Did public leaders from South Sudan steal $4 billion worth of state resources? President Salva Kiir is alleging corrupt officials took the estimated amount, but is urging them to return the money to restore the nation's reputation and finances.
It has been nearly a year since South Sudan seceded from Sudan. Although it is formally independent, the central African country still faces many disputes, is at war with at least seven armed rebel groups and there are allegations of mass corruption.
Critics of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir say he hasn’t done much to address the growing problems facing the nation, including corruption. It seems the president of the young nation is beginning to take action against fraud.
In a letter obtained by Reuters that was issued to 75 current and former officials, President Kiir stated public officials stole an estimated $4 billion from public resources and is urging the culprits to return the money, fully or partially, to help with the government’s finances to tackle poverty and to restore its global credibility and reputation.
“An estimated $4 billion are unaccounted for or, simply put, stolen by former and current officials, as well as corrupt individuals with close ties to government officials,” wrote Kiir in a May 3 letter. “Most of these funds have been taken out of the country and deposited in foreign accounts. Some have purchased properties, often paid in cash.”
AllAfrica.com is reporting that Kiir also wrote letters to eight governments in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the United States seeking assistance in recovering the stolen funds. It was confirmed by a senior government official that the letter was sent to current, former and deputy ministers within the last 10 days.
The president offered amnesty for those officials and individuals with influence in government responsible for the theft if they returned the money.
Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan's Information Minister, said more than half of the estimated $4 billion in missing funds is from the grain scandal. The World Bank launched a probe into the matter where there were large orders of sorghum but they were never delivered or distributed and some businesses claim were destroyed en route.
Meanwhile, the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) issued a statement, in which it applauded Kiir for his recent actions. “A true fight of corruption must be realized because misappropriation of public funds is an enemy of development and the cause of human suffering,” wrote CEPO.
According to statistics from the United Nations and the CIA’s World Factbook, since its secession last summer, the Republic of South Sudan does not seem to improving its conditions for its population.
- The literacy rate is 27 percent
- There is a “very high” risk of contracting major infectious diseases
- One million people are at risk of facing severe hunger
- 50 percent of the nation is food insecure
- More than half live below the poverty line