First and foremost I would like to congratulate the people of South Sudan for the birth of our new nation the Republic of South Sudan. As the citizens of the new republic of South Sudan we must work hard together to build our new nation and make it strong and viable so that it will play an important role in the region, on the African continent and indeed in the world.

As citizens of a new nation, it is important for us to remain mindful about the road ahead as we climb the mountain top to build our new Republic.  We are all aware that corruption in South Sudan remains one of the biggest threats for the development in our nation. Corruption is generally defined as the misuse of power for personal gain.

The most common definition of corruption is the dishonest exploitation of power for private or political gain. As nepotism is defined as favoritism granted to relatives or friends, with no regard to merit. Ordinary people of South Sudan feel that they are facing a new oppressor by their own people and they feel that they have no voice in the structure of society and distribution of wealth in South Sudan, they find themselves  fearing  rule by powerful and wealth elites  who do not really  care about them but themselves(elite).

The aim of this paper is to find out the roots of corruption in South Sudan and how to eliminate corruption. Even though corruption is a global problem; we must do our best to find a way to eliminate it in South Sudan because corruption will become an obstacle for the development in South Sudan.  It is important to find out the main causes and effects of corruption and of how they have and will correlate to poverty and lack of development in South Sudan today.  Many people argue that corruption cannot be eradicated within the economical and political system in South Sudan, which is based on nepotism and tribal politics which encourage corruption in South Sudan. Having grown up in South Sudan, where society has lost the sense of justice and rule of law for the substitution of a higher law of tribal politics, nepotism, and corruption. Corrupt literally means to destroy, from the Latin word corruptus.

The corruption has become the norm in South Sudan because for the last 6 years of the interim period of the government of South Sudan and that it is generally accepted as the reality of our every-day lives. It is necessary to mention that corruption is a global issue that is present in every single nation in the world.  Most of South Sudan's government officials who have been in power since 2005 during the interim period have been using the nation's resources for their personal benefit; they have denied the good of the economy and the entire society of South Sudan.  South Sudan will remain as the one of the poorest region in Africa due to corruption.

The bureaucracy in the government of South Sudan is very corrupt. The present anti-corruption commission within the GOSS has no power to deal with corruption. If the government of South Sudan is serious about eradicating corruption in South Sudan, why have the officials who had been accused of embezzling public funds never been convicted? The political corruption within the GOSS has become a fact of life for many politicians since the government of South Sudan was formed in 2005. The seeds of corruption in the GOSS were immediately planted as soon as the government of South Sudan was formed. My advice to President Salva Kiir for his new governmental priority should be to eliminate corruption and nepotism in South Sudan because it has become the biggest barrier to our nation's development. Corruption can also be judged through the lenses of morality and ethics. In the Bible for example, in the book of Exodus, when God defines the rules that his people must follow to have his protection, it is clearly stated: "You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right", Exodus 23:8). In contrast the Bible views corruption as a sin and as an act of immorality. The whole nation of South Sudan is waiting patiently to see what kind of government President Salva Kiir is going to form.

President Kiir's speech during the independence celebration, he publicly stated that, "As President I pledge to you to do all I can to remove this cancer of official corruption." South Sudanese are waiting to see what course of action President Kiir is going to take to eradicate this epidemic, especially when there has been not one single person brought to accountability in spite of the past zero tolerance rhetoric on the problem in the last 6 years. Many Southern Sudanese continue to ask the hard question today that how can President Kiir eradicate corruption in South Sudan if he has instructed Michael Makwei Lueth in 2008 not to prosecute officials who have embezzled public money?  President Salva Kiir Mayardit made several statements on many occasion repeatedly warning his ministers against corruption and said, "With this in mind, we are duty bound to ensure, in addition to the overarching responsibility of keeping Southern Sudan peaceful and out of harm's way, equitable sharing of resources, fiscal prudence in the use of public funds, devolution of power to local governments and building institutional and human capacity at all levels of government."

Dr. Francis  Deng,  a renown public figure, once said that, "The challenge now is for an independent South  Sudan to realize the ideals of good governance: constructive management of diversity on the basis of full equality for all ethnic groups; promotion of inclusive constitutional democracy; respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms; pursuit of fair distribution of resources, public services, employment opportunities; accountable financial management; and consolidation of peace through equitable socio-economic development." Among other things are the possible problems that might prematurely cripple and dismember the Republic of South Sudan are: the lack of adequate experience in governance; greediness for and scrambling over power; lack of democratic rules and the dearth of strong institutions, politics of divide and rule, tribalism, corruption and political impunity which are becoming dangerous epidemic chronic diseases in South Sudan.  As we have been witnessing, the continuation of tribal fighting between different tribes, and political rebellions, all of which may impede sustainable development and long lasting peace in South Sudan. For example in South Sudan today it does not matter what kind of qualification one has but who you know matters in order to be employed in South Sudan. Officials in the government of South Sudan hired their own relatives and continue to the practice today in South Sudan.  Most of our government officials in South Sudan do not hire people who are not their relative and that is clear as daylight the practice of nepotism and South Sudan will go nowhere because of it.

