Members of the South Sudan Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) are collecting signatures to impeach Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba over the alleged misuse of public funds.
Juol Nhomngek Daniel, a lawmaker representing Cueibet County of Lakes State under the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) ticket said on Monday that the motion has been signed by 190 MPs out of 360 signatures needed to oust the Speaker.
Legislator Juol has attributed the delay in impeaching the speaker due to politics within the assembly.
“That document was signed by all the parties, the required number is there. What is delaying it is politics, and we are trying to wait. There were 190, and up to now, that one is not yet on the table because we are trying to see how to get political consensus across the parties,” said Juol.
He said the motion, which will be tabled at the end of April, is supported by some members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) who have majority seats in the assembly.
“They are there, but we will never mention them or will never show their names until the last hour because they are warned that if you sign against your member, you will be removed from the house or you will be revoked,” said Juol.
The SPLM has 332 MPs and SPLM-IO with 128 and the other parties have 90 MPs. For the impeachment to succeed, the MPs will require a bipartisan of 360 signatures to oust the Speaker.
Juol who recently accused the speaker of misappropriating 12 million South Sudanese Pounds, said Jemma Nunu is abusing public funds on her endless trips outside the country.
“The reasons are many; one of them is the issue of going on trips. The trips have been going on since parliament was reconstructed and have gone over 30 now because she reported about 25, but it was under-reported,” he said.
The legislator said the speaker had spent over 5 million U.S. dollars on her endless trips.
“If you calculate that going out from here to outside Africa can cost up to over $300,000 or even $500,000 per trip, you calculate that you end up getting something like over 5 million U.S. dollars which was spent. This consumed the money of parliament,” he said.
In March, Juol accused Jemma Nunu Kumba of abuse of office when he alleged that she diverted 12 million South Sudanese pounds on the pretext of providing it to MPs in the East African Legislative Assembly.
However, the Speaker’s office countered the opposition, saying the money was meant to facilitate MPs representing in the Pan African legislative assembly.
The spokesperson of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA), John Agany Deng, said last week the SPLM, which has majority seats in the assembly, can’t approve the impeachment.
“In this house, the members representing SPLM are 303, and Nunu Kumba is a member of this group. The nonsense of that type can never be executed without us, the members of the SPLM, to approve it,” he said.
Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba, while addressing parliamentary staff last month, explained that the SSP 12 million in question that she is alleged to have smuggled out of parliament were funds allocated for “air tickets and allowances for lawmakers in the Pan African Parliament”.
Early this month, national legislator John Agany Deng who chairs the Specialized Committee on Information in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, revealed a different explanation as to the purpose of the “controversial” SSP 12 million. Agany claimed the funds were used to buy air tickets for South Sudan’s legislators in the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) and not for lawmakers in the Pan African Parliament, as explained by Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba.
Several members of South Sudan in EALA have denied receiving any funds from the TNLA. It is unclear why funds intended for legislators (Pan African Parliament or EALA) are moved in cash, as alleged by Juol Nhomngek Daniel.
According to TNLA conduct of business regulation amended in 2021, it requires two-thirds of the majority MPs, approximately 360, to impeach the Speaker.