interviewBy Steven Candia
Kampala — Following a nasty incident in Juba early this month in which Anthony Makuyi, the leader of Ugandan traders there, was stabbed to death by a policeman, New Vision's Steven Candia interviewed Maj. Gen. Clement Wani Konga Gwollo, the Governor of Central Equatoria State of South Sudan under which Juba falls.
QUESTION: Mr Governor, what message do you have for Ugandans?
ANSWER: First, on behalf of the people of Central Equatoria, I thank the Government of Uganda and its people for the accommodation given to us since between 1955 and 2005 when we were refugees. Secondly, I thank the government of Uganda for supporting the SPLA, without which support we would not have got this peace. Most of our political leaders have been trained and educated in Uganda. They are now leaders in South Sudan.
There is panic among Ugandan traders in Juba following the killing of Anthony Makuyi. What is being done?
The policeman who killed him is under arrest and investigations are going on. We hope that the court will start soon. But it is up to the relatives of the deceased to decide whether they want compensation or death penalty for the accused. If they choose compensation the accused will have to compensate them or else be hanged.
I thought that murder is a capital offence with a death penalty. Under the law in Sudan it is either compensation or the death penalty. Traders are concerned about what is being done to guarantee their safety. There is need for people to have love and respect for one another.
Money shouldn't bring differences between us. If there is a problem of security, we do provide security. Before that unfortunate incident, the counsels of Uganda and Kenya were called by the Minister of Internal Affairs and they were asked to inform their citizens to abide by the laws of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS). When the incident occurred, I was surprised to hear that the people of South Sudan are hostile to their brothers and sisters from Uganda and Kenya. May be this is being fuelled by people who are against the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The hostility in the press should be stopped because the people of Equatoria and Uganda have been brothers and sisters even before the NRA took over power in Uganda.
People want to know what is being done to avert attacks on Ugandan traders.
I have brought police from Keji Keji, Morobo and Yei counties for training to cater for traffic and immigration in Juba. These problems exist because of our untrained policemen. The security committee of Goss has passed a resolution for the handing over of the borders to the states. Secondly, it passed a resolution handing over the licensing of vehicles to the states so that the states are able to get revenue. This is also intended to curb corruption within the South Sudan and to protect Uganda's economy because Ugandans have been registering vehicles in South Sudan to evade (higher) taxes in Uganda.
I have deployed a battalion to provide security for all people in Juba town. There is also a security problem among the Ugandan businessmen in Juba. A Ugandan kills another brother because of money. During the last meeting in March in Arua I requested that the CID of Uganda should go to Juba to identify these criminals so that they can pacify Juba town. There is need to identify them but no one knows them.
Do you have any statistics to back your claims of Ugandans killing one another in Juba?
They could be about 15 since peace returned to South Sudan. I have brought the policemen for training in Juba so that they can ensure security in the area for all.
The other issue is the alleged border dispute between Keji Keji County and Moyo District of Uganda. We don't have a dispute over a border with Moyo district. The elders from Moyo and those from Keji Keji know where the border between Uganda and Sudan is. Probably this issue is also being initiated by those against the CPA, who want the people of South Sudan to be slaves forever.
Then there is the problem between the LRA and the GoU. We hope that a CPA will be achieved so that stability returns to northern Uganda and South Sudan, followed by development. We are brothers and we need peace. We need the support of the people and government of Uganda so that the people of South Sudan can achieve their objectives in 2011.
Ugandans are paying for visas at the Sudan embassy in Kampala only to be subjected to paying again in Juba.
Paying for a visa at the Kampala embassy is legal. On the other hand payment for a visa to the South Sudan Relief Commission (SSRC) is illegal because that money does not go to Goss. The minister for Internal Affairs of South Sudan has organised a new form for everybody who wants to go to South Sudan and the revenue will go to the government. We have to abide by the new form.
People should pay for their visas to the embassy in Kampala?
It can be to the embassy in Kampala or if they go to Juba without a visa, they can get it in Juba. Either way the revenue goes to Goss. They have to pay once. Not twice.
There are also reports of arbitrary arrests of Ugandans in South Sudan and them being detained for long periods without trial.
We in Sudan keep the law. We don't arrest anybody if he has not committed a crime. You as a journalist should go to Juba and prove for yourself. Contact the Human Rights Commission and you will be fed with the necessary information.
What about talk that Arab traders from Khartoum are responsible for the attacks in a bid to scare away Ugandan traders?
Ugandan traders have outnumbered the traders from the North and this raises suspicion that GoSS or the administration of Central Equatoria is against northern traders. This is not true. It is all about competition.
What about the issue of the LRA?
If they were a problem, we would have fought them. They were given three options: To negotiate, leave South Sudan or be attacked by the SPLA. At present they are not a menace to the citizens of South Sudan. They are in DRC. We want them to achieve a comprehensive peace agreement and they have gone miles.
My word to the people of Uganda is that we are brothers. Hostility between us benefits no one. Let us be united. Let there be love among us. Thank You.