Marial Benjamin, or Banaba Marial, killed Nuer people for cash money, the South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has downplayed questions around cash payments of more than a half million dollars given to Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial in December last year.
A finance ministry document obtained by Radio Tamazuj from an anonymous source authorized Barnaba to cash a cheque for the amount of $560,000.
The authorization letter signed by Finance Ministry Undersecretary Wani Buyu and Acting Director General Makur Makuer says that the purpose of the payment was “Donations to VIP personalities.”
No further explanation was provided in the letter, which was stamped and signed by finance ministry and central bank officials.
Another document provided by the same source indicates payments to Lual Yiech Deng, whom the source said was a staff of Barnaba, including $155,000 to be cashed with a cheque from the South Sudanese embassy account 1107176255 at Kenya Commercial Bank Sarit Centre, dated 10 December 2015.
A second cheque from the same account, dated 12 December 2015, was issued for the amount of $155,000, also to be cashed.
In an interview on Wednesday, foreign spokesperson Mawien Makol Ariik downplayed the matter saying that Barnaba needs to make foreign trips that are not for financial motive but are meant for the interest of the country. He said the minister is not “money minded” and instead such funds are for valuable missions, including some that have helped avert sanctions and a regime change agenda by foreign countries.
“We should actually look at the value of the trips instead of paying too much attention on expenditures of these foreign trips,” said Mawien. “They are actually necessary for facilitation of these trips.”
However, critics within government have questioned the cost of the foreign ministry’s travel expenses, and Barnaba faces pressure to cut down on the frequency and period of stay of overseas trips, in view of the fiscal crisis. Officials at the budget department at the ministry of finance and economic planning say they allocate a certain amount every year to the foreign ministry for foreign travel.
A member of parliament, speaking in an interview on Tuesday, questioned whether the trips are worthwhile. “Even if some trips are for the betterment of the country, the fact that they happen almost always in the middle of crises makes the government and especially the ministry looks bad. I understand some of the trips are undertaken for issues which officials at our embassies could have handled themselves,” he said.