Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 22 October 2009

Is there a government in Southern Sudan?

By Ding Yian Gai

October 21, 2009 — The untimely death of Dr. John Garang has cast a huge black cloud over the future of Southern Sudan. I am aware that my statement will not go down well with some of the opportunistic and sycophantic elements within President Kiir’s tribally-based political chauvinism. But if all could set aside opportunism for a minute and behave as nationalists, we will discover that Southern Sudan is sinking fast into political abyss.

Despite early warnings to this effect, our corrupted and predatory SPLM and GOSS leadership continues to ignore these despite the inevitable collapse of state machinery in South Sudan. Equally true is the uncaring and unresponsive behaviour of most of our State governors who have elected to concern themselves with the looting of public funds on fake projects while ignoring the egregious state in which public services have reached in most states. All in all, looking at what our leaders are doing in Juba and the ten States, one wonders whether there is really what we can consider as a ‘government’ in South Sudan in the strictest sense. The only consolation we find is the Gaajak Nuer definition of government which they say is “a small group of clever individuals who have organised themselves and protect themselves by force while they enjoy ‘eating’ public property”.

This is exactly what is considered as a “government” in Juba. Members of GOSS including President Kiir have barricaded themselves in fox-holes away from the public and guarded with the most modern and lethal of weapons. When they move around town, the city traffic has to stop for hours to give way. Any violations by commuters or pedestrians are violently punished by ruthless tribal bodyguards clothed in SPLA uniforms. This is how we are being ruled during the interim period. God knows how things will be after the South gets its much awaited independence!

There are good reasons for saying that GOSS has lost the characteristics of government leave alone good governance. Just spend a week in Juba and you will discover that GOSS has non of the internationally accepted norms of a government which include participation, consensus-oriented, accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency, equity and inclusiveness and the rule of law.

In fact, I suspect that whenever the SPLM SG talks about a failed state, he actually refers to GOSS. Honestly, at present, there is no establishment nearer to the description of a government in Juba except for a bunch of well fed and well protected individuals who go about their daily private business of looting public coffers!

GOSS is not participatory either as many would think. A careful look at the ministers you would be shocked to know that all the so-called “sovereign” ministries are held by members of one tribe. The GOSS sovereign ministries are: President, SPLA, Police, Finance, Legal Affairs, information and Chief Justice.

Worst still all the chairpersons of GOSS and national Commissions are held by the same tribe. Is it not ironic that we Southerners should demand an equitable power sharing with the North and then maliciously arrogate to one tribe a lion’s share? Where are the SPLM principles of equity and inclusiveness that we brag about? Where is democracy if other political parties are not allowed to operate freely? SPLM leaders must also understand that the unity of the South is predicated on a fair share of opportunities and resources and ensuring that all southerners feel they have a stake in the south. The international community must also end their silence on SPLM’s excesses including abuse of human rights and muzzling of other parties activities.

There is absolutely no rule of law in GOSS-controlled South Sudan. The application of this important principle of governance requires an independent judiciary and impartial and incorruptible police force. All these conditions are absent for all these branches of the executive are controlled by one tribe who is only keen to see that the law is bent in their favour.

Transparency is another GOSS casualty. GOSS has not been transparent since its formation in 2005. This is indicated by lack of auditing of public institutions since then. Consequently millions of dollars are lost to corruption by very senior officials. We can list a few cases that have surfaced. $60 million given by President Al Basher, $300 million a fake Miram-Aweil road contract, Juba electricity project, Juba Airport international terminal, Al Cardinal Land cruisers scam, $200 million maize and sorghum scam by ministry of Finance and many, many more.

Other corrupt practices were also reported at airports and international borders of South Sudan. A few need mentioning: $3 million at Heathrow airport, $15 million at South Sudan-Uganda borders found hidden in a coffin and another $10 million hidden in a refrigerator at the same border crossing. You can mention a lot other cases but the most painful corrupt practice is the collapse of the Nile Commercial bank which GOSS helped to establish. The said bank collapsed as a result of over borrowing by senior GOSS and SPLM/A officials. An attempt to publish the names of defaulters was frustrated by GOSS president and no action has so far been taken to recover the defrauded money.

The only informed conclusion one can reach is two fold: either there is essentially no caring government in South Sudan otherwise some one or some people would be made accountable or the GOSS leadership is an accomplice in all corruption taking place.

As if the damage they have done to South Sudan is not enough these people who have defrauded our peoples’ development and services funds have of late gone to new heights to put our people’s lives into danger. This group who are led by the radical leftist wing of the SPLM want to return us to war. Of course they care less since they have looted enough money to buy mansions and to keep them and their families for the rest of their lives. They are currently engaged in instigating MPs to boycott National Assembly sessions, spreading false information that the currently concluded Census was rigged by Khartoum and asking people not to vote in the up-coming elections.

It is an open secret that Census was done solely by southerners under Isaiah Chol Aruai. But their shallow motives are very clear: they have become very unpopular and can not win elections considering their involvement in corruption and mismanagement of GOSS. Within the same group are those who have burnt their cards with their kin and kith and do not feel safe in the North in any event that the South separates. Already some of them are facing criminal charges for murder. But the actions of these opportunists can not divert us from our objective.

We want to assure our people that no one whatsoever will deceive us to return to war. You have seen how the families of our martyrs are neglected, how our wounded heroes struggle to survive despite millions being looted by a few who might have not participated in the liberation war. We shall wait for a caring and responsive government in the South in the up-coming elections next April and vote for independence in 2011 referendum. “Let those who beat the drums of war and can not go to war themselves” refrain from playing with the lives and destiny of our people.
We want to assure our people that your patriotic sons and daughters are there to protect you through to the promised destiny. Do not listen to those who have chosen to vote with their bellies only and betrayed your course and your aspirations. They shall surely be made accountable.

The author is an expert working in one of the GoSS ministries and could be reached at dingyian@hotmail.com