OpEd, Politics

Curving Corruption: A responsibility of all

By Ukongo Benson Athia

Corruption, with numerous trends of definitions, involves taking anything, more than one lawfully deserves. The loot could be money, land, vehicles, etc. When a person receives extraordinary fortunes, without due process and corresponding records, it is a corruption by designation. If one has more than one official car, and his or her staff lacks a vehicle to transport them to the same workstation, one does have a corrupted heart. Diverting public land, such as playgrounds into private plots, amounts to corruption, etc.

Corruption, which may be white, black, or grey, threatens the country’s peace, especially if it involves the diversion and abuse of public property for private ends. There is a high expectation that the intended amendment of the Anti-Corruption Act 2009, (2023 as amended), would incorporate severe punishment for anyone that stands accused of involvement in corrupt practices. In daily activities, tolerance towards corruption makes the business of corruption more booming than declining. When an issue comes up for investigation, it is wrong to send the so-called’ high-level investigation committee’, when dealing with a powerful individual in the service of a Country. The ‘high-level committee” may happen to be in the same position or in some sort of friendship with the suspect, under the investigation. They prima facie, as part of the collapse of investigation, ab nitio; would engage in pleasantries such as hugging, smiles and stories, provision of water and soft drinks to the high-level committee, and last if any, word of condolence to one of the fallen fellows. Any report after the above gestures, may not come out positive but rather negative, that is concealing any wrongdoing and after doctoring the report and that is it all.

In other countries, a low-level investigation committee must be sent to investigate a high-profile public figure, suspected of commissioning a crime. The starting point of success is that such a fellow would undermine by not recognizing the team of investigators, even after an introduction, and may react angrily by chasing them away or threatening to arrest them for insubordination, after they inform the suspect, that they have come to investigate her/him/them. High-level distress phone calls, to higher authorities may rise profusely here, to confirm the status of the investigators in question. What the sending office and all related offices could do here, is to confirm that; the team the suspect threatens is officially sent to do an investigation with him, her or them and they must accord the ‘low-level investigation committee’ a high level of cooperation or further drastic steps would be taken against him, her or them. Should such a suspect turn down the committee, with the instructions to cooperate, with the state agents, then the following day, would follow the dismissal or suspension from office and immediate arrest and detention.

In one of the Countries, a sad experience by the author, was the withdrawal of his ATM card, being total that, you are from South Sudan. You are corrupt according to the UN. Take this bank book to receive your stipends, not ATM. In response, the author denied any corrupt dealings and pushed for the bank to prove the allegations or actions would be taken. Defending their actions, the Branch manager stormed the Counter and said, anyone coming from your Country, is corrupt and that is the end of it all. While some countries have their own histories of corruption, the test is the will, to fight the vice vigorously.

This is the work of all citizens of the Country from all walks of life. Be they the private citizens or the government officials. Corruption kills as it makes the government unable to deliver services. In a round table discussion in February 2020, after winding up the national dialogue consultative seminar on the preferable type of Governance of South Sudan, whether we go parliamentary or Presidential, and our group denied any severe punishment for the corrupt citizen. This is when each group was asked to make a list of recommendations for the country. The author’s team raised corruption, as one of the burning issues affecting the development of the Country. In combating it, the author of this piece suggested the infliction of a ‘death sentence’ for anyone found to have corrupted any public property. And all disagreed that’ it is ungodly and biblically wrong’ to pass a death sentence on a corrupt fellow. Forgiveness and less punishment found their way to the recommendations and the severe penalty was dropped forthwith. In case citizens criticize the serious imposition of punishment, then they are impliedly praying for the continuity of the evil of corruption in a Country. Dissenting to the team, the author motioned that all religious publications, such as the holy bible, etc., do not condone corruption whatsoever, and if any, it is a sin punishable by God. Where the author’s team found a verse that advocates for corruption, remains largely subject to imagination.

The philosophy against corruption is that a thief is a person who steals private property. However, when one steals public property, that person is an enemy of the State and all citizens of a given country. For that simple reason, a thief’s intention is to use stolen property to satisfy his or her short-term needs and, once arrested, can be forced to restore the damage. A corrupted person, in another scenario, is fighting the state and the citizens and in fact, attempting to create unrest in a country, as corruption makes losses to the government and incapacitates the Government from performing its functions of service delivery to the masses. The masses, in turn, would turn against the government which brings instability. Do more research on this.  Every problem has its solutions, and the following are recommendations: –

Firstly, as one of the remedies to curb corruption, an improvement in the conditions of work of anti-corruption commission officials, and in general adequate salaries and facilities of all public servants, including establishing a ‘special anti-corruption commission Court’ to try offenses reported or unreported, which are related to corruption. It would serve as a ‘red line’ not worthy of crossing.  Secondly, it is by creating a naming and shaming list, for individuals or companies who may attempt to obstruct the work of the Ant-Commission, by publishing their names and companies in the government gazette and warning any entity, to not trade with the same or prohibit the listed persons from boarding any of the planes to and from the Country. This is one of the roles of the government, to assist one or all its citizens and organs in ending or minimizing corruption. Thirdly, as a way of combating corruption, it can be by frustrating payments to contractors, which failed to show the bidding process and without clearly showing how such contractors, emerged out of many as the best to undertake a government contract.  Public money escapes to individuals through dubious contracts, and the case in point is the ‘Dura saga of 2008’ whose findings of investigations, are begging both questions and answers.

Fourthly, but optional, there is a need to review the Nationality Act 2011. Working in South Sudan and sending proceeds to a foreign Country frequently to meet the cost of maintaining the families there, is wrong, especially for senior government officials who live on luxuries at public cost. Other than studies and medical treatment, staying outside the Country for more than five consecutive years, without paying taxes to the Republic of South Sudan, and or investing in South Sudan, must be met with a temporary suspension of South Sudanese Citizenship status.

Fifthly, as a sign of commitment, the TGONU, at a national level, has to declare corruption and all its forms, a ‘national disaster’ requiring all measures, to bring to an end corruption. Then by so doing, all efforts have to be geared towards recovery of any asset that disappeared, including extradition of anyone who might have in one way or the other, corrupted and or facilitated corruption.

Sixthly creating a single banking software, to be owned and managed by the Bank of South Sudan that must grant prior approval for outgoing and incoming transactions for all banks and forexes in South Sudan. Though the author is neither a software engineer, a banker, nor an economist, the software, once installed with the Central Bank and banks subscribe to it; would enable monitoring of all incoming and outgoing transactions, daily, weekly, monthly, etc. A similar approach would enable the Central Bank or its subsidiary branch to control the outflow and allow in-flow of the money, into the Country. It would set the limit of how much an individual and a company is allowed to send outside a Country, in a day and a week.  It would equally, detect and block any suspicious transactions. To wrap up this authorship, reviewing and or putting an immediate end to the ongoing auctioning of hard currency may be of help.

The author is a South Sudanese Lawyer, privately practicing law. Reachable at: ukongo2004@gmail.com.


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