“Weapons of Mass Corruption” is the fifth in a series of in-depth, field research-driven reports on the dynamics of profit and power fueling war in the Horn, East and Central Africa. Violent kleptocracies dominate the political landscape of this region, leading to protracted conflicts marked by the commission of mass atrocities by state and non-state actors. Enough's Political Economy of African Wars series will focus on the key players in these conflicts, their motivations, how they benefit from the evolving war economies, and what policies might be most effective in changing the calculations of those orchestrating the violence–including both incentives and pressures for peace.
Competitive corruption surrounding control of resources, particularly among military actors, has been a defining feature of South Sudan’s system of violent kleptocracy for many years. When the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) emerged as the leading political and military group in pre-independent and then independent South Sudan, battlefield alliances and loyalties contributed to the formation of powerful and problematic patron-client networks. Battlefield alliances also heavily influenced decisions about who received posts in the new state’s power structure and who was appointed to positions of control over state financial resources, which many used for feeding the patron-client networks. Those who received these positions also sought to settle old scores with old rivals, and there was also competition and jockeying for power among those loyal to the SPLM/A. Part of the prize for this competition was control over a share of the state’s financial resources and a role in the state military. Over time, South Sudan’s army structure became bloated and top-heavy, with fierce internal competition over appointments to positions of authority in budgets and spending.
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