The government of Central Equatoria State (CES) has announced the mysterious disappearance of thousands of ‘Ghost Names’ from government pay-sheets just days after it launched a state-wide cleansing operation aimed at ridding it of corruption.
According to an official from the state Ministry of Finance, the compiled list of suspected ‘Ghost Names’ was locked in a safe ready to be handed over to the Anti-Corruption Commission for further action. Upon final inspection, the officials were stunned to find thousands of blank rows and redacted names.
A notebook computer that contained a digital copy of the list also has mysteriously refused to boot up and now has been pronounced dead by a weekend IT consultant hired by the Ministry of Finance.
The official explanation so far is that the ‘Ghosts’ might have “fled and taken refuge” in GOSS’s payrolls where it is almost impossible to root them out. The national government has already been notified and a Taskforce is said to be formed (that will include traditional healers and religious leaders) to follow up and get to the bottom of this re-occurring mystery.
This phenomenon of ‘Ghost Names’ is not new to South Sudan. It is when corrupt government officials inject non-existent employee names into the payroll with the intention of cashing their salaries at the end of every month.
It is believed that the national army – SPLA – once had one of more full battalions that were comprised solely of ‘Ghosts’. According to records, one such battalion took part in the war that saw South Sudan invade Sudan and capture Heglig – a border town in the Southern oil producing region of that country.
Many of the ghosts are reported to have perished in that war and it is believed that their ‘relatives’ are now reaping the fruits of their sacrifices and will continue to cash in their pensions for many years to come.
This is not the first time an attempt was made to cleanse payrolls. All previous attempts have failed to cleanse any of the payrolls, and all indicators suggest GOSS has given up on its ‘Ghostbusters’ mission.