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By Moses Alee Nyanda - 13 Feb 2024

Opinion: Corruption and fraudulent acquisitions of South Sudanese nationality

South Sudan, as a sovereign state, has established legal provisions for determining nationality or citizenship, as outlined in the Transitional Constitution of 2011, specifically under Article 45, and the South Sudan Nationality Act of 2011. Despite these laws, there have been numerous violations, some of which may amount to felonies or misdemeanours.

While these legal violations should be met with sanctions as a general and specific deterrent, often, many go unpunished. This raises concerns about why such impunity persists. Is it due to corruption, or are we lacking professionalism in executing our responsibilities?

I believe the issues of corruption and unprofessionalism can be affirmed. The prevailing economic crisis has heightened corruption, and the government must swiftly address this challenge. Officials need proper training, and a sense of nationalism should be instilled in them to prioritize the country’s interests above all else.

It is disconcerting to observe instances where individuals fraudulently obtain South Sudanese nationality, directly violating national laws. Such actions not only impact the current situation but also have implications for the future, affecting the status of the children of these individuals. The confusion arises as to whether those responsible for managing the Directorate of Nationality are corrupt or incompetent, leading to the issuance of nationality cards to aliens without due process. Addressing these issues requires a thorough examination of the processes involved in delivering nationality services and implementing corrective measures.

Respecting our laws is essential, as if we don’t uphold them, who will? The effectiveness of a country depends on the effectiveness of its laws, with disobedience met with appropriate sanctions. Nationality officials play a crucial role, requiring professionalism and diligence in serving the nation and its people while preserving common interests.

While South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution of 2011 and the Nationality Act provide for nationality by naturalization for aliens, this does not give aliens a free pass to acquire South Sudanese nationality without meeting specified requirements.

According to Section 10(1) of the Nationality Act, the President may grant South Sudanese nationality to an alien who meets certain conditions, including being of sound mind, having been a resident in South Sudan for ten continuous years, intending to reside permanently, and having a clean criminal record. Moreover, Section 12 of the Nationality Act mandates aliens to take an oath of allegiance before becoming a South Sudanese national by naturalization.

In essence, the law establishes clear requirements and procedures for acquiring South Sudanese nationality, emphasizing the need for adherence to these guidelines. This ensures that the process is transparent, fair, and in the best interest of the nation.

Often, we witness the neglect or fraudulent misrepresentation of eligibility and requirements by nationality officials or aliens aspiring to become South Sudanese citizens. This results in these individuals acquiring citizenship and competing on an equal footing with genuine South Sudanese in various aspects of life.

The persisting question revolves around why it is challenging to identify individuals seriously undermining the country’s laws. Is it prudent to reward those who fraudulently acquire citizenship with job opportunities while genuine citizens face deprivation? Should we be rewarding individuals who commit crimes against the country by fraudulently obtaining citizenship when their identification can be straightforward?

A responsible citizen always respects and adheres to the law. Fraudulently acquiring South Sudanese nationality by aliens suggests hidden motives, and the act of making false representations or providing false statements on nationality forms indicates a lack of honesty, contrary to Section 10(1)(e), which requires individuals not to have been convicted of offenses related to honesty and moral turpitude or any other serious offenses.

This situation places our country in a precarious position. Unemployment among the youth is rampant, and crime rates are on the rise. It is evident that aliens who fraudulently acquired South Sudanese nationality hold national positions in public and private organizations that should rightfully be occupied by genuine South Sudanese. If these aliens aspire to compete fairly for job opportunities, they should follow the correct processes, respect the country's laws, and honour South Sudan’s sovereignty. South Sudanese are always open-hearted and welcoming to those who genuinely wish to contribute to the well-being of the country.

Many aliens from neighbouring countries falsely claim South Sudanese birthright based on the existence of their tribe in South Sudan. This directly deprives genuine South Sudanese of opportunities such as employment, scholarships, and small-scale business ownership, contributing to an increase in crime rates. Some aliens come with criminal intentions, bribing individuals of South Sudanese origin to assist them in fraudulently obtaining nationality cards.

While we acknowledge the existence of tribes across borders, this does not grant them the right to undermine South Sudan’s laws by claiming citizenship at will. We recognize that these tribes exist across borders but insist they must follow due processes if they wish to become South Sudanese citizens.

Under Section 24(1) of the South Sudan Nationality Act 2011, committing a criminal offense involves knowingly making false representations or statements in an application for nationality certificates. This, I believe, occurs frequently, and those responsible should be held accountable for undermining the country’s laws.

Additionally, Section 15(2)(a) of the same Act allows the President, upon the Minister’s recommendation, to revoke the nationality of a naturalized citizen proven to have obtained it through fraud or misrepresentation.

Section 24(4) outlines penalties for failing to surrender nationality certificates after revocation, including a fine not exceeding 1,000 SSP or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.

In conclusion, any alien obtaining South Sudanese nationality through false representation commits a punishable offense under Section 24(4) of the Nationality Act 2011. As a sovereign nation, South Sudan has laws governing nationality that should be respected. Taking the oath of allegiance is a crucial part of the process for aliens becoming South Sudanese citizens. Failure to follow the due process necessitates card revocation.

Responsibility falls on South Sudanese citizens to protect the country’s norms. A country with weak law enforcement is vulnerable to law violators, and respecting and safeguarding our laws is crucial for a strong and respected nation.

It’s essential not to confuse Article 45, clause 6, allowing non-South Sudanese to acquire nationality through naturalization with clause 1, asserting the inalienable right of those born to South Sudanese parents to enjoy citizenship. Tribes existing on both sides of borders, such as Madi, Acholi, Kakwa, and Nuer, should not assume automatic South Sudanese nationality; instead, they can acquire it through naturalization or marriage.

Government dissemination of information about the country’s laws is vital. If citizens are informed, they can fulfill their duties in protecting and defending the nation’s sovereignty.

The writer, Moses Alee Nyanda, can be contacted at 0980237900 or

The views expressed in ‘opinion’ articles published by Radio Tamazuj are solely those of the writer. The veracity of any claims made is the responsibility of the author, not Radio Tamazuj.