South Sudan identity: Split leaves many without documents

by Hiba Morgan

How the splitting of Sudan and South Sudan has left many people without a formal identity.

Many South Sudanese living in Sudan are being forced to live on the margins as they have no way to prove their identity.

That’s because they were there before South Sudan became an independent country seven years ago.

Source – Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reports from Khartoum.

How tight a hold does Museveni have on Kenyan politicians?

By Nelson Wesonga

Lately, many Kenyan politicians have been drawn to Uganda the way moths and grasshoppers are attracted to lit bulbs, or bees to nectar.

In August, Kenya’s deputy president William Ruto, 52, was in Kampala where he met President Museveni. They discussed strengthening cross-border trade.

And in September, the former vice president, Kalonzo Musyoka, 64, was here to pay Mr Museveni, 74, a courtesy call during which they deliberated on a strong East African Community.

Now, according to Heal the Planet Global Organisation – a body that aims to use humanitarian programmes to better the world, Mr Ruto will be in Uganda, again, on Monday, October 29, as a special guest during a Senior Citizens Convention.
However, David Mugonyi, the communications secretary in the Office of Kenya’s Deputy President, said he is not aware of the event.
“There is nothing like that in [Ruto’s] diary,” Mr Mugonyi said when the Sunday Monitor phoned him on Wednesday, October 24.
Whether Mr Ruto will be in Uganda at the end of this month or not, it won’t be lost on observers that he frequented the country in the run-up to the 2016 election in which President Museveni fought off a stern challenge from his perennial nemesis, Dr Kizza Besigye.
Mr Ruto especially frequented the Sebei sub-region to meet with his kinsmen on the Uganda side and once met with Mr Museveni in Mbale District. The visits were interpreted as an act of campaigning for Mr Museveni.

Before Mr Ruto, in the middle of the campaigns for the 2011 election, Kenya’s Opposition leader Raila Odinga paid a courtesy call on President Museveni, who he met in Jinja District and accompanied to a rally in Iganga District. At the rally Mr Odinga praised Mr Museveni’s leadership but stopped short of openly calling on Ugandans to re-elect him.

Why do Kenyan politicians, especially those thought to nurse presidential aspirations, like to visit President Museveni?
Prof Sabiti Makara, a senior academic at Makerere University, said there are three possible reasons.

These are Mr Museveni’s longevity in power, his stature as an elderly statesman and his role in resolving conflicts in the Great Lakes Region.
“Having been in power for long, I think there is a skill that they might want to learn from him [from Museveni],” Prof Makara told Sunday Monitor on Tuesday.

Mr Museveni has been in power for 32 years. At the end of the current term in 2021, he will clock 35 years in State House.
It is believed that it is this particular skill of Mr Museveni that informed Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo’s visit to Uganda in 2006 to get tips on how to extend his – Obasanjo’s – term in office by one more term.

Mr Obasanjo’s attempt failed.
Since then, Uganda’s Parliament amended the Constitution to remove the 75-years-old upper cap limit on presidential candidates, paving the way for Mr Museveni to keep contesting for the top seat.

While amending the Constitution, Members of Parliament who voted in support of amendment of the article, which the Constituent Assembly had included in the Constitution to block Milton Obote from running for the position, said locking out those above 75 was unconstitutional.

Given that Kenyan policy is affected by five-year election cycles, perhaps the Kenyan politicians need tips on how to get and retain executive power for at least the maximum of 10 years that their country’s constitution provides for.
It is not clear though if the Kenyans hope to pick a leaf from Mr Museveni on values such as the respect for human rights like freedom of assembly and association as well as on free and fair elections.

The visits, it should be noted, are also to Mr Museveni’s advantage. A year ago when Mr Musyoka was in Uganda to officiate at the Uganda Technical and Management University (UTAMU) graduation, he said Mr Museveni should become the first president of the East African Federation (EAF) once it is established since he is passionate about East African matters.

Mr Musyoka must be aware Mr Museveni longs to head the federation even though Jakaya Kikwete, a former president of Tanzania, once said the position of EAF president should be open to an East African of good standing regardless of whether they were once head of state or not.

