By Pa’gan Amum Okiech
5 August, 2016
The fanciful threats against me yesterday from Salva Kiir and his group are best described by an ancient Dinka saying,”Döm cuär ku tiit ruot.” Roughly translated into English, this says, “No one accuses the innocent of thievery more eagerly and ferociously than the thief himself
As for the threat to sue me, I won a libel lawsuit on the same facts mentioned yesterday 4 years ago in Juba, and now I am considering whether or not to win another, based on the latest iteration of those false allegations. However, I am grateful these lies do give us an opportunity to focus on the much bigger and very serious problem of corruption that has existed in South Sudan since its birth in 2005.
Instead of treating corruption like a toy gun we brandish to scare our political enemies, we need to take advantage of the United Nations Temporary Authority (UNTA) I have recommended to put in place a real program to find all stolen money and get it back to the people of South Sudan. UNTA will need to establish a Cash Recovery Program (“CRV”), which will be an intense forensic effort, modeled after the World Bank program, Star, the work of the Enough Project and the successful program our neighbors developed in Nigeria. The latter effort has recovered $8 billion for the benefit of the citizens of Nigeria. No South Sudanese official current or past, will supervise our CRV, and it will be utterly immune from political influence in South Sudan
The heart of such a cash recovery program must be a thorough forensic audit of all government programs in place since 2005 and all who have served as Government or Political Party senior officials since 2005, as well as their family members, surrogates and business partners. I hereby volunteer to be the first such official to be investigated by the UNTA Cash Recovery Program. I also demand that by September 30 of this year, Salva Kiir and all his senior advisers and bureaucrats submit to this effort in advance and agree to cooperate fully and transparently with it. We will find out soon enough who the real thieves are in our country.
Of course, the Cash Recovery Program is only the first of the many changes that must take place in our government before we are prepared to operate as a modern democracy. The Parliament must have formal authorizing and appropriation functions. The budget that is approved must be strictly adhered to by government officials, subject to extensive audit by the executive and legislative branches and strict laws against conflict of interest and theft. Finally, there must be an independent prosecution and court system to deal immediately with transgressions. There are other policies and laws that are needed, but these are the major ones.
These institutional changes we must have depend on a period of progress and security, enforced by UNTA. The stakes are high and we must overcome many obstacles, but I firmly believe South Sudan can do this, if given the chance. We have a great country to build. We need to get beyond war making on each other and phony charges against the loyal and honest, and work to secure the futures of our children and grandchildren to come.