By Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba
October 8, 2012 (SSNA) — The Obama US administration can now congratulate itself for finally bringing Omer al Bashir, better known as a wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) sitting head of a state to seal a deal with his southern neighbour none other than General Kiir Mayardit of the new republic of South Sudan, in spite of the bitter tastes the two still have for each other.
As for the two Generals on the political divide it is a hard task to sell this Agreement on the streets of Juba or Khartoum and it is everyone’s knowledge that how much this Addis Ababa Agreement might have been whitewashed by Thabo Mbeki’s African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP), the fact remains that the masses at the grassroots in the two countries will remain sceptical of it for obvious reasons.
It is not the first agreement to be signed between the two parties with one party well known for systematically dishonouring them in a compulsive repetitive manner – probably a deeply entrenched behaviour ingrained by religiosity and social misconceptions.
This latest Addis Ababa Agreement between presidents Kiir and al Bashir is even seen as a continuation of the former Naivasha comprehensive peace agreement, often referred as the CPA – a bilateral agreement between the South Sudan’s dominant party which ironically continues to call itself the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and its northern counterpart, the National Islamic Front aka the National Congress Party (NCP).
For the NCP aka NIF this agreement will provide president al Bashir with a breathing space and maybe win for him the love of the US administration. This is necessary for al Bashir in a hope that it will also neutralize the urge of the international community to implement the ICC arrest warrant on his head, at the same time it is also hoped that the economic package that comes with the agreement may also reduce the general discontent in the streets as a result of the collapse in the economy following the secession of the oil rich South. All these are yet to be seen!
In Juba the picture however remains unclear and the news of signing an agreement between SPLM and the NCP is not really seen as a breakthrough in the new country’s problems given the real nature of the multifaceted challenges in interplay. The SPLM-led government cannot praise itself on this occasion because the agreement in its totality was signed out of desperation borne of a purely self-inflicted economic collapse.
The new country is 98% dependent on revenues generated from its only industry which is the Oil. And when president Kiir in a clearly knee-jerk reaction decided the abrupt shut down of the Oil production without a clear set policies as to how the country was going to survive in itself was and still remains a sign of immature leadership.
President Kiir and his colleagues in the SPLM-dominated government are no doubt desperate to put their hands on oil money otherwise their days are numbered. The dream to take foreign loans or get huge packages of financial grants from the so-called the Republic of South Sudan ’s friends both faded out in the first week that followed.
The US and Europe are both in their worst economic situation and cannot afford to splash out money especially so to a government best known for public corruption and embezzlement of funds. How much proof that the international community needs more than the public admission by the South Sudan Head of State General Salva Kiir Mayardit that officials in his government have stolen well above $4 billion of public money before it is put off from lending money to Juba .
The ambitious and luxury dream of building a new capital city in the marshland of Ramciel coupled with the hope to construct an alternative Oil pipeline to the port of Lamu in neighbouring Kenya and another to the port of Djibouti through Ethiopia are all but how Juba intends to distract the citizens from criticizing its chronic financial mismanagement and misappropriations. A government that has categorically failed to bring to book its top officials which the President have identified in name as “public thieves” , can hardly be trusted to embark on any development schemes, let alone when the cost goes beyond $ 15 billion.
In this Addis Ababa Debacle, South Sudan in its efforts to reclaim its occupied territories of Kafia Kingi, Hufrat el Nahas, the Megainis Mechanized Scheme Area, al Joda, the Commercial Kaka and the Abyei Enclave, sadly ended up creating “a new Abyei in the so-called “Mile 14” which is now being ethnically contested by the nomadic “Baggara” from the Rezeigat tribe.
The flow of oil from fields deep in South Sudan may resume to flow through the pipelines in the northern neighbour though often seen as an enemy. And of course, it is hoped that economic strangulation will be relieved in favour of President Salva Kiir’s administration. Nonetheless, it is no longer a secret that unless there is a proper disengagement between the different political and military groups across what is now two Sudans , and hopefully to be followed by a healthy neighbourly relationship, no sound-minded human being can expect that this latest Addis Ababa Agreement is actually going to translate into peaceful coexistence in the region.