President Salva Kiir stated after the result of referendum last year, "We all know it is what people have been talking about, that there is corruption in the government of Southern Sudan and that it will be a failed state if it becomes a free state. He goes on to say, "Zero tolerance" of corruption was now in place across South Sudan."  Despite the efforts of the government of South Sudan, corruption and nepotism spread like wildfire in Southern Sudan overwhelming the region despite the formation of an anti-corruption body to fight corruption.  Now we have our independence, South Sudan, our President Salva Kiir must prove to the people that he is a leader of all South Sudanese by forming an inclusive government, which will represent all political forces in the country. It is President Salva Kiir's responsibility to lead our new nation to the right path. But if President Kiir chooses to not do so then this lack of full representation of all political forces in South Sudan and failure to delivery the services to the people of South Sudan then he should not be surprised to see a new wave of uprising in South Sudan similar to the one happening in the Middle East. An uprising would be the last resort for the people of South Sudan against his new government. I am hoping that President Kiir will be wise enough to reject those who are misguiding him for years for their own personal interest making him a Pharaoh instead of giving him good advice to lead our nation in the right direction.   As a citizen of South Sudan, it is my honest opinion that a nation without the rule of law will be a failed state. It is so important to enforce the rule of law and not just write them in a book but must be practiced in order to confront this endemic corruption and nepotism that has hindered our nation's wealth.

I would advise President Salva Kiir to form a comprehensive government that will include all South Sudanese political parties because this is not about one party but for the sake our nation.  Our new born state needs to join our hands together to build a stronger foundation and a viable state for our Republic.  President Salva Kiir should also allow an independent judicial system to be a vital watchdog to insure that corrupt officials are brought to justice and held accountable for their acts. As the US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "South Sudan must address its internal challenges. Its people face wrenching poverty, inadequate education and health care, and the continuing presence of armed militia groups. To succeed, South Sudan will have to begin building an effective, democratic and inclusive government that respects human rights and delivers services with transparency and accountability."

South Sudan and North Sudan separated into two countries due to the systemic injustice and the arrogance of those who called themselves Arab in North Sudan to deny marginalized people the access to resources, equal political freedom, social justice and freedom of religion. As Carl Friedrich (1963) put it, "Corruption stands as a destructive factor to the interest of the public." Corruption has become a political prostitute in South Sudan whereby the civil servant sells his / her public office and his /her responsibility to the highest bidder for personal gain.  As we are aware that corruption always involves two sides, the corruptor and the corrupted; it implies a misuse of authority and a violation of responsibility towards a system; and it involves the sacrifice of the public for private benefit. The bureaucratic corruption in South Sudan is mostly used by civil servants to acquire additional compensation or wealth for themselves, their relatives, and their friends; while political corruption in South Sudan is used by politicians to build their political parties, political machines, and to help them capture and retain their leadership positions and wealth. President Salva Kiir once expressed his concern about tribal issues in Southern Sudan during hot debate about the transitional Constitution of South Sudan in which he warned parliament against their division over the transitional constitution. "You're not here as tribes. You're building a nation, and building a nation is above any tribe. And any tribal grouping will never take us anywhere. Those who display unity and nationalism at day time but turn into tribalists at night."

As we know, a South Sudan government which relies heavily on oil or mineral extraction is particularly vulnerable to international and domestic corruption through public procurement, under invoicing, financial fraudulent practices and dishonest companies who want to invest in South Sudan. Corruption in South Sudan has an important structure that is used to defend and maintain elite privileges and the poor remain poor. The last six years of the interim period, the public funds have been accumulated and looted by the politicians while a small percentage of the population has predominantly remained impoverished and has marginalized a large majority of the people of South Sudan. I urge the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan to exposed and eradicate corruption in our society or otherwise we will never be able to see the development of South Sudan. It is important we  advocate the eradication of corruption in South Sudan, for example  like in  Japan, where corruption does not exist but where foreign investment and economic growth does not seem to be affected by it and I think we can do same in South Sudan. Corruption in South Sudan has looted the public funds which are supposed to be used to improve the lives of our people, our healthcare system and our education for the next generation.

