‘Tarnishing’ corruption jeopardizes foreign investment prospects – Gov’t told

By Ayuel Chan

The unsurprising but tarnishing recent reports of widespread corruption in South Sudan will erode prospects of foreign investment needed to jump-start economic recovery in the country, experts have said 

On Tuesday, Transparency International (TI) ranked South Sudan the world’s most corrupt country scoring only 11 points out of 100 to occupy the bottom of the global Corruption Perception Index.

The damning report which ranked the world’s youngest country at 180 out 180 behind Somalia and Syria has been dismissed as nonsense by Government Spokesperson and Minister of Information, Michael Makuei Lueth who also accused the authors of the report being corrupt for ranking South Sudan as the most corrupt country in the world.   

However, economist Dr. Abraham Maliet Mamer said the report should serve as a wake-up call for the government to pull up socks intensify the fight against corruption to gain the trust of potential investors.

“The latest report should serve as a wake-up call for the government to improve the standard of their conduct.

“This ranking erodes investors and international financial confidence because now they will see our ranking and form an opinion that this country is not worthy to invest in,” Dr. Mamer said.

“So, for the government to be trusted by world bodies, they need to build more trust with the people, be more transparent and hold to account those who are corrupt,” the economist who is an advisor to the vice president for economic cluster advised.

Corruption watchdogs – both national and international such as the National Audit Chamber, UN Human Rights Commissions and Sentry among others have often accused current and former government officials of diverting money from public coffers to their personal accounts in foreign countries.

In 2018 President Salva Kiir Mayardit lamented corruption at the swearing-in ceremony of Akol Ayii Madut as the new director-general of customs service.

“I did not get people who can work, I got people who know how to eat,” President Kiir was quoted as saying then.

Activist Edmund Yakani blamed the flourishing corruption in the public sector on the toothless anti-corruption institutions such as the South Sudan Anti-corruption Commission and the Audit Chamber for doing little to reduce the vice.

Yakani who is also the executive director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), slammed the government for underrating corruption reports instead of exerting more effort to combat corruption.

“This is not something surprising though the leadership (government) tend to undermine it and they don’t take it seriously, it’s tarnishing the image of the country and denying it a lot of opportunities,” he said.

Mr Yakani called the parliament to summon the institutions tasked with combating corruption to explain why the vice has continued to spread in government institutions with little effort to stop it.

“My appeal is that the parliament should take this new report seriously and table it in parliament to have deliberations on it and question institutions that are tasked by the constitution to fight corruption, like the Public Accounts Committee, the Anti-corruption Commission, and National Auditor Chamber and ask them what they are doing,” he said.

He also called the top leadership of the country to lead the fight against corruption in the country.

“The lack of political will has left state institutions unable to fight corruption, if you have the political will then you empower the institutions to fight corruption.”

The Berlin-based non-governmental organization’s report released Tuesday, ranked South Sudan as the Most Corrupt in the world out of 180 Countries with Syria, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen making the top five list.

 Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Norway and Singapore ranked as the top five least corrupt countries.

The report stated that in Sub-Saharan Africa, armed conflict, violent transitions of power and increasing terrorist threats combined with poor enforcement of anti-corruption commitments rob citizens of their basic rights and services.

The organization urged governments to defend democracy and promote civic space to create the enabling conditions to hold governments accountable.

The report also said that corruption plunders precious natural resources and impedes access to public services for millions of people, and the results of decades of stagnation cannot be more devastating.

The organization called on each country to publish relevant data and guarantee access to information to ensure the public receives easy, accessible, timely and meaningful information.

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