By Daily Monitor
KAMPALA - A group of 24 Ugandan companies under their umbrella organisation; Uganda South Sudan Grain Traders and Suppliers Association have lodged a case at the Commercial Division of the High Court, seeking for a declaration that the refusal of the South Sudan government to pay them as per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Uganda is unlawful.
The government of South Sudan has been dragged to court over failure to pay for grains worth about Shs101 billion to Ugandan traders.
The traders through their lawyers allege that they supplied the South Sudan government with grain comprising of sorghum and maize between 2009 and 2010 worth about Shs101 billion but have not paid.
This prompted the Ugandan government to intervene on behalf of the traders leading to the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with South Sudan in November 2010.
According to court documents, the government of South Sudan allegedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ugandan government committing itself to pay the said monies in installments starting with an advance payment of Shs36.7 billion ($15 million) as partial payment.
However, the traders allege: “the respondent (South Sudan) has in breach of its commitments under the MoU neglected to settle all the applicants’ claims as set out in the said MoU.”
it is alleged that the traders have continuously been deprived and denied access to their financial assets in contravention of their right to property under the Ugandan law.
Meanwhile, court has summoned the government of South Sudan to file its defense in the matter within 15 days.
Kampala High Court Judge Hellen Obura has set July 30 this year to hear the maiden case against South Sudan government through the Ugandan courts.
The traders are seeking for a court order for the government of South Sudan executed or perform its commitments under the November 21, 2010 agreement.
Cases of harassment
January last year, Ugandans' traders throughout the country have reported cases of harassment and human right abuse by security officers and influential people in South Sudan capital Juba.
They have also raised concerns about unscrupulous nationals who confiscate their merchandise without any explanation.
The spokesperson for Kampala City Traders Association Mr. Issa Ssekitto warned the traders who may return to South Sudan for business. Mr. Ssekitto said, “before traders return to do business in South Sudan; they need assurance that they will not be subjected to physical abuse and insults by what he referred to as ‘a few erratic Sudan nationals.”
Sudan People Liberation Army soldiers were accused of killing eight people, including two Ugandan traders when the SPLA soldier open fired into a congested market in Juba. There were also cases, including kidnapping, beating and stabbing traders have been reported.
“We want the Ministry of Trade and the government in South Sudan to work out an arrangement that will guarantee the safety of our traders otherwise it has increasingly become hard for our traders to conduct business in the country,” Mr Ssekitto continued.
The Upper Nile Times