BY: John Adoor Deng, Australia, SSN
The recent published Sentry Report presented by the Coalition of Independent Organisations, on the war related corruptions allegation has generated a considerable debate among the South Sudanese elites especially the South Sudanese Diaspora communities. I am also told that many kiosks and tea places in Juba and in other capital cities in South Sudan are inundated by the discussions around the stated report.
It is overwhelmingly noted that the Sentry Report has polarised South Sudanese elites, with some arguing that; firstly, the report is biased and serves as an intention for Regime Change in South Sudan.
These groups of debaters seem to suggest that a call on corruption must not start from the top leadership as this may be hardly fought given the intrinsic fact that most African leaders act above the law and so is President kiir.
Thus in their view, the alternative projection is that any vice could be best fought at the middle leadership level and using the top leadership to hammer it altogether.
The second group of debaters argue that the Sentry Report has demeaned the expectations held before it was published. It was widely expected that the report could parade some pathways of corruptions, nailing the flow of money and resources from institutions to institutions, from individuals to individuals and company to company respectively.
However, this report miserably failed to allude to these predicted findings and none of these foreseen findings were explicit in the Sentry Report.
The report left room for manipulations even by the most corrupt officials in terms of its lacking of indisputable details that could be used to hunt them down. The debaters asserted that the report is shallow and has given soft messages to the most corrupt individuals in the country and has in effect demonstrated weak process of fighting corruption.
The third group of debaters affirm that the Sentry Report has “belled the cat,” they believe it is a good beginning at the right place and time. These groups of debaters have presented reasonable arguments in one way or another.
However, I personally concur with the third group in that the Sentry Report is well placed and could not be thrown away with the bathing water. The context of the report is very clear right from the onset. It is and was meant to expose war-related corruption, which it has squarely achieved.
Although this report may not change much in terms of persecuting the alleged corrupt officials, nevertheless the truth has been spoken, and the dirty hands of the ruling elites have been nakedly exposed.
Truly, their depicted lifestyles with their families speak volumes to the suffering masses of South Sudan who cannot afford even to hold to one meal a day.
Its speak volumes to child soldiers, suffering at the trenches in the frontlines tuned to fight his own brother from the other tribe. The report speaks volumes to the common soldiers who are not paid for months and whose families are in displaced camps, with their kids not going to school because of lack of school fees.
Interestingly, while these soldiers continue to suffer immensely, their good Boss in the army is buying homes and villas worth millions of dollars. It is paradoxical, that the General could not pay salaries of his soldiers but at the same time, accrue enough money to buy villas and mansions abroad for millions of dollars.
In conclusion, I hold the view that the Sentry Report is a good start on the war of corruption and exposing corruption at the very top is “belling the unbellable” cat that has jogged unbelled for years.
Although not much may change as a result of this report, however, few elements exposed in the report in my view will go through adjustments.
For example, the sons of the elephants will as a result of this report change the notoriety of their lifestyles. People like Lual Malong must cease boasting extravagantly of richness for money he earned not on social media.
The sons of the president will change their unconscientious occupations (sons of the president). After all, where on earth is being a son of X become one occupation? Why do they (sons of X) expose themselves that much?
Don’t they know that in every airport they enter and when their passports are scanned, they become known and in this insecure world it is not advisable for one to expose his or her privacy? In my view, they are making themselves susceptible to external forces for no reason!
To president Kiir, this report is a wakeup call for him as Head of State to fight corruption. The report shall supposedly energised him to fight corruption more fiercely in the country.
He cannot afford as a known honest person to be the target on the war on corruption while he knows the real spoilers and corrupt individuals who are even richer than him in the country. It is now upon him to use all tools at his disposal to expose the faces of these faceless corrupt officials.
To the generals alleged to have squandered public funds, this report brought home hard lessons to learn as their subordinates may start questioning the delays of their supposedly monthly salaries.
Through this exposure, no more general shall transact huge money to their personal accounts whether through companies or relatives. They will now know that the world is watching them in amazement.
To analysts, people like Biar Ajak of the Centre of Strategic Studies and Dr Jok Madut of USA. We should not as elites who have had the opportunity to learn how corruption is fought in Western world, turn to defend the indefensible on the war of corruption.
It must be waged on many fronts and any exposure should be treated as opportunity to fight the vice and the Sentry Report has provided good basis to accelerate fighting corruption in South Sudan. Thus nullifying the Sentry Report amounts to turning a blind eye to the war on corruption in South Sudan.