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South Sudan News

SSBC Seeks To Boost Broadcasts

By Roger Alfred Yoron

 

The South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation is seeking to boost its radio and television broadcasts in the Country.


Chairperson of the SSBC board of directors Professor William Haizaza said an additional transmitter for boosting the radio broadcast has been requested from the government.


“And we suggested to the Minister of Finance [David Deng Athorbei] that if we have a transmitter in Yirol, which could network with the Gumbo station, we could have broadcast [radio] all over South Sudan. And this is very easy to be done.  


It needs not much money, which the government can afford but that’s up to now we are still in the process of following those request,” Haizaza said. “If we cannot improve these infrastructures then we cannot reach the general public, adequately. 

Until now SSBC is not broadcasting countrywide. We were prioritizing on the radio because it is the easiest channel which can be empowered to reach the people. For TV to reach the people it is expensive exercise.”


The SSBC has an overall mandate to provide range of programing for the whole Country that “informs, enlightens, entertains and serves the people of South Sudan, taking into account their ethnic, cultural and religious diversities.” Haizaza however added that the currently SSBC (TV) is analogue terrestrial transmission which can only reach the town of Lainya, effectively and with precision.


Transforming the state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation SSBC from analogue to digital is another challenge, he says. Haizaza said in order for the SSBC to catch up with the rest of the world the challenge of digital migration requires government’s intervention.


“We were hoping that our budget [for financial year 2016/17] should bring in these provisions to answer these questions. But now of course with the situation in which we are, currently the oil is not flowing, it is the only source of revenue... we cannot say now we must have this because that is not realistic,” he said. “And so we are dialoguing with the Minister of information, telecommunications, technology and postal services to connect us with the Minister of finance and to the office of the president so that our problems can be addressed with immediate effect.”


 

SSBC and Peace Agreement

The Agreement on the Resolution on the Conflict in South Sudan ARCSS has provided for reforms and reconstitutions of the SSBC. “….the Executive shall supervise and facilitate the reforms and reconstitutions…paying particular attention to the mandate and appointments, to ensure their independence and accountability,” enshrines Chapter 1 Article 14 sub article 1 of the ARCSS. Earlier, in their submission for consideration during the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review of South Sudan, Human Rights Organization, Article 19 wrote: “We are concerned that the process for appointing and dismissing members of the Board of Directors of SSBC lies with the executive branch, which allows for inappropriate influence over the SSBC by the government. A strong guarantee of independence from the executive branch is one of the key pillars of a democratic public broadcasting law. With this pillar now take away; it is very questionable whether the SSBC will be able to truly deliver on its otherwise well-defined mandate to serve the public rather than the government.” But chairperson Haizaza argues that the South Sudan media laws are just frameworks which will be amended gradually.


“The present three Acts [Media Laws] are just framework. Honestly, they are just framework… as we go along, then we will begin to amend, even the US constitution has been amended now and then. 

So there is no law which is static... the framework gives you the opportunity to start to build the house, the foundation,” he said. The chairperson also defended the membership of a national security officer in the board.


Haziza argued that as a civilian he will not be able to secure a release of SSBC’s journalist in case of an arrest by the security.


“But he [the national security] being in the board, we can discuss the issue, we give him the mandate to go and solve the problem. That is why the presence of the national security is important and critical in solving problem. 


Because we know that our reporters are not well trained and there are bound to be errors in the process...” said the SSBC’s boss.


However, a civil society activist Wodcan Saviour Lazarus disagrees, insisting that involving a security officer as a member compromises the mandate of the board.  


“When we involve the national security, to be also among the corporation, then we compromise with the work of the corporation… this is going beyond what the Act actually stipulated,” Saviour told The Nation Mirror.

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President Kiir, Gen. Malong Not Responsible For July Clashes In Juba - SPLA

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By Dach Agoth Mayen

 

The SPLA has refuted allegations that its Commander-in-Chief, President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Chief of General Staff, Paul Malong Awan, had directed the fighting which dislodged former First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny from Juba in July.


