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Articles and Analysies «Š’›Õ… «Šŕ—»Ū… Last Updated: Dec 20, 2009 - 3:34:53 PM

The Upgrading of the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) is a form of political bribery BY: Chol K. Thon, South Sudan

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The Upgrading of the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) is a form of political bribery

BY: Chol K. Thon, South Sudan

‚ÄúThe Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) for the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan has been given a special status beyond the other public service institutions as the government steps up the fight against corruption in the region,‚ÄĚ thus reads the opening of a news article on Sudantribune.com on Sunday, Aug 23rd.

The article goes on to say that the chairperson of the commission has been upgraded to the same status as a minister in the GOSS. Besides this, the chairperson will have a salary and other fringe benefits higher than those of the minister. This treatment is also going to favor the other employees of the commission. The decision came as a result of a resolution passed on a proposal presented to the SSLA by the chairperson of the SSACC. The members of the SSLA were supposedly in unanimity when they passed the resolution.

The arguments of the proposal, among other things, were that: the upgrading will help insure the employees against heeding bribery advances, the incentives will prevent the staffers from seeking greener pastures possibly in ministries and other commissions paying higher, and commissions in other countries are more favorably paid.

The aim of the resolution is to motivate and induce the commission to give out its best. Competition from other employers is also central to determining how much to pay for a particular job.

This is especially the case when employers are competing over few jobseekers in the same labor market. The best employer is the one promising highest pay. There is incentive to appreciate the work done by your employees by rewarding them. The good job done is visibly seen in what they have done for the entity.

Here the worker deserves to share the blessings of their hands together with the employer. The worker, by being rewarded, is being told that the next time they put more efforts into the job they will be given more. But let’s pause a little and ask ourselves a question; is everything we are saying here, holding for SSACC? I doubt if it is so as can be seen below.

The commission was formed in 2006 to identify corruption cases at all levels of the government - most importantly the GOSS and states. The commission, after investigating the cases, was to refer them to the legal ministry for prosecution. It is believed that the commission has thousands of cases in its file ostensibly awaiting further actions by both the commission and the Legal Ministry. It is also believed that the cases are high profile ones in the sense that they concern big shots in the GOSS and other celebrated corruptors.

The Minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, Michael Makuei, on Aug 23, said that the Anti-Corruption Commission has never provided his ministry with the names of those whom the Commission suspects of having been involved in a scandal since its coming into existence ( www.mirayafm.org/news). He contrasted the Commission’s cases with the most recent alleged scandal in the Education Ministry on which he is now working. The case had been referred to him by the said ministry and his ministry is now investigating and possibly will prosecute those responsible.

Taking the minister for his words, he is clearing himself of the Commission’s mess. At this juncture we can conclude that the delay in bringing to book those implicated in corruption can be squarely blamed on the Commission. The Commission has not even been exact as to what the number of its cases is and exposing the names of the culprits is a taboo. This looks like the names are on probation and can be struck off the list at any minute if they had passed the test.

The South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) has never been productive because it has turned out to be Anti‚ÄďIts-own-Mandate Commission. This fact rules out the assertion that the Commission is being rewarded for anything it has ever done.

The move by the South Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) is a test and has been successfully scored by its members (most of whom are believed to have tainted their names in relation to corruption). We should not be surprised if we don’t see some of these names featuring in the corruption cases.

The Commission has been paid for three years now for a job they have never done and will never. Dr. Pauline Riak’s asking for higher pay is tantamount to asking to be bribed bearing in mind the fact that she is dealing with the same people whose conduct she is investigating.

Dr. Riak knows very well that integrity is required of her and her junior staff as is indicated in her own statement; "For an institution that has a reputation as a highly specialized one, integrity is a core value to it and officers need to have that confidence and assurance in form of well paying packages and allowances".

Can we be wrong if we say that the Commission has been receiving bribes since it began its work? The Chairperson seems to be talking from experience when she says, "There is a saying that corruption fights back‚ĶWhile earning less does not give one a ticket to accept bribes, it is very possible that a person handling such sensitive matters and has not been cushioned in terms of proper remuneration can easily fall prey to bribery advances‚ÄĚ.

Also three or so years of sluggishness in the Commission explains that someone somewhere has been manipulating them. What do we think will happen to the names of those who vociferously argued through the proposal of the Chairperson? Can we be too blind to see that the move by the SSLA is a form of manipulation?

The question of why our Commission shouldn’t be at par with other countries’ Commissions is invalid. Sudan is different from Uganda and so is Kenya from Ethiopia . I mean here to say that different countries have different priorities, resources and governments were born at different times.

The GOSS has been breasting for about four months (years) now but the governments of Kenya , Uganda and Ethiopia were born a long time before the GOSS. About 98% of our revenues comes from oil. For Kenya the revenues come from different sources like tourism, agriculture, gold and so on. This implies that some countries are richer than others depending on how much they receive from the resources.

The way resources are managed even differs and this is where corruption comes in. Some individuals can be richer than the big nation and this is  true of the employees of the SSACC. Who knows how much money the Commission spent on the survey it carried out to compare how Sudan and other countries pay their commissions!  

This money should not have been released to the get-rich-quickly minded employees of the Commission; it is the nation’s money. Did the Chairperson inquire about how much time those commissions took to arrive at their present salary scale? Does she know how much they have achieved?

I challenge anyone to compare these achievements with the state of affairs in our Commission; the pile of cases sitting in the chairs, on the tables and in the files. Other countries mean different labor market with different requirements and therefore should not be used to advocate for high pay. It would be unrealistic to think that they (countries) will lure away our staffers. It is next to impossible because seeking job in these countries would first mean changing one’s nationality and standards in some of them are very stringent; form four or A levels certificate holders (most of whom are now in the SSACC) will not have their credentials looked at twice before being qualified for feeding to the dustbin. Our goals and priorities are also different.

The Chairperson would have been forgiven if she had asked for parity with our own commissions and may be ministries but this would come only after assessment by the Labor Ministry to ascertain the nature of the Commission’s jobs (either likeable or unlikeable) and whether the Commission had achieved some of its goals.

The essence in the existence of the Commission is fighting corruption but the Commission is here perpetuating corruption by making itself rich at the expense of the nation. The money which is going to be paid to them must have been shifted away from other precious undertakings.

Mere money does not make anyone patriotic (serving one’s nation); instead it serves to gratify the selfish heart.

The arguments of the Chairperson’s proposal and the subsequent endorsement by the GOSS Council of Ministers are illogical and as such, should not have qualified the employees of the SSACC for the pay rise. If there is any truth in this, then it is hushing the Commission to silence.



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