President Bush Needs to Appoint Corruption Envoy for South Sudan
South Sudan Democratic Forum
August, 1st, 2006
The Democratic Forum would like to make its position public on lack of payment of civil servants in the South. There was a demonstration on Thursday, August, 27, in Juba organized by civil servants, who have not received their salaries for three months. The demonstration continued the next day and subsequently subsided for the honor of the first anniversary of the death of Dr. Garang.
Reports reaching the Democratic Forum’s office in Juba confirm that the demonstration would continue until the civil servants are paid. Our party delayed making its position known because of the commemoration of the first anniversary of Garang’s tragic death.
There is no reasonable explanation given to the civil servants by the Ministry of Finance. According to demonstrators from Yie County, a commissioner there blames Juba for the lack of money to pay them. The Ministry of Finance in Juba is saying that “there is lack of capacity within the Ministry to make sure that civil servants receive their salaries on time”.
However, our party’s investigation of the problem reveals frightening evidence. In most counties in Equatoria as well as in Juba, some civil servants are paid while others receive nothing. For instance, the employees of the Ministry of Finance in Juba, including the Minister Arthur Akuen, get their salaries regularly. The Ministry of Finance fails to answer the question why some civil servants are paid while the rest are not. Moreover, there is inconsistency between the Ministry’s claim and what it is actually practicing.
The truth of the matter, as revealed by insiders of the Ministry of Finance, is that the second quarterly budget of the Government of South Sudan allocated for civil servants is mismanaged. Instead for the Ministry to pay civil servants according to the job each one does, everyone was given base pay of $700.00 U.S. dollars. On top of that, some employees receive money for their spouses, children and relatives who are not employed. The outcome of this systematic corruption is to discriminate civil servants into those who are favored to continue receiving their salaries in U.S. dollars and those who do not.
One does not need a degree in finance to understand that a billion dollar could finish in a week if civil servants throughout the South are paid equal amount of money. Besides, it is very difficult to digest why the Ministry of Finance uses hard currency to pay civil servants instead of local one. There is no doubt that corruption is the culprit behind the lack of payment of civil servants. Reports reaching the office of Democratic Forum reveal the names of officials who list their relatives as employees to receive salaries.
In his speeches to South Sudanese in U.S. in July, President Kiir argues that “corruption has no color that identified it”. In the contrary, the civil servants who demonstrated in Juba for their livelihood identified corruption to have six colors—black, red, white, green, blue and yellow—similar to SPLM’s flag. Though he publicly said to have zero tolerance on corruption, he is not currently interested to meet the demonstrators and address their grievances.
The mismanagement of public funds is a problem that needs international attention. In May, the South Sudan Assembly allocated 40% of GoSS’s annual budget to SPLA. Despite the need for reconstruction of South Sudan infrastructure, parliament wanted to make sure that men and women in uniform get a descent living standard to be able to defend the peace. However, SPLA forces throughout the South walk without boots and uniforms. More tragically, the armed forces have not been paid until then. The only explanation also given by President Salva Kiir is “lack of skill manpower to do the paperwork”. The public is wondering why the paperwork for men and women in uniform takes more than ten months while SPLM’s officials began receiving salaries in U.S. dollars even before the formation of the GoSS.
In July, eleven SPLA officers disappeared with half a million dollars allocated for the army. Neither the officers nor the money have been found. Such incidents would negatively impact the dialogue between the SPLA and Other Armed Groups (OAGs). The South Sudan Defense Force (SSDF) under Major Gen. Gordon Koang Chol receives its salaries on time without any delay. They have uniforms and boots. It is intellectually inconceivable for SSDF to join starving SPLA.
It should also be brought to the attention of President Bush that the immediate cause of outbreak of civil war in Sudan in 1983 was the inability of the government in Juba to pay battalion 104 and 105 for three months. If history is the guide, the endemic corruption in the GoSS will lead to violent popular uprising if the U.S. government fails to curb it now.
The South Sudan Democratic Forum has assembled a delegation that would visit Washington to alert Bush’s administration. The United States, as one of international donors who pledged to donate to South in Oslo, has moral responsibility to intervene personally to stop corruption in Juba. President Kiir would never stop it for political reasons since individuals suspected of mismanaging public funds are his allies in SPLM party power struggle.
South Sudan Democratic Forum
Email: [email protected]
South Sudan Democratic Forum Party
Juba, South Sudan