Brigadier General, Lul Ruai Koang called an urgent press conference on Saturday to dismiss the confidential report issued by the United Nations implicating both Kiir and Malong in engineering the scuffle.  The report published on various international agencies has it that the fighting in Juba was engineered by the army chief who acted with orders from the commander in chief. 


The report argued that the use of Gunship helicopters in war can only be ordered by commander chief and the army chief. However, Gen. Ruai explained that president and the army chief did not order forces to take an offensive against the SPLA-IO but rather pinned blame on opposition soldiers for instigating the fighting.   He said the body guards of the former first vice president repeated the same scenario that escalated further violence in the city. He noted that the president immediately on Monday, July declared ceasefire and the army chief ordered all SPLA soldiers to return to their barracks which he said, was respected. Gen. Lul accused the UNMISS of targeting the SPLA forces in the recent fighting in Juba, arguing that army leadership noted deeply with satellite imagery as evidences of the UN peacekeeping forces hostilities against the SPLA.     


The secretive UN document according to reports indicated that government procured arms at the expenses of the dire economic situation in the country and therefore called for imposition of arms embargo.  This is yet the latest and serious accusation following the visit of the United Nations Security Council to Juba in a push for deployment of the regionally backed protection force in the young nation.

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Civil Society Activists Reportedly Harassed, Intimidated During Visit By UNSC Delegation

By Aurelious Simon Chopee

 

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it has received reports of threats and harassment of some civil society members who met the delegation of the United Nations Security Council during the visit to Juba last weekend.


The peacekeeping mission said in a press release that it was deeply concerned by the reports.

“These reported actions are in violation of the rights to freedom of expression, movement and civil and political engagement, which are fundamental pillars of a democratic society” the mission said. 

Adding “Any attempt to suppress these rights through threats and harassment must be condemned in no uncertain terms” 

UNMISS stressed that the platform offered by members of the United Nations Security Council was an opportunity for an open dialogue with a view to gaining greater understanding of some of the issues and concerns faced by South Sudanese citizens at the grassroots level. 


It explained that it will raise their concerns with all relevant authorities. 


The United Nation Security Council visited Juba last week to push for the deployment of extra 4000 troops as reinforcement to the 13000 troops of UNMISS as a regionally proposed protection force. During the three day tour, the 15 member delegation headed by US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power held talks with the government and agreed on the deployment of the protection force in principle. However government says there is room for negotiation to consent on troop contributing countries, armament and others.


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Transformation Of SSBC Falls Behind Schedule

By Roger Alfred Yoron

 

S

outh Sudan Television/Radio (SSTV/R) was according to media legislations, to transform to South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation SSBC, an establishment towards transforming the State owned Media into public broadcasters, independent from political or economic control of the government, but program has not been done safe for the name.


A nine-member board of directors, appointed by President Salva Kiir, has managed to effect the changes in the name, but got stuck in implementing the rest of the reforms set out in the SSBC Act.

Chairperson of the board, Professor William Haizaza cites lack of budget, organization structure for the SSBC and financial self-sustainability as the main challenges facing the corporation in discharging its duties.


“We the media are having a lot of problems is because we don’t have guidelines to back up our operations, to give the protection to the journalists and the absence of these codes,  conduct of business regulation is really harming the work, profession itself,” Haizaza told The Nation Mirror.


“We in the Broadcasting Corporation are supposed to enact our regulations for the Radio and TV and pass it  and give copy to the Media Authority, which then they will use it to check on us, because we are a government institution. So this is the task before us but it needs budget, it needs finance. It is not very easy.”


Currently, revenues generated by the SSBC are remitted directly into the accounts of the government leaving the corporation financially unsustainable, Haizaza said: “We have some good revenues when we do advertisements, and we have transmitters which are being rented by BBC, by VOA, by Radio France International, all they pay. All these we need to see how they are reflected in our budget.”


