Jok Madut Jok
One of the worst things a public figure like the Minister of Information can do is think that the rest of the citizens are all fools and can unquestioningly consume whatever spin he puts out. The spokesperson for our national government appeared last week on Al-Jazeera TV trying to spin the story of the 4 billion US Dollars that has gone missing from South Sudan’s government coffers.
What came in the President’s letter that he sent to former and current public officials was in plain English and very clear to all of us. The President’s letter, what it was meant to produce, and its manner of delivery, has many problems of its own that are worth critiquing, but that is a different matter. The letter did not say anything about the grain contracts, the widely publicized Dura saga for many years now.
But it was very strange watching our learned Minister focusing on the Dura issue as being the reason behind the loss of the money. Why is the minister suddenly making the Dura issue the only reason behind the disappearance of such huge amounts of money? It was very clear that the honourable minister was not telling the whole truth about all the other doors, windows and holes in the ground through which our precious public resources were able to sneak out of the house. The Minister refused to answer the more poignant questions put to him by the journalist about how the money got unaccounted for in the first place.
According to the old story surrounding the Dura, the money was not supposed to have gone to public officials. The official and unofficial Dura story has all along claimed that private companies had duped the government into paying out billions for the dura they did not deliver. So if the story we have always been told was about private citizens with brief-case companies who have made bogus claims that they have delivered grain and some governors signed off on that without verification and the ministry of finance honoured the contracts without checking, then finding who took what is really not rocket science.
The money is somewhere between the traders who lied by claiming to have delivered grain, the governors who either lied that the traders had indeed delivered the grain, or were negligent in their duties to have believed the traders - while knowing that places like Kuacjok did not even have a single store at the time - and the minister of finance in Juba who approved the payment of amounts that more than doubled the national budget.
This means that if the government was seriously convinced that the culprit in the loss of 4 billion Dollars was the Dura issue, there would be no mystery in apprehending these guys. Someone please tell the honourable minister to find another story with which to explain how we lost 4 billion dollars. We are not buying the line he is peddling on this occasion.
Dr. Jok Madut Jok is Under Secretary of the National Ministry of Culture in Juba