Last week, US-based research group the Enough Project urged Kenya, Uganda and the US to investigate and seize corruption proceeds from South Sudan that have been invested in real estate in the region. Nearly 2 years ago, an investigation by The Sentry identified properties in Nairobi and Kampala in the possession of South Sudanese current and former senior officials.
The Sentry said Kenya and Uganda have the legal authority and means to locate, investigate, and — if warranted — seize these properties. John Prendergast, the Co-Founder of The Sentry, said new financial pressures would disrupt the lifestyle of any South Sudanese officials found to have engaged in corruption.
Eye Radio’s Hellen Toby spoke to the Chief Administrative Secretary at Kenya’s MFA, Ababu Namwamba, about the issue.
Hellen: The US based research group, Enough Project, says South Sudan elites are investing the country’s corruption gains in Kenya and Uganda. And therefore it is calling on the two countries to block this. What is Kenya’s take on this?
Ababu: First of all, of course you know that as a government, Kenya does not act on the basis on media reports or speculations or on rumors. A government can only act on the basis of substantive information properly and procedurally communicated or shared which in this case in not what we are talking about. All you are talking about is some supposedly report. We don’t know how this report was generated, we don’t know who exactly this report has been shared with and therefore it is absolutely impossible for someone to make any formal or official response to a report of that nature.
Hellen: In this report, they are saying the claims were investigated in Kenya and Uganda. Don’t you think this can threaten the integrity and the image of the Kenyan banking system?
Ababu: The Kenyan Banking system is internationally highly rated. Our banking laws, banking procedures or our banking practices are absolutely … and there is absolutely no reason, no cause whatsoever for anybody to ……or to….to the integrity of the Kenyan banking system. We are an economic giant in this region. And we are not a giant for no reason. We are an economic giant because of the manner in which we conduct the affairs of our nation and the manner in which we manage our economic activities. And we manage our economic activities in a manner that …. and … the integrity of the Kenya banking system, definitely inspired confidence. And that is why Nairobi is a financial capital for this region.
Hellen: Hon. Ababu Namwamba, is Kenya going to investigate these claims in if they are true?
Ababu: We cannot start responding and supposedly acting on the basis of speculations. We don’t know what this report is. We don’t know how this report was developed. We have not even seen this report. This so-called report has not even been communicated to us. And as and when the said report is made formally through accepted procedural channels, then we can be able to make a substantial step. But as it is now it is not possible. It is not even fair to ask a whole government to respond to a speculation.
Hellen: And Hon Ababu Namwamba, there is a US treasury official that has visited the region. She visited Kenya, Uganda and the DRC and she is warning of multilateral sanctions if Kenya and Uganda do not halt the flow of corruption gains from South Sudan. Don’t you think this will have an effect on Kenya’s economy and the region?
Ababu: Let me make it clear that Kenya has perfect relations with the US. Kenya has absolutely fantastic relations with other regional neighbors including South Sudan. In fact Kenya considers South Sudan to be pretty much part of us. We have travelled with South Sudan the whole of the journey to where the country is now. We were key part of the negotiations, the CPA. The independence of South Sudan was celebrated as much as it is in Nairobi as it was in Juba. And so Kenya is in a very strong position as far as our relations are concerned both regionally and globally. Perhaps we said that really we are not in a position where we can be casually; where Kenya can be casually threatened with amorphous sanctions based on some speculative reports that we don’t even know the head or tail of. It is actually presumptuous and premature to start talking about sanctions on the basis of a method that has not even been made available formally and if in deed they have issued some threats or some whatever supposed or imaginary function, they will be best advised to follow proper diplomatic channels. They know governments communicate with each other and if the US government or any other government has any communication to make, we the government of Kenya will follow the proper diplomatic channels. They know governments communicate with each other. They should follow the proper diplomatically established channels of communication. It is not even fair to ask a whole government to respond to speculations.
Hellen: Kenya has been a partner in the South Sudan peace process. It has initiated the handshake between President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek through its envoy, Raila Odinga. How effective do you think this process will be in bringing about peace in South Sudan?
Ababu: Kenya is a member of IGAD. The South Sudan peace process is major agenda of the IGAD. Everything that is being done is done is within the framework of IGAD. IGAD has been working on this for a long time, IGAD initiated the whole process that you are witnessing. It really an IGAD process. And Kenya, through IGAD is determine to help return South Sudan to the path of peace, security and stability. And Kenya is determined to do whatever it takes to see that the people of South Sudan enjoy peace, enjoy stability and prosperity and definitely reap the fruits of independence. Having sought independence, having paid dearly for the independence of this beautiful country in blood, in sweat, it is only fair for the great people of South Sudan that this beautiful country settles down in peace and stability and delivers prosperity to itself and its people today.
Hellen: And as a member of IGAD, what methodology will come this handshake in order to bring peace in South Sudan because in the past the two leader met but also violence erupted after. What methodology will be used this time round to ensure that there is lasting peace in South Sudan?
Ababu: You know peace in South Sudan is not just about two individuals, peace in South Sudan is not just about the personal chemistry between President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar. Peace in South Sudan must be systemic, it must be structural, it must be people to people, it must be institutional, it must be legal, meaning that the right legislative measures must be taken. And so the contact which we have been seeking and remember IGAD has been on the fore of seeking contact between the two chief protagonists; President Salva and Dr Riek Machar. It is only a part of the broader …..of peace. And that is why in the discussions around the IGAD proposal called the bridging proposal which is intended to bridge the difference between the various parties to the peace process is looking at the entire spectrum of the elements of the peace and the stability process. And so we are looking at the constitution, we are looking at institutions of governance like the presidency, the cabinet, parliament, the security process. And so it is a process that has multiple element and multiple facets and so the peace process is not isolated nearly to a handshake between two individuals. But to an approach and consensus around all the elements that can help South Sudan move forward.
Hellen: Hon. Ababu Namwamba there have been claims by political analysts that the region is having vested interest in the South Sudan conflict. As an IGAD member that is part of the effort of bringing peace in South Sudan, do you think the region is having some sought of interest in the South Sudan conflict?
Ababu: Listen, listen! Yes we have a vested interest and the vested interest is a peaceful, stable, prosperous South Sudan. The vested interest we have is a stable region. The vested interest we have is to see a neighboring friendly nation we call South Sudan back to on the path on the stability for herself and her people to their interest. So yes we have vested interest. But the interest we have is to see South Sudan peaceful, stable, prosperous and to see this region peaceful, prosperous and moving together as a block because any time a single corner of this region hurts, the whole region hurts. We cannot sit back and watch a friendly, sisterly, brotherly state bleed to death. And so our vested interest is peace, stability and prosperity in South Sudan. As I have always said we as South Sudan, we as the people of South Sudan, let us make this happen. Let us get the last train home and that last train is peace, stability, and prosperity for the people of South Sudan.
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