Questioning a Suspicious $500,000 Deal Cost My Job—Sacked South Sudan Minister

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Former South Sudan Deputy finance minister Mou Ambrose Riiny Thiik says he was sacked last week for pushing for reforms and transparency in the Ministry.

President Salva Kiir in a decree read on State-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) on Friday sacked Thiik days after he publicly admitted that the government had run out of cash to pay civil servants.

But Thiik said his troubles started after he criticized a deal between the Interior Ministry and a German firm, in which the ministry agreed to pay up to $500,000 to fix a broken computer system and software, the government used to process passports and national Identity cards.

South Sudan resorted to issuing travel permits following the breakdown of passport renewal and production system, the country’s Director-General for immigration, Lieutenant Majak Akec confessed late last month.

“I inquired how it happened and why (the company) had not been paid all this time …I did not get an answer that you would say is in black and white …I had never seen the contract, I only heard that the money had to be paid,” he said adding that the terms of the contract where not good for the economically struggling nation.

“This company sold us software and machinery but they continue to own the codes of the software itself and that is why nothing was being done …so it is a matter of concern,”

He said it is impossible for a country to pay $500,000 when it can not afford to pay civil servants. Thiik says there is need for transparency in the way business is done in ministry to salvage the worsening economic crisis.

South Sudan Deputy information minister Paul Akol Kordit said in October that government is struggling to meet its financial obligations as a result of the economic crisis, but is doing everything possible to see that employees receive payments.

The statement came in a wake of reports that high-level civil servants had resorted to using government vehicles to ferry passengers for a day’s meal.