Legally, the Media Authority is a regulatory body for the transformation of government and state controlled television and radio into a public broadcasting corporation. Section 32 of the SSBC Act also gives the Media Authority the power to refer to court grounds it believes to be a breach by the Corporation of any obligation specified in the Act. The Authority has failed to deliver its mandate saying it lacks budget.


However, Haizaza said the board together with a new managing director is working out an organization structure for the corporation.


“…we succeeded to work the organization structure which is very important instrument for the transformation of the SSTV/R into SSBC as a public broadcaster… Up to now the organization’s structure is still under process because it is still to be submitted to the minister, to the Council of ministers and then to the parliament,” he said.


“…since SSTV/R was operating we didn’t see any organization structure so that means the people who are employed here, they are randomly employed and their job descriptions, job specifications are not incorporated into the Act and into the structure. So you cannot evaluate the performance very quickly. But now, this is an important instrument of transformation and it is being worked on.”

The SSBC Act President Kiir signed into law gives the Corporation an overall mandate to provide range of programming for the whole Country that “informs, enlightens, entertains and serves the people of South Sudan, taking into account their ethnic, cultural and religious diversities.”

The Act says for five years from its commencement, the government shall continue to provide funding to the corporation.


Haizaza said the roadmap has been established to transfer the Institution from the ministry of information and broadcasting into public broadcaster.


He said the corporation shall work in close cooperation with the ministry of information, in terms of finance and policy framework.


“….but in terms of administration we were supposed to do a number of things in the first one year interim period, which started in February this year,” Haizaza said.   “So when we assumed our task, we started with changing the logo from SSTV/R to SSBC. Our concept for change is symbol. Both radio and TV has a common denominator which is to raise the voice of the people and their aspirations to the government and to take the programs and policies of the government to the people through the mic.” Haizaza said.


Balancing News and Editorial Integrity

The Act requires the Corporation to align its activities with the democratic values enshrined in the national Constitution and to enhance and protect fundamental freedoms and human rights.


Section 7 subsection 3 of the Act enshrines:“The Broadcasting Corporation shall strife, among others, to provide a service that:

(a) is independent from political or economic control by the government and reflects editorial integrity;

(b) Includes comprehensive, impartial and balanced news and current affairs programming during prime time, covering South Sudan and international events of general public interest.…

(l) Contributes to informed debate and critical thought...” 

However, Haizaza recognizes lack of fair and professional coverage by the SSBC. 

The board’s chairman says he has directed the managing director to accord equal airtime to all South Sudanese irrespective of political affiliations.   

“Our program now is geared towards peace... to welcome our brothers (opposition) and to treat them equally and to have their programs aired out as much as all other programs are being aired… these are the transformation which are taking place” Haizaza said.

“As a government institution, we must give equal platform to all political parties and people, in order to harmonize… because if you segregate you will set fire. So this is some of the transformation we expect to do...”

However, Member of Parliament leading Democratic Change party in the transitional assembly Onyoti Adigo Nyikwec insists that the opposition views are not given fair opportunity. 

He says “if you see me there… it is something which has been organized by other people, not by us [opposition].”

“The TV is still being controlled by the government, even the radio and especially by the minister of information. So it has become property of some people not the South Sudanese people,” Adigo told The Nation Mirror.

“There is a need to look into the other side of the coin. Not all the time you are looking on one side. Views should be reflected so that people think which is the best way to go,” he stressed.

A Juba based Civil Society activist agrees that the SSBC is still not independent from control of the government.

Wodcan Savior Lazarus of Support Peace Initiative Development Organization SPIDO argues that an issue of balancing of news stories does not need a budget.

“The independence of the SSBC is not evidenced…some of these stories on South Sudan Television and Radio are not being balanced. In most cases the stories are one sided favoring the interest of the government. This is one area the Corporation needs to improve on… the law is there but the implementation is really poor,” Savior who commended the government for enacting the law told The Nation Mirror.

