A new report by Enough Project has revealed widespread corruption in the South Sudanese army, even as people continue to die in the ongoing civil war in the oil-rich nation.
In a report sent to Face2Face Africa, Enough Project details numerous corrupt activities within the army, including procurement fraud, irregular spending unchecked by civilian authority, and bloated troop rosters featuring thousands of “ghost” (non-existent) soldiers.
While the people of South Sudan grapple with ongoing suffering and hardships, including famine and serious economic deprivations, the government has been diverting the country’s dwindling funds to the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
“There is no accountability for the looting of state resources in South Sudan, especially with military spending. The missing piece of an effective international response is the creation of leverage to shift the calculations of these violent kleptocrats from war to peace, from mass corruption to good governance and accountability in spending,” John Prendergat, founding director at Enough Project said.
Weapons of Mass Corruption
The report further indicates that the lack of financial oversight for and within the SPLA amounts to major organizational weakness that creates opportunities for corruption.
This weakness reportedly stems from willful, systematic obstruction of financial oversight by the government.
South Sudanese authorities are also reportedly using ghost soldiers to create a bloated budget for the military. Unfortunately, this budget is not subjected to any rigorous public oversight and auditing.
In the wake of economic collapse, corruption in South Sudan has moved from being an integrated and self-sustaining system to a disintegrative and self-destructing system.
This situation has left millions of South Sudanese people unable to provide for their basic needs while a small group of greedy bureaucrats continues to plunder scarce financial resources.
The Enough Project, a non-profit organization fighting genocide and mass atrocities in Africa, urges the international community, with the leadership of the United States, to issue a new executive order on South Sudan, making public corruption and misappropriation of state assets grounds for sanctions.
“U.S. lawmakers should also leverage U.S. anti-money laundering authorities by having the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and other financial intelligence units issue advisories and investigative requests related to South Sudan military transactions,” the Enough Project recommends.
The ongoing civil war in South Sudan broke out in 2013, after the incumbent President Salva Kiir fell out with his first Vice President, Riek Machar.
While the conflict may have emanated from a leadership tussle between the two statesmen, it has now developed into a full-blown ethnic conflict between the Dinka and Nuer tribes.
Dinka tribesmen are the majority in Kiir’s SPLA, while Machar’s SPLA-in-Opposition is primarily made up of Nuers.
More than 50,000 people have died so far in the conflict and millions have been displaced from their homes.
Numerous peace talks have been held in an effort to end the impasse but none has bore any fruit.