KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Following are summations of three press commentaries tackling some of the most outstanding issues in Sudan last week; use of gunfire to disperse students demonstrations at the Central Darfur State’s Zalengi University, the spotting and seizure of vast quantities of money in the bank accounts of three security officers attached to the high committee tasked to trace and retrieve money and properties stolen by the operatives of the Bashir regime and what some consider careless allocation of arable land plots for foreign investors:
About the unrest in the University of Zalengi in Darfur in which one student was killed and some others were hurt, wrote Ms. ShamaeI Alnoor in the daily newspaper Alyawm Altali (the next day):
Are we wanted to cope up with the chaotic killing until the sight of daily blood becomes a normal thing in our eyes? It seems this is what is wanted. A bloody day it was in Zalengi after protests from the Zalengi University students in which lives were lost.
The nature of the students’ demands does not matter here. What matters is that in every peaceful demonstration gunfire is used.
It is an irony that this happens after the December Revolution: The security opens fire in cold blood, without even showing a sign of remorse for this blood letting.
I don’t think there is a desire to listen to or follow up the security’s reaction to what has happened in Zalengi, and if it responds it would say has formed an investigation committee and that is all, just like what has happened for the previous committees…reactions without action, and the killing continues.
It seems killing is one of the solutions wanted by this authority, the dominant aspect of which is military. The major demand that should be pressed for whatever the cost is the restoration of the pride and the value of the citizen.
Justice should begin by the stopping of the daily blood letting.
Who can do this is not the government but the public. The public should regain its strength and impose its desire for real change.
Free killing of unarmed citizens and opening fire for trivial reasons should stop now and not to wait for an agreement or document in order for killing not to be just like taking a cup of coffee.
About the spotting and seizure of huge sums of money in the bank accounts of some of the investigators in the high committee assigned to retrieve money and properties stolen by the defunct regime, wrote Ms. Asma Juma’a in the daily newspaper Aldemgrati (the democrat):
The war against the high committee is one of several fronts opened by the remnants of the defunct regime against the revolution and the state. If people would use their minds they would discern the fact that those remnants were concentrating on the high committee because it is the only entity which is hitting the hideouts of corruption. The war was opened day one after the committee was formed, waged by elements from institutions infected with corruption. They wanted to pressurize the committee members and force them to resign and also to frighten others not to cooperate with it.
The committee has sought the assistance of many people and institutions in its work. It is possible that some corrupt persons could find their way into the committee. But what is important is that its leading operatives are aware about this matter and are capable of disclosing these corrupt elements, and bringing them to justice. It should not cover up these corrupt elements as we used to see in the defunct regime.
A few days ago news reports said the committee has stopped three investigation security officers within its investigation panels. These three officers were found to be hoarding huge sums of money. They were detained and put under tight security. What matters is that it is the high committee which spotted the case and took measures against the three accused, putting the accused under arrest.
The high committee has also filed legal cases against eight persons within its ranks whose names were mentioned in a letter addressed by the intelligence service to the Attorney General. The eight were accused of blackmailing a Chinese company that yielded to them and gave them thousands of dollars in return for withdrawing accusations raised against it (the company) by the high committee.
That the high committee has exposed this case is good. If ten of the high committee staff were to commit acts of corruption and due legal measures are taken against them, this is a credit for the high committee, not a discredit.
We are supposed to bow and raise hats for it, not to butcher, de-skin and call for its dissolution. That would be a wrongdoing not to be committed save by an ignorant or ill-advised person.
The third commentary has tackled the lavish allocation by the defunct regime of vast areas of arable land.
As a result of that policy some foreign investors had acquired wide areas in some parts of the country without investing them, or exploiting a token part of them.
The case at issue was a big land plot allocated for the Government of Bahrain in the Northern State. Because the investor failed to invest it the local government annulled the lease contract.
Upon a plea from the Government of Bahrain, the Foreign Ministry reportedly intervened and annulled the local government decision. Wrote Mahmoud Aabdeen in Altahreer (liberation) newspaper on this issue:
This investment project, on a total area of 100 thousand acres, was allocated for the Government of Bahrain in September 2013 that failed to invest it up to now, for unknown reasons.
But out of my follow up of some samples of Gulf Region investments in the Northern State, I found that most of the areas allocated for the would-be Gulf investors were unexploited also, a matter that could raise speculations that the real aim was acquisition of land not investment that serves both parties, Sudan and the investor.
According to official sources, just as an example, the Saudi Alrajhi Company has acquired 417 thousand acres in the Northern State upon a lease contract for 99 years. The reader might be surprised to know that Alrajhi Company, with all the propaganda surrounding its wheat production in the area has exploited just ten percent of that big area.
More worse, the wheat all those supposed investors have delivered to the Government was just 31 thousand tones in this current farming season. Calculated against the price of wheat on the international market ($300 a ton), we can find that what the Sudanese Government had collected from all those lands was just ten thousand dollars in the entire year.
The Emirati Al-Nahyans own 70 thousand acres in the Northern State (with zero exploitation also).
This is in addition to some individuals who were allocated areas ranging from five to seven thousand acres each.
This also in addition to Gulf medium and small companies with investments ranging between 50 thousand acres each. All of these acquire the lands and do not invest in them.
Now the question: What is it that prevents these bodies from exploiting the lands allocated for them? Is the purpose just acquisition for acquisition’s sake?
Bahrain, like any foreign investor, enters the Sudan with clear aims. Its Khairat Project whose area is half of Bahrain’s area falls within a long-term investment plan for agricultural investment that bids to “create food security, achieve additional revenue for the country and reduce food imports.” There is no talk about common interests between Sudan and Bahrain nor any benefits for the Sudanese side.
Probing the thoughts of some Sudanese officials, we have found out that Sudan does not have a strategy for joint investment with foreign capitals. In spite of that the officials do not stop talking about foreign investment, as if they have studied and planned what they want very carefully.
Amid all of this the Foreign Ministry says it has checked with the Northern State Government according to which the decision was cancelled “out of the good relations with the sister Kingdom of Bahrain.” How can this local decision annulled and why?
The Foreign Ministry has to leave economic matters to economists and not to try to buy diplomatic relations at the expense of Sudan’s interests.
Moreover, the Foreign Ministry should explain to us the degree of reflection of these zero investments on Sudan’s food security and on the life of Sudanese.
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