To compound the South Sudanese’s worry is the fact that government in Juba has now been internationally established as not only tribalistic, but it is also corrupt and kleptocratic in every meaning of this expression – these are based on the declaration by the country’s president, and his letters to other heads of states where he sought their help to recover the stolen funds. To further confirm how deep the new country is in an administrative vacuum and widespread mismanagement, you only need to read the reports of South Sudan‘s Auditor General, Hon. Steve Wondu a diplomat and a world class economist of high calibre. No doubt that this is a well-placed gentleman in his job.
South Sudan probably is the richest country in natural resources in the region, maybe only second to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, just like the DRC the people remain entrapped in abject poverty. Plagued with extremely weak and corrupt government institutions and almost non-existent transport network. It is extremely sad that, our country is rapidly sinking in the sea of abundant resources.
At this moment in time it is hoped that the people of South Sudan should learn their lesson, though, through the hard way. The sudden, unplanned and abrupt decision which led to the oil shutdown and what followed thereafter was one disaster after the other. Yet all want not negative though.
This particular period with all its upheavals prompted the South Sudanese politicians and masses alike to revisit their stands in as far as the ruling SPLM party is concerned. Today even the blindest SPLM supporter begins to see the intolerable corruption within the party ranks and files. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) – South Sudan ’s national army is no exception to this self-discovering.
When the President came out openly to declare that he is leading one of the most corrupt governments in the world with identified 75 top embezzlers of the public funds, hell was let loose and now we are reading the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNIMISS) Human Rights Violation Report in Jonglei. The Report categorically describes in a lengthy detail how the SPLM misconduct during the infamous Jonglei Ethnic Cleansing Campaign (a genocide orchestrated to exterminate the Murle ethnic group from the surface of the Earth).
The UNIMISS Report has received a wide condemnation from the Jonglei State Governor Cdr. Kuol Manyang and he was also supported by South Sudan’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner Hon. Lawrence Korbandy who went even further to describe the entire report as 100% nonsense(Sudan Tribune). However, those who know how close Ms Hilde Johnson is to the SPLM leadership since the days of signing the Naivasha Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to date would have seen no reason why such an ally suddenly not only abandoned her friends, but even went an extra mile to discredit them!
Oil has become the single factor that pushes things around in South Sudan, and between it and its neighbours and especially with the republic of Sudan ( North Sudan ) – this is crucial to understand. The concerns are that the South Sudan Oil Industry must undergo an overhaul, MOT. It is badly in need of overhauling with the introduction of a third party that can guarantee transparency and accountability.
Indeed, there is what one can call a national crisis when a hand picked elites who have turned the country, of size even bigger than states in Europe, into a totalitarian state. The common citizens in South Sudan do not understand how the Oil industry operates and how the money is spent. This has resulted in the general feeling amongst the populace that NOT only is the country’s only National Capital is being stolen by the government in Khartoum which controls the pipeline to Port Sudan and the oil refineries well placed deep in the north, but there is also a growing concern that the SPLM cadres have also behaved like vampires when it comes to Oil Revenues in the face of a completely neglected development projects and the absence of basic services, e.g. Health, Education, Security, Food and Transport.
Addis Ababa Agreements are Not New in the Sudanese Politics! And dishonouring them is also a common phenomenon! It’s obvious that in the absence of real democracy, freedom of speech and expression, free press that – can bring to light wrong policies and expose corruption, one agreement will go and another will come, but the status quo will remain the same. As a South Sudanese or friends of South Sudan, who reads this article, you need to come forward to champion a proper nation building. All agree that that the real change can only come through the people of South Sudan . The challenge that faces the nation is how to create a people centered state where the people are enlightened and empowered and not just taken for granted. It thus needs no over-stressing that the resumption of Oil Industry under the same corrupt structure only makes things worse. Some will understand the argument, while others may need a while to appreciate it.
However, in a few weeks time we will all see that a badly managed Oil industry will NOT only drive the new republic of South Sudan into a political chaos, but it will as well likely set a precedent to anarchy and precisely ungovernability. Dont ask me how – better ask our neughbours in the Democratic Republic of Congo(The DRC).
Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can reached at: [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected] hotmail.co.uk