This is not a story about the work of government committees. This is an illustration of the party occupation in the institutions and the power given to incompetent individuals who take precedence over the public interest.
Sadula Duraki is not a favorite politician for the citizens. His popularity, after all, was never publicly measured. He showed almost no results as Minister of Environment, further fueling the wrath of the citizens for not being ashamed and verbally showing that he did not care what citizens thought. The public expected punishment in the so-called ‘broom operation’. But not only not being punished, he was awarded not only a new ministerial, but also a deputy prime minister position. The IRL has found him as a new named member in as many as 4 out of 6 internal government committees. When sharing positions in government institutions, Duraki will have the word and power in the government’s commission on elections and appointments, for example. Or when state land is being sold.
Sadula because we are not Switzerland
“You know we are not Switzerland,” the new Deputy Prime Minister Sadula Duraki said, answering a question how Macedonia handles the polluted air.
Duraki is right when he says that we are not Switzerland. In that country there are only seven ministers who solve all the problems of the citizens. Macedonia has 23 ministers and 16 ministries, and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has 5 deputy prime ministers. And many problems, crime, corruption, nepotism.
Sadula Duraki is the newest deputy prime minister and minister of the new Ministry of Political System and Inter-Community Relations. He came to the post of deputy prime minister from the environment ministry, where he served as minister for two years without holding at least one press conference.
A mechanical engineer with a degree in Prishtina, in a short biography submitted to the Assembly, wrote that he had knowledge of Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office, and set of other skills like management, teamwork, work under stress and communication skills. These are the qualities that assured he got a cabinet in the Government next to Prime Minister Zaev.
But being ambitious, Duraki did not rely solely on these two functions. He was recently elected to four government committees and holds the championship title. The IRL has asked the Government for a list of all government committees as they are not transparently published on the government website.
Sadula for breakfast, lunch and dinner
There are six committees within the Government. Three essentials – for the political system, economic system and human resources and three special committees – for privatization, housing and appointment.
Sadula Duraki is chairman of the Privatization Commission and a member of the committees on housing issues, appointments and the political system.
Political scientist Misha Popovic of the Institute for Democracy explains that membership in basic government committees is ex officio. Therefore it makes sense for some ministers to be members of more than one committee, given the scope of work of their ministry.
“However, the special committees have the option of making more specific decisions, for example determining the conditions for the privatization of certain land, proposing people for state institutions and enterprises, and so on. Of course, committees at such a high level can understandably make political decisions as well. But the frequency of membership of one minister versus another is a red flag indicating that these are additional sources, but also indicators of political power. Especially if the membership is not by direct official authority, but by another principle,” Popovic tells IRL.
As chairman and member of the Privatization Commission, Duraki decides on state capital in all its forms. Privatization, stakes, personnel policy in companies in which the state holds shares, and makes decisions to sell and lease business premises.
At the Political System Committee, he is considering proposals for legislation in the area of the political system, looks after the functioning of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.
The Housing Commission, which Duraki is also a part of, decides to lease public housing to officials and socially disadvantaged people.
The Deputy Prime Minister is also part of the Nomination Committee which submits proposals to the Government for the appointment of directors of state institutions and members in the management and supervisory boards.
When we asked how Minister Duraki manages to work on all sides, his office responded:
“Mr Duraki is carrying out all the duties for which he has been appointed and engaged in accordance with the law.”
We also asked the Government to report on all committees work, but instead of a list of decisions, we were asked to request for information in accordance with the Law on Free Access to Public Information.
Misha Popovic says that committees are an important factor in making government decisions as individual acts (naming, privatizing, granting privileges), which are always at higher risk of corruption and we need to see greater transparency in their work.
“The public and state bodies such as the State Committee On Prevention Of Corruption must be presented with records and explanations of decisions. That way, it will be easier to control arbitrary decision-making,” Popovic says.
Director, Mayor, Minister, Deputy Prime Minister
Duraki’s political career began in 2000 when he was named director of Customs. In 2004, as a member of the new political party DUI, he became Minister of Agriculture, and in 2006 a Member of Parliament. In 2009 and 2013 he wins the local elections and leads the Lipkovo municipality. He then entered the executive branch, and yet today he is Zaev’s deputy.
Duraki is more commonly known as “Commander Valves” in public. During the 2001 military conflict with two other NLA (National Liberation Army) members, he stopped the supply of water from Lipkovo Lake and Kumanovo remained without water for almost two months. In September 2002, The Hague’s chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, took over five war crimes and genocide cases. Among them was the “Lipkovo Dam”. The Gruevski-led government passed a law on amnesty in The Hague cases.