July 9, 2012 (PANYAGOOR) - The widow of South Sudan’s late leader, John Garang De Mabior, said on the anniversary of the country’s first year of independence that the young nation was still in a state of confusion after the death of her husband in 2005.
- Rebecca Nyandeng and Twic East County Commisioner, Dau Akoi, arriving at the celebration site at Panyagoor, 9 July 2012 (ST)
Rebecca Nyandeng admitted that she prefers living in Juba to her home town of Wangulei, as this way she is not faced with the complaints of people raised against South Sudan’s government.
She said she was deliberately living in Juba to give herself "peace of mind" by being isolated.
“When the driver of the ship dies, the passengers are always left in the state of confusion”, she said.
"I hardly talk about it because when I do, people may think that I feel jealous about them being in power after the death of my husband", she added.
John Garang led southern rebels - the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement / Army - for over two decades of war with various Khartoum governments until a power and wealth sharing peace deal in 2005.
Allowing South Sudan the right to secede through a referendum was a key part of the deal, ending a war that had cost two million lives.
Garang, died in a helicopter crash while returning from Uganda just 21 days after becoming the First Vice President of Sudan and the President of South Sudan, which became an autonomous self-governing region as part of the deal.
Salva Kiir, Garang’s deputy replaced him in his official government positions. He also became the chairman of the SPLM and the head of the SPLA.
In January last year South Sudan voted almost unanimously to secede and on 9 July 2011, Kiir became the nation’s first head of state.
However, self-governance has brought many problems to the young nation with some accusing the SPLM and SPLA of betraying the values of freedom, democracy and human rights that were the stated aims of the two-decade civil war.
Human rights reports regularly criticise South Sudan’s security services and attacks against the press - including two instances against Sudan Tribune journalists in the last year - have been documented by press freedom groups.
On the eve of South Sudan’s first anniversary of independence a leading civil society activist, Deng Athuai, was found beaten into a "coma" and left by the side of the road. It is not known who was responsible.
Athuai had been leading a campaign against corruption in the world’s youngest nation.
Around $4 billion has been stolen since 2005, according to a letter written by President Kiir to 75 suspected officials. In the letter he asked that they return the money in exchange for anonymity and an amnesty from prosecution.
No official has been taken to court for corruption since the SPLM came to power in 2005. In June the Anti-Corruption Commission announced the recovery of $60 million stolen by different officials.
In his letter to the concerned officials, Kiir said: "The people of South Sudan and the international community are alarmed by the level of corruption in South Sudan."
He emphasised that "corruption has no place in my government". He also denounced their selfishness while the South Sudanese are suffering from poverty and lack of basic services and infrastructure.
"The credibility of our government is on the line," the letter of 3 May stresses.
"We fought for freedom, justice and equality. Many of our friends died to achieve these objectives. Yet, once we got to power, we forgot what we fought for and began to enrich ourselves at the expense of our people," the letter read.
BRINGING THE TOWN TO THE PEOPLE
While addressing the gathering, Rebecca Nyandeng said she has chosen to bring her family to Twic East, in accordance with Garang’s mantra of “taking [the] town to [the] people”.
This philosophy of bringing services to rural areas rather than just in urban areas had not been fulfilled, she said, due to the many problems facing South Sudan.
- Rebecca Nyandeng, addressing the gathering at Panyagoor, 9 July 2012 (ST)
However, she pledged to fulfill this in her own county of Twic East.
“I will stand in his image, I will bring town to you and stay with you here”, said Nyandeng.
Nyandeng built a modern clinic and a primary school at Wanglei two months ago and has promised to extend the clinic by building extra rooms.
She urged the community to be committed in farming to produce more food to sustain the growing the population of South Sudan and feed the hungry mouths.
Despite her criticism of the government Nyandeng, ended her speech by asking the citizens of Twic East to support the "SPLM without turning backs to it".
Rebecca Nyandeng Speaks on the 1st South Sudan Independent