BY: DANIEL JUOL NHOMNGEK, Makerere University, Kampala, SEPT/16/2013, SSN;
Where are we going? Where is the country going? Are we cursed? Are the country and her people experiential grounds for the good governance? Is the government preaching what it does not practise?
Corruption, corruption, corruption, corruption is found in every angle and corner of the government of the Republic of South Sudan. Every youth is corrupt in the Country.
This article attempts to explain the nature, extent and impact of corruption in South Sudan. In addition, it tries to offer some solutions on how to minimize the prevalence of corruption in South Sudan in the future.
My interest in writing this article on corruption was triggered by the recent report published on Sudan-tribune of September 11, 2013 (JUBA), where it was reported that the council for the Nuer Youth Union (NUYU) in South Sudan has impeached its president, John Puol Chol, in a vote of no confidence on Monday…
According to the report, John Puol was charged with embezzlement of 6,000 SSP; an equivalent of $1,500 US dollars as well as collection of unauthorized fees of 150SSP each from Nuer young university graduates who graduated from 2007-2013.
As I was reading this report and reflecting over it and putting my mind back to a year ago about what happened in the South Sudan Students Union in Uganda in 2012, I got the similarity between the two stories but the difference was the way the corruption case was handled in each scenario.
In the case of Nuer Youth Union as reported, for instance, the radical approach was applied, which resulted into the removal of the leader and according to the law, an approach which the Republic of South wants to be adopted by the leadership of the Country.
However, in the case of South Sudan Students Union in Uganda, the accused was not impeached but was just arrested and later released without further procedures. An approach which is common in South Sudan and one which encourages corruption to flourish up to date.
The nature of corruption in South Sudan among the youth is too much and widespread. According to Marie Chene from Transparency International, Corruption is present in all sectors of the economy. It is also present at all levels of the government apparatus and it is manifested in several forms, which include: financial and political corruption, patronage, pervasive tribalism and misuse of power.
Both petty and grand forms of corruption are prevalent in South Sudan.
The presence of corruption in all sectors in the government of the Republic of South Sudan as pointed out by Marie Chene above, is one of the major causes of the poor delivery of services to the ordinary citizens in the country.
For instance, the recent article that I wrote and was published on the website of SouthSudanNation.com was about the increment of nationality fee in Lakes State, which was motivated by corruption. Such increment is likely to deny many poor people in Lakes State the chance to confirm their nationality.
Corruption benefits few and leaving vast majority of the people inaccessible to the national resources. For instance, during the interim period the country national resources were shared among officials in the government of Southern Sudan, leaving it in economic shambles.
The failure to deliver services as expected by all South Sudanese before and immediately after the independence of the country was a big disappointment and people began to feel a nostalgia for the old Sudan; a feeling that made some of us who read the Holy Bible reflect over the behavior of Israelites in the desert when they were liberated from Egypt but desired later that they should go back to Egypt.
When the country became independent in 2011, all South Sudanese had expectations and hopes that after the independence of South Sudan, the issues of corruption, poverty, illiteracy, diseases, tribal conflicts and ignorance would become things of the past.
However, immediately after the independence, the country was faced with a myriad of governance and poverty challenges aggravated by continued hostilities among citizens themselves within South Sudan on one hand, and with Sudan on the other.
Such numerous challenges were not without cost. As a result, the challenges affected the equitable allocation of resources, as the issue of insecurity dominated all the development fora and took the greatest percentage in the allocation of the national budget, leaving other sectors with fewer resources or none at all.
The development programs were retarded indefinitely. Structural deficiencies such as a lack of basic human and physical infrastructure, the weak development of markets and business and the lasting level of insecurity continued up to the present day.
As the government tried to face and fight the challenges in the country, the problem of corruption that went on unchecked remained due to two main reasons:
1) After the CPA was signed there was a fear that if the government of Southern Sudan became tough on the government officials who were practising corruption with impunity, they would go to North and disrupt preparation for the independence of South Sudan.
