Southern Sudan: transform the Anti-Corruption Commission into a roaring lion

“If Southern Sudan is to avoid the state of collapse and paralyses that many African countries now find themselves in, then we should remember that to lead is to become a good servant of the people and not their tyrannical master,” writes NSV contributor, Mawan Muortat.

Dr. Pauline Riak is the chairperson of the Southern Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission.

(London, UK) - Corruption is a menacing threat to Southern Sudan. I would place it in par with security, malnutrition, disease, illiteracy and tribal divisions. The passing of the anti-corruption bill through the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) should be made a priority. It should then be quickly replicated in each of our 10 states.

The anti-corruption guidelines should then be made available to the public. The text should be simple, clear and concise. It should define corruption itself, cite examples of the practice and list the penalties that could be brought to bear on those found guilty. It should also, among others, include information on how each individual can avoid the vice and what to do if he or she witnesses an act of corruption. The launch should be amid a country wide media campaign which should be sustained for a considerable period of time.

Training and additional resources should then be provided to the personnel in the anti-corruption commission and the law enforcement agencies. When drafting the bill, those pioneering servants of Southern Sudan, should be mindful not only of ACTUAL corruption but also PERCEIVED corruption.

Laws could be passed and culprits may be prosecuted but the public might remain unconvinced because of what they perceive as evidence of corruption. For example, if there were a great disparity in wealth and privileges between those in government and the man and woman in the street – and this is certainly now the case – then no anti-corruption measures will convince the people that their leaders are actually clean.

Therefore, in addition to policies governing offences such as the embezzlement of public funds, abuse of power or acceptance of bribes amongst other obvious cases of corruption, the anti-corruption law could in addition contain ‘goodwill recommendations’.  There are guidelines or recommendations aimed at gaining public trust. The anti-corruption commission can then periodically recognise and announce officials or departments who have implemented these ‘goodwill recommendations’. No one would want to be seen to be missing from that list!

Here are some suggested ‘goodwill measures’:

  1. Officials should give up their gas guzzling luxury four-wheel drives, and instead be driven to and from work in special mini-buses shared with other officials. The ‘expensive’ cars could then be sold and the money returned to the public purse. Perhaps the president, vice president and the speaker to SSLA can be exempt as symbols of the state!!
  2. Top paid officials should donate part of their salary to charity or take a pay cut. 
  3. Officials, when appearing in public, should do away with body guards or make them less conspicuous.
  4. Non-politically appointed senior civil servants should be selected by special panels that are appointed by parliament and that include members of parliament and specialists in the pertinent field. A standardised procedure should be used and the whole process should be logged, signed and stored. With regards to political appointees, their credentials should be published in the public domain.
  5. Officials should send their children to schools inside Southern Sudan.
  6. Officials should attend local hospitals when possible.
  7. Politicians should regularly appear in public places and be seen to chat to ordinary citizens.

This is but to mention a few, and others may well come up with better suggestions. I know that NOT even one of these suggestions will be taken up. On this, I have no illusions! But there is no denial that taking these (or similar) steps could go a long way towards removing the stain of corruption from our leaders - most if not all of whom - are honest and diligent.

If Southern Sudan is to avoid the state of collapse and paralyses that many African countries now find themselves in, then we should remember that to lead is to become a good servant of the people and not their tyrannical master.  Our burgeoning democracy has been blessed with a self-effacing and far-sighted leader who has vowed to put his people first and to fight corruption by establishing the anti-corruption commission. This is a good start. Now it is the lawmakers’ turn to do their bit and transform the anti-corruption commission from a lame duck into roaring lion.

*Mawan Muortat is a UK-based IT professional and a contributor to the New Sudan Vision. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.