Some tips for combating corruption in South Sudan

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Thursday, 25 June 2009 04:12
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Zechariah Manyok BiarA renowned Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe amuses his readers by saying that when ones sees the mouth of a king, one wonders if the king had ever sucked his mother. We are made to believe in Africa that there is no corruption here in the West. But cases like that of former Illinois Governor Blagojevich and the British parliament’s scandal tell us that human beings are corrupt everywhere. What makes a difference is the ability of a country to detect and punish corruption.

 

For South Sudanese now, corruption has become the talk of the day—which is good. Those of us who are outside government offices appear less corrupt, at least at the fantasy level. What determines the genuine claims sometimes is the practical involvement. But it would be a waste of time to test everybody who claims to hate corruption to see whether they can do what they say or not. What matters is to know the techniques that reduce corruption. This is what we expect from politicians who tell us that they will deal away with corruption if given a chance in South Sudan. We expect them to tell us how they will practically deal away with corruption. Otherwise, we will often take their statements as political rhetoric.

 

I recently received some e-mails in which supporters of Eng. Charles Kisanga complained that I was mean to their man in my response to his article two weeks ago. Some of the people who sent me e-mails even argued that my article would damage Eng. Kisanga’s political future. Some of these citizens argued that it was unfair for me to expect politicians to be perfect.

 

I agree with Eng. Kisanga’s supporters that there is no perfect politician. This is the reason why any politician who needs to condemn other politicians should not underestimate our reaction. We know that there are imperfections that are completely off target that we should be careful about.

 

Here in the West, politicians are liars like they are in Africa, but they are always scrutinized to determine if their lies have some truth in them or not. Every public office bearer is accountable to his or her people.

 

African politicians are also accountable to their people, but at the moral level only. We do not have a clear system that is able to catch Blagojevich-type of politicians. We always make excuses that our technology is still behind that of the West. That is true to some extent. But that does not exempt our politicians from their moral and legislative authority to fight corruption.

 

Let me give you some tips on how corrupt workers are caught here in the United States.

 

The first step, which does not need a sophisticated technology, is the records of workers. Every new employee’s information is entered into the system. The system is the same internet that we are familiar with. Human Resource Management (HRM) at any level is accountable to Social Security for employees’ information. Every employee and his or her salary are known because they are in the system. This eliminates ghost workers because workers sign their pay forms every time they receive their salaries. Signatures or finger prints that differ from employees’ original signatures are investigated before any money is released.

 

Whenever workers are paid, they enter their working hours onto the system and their bosses crosscheck and approve them before any money is released. Any employer who approves invalid information is the one to answer when the problem is detected.

 

Workers working where the internet does not work fill pay forms before they get paid. The forms are then crosschecked and signed by the employers before any money is released.  Workers’ files have their photos attached to them. Any name that comes up during pay time and never corresponds with any photo on the alleged file is investigated before any money is released.

 

The sophisticated system could be the one in which security people listen to any phone conversation. That would be the system that South Sudan cannot afford at this time.

 

There are surveillance cameras everywhere here in the USA. These cameras are the ones that people fear most. They are eyes for anti-misbehavior government system. Surveillance cameras are not difficult to use in South Sudan.

 

The Minister of Telecommunication and Postal Services together with the Minister of Labor can sign a contract with a company that can install surveillance cameras in offices all over South Sudan and train South Sudanese on how to use them. The contract can be signed for a period of five years. After that, the government pays for everything and takes over the management of surveillance system. This is where you can see a huge reduction in corruption. Otherwise, no party is a saint to reduce corruption in South Sudan today without a clear way of detecting fraud.

 

There is no excuse, however, for refusing to use a simple system like crosschecking of employees’ files against their pay forms during pay time before any money is released. This crosscheck is not difficult because it is done at every level of the government by HRM offices at those levels before the records are entered to the system on the main website of the national office of HRM.

 

*Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.