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Will the referendum deliver the goodies to South Sudan?

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th July 2010 03:00 AM

SOUTH Sudan took up arms right after independence to fight for the rights of its marginalized people. The liberation struggle came to an end in 1972 after a peace agreement was reached between Joseph Lagu’s Anyanya rebels and the Sudanese army.

SOUTH Sudan took up arms right after independence to fight for the rights of its marginalized people. The liberation struggle came to an end in 1972 after a peace agreement was reached between Joseph Lagu’s Anyanya rebels and the Sudanese army.

By Prof Oliver O. Mox

SOUTH Sudan took up arms right after independence to fight for the rights of its marginalized people. The liberation struggle came to an end in 1972 after a peace agreement was reached between Joseph Lagu’s Anyanya rebels and the Sudanese army.

However, the agreement was breached by the then Nimeri’s regime and in 1983, a reversed version of the Anyanya, the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA), under the leadership of Dr. John Garang rekindled the war, which led to the loss of two million lives and sent more millions into exile. The civil war, however, came to an end in 2005 when a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was reached between the SPLA and the Sudan government.

A five-year interim period was set upon which a general election would be held and the southerners vote in a referendum to either separate as an independent country or remain united with the north. Garang unfortunately died two weeks after his inauguration in a plane crash.

Lt. Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit, the renowned SPLA fighter became the First Vice President of Sudan and President of South Sudan simultaneously. These developments brought hope to the desperate people of the Sudan, more especially the southern Sudanese, many of whom had taken refuge in neighboring countries. Most of them voluntarily returned to develop and enjoy the land of their birth, just days after the peace agreement was signed.

The government of South Sudan took charge of the entire administration of the south—an important achievement, which was warmly welcomed by almost all southerners who are fed up of the oppressive administration in the north.

Soon Salva Kiir appointed ministers, governors, commissioners and state leaders for all the 10 states in South Sudan.

The international community responded generously to help this new government with a very rate of illiteracy (80%), poor health services, no infrastructure, the list is endless. South Sudan started receiving millions of dollars from developed countries and international organizations, and multitudes of NGOs. There was massive improvement in the health sector, construction of roads began enormously and the general provision of social welfare services was in full gear.

The government created institutions and made development-oriented policies and the people dedicatedly engaged themselves in economic activities. To most southerners, it was a dawn of self-determination and self-reliance, a denied right! However, the excessiveness of the dollars in this part of Sudan, mainly in the hub of Juba has diverted the positive thoughts and plans of the patriotic leaders in the south to self-enrichment. Corruption and tribalism have overshadowed the national objectives of the government.

GOSS, which stood for Government of South Sudan was reinterpreted to mean ‘Government of Self-Satisfaction’! Foreigners from all parts of the world ignored security concerns and stormed the risky villages of South Sudan with all sorts of businesses just to have some share of the floating dollars. As a result, living standards in Juba drastically sky-rocketed leading Juba to the group of the most expensive cities in the world and yet it is ‘a village city’! Juba competes with Tokyo in living costs!

The influx of the foreigners in this ‘dollar city’ created more problems in the south. There is increased spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, high-rate of organized crime, congestion and poor sanitation. The ineffectiveness and inefficiency in the implementation of the immigration and custom laws, has made foreigners to be the direct beneficiaries of these donations, as they fix abnormal prices for their goods and services, and they send the abnormal profits to develop their respective home countries—capital flight.

The dollar mesmerism among the leadership in GOSS bred a culture of self-service in the public sector, whereby a minister, director or under-secretary in any ministry takes as much money as he or she desires. Within a short time, the new South Sudan ranked among the top corrupt countries in the world. Very surprising!

The twin-sister to corruption, which is tribalism, soon took its toll and employment within GOSS became a family affair. Recruitments are done secretly at homes and people only come to offices to assume duties. Relationship is more valued than merit in the GOSS hidden terms of employment. The other weird thing is the attempt of the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) top leadership in promoting a Dinka monopoly in the entire administration of GOSS based on a false impression that since the late Garang was a Dinka and so is Salva Kiir, then GOSS is a Dinka dominion. This has, as a result, made most intellectuals from the sidelined tribes to doubt the future of South Sudan, if it still remains under the stewardship of Salva Kiir, the chairman of the SPLM, the political wing of the SPLA.

The GOSS new recruitment criteria which gives first priorities to relatives and acquaintances, obviously leads to the employment of unqualified and inexperienced people. Poor policy and programme designs, misallocation of resources and unproductivity became the output of the public sector. It is not surprising to find a doctor who is supposed to treat the sick in the hospitals working with Customs or Revenue. The ministries are occupied mostly by semi-educated people, mainly from the Dinka fraternity. They live a first class life; drive expensive cars, reside in luxury hotels and every evening gather at their pubs where they drink until the wee hours of the morning.

Meanwhile, poor people sleep on empty stomachs and die die from curable diseases in the rural areas. Teachers and nurses strike almost every three months due to delays in the payment of salaries and many have left their professions and resorted to business so as to catch up with the increasing cost of living. The angered poor got fed up and vowed to deal with these corrupt and hypocritical leaders with the peaceful weapon of the ballot during the general elections in 2010.

However, electoral malpractice was massively exercised and most of the untouchable fraudulently retained their positions. The disappointed poor and their cheated candidates got silenced by the security forces and these senior members of GOSS came back to their usual business. The Governorship seat was the one mostly hit by these electoral frauds, as out of the 10 seats of the 10 states of South Sudan, SPLM fraudulently secured eight. Both international and local observers confirmed harassment and intimidations in most of the polling stations. Two of the cheated candidates Ladu Gore and George Arthur, of Central Equatoria and Jonglei states challenged the results and this caused public riots until the latter went to the bush—a threat to peace in South Sudan! Soon, there will be a referendum to determine separation or unity of the south with the north.

If the north decides to deny South Sudan their most cherished dream—self-determination or independence, through electoral foul play, then the southern cause will only remain an illusion. The very people who welcomed GOSS cheerfully and campaigned for separation are today re-considering their decisions. It’s most likely that they will vote for unity because of the gross errors they witnessed within GOSS.
The writer is a political analyst

Will the referendum deliver the goodies to South Sudan?

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