The question for all of citizens of the new nation of The Republic of South Sudan is how we can tackle epidemics like corruption and nepotism in South Sudan that has been around for so long that it has become a part of our leader's practice and the norm for our political culture in South Sudan.  Many of our citizens have spoken about this epidemic about the issues of corruption and nepotism in South Sudan which threaten the development and future of our new nation. On April 11, 2011, Gen.  Peter Gatdet who has taken up arms against the GoSS accused the Juba government of corruption and dominated by one tribe, alluding to the Dinka ethnicity of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

As Uncle Bona Malwal said that "I fear that South Sudan could end up as a divided new state, fragmented into the number of the many tribes we now have." Nepotism in South Sudan is a form of political corruption eating at the fabric of our nation's institutions and robbing our next generation's future.  In South Sudan political Nepotism and corruption has become the norm in the politics our society where relations and friends are given importance and prominence, when it comes to allocating important political positions.  People of South Sudan are hoping that President Salva Kiir will demonstrate what he said, "You may be a Zande, Kakwa, Lutugo, Nuer, Dinka or Shiluk, but first remember yourself as a South Sudanese.  In order to move this country forward, sacrifices have to be made in public service. Those who are not ready to make this kind of sacrifice will not be part of the new government."

If President Kiir means what he said during the Independence Celebration speech to end corruption in South Sudan he must began to gives full authority to the justice department to fully investigation those who have been involved in corruption. If they are found guilt they should be prosecuted according to law without executive interference in their action.  It is very important that President Kiir should not turn blind eyes on this epidemic that has become a cancer in South Sudan and a barrier for its development. Corruption in South Sudan has become well known to everyone in South Sudan and that is why the US Ambassador Susan E. Rice mentioned it in her address during Independence celebrations, "Peace and prosperity rest on the foundation of strong institutions devoted to the public interest. Law and justice rest on the foundation of a political system free of corruption and fraud."

I believe in the cause of our people, but I find it difficult to agree with the way some of our politicians in Juba are doing things, where many of our government officials have been looting our natural resources since 2005 without delivering services to our people. This is proof that GoSS officials are not interested in building the South Sudan infrastructure, but they just want to enrich themselves with wealth and they will leave South Sudan and live in a foreign land and enjoy the wealth of our nation that they have stolen. South Sudan has the resources and wealth to improve the social welfare of our people. Our late leader, Dr. John Garang once said, "Any liberation movement is judged whether it is a failure or successful based on the objectives in which it has set upon itself to achieve." I am sure that one of our  government priorities and  objectives should be development  and to achieve our own economic freedom in South Sudan, but the politicians in Juba have failed to live up to that promise.

In conclusion, since corruption is a major cause of poverty in many societies around the world. For us to deal with the corruption in South Sudan, the government should put in place an independent judicial system and appoint a special prosecutor who can prosecute the public officials who are involved in corruption charges. I believe if the GOSS can put in place an independent judicial system, they will be able to eradicate the corruption in South Sudan because the assigned special prosecutor will investigate, indict and prosecute the government officials who are involved.

In my view the rule of law can safeguard our new nation where the government should be based the rule of law. The rule of law is a legal maxim that provides that no person should be above the law. I hope that all South Sudan government officials who are being sworn in as a part of the new government of South Sudan formed by our President Salva Kiir will uphold the constitution of South Sudan. For example in the United States' constitution, all government officials of the United States are required to pledge first and foremost to uphold the Constitution. These oaths affirm that the rule of law is superior to the rule of any human leader. Corruption is one of the biggest challenges to us as a people in South Sudan. The importance and consequences of corruption in South Sudan cannot be underestimated because corruption poses a serious threat to human rights, the rule of law, democratic governance, and development in South Sudan.  Corruption has greatly eroded the fundamental values of democracy and the essential principle that government should representative and accountable to the citizens. Corruption in South Sudan has been one of the most widespread and insidious of social evils.

As long as the rule of law is applied against those whom steal public funds, the corruption will be eradicated. If corruption remains a serious problem in South Sudan, the development in South Sudan will not be accomplished unless the government of South Sudan eradicates corruption.

The author is a concerned citizen of South Sudan living in the United States, can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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People in this conversation

  • Guest - Mkogand Wak

    Mr.Jwothab Wanh
    Thank you very much,you touched everything which are facing our people in Republic of South Sudan,corruption,nepotism has become chronical diseases in our politicians in South Sudan since formation anti corruption commision in South Sudan by GOSS,people of south Sudan must blame Mr.Salva Kiir for encourage the lack of governance in the South Sudan,anti corruption commision has no power to hunter corruptionists in the GOSS,and it could not erdicate corruption without laws,they must to be given authorities to punish any body dealing with corruption.

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  • Guest - Butrus

    I would like to thank you for this wanderful research you have made on corruption. May adice to the government of Republic of South Sudan is that let them take fighting corruption a major task this time since all people are expecting the president Salva Kir to be at his word. Firsr there need to appoint right people in the right place. There is need to allow oposition parties to play their effectively so as to help the goverment of South Sudan to correct their path.

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