By Isaiah Abraham
April 27, 2011 — The government of the people of Southern Sudan promised people that it would not entertain corrupt practices within government institutions. Anti-corruption Commission was established in 2006 headed by a doyen lady in the person of Dr. Paulino Riak. The body she heads is an independent financial watch dog mandated to investigation and make necessary follow up with relevant authorities to arraign financial accusers in custody, and subsequently bring them to courts. So far, the Anti-Corruption Unit had tried to fight corruption but too little has been achieved. Six years done the line, there have been loud outcry that the body (Anti-Corruption) is not doing enough to go further than recording corrupt cases.
The strong lady however has started to show signs of taking the war to criminals. All along she has been arguing that her Unit ‘isn’t a police or a court’. But somewhere last year after Parliament passed the Anti-Corruption Bill, there are signs of activities towards that end. For example, an Undersecretary in the Ministry of Education was accused, and this month the court charged her of theft and was sentenced for ten (10) years imprisonment. Last month (March 2011), the Auditing team from Auditor General ‘qualified’ books of accounts for the Ministry of Labor and Public Service as; four senior staffs of that Ministry were implicated and are reported to be behind bars in Juba Prisons.
The dura scam of 2008 has now surface and big fish are likely going to appear before the law on what had happened to the money at that time. Recall the money was said to have been distributed to Ten (10) States but the bags of dura weren’t delivered. The current minister of Finance had already passed the bug to his predecessor and the public is waiting with a baited breath on who are these people in the first place that pocketed four (4) billion pounds.
I have seen this Paulino beating her chest that she will go for nothing short of zero tolerance to corruption in the Government of the people of Southern Sudan. Is the Anti-corruption Commission bold enough to apply justice irrespective of any person involve or will the body be selective of who to prosecute and who not? We will wait and see! For now though she needs strong backing from the public and the government. Lip service to corruption was exploited by people who were looking for anything to discredit the people’s government.
Auditor General is a disappointment, and badly wants him to go! He spoiled my day during his Press Conference regarding his strategies for the next few years or months. Mr. Wondu labored for hours to tell the public tangible challenges his department faces. Lack of qualified auditors wasn’t a challenge. Again when did Auditing become an institutional matter in our third world countries? True we need internal auditor in every institution but for now external auditors could have done much. External auditors aren’t missing; they are everywhere. He was ‘corrupt’ with his words to the public.
But the truth of the matter is that corruption fights back. It has already started to do so long enough as some groups have started to cry foul that their sons and daughters are victimize. Regions are ganging up against their own people, and tribes are cursing the government of having targeted their sons. This is nonsense! Financial criminals must not apply cheap politics to hide behind their people and bubble about what others haven’t done. Crime doesn’t ascribe to be tribe but personality; you commit it you face the law. That charged Undersecretary didn’t send money to Uganda using Madi people but her conscience directed her to do so. Public officials at the ministry of Labor and Public Service didn’t inflate allowances; they did it individually with no one form their families. If we continue to associate crimes with our people then we missed it wide.
Let no one politicize the drive please; after all we have been charging that the government is doing nothing, isn’t that good to cheer them up so to eradicate the deadly vice once and for all? I strongly feel so, and don’t see any reason of defending anyone who is on the wrong side of the law. Some people say but why Dr. Josephine when others have cashed away more, and the point is that the alleged theft haven’t be proven. We all know how the law works, don’t we? Unless evidences show it otherwise, the person is deemed innocent. Whirls of rumors have been in the air for sometimes now, but if you dig deep in to the alleged corrupt practices at GOSS, you find that nothing concrete that proves the suspected. Hence it is not fair to make judgment before proving it in white and black.
Some of the claims in the air aren’t all true. I’m saying these for the sake of the truth; in our today payment systems in Finance Ministry, its not easy for an individual to walk away with money without being noticed. Thanks to friends from overseas who are stationed there! If you want a claim or money it takes you not less than 6 stages by different bodies before it is actually banked. This means that we have come a long way from our initially start of our financial management system in 2006 and 2007. Mr. Tisa and Garang, the Undersecretaries there are doing their best, and we should commend them for job well done.
Allow me to go religious below: corruption my people, is a sin before it becomes a crime. If this land would be exorcised from evils of old, we should not defend anyone who wants to get rich quickly. In our last government in Juba here in the seventeenth and eighties, we failed really to live within our means, but did everything to amassed ill gotten wealth, and God blew everything away. We can’t repeat our past mistakes again. Let’s not make God angry. It is a sin for the people of God in the South to ignore that we had Almighty God taking care of us at that time, and still around with us during the peace time. The South must do everything to protect its image abroad; my people weren’t corrupt before.
Isaiah Abraham writes from Juba, he is reachable at [email protected]