SOUTH Sudan’s political and military elite have pillaged extensively, even as their country has been impoverished by a civil war caused largely by their fight over the spoils, according to a report published Monday.
The report entitled “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay” (pdf) is by investigative unit The Sentry co-funded by the American actor George Clooney and activist John Prendergast. It spent two years following the money trail.
The report accuses President Salva Kiir, opposition leader and rival Riek Machar, and top military generals and their families of profiteering, and reveals the connection between South Sudan’s elite and the money paid for luxury homes, a large number of mining, oil and financial businesses.
However, to better understand the latest report, Rogue Chiefs believe one needs to first read The Sentry’s 2015 report on South Sudan, entitled “The Nexus of Corruption and Conflict in South Sudan” (pdf) first.
We outline some of the more outrageous insights from 2015 in a second part here, the first having being “Ghost’ Nation With 745 Generals And A President Without A Bank Account: 10 Unbelievable Things About South Sudan”, and also will list the 2016 report gems, with little editorialising:
•Food prices in particular have skyrocketed. Cereal prices in rural areas have increased 300% or more, and one recent estimate indicated that as much as 85% of the average household’s budget may now be going towards food.
•As of July 2015, South Sudan’s economic position was already dire. The country’s illicit actors have also diversified their operations into the few remaining profitable areas. Currency speculation is one of the most lucrative illicit schemes available to well-connected individuals. Those who are able to take advantage of this opportunity for arbitrage can gain tremendously – up to a 400% profit.
•The US State Department reported that while $1.3 million in U.S .currency is supposed to be disbursed weekly from the Central Bank of South Sudan to commercial banks, only about $450,000 is being delivered, with the rest diverted into the parallel market.
•A 2014 report by the International Monetary Fund indicates that there were 79 licensed foreign exchange houses in South Sudan in mid-2013, 139 an unusually high number given the small size of the South Sudanese financial sector. For comparison, Kenya has 86 licensed foreign exchange bureaus, despite an economy almost five times as large.
•The ongoing conflict in South Sudan is in large part a means to an end – to renegotiate the country’s political power balance and the economic profits that it ensures.
-The highlights from “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay” will follow soon.