Such kind of reasoning was faulty and naïve. It laid the foundation of corruption of the current corruption practice. It was a real shame on the government as it was just there without controlling corruption and the citizens became the primary victims of merciless corrupt practices by the government officials.
2) In addition, there was no strong system of check and balances in the government. The SPLM officials were still with the hangover from the kind of soldier behavior where they found themselves to be above the law and could use money as they wished. This kind of behavior put the rule of law at the periphery of the governance system and was replaced by naked dictatorship in all levels in the government sectors.
The silence of the then Government of Southern Sudan on the face of serious corruption saw billions of dollars disappeared without any trace. The corruption was being practiced at the government’s face. However, the then Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) was playing an ostrich politics of putting its head into the sand imagining that the danger is gone, which eventually will kill it.
Corruption became so deadly that it killed the moral fabric that is so valuable to all of us. The officials in the government reached the extent of transporting money in coffins like dead people. The situation was really pathetic. The government officials lost South Sudanese moral fabric and traditions.
South Sudanese are Africans. In African perspective, the dead are not dead. The Dead were greatly honored and respected by all the living to the extent of not even mentioning the word “dead” leave alone using any material related to the dead themselves.
However, some of the officials in the Government of Southern Sudan lost African morals and thus corruption controls all government sectors, which is currently a major issue in South Sudan.
As Magali Mores in U4 Expert Answers of the Anti-Corruption Resource Centre in his Overview of corruption and anti-corruption in South Sudan noted, corruption permeates all sectors of the economy and all levels of the state apparatus and manifests itself through various forms, including grand corruption and clientelistic networks along tribal lines.
As pointed, it is judicially noticed that corruption is a very serious problem in South Sudan today. It is practised at all levels and in all forms, but majority of the South Sudanese citizens have taken the stealing of money to be the sole meaning of corruption, which is an incomplete meaning of corruption.
Corruption, as it has been defined, means the abuse of public resources to enrich or give unfair advantage to individuals, their family or their friends.
Examples of corruption of public resources are: misused of money, goods, vehicles, buildings and any other resources that belong to the government; Pension funds and medical aid funds; trade union money and resources; lottery money; donations to charities.
In addition, the Common forms of corruption in daily life are: paying bribes to a government official in order to be given a government contract or license; the use of government-owned resources, such as motor vehicles for private purposes, the taking of the advantage of one’s own position to favour a family member or business associate for a job or tender contract.
This is sometimes called nepotism.
Corruption in real sense cannot be detected easily as by its nature, it involves two or more people entering into a secret agreement. Such an agreement involves paying a financial inducement to a public official (s) for securing favour for the one offering bribes.
The secret nature of bribes makes corruption difficult for anyone apart from those involved to know what is going on, which in turn makes the war on corruption difficult to win. The war on corruption can only be won through orienting and training people morally so that they can have feeling and be mindful of others.
Corruption and corrupt practices are very common in all levels in the Republic of South Sudan and among individuals. The corrupt practices are even manifested in restaurants where people eat. For instance, when I was in primary school in Cueibet County in Lakes State, we used to drink soup whenever we went to eat in the restaurant and order another.
At that time, I did not know that we were practising corruption.
As I have understood now, corruption simply means cheating or manipulating one’s influence or resources one is put in charge of to his or own advantage. Corruption exists in several and specific forms and exercised in every corner of South Sudan not only in the government.
Corruption is exercised in different ways in South Sudan, which inter alia include:
-Failure to report to the office at stipulated time by rules governing the office is corruption;
-failure to follow the law and Transitional Constitution, 2011, is another form of corruption in terms of the rule of law;
-cheating on one’s own wife is also a corruption;
-raiding cattle and killing those who keep those cattle is corruption;
-inflating the figures during census is corruption;
-manipulating prices in the market is also another form of corruption;
-hoarding the goods in the market to sell them later at higher prices is another form of corruption;
-delivering judgment as directed by the authority but not according to the principles of law governing particular conflict is corruption in terms of justice, and social justice in particular.
