July 16, 2014 (JUBA) – The governor of South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state (CES), Clement Wani Konga, said on Wednesday that the influx of cattle keeping communities is threatening security and interrupting farming activities.
Following the eruption of violence in the capital, Juba, in mid-December last year, fighting quickly spread to Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states, with hundreds of thousands of citizens who were displaced from their homes taking refuge in the peaceful Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria states.
However, Konga has accused many of the internally displaced persons of being hostile to local host communities.
Speaking at the opening of the state assembly on Wednesday, he said armed cattle owners from neighbouring states had disrupted normal farming activities and were responsible for causing environment damage.
“There is ongoing arming of the cattle keepers whereby it further aggravates the insecurity situation in the state,” said Konga, without naming the arms suppliers.
The majority of Central Equatoria residents are engaged in farming activities, while the Mundari community, from which Konga hails, are mainly cattle keepers. Other communities like Bari, Kakua and Kuku, however, keep relatively few animals.
Governor Konga also spoke about ongoing development projects in the state, which he said have been implemented in spite of the current crisis.
Five primary (Lokiliri, Legeri, Gwerekek, Jabur and Bilnyang) and six secondary (Lirya, Rokon, Kinji, Gudele, Kabi and Rajaf) schools are currently under construction.
Konga said there had also been a number of improvements in health care across the state, including the completion of the Panyume primary health care facility, a maternity ward in Morobo hospital and an operating theatre in Yei hospital, as well as the rollout of a successful immunisation program.
In addition, Konga said 46 health workers have been recruited and 108 medical students graduated from medical schools.
According to Konga, $2.5 million has been invested in road infrastructure and the purchase of equipment to assist in the construction of feeder roads.
During his address, Konga also asked members of the assembly to pass the 2014-15 state budget which is yet to be tabled before lawmakers.
“The task ahead of you demands concentration, consultation and cooperation in our deliberation,” he said, citing what he calls “various bills” without elaborating further on their content.
SUPPORT FOR FEDERALISM
Konga also reiterated his determination to push for a federal system of government in South Sudan without “shying away” from debate on the matter.
“Federalism was and is the quest of the people of South Sudan since 1947,” he said. “For Central Equatoria state the federal system of governance is the best to transform the state.”
He said power sharing arrangements between regions, states and ethnic groups would help render better and more effective services for South Sudanese people.
“In this regard, we need to be vigilant, firm, focused and not shy away … on the values and benefits of this system of governance that ensures equitable distribution of national resources,” he said.
South Sudan’s rebel faction led by former vice-president Riek Machar is demanding federalism be introduced, saying it as preferable system of governance compared to the current decentralised one.
However, president Salva Kiir insists that any decisions on South Sudan’s political future should be put on hold until peace and stability has been restored in the country.
The governors of the so-called greater Equatoria region have publicly declared their support for federalism, arguing that Equatorians had already demanded a federal system prior to the current conflict.