April 29, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A number of Sudanese lawmakers have warned that the state and the economy is under threat from a surge in levels of corruption that is coupled with growing poverty among the population.
- Sudan’s national assembly (FILE)
MP Mohamed Ahmed Zein said during deliberations on the Inspector General’s report that some countries refuse to deal with Sudan due to the lack of transparency and the continued abuse of public funds.
He pointed out that more than 60,000 police officers left the force due to low salaries and went to say that the Ministry of the Interior uses its revenues to construct buildings.
MP Suad al-Fatih accused “known agents” of working to sabotage the economy and her colleague MP Salah Gosh warned that crackdown on corruption could be a cover for political infighting.
Al-Fatih said that corruption is rampant in the ministries of Higher Education and Social Affairs as well as the Popular Defence Forces (PDF). She claimed that the former Social Affairs minister Samia Mohamed lost her job because of these “agents”. The latter she said have no loyalty to the country even though they claim otherwise.
She called on the parliament to be responsible and apply the law against corrupt officials.
“The thieves are many and if we apply the law three quarters if men and women would turn out to be thieves,” al-Fatih said.
MP Ibrahim Ahmed Omer said that corruption is as big of a threat as security and military ones that need to be dealt with swiftly.
MP al-Zubeir Mohamed Hassan, who was a former finance minister, accused opposition parties of working with Transparency International (TI) against the country by supplying them information about corruption.
A proposal by one MP to conceal corruption incidents against constitutional office holders drew anger and caused chaos in the assembly prompting the speaker to call for order several times.
MP Gosh, who was the former spy chief, revealed for the first time that the construction of security institution buildings was valued at $2.5 billion dollars, while the total budget deficit totalled $ 1.2 billion.
He accused officials of making decisions that wastes public funds without being labeled as corrupt and emphasised that non-monitored spending is one of the biggest problems facing the Ministry of Finance and claimed that the government pressures on the ministry is causing this.
Gosh also criticised the Inspector General, accusing him of focusing on mid-level civil officers in tracking corruption while ignoring big violations by more senior officials.
Last week, two employees working at the office of Khartoum governor escaped prosecution after agreeing to return money they obtained through forging signature of the governor to transfer ownership of lands worth billions to bogus owners and selling it later for a huge profit.
Officials said that the law allows them to avoid standing before court if they returned back stolen money and also refused to disclose their names to protect their families.
The explanation drew widespread anger and calls for the governor to resign, while also enforcing long held views that the government embraces corruption.
Early in 2012, Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir ordered the establishment of an anti-corruption commission to “monitor and follow what is being published in the media about corruption and to coordinate with the presidency of the Republic and other competent authorities in the ministry of justice and the national assembly in order to complete information on what is being raised about corruption at the state level”.
But after more than a year of seemingly zero activity, Bashir sacked the commission head and did not appoint a replacement, dealing a major blow to demands by the public for more robust investigations of corruption.
A major economic government-sponsored forum held in Khartoum late last year called for the establishment of an anti-graft commission as one means of resolving the ongoing financial crisis facing the country.
The global Corruption Perceptions Index for 2013 published by TI ranks Sudan at 174 out of 175 among the countries surveyed.