The United Nations Human Rights Commission has revealed a staggering scale of corruption and embezzlement going on in South Sudan – as millions of ordinary poor South Sudanese languish in refugee camps in and out of the country.
The commission’s chairperson Yasmin Sooka, while submitting the report to the UN Human Rights Council said the commission on Wednesday said millions had been stolen from the country’s coffers and hundreds of millions reported by government as “lost”.
“Our Commission has uncovered brazen embezzlement by senior politicians and government officials, together with a number of entities linked to the government. We can reveal the misappropriation of a staggering $36m since 2016,” she said.
“The result is South Sudan’s oil dependent economy is struggling, unable to compensate for the loss in revenue. To give a flavour of what’s going on – a recent report to parliament by South Sudan’s National Revenue Authority indicates that approximately $300 million US dollars have been “lost” in the last three months alone, while the Economic Crisis Management Committee reported that $3.1 million US dollars was “missing” at the Directorate of Nationalities, Passport, and Immigration.”
With this level of graft and waste, it means that South Sudanese officials may have stolen or cannot account for at least $3.3m (Rwf 3.2billion) every single day during the last three months.
The UN report comes days after President Salva Kiir fired the country’s finance minister, the head of the National Revenue Authority, and the director of the state-owned oil company, Nilepet.
According to Sooka, the illegal financial movements are traced to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the National Revenue Authority.
“Some of this money has been laundered through the purchase of properties abroad. Indeed, those properties may well be in your countries,” she added.
The commission has in the past accused South Sudan politicians of stealing state funds.
This report comes as the government grapples a depreciating South Sudanese pound and soaring market prices.
At the same time, South Sudan is unable to pay its dues to the East African Community (EAC) in which it is a member with Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania.