Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 14 December 2011

The Potential Traps


By Zechariah Manyok Biar

December 14, 2011 — The conference for potential investors and maybe donors kicks off today on December 14, 2011 in New York, the United States of America. Such a conference is needed because we as the Government of South Sudan are badly in need of developmental activities that would meet the expectations of our people. We need loans and investors to employ many South Sudanese in order to meet their expectations in the independent Republic of South Sudan. We as the Government have no excuse for not delivering services to our people. We desperately need ways of doing so.

However, the present desperate needs often result in future desperate situations. We have seen in recent times how desperate are countries that are highly indebted. The leaders of Greece and Italy had to step down this year because of debt crises in their countries. Because of what we are witnessing in the above mentioned countries, our leaders need to be careful in some areas when they are signing agreements. For example, agreements on land investment must put into consideration the consent of concerned communities. We are unique in our ideological beliefs. We should not pretend to be who we are not when we consider standards of service delivery.

There are beliefs in the West that might not fit our situation. Some of these beliefs include a belief in free market. Some people in the United States strongly believe that the Government should not get involved in the regulation of free market. Such a belief may not fit our situation because our people are not yet sophisticated to deal directly with sophisticated investors who might care more about the maximization of their profits than the development of South Sudan.

Market economies are also not free from corruption when they deal with weaker institutions like ours. Michael Johnson of New York University calls this type of corruption “Market Influence Corruption.” This type of corruption disadvantages poor and less powerful people because powerful business people develop friendships with powerful politicians as a way of getting what they want. They do this through campaign donations to politicians who favor them in countries like the United States. The same thing can happen here if our leaders are not careful.

Johnson observed that the role those powerful corporations, global reached policies as well as the role that banks and markets play globally in safeguarding corrupt dealings in countries like the USA, Japan, and Germany contribute to other types of corruption found in countries like South Sudan. That is why we should think twice before accepting any deal.

It is through mistaken policies that mistakes happen. We need to be careful when we seek “help” from those who would like to see us become members of this or that international institution. We are still very innocent like children in our desperation and there is no international legal system that will protect us like children. We are legally adults who know how to choose what is good for us, even though we can easily land ourselves in hot water to the delight of those who want to exploit us. Not everybody who shed tears during burial is a genuine mourner. Investors are better than donors when it comes to development, but not all of them. We must know that not everybody who comes to us with the extended hand of assistance is good for us. Because of this, we need to apply critical thinking during the deliberations and passing of our laws.

Some of the bills were rushed this week to meet the deadline of the New York Conference so that we become members of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Such bills, I think, might not serve our country well. We need to think carefully before we act even though we are in a desperate situation. That is the only way we can avoid landing ourselves in a trap.

Zechariah Manyok Biar lives in Juba, South Sudan. He can be reached at manyok34@gmail.com

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  • 14 December 2011 11:01, by Kuot Mabior

    you have tell the truth to set our country free Mr Zacharia if it cannot fall on death ears,not all silver is gold, I would for sure urge our government in this desperate financial crisis time to seek help and more clarifications befor they enters into deal because some of the deal are signed to disadvantages the ones who seal them without proper knowledges and lack of consultations.

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  • 14 December 2011 20:58, by Sundayw

    Countries must be ready to take risk. There is no gain without sacrificing a little of your most cherished ideals. South Sudan is in a unique position to study the pitfalls that befell many post-independent African countries. Those mistakes were magnified by post-independence mentality of Africanization at the expense of pragmatic pro-growth policies.

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  • 15 December 2011 00:31, by mohammed ali

    Very well written article.In essence south does not even investors at this stage, they will come as looooters!Nothing wrong with Africanization and you donnot need the so called pro-growth policies right now.The demands of people are very simple, security, simple food not avocado,schools and health care.When you have muscles then you can enter the investors zoo with these sharks!

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  • 16 December 2011 16:23, by David Mayen Deng

    Comrade Manyok, your warning is well articulated and briefly straight to the point; but where are the listening years and patriotic minds of our leaders. History teaches us that revolutions all over the world do hit the ground running, except ours. Look at satellite images of the whole Sudan and you get ashamed that we are asking the desert to open borders for feeding a rich savanna.

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    • 16 December 2011 16:25, by David Mayen Deng

      As you said, we are not helping our people by giving away fertile land to profit oriented foreign investors, but laying a strong trap from which our posterity will never extricate itself. It is a very sophisticated trap. Heavy mechanization of our agricultural sector does not need a muzungu- just buy tractors and water pumps, instead of miith-a-puol. Do we have the money? Do we really plan?

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