South Sudan: Soldiers, armed corruption and audits
In its efforts to fight corruption, the South Sudanese government has come up with an ambitious plan to audit all government institutions. But the country’s informal traders have suggested that it might be an impossible task.
“We are soon to hold audits of all government institutions,” chairman of the anti-corruption office in Central Equatorial state, Mariata Takowa Adoma said.
“The exercise is about to start. It is a measure to fight corruption. Those found guilty will be prosecuted in courts of law.”
He said they had received many complaints on corruption in different departments of the government and were determined to fight it.
Stephen Ocan, an anti corruption officer, said the government was keen to eliminate incidences of corruption.
“We are a new state. We only got independence last year. Before that we were at war for over a decade. So we cannot be perfect in such a short time,” Ocan said.
we cannot be perfect in such a short time
“There could be some corrupt officers but we are slowly but surely weeding them out.”
But informal traders allege that corruption is so deeply entrenched in Africa’s newest state that eradicating it may be a mammoth task. “Corruption is rampant in South Sudan,” said Felix Ngada, a taxi driver in the country’s capital, Juba.
Whilst Ngada says he has to “bribe traffic police officers on the roads” every day as it is their habit to “stop drivers and openly ask for bribes” fearlessly, such traffic officers are lately being arrested by the authorities.
A Ugandan trader, Charles Kato who spends a lot of time in that country suggests that armed corruption has become part of life in South Sudan, and that those expected to protect civilians are themselves guilty of extortion.
“Like in Uganda, there is corruption in South Sudan. Unfortunately in South Sudan at times policemen and army men use their firearms to rob civilians,” Kato said.
Kato who wondered how the audits could help in fighting corruption said that foreign traders on many occasions were targeted by government security operatives.
“Once they know that you are a foreigner, they waylay you and demand bribes. If you refuse to give them they arrest you and take you to police cells,” he continued.
Some suggested that a number of Ugandan traders were languishing in South Sudanese jails for failing to pay bribes to authorities.
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