Corruption and the Sudanese Election
There is one very important issue which has not been raised by anyone, as I have listened to all reports from the election observers , until now , that is the buying and selling of votes and loyalty. According to my estimate this has amounted to not less than one billion US dollars over the last two years.
For the last year and in every Sudanese region, the issue of buying the loyalty of tribal and community leaders has been happening. This has not been by investing in their communities in terms of health, education and other services but instead in a crude way, by bribing them with cash or other material resources or jobs. Above all, it is cash. That has occurred not only for traditional leaders, but political parties also. The recent row about the amount given to the Umma Party, just two days before the election is one example. This amount was given in cash , and not through bank transfer or cheque and without any signature from the recipient. Until now we don’t know whether it was two million Sudanese pounds (US$ 800,000) or four million (US $1,600,000). It was a bribe for the Umma Party to participate in the election. We don’t know from where this amount was paid and what was the budget line, whether it was from the public purse or not.
In the run up to the election, people were talking about putting up your candidateship for election and then bargaining to withdraw it. If you stand down in favour of the NCP candidate, you will be paid. The price normally depends on the expected number voters who might vote for you. Tens of candidates withdraw their candidateship in favour of the NCP candidates and people were talking about the price they were paid for this.
My younger sister put up her candidateship for the Assembly of South Kordofan but I persuaded her to withdraw as I did not think it was worthwhile running. One of our relatives was unhappy about that decision as he believed she should have waited to be paid before withdrawing her candidateship, as she was expected to get many votes .
MY colleague Alex de Waal uses the terminology, “dollarization of the political marketplace.” I think that what happening in Sudan, and one of the main reasons why the NCP controls the political scene is because it has huge financial resources as it controls the government and the economy. But instead of using those resources to the benefit of the impoverished Sudanese people it uses it to corrupt public life. The resources the NCP is using are public resources, at the time which the government is not able to pay teachers and nurses’ salaries. Instead of using public monies for development and services, they use scarce resources to corrupt public life. One example which every Sudanese knows about is the rise in the price of sugar, in October 2009, when the price went up 100% at the very start of the sugar production season, at a time when there was no shortage of sugar in the market. In less than one month that measure raised around 52 million Sudanese pounds (22 million US dollars). The sugar trade in Sudan is controlled by 30 merchants, many Sudanese know their identities. This extra profit was not extra income to the treasury but was for the trader alone. I have tens of example of those types of transactions. Their political significance is that the NCP and its supporters have a complete monopoly over the Sudanese economy and whenever they want to fundraise they manufacture shortage in one of the strategic commodities (e.g. sugar, cement etc.). In addition, the question of how much is the actual income from the sale of oil, the main source of government income , is not answered. The actual figure of the country’s income from oil in the last ten years remains a secret, but people have the right to know.
What happened in Darfur recent, especially in al Fashir the scam centred on the al Mawasir (pipes) market, is another example. This was a pyramid or Ponzi scheme, in which you the seller is offered more than double the price of his commodity by accepting a post-dated cheque. Like all Ponzi schemes, that led a few people to make huge sum of money and lasted as long as there were new and gullible sellers. The scheme works on the basis of doubling the number of customers in every round, which means there are always more people who are owed money than those who have gained. In the end, the al Mawasir scheme collapsed and caused many to lose all their capital. There are strong rumours linking the whole operation to the election and the success of one specific political party and its candidate. An unanswered question is, where did all the cash come from that made the scheme work?
Corruption has become the norm in Sudanese public life and that what the “civilization project” has led us to.
Sudan Election: Footage of alleged vote rigging caught on video
You mentioned that the Umma party was bribed so as to participate in the elections, but as we know all it boycotted the elections. Can you please indicate the source of that info. and whether there will be any penalties for not honoring the participation deal.
Also, you said that candidates were paid so as to pull out of the elections and you supported your allegation with the statement “people were talking”. Do you think such citation is scientific?
I think that there was real corruption but the examples that you provided so far are mere hearsay and do not prove or validate your point of view.
Your credibility will be compromised dear Hafez if you continue to quote rumours and gossip and base sand casle analysis on them.
The NCP (to which I do not belong as U know) did not win by bribing the electorate or political parties.It won because the so called opposition dithered and did not register supporters . That happened because they deluded themselves by believing that the NCP wont allow the elections to go ahead.
Moreover the traditional parties have grown old and almost senile. I resigned from the Unionists when I realised that the top leadership did not want us to reorganise the party along modern lines.Their lack of finance is a mere pretext.They have lost touch with the young people (most of whom were childern in 1989 ) and vote for the first time.
