We’ll ban you if you cover our pay: MPS tell media

We’ll ban you if you cover our pay: MPS tell media
Paul Yoane Bonju Loaukwa, Designated Chairperson of Information R-TNLA. [Photo: Alex Bullen]

South Sudan’s Reconstituted Translational National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA) has cautioned journalists and media houses against covering parliamentary emoluments.

This came after the lawmakers received millions of South Sudanese Pounds (SSPs) in their bank accounts for emoluments.

In their third session, Speaker of R-TNLA Jemma Nunu Kumba directed the MPs to open their accounts so that the administrations of the two houses could pay directly their establishment fund.

“Yes, I personally received money being deposited into my account, I checked my account and I got something more than 2,000 USD,” a legislator who declined being identified told to a local media in Juba last month.

The news prompted the public to challenge the government’s decision to give money to the MPs instead of ordinary civil servants who have not received their salaries for three months.

Paul Yoane Bonju, Designated Chairperson of Information of R-TNLA, cautioned the media against reporting about lawmakers’ emoluments claiming such news reports could stir the public anger against the Members of Parliament.

He said the media houses should stop the pursuit of parliamentarian emoluments to avoid withdrawal of [their] license.

“Please, avoid eyeing at the emoluments of the Members of this Parliament. It has never happened in any part of the world that media houses focus on emoluments of members of parliament,” Yoane Bonju warned.  

Not illicit

According to Bonju, the emoluments of MPs were not collected from illegal sources, and that there was no reason for the media to put more intension on it.

“It is enshrined in the Transitional Constitution as per Article 70 sub-article (1) which says members of the national legislature shall be paid emoluments and provided with facilities as determined by law.”

“Any media house that is interested to go that way should be reminded that it is hurriedly working to have its license withdrawn,” he added.

The R-TNLA information official was addressing journalists in a press conference held in the parliamentary headquarter on Saturday.

He said such an exercise in a country like South Sudan would imply provoking the public against their legislatures with opposing consequences.

“Especially reporting on financial transaction of the House without consulting the relevant departments within the House— particularly the office of the clerk to the assembly who is the chief accounting officer—would not be tolerated [and] instead it would be considered contempt of the parliament.”

Bonju added that reporting on emoluments of the members of the Parliament without the consent of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker in charge of administration and finance would not be entertained.

“Surely it would attract stern legal procedure against whosoever is involved.”

However, he reiterated MPs willingness to cooperate with media to give other information to the public.

“Should there be any need for clarification on any matter; as the designate chairperson of information, I would ever be available as usual to assist in that regard.”