Quote: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be” Unknown author.
By: Deng Riek Khoryoam, South Sudan
June 29, 2012 (SSNA) — Corruption! Corruption! Corruption! Is a term commonly used in Africa and some other developing world countries in this twenty first century of ours, to describe the misappropriation of public kitty meant for the provision of basic services to the common man and woman by public officers/servants! Before I go further on this piece of mine, I would like to sincerely thank my readers and friends who always inquire from me as to why I have stayed away from the public sphere, especially in the world of writing and the current issues facing us in the beloved republic of South Sudan, for long. Their concern has been that I have kept quiet for long and they didn’t know what really happened to me; whether I had been given something ostentatious enough worth of this long quietness. Their concerns are well in place because quietness could mean a lot of different things to different people; and therefore, it could be translated wrongly or rightly. My response to them has been that I was just too much preoccupied with other chores ranging from family ones to business. Hence, I find no extra time to delve on public issues, which I pretty much enjoy, and of course; at my one’s own perils! But gladly though, I am now back into public discourse in full swing!
To begin with, a story is told of a certain professor who decided to engage his students on a critical topical issue. The professor challenged his students with this question. ‘Did God create everything that exists?’ A student bravely replied, ‘yes he did!’ The professor inquired once more from the student, “Do you really believe that God created everything?” ‘Yes sir, he certainly did, ‘replied the student. The professor answered, ‘if God created everything; then he (God) created evil, and since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then we can assume that God is evil. The student became quiet and did not respond to the professor’s hypothetical argument/definition. The professor, quite pleased with himself, boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth. Another student raised up his hand and said, ‘may I ask you a question, professor?’ ‘Of course, replied the professor. The student stood up and asked, ‘professor, does cold exist?’ “What kind of question is this?” Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?’ The other students giggled at the young man’s question.
The young man replied, ‘In fact sir, cold does exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 F) is the total absence of heat; and all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat.’ The student continued, ‘professor, does darkness exist?’ The professor responded, of course it does exist. The student replied, once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact, we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colours and study the various wavelengths of each colour. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.’
Finally, the young man asked the professor, ‘Sir, does evil exist?’ Now uncertain, the professor responded, of course, I have already said. We see it every day. It’s in the daily examples of man’s inhumanity to man. It’s in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.’ To this the student replied, ‘Evil does not exist, sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It’s just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes there is no light.’ At this point, the professor decided to sit down. The young man’s name was none other the renowned scientist, Albert Einstein.
So, does poverty exist? Funny this: ‘poverty does not exist, sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Poverty is simply the absence of justice. It’s like evil, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create poverty. Poverty is the result of what happens when man does not have any love left in his heart for fellow human beings. It is like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light’. Worse or better still, does corruption exist in South Sudan? Good question! Corruption does not exist or at least it does not exist unto itself. Corruption is simply the result of what happens when man does not have any love in his heart for fellow human beings. It’s also a result of what happens when man does not have any respect for God in his heart. It’s like evil, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God; it’s also like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light. God did not create corruption or poverty.
Corruption and poverty are two intertwined terms or vices, which have strong correlation. Poverty is a by-product of the vice called corruption! Corruption is perpetuated by man for self-fish or egoistic reasons in order to enrich oneself at the expense of others. One could argue that without corruption in this twenty-first century, not many people would be classified as ‘the poorest of the poor’ in the world of plenty. Behold! Was the world created or meant to be for the rich or equally, people at the boardrooms of power? People who are despaired by the current social disparities and injustices would answer with a resounding ‘yes’! I strongly disagree to the last point! One can assert that the few people who steal from the public kitty have lost touch with the ordinary people or even with sense of nationalism.
In South Sudan in particular, corruption is said to the worse enemy to social development, robbing citizenry of the right to provision of basic social services. It’s also said to be a systemic kind of corruption as its deeply entrenched in our institutions. Savvy analysts as well as senior economists suggest that the year two thousand and five to two thousand and tenth were years of self-enrichment programme by the government officials as much money for reconstruction development was received from friendly and donor countries but nothing showed that it was used for the intended purpose; thus, diverting it for personal gains. The whole system is totally corrupt from the top to the bottom without any exception. Let’s not generalize the whole tribe or community for the acts of a few individuals who don’t care about the feelings of others. Let us condemn the actions of those who do wrong things without having to mention their tribe or community.
A handful of individuals had turned into billionaires and business tycoons overnight as a result of what we called ‘collective thieving’ or complicity in corruption. Since then, there has only been a vigorous lip-service, media campaign against the vice through advertisements on big fancy bill boards in Juba and across our major towns but no practical action has been seen or taken. No high profile corruption-related court case has ever taken off or seen and heard. We’ve only been hearing ‘zero tolerance to corruption’ yet the government seems to be doing the extreme opposite of it; the thing should practically read like this: “100% tolerance to corruption”! The recent controversial President Kiir’s letter begging the supposedly corrupt government officials is another good example of full compliance with the vice.
Many citizens tend to question the President’s indolence approach or handling of this hugely dangerous vice. Why did the president have to beg people who are presumed to have stolen public funds? Did he have to do this in order to appease his few loyal comrades? Why did he not order investigations into these cases of corrupt government officials, past and present? Is this pacification of only 1% vote worth than losing the support and trust of 99% votes from the citizens? Could he also be an accessory or partner in this? Who really is advising or ill-advising the President? Can we be made to believe him again in this seemingly empty rhetoric on fight against corruption? I really do not think so and I ceased to think of that long time ago. Many also wonder whether my President is really in control or knows well the powers vested upon him by the supreme law of the land, to investigate and prosecute those public officers accused of office abuse and or corruption. Or who else is in control, surely? He seems to revisit the sections or articles of the constitution only if and when he is issuing a Presidential decree or a number of them, for that matter!
To recapitulate, we can conclude that corruption does not exist in abstract or at least it does not exist unto itself. It could largely be attributed to lack of sense of nationalism and patriotism or at best, lack of God’s fear in the hearts of those who indulge in it. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat; the darkness that comes when there is no light, or the evil that comes where there is absence of God. It’s equally the people or institutions, for that matter, that encourage and practice it. Instead of stepping up fight against it, we tend to instead promote it through inertness to act boldly to uproot this vicious vice that daily robs our citizens of the money meant for development but ends up being used for personal gains or gratifications only. One can amass that much money unto him or her-self but the question is: what are you going to do with it? Are you helping God’s people who are in need with it? Because at the end of it all, you’re going to leave this world and everything else behind and go alone to the heavenly Father!
The above quote should be educative enough or perhaps a good reminder that your treasures are laid something beyond this beautiful planet earth. No amount of empty rhetoric or statements can deceive the majority of citizens or at least the independent minded intelligentsia!! We believe in actions or deeds, not in empty smart talks in an attempt to divert public’s attention from the real issues or discourse. The medieval parliament needs to pull up its socks and clean or de-clean the country. But the integrity of parliament is compromised or questionable under Wani Igga and the majority of incompetence MPs who only wait for the end of the day to get their sitting allowances. They spend most of their time sitting and indulging in dirty and naïve politics at Malawi and other local places. This is at best what we call ‘conscientious stupidity’!
The author is a concerned South Sudanese citizen, who lives in South Sudan. He could be reached for comments at email@example.com