October 27, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s deputy speaker Yasmin Samuel has challenged the country to take conscious steps to preserve peace and unity within the leadership of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
- An election rally in Juba, South Sudan (Getty)
She stressed that it was important to “bury the past” tensions created by the 2010 elections so that the leadership could move together and work in harmony to deliver basic services to the people.
“I know there are still differences from the 2010 elections, but I call on our people, especially our leaderships to bury the past so that we can begin to work together in delivering services to our people", said Yasmin.
"We cannot do anything if we are not united. We cannot move even an inch if we do not listen to one another. We cannot achieve anything if the spirit of togetherness and tolerance is not embraced”, she added.
Yasmin was speaking at an occasion organised by the Moru community to celebrate her appointment as deputy speaker in the national legislative Assembly in September, replacing Fatuma Nyawang.
Her speech, in front of senior government officials, addressed various areas which she said the country needed to focus on in order to bring about lasting peace and tackle poverty, corruption, tribalism, regionalism and youth unemployment.
DON’T TAKE PEACE FOR GRANTED
Yasmin said that her own state of Western Equatoria "has been blessed with peace which is not the case with many of our neighbouring states”.
“We may be truly at peace with our neighbours, yet [its] because of impoverishment that we witness in most rural areas, fail to experience fulfillment and enjoyment which are the ingredients of the true meaning of peace", said the deputy speaker.
“We need to go extra miles so that we combat poverty which degrades human dignity and the proportional distribution of the national wealth will engender peace. However, we need to continuously thank God for the prevailing peace in the state and look into the future with hope", she added.
The lawmaker asked the South Sudanese leadership to reflect on the past and critically assess the work of the selfless freedom fighters and of many people, including the youth that contributed to its independence from Sudan in July 2011.
SELFLESS AND SACRIFICIAL SERVICES
Yasmin reminded South Sudanese about the selfless nature of the men and women who fought during the civil war, whom she said, were drawn from different ethnic, regions, races, religions and professional affiliations, but fought for a common cause.
“These women and men who sacrificed their freedom to liberate this nation came from all over the country,” said stressed.
“They were driven by one desire of attaining independence by conquering courage and rejected another colonialism and servitude. They led the way for selfless and sacrificial service. They have done the greatest part. What about us? Do we really ask ourselves what will we do to this country instead of being obsessed with what will this government and the country do for us? These questions are very important for reflections”, she said.
Yasmin pointed out that over two years since independence, many people across the country are disappointed at the rate of development in the world’s youngest nation.
“We are far from attaining socio-economic independence from under development, poverty, corruption, disease, unemployment, regionalism with its twin brothers of tribalism and nepotism", she said.
POVERTY A THREAT TO PEACE
“Poverty also allows for manipulation of the have-nots by those who are relatively wealthy,” she said, adding, “This calls for an aggressive and sustainable approach towards agriculture which is the main occupation of the majority of our people in rural areas.”
The legislator, looking firm and assertive throughout her speech, pointed out the role of agriculture, especially small-scale farmers play in food security and national peace.
“Besides improving their economy at household level, small scale farmers also contribute to the national food security thereby contributing greatly to the peace of the nation", she told the gathering.
"Small scale farmers need to be supported if we are to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty".
CHALLENGES TO DEVELOPMENT
Meanwhile, the country’s deputy speaker said corruption should be “nipped in the bud” whenever and wherever it shows its “ugly head” and that those in public offices should provide the necessary leadership in the crusade.
“The country needs healthy and energetic young men and women to tow the path of national development. Therefore concerted efforts in the promotion of maternal health should be encouraged in addressing HIV and AIDS in order to have an HIV and AIDS free generation", Yasmin emphasised.
The lawmaker further challenged the government to provide a “conducive atmosphere for small scale businesses to flourish with the provision of right incentives such as easy access to a revolving fund with low interest rates and less red tape.”
FAVOURITISM A DANGER TO NATIONAL PEACE
Yasmin, in her speech, extensively criticised nepotism and favouritism practices, saying allocation of jobs to people who lack the required qualifications was against the spirit of impartiality and the promotion of meritorious appointments.
“It brings up despondency and can undermine the peace of the country", she said.
If left unchecked, she added, regionalism, with its twin brothers of tribalism and nepotism, can plunge the nation into chaos.
"The national anthem stresses the oneness of the people of South Sudan, a land of hard working people and joy in unity, one land and one nation being our cry (prayer), dignity and peace beneath this country", observed the lawmaker.
“Unfortunately, in the recent past, both public and private media have been overwhelmed with the issue of tribalism pitting politicians in high offices. Politicians who are in the habit of playing a tribal trump card to push personal agendas should be shunned and probably named and shamed", Yasmin stressed.