How shall the Republic of South Sudan benefit from the Addis Agreements?

By Wani Tombe Lako

October 21, 2012 (SSNA) — There are some voices in the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS); which are very much opposed to the agreements signed in Addis; between the two Sudans. These voices are legally exercising their freedom of expression; but this freedom is not absolute. The substantive context of this freedom is very much tied to the individual; albeit that; the said individual can express his/her opinion in association with others, in a peaceful fashion; while taking into consideration issues of public order in the nation; that is; in the RoSS. This freedom of expression becomes problematic when the individual uses his/her freedom of expression to incite others to perform acts or omissions which tantamount to public nuisance; and at the same time; a disorder which can threaten the life of the nation via organised group violence or mob chaos; which might result in societal disharmony. This type of freedom of expression is illegal; and the law must then take its course. 

I am sincerely saying that; the technical meanings, of these agreements, ought to be left for the technocrats. Those other politicians; and some others in the RoSS; and those who just want to live in the realm of impossibilities; and uncertainties; must give some of us a chance, to help the peoples of the RoSS. However; what are the benefits that shall comprehensively accrue to the peoples of the RoSS specifically; as regards these agreements signed in Addis; between the two Sudans? I am going to answer and discuss this question from the perspective of someone; who is imbued with concepts/practice; knowledge; skills; and experiences of: laws; development economics; sociology of development; and socio-economic rural development. Let us start by examining the various modes of production in the RoSS; and lets us also examine the extant human; institutional; and physical infrastructures in the RoSS. These are some of the concrete developmental variables that we need to use in order to explain to the peoples of the RoSS how they shall comprehensively; and positively benefit from these agreements between the two Sudans.

On the other hand; the socio-economic facts on the ground are that; the economy of the RoSS; with its current weak sectoral capacities; has been comprehensively integrated into both micro and macroeconomic paradigms; of the hitherto united Sudan. The political secession of the RoSS; from the rest of the Sudan has not inherently, and intrinsically, as well as structurally; delinked the various micro and macroeconomic elements of the RoSS economy; from that of the remaining parts of the Sudan. These are socio-economic facts which shall remain valid for the foreseeable future; and no amount of political posturing shall or will change them. The change that shall occur shall only occur within the remit of socio-economic variables; relevant to these sectoral elements, within the said economies of the two Sudans; which are still comprehensively integrated; in terms of forces of demand and supply; as a function of consumers taste; which in the case of the RoSS; is still the same taste as before the secession of the RoSS. The phenomenon of East African traders and such like; flooding some towns in the RoSS, must not delude us into thinking that; the economy of the RoSS is now comprehensively cut off from the rest of micro and macroeconomic paradigms of North Sudan.

Careful analysis of our eating patterns in the RoSS; and our nutritional preferences are not fundamentally different from those of the other peoples in North Sudan; but in fact; fundamentally different from those of East and other African countries. These are facts which must be taken into objective considerations when debating these agreements between the two Sudans. Our staple cereals in the RoSS are sorghum or dura; which we in the RoSS do not produce enough for ourselves; and the threatening famines are the evidentiary variables to this effect. Our other food commodities like sugar; onion; tea-leaves and many others use to come in satisfactory quantities; and affordable prices from North Sudan. Objective analysis of the East African capacities; to supply the whole of South Sudan with these said commodities; at required quantities; and cheaper prices is logically questionable.

These agreements shall allow us in the RoSS; to continue import these commodities; at cheaper prices and required quantities. These shall have tremendous political and security effects and comprehensive implications in terms of societal stability in the RoSS. The government of the RoSS shall not be threatened with public and mob demonstrations for lack of food; and disappearances of essential and strategic commodities, than if the government of the RoSS were to depend on East Africa, as is the case right now. These agreements must be enforced for the benefit of the whole peoples of the RoSS. The government must adapt a communitarian approach to these issues.

It is obvious to all of us in the RoSS that; more than 90% of our peoples live in rural areas. We must not be sincerely confused by the few urban centres in the RoSS; including urban centres like Juba; Malakal; and Wau that; we are now among societies; even by or in terms of African standards; that can be considered as urbanised and therefore; somehow cosmopolitan as it were. We must be humble, and accept the realities on the ground; and this is the most positive thing to do; in our attempts to design the most appropriate framework for our socio-economic and technological positive development in the RoSS. It is also true that; the majority of our peoples; in these rural areas; produce mostly for subsistence; and they are dependent on nature for this subsistence production. Within the remit of this subsistence production; the modes of production in which most of the population in the RoSS are engaged in include, transhumance animal husbandry or pastoralism; rain-fed agriculture; fishing; forest harvesting; and handicraft.

