Contracts should be signed under the guidance of trusted lawyers in South Sudan

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Thursday, 20 August 2009 00:51
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Zechariah Manyok Biar

(Texas, USA ) - Last month, one of the readers of my articles called me after reading my article, “Who is selling our land to United Arab Emirates?” (New Sudan Vision, July 12, 2009), and asked me to write an article, informing our leaders that they should rely on trusted lawyers when signing a contract so that they avoid a lawsuit that may result from bad deals. I promised this friend of mine that I would think about his request. But then I got carried away by other pressing issues. Now I am reminded by President Salva Kiir’s renewed tough talks against corruption. I have no other alternative but to write this article now.

According to a report from Sudan Tribune, President Kiir has “directed the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning to review the ten largest contracts signed by ministries with the view to renegotiate some and if any corruption involved the culprits would be prosecuted.”

President Kiir’s renewed tough talks against corrupt government officials may not go away empty-handed. Some people will be prosecuted for having signed questionable contracts if President Kiir really means what he is saying.

However, some of the people who will be prosecuted might be victims of mere ignorance about the complicated contracts they have signed. In their book Reframing Organizations, Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal say that the best and brightest managers do dumb things year after year because their sense-making efforts fail them. Leaders and managers are sometimes clueless about an image of a situation. When things go wrong, they wonder why they don’t get the results they hoped for. That is why there is a saying that the sign of madness is to do one thing over and over again and expect different results.

Smart leaders and managers are the ones who are always suspicious about their decisions. Their suspicions about their decisions result in continuous self-examinations, which then lead to the avoidance of leadership or managerial errors.

The dumb leaders and managers, on the other hand, are the ones who think that they know it all. These types of leaders are driven by personal flaws that include pride, arrogance, and unconscious desires to fail, as Bolman and Deal put it. These types of leaders or managers do not only act stupid, they also become dictators.

The sad part of the story is that ignorance always hunts people until it brings them down on their knees. Respected leaders and managers who are ignorance about the results of their decision making often comes down crashing from honor to shame.

For our leaders in South Sudan to avoid the above situations, they need to have trusted lawyers look into a contract before they sign it. If the contract later on proves to be a bad contract, then the lawyer who negotiated that deal will be the one to take the responsibility, even though the leader or the manager who signed the deal would still lose his or her position.

The lawyers who negotiate the contract deals must be lawyers in the area of the contract. A criminal lawyer who has no clue about commercial law, for example, cannot understand technical legal issues surrounding a business deal. Therefore, a commercial attorney must be the one who look into a business deal before a relevant authority gives a license.

Lawyers must also not be motivated by the benefit that they hope to get from the deal they are examining. They must do their jobs as professionals so that they do not lose their professional licenses because of unprofessional behavior. Lawyers might not lose licenses in places like South Sudan at this time because they might not have, but there are possibilities that lawyers who get involved in bad deals will have to answer for their bad decision or advice when a leader they advised is sued. This would give leaders who sign bad deals great chances of escaping the corruption prosecution.

Our leaders must be clever like serpents at this time of transition in the history of our country. It is the job of our leaders to motivate investors because investors are important for the development of a nation. But investors who want land to be leased to them for a particular period of time must negotiate with leaders under the guidance of trusted lawyers.

Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and a Master of Science in Social Work, specializing in Administration and Planning. He is a regular contributor to and For comments, contact him at email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.