A Nation Lost Between Challenges and Priorities

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

September 30, 2011 (SSNA) — Since the issue of relocating the country’s capital city to Ramciel kept coming on and on, one wonders as to whether there actually exists any sensible government in the new Republic of South Sudan (RSS), or even people of rational thinking who can help President Kiir to prioritise his policies according to the realities of the time.

Not surprising though some well-known opinion writers took this up as their cup of tea and went on bombarding the Media with a distorted version of the story portraying it as ‘a Bari Community’ versus GoSS issue. It is time that opinion holders acknowledge the voices now coming from the natives of the newly proposed capital that they are no different to those attributed to the Bari peasants’ communities.

Juba as capital city was not the reason why the SPLM has excelled in corruption, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds. Nor is it the reason why unpatriotic position holders rush to buy real estates in places like Holborn, an affluent part of the Greater London in the UK. This is just to tell you that whether we move to Ramciel or anywhere else, unless we rid ourselves of this inherently corrupt leadership and its political institutions, we will continue to dream but never ever achieve.

Nonetheless the rush to relocate the capital city to Ramciel in spite of the many negatives against it in the first report presented by Gen. Oyay Deng Ajak, and his Technical Group, suggests that President Kiir’s new administration including the boss himself are more bent towards manipulative politics than sticking to any scientific evidence when it comes to decision making.

Now how do we go out of Juba while in our current shape of sub-standard administration and financial mismanagement? This is the question that seriously begs for answers, and any loaned funds which will not go into food production and food security to stop the looming famine and the wide spread preventable diseases capable of wiping off the entire population of the three or four threatened states, can never be morally justified for use on relocating a capital.

Let’s face it, for under President Salva Kiir’s administration, no city will be built in Ramciel, not even anywhere else for that matter. The administration seriously lacks both the political will and the vision and recently it has run out of credibility with those who initially wanted to lend hands of help to the nascent state of RSS. Maybe if you read such statements as quoted below, you can then be able to properly appreciate the real magnitude of the situation at hand.

“It is unacceptable when money devoted to developing the new and independent South Sudan ends [up] in private pockets and foreign accounts,” said by Hilde F. Johnson, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan.

“Investigation and prosecution against those involved is a precondition for South Sudan to succeed in building a new, strong and stable nation,” she went on to add.

The amount under investigation has been put well above $2 billion, by the Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan.

And although she commended President Salva Kiir for the steps he is taking in particular to end impunity against financial misconduct and to promote transparency and accountability, she however stressed that:

“We need to remember that the eyes of the world now are on South Sudan and the management of these critical processes and the political milestones will be important for South Sudan’s standing internationally.”

And when is the SPLM led government going to start living its original visions of taking towns to the villages and not going after building what may end up as imaginary cities. They are the rhino shaped, pine apple shaped, giraffe shaped, and hopefully the crocodile and hippopotamus shaped once are on the way as long as the appetite to embezzle and misappropriate public funds remains veracious.

Ramciel [still to be decided which shape] could live to exist only on paper like its predecessors, for sceptics have already likened this [Ramciel] ambitious project to the infamous $2 billion Sorghum Saga [N.B: This has nothing to do with the previously mentioned $ 2 billion wired by the ruling SPLM’s top figures into their private accounts outside RSS.]

When money got physically siphoned overseas into private bank accounts, what do you call this? Is it still taking towns to villages when actually in practice all that ‘the fat cats’ do is buying houses in the Western Metropolises of the Americas, Europe, Canada and Australia?

“Have we not witnessed the surge of liberators taking RSS towns to Nairobi, Kampala, London and Calgary since 2005, instead of Uror, Marial Bai, Nabanga, Pachong, Khor Gana , Manien, Waat, Wulu, Kotobi, Kodok or Akobo just to mention a few ?

But should our people be really craving to have beautiful and modern cities, aren’t we better off improving on our present towns of Rumbek, Yirol, Bor, Kwajok , Yei, Tambura , Kapoeta etc……..and we will still be counted amongst the civilized nations?

South Sudan needs a new system with shrewd planners who will get our priorities right as this nation must first and foremost start producing its food by investing heavily in agriculture, simple factories for food processing e.g. Oil, cheese, yogurt, Kisra, Tahnia , fresh &tinned fruits and simple & basic industries of soaps, wooden furniture, timber etc….. and adopt a year round crop cycle farming. This will not only provide the much need jobs at every level of the programs, but it is also a renewable economic activity. We need to build our roads, our bridges, and guarantee our security, before any one takes us out on a venture for a new capital.

You can’t leave all these and allow to be distracted by a long awaited government cabinet that starts its first policy statement by………… “We have overwhelmingly resolved that ‘the capital city’ be relocated from Juba to the swampy heartland of Ramciel”. The justifications cited by the National Minister of Information and Broadcasting are no other than, “the City of Juba in its current form is incompatible with investment”.

The claim that Juba is an obstruction to investment and hence to be misrepresented as interfering with the development of the RSS, is an amateurish propaganda and a cheap distraction from the real issues of the time. For when we talk of investment (local or foreign), we expect our government to understand that the priorities are food and food security ( sorghum, maize, fruits and food processing) , fishing production and processing, meat and dairy products mining (gold, iron, copper, fossil oil etc…) cement factories for construction . So why would Dr. Marial and his colleagues want the capital city out of Juba before any of the above is brought to fruition?

Agriculture and food security should have been the first on the agenda of the SPLM lead Republic of South Sudan and never the relocation of the capital out of Juba which in itself is more of a distraction to development on one hand and a temporary means aimed at pacifying the ever growing criticisms on the government over corruption issues.

When you consider all these, you can’t miss to see how irrelevant the relocation of the capital city yet deep into the swampy heartland in fact is, and what an irrational priority this time around it is. No ignorant quack should go around telling people that the government has limitless money for this fantasy dream. We have had enough of Public money misuse, let alone those wired abroad into private accounts in their billions of dollars and we are not going to allow it to happen again in the name of some tribal projects already condemned by the experts.

The bottom line is that every citizen has a responsibility to bring about the positive changes needed for healthy and inclusive nation building. for even if you were for a new Capital City and you allow for a leadership that continuously gets its priorities wrong, you’re more likely to die of hunger and disease than live to see any new city.

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General – United South Sudan Party (USSP). Can be reached at: [email protected], or [email protected]

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