South Kordofan State Development Contracts
October 28, 2008 (Ray Alaam)
The report on development contracts of South Kordofan State has provoked lots of arguments and questions about governmental secret agreements and immunity of confidential reports against being discovered and published.
There have been arguments about the origins of this report. The report was prepared by Dr. Muaz Ahmed Mohammed Tango, a consultant at the Ministry of Justice. People have been asking whether the report says that the government of the State was corrupt or not.
Ray Alaam (Public Opinion), interviewed Dr. Muaz, inquiring about the above questions and others related to the State’s development contracts. The questions and responses are as follows:
How did you begin your relation with the development contracts file of SouthKordofanState that you investigated?
The Coordination Office of South Kordofan State called me on my mobile, for I am a legal consultant, and I was asked to follow up some contracts related to development of SKS that had some problems. The Governor of SKS Omer Suleiman asked me to check these contracts and to observe if there were any breaches or problems.
Did you check the files instantly when you were asked to do so?
There was a normal procedure before checking the files and I informed the Governor about that procedure which says that unless the Minister of Justice asks me to do so, I cannot, because I can never check any subject that is special for the government unless I have been mandated by the Minister of Justice or his agent.
What happened after that?
The SKS governor met with the Minister of Justice and asked him to mandate me, and the Minister agreed after I met with him and personally committed to submit the reports to him. I thought it was not going to take a long time because I was mandated temporarily not permanently. After being mandated verbally by the Minister on 12th or 22nd (sic) of September 2008, I commenced reading the files and then I wrote the report.
Did you have any assistance in carrying out your task?
I consulted the Governor, Omer Suleiman, at some points and he supported me with whatever I asked him for. Then I started writing the report on 24th of September; the reported was not finished until September 30.
You said you would submit the report to the Minister of Justice; did you do that after finishing?
After doing the report, I gave a copy of it to the Coordination Office as well as South Kordofan Coordination Office so that they could read and check it. Before holding a meeting with the Minister, I was sent abroad on an assignment and then on another assignment inside Sudan. Both of these assignments were very significant. So I spent two months on assignments. This is why I didn’t give the Minister my report till two months passed. Furthermore, I was first asked orally by the Minister to do the task and I had to wait till I received a written request. I only received that in June; that report was a preliminary report, and the final report has not been accomplished yet.
What does initially the report show?
Without going into details, the report mentioned many things that led to contractual breaches; this is not a report of general auditor or an accountant or of robbery or corruption. There are specific procedures through which governmental contracts can be made proper, and there were breaches. So this doesn’t mean that there has been corruption in the contracts, but it means corruption might have taken place in relation to these contracts. We went on doing the required procedures. The report was generally a governmental contract and cannot be published or read except those who are authorized, so making it public it is contradictory to the law and secrecy of government work.
Despite what you mentioned, the report has been made known!
The first time I knew that the report has been taken, copied and distributed was when I was asked to attend a meeting with the former governor of SKS; this governor has a constitutional position. He spoke about the role of Ministry of Justice and about faithfulness. One of the MPs of SKS attended the meeting. Then I showed the former Governor, whom I was meeting for the first time, the report, spoke about the necessity of having restricted procedures to combat corruption. He spoke about the impartiality of the report and that he had discovered the breaches in these contracts.
Where was the meeting held?
At one of the ministries in Khartoum.
How did you respond?
I defended the report and mentioned specific points in reaction to what the former Governor said. I mentioned that I was mandated by the Minister of Justice. (He did not mandate me till Omer Suleiman insisted. [unclear]) The report was legal, speaks about quotations, and breaches which were there in the contracts. It did not necessarily mean that there had been money wrongfully.
How did the former Governor respond to your clarifications?
The former Governor said: This report is now owned by many people. Some people are threatening to publish it in newspapers. I rejected that idea, saying this report should not be published. Making it public is a mistake. However, the former Governor who has now a constitutional post said: This report must be published and implemented. I said making the report public is political exploitation of a confidential legal report. He told me that he asked Mohammed Yagoub, Director of the Coordination Office, for the report, but he refused to provide it and that finally it was found in the confidential office.
Confidential office! Do you mean security section?
It is an important section but not security. By the way, security men never leak or pass down such sorts of reports because it involves risks.
Let us go back to your dialogue with the constitutional official; did it end like that?