There is also an economic explanation for the Kenyan politicians buttering up to Mr Museveni.
Mr Ruto, through social networking site Twitter, acknowledged Uganda and Kenya share mutual interests.
On August 19, he tweeted, “We are the largest recipients of Ugandan products within the East African Community and our companies are the biggest investors.”

Many of the consumer goods manufactured in Kenya are sold in Uganda than anywhere else in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
According to data from the Bank of Uganda (BoU) released on October 3, as of calendar year 2017, Kenya exported items worth $512.85 million (Shs1.9 trillion at today’s exchange rate) to Uganda.

The imports from Kenya accounted for 62 per cent of Uganda’s bill on imports from the COMESA.
Kenya’s long distance haulers make money transporting by road items such as petroleum products like diesel, kerosene and petrol from Mombasa to Uganda via Kenya.
With the establishment of more industries in Uganda and exports from Uganda to Kenya, the trade imbalance between Kenya and Uganda has thinned.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Uganda, like Kenya, benefits from the bilateral trade. According to BoU, Uganda’s inflows from exports to Kenya have increased from $157.43 million (Shs590 billion) in 2008 to $551.06 million (Shs2 trillion today) in 2017 calendar year.
Up to 95 per cent of Uganda’s imports from overseas come in through Mombasa, Kenya’s port city.

The other reason Prof Makara advanced for Kenyan politicians calling on Mr Museveni is his standing as an elder.
“I think he [Museveni] is an elder statesman in the region; I think they are tapping into his wisdom,” Prof Makara said.
The region though is not short of elderly statesmen. There is Ali Hassan Mwinyi, 93, a former president of Tanzania and Daniel arap Moi, 94, and Mwai Kibaki, 86, both former presidents of Kenya.

Of Mr Ruto, Musyoka and the former prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, the three likely contenders for president during Kenya’s 2022 general election, Mr Odinga has visited Moi and Kibaki separately to discuss national politics.
Even president Uhuru Kenyatta has been to Mr Moi’s and has met Mr Museveni many times though his rendezvous with Mr Museveni rotate around trade, something dear to both leaders.

When Mr Ruto went to Moi’s residence in Nakuru, Mr Moi’s family did not allow him to meet the senior citizen because Mr Moi was reportedly doing doctor-supervised physical exercises at the time.
Perhaps that left Mr Museveni as the elderly statesman Mr Ruto could talk to.
The third reason Prof Makara gave for the visits is that Mr Museveni has been involved in the settlement of conflicts in the Great Lakes Region.

Though he did not delve into the conflicts, Uganda, like the African Union, is involved in resolving the South Sudan conflict pitting Mr Salva Kiir against Riek Machar. Mr Museveni sent Ugandan troops to Somalia to protect the government there from the al-Shabaab militants. He played a role in Rwanda’s 1994 liberation.
He could also contribute to finding a permanent solution to the Migingo Island issue. In 2009, Mr Museveni said the island is in Kenya but it is surrounded by Uganda’s waters.

The rocky hamlet is home to a Kenyan Luo fishing community though there have been many reports of Ugandan security officials harassing the community there.
During the campaigns ahead of general elections in Kenya the matter crops up. Mr Odinga is from the county in which Migingo is geographically situated.

In late September, he said he planned to meet Mr Museveni to settle the ownership of the Migingo Island, which he claimed Idi Amin Dada, who ruled Uganda from 1971 to 1979, grabbed from Kenya.
Like Mr Ruto, Mr Odinga is likely to run for president in 2022 – going by statements by James Orengo, Kenya’s Senate Minority Leader, and a confidant of Mr Odinga.
Mr Odinga is aware how charged Kenyans get when talking about Migingo and the treatment of their fellow countrymen by Uganda security officials.

Mr Ruto supported Mr Kenyatta’s election in 2013 and again in 2017 on the understanding that Mr Kenyatta would in 2022 support Mr Ruto in the latter’s quest for Kenya’s top elective position.
All seemed to be going according to script until in March this year when Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had the handshake.
Mr Odinga said the handshake is meant to address tribalism, poverty, nepotism, unemployment and corruption.
Others see it differently. At the beginning of October, Mr Ruto accused Mr Raila of working to have him edged out of the ruling Jubilee Party, an accusation Mr Raila has dismissed.