An advocate failing to follow the code of judicial conduct is also another form of corrupting moral and professional ethics;
-buying qualifications, which one has not acquired in class, is both crime and corruption.
Corruption exists in several forms and if I were to list all forms of corruption in South Sudanese communities, this computer cannot accommodate them. However, one can determine whether corruption has occurred or not by applying the principle of the reasonable person.
The principle of a reasonable person is based on what will the ordinary average South Sudan citizen on the street, who has knowledge about the governance and the one who is not influenced by tribe and who does not overreact to some issues, would think of a public officer’s behavior in the office.
If such ordinary South Sudanese citizen confirms that corruption has occurred then there is corruption.
There is a need for widening the term “corruption” in South Sudan if the corruption can effectively be controlled.
The meaning of corruption should be widened from the way it is understood today by many South Sudanese.
The common knowledge of many South Sudanese of corruption is, corruption is mostly understood to mean the stealing of money. Most of the people do not understand that stealing cows or robbing someone of money is also corruption or eating at home more than others when there is a food shortage is corruption.
In addition, drinking some water from the plastic bottle and then after that looking side way to see whether the authority is there or not and when there is no authority present, then one throws the plastic bottle is corruption.
Corruption in short includes anything that is contrary to the law and the rights of other South Sudanese negatively.
Many writers have tried to define and explain the causes of corruption but mostly ignore the psychological aspect in the cause of corruption.
The cause of corruption in South Sudan can be well understood if it can be explained using psychological model. Corruption is the failure and lack of balance among the three fundamental aspects of psychology.
The three fundamental aspects of psychology are: Id, ego and super-ego, which are the three parts of the mind apparatus Sigmund Freud defined as the three theoretical constructs in terms of whose activity and interaction mental life is described.
In the same way, corruption is common in the Republic of South Sudan because many people need immediate satisfaction, forgetting that their actions cause damage to their neighbors. All forms of corruption are caused by lack of self-restrain in using public resources for personal benefits.
The personal benefits include benefits to one’s family or to his or her friend’s family. For instance, denying scholarship intended to be acquired on merits and giving it to one’s own relatives who do not meet the requirements for that scholarship is corruption of deadly form.
The form of corruption of awarding scholarship to wrong people happened during the South African and Egyptian scholarship schemes. It happened when incapable students were sent ceremoniously but were sent back unceremoniously because they were found to be academic dwarfs and was not able to perform well as expected by the host countries.
The impact of such corrupt practices in awarding scholarships were the loss of opportunity for bright South Sudanese students who would have contributed to the development of South Sudan, and moreover , it defaced the integrity of people of South Sudan who were portrayed as liars and academically weak.
The war on corruption needs deeper planning and strong strategy from the government. To end or minimize the high rate of corruption in South Sudan, the corruption should be nib at the bud to destroy its cultural medium that contributes to its development.
The government must introduce tougher law with the tracing principle in it. So that if a person has stolen money or corrupted anything, the money or value of that thing can be traced into his or her assets.
The government should also introduce workshops and seminars where the youth can be trained on the concept and the prevention of corruption. There must in addition, be strong monitoring and evaluating system to determine whether the method is achieving the goal of eliminating corruption.
The concept of corruption should also be introduced in the South Sudan education syllabus. The government should put the children at the centre of its activities so that the children are trained and psychologically oriented at the earlier age to hate corruption at its all forms.
The subject on the rights, roles and duties of the citizens should be introduced. The current situation in South Sudan is that many people claim their rights from the government but do know their roles and duties, which is the major cause of corruption.
It is the major cause of corruption because many people believe that it is their rights to use anything, since they do not know that for every right accrues to individual there is always a duty attached to it.
Duties come with responsibilities and responsibilities come with liabilities, which deter individuals from getting involved in corrupt practices. If these suggestions given in this article are adopted, the future generation in South Sudan will be in a corruption free country.
NB// The Author is South Sudanese Fourth Law Student in Makerere University School of Law in Kampala Uganda and can be reached via:+256783579256 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org