Wau — The Parliament of South Sudan's Warrap State on Friday commended the reported recovery of $60 million dollars, allegedly taken wrongly by some top government officials and pledged to work with the country's president Salva Kiir Mayardit in the fight against corruption.
In a letter to officials last months Kiir said that $4 billion had been stolen since his party the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) came to power in 2005 as part of a peace deal with Khartoum.
For six years the the SPLM and Sudan's ruling party shared power and the country's oil wealth. The figure $4 million dollars represents around a third of South Sudan's total oil revenues, Reuters have estimated.
Before the existence of Kiir's letter came to light the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission announced that anonymously officials had returned $60 million into an account in Kenya specifically set up for that purpose. In his letter to senior officials Kiir said that there would be an amnesty for officials who chose to return stolen money.
South Sudan's anti-graft body has come in for criticism for not prosecuting any official for corruption since the commission was established in 2006. The deputy chair of the commission, Johnny Saverio Ayiik, said in May that they have submitted a report to South Sudan's Ministry of Justice for trial outlining five officials they believe should be prosecuted.
Madot Dut Deng, Speaker of the Warrap State Legislative Assembly said "all the accused in the report must be prosecuted", Madot Dut Deng, Speaker of the state Legislative Assembly had said
Speaking to Sudan Tribune on Friday, Deng said he applauded the commission's work and said that the misappropriation of public finances should not be tolerated.
"As parliament, we call on those in custody of sovereign national wealth to adhere to the standards of accountability and transparency at all times. Corruption is an enemy of progress and development."
South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world with very low development indicators.
"Corruption allows inefficiency to persist and distorts the potential for growth", explained Speaker Deng.
Corruption, according to the senior official, discourages foreign investment and corrodes the budgets allocated to public procurement that enable basic infrastructure in poverty stricken areas to be built; such as roads, schools and hospitals. Such a system only perpetuates underdevelopment, he said.
South Sudan's president Salva Kiir has long said that his government has a "zero tolerance" policy against corruption. However, he has been criticised for not granting the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) the power to prosecute suspects.
South Sudan's infamous grain scandal accounts for most of the funds lost, with over a billion dollars spent on grain and store house that was never delivered or built.
The grain was supposed to be a buffer to help prevent hunger and food shortages and the consequences are already being felt with over half South Sudan's 8.2 million population expected to be be food insecure this year.
However, Deng said Salva Kiir and the current leadership has engendered a transparent and accountable government but he admitted that the findings of the anti corruption commission shows that much more work needs to be done to make the country corruption free.
"What is therefore important is for our public trustees to work with the president to combat the menace of corruption in the country. Taking the president as a role model will go a long way in meeting our development targets", he said.