Reclaim all stolen Southern Sudanese public funds before July 2011

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Monday, 21 February 2011 06:59
Written by Eluzai Abe Hakim, The New Sudan Vision (NSV),
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(United kingdom) - The article by Hakim Moi published in Gurtong on 4th February 2011 prompted me to write this contribution with the aim of stimulating discussion ahead of the inauguration of an independent nation  of Southern Sudan. The excerpt from the article I have just mentioned is pasted below to direct readers who wish to read the article in its entirety:

“Elijah Malok’s Bombshell: We already know of people who have millions in their accounts, whether in Ivory or Buffalo Bank. Where did you get the money from, it is simply because you got it wrongly”, Elijah Malok, President of Bank of Southern Sudan was quoted  in Sudan Tribune 2nd Feb 2011.

If, indeed, there are public servants in the Southern Sudan who  have bank accounts bulging with millions of pounds which they obtained  fraudulently, and if  it can be proven that this is the case, then the most logical way forward is to ask them to return this money to the Government of Southern Sudan to implement the numerous infrastructural developments it proposes to undertake. Siphoning money outside the country as has happened in several  currently struggling African countries only enriches foreign banks and Nations in which the Banks are located.Interest is charged on those monies and the Governments of those countries benefit through taxation.

The fact that the money is banked outside the Southern Sudan in certain cases referred to in Mr. Moi’s article is an indication of something pretty  fishy going on.  This issue must be addressed urgently without embarrassing those concerned but with their cooperation. Some of those who pilphered public funds might have done so  without the prior knowledge that what they were doing was detrimental to the economy of the Southern Sudan.  Others may simply not have the necessary intellectual capacity to rationalise the consequences of their actions to society. Hence a cautious approach to retrieving this money must be employed.

The money must be repaid to a fund such as “Southern Sudan reclaimed Fund for development(SSRFD)”. This fund should be administered independently of the  Government by a Development Committee made up of  representatives drawn  from  the ten  Southern Sudanese  states. The terms of reference of the Committee should be explicit and approved by parliament. The committee should have a time limited existence and may coopt the clergy, prominent and successful business people and academics.The bottom line is effective use of reclaimed funds in development to show prospective fraudsters what stolen can actually do for common man or woman.

The committee should concentrate on such development priorities as construction of primary schools in all States, improvement of existing  Hospitals or construction of new small hospitals(one hundred beds) where none exist in some States, improvement of feeder roads, provision of potable water and introduction of a micro loan scheme for women to develop viable businesses in their rural areas. Certainly there are other ideas this money can help support.If these or some of these objectives can be achieved with this unexpected income it will only alleviate the financial burden on the new Independent State

In the developed world, it is now a criminal offence for a citizen to stow money away in a foreign bank to avoid paying tax. All tax havens are now under scrutiny and no where is safe  to hide away money, especially with  Wiki Leaks on the prowl!.  Some countries in the West unfortunately welcome crooks from developing countries to bank their money in their countries though the money laundering laws are making this increasingly  difficult in the United Kingdom. Late President Mobutu of the  then Zaire, now Democratic Republic of the Congo(DRC), died with millions of his country’s wealth in unidentified Banks in countries outside the DRC! What a shame.  He deprived his country of vital development funds.

Those hoarding the money should be approached cautiously by the president and the justice Minister  to pay the money into this fund.  An amnesty to return the money should be declared.  Those who stubbornly decline to do so should be named and shamed and tried in the courts of Law. Extradition treaties need to be signed with neighbouring countries  and key countries in the West where large sums of money  are kept by these shadowy figures so they are repatriated back to the Southern Sudan for trial.  A mechanism for returning stolen money to Southern Sudan should be agreed with donor countries as this may reduce the need for aid. The family of a certain deceased African Leader had to relinquish large sums of money obtained fraudulently by the military leader because it was deemed unlikely that he would have earned that money as he had no other means of making the money apart from leading his country for a few years. The Swiss Banks concerned returned the money to the country concerned. It is possible to achieve this for Southern Sudan where a great deal of goodwill following the well conducted referendum exists in the West.

As  John F.Kennedy, the late President of the United States once said, “A rising tide raises all ships”. If we develop the infrastructure everyone benefits. If we don’t one person benefits. Let’s prove the critics who do not wish the Southern Sudan well wrong.

Dr.Eluzai Hakim is a Consultant Physician of Southern Sudanese origin  in the UK, Co-Editor of the Southern Sudan Medical Journal(SSMJ) and Medical Adviser to the St.Mary’s Hospital, Isle of Wight-Juba Hospital Link.