“The budget would have not been one of the major excuses because some of these things they would have even done it without the budget.” 

The activist urges the government to allocate budget to the Corporation and also raise awareness on the stipulations of the SSBC Act.

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Women, Council Of Churches Urge Citizens To Embrace Peace

By Garang Abraham Malak

 

Coalition of National Women and South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) on Thursday held a two days workshop at Aron International Hotel in Juba, on way forward to peace and reconciliation.

The event under the theme “Human body has many parts but many parts makes up a body” and organized in collaboration between the two organizations, called on all citizens to embrace peace and unity as the gateway to reconstruct the young conflict devastated country.


The Minister of Roads and Bridges, Rebecca Joshua Okwaci, said there was need for entire country to volunteer as ambassadors of peace and embrace togetherness at the grassroots level.


“I appreciate the organizers of this forum which is based on creating awareness on issues relevant to peace building, basically women of this country deserve to share ideas that are affecting throughout the ongoing conflict,” said Okwaci.  “It is very important to extend peace discourse to the grassroots level to pave awareness on issues related to peace building and reconciliation”. The ex-Minister of Telecommunication and Postal Services stated that women in the country must act as peace ambassadors, and preach to the nation and the world about the level of suffering inflicted on children and women. “Women have suffered enough and we don’t want this suffering to protract to our children generations. Most of the conflict-affected population is women and children and this must end,” she said. The presidential advisor stressed that each time conflict erupt, women continue to lose, sons, daughters and husbands. On his side, the Council of Churches Secretary General, Father Francis James said it is high chance for South Sudanese to silence the guns and unite together for peace, prosperity. He urged the populace to shun tribalism, segregation and adopt cohesiveness as proud South Sudanese people in one nation.


 “South Sudan needs to be reconstructed and it is all our collective responsibilities to rebuild the country. Nobody who will come from anywhere and reconstruct our country, it is you the women and youth of this great infant nation to preach peace to your children and husbands,” the clergy told the workshop.

“Man God appealed to citizens whether abroad or inside the country to avoid creating and spread hate speech on social media because the propaganda threaten social heritage of our diversities” he went on. He discouraged citizens from division along ethnic line were an Acholi fights a Dinka, Aweil against Gogrial, adding that South Sudan belong to all regardless of tribe, religion and political affiliation.

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TNLA Rejects Payment For 19 Months Salary Of Reinstated MPs

By Dach Agoth Mayen

 

The transitional national legislative assembly has rejected the demand by Members of Parliament who were reinstated recently to be paid 19 months salaries.


Around 27 MPs lost their seats after the outbreak of the violence following the December 2013 bloodletting war that claimed lives and materials in the country. Some of them were dismissed for absenteeism; others for allegedly joining the armed opposition, but then, they were reinstated this year in accordance with the August 2015 peace agreement.


After their reinstatement, the lawmakers petitioned the Legislature leadership, claiming unspecified amount of money. However, the leadership of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly has dismissed the payment request by the MPS, arguing the peace agreement does not stipulate it. The assembly made the position on Friday following the sitting to discuss on the matter.


According to the chairperson of the information committee in the assembly, Oliver Morri Benjamin, “There is no article in this agreement which gives any legitimacy to claim for the period of their absence,” “These very members who are asking for the 19-month salaries to be paid to them were not even considered as members by then until when they were brought back to their seats.”


Some members of parliament, particularly the Former Detainees, argued that they were moved to Nairobi by the Kenyan government and it was not their making to move out from the country but it was due to request by the Kenyan authority However, Morri stressed that the decision reached by the August house is the last and binding and no further claim on the matter. The amount of money claimed by the MPs was not revealed but was just rejected based on the agreement, he said.

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Ivory Bank Denies Knowledge Of 5.7 Million SSP State Government Account In Rumbek Branch

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By Aurelious Simon Chopee

 

The management of Ivory Bank South Sudan has come out loud to dispute information regarding 5.7 million South Sudanese Pounds allegedly missing in state government account in its Rumbek Branch.


