By Isaiah Abraham
July 12, 2012 — The Republic of South Sudan celebrated its first Anniversary this week with pops, performances and joy across the faces of the people of this republic; a clear manifestation of defiance against all odds that bedevil this nation, right from day one when a semi autonomous government was established in 2005. The people of South Sudan therefore have spoken loudly that their decision to go separate remains no small thing. To them, no amount of challenge could go between them and their new found friend called freedom. Granted, despites crisis everywhere in the country, the achievement of independence by the people of South Sudan wasn’t a mean one.
During the celebration on Monday 9 July 2012, our people celebrated the 1stAnniversary of the Independence of the Republic of South Sudan as if it was their last and final celebration ever. People truly enjoyed the feisty, and were encouraged for the country that would called after their names. They are also satisfied moreover with the performance of their men in uniform- the SPLA. Political freedom to them was everything. Everywhere you go, the level of excitement was immediate, spontaneous and defining. People started to forget their current governance bad status and move to dance away fears, as if nothing serious is happening in the government. Though neighbors shunned our occasion and only sent juniors, we had a moment in our history to celebrate, and we cherish leaders that brought us thus far.
Millions of congratulations to my people whereever they may be! It is our freedom and not everyone else. People of South Sudan should keep up that spirit and move forward. It is high time they put aside petty political difference and unite for the sake of generation. Dr. Lam should come from Khartoum and fight for his space around. he is sharp and sagacious. It isn’t any longer about the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement or an individual or certain tribe anymore but about the entire 29 or so tribes living in this beautiful land called Azania/South Sudan. The gift of independence, my people, was made from heaven. The people of this country have every reason to celebrate this occasion in that manner, given the long bitter struggle that snuffed millions of lives.
The future for the people of this republic is bright, only if we continue to work together side by side, during tough/hard times or easy ones. President Salva Kiir philosophically called our tough time ‘darkness’; to him the ‘night’ will go and the ‘day’ will surely come! He couldn’t be more right. What a phrase! That was the situation exactly in the nineties when our leaders waded through challenging moments of the struggle.
The people of South Sudan should cease this opportunity by working together, the same way they have celebrated the Day. The destiny is here, only if the people make use of each other talents for the development of our resources. South Sudan has the resource, capital and human and its about time to harness such resources. The current leadership must wake up and stop wasting the people of this republic.
May be it is time to import Kenyan debate about the need to enlist only graduates in parliament. The condition is important and not discriminatory. We must use education to develop this land. The semi-literate and illiterates are part of our society. We can’t all be graduates. But leaders such as members of parliament need knowledge.
Parliament is where laws are made and interpreted; there is an urged need to have graduates in there. The thing should be extended to presidency. The head of state must be a graduate, not just ‘educated’. I see our Transitional Constitution connived to overlook this matter. Of course degree isn’t an end or a ticket for politicians or leadership, some leaders made it without colleges and example are ample. The same is true with people with so many papers only to find their populace mendicants running after the white men for help.
Let’s quickly turn now to issues we all know, the matters the president of our republic struggled to give answers. He never gave a single answer but fumbled and left a huge disappointment. First there is this matter called austerity, a situation brought about by lack of cash. The president suggested he might work with other bodies to downsize his government so to save more money. He reserved because the matter will take few steps before he jumped to ‘decrees’.
The proposal was received with mixed reaction, and I for one stand with the president but. The government is huge and must be clipped! The money that goes to our mouths is enough to provide services this country need. 10 to 15 ministries at the national level and then five at the state are enough. Parliament should have only elected members and appointees to go home. Time for accommodation has long gone. The real work has begun if the moment in our history is anything importance for generation after us. But the downsizing shouldn’t be during the austerity, it has to go beyond even when we have oil flowing.
Secondly, the way out from the current economic strangulation, the government of South Sudan should resume oil production through the republic of the Sudan. An American Envoy has echoed the same lines the other day. This will ease economic burden and make this country called South Sudan start constructing a new pipe line to Djibouti or Kenya. The situation looks bleak and leaders must swallow their pride and look for what works. The people of this land can’t afford to wait for more than a year in this situation when the same government had squandered resources meant to build this land.
Third, the government must regulate the market, and this is critical unless scrupulous traders exploit the pathetic economic condition of this country and abuse it for their selfish gains. The idea of leaving the market to its forces of demand and supply must be replaced with robust plans and policies that could help the people endure economic hardship. Prices in particular are to be trimmed since operations costs are well known to all East Africans. This is a job for parliamentarians and not the Ministry concerned alone. Law makers should not just wait until it becomes too late, they ought to go out and look one out there.
Also the government needs to monitor activities of private services and see how this could enhance national priorities. We are talking here about money; there is money out there, only if the government could tax highly. Foreigners have fleeced this land of resources without the authority’s knowledge. Banks and exchange centres aren’t monitored. The Bank Governor is sleeping on his job. I hear requesting the Board to increase his allowances and that of his deputies to something unimaginable, even during this period of economic hardship.
Corruption has become middle name for Mr. Kiir and if he wants to save his face and not to waste time writing letters, and issued threats, he must take moral responsibility and dissolve his government, reconstitute his government and give himself term limit (2015). He tried and tried and that is the farthest he could go. He has done great things to guide his people to the Promised Land, the job of what to do next must be given to somebody else. There is life after presidency retirement. Parliament can lure this man out of the seat; he must not think him doing much than what he has achieved.
At the moment he must not fear anyone, but God. Those implicated in the graft are to give ways to others, and suggest this time that a soldier be appointed as head in the Anti-Corruption Unit. Dr. Lual Deng on the other hand should go to the Central Bank. Such times like these we must look inward and see who does the job well for all. Mr. Cornelio Koryom besides his age, he has old age economic basics, the very things that are unfashionable and outdated.
South Sudan wants a good custodian to take care of the money and a stone pusher (anti corruption tsar) so for development to take off. Corruption will not go away under President Kiir, but it will be reduced if he employed the people who are fearless and creative. However we still have difficulty in that our current president shouted the loudest and never take any action. He made so many promises and never honours a single one. SPLM as a party must not sleep on the laurels; things are changing fast against them. Either Kiir is the problem or the party as a whole has no space to check and balance things.
But Imperial presidency again is where the problem of this country lies. Mr. Kiir has too many powers; he splashes powers left and right like a king. He feels like one anyway. People kiss the ground for him and no one questions him when he’s on the wrong. I fear this country, that is how dictators are groom. Signs are on the wall that this man is growing with that mentality as his decrees rule the land. Constitutional drafters hence are advice to help this country if the moment we have created for ourselves will have meaningful, for us and generations beyond this age. Our founding father (Garang) would be restive if we throw away principles of justice, equality and prosperity for the people of South Sudan. Long live the people of South Sudan.
Isaiah Abraham lives in Juba; he is on Isaiah_abraham@yahoo.co.uk