South Sudan held an irregular meeting of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, March 18, where recently appointed vice president Riek Machar spoke forcefully on the need for the government to aggressively tackle corruption as a first step toward building public trust. The NGO Transparency International has repeatedly ranked South Sudan as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, citing weak democratic institutions and norms as a primary contributor to South Sudan’s graft predicament.
The East African quoted Kuol Nyuon, assistant professor at the University of Juba’s Department of Political Science, calling on the newly formed reconciliation government to redouble its anti-corruption efforts. Nyuon said decisive action needed to be taken for South Sudan to begin attracting foreign investors to assist in reconstruction efforts following the civil war.
Why It Matters
South Sudan bas been of the largest foreign aid recipients in Africa. Billions, however have been siphoned off by corrupt leadership and cronies. Machar will face a heavy challenge to implement an anti-corruption initiative, as a not insignificant number of South Sudanese officials directly profited from the civil war, according to “Consequences for Kleptocrats,” a report by the Sentry, an investigative and advocacy group. Nevertheless, corruption will need to be addressed, as it frequently undermines reconstruction efforts for developing nations. Funds needed to rebuild infrastructure, bolster bureaucratic institutions, and ensure a reliable supply of basic goods and services for citizens become lost, diverted, or embezzled due to corruption. The absence of a functioning state apparatus due to insufficient funds in turn creates conditions for lawlessness, black markets, and informal economies, which could devolve into riots and mass protests, and reignite tensions left over from a civil war.