The Minister of Information in Western Lakes State Dut Makuet told The Nation Mirror on Tuesday that 5.7 million SSP intended for construction of state assembly in the former greater Lakes States was missing in Ivory Bank.


“The money is missing in the bank, the government has been approaching Ivory Bank to release the funds so that the money be used for its project but the bank is dodging and is not telling the truth whether the money is there or not. “There was no clear information where the money had gone to” Makuet told The Nation Mirror on phone.


The money was allegedly revealed by then Lakes States Governor Gen. Matur Chut recently.

However Ivory Bank Manager for Public and Corporate Relations Moses Mangol Mabor in a statement said the “the account in which the sum 5.7 million South Sudanese Pounds purportedly went missing is hypothetical because no specific account number was given” He said the state ministry of finance which is the custodian of state finances has only one account pertaining to Personal Income Taxes (PIT) of the staff of Ivory Bank-Rumbek Branch.


According to Ivory Bank Management, the Deputy General manager of Ivory Bank, John Buong and Coporate Relations Manager had met Abraham Makoi Bol, Governor of Western Lakes States to dispel out any suspicion and misconception of Ivory Bank Branch-Rumbek, a week before he sent a letter last July. “However, it is unfortunate and regrettable that the state government is persistently tarnishing our reputation” Mangol said in a press statement. The bank management attached a letter disputing extra account in the bank apart from the one clarified earlier.


“Sir, Reference to the letter dated 27/07/2016, subject: The lost account in Rumbek, I am hereby assuring your esteemed office that we have no any government account other than the ones we have given their statements to your end” partly reads a correspondence between the Bank Branch in Rumbek and the Governor Makoi dated August 9 2016. Adding, “When we lost any account of our customers is a great shame to our institution. 


Therefore we remain committed to delivering good services to our customers”   However, the State Minister of Information in Western Lakes State said Governor Makoi has constituted an investigation committee to find out the missing cash.

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UAE Promises Humanitarian Support, Foreign Affairs Minister Says

By Dach Agoth Mayen

 

The United Arab Emirate has pledged to support South Sudan to avert the humanitarian crisis the country is experiencing, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deng Alor Kuol has said. Alor just arrived to the country from UAE where he led a high level government delegation to solicit for support.  


Speaking to the press shortly after arrival at Juba International Airport during the weekend, the minister lauded the UAE for the commitment to supporting the young nation.  Alor visit came upon invitation from the UAE ministry of foreign affairs.


“We discussed with UAE government and the meeting was fruitful and they promised to support South Sudan on humanitarian needs” Alor said.


The Foreign Minister said while there, he discussed bilateral relations with the UAE and that the discussion was successful and very soon the UAE would bring in its support for humanitarian needs. “We have just returned from the UAE following an invitation of minister of foreign affairs of UAE. We thanked them for the invitation and we hope the two countries will continue to cooperate” he noted. South Sudan is experiencing numerous challenges ranging from conflict, economic deterioration, humanitarian catastrophe, to mention but a few. Many have attributed the downturn in the economic sector to the protracted civil war that never ceased even after the parties inked the infamous Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS).


Any support from friends could help the country uplift the spirit of her stressed citizens.

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FDs Commend President Kiir For Commitment To Hybrid Court

By Aleer P. David

 

The former political detainees also known as SPLM-Leaders have urged the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) to respect the agreement they reached with United Nation Security Council Team on the deployment of 4000 protection force. In a press statement signed by ex-finance Minister Kosti Manibe seen by The Nation Mirror the SPLM leaders encouraged the government to commit itself in implementing peace agreement in accordance with the provisions enshrined in the joint Communique read by cabinet affairs Minister Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro on Sunday.


 “We cannot fail to draw attention to all concerned especially  president Salva Kiir Mayardit to the statement purporting to clarify the meaning of the joint communique issued by the TGONU and UNSC which implies that the communique does not accurately represent the essence of the discussions and what was agreed between TGONU and UNSC Mission,” read the statement.