Therefore; what are the types of human infrastructures; institutional infrastructures; and physical infrastructures that are available in the RoSS; and which could be used to improve and productively develop the above modes of production in the RoSS; to capacities which could produce for both local and national consumption; as well as for export? Within the remit of human infrastructures; it is obvious that, the knowledge base; skills; and experiences available are very limited; and sometimes very raw, and determined by the current human needs within our rural societies in the RoSS. This means that; there is a profound need for comprehensive programmes of social development in the RoSS.

Within the remit of institutional infrastructures; the story is the same. There is an acute shortage, and outright absence of many run-of-the-mill everyday; effective; efficient and efficacious economic; financial; social; cultural; constitutional; legal; judicial; and technological institutions which could be used to propagate the kinds of modes of production found in the RoSS; into foundations of competitive economy. In terms of physical infrastructures such as trunk and feeders roads; bridges; highways; railways; schools; hospitals; clinics; and such like; are also inadequate; inefficient or outright absent.

The above paragraphs only describe the extant infrastructures found in the RoSS; and they are not different as before the secession of the RoSS. These various infrastructures are more or less of the same quality of infrastructures; since the hitherto united Sudan became politically independent in 1956. The said infrastructures have been adapted to the various sectoral economic/financial and technical ethos of the hitherto united Sudan. Some of the modes of production have also been intimately adapted to the same ethos; and after the secession of the RoSS; which is just a very short and negligible timeframe; in terms of human social change; are still operating as if the Sudan is still united. The practice and thinking within these various modes of production in the RoSS still resemble the thinking and practice as before the secession of the RoSS. This is the reality on the ground in the RoSS. Political wishes are different from socio-economic realities on the ground; in the RoSS.

Human societies can easily adjust to political environments; but they cannot easily adjust to abrupt socio-economic changes which have profound links to their modes of production. For example; the transhumance and pastoralist communities in the RoSS can live without any dramatic upheavals with the secession of the RoSS; but they cannot survive if their modes of production were to be subjected to the same radical and sudden changes as brought about politically; by the secession of the RoSS from the rest of the Sudan. These agreements will for example guarantee the historical movements of some of these communities across the borders of the now two Sudans; and this means that their subsistence will not be affected. These agreements will not also undermine the legal aspects of these communities’ trade across the borders; and these communities will not need too much to modify in order to cope with the political changes introduced as a result of the secession of the RoSS from the rest of the Sudan.  The cultural context of the border trade in livestock; will not require major cultural adjustment. It is better to trade with these communities that our peoples have known for centuries than to begin looking for new uncertain markets in other African countries with unforeseen grave consequences.

The slow motion nature of border trade across the two Sudans; in livestock; will not put much pressure on the pastoral communities in the RoSS; they will not be subjected to market pressures which they would have incurred if they were for example; to drive their cattle hundreds of miles to East African markets. This will also give the government of the RoSS the time needed to socialise these pastoralists communities; into the exigencies of market economy, in terms of livestock industry. This border trade is suitable for anthropological and practical reasons as well as for veterinary services provision purposes; in terms of gradual off-take and livestock management. The balancing mechanisms needed in this kind of mode of production are present within the remit of the relationship between the pastoral communities in the two Sudans.

While there is a need to profitably and beneficially manage the livestock industry in the RoSS, which is at the moment controlled by traditional livestock managers; care must be taken not to upset the socio-cultural and economic balance that is currently maintaining societal stability; within the remit of this particular mode of production. Therefore, these agreements shall allow these communities to carry own as they have done historically; while at the same time giving the government of the RoSS the time to develop better infrastructures for the commercial development of this mode of production in closer cooperation with the Republic of Sudan (RoS); for obvious economic/financial; security; and sociopolitical interests of the two Sudans. This means that; for the foreseeable future; both Sudans will contribute resources towards the development of this border trade which also include veterinary services provision to the pastoral communities of the two Sudans. Now, what is wrong with this? Why are some peoples in the RoSS; not happy with these attempts to create human harmony; and concretise human love as between the pastoral communities of the two Sudans?

