“S. Sudan cabinet should discuss youth problems, not personalities”- group
September 02, 2012 (JUBA) - The South Sudan Council of Ministers on Sunday came under attack from youth leaders, who accused members of the country’s cabinet of discussing personalities, while “ignoring” the real problems of young people.
Miss World contestent, South Sudan’s Atong Demach, poses for a photo as she waits backstage prior to a rehearsal for the final ceremony at the Ordos Stadium Arena in the inner Mongolian city of Ordos on August 17, 2012. (Getty)
Addressing journalists shortly after their Friday meeting, Information minister, Benjamin Marial, said the council, during its regular sitting, mainly discussed the recent achievements by prominent South Sudanese.
Guor Marial, a South Sudanese marathon runner competed in the London 2012 Games last month. He was not able to compete in South Sudanese colours as the young nation does not yet have an Olympic Committee but his story as refugee who sought asylum in the United States and was running under the Olympic flag captured the imagination of the Games.
Guor Marial outside the Olympic Village in London the day after running in the London 2012 marathon. 13 August 2012 (Tom Law/ST)
Also in August, Atong Demach, came fourth at this year’s Miss World contest in China, picking up the award for “African Continental Queen of Beauty".
Marial said that the Council applauded the duo for having put the young nation on the world map hardly two months after it marked its first independence anniversary. Members of the cabinet, the minister added, resolved to reward Atong in recognition of her outstanding achievement.
But in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Sunday, Angelo Ding Dhel, a member of South Sudan Forum for Peace and Development (SSFPD), expressed dismay at what he said was cabinet’s diversion from the real issues affecting the young people by debating individual success.
“There are very many youth, ranging from artists, journalists, activists and people in other professions who made immense contribution to this country. Why are they not being recognized by the Council of Ministers?” Dhel asked.
According to Dhel, South Sudanese youth, who account for more than 70% of the population, currently face enormous challenges, including unemployment, illiteracy, crime, and poverty.
“We expected the cabinet to deliberate on the real problems facing today’s youth, many of whom are idle and could end up engaging in violence-related activities,” said the SSFPD Secretary for Mobilization.
Samuel Okomi, the Director of South Sudan Youth Participation Agency (SSYPA) said he was equally disappointed with the agenda that dominated Friday’s ministerial meeting in Juba, the South Sudan capital.
“I think we our ministers missed the point. What was the essence of discussing two personalities, yet there are very many youth who contributed to the struggle that brought us where we are today? Our youth expect more than this,” said Okomi.
NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE
Last month, Cirino Hiteng, South Sudan’s youth and sports minister unveiled a plan to initiate a national youth service as a remedy to the rampant youth unemployment.
South Sudan’s Youth and Sports Minister, Cirino Hiteng (ST)
The much-hyped plan will reportedly target at least 10,000 youth drawn from all over the 10 states of South Sudan.
The national youth initiative, Hiteng emphasized, is a one-year compulsory program that will be done in partnership with the defence ministry to teach young people nation-building skills.
However, Both Dhel and Okomi, who also represent the youth on the United Nations advisory board for South Sudan, openly criticized the planned national youth service, which they said will not resolve the current problems affecting young people.
The two youth activists instead agitated for the creation of a South Sudan National Youth Federation (SSNYF), as an umbrella entity that brings together various youth from all over the country to deliberate on issues affecting them.