In a rejoinder, the Orange Democratic Party, which Mr Odinga is affiliated with, said Mr Ruto was looking for an excuse to leave Jubilee because he is uncomfortable with the newfound friendship between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
In Uganda, according to one unofficial Ugandan account, the handshake ruffled Mr Ruto, who has his eyes on the 2022 presidential election, forcing him to run to Mr Museveni for advice.
Asked if Mr Ruto’s rendezvous’ with Mr Museveni are about Kenya’s next general election, Mr Mugonyi said no.
“Uganda has nothing to do with 2022. He – Ruto – cannot come to campaign in Uganda [for an election in Kenya],” Mr Mugonyi said.

Support

Before Mr Ruto, in the middle of the campaigns for the 2011 election, Kenya’s Opposition leader Raila Odinga paid a courtesy call on President Museveni, who he met in Jinja and accompanied him to a rally in Iganga. At the rally Mr Odinga praised Mr Museveni’s leadership but stopped short of openly calling on Ugandans to re-elect him.

Source – Daily Monitor

Zambia undertakes first kidney transplant surgery, president Edgar Lungu elated

The University Teaching Hospital also known as the Adult Hospital in the Zambian capital Lusaka earlier this week made history with a kidney transplant surgery.

A surgical team at the facility successfully undertook the first ever kidney transplant surgery. The team have since been praised for the efforts.

President Edgar Lungu was not left out of the praise with the president visiting the patients involved in the procedure on Friday.

“I am glad that both the kidney donor and recipient are stable and responding very well to treatment. We are forever greatful to the medical specialists who worked so hard to make this operation a success,” the president wrote on Facebook.

In February 2018, surgeons in Zambia also sucessfully separated seven-month-old conjoined twins in a landmark operation in the capital. The surgery was done at the Women and New Born hospital in Lusaka.

“A lot of progress has been made. In fact great progress, … the twins have been separated. They were separated at exactly 16:58 hours.

“However, there is still a lot to be done in terms of closing up the wounds and we anticipate that the surgery will continue for an hour and a half to two hours. We hope by 20:00 hours they will be in ICU,” said Dr Maureen Chisembele, a senior medical superintendent told the media.

A team of 30 health professionals operated the twins who are joined at the abdomen and shared a liver. Reports indicate that it took seven hours to execute the mission and the children have left the operating theater.

The children – Bupe and Mapalo, were born in the town of Kawambwa located in Zambia’s northern Luapula region but they were transferred to the capital for further attention.

Kenyans warned against online forex trading through unlicensed entities, what you need to know

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) warned Kenyans on Monday against online foreign exchange trading through unlicensed entities, saying they risked losing their investments.

Paul Muthaura, CMA Chief Executive, said he observed several individuals and entities carrying on or purporting to carry on the business of an online foreign exchange broker or a money manager without the relevant licence by the Authority.

“The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has issued only one license to EGM Securities Limited (formerly Execution Point Limited) to operate as a Non – Dealing Online Foreign Exchange Broker,” Muthaura said in a statement.

CMA said it planned to take appropriate action against any persons illegally conducting online foreign exchange trade. It asked anyone affected by the activity to report to the CMA.

It said all online foreign exchange brokers or money managers not licensed by the Authority should cease trading immediately.

Source –  Reuters

DRC rebels kill 13, abduct a dozen children in Ebola epicentre

The Allied Democratic Forces rebels attacked Congolese army positions and several neighbourhoods of Beni.

Congolese rebels have killed 13 civilians and abducted a dozen children in an attack at the centre of the latest deadly Ebola outbreak, the Democratic Republic of the Congo‘s military said.

The Allied Democratic Forces rebels attacked Congolese army positions and several neighbourhoods of Beni in the DRC on Saturday and into Sunday, a senior army official told The Associated Press.

The rebels have killed hundreds of civilians in recent years and are just one of several rebel groups active in the DRC’s far northeast.

