Thieves of State
By Dominic Ukelo,
August 21, 2016(Nyamilepedia) ——- South Sudan is perceived as one of the most corrupted states among the countries in the world, according to Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which further illustrated that there is a correlated relationship between corruption and civil unrest globally. Five of the 10 most corrupt countries, including the South Sudan, also ranked among the 10 least peaceful places in the world.
Concerning South Sudan, there is evidence backing a strong case that the corruptions, which have been happening in the country since its independent, have been causing not only social breakdown, but also it has been encouraging and fuelling the civil unrest. At a certain point, systemic corruption became not just an accelerant of conflict in the South Sudan, but also causes of the political dissatisfaction in the country.
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During the last ten years, millions of dollars that should have spent on reconstruction have been reportedly wasted or stolen by high public officials in the country, including the president. Below are few examples of corruptions mostly in the President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s office:
– Between 2005 and 2006 an audit of government accounts report showed that over one billion U.S. dollars had disappeared without a trace.
-Between 2006 and 2012, the regime spent 1.7 billion dollars on road construction, but only 75 kilometers of roads was built or paved.
-In 2008, Stephen Madut Baak, a presidential advisor, was caught at Heathrow London Airport with 3 million U.S. dollars in cash. Also that year (2008), Arthur Akuien Chol, former Finance Minister, reportedly stole 600 million U.S. dollars.
-In 2009, a sum of 323,000 U.S. dollars that was intended for East African students was stolen and deposited into a private bank account in Uganda.
-In September, 2011, President Kiir demanded that 488 million pounds (244 million U.S. dollars) be awarded to ABMC, a company of his close associate, Benjamin Bol Mel, without any approval from the Council of Ministers. The payment was supposedly for road construction. However, as of 2016 no road has been constructed by the ABMC.
-In 2012, President Kiir went viral on media accusing 75 officials in his cabinet and national assembly of having stolen about 4 billion U.S. dollar. After writing them a friendly letter to return the stolen money, clear details was not reported nor was charges imposed.
-In 2013, 6 million and 14,000 U.S. dollars, and 176,000 South Sudan pounds (55,000 U.S. dollars) were reportedly stolen from the president’s office.
-Between 2013 and 2014, the President’s signature and stamps were reported stolen by close associate in his office. Unannounced huge amount of money was authorized to friends and family members.
-In April 2013, President Kiir suspended Yel Luol, an executive director in the president’s office, Mayen Wol, a personal assistant to the president, and Nhomout Agoth Cithiik, the accounts controller in the president’s office, in connection with the disappearance of cash sums of 176,000 pounds and 14,000 U.S. dollars from the president’s office.
Corruptions have been harming poor South Sudanese citizens more than the regime’s member elites. As a result, the wide corruptions in the country have been stifling economic growth and diverting desperately needed funds from education, healthcare and other public services. Therefore, leaving the corruption to be one of serious threat to the development of South Sudanese economy. Moreover, corruption has been aggravating inequality and injustice, and undermining stability in the country. Resulting for instance 70 per cent of the population to live on US$1 or less per day, and one in six children dies before the age of five, as the consequence of poor management of the public resources by the Juba regime.
Corruption has politically led to loss of faith on the Kiir’s regime, causing political struggles in the country and has been strengthening the Juba regime’s bad governance, in the absence of the rule of Law, no accountability, and transparency. Corruption has also led to massive neglect of the social sector, which has substantially decreased the quality of human resources in the South Sudan over the last ten years. The provision of educational and health opportunities have been limited, this impacting negatively on the quality of life, labour, productivity, incomes, innovativeness, competitiveness, and poverty reduction in the South Sudan
Moreover, corruption has further led to the weakening of government structures and institutions crucial for better governance. In fact, critical government structures and institutions to fight curroption such as Anti-Corruption Commission, the National Audit Chamber, and the Public Accounts Committee in the National Legislative Assembly have been intentionally weakening by the regime in Juba.
Below are several approaches for the future leaders to eliminate or reduce corruption in the South Sudan:
- It is important to the government to employ public servants base on qualification
- Pay civil servants well
- Create transparency and openness in government spending. Countries successful at curbing corruption have a long tradition of government openness, freedom of the press, transparency and access to information.
- Deploy smart technology
- Create pathways that give South Sudanese citizens relevant tools to engage and participate in their government, by strengthening anti-corruption and empower citizens to hold government accountable. And
- Developing effective law enforcement to ensure the corrupt officials are punished. Punishing corrupted officials is a vital component of any effective anti-corruption effort in the world. Also, the full implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan ARCISS, especially the Chapter 4 on Resource, Economic and Financial Management Arrangements, is essential in fighting against corruption in the country. The Chapter 4 is calling for reforms focussing on improving financial management and strengthening the role of anti-corruption agencies.
The author of this article, Dominic Ukelo, can be reached at email@example.com