On Sunday a 15-member United Nations Security Council team co-led by American ambassador to UN, Samantha Power and Senegalese ambassador to UN, Fode Secke reached an agreement with the government of South Sudan and drafted a joint communique outlining the three-day meeting resolution. The G10 said the government is trying to reverse what was agreed in the joint communique which reveals government’s acceptance of the UNSC resolution 2304 that entailed deployment of regional forces as part of UNMISS and removal of all hindrances to humanitarian access.  The government said the deployment of these forces was accepted in principles but negotiations are inevitable to determine the countries that will contribute the troops and the armament and mandate of the troops.


The former detainees also said a protection force for the sake of only protection is not enough to put back the country on track but a political program that provides roadmap for sustainable peace is the best.


However the group commended president Kiir for urging the African Union to speed the process of establishing Hybrid Court to end the culture of impunity.

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Potholes, Over Speeding Blamed For Nimule Road Traffic Accident

Accident


By Chuty Anyar

 

The fatal road accident along Juba-Nimule highway that killed 10 people and wounded 37 others at Pageri, was caused as buses tried to dodge potholes amid over speeding for fear of carjackers, police say.


The accident on Wednesday involved two transport buses of GateWay Company, where all the reported fatalities were traders of different nationalities and among the injured were 23 South Sudanese. According to deputy police spokesman Colonel Dominic Kuacijok in an exclusive interview with The Nation Mirror the incident occurred on Wednesday morning when two buses belonging Gateway Company rammed each other at Pageri vicinity, all coming from different directions.


He said one of the buses was coming from Kampala while the other from Juba, all were driving at constant speed and that resulted into collision.


“It was a heavy collision which has left 37 people sustained injures and killed 8 people including both two drivers of the buses instantly,” Kuacijok said. He explained that the cause of the accident was deemed to be narrowness of the road and over speeding due to the fear of carjacking by bandits along the highway, following the July fighting.


He revealed that the damage of the tarmac also contributed much to the collision since there are several bump’s and hole’s created in the middle of the highway.


“The cause of the accident was because of the hole which is on the middle of the road   where two buses crash trying to dodged hole but unfortunately the collided on the process skipping the hole.   Also, over speeding was another cause of the incident,” he explained. the injured victims were referred to Nimule hospital for urgent treatment but the police officer appealed to the government to rehabilitate the worn-off parts of the road to reduce more road accident on the only country highway and provide safety to the passengers.  However, it is not the first time for accident to occur along Juba-Nimule highway since it was construction few years back.   


Earlier last year Bakulu Bus Company and Friendship Coaches, got accident nearly killing dozens of people and wounding several others.

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UN Commission Of Human Rights To Meet President Kiir

 By Roger Alfred Yoron

 

The UN Commission of Human Rights in South Sudan says it has begun a 19-day mission to South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda to meet political and community leaders, refugees and internally displaced people, as well as members of the international community regarding the human rights situation in the country. 


“During their mission to South Sudan, the Commissioners, Yasmin Sooka, Ken Scott and Godfrey Musila, are scheduled to meet a number of ministers, parliamentarians, police, judicial officers, military officials and they have requested a meeting with President Salva Kiir. They will also conduct a number of visits to camps in Juba and Bentiu,”a statement released by UNMISS yesterday partly read.


“The Commissioners will then visit Addis Ababa, where they will meet leaders of the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as well as other members of the international community and civil society. They will then proceed to Kampala and Adjumani in Uganda, to visit the refugee settlements there housing South Sudanese refugees.”


UN Human Rights Council in March 2016 mandated the Commissioners to monitor and report on the human rights situation in South Sudan, establish a factual basis for transitional justice and provide guidance to the Transitional Government of National Unity of South Sudan on transitional justice.  The Commission is scheduled to present a comprehensive written report to the Human Rights Council at its 34th regular session in March 2017.

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