Child kidnappings for ransom are a relatively new phenomenon in the North Kivu region, where Beni is located, making exact figures on the issue difficult to find.

At least 215 children were abducted in the province and 34 killed in North Kivu in 2017, according to a child protection group cited by The Guardian.

Angry over this latest attack, Beni residents on Sunday morning carried four of the bodies to the town hall, where police dispersed them with tear gas.

Late last month, Ebola outbreak containment efforts had to be suspended for days in Beni after a deadly rebel attack, deeply complicating work to find and track suspected contacts of infected people.

Since then, many of the new confirmed Ebola cases have been reported in Beni as the rate of new cases overall has more than doubled.

Health workers face distrust and attacks by rebels [Nyka Alexander/WHO Handout/Reuters]
This new attack comes as another armed group shot and killed two medical agents with the DRC army – the first time health workers have been killed by rebels in this Ebola outbreak.It is a “dark day” for everyone fighting the deadly virus, the DRC health minister said late on Saturday.

Mai Mai rebels surged from the forest and opened fire on the unarmed agents with the army’s rapid intervention medical unit at an entrance to Butembo city, the health ministry said.

The daytime attack appeared premeditated, with civilians present left unharmed, the statement said. The medical agents had been placed in “dangerous zones” to assist national border health officials.

Aid under fire

Confirmed Ebola cases have now reached 200, including 117 deaths. Aid groups have expressed alarm after the insecurity and sometimes hostile community resistance led the rate of new cases to more than double this month.

Health workers in this outbreak, declared on August 1, have described hearing gunshots daily, operating under the armed escort of UN peacekeepers or Congolese security forces and having to end work by sundown to lower the risk of attack.

The DRC health ministry has reported “numerous aggressions” against health workers, and early this month two Red Cross volunteers were severely injured in a confrontation with wary community members in a region traumatised by decades of fighting and facing an Ebola outbreak for the first time.

“Health agents are not a target for armed groups,” Health Minister Oly Ilunga said. “Our agents will continue to go into the field each day to fulfil the mission entrusted to them. They are true heroes and we will continue to take all necessary measures so that they can do their job safely.”

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said it was “deeply concerned” by the outbreak but that it does not yet warrant being declared a global emergency.

An outbreak must be “an extraordinary event” that might cross borders, requiring a coordinated response. Confirmed cases have been found near the heavily travelled border with Uganda.

In the latest sign of the rumours that pose another serious challenge to containing the deadly virus, the health ministry said 22 youth in Butembo dug up the body of an Ebola victim and opened the body bag, “wanting to verify that no organs had been taken from the body by health workers”.

They ended up touching the highly infectious bodily fluids, the ministry said. “The next day, they agreed to be vaccinated,” joining the more than 20,000 people who have received vaccinations so far.

SOURCE: AP news agency

Ethiopia: Women occupy 50 percent of new cabinet

Women have been assigned key ministerial portfolios, including ministries of peace, trade and industry, and defence.

Ethiopia’s new cabinet is now a record 50 percent female, including the country’s first woman defence minister, after legislators unanimously approved the nominations put forward by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

“Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead,” Abiy said while presenting his choices on Tuesday.

“This decision is the first in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa,” he added.

The Horn of Africa nation joins a handful of countries, mostly European, where women make up 50 percent or more of ministerial positions, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women.

The shake-up is the latest in a series of dramatic reforms implemented by Abiy since he took office in April after more than two years of anti-government unrest that contributed to his predecessor’s sudden resignation.

The prime minister’s measures have included ending two decades of conflict with neighbouring Eritrea, releasing jailed dissidents, welcoming formerly banned groups back into the country and announcing plans to privatise major state-owned industries.

However, since taking power, his government has been rocked by successive ethnic clashes in the countryside including violence in southern Ethiopia that has displaced nearly one million people.

SOURCE: News agencies

The power of social media – Bobi Wine`s Case in Context!

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, is a Ugandan politician whose arrest and incarceration had sparked widespread protests in Uganda and elsewhere in the East African region. A great deal of this can be attributed to social media, which quickly spread his story. The Conversation Africa spoke to Philip Ephraim about social media, and the impact it can have on politics.