The government has concrete achievements like oil exports despite vindictive sanctions , the construction of roads, dams and bridges, the expansion in education and ,of course, the CPA. The economy was restructured and the country – in a wave of patriotic solidarity- stood behind a leader who is unfairly targeted by a sinister maverick ICC prosecutor; disingeniously propped up by some who do not suscribe to the Rome Statute that aborted his court.
The NCP won ,dear Hafez ,because our people did not like the attemps to reneg on the CPA of 05 and reconstitute the defunct National Democratic Alliance and persuade the hard liners in the SPLA to act as both government and opposition .
You were one of the elections observers ; but your jusgement will not carry weight ,because your real hat is the hat of an activist selectively bent on dicrediting whatever the government does.
Dear Khalid Yousif,
1. What do you call the 2 or 4 million Sudanese pounds in cash without receipts (and without knowing where it came from and what the budget line it came from)? If it is genuine compensation it has to come from the public purse with and subjected to audit by the Auditor General. It good that the Umma Party took it and refused to participate in the election and considered it as part of their entitlement as compensation.
2. The government paid me SDG 115.000 (US$ 46 thousands) compensation as they dismissed me from my job in December 1989 for political reasons, and the payment was according to Cairo Accord in 2005. I applied to the committee which was formed by the president and it processed our claims and I received a cheque with the amount, clear, and open in the air and I am ready to tell everyone about it and without waiting for leaks.
3. I strongly believe that Umma Party and others political parties are entitled to compensation but that has to be through an open and transparent way, not through undisclosed cash payments.
4. With regard to party funding, the election Act stated clearly how that is supposed to be handled, which is through the NEC, but that wasnâ€™t the case.
Dear Khalid Al Mubarak
I am not spreading rumours or gossip. All the issues which I have raised are in the public domain and open. Nothing will happen to my creditability as I speak my mind and have evidencesfor everything, I am not defending dictators, or speaking on their behalf.
1- The case of the Umma Party 2 or 4 million is all over the newspapers; we heard explanations from the Umma Party but not the NCP or the government. If the money is from the treasury, we are supposed to get an answer from the finance minister or if you have any explanation as a media man (spin doctor) for the government please let us know.
2- Regarding buying and selling votes, I will give you one recent example, regarding constituency 2 Rashad South Kordofan. In this constituency my brother ran as a candidate. This area is the heartland of our tribe and since 1953, in every election the DUP used to win. All the people in the area are our relatives, and no one is an NCP members. My brother has been asked to run as candidate by the people. He lost the election for many reasons but we later discovered that he got the votes in other areas and not this specific area which is is home. In fact he lost around 5,000 votes. I personally investigated that as those are my relatives. They told clearly that some people have been given money and asked to swear oaths on the Koran to vote for a specific party, and that was why they didnâ€™t vote for him. I know the names of the agents and I have many other examples if you want.
3- I know many people whom are not able to feed themselves and suddenly after joining a political party they were able to buy houses and new cars, that is open and clear.
4- The regime in Sudan also uses other means of buying or bribing people like giving jobs to people when they are not entitled to them or they are in retirement ages. This is at a time, when 90% of the universities graduates for the last 7 years are unemployed. That is also common in Sudan and I can give you many examples.
5- Also buying tribal leaders’ loyalties, I have seen many with whom are loyal with four-wheel drive cars, and some been totally bankrupt because they are not loyal, I am ready to give you tens of examples.
6- If you have doubt about what happened in Darfur (Al Fashir) I am more than happy to give you list of the people who lost everything in the al Mawasir scheme. Some of them are now in hospital due to that. The question is still, from where did all those big amounts of money come from, in a country which is unable to pay its doctors, nurses and teachers salaries. If you have an answer please let me know.
Sudan is a country where the proceeds of its main cash production, oil, is not known to the public. Te former finance minister Al Zabair made it clear in the National Assembly that he didnâ€™t know how much the country was getting for the sale of its oil. The recent Global Witness report shows that discrepancies exist. My question again to you Dr Khalid, can you tell me what is the real amount the oil sale? I am sure you are aware of Transparency International reports and you know what the ranking of Sudan is regarding corruption. If you are disputing all that please let us know.
I don’t think you are mistaken by the notion of brazen government dependence through loyalty payments. But nevertheless, your figures are unsubstantiated. Khalid AlMubarak is making a technical argument.
