South Sudan Compensation: Minister Kasaija accused of frustrating traders

A section of Ugandan traders who supplied commodities to different companies and individuals in South Sudan before the country plunged into clashes in 2013 have told Parliament select committee  investigating their delayed compensation  that of the  formerly trading in South Sudan have told Parliament that Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija is the reason why they have not been compensated.

The traders told the committee that because of their long overdue claims; many are now traumatised, which is largely the making of the Ministry of Finance.

Led by Geoffrey Okwir, of Gunya Company Ltd told the committee that Minister Kasaija has on several occasions ignored their requests for a meeting over their unsettled claims.

“We are tired of the Ministry of Finance, every time we go there we get insults, Matia Kasaija once asked us; “who told you to go to South Sudan?”  Okwir told the committee.

Okwir said that Kasaija had met them once but hid from other subsequent meetings.

The traders thus requested Parliament to direct that their payments be handled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives other than the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development that they accuse of frustrating them.

There are about 23 companies with unsettled claims after government compensated 10 companies that dealt directly with the South Sudan government.

“To our disappointment and grave shock, the 10 companies that received $15 million (Shs 54 billion) in 2015 were paid another $10.5 million (Shs 37.8 billion) in February 2019,” said Okwir, adding that they got aggrieved on learning that the 10 companies are yet to receive another Shs 110 billion yet what was originally quoted in their claim has already been fully paid.

Traders appealed to Parliament to intervene and stop what they termed as segregation and halt the payment to the 10 companies.

The 10 companies include Rubya Investment Ltd, Kibungo Enterprises, Aponye (U) Ltd, Afro Kai Ltd, Swift Commodities Establishment Ltd, Sunrise Commodities, Sophie Omari, Apo General Agencies, Ropani International and K.K Transporters.

Traders also asked the select committee to investigate the whereabouts of the ISO report on the verification of traders.

Byamugisha John Bosco of Ahmos Investment Group of Companies said the ISO report is hidden in the Finance Ministry because it implicates some of the traders.

The MPs however advised the claimants to focus their issues on the unfairness in the payments other than drawing in allegations that cannot be sustained.

“I think it is not a crime for 10 companies to belong to 5 people as you claim, it is only unfair when they are paid severally while others are not paid,” said Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga.

The Committee chairperson, Ann Maria Nankabirwa (Kyankwanzi Woman) said the committee will inquire into a range of allegations made against the Ministry of Finance and the 10 companies.