How was social media been used in the Bobi Wine saga?

From what I’ve seen, most major social media tools —-Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram —- have all been used. In my opinion, Twitter has been the most prominent of these platforms. The video of Bobi Wine’s arrest and the hashtag #freebobiwine first appeared on Twitter on the morning following his arrest and soon began to trend. It has since gone viral across various social media and mainstream platforms.

Over ten days, 60 twitter accounts have so far either been created or renamed to promote the hashtag with over 100,000 tweets. And I’ve seen four accounts created on Facebook.

In this way, social media is being used as an advocacy tool to challenge Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni —- who has been in power for over 30 years —- and his regime’s oppressive tactics.

What has the impact of this online activity been?

Unlike traditional media, social media has the unique capacity to make messages go viral. It can reach audiences worldwide within minutes through content sharing.

Social media has played a central role in attracting attention to the plight of Bobi Wine across the world. It has kept the general public up to date on his court case, the arrest of his friends and coworkers and on his physical health.

Videos and images of him circulated online show him struggling to walk and talk, which suggests that he’s been tortured in detention. Messages from his family have also been shared, and gone viral, creating more support.

Personally, I became aware of this situation through a Kenyan YouTube channel which announced the incident and sought to drum up support for Bobi Wine. This prompted me to look further into what was happening to him.

The activity on social media has been translated into actual, physical action. Concerts and rallies calling for his release have been held in South Africa and neighbouring countries such as Kenya.

Protests in London for the release of Bobi Wine. Shutterstock/Dan_L

And the message has spread beyond Africa’s borders, which is probably at least partly because of social media’s enormous reach. There have even been protests in London calling for his release. International artists like Chris Martin from Coldplay and Damon Albarn from Blur are among those who’ve come out in support of Bobi Wine.

What has the Ugandan government’s reaction been?

Uganda’s government has a turbulent relationship with social media, which it’s trying to control – but can’t. Earlier this year a social media tax was introduced which means that Ugandans pay USD$0.05 a day to use popular platforms like Twitter or WhatsApp.

So, it’s no surprise that the government’s reaction has been defensive. It has tried to justify its actions, accusing Bobi Wine of leading a group of protesters to attack the president and his military and police convoy with stones and illegal firearms with a view to politically destabilise Uganda. In this way the government has framed itself as engaging in self defence against violent protesters.

It has also tried to discredit the information being shared online. President Museveni has dismissed information about Bobi Wine’s beating and injuries as “fake news”.

And recent media reports have tried to reinforce a positive, magnanimous image of the Ugandan government, for instance saying it will allow Bobi Wine to be flown abroad for medical treatment.

What concerns are there when social media is used to address politics?

A central issue is the lack of gatekeeping. Anyone can produce and share sensational content on social media. In this way the porous nature of social media fuels the spread of disinformation and misinformation and the notorious “fake news”. This means not all content will be, or should be trusted. This could hurt a cause.

For instance, there’s already information emerging that suggests Bobi Wine’s condition might not have been as critical as was portrayed in some messages that circulated on social media. Other reports declared that Bobi Wine had been shot dead with his driver; some claimed he’d been beaten to a pulp and was blind and completely paralysed. However, evidence has emerged that he was able to receive visits from family and close friends including his wife and even wrote letters while in detention.

The Ugandan government has already accused the media and the opposition of spreading fake news to fuel anarchy and chaos.

Do you think social media can play a role in protecting democracy?

Indeed, social media functions are a powerful tool in promoting democracy through:

  • Creating public awareness about politics and politicians;
  • Promoting political education through educating the public on voting and elections;
  • Serving as platforms for political campaign for both government and the opposition; and
  • Providing platforms for dissent in controlled societies.

Africa Union pushes on with reform agenda

By CIUGU MWAGIRU

At about the same time the African Union was celebrating its 50th anniversary last week, the foreign ministers of the member states were busy reviewing the body’s reform agenda.

The foreign ministers were meeting at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa under the chairmanship of Rwanda’s foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

The meeting was deemed necessary given the fact that no substantial progress was made on reforms during the last AU summit.

