Mokaya Payam traditional leaders & key government officials in a meeting [©Gurtong]
By Waakhe Simon Wudu
JUBA, 14th August 2011 [Gurtong] - Mokaya Sub-County, one of the largest Payams in Lainya County of Central Equatoria State has rejected a controversial lease of 600,000 hectares of land by claimers to a United States business company.
Traditional and senior government leaders of the Payam including the County authorities have launched a demonstration, a joint protest rejecting the lease of the land to the American investors.
A committee comprising of the Payam Parliamentarians in the CES Legislative Assembly, Payam Chiefs, and senior government officials at the State level and government of South Sudan have decided to visit authorities in Juba, accusing Nile Trading Company and also to portray their rejection of the lease of the land as a community.
Dickson Lenga Surur, Spokesperson of the traditional leaders of Mokaya Payam who spoke to Gurtong on Friday in an official statement in Juba said that, the committee that met with the State Governor and the President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E Salva Kiir has shown their position as affirmed by the State and GOSS authorities that the fate of the land depends on their will.
“This land lease was done in the absence of the community. It has taken three years since its deal started in 2008 for the Community to learn,” Lenga said. “Influential natives of Mukaya Payam who claimed to be the community representatives of the people of Mukaya carried out the deal.”
“We have rejected the project but have left the door open,” Lenga added.
He explained that, the American Company wanted to use the land for 49 years of investment with a possibility of increasing the period to 100 years. Lenga confirmed that, one of the terms of the agreement between the claimers and the company is also giving Nile Trading Company the right of exploiting the resources in the land.
Engineer Samuel Taban who currently works at the Ministry of Energy and Mining of the government of South Sudan, Second Class Magistrate in Lainya, James Lasu and the Mokaya Paramount Chief, Scopas Loduwa, were the three influencers alleged to have leased the land to the American Company.
Lenga said that the State Revenue Authority was lent an amount of 75,000 Sudanese Pounds to officiate on behalf of the Revenue Authority by Kornelio Goja for premiums, survey and verification. Gurtong also learnt that, Nile Company has already lent to the group of the claimers who leased the land 624,000 US Dollars.
Hon. Robert Isaiah Lomude, Member of Parliament representing Mukaya Payam, Lainya County at the CES Legislative Assembly exclusively said the lease of the land was illegal and it was not in a transparent way.
“I was even born in that land! I was not consulted as the Payam legislative representative at the State assembly. I was very much disappointed as the approach used was very wrong,” Hon. Robert said. He added that, “it was not done in a transparent manner.”
“He said that the move by the committee does not portray Mokaya Payam’s obstruction for investors, but that investors should use transparency in acquiring land as they deal with authorities both at the grass root and top-government.
Mokaya Payam with an estimated population of over 30,000, is one of the largest Payams in Lainya County with three Bomas; Biri, Lorega and Dimu one and Dimu two sub-bomas.
The land deal has never got support from majority of the County leaders. Hon. Eliaba James Surur, an elder of the GOSS Council of States Parliament and a Member too expressed dissatisfaction about the land deal.
The State authorities and GOSS have however, noted the joint protest of the community with concern. “This issue has to be addressed according to your-(Mukaya Payam people) will. You are the government and you have powers,” Lenga quoted President Kiir’s response to the Community when they visited the him in Juba this week.