance and economic planning should be other routes through which the whole Dura payments are done. Unfortunately, the most payment of Dura is not budgeted in any national fiscal year budget; they are done on devious and secretive ways. Therefore, the whole payments of Dura saga are paid outside the country such that the fraudulent records are not easily traced; the successor’s ministers paid out the most payments from national reserved funds according to reliable sources. The reason was to camouflage the whole lots not to appear in the payments section records for oversight or checks and balances.

3. The formers and current governors with their states ministers of finance are the right elements to help on how much tons of Dura had been received so far by their respective storekeepers of their states from various contractors. Since the Dura scheme was named the revolving funds therefore, the money of which the received quantity were sold out on subsidy forms, are to be paid back to national treasury by the governors, for having produced false completion certificates to contractors which enable the racketeers to extract billions of dollar from public funds. The governors should be the navigators to World Bank facts finding teams on how exactly the intrigues and extractive devious operations were done.

4. The current NLA and the formers SSLA MPs, who have been given political consignments of Dura to their respective geographical constituencies, are the subject to investigations as to what has happened to the revolving money of the Dura they have taken to their states.

It seems that the government for the fast five years proved to be complaisant and cordial to the thieves who have impoverished the nation to the brinks of collapse status. As we are aware that the patterns of classes are now building themselves up nationwide, as a result the gap between rich and poor in the countryside is widening to unprecedented levels. Rural towns are being evacuated to urban cities seeking for green pastures, the bride prices have risen beyond reach of young men from poor background or the war orphans particularly in the states where marriages are parts of family’s wealth show.

This situation has augmented cross road thugery, banditry, and cattle rustling as well. The ferocious Dura saga scheme has shown the fact that the endemic political favoritism employments of public service workers had considerably contributed to Dura revolving funds mismanagements, simply because, some senior directors in different ministries are computers illiterates and most of them are in pension age of which their minds are not perceivable to computers lessons. How on earth can such employee manage to keep records worth of billions of dollars in this high technology contemporary dispensation of 21st century?

The lesson we leant from the saga is that there is needs for government to rely more on talent and less on nepotism or political favoritism employments.

Finally, and as I mentioned earlier that the gaffe Dura saga scheme has tarnished our image in the eyes of other nations worldwide and ranked the young country to top of the most corrupt states in the world, there is a need for us in the government to double effort to do more than done.

In this regards however, we needs to be careful when dealing with such a hot issues because, it’s not easy to deal with those who benefitted from the saga and many other alleged malpractices notably the invisible 75 names who are alleged to have robed the country with more than 4.2 billion US dollars. These invisible groups are well organized and they can effectively fight any major attempt that would want to take away their economic privileges and political powers. Let’s bear in minds that nation building is not as simple as others may think. It needs patience, collective responsibility, strong parliament, honest police forces, independence judges, and journalism, vibrant private sector and civil society. These are the ingredients of viable democratic state.

As we are embarking to peace, repentant and reconciliation processes that will bring together the group that shared bad memories of previous conflicts to again shared good memories of peaceful coexistence with mutual reciprocity respects and broader base political representations. And which will oblige and pliant the young nation to focus away from societal divisions such as ethnicity, regionalism, religion and class, and focus on shared values and dreams. These will cement our unity in diversity.

We very much need to nurse our tongues from inflammatory words that stir up the scars of the wounds of the fasts particularly the one of SPLM/A internal conflicts that let to substantive losses of innocent lives and massive displacements.

Last but not the least, I recommend that the gaffe Dura scheme and other malfeasances in the government such as the issue of 4.2 billion in USD. And many contracts that are breached or not implemented are to be given special tribunal similar to what was recently formed by H.E. the president to investigate the presidential palace theft allegations.

The author is the senior member of South Sudan’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). He is currently a National Member of Parliament and can be reached at walyor2004@yahoo.com.