In fact, during the 31st ordinary summit of Heads of State and governments held in Nouakchott, Mauritania, from June 25 to July 2, several crucial meetings were held.

They included that of the Permanent Representative Committee, which is made up of member state ambassadors, and that of the continental ministers of foreign affairs.

PEACE

The latter grouping makes up the AU Executive Council, and met before the holding of the Assembly of Heads of State and government.

However, despite the high-level meetings the Mauritania summit was overshadowed by peace and security challenges that have for a long time been the bane of the African continent.

Pointedly, the AU Peace and Security Council met the Heads of State during the summit to discuss the situation then prevailing in South Sudan and the volatile Sahel region.

Also discussed during the meeting were the worrisome situations in Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Burundi, Libya and the Horn of Africa.

Gratefully, positive developments have in recent times taken place in some of these perennially troubled and chaotic regions.

VISION

In the meantime, however, it has become apparent that not all the AU member states have the same vision on how to strengthen the organisation and make it more autonomous and effective.

The recent deliberations of AU foreign ministers on the reform agenda were, therefore, deemed necessary pending an extraordinary summit that will be held from November 17 and 18.

The Heads of State and governments summit is expected to specifically focus on the reform agenda with a view to charting the future of the AU.

That aside, there have been substantial disagreements between member states with regard to the issue of institutional reform of the AU, including the proposals of current chairman, Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

For instance, up to now there is still no consensus among all member states on several crucial matters, among them the proposed application of 0.2 percent levy on eligible importations to fund the AU.

TRADE

There is also no consensus on such other crucial matters as the mode of designation or appointment of commissioners and the power dynamics within the continental institution.

Other areas in which there is no consensus are the scope of intervention of the AU and the division of labour between the continental body and the regional economic communities (RECs).

Fortunately, apart from the reform agenda, the AU has in recent times been making progress in such areas as that relating to the Continental Free Trade Area.

Already, commendable progress has been recorded, including the adoption of the five service-related priority sectors, namely the transport, communication, financial, tourism and business ones.

Remarkably, in recent months five more countries have joined the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), among them South Africa, which is one of the biggest economies of the continent.

ECONOMY

The other new signatories to the AfCFTA agreement are economically weaker countries like Burundi, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, and Namibia.

So far, 49 countries have signed the AfCFTA treaty and six have ratified it, although 16 more ratifications are needed for the treaty to enter into force.

According to analysts, should all the 55 AU member countries eventually ratify the treaty, Africa could become a major economic bloc comparable to other global ones.

Specifically, the ratification of the treaty by all the AU members would give the anticipated bloc a cumulative GDP of an impressive US$2.5 trillion and a market of 1.2 billion people.

With regard to the numbers of participating countries, the AfCFTA would end up becoming the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

Such lofty dreams are however only possible if the AU can be transformed and be able to tackle such continental drawbacks as widespread corruption.

ciugumwagiru@yahoo.co.uk

Source  – Daily Nation

How a South Sudan Oil Company Plays a Key Role in Prolonging Conflict

LONDON (ViaNews) – The UN protection site in Malakal, South Sudan, was established for the sole purpose of protecting civilians from the country’s vicious civil war but in February 2016 it failed.

Heavily armed militants faced little resistance as they stormed through the site and shot dead dozens of civilians, including two workers from the aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

More than 100 were wounded and it is estimated that 3,700 shelters, or one-third of the site, was burned to the ground.

This atrocity was just one of many allegedly carried out by militias in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state and – according to a report by The Sentry, an NGO that investigates the funding of atrocities in Africa – they were backed by the country’s petroleum ministry.

The Sentry’s investigators claim to have reviewed numerous documents that detail how millions of dollars in oil revenues have been funnelled from South Sudan’s state oil company, Nile Petroleum Corporation (Nilepet), to ethnic militias and state security forces.

Those forces are responsible for “egregious human rights abuses, including forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and conflict-related sexual violence, massive population displacements, the destruction of livelihoods and food crops and the raiding of cattle,” according to a UN Panel of Experts.