No, he told me that I would be summoned by the Legislative Council of South Kordofan State to give a statement about this report. I declined and persisted in saying that the report should not be made public. I said there’s no reason to make it public. Yet the official told me that there was corruption. I told him that I haven’t any evidence of corruption, but if he has evidence, he can provide this information before the Public Finance Prosecution or the General Auditor but he cannot take the report. After that, he threatened to submit the report to the President or to publish it. I told him that I have no right to object to submitting the report to the President, yet I reject making it public. I then ended the meeting, for I understood it was only for verification. I complained to the Minister of Justice, informing him about what had happened at the meeting; that was in last ten days of September; after that, I found the report had been made public.
Why didn’t you respond after the report was made public?
I didn’t act after the report was made public because of the Prosecution and confidential circumstances.
But don’t you think your absence from this affair [note: refers to rumors that he was transferred to other department as result of doing the study] may lead to questions about your role from those who are not aware of the details? In other words, can’t you be suspected of sharing information about the report?
That is right. I can also question myself, because the report was done by me and I shared it with only one person and no third person was involved. And of course, there have been many questions, yet I confirm that I am not before the courts and I have clarified the facts. However, some people consider this report as against the governor; which is not the case. The governor is exerting a lot of effort to have the report and he did not object to it. So what could he have been hiding?
Did the Minister of Justice investigate you? As you know, some people are accusing the Minister of Justice of leaking the report.
Firstly, I assure you that the report was not leaked through Minister of Justice and nobody stole the report from me, yet the Minister was aware of the subject matter and formed up a committee for verification and I will be investigated on how people were aware of the report.
Have you been informed about the investigation?
Yes, I was informed that there would be a committee of investigation and it will make a preliminary investigation of me.
How will you reply?
What I know will be mentioned before the committee and I will speak about the meeting and won’t conceal any thing. Particularly as this report has touched me personally.
Have you sufficient evidence?
To me it is very obvious and I will provide information about how the report was made known; I have the evidence.
Muaz, concerning the report that was leaked, will this lead to the courts?
Yes, of course. This is what the investigation committee wants to do. But the committee should go to the judge because confidential government documents must be protected by law. And I don’t think good administration will forgive those who leak confidential report. So such people must be held accountable. I will be accountable and I will resign if it is proved that it was me who made the report public.
You mentioned at the beginning that SouthKordofanState has chosen you personally to investigate about the contracts – Why you specifically? Are there any relations between you and the governor of SKS?
Firstly, the Ministry of Justice, where I work as a legal consultant for all governmental institutions, has a focal point in South Kordofan State. And an excellent legal administration in Kadugli, but due to some circumstances, these contracts were signed and there were problems in implementing some of the quotations. I was asked to do this step; this was a temporary delegation and maybe I was praised by somebody. Nonetheless, as to personal relations, this is not relevant, because the goal was to prepare an independent view.
You said this is an initial report, can it be checked?
The report is not final; I wrote it with a specific vision, and the Minister of Justice may say I was not right. There may be a mistake in evaluating a point here or there. Therefore, the Minister of Justice will check it.
Did the report uncover major faults?
The report showed major faults related to how the contracts and their quotations were done. Generally, funding contracts and contractors who submitted their proposals to fund some projects and the governor merely agreed. Thus, the state did not pay any money. Besides, the amount of money that is supposed to be paid must be paid after submission and it is related to designing buildings or water reservoirs. So the state did not give any amount of money.
You spoke about legal quotation mistakes. Can you give an example?
For example, funding contracts differ from normal construction contracts. All these contracts are based on regulations, laws of finance and accountability procedures, regulations of accountability and financial procedures, technical rules for water reservoirs. So all these must be regarded whilst contractual quotations are being made. This regard assists in keeping public funds and the country’s fund proper.
Are you going to continue investigating into these contracts?
I am still investigating them and I’m still mandated. I said making the report public is a mistake.
Did you hold a meeting with Governor Omer Suleiman after the report was leaked and did that information cause any problems?
Yes, I met with the governor and he was embarrassed because the report had been made known. The Minister of Justice was embarrassed too, because of the way the report was released. Additionally, it was done through intrigue or secretly; this is because the report was made known for other purposes, not for its main purposes. An investigation will focus on how the report was leaked, copied and distributed.
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