South Sudanese government officials have and are still bribing former and current Gambella regional government officials to get their messages implemented or get special treatment from the regional government, a high-ranking South Sudan’s government official who agreed to speak to the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation says.
In an exclusive interview on Friday, the official claims that his motive to disclose this rather sensitive information is driven by the fact that the bribery campaign and illegal arms trade in Gambella, which the source states have been going on since 2016 but escalated to full speed in 2017, is killing people. According to the official, South Sudanese officials usually bribe Gambella regional officials with money, guns, or accommodation.
“Gambella is basically a battleground. It is killing people. South Sudanese government operatives have been and are still bribing Gambella officials,” the visibly furious high-level government source told the SSNA in Juba today, adding, “a lot of these operatives are South Sudan’s government agents but most of them are associated with First Vice President Taban Deng Gai.”
The source describes the situation as “self-fish,” saying Ethiopian federal government should investigate and punish the people who involve in “this deadly scheme.”
“We have Gambella regional state officials who are technically on the payroll of some South Sudanese officials. This self-fish scheme is done through low-level South Sudanese representatives or officials who constantly live in or around Gambella. Some of these South Sudanese go-between-men who wage this operation live in a government-controlled area in Pagak. This has been going for many years. The Ethiopian federal government needs to stop this deadly scheme,” the source explains.
It what seems to be a direct reference to officials who are or have been bribed, the official asserts that almost every government agency in Gambella has been infiltrated but says only a few regional government departments are heavily bribed by South Sudanese government representatives.
“Let me tell you something so you can have an idea about exactly what has been going on Gambella,” the source cautions.
“In Gambella, Heads or senior officials of Regional Security Agency, Water Bureau, and Regional Police or Police commission are the top agencies that many high-ranking officials or heads of those agencies have been bribed.
When the source is pressed to reveal the names of the people who have been bribed. The source simply responded by saying, “some of the officials are still there” and that two Gambella officials who work for the deferral government in Addis Ababa are used are front to influence corrupt officials in Gambella.
“You know as I said before, some officials in these offices are no longer there but most of them are still there. I can even disclose to you that at least one official still heads one of these three agencies, but I am not going to tell you his name,” the official recalls.
The officials also accuse some Gambella officials of involving in illegal arms trade with South Sudan army based in Pagak.
“Representatives of South Sudan officials usually sell a lot of AK-47s to Ethiopian traders through corrupt Gambella regional officials and that these weapons are then shipped to Ethiopian mainland to sell for higher profits.
The SSNA cannot verify the authenticity of the claims.
However, Ethiopian government has incepted many shipments of iligal arms both in 2018 and 2019. Ethiopian Police said many of these shipments came through Gambella to diffent regions in Ethiopia.
This is not the first time a South Sudanese official accused Gambella regional official of illicit dealings with South Sudanese officials.
In September 2017, several documents from Gambella regional government were leaked to the media. One document stated that a network of South Sudan government who operated in a provided house was corrupting officials in Gambella. One of the documents states that some bribed Gambella officials rented a small build close to former Gambella assembly building adjacent to the regional main highway connecting Gambella and Ethiopian mainland.
The South Sudan News Agency was also told by the same source that some of the corrupt officials in Gambella can easily be found hanging out in bars or hotels with South Sudanese representatives. However, the source also states that some of these corrupt officials and South Sudan representatives sometimes hide in bars or hotels that are hard to identify.
Source South Sudan News Agency