Among the documents is correspondence that implicates the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining – which oversees Nilepet – in providing fuel and other supplies to Upper Nile militia groups, including those allegedly responsible for the attack on the UN compound in Malakal.

“The documents appear to describe how top officials used Nilepet funds to support a group of [ethnic] Padang Dinka militias active in north-eastern Upper Nile state and implicated in widespread attacks against civilians and other atrocities,” the report states.

The Sentry also claims to have seen an internal log that details 84 “security-related” transactions made by Nilepet between March 2014 and June 2015.

These include more than $80 million in payments made to politicians, military officials, government agencies, and private companies owned by politicians and members of their families, for services such as military transport for security forces.

A review of South Sudan’s published budgets and publicly available information about military procurement found that these transactions were not included in the country’s budget and were not available for public scrutiny.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny dismissed the claims made in the report, stating: “The oil money did not even buy a knife. It is being used for paying the salaries of the civil servants.”

The capture of Nilepet

The civil war in South Sudan began in 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup d’état. The accusation led to an outbreak of violence and while both the government and the opposition have their supporters, the fighting has evolved to have ethnic undertones.

Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group has regularly been accused of attacking numerous other groups across the country, while Machar’s Nuer ethnic group has been accused of attacking the Dinka. These attacks have included war crimes such as indiscriminate attacks on civilians, torture, rape, and extrajudicial executions.

A February 2018 report from UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan identified more than 40 senior military officials who may have been responsible for war crimes. And details “appalling instances of cruelty against civilians who have had their eyes gouged out, their throats slit or been castrated.”

Up to 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the fighting. More than 3.5 million have been displaced and a further 6 million face starvation.

Throughout the conflict, the government has led a major crackdown against the media and opposition groups and as a result little is known about how the government has financed the war.

However, with oil being the country’s main source of revenue, Nilepet has become the focus of many investigations.

A report by the advocacy group Global Witness claimed that Nilepet has been “captured by predatory elites” and fallen under the “direct control” of the President and his closest allies.

Like The Sentry, the group found evidence that the government has used oil revenue to pay for militia groups and security forces, with all of the transactions hidden from public scrutiny.

In a letter dated January 2016 and signed by the Minister of Petroleum and Mining, Nilepet was asked to pay $1.5 million for expenses incurred by state security forces deployed “in and around the oilfields” in Upper Nile state.

The letter was sent just months after one of the most violent periods of the war, which saw the oil-rich areas, including Malakal, engulfed in a brutal conflict between state and oppositions forces. The United Nations reported that during that period both sides were responsible for “killings, abductions, rape and forced displacement that have become routine”.

The letter, seen by Global Witness, implies that the government was demanding Nilepet pay the bill for the part they played in possible war crimes.

The White Army

Throughout the conflict, Dinka ethnic militias have been found to be fighting alongside the government’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) but outside of the military command structure.

Without any official government ties, these militias have the freedom to operate however they please and without any oversight. They are the same militias accused of the attack on the UN civilians camp in Malakal in February 2016.

According a United Nations Panel in January 2016, the government has circumvented weapons supply and accounting processes by using Nilepet to provide financial authorization for the purchase and transfer of “small arms and ammunition” to these militia groups.

Those arms are said to have been supplied through the Internal Security Bureau (ISB), a department of the country’s National Security Service (NSS). The ISB is headed by Akol Koor, who also sits on the board of Nilepet.

Human rights group Amnesty International documented how the militants, commonly known as the White Army, worked alongside the SPLA in an offensive against the members of the Shilluk ethnic group in the Upper Nile state between January and May 2017.

In the report, Amnesty’s researchers write that witnesses described how the White Army “rampaged” through the region during the government offensive and its members were armed with automatic weapons and wore military uniforms. They were allegedly involved in harassing, threatening and killing civilians.

The UN’s refugee agency stated in May that the violence in that area resulted in almost 20,000 refugees crossing the border from the Upper Nile area and into the neighbouring country, Sudan, in a single week.

The war economy

Speaking of the way the government has used Nilepet, Michael Gibb, Campaign Leader of Conflict Resources at Global Witness told Via News a sovereign government has the right to distribute revenues as it sees fit but noted that “not all military expenditure is legitimate”.

