State House J1 should remove Ateny Wek Ateny and professionalize its press unit

Press Secretary in the President’s office, Ateny Wek Ateny | Photo: AFP

Opinion | By Chol Duang

Sept 21, 2020 (Thessherald)–Last month or so, I penned a revealing article about Ateny Wek Ateny, J1’s self-proclaimed Presidential Press Secretary. In that article I attempted to help free all reporters under him from his exploitative working relationship. Public reacted with shock, but gravitated towards his complete removal. Inside J1, Ateny has painfully tried to accuse people who never met or spoke to me.

Just to clarify: I do not have any personal vendetta with Ateny Wek Ateny to settle. In fact, he’s a senior member in my community, which gives him a lot of advantage over me — age wise, experience and community contribution or service. Although Ateny is not a trained journalist, he claims to be one, meaning I (begrudgingly) see him as a senior Journalism colleague too.

As a journalist, I’m strongly guided by ethics and laws of Journalism and aware of legal consequences involved. Another point I intend to dismiss here is a view that I may’ve been envious of my colleagues working at the Presidency, that I’m a bitter reporter. It’s not true. I’m a brother’s keep.

With due respect, Ateny Wek Ateny is the reason why many people ridicule J1 Press Office; he’s the source of incompetence, cluelessness, embarrassment and transactional employment of non-journalists. Many more people today make fun of president kiir for keeping scammers like Ateny Wek around him.

For example, Ateny Wek individually attends funerals and weddings, where he would say he’s “representing the President; speaking on behalf of the President; sent by the President.” One wonders why is the president invited to almost all South Sudanese weddings and funerals, including those he might not have heard?

In his most recent interview with a one Ajak Deng Chengkou, following Biar Ajak’s chilling accounts of sodomization and torture at Blue House, Ateny Wek abrasively answered that he would be convinced that sodomization took place if he saw a pregnant male South Sudanese prisoner. Who does that?

J1 should quickly move to send Ateny home, because he’s severally embarrassed the President, staff and exploited his poor J1 reporters for money. As I write this, Ateny Wek is plotting to replace innocent and hard-working Journalists with more non-journalists who’re pliant for use.

The country has media professionals who’re far more experienced to run J1’s media. For how long can you allow him to destroy the image of J1 and President Kiir?

Chol Duang is a South Sudanese journalist, political campaigner, and literacy activist.

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