By Peter Reat Gatkuoth
December 23, 2010 (SSNA) — Despite the numerous campaigns carried out by the Government to ensure the end of the corruption and nepotism, the challenges ahead to fix this chronic problem is still an issue at hand that has an indirect and negative impact to the economic growth and development. The problem of corruption in South Sudan has been an issue that most of the individuals worried about these days but the search of its end should only be addressed with cautions and better inductive approach. Corruption is a complex issue that need a complex response with clear descriptive analysis. Therefore, to solve the issue of the corruption, the government must look into subjective factors; and the problem should only be solved from the bottom up not from the top down (from society to top official and not from ministers to society scenario…….. etc).
Corruption in South Sudan is due to many things. It’s one of the issues among many things in the basket and therefore it needs a clear diagnostics. Like in many countries in Africa, corruption is one of the variable in the broader governance equation and therefore; it’s a societal issue in which people used to hear and growth up with in many districts and towns, but the issue in South Sudan is different from other African nations due to the fact that the country is newly emerged nation whereby nepotism play a brutal role to increase the rate of the corruption.
Recently, people always talk on streets of Juba that the government is corrupted, and they were looking for change while they are an indirect agent of the corruption in Juba. I regret to say that the people in the South Sudan are the agent of the corruption but my descriptive analysis of how our society is structured led me to voice my concerns that we are the agent of the corruption in the South Sudan indirectly.
During my visit to Sudan, I felt shame to see people lining up in the ministerial offices during the pay day in Khartoum to receive their salaries while they were not the ministerial employees. One day, I asked one of the fellow citizens how they survived in the big cities like Khartoum and other provincial cities while they don’t have official jobs in town. After a secrete talk with many individuals in town, I noticed that people are indirectly engaged in the corruption process in the country.
One among the citizens claims that “he has no relatives in the Government of South Sudan that can list his name in the ministerial employees’ list so that he can get money to survive. I asked him how he should receive money while he is not officially employed in the ministerial offices. The boy smiled at me and says that “you those of North America Sudanese are spies and one would never talk of the issue under table.” What is “under table” here? I asked myself and put the word in the question. After looking at the boy, I realized that our traditional lifestyle must have been playing a brutal role to increase the corruption rate and therefore; one may look into how it should be one of the elements in the basket of the issues in South Sudan.
It is obvious that the issue of our traditional ties and lifestyle must have connection with the corruption. When we were in the bush, most of the commanders’ body guards were their relatives. This method of hiring your relatives to protect you is what happening today in the South Sudan; and it’s perhaps what we call “nepotism” in nature. Government official in South Sudan do not hire people whom they do not know their background in term of family trees. You may be wondering to why the government official asked you about where your grand-parents come from in the first place but that is not the major issue I had seen in the eye of the boys in Khartoum and in the other part of the country.
In Juba or any towns in South Sudan, it is becoming an increasingly obvious that rural people are moving to the towns in search for jobs and schools or better place to live. These individuals grouped themselves in ministers’ or officials’ homes because it’s our lifestyle and tradition that you have to serve your own people from the same family or society. When minster receives his/her salary, the salary would not even reach the end of the month, leaving minster to eat bones instead while he receives that high income salary.
The problem of unemployment and the issue of the rural people migrating to the towns have contributed to the corruptions issue because some of the officials always look for illegitimate opportunity to help their community members by continuing to use cash support payments. Officials in South Sudan always explain their major problems that they had faced in their particular unit/home to each others. The issue of the people congregating themselves in officials’ home allow the officials to look for illegitimate options. Perhaps some of the option is to list their names so that they receive money in different departments where he/she has loyal friends; then who is the agent of corruption here: – the people living in the minister’s home or the minister who look for illegitimate option to help people who congregated themselves in his house (think about the quote:-“there is no smoke without fire”)?
As I advanced toward Dueem (White Nile region) a few days later, I met some of young gentlemen who claimed that they have Sudan leaving certificates. I asked them why they were just moving from city to city in Sudan without working. They all claimed that they have no relatives in the Government of the South Sudan or Government of National Unity. But my question was why you want only your relatives in the government offices if you know that you have better qualifications? They said “they are overqualified to hold the public positions because they have grade 12th certificates” which is fine but what about other alternatives such as recruiting yourself to be Law enforcement officer, army officer, and so forth. They all react negatively that “we’re not fit to be policemen” but my question is who is born to be police/law enforcement or minister anyway?
In reality according to my view, this is the problem because most of the people do not understand it and do not wanted to work, assuming that they will be minister or Brigadiers in the army without having an experience or skills. They tend to officialised themselves as if they have valid skills and experiences to hold the public post and then choose to wait and agitate their relatives to hire them. Although there are few opportunities from the sanitations department or Wild life departments, they would never accept those opportunity thinking that they will be minister sooner while their families and kids are starving to death.
The fact is that our proudly lifestyle and tradition is contributing now to unemployment issue and therefore, inwardly hurting the people or officials who have little salaries in town. Most of the people choose to stay, waiting and waiting in their relatives’ home as if the jobs may come alone but is it not true that one must always target something (short term plan) to survive while working on long term plan such as waiting while working as Law enforcement or policeman? Off course, Murle culture said that “do what you can to survive before you get what you want or get there.”
In an abstract term the issue of corruption is routed in our cultural lifestyle and this affect the effective check and balance that restraint the exercise to end the battle of the corruption in all level of the governments. The challenges ahead remain in designing operational effective programs that will first address the issue of unemployment from the bottom up before carrying out an investigation to the ministerial offices. It should be crucial to recognize the problem of the corruption from the bottom up, dealing with the issues that made people to choose those illegitimate opportunities such as listing of the people’s names to receive cash money while they are not employees.
Theoretically, you cannot choose to feed someone for life but you can choose to teach someone on how to work and figure out how to think independently. The government should create vocational educational training, and mobilize the public to involve in the work forces so that they have something to live instead of choosing to wait for the highest expectations. The corruptions that took place in the South Sudan may one day weaken the economic advancement, with the potential to enlarge economic gaps and breed organized crime. Therefore; to fix this issue, the government must address the issue from the grass route inductively (bottom up) by looking at the causes and the subjective factors that contribute to the causes of the corruption such as the lack of unemployment.
NB – this article is made readable to all people because the author wants the public to read it easily. You can reach me through peter[email protected] or read my articles at www.peterreat.blogspot.com