South Sudan: Grand Corruption in SPLM
I have written before on the issue of corruption and you can search my previous articles under Kwathi Ajawin on Sudan Tribune. My last article was 'Corruption Fireworks' where I examined the issues of corruption in both SPLM and NCP. For SPLM, corruption is a feeding tube and the more resources the organization access the more corrupt it becomes; that were true under Dr. John Grang’s leadership; it is true today under president Kiir’s leadership and no signs to forecast any changes to this trend soon.
Today, I want to share the concerns of many that corruption is a major obstacle to development, good governance and democracy in South Sudan and that new approaches are needed to tackle it with the involvement of the SPLM’s regime, the opposition SPLM-DC, the civic society, business community, the international community and the public at large. The president declaration that 4 billion dollars have been stolen from the public fund is worrisome and I think the public should be serious and act swiftly!!
The president’s letter to the 75 current and former officials is in part a substantial allegation of grand corruption against such individuals so whether they are suspects or not is irrelevant because their act is an offence of illicit enrichment which is internationally illegal and criminal under article 20 of the United Nations convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the only globally-agreed framework on combating corruption.
Also, the president has constituted a case of grand corruption by soliciting help from different heads of foreign states to recover the stolen funds giving courts in these countries the right to press charges against such individuals.
It looks like the executive branch is not in favor of the president’s letter to the 75 persons of interest in the disappearance of 4 billion dollars or more than that as some other sources believe.
Therefore, the president must clear the climate and produce a favorable environment within his cabinet by suspending, investigating and prosecuting (SIP) the persons of interest and reshuffling the cabinet.
The ruling party political bureau is silent on the issue and it might be siding with the cabinet since the two are just different faces of the same coin. The puppet Legislature has come out unexpectedly to condemn the stealing and purpose a better mechanism in dealing with the matter.
The anti-corruption commission must push the legislature to expedite bills on anti-corruption to craft adequate legal framework and its investigation wing should start screening the assets declared by the persons of interest in preparation for a full scale investigation into the case.
While waiting for the proper bills to be passed, the Anti-corruption commission can use the international law treaties and conventions that deal with such matters. This might need an independent prosecutor and a foreign help.
The burden is on the persons of interest to prove innocence and therefore they must cooperate with the investigation or launch their own campaign and investigation to clear their names. Madame Aut Deng did well by going public but she fails short of the public trust by withholding a volunteer declaration of all her assets.
My piece of advice is that the ball is rolling and since the persons of interest are currently wet then they better swim. Bring it all out and do not withhold anything if you want to come out clean.
Instead of offering amnesty the president should encourage investigation and then the appropriate restitution may be made when the possibility of prosecution is revealed. If it is deemed appropriate to not prosecute the persons of interest then other arrangements could be made but it undermines the credibility of the president to keep these persons in power and in charge of the public funds.
Investigation should not be limited to the actual stolen money but must follow the trail left by the persons of interest’s money and might lead to tax-related and fraud cases.
Also, Investigators must identify people who might be holding assets for the persons of interest such as spouses, children, parents, sisters, and brothers or any other intimates and business associates.
The president's office is not one of the agencies that may help identify suspects’ assets, therefore, the president should hand the case over to the qualified agencies.
Appropriate legal means must be established to obtain records from the appropriate institutions or persons as well as needed signed legislation and treaties that are mandatory for international assistance in taking evidence; searches and seizures; production of material; property freezing and enforcement of confiscation orders; and service of document.
Therefore, the president letter to other heads of states is insufficient. Without signed treaties some hurdles may results in legal barriers to obtain information from foreign entities.
Instead of amnesty and concealing the identity of the corrupt the president should support the parliament and go SIP (Suspend, Investigate and Prosecute) to deter corruption.
It is clear that the civil service is inadequate and the Merit system is absent as a result the environment helped the corruption to run pervasive in South Sudan, therefore, a civil service reform that makes Meritocracy the base for employment is an essential element in the fight against corruption.
For such a high-profiled case of accumulation of unexplained wealth by the persons of interest to precede, all must watch out for political reprisal in order to make sure that transparency is not impeded and ensure the process will be fair without favoritism and benefit to any group or class among the persons of interest and guard against any corruption to the judicial system.
The public in South Sudan has a better chance to fight corruption because what they simply need to do is to use their power. But SPLM as a party has minimal chances to fight corruption because the party is too corrupt to be reformed.
South Sudan Anticorruption Commission can go after the 75 using article 20 of UNCAC and cooperating with Transparency International and Global Witness and other foreign institutions while waiting for the Republic of South Sudan to put in place more adequate legal frame.
Happy Independence Day!!
By Kwathi Ajawin, SOUTH SUDAN – SSN:, 22/07/2012