He said: “War crimes and crimes against humanity are never legitimate, even in defence of national security. There is, therefore, no right to finance them. There is considerable evidence to suggest such atrocity crimes have been committed in South Sudan.

“Laws exist to constrain the actions of those whom have been entrusted with considerable power. They are there to ensure officials act in the interests of people and country, rather than private interest. When payments are channelled through opaque institutions like Nilepet, powerful officials may be able to circumvent South Sudan’s own laws, and the accountability and oversight these bring.

“The UN panel of experts, for example, reported that Nilepet payments had circumvented the SPLA weapon supply and accounting mechanisms. It may also have made it possible to direct oil revenues into non-government accounts.”

He added that as a result of using Nilepet, millions have been borrowed against future oil production and this has the potential to trap the country in a dangerous debt cycle that would jeopardise the country’s future, even when the bloodshed ends.

“The Ministry of Finance appears in the dark about many important financial arrangements, and has lamented in its reports how little revenue is making it through the treasury,” he continued.

“This is not about telling South Sudan how to spend its resources, but making sure they are spent transparently and in way that is accountable to the people of South Sudan. Nilepet has been the means of shielding much of this expenditure from scrutiny.”

Global Witness is now urging the international community to put greater focus on the economics of the war. South Sudan can produce crude oil but it cannot refine it into the fuel and as a result, Nilepet has become integrated into the global oil supply chains and needs to be able to work with international refineries and traders.

It is these international companies and traders that the group say could play a key role in challenging and holding Nilepet to account.

Source – via.news

Integration – A question of hard choices

The curious case of Sylvia Mulinge, the Kenyan who four months ago was appointed to head Vodacom Tanzania is fast becoming an allegory of the increasingly uncomfortable cohabitation that the East African Community is.

Ms Mulinge is yet to take up her position because the government is yet to endorse a work permit for her.

The messages around the delay have been far from clear, with authorities at one point suggesting that there were Tanzanians who could do the job while more recently, Labour Minister Gaudensia Kabaka said the applicant had not satisfied all requirements for a work permit.

Ms Mulinge’s experience mirrors the frustrations of hundreds of professionals across East Africa, who are caught in that grey space between regional protocols that promise free movement of labour on one hand, and national interests that would rather see all positions “localised.”

The practice is so pervasive that some countries, such as Rwanda, have opted to hedge against such frustrations by negotiating bilateral agreements on labour such as the one that exists with Kenya.

With hindsight, however, it is not surprising that reality should be contradicting the spirit and promise of East African integration.

The region’s economies have performed sub-optimally and therefore failed to generate the growth that would have supported a vibrant cross-border demand for goods and factors of production.

Matters have not been helped by rapid population growth that has created a bulge of hungry and angry unemployed youth. This is illustrated best by the case of South Sudan, which despite its dire need for human capital, has still gone ahead to place walls in the way of workers from the rest of East Africa.

The economic contradiction is further demonstrated by the on-and-off spats over trade in basic commodities such as sugar.

At present, Uganda and Tanzania are locked in a war over sugar and rice. While Uganda does not believe that Tanzania enjoys a lower unit cost in the production of rice and actually has a surplus, Dar is also convinced that Uganda’s declared 80,000 tonne sugar surplus is a mirage.

On the surface, these may appear like instances of selective amnesia or convenient cherry-picking. But looked at in their wider context, they represent the bad faith at the heart of the East African integration project.

Leaders are yet to take the leap of faith that would allow them to accept the inevitable disruption and pains associated with achieving a fully functional East African Community.

For instance, it is only to be expected that some production units will suffer closure in some partner states. Or that unscrupulous business people will indeed exploit loopholes to smuggle in contraband.

But with free movement of labour, a fully operational Customs Union and common targets for economic growth, population control, inflation and the exchange rate, most of the challenges attracting rash measures; are actually self-limiting.

The EAC has been here before. Its disintegration in 1977 was the result of the failure by partner states to find a rational response to nationalistic pressures. The choices back then were as stark as they are today.

ORIGINAL POST  – By The EastAfrican