June 10, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s Vice President, Riek Machar Teny has blamed the new nation’s weak institutions for corruption that has blighted the country and urged the international community to assist in building their capacity.
South Sudan is internationally recognised as one of the world’s most corrupt nations following a revelation by President Salva Kiir that $4 billion of government money has gone unaccounted for in the last seven years.
The figure, estimated by Reuters to be worth about a third of South Sudan’s oil revenue since a peace deal in 2005, came to light in a letter Kiir wrote to 75 senior officials asking them to return the stolen money.
Most of the money was stolen during a grain scandal in 2008. Funds were embezzled by fake companies who did not deliver grain or building new grain stores.
The balance of the missing funds are believed to have been stolen in the process of implementing contracts signed by officials with foreign companies in their respective ministries.
The ghost companies which registered in their hundreds within a very short period of time to deliver the grain managed to get recommendation letters and licenses from the ministries of commerce and trade and legal affairs and constitutional development; now the ministry of justice.
The ministry of finance and economic planning also approved contracts with such companies to deliver grain to South Sudan’s ten states on behalf of the ministry.
Speaking on Thursday, with a ministerial delegation from the Netherlands, Vice President Riek Machar said the situation on the billions of dollars lost to corruption occurred partly as a result of the combination of weak institutions coupled with incompetent accounting system.
He called on the international community to help the 11-month-old nation build its government institutions and instill effective systems of accountability and transparency.
South Sudan has governed itself since a 2005 peace deal ended decades of conflict with Khartoum. In July the year the same agreement enabled South Sudan to become independent.
President Kiir in his letter he addressed to the 75 individual former and present top officials urged them to return the money to the designated bank accounts in return for an amnesty from prosecution.
The ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s secretariat is organising a peaceful mass protest in the capital, Juba, on Monday in support of the President’s latest measures to pin down corrupt officials.