Yei law makers and NGOs trade accusations over corruption
MP Daniel Lokoroto [left standing] making a presentation in a parliamentary session (photo by Daniel Friday):
By Daniel Friday Martin
Law makers in South Sudan’s Yei River State have accused Non-Governmental Organizations [NGO] operating in the area over corruption, recruitment of foreign nationals, duplication of services and failure to comply with Government rules and regulations.
Daniel Lokoroto Arama, chairperson of the Committee for Public Service and Economic Development said NGOs were squandering resources without tangible impact on the expenses of the vulnerable communities.
In a motion deliberated by 18 members of Parliament in Yei, the lawmakers said they were exercising their oversight responsibility on checks and balance on both Government and non-Governmental institutions operating in the state for the common good of the citizens.
According to the lawmakers, access to information is a constitutional right to fight corruption and advances public transparency and accountability in both the Government and the private sector.
MP Lokoroto said there were several NGOs congested in Yei town with less impact on the communities.
Lokoroto accused the NGOs for failing to share their programs with state Government. He said NGOs want to direct the Government towards meeting their own plans instead of implementing programs designed by the people at the grass root.
“We are interested to see that the Government tells the NGOs operating in the state what to do but not NGOs coming to tell the Government what they want to do. If this issue is not addressed with seriousness, we are likely to lose services from the NGOs and the resources contributed by the donors meant to support our people in the situation they are in will have disappointing outcomes.”
Esther Sadia, MP representing Yei County noted that there were several “brief case” NGOs operating in hotels in Yei town without reaching to the communities.
Sadia accused some NGOs of nepotism and failure to follow the South Sudan employment policies.
“They (NGOs) cannot operate as if there is no Government, NGOs are employing foreigners to an extent of unclassified staff such as cleaners and accountants while we have all these qualified human resources in our Country. The other thing is that there is nepotism by our national NGOs where if the Human resource manager comes from a particular tribe, you will see the whole tribe dominating that organization,” she emphasized.
She blamed NGOs for duplicating services and exhausting activity budgets on workshops at the end of the year without addressing real issues affecting communities around the Yei River state.
Robert Lomude representing Mukaya County blamed the executive and the parliament for ignorance and reluctance to monitor and work closely with development partners in the state.
Robert said it was the responsibility of the parliament to develop policies that regulate the operations of development partners. He stressed that NGOs not complying with Government policies should be thrown out of Yei.
“Take for instance in Kenya and Uganda, NGOS are not free to operate, they have to submit a memorandum of understanding to the Government. We are the lawmakers we need to stand up and put correct system in place and for those NGOs not abiding with us, they should pack and leave Yei,” he said.
The lawmakers formed a seven member committee tasked with a responsibility to investigate NGOs profiles, composition of workforce, areas of operation and to report back to parliament within two weeks.
Dara Elisa, the program manager for the United Methodist committee on relief based in Yei River State said his organization works in close coordination with the state and county agriculture departments.
Dara also denied the parliament’s allegations that organizations don’t employ South Sudanese.
“We share our budgets with the line ministry of agriculture and fisheries including details of project documents. For instance, UMCOR has huge operations in Yei and 80% of the workers are nationals and we are adhering to the Relief and Rehabilitation bill and if this is happening some where I am not aware about it,” he explained.