In terms of agricultural produce; and notwithstanding the relatively weak, and underdeveloped capacities of the subsistence producers in the RoSS; South Sudan use to supply the whole of North Sudan with tropical fruits and vegetables. The whole of Western Equatoria is one massive garden for these tasty tropical fruits which the RoSS could export with economic and financial ease to other parts of the Middle East via Khartoum. The RoSS has a real opportunity in terms of these fruits such as mangoes; pawpaw; pineapples; oranges and such like. These fruits are produced in thousands of tons in Western Equatoria and elsewhere in Bahr el Ghazal; without properly benefiting from them. Even with the reactivation of the fruit canning factory in Wau, we shall still need to export many more tonnage of tropical fruits to the Middle East and beyond; cheaply via Khartoum and Port Sudan. These agricultural products shall not fetch the same kind of revenues in East African markets. Simple economic/financial logic says that, we are better off concentrating on the Middle Eastern markets via the RoS than via East Africa.

For those familiar with the RoS; it is obvious to you that; South Sudanese handicraft products are a hit within the remit of international and national tourist industry in the RoS and beyond via Khartoum. Why do some of us want to deprive the development of this industry in the RoSS; and concomitantly putting these peoples in the RoSS out of work and lucrative business? On the hand; the forests’ products of the RoSS have built many fine buildings and other structures all over the RoS. These forests of the RoSS; in terms of their soft and hardwood; bamboos and such like; are a source of huge revenues in hard currencies that shall accrue to the economy of the RoSS within the framework of these agreements. Why do others want to deprive the RoSS from these opportunities? For those discerning peoples of the RoSS; it is obvious that; our forests’ products; and handicraft shall come up against fierce competition from Eastern and Southern Africa products. Why do we not monopolise the market in the North African region via Khartoum? These are golden opportunities that we cannot afford to forgo. These are all benefits that shall come our way via these agreements between the two Sudans.

These agreements between the two Sudans provide the RoSS with golden opportunities to quickly develop its rail; river; and road transport systems. The need to link the RoSS with Eastern, Central; and Southern African countries by railways can easily be done by extending our railway from Wau. The heavy construction material and other inputs for this project, could easily and cheaply be brought in by railways from Port-Sudan and just delivered to the connection points along the railway line as it is being extended from Wau. We could easily do this by cooperating with the RoS within the remit of these historic agreements.

It is very easy and effective to train our future independent railway managers and other human resources from within; given the wealth of knowledge; experiences; and skills accumulated in the two Sudans since the independence of the hitherto united Sudan to date. These are opportunities which ought not to be carelessly ignored by those blindly opposing these agreements.  Railway transport is the most appropriate means of transport that we need to prioritise at the moment; for the massive haulage of goods and services that we need; for various and mammoth development tasks in the RoSS. These are extremely technical issues and we must not emotionally politicise everything to our own detriment in the RoSS.  

The highway road from Khartoum in the RoS; could easily be linked to our highways to Kenya and Uganda via Nimule and Kapoeta respectively; with tremendous positive economic; financial; security; technological; social; and cultural implications. These infrastructures alone represent brotherhood and sisterhood; and they alone shall be the future barriers to future wars and misunderstandings as regards posterities of the two Sudans. It is our duty to do it right now; for the love of posterities in the two Sudans; otherwise; we shall be considered selfish ancestors by histories of the two Sudans.

Other roads linkages with the RoS in Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal are also vital life lines which others do not see; but it is our duty to make them see the benefits that shall come to our peoples in the two Sudans in general; and the peoples of the RoSS in particular. The government of the RoSS needs the hands of all its sons and daughters; to make these agreements a success. In the matters of comprehensive general development of the RoSS; the government of the RoSS must not depend solely on the operatives of the ruling party in the RoSS; or the SPLM. The RoSS is bigger than the SPLM; and this is a fact that ought to be internalised by the mangers of the SPLM for the interest of the peoples of the RoSS.

In the field of labour movement; there are thousands of our skill workers; who practically learnt professional skills in building; engineering; carpentry; welding; plumbing; and many other skilful jobs in the RoS; and who are now literally sitting idle; either in the RoS, or in the RoSS, for lack of employment. In the RoS; because of legal implications of secession; and in the RoSS; due to the fact that; there is no work to be done as per these various skills and professions mentioned above. These agreements shall open up these closed doors to our people, with tremendous benefits for many families, and others who depend on the earning capacities of these peoples from the RoSS; who are not able to earn a decent living now. Why do we want these people to continue suffering? These agreements are the dynamos for the private sector in the RoSS; and others must not just oppose these agreements for some emotional personal reasons without analysing the communitarian benefits from these agreements. On the other hand; with beneficial and positive implementation of these agreements; the government of the RoSS shall be able to prevent some of the major unemployment related threats to stability it is facing now. The majority of the peoples in the RoSS must be made to see this.

The Author can be reached at [email protected]

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