I suppose with your personal admission of taking a check worth $46,000 you are trying to validate your argument. You might bring very little weight to it, but it is irrelevant to proving $1billion in loyalty payments. Furthermore, it exposes your actions and almost contradicts the spirit of your words. Let us visit your criticism about the atmosphere of corruption that is created by the NCP. There are two actors in a corrupt stage: the offending and the accepting. Where would someone who accepts $46,000 in purported compensation fit in all this when they even admit that it was a loyalty write off? Do you not have a part to play? I am waiting for an admission of guilt and partaking in the corrupt practices of the state. You are not defending your act. But you fell short of admitting guilt. So where do you stand now? If what you say is correct, then in my eyes, you are not blameworthy, but you are also guilty.
Furthermore: I ask, why should political actors whom have contributed nothing to political discourse be entitled to the people’s money? This is what corruption is. When critics of a corrupt government believe that useless parties are entitled to the people’s money. All you are saying is you believe in the cycle of the patronage system. And all you will encourage is more corruption. Your credibility is very much at stake Hafiz. This is serious business.
The issues of buying and selling in the Sudanese political marketplace is not something from my imagination, I am following closely what going on in Sudan for the last ten years, my one billion US dollars figures is a very conservative estimate. I want you to answer one simple question: Can you tell me what is the correct figures of the proceed of the sale of Sudanese oil, in the last 10 years, why it is secret why the contract between the government and the oil companies are still secret and not disclosed even to parliament? The other question is: the figures published by Global witness of US$ 600,000 for one company, China National Petroleum for one yearâ€™s, what about the other, where have all those amounts gone? Please let me know if you have an answer.
I have carried out many studies on this matter, and in Sudan you have to use estimates as 90% of the transaction in the economy are in cash even the Central Bank doesnâ€™t know the volume of money in circulation. I started my career as bankers in 1980, and used to know many famous Sudanese businessmen, most of them now deliberately driven out of business, and the most of the economic activities run by ghosts.
Now people who just, 5 years ago had nothing, now they bought houses in UK, and I have thousands of examples.
With regard to my compensation, it was not a bribe, it is according to Cairo Agreement, and the government only accepted to implement it after the demonstration by the people dismissed for political reasons. More that 2000 people benefited from that and their names were published in Alray Aaam newspaper. We are still asking for our pension entitlement which been cancelled by the government and we managed to win court case in the high court and the government refused to accepted until now and the pensioners from the banks are still fighting to get their entitlement back, not bribes.
With regards to party funding it is good if we have an open public funding with clear caps for that, otherwise Sudanese people will pay for that 10 times as the people whom fund political parties ask for favours ten times the amount they pay. This debate is going on in UK with around 300 years of democracy as party funding causes a lot of embarrassment for the major political parties, and reduces the public confidence in people holding public offices.
Al through Darfur negotiations, for Abuja, to Kenya to Asmara, we know about bags of dollars buying commanders, and splitting armed movements, that also part of the so called dollarization of political marketplace.
Now in Sudan if you win a contract with any government department, and complete the work successfully, to get your money back to have to bargain and sometime pay more that 10% of amount to get your money or wait for years. If you want hundreds of names and examples I am more than happy to provide you with that.
Regarding my credibility, I am following closely corruption in public life in Sudan and think the main loser in all this is morality. It reaches ZERO in Sudan due to those practices. Many other researchers are also working on this issue and we share information.
You have to worry about the credibility of those who are defending corrupt regimes and try to defend corrupt practices. That is one of the disease Sudan is facing now, not someone who tries to expose corrupt practices and campaigns to root them out of public life, as that is the main reason for the moral decline which the country is facing now.
I’d like to commend you for bringing up this important topic. It most definitely merits acknowledgment and concern, from Sudanese and International observers alike. While I question the figures, I think it’s very hard to collect accurate data on corruption in Sudan, and one cannot underestimate its influence on Sudan’s political economy. In light of what you have said and further thinking, I believe we shouldn’t get entangled with specifics or the accuracy of the data. the essence of what you are explaining is sufficient. All observers can agree that this issue is a retardant to Sudan’s future.
Thank you very much for your contribution in this debate , I do agree with this is a very serious and worrying issues for observers and Sudanese alike as it is the main cause of the suffering of millions of our fellows Sudanese.
As I mentioned before my figure is very conservative estimate in comparison with many other authenticated researches on this issue. I donâ€™t think this blog is the right place to publish those reports, but if you want to know more about that send me message on my email: [email protected] and I will send you some of those reports