The Systemic Underdevelopment of South Sudan by South Sudanese

By Wani Tombe Lako

February 10, 2013 (SSNA) — How many of us in the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS), including those of us running the central and state governments in the RoSS, how many of us, sincerely know and believe that, we are now on our own, and ought to look after ourselves, without expecting some other peoples and governments, to be primarily in charge of our comprehensive problems, and challenges. These problems and challenges include the obligations and duties owed to all women, children, and men of the RoSS, in terms of provision of goods and services, including security services.

These appear to be rather obvious comments, and some would say, stupid queries, from a South Sudanese who ought to know better. I am afraid, I do not know better now. Looking around the RoSS, I come out with the impression that, the entire RoSS appears to be populated with holiday makers, a people who are sojourning, and are on their ways to some permanent destinations, where, their original homes are. These attitudes are there for any objective observer to see in the RoSS. The notion and practice of governance in the RoSS do not indicate a notion and practice of governance meant to generate comprehensive positive goods and services, for all the peoples of the RoSS.

Let us all reflect on the pitiful appeal by our President to those ladies and gentlemen, who are alleged to have stashed away some millions of dollars, of our public monies, for safekeeping, for their private use, in some faraway bank accounts. If one analyse the moralities and attitudes of these ladies and gentlemen, who are being begged by our President, to return our monies, back to the RoSS, so that our orphans, widows, war amputees, pensioners, our sick in our hospitals, and many other South Sudanese could have semblances of reasonable lives, if one analyse these attitudes, one can easily see that, these said ladies and gentlemen, they do not think they belong to the RoSS, permanently. These ladies and gentlemen are here only for the loot, and sooner or later, they are off to their safe havens, for easy and secured futures.

When I use to painfully refer to the government of South Sudan (GoSS), before the birth of the RoSS, as the government of self satisfaction (GoSS), many politicians and ministers, in government of South Sudan, were very angry, and considered that to be an assault on the sovereignty of the peoples of South Sudan. I spoke from position of knowledge. I knew how much money was actually coming into the public coffers, of the peoples of South Sudan, before the birth of the RoSS. I was a very senior official, and first Deputy Undersecretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, in Khartoum for almost six years, up until the establishment of the RoSS, and I knew the workings of the then Sudanese economy, and its financial institutions, like the back of my hands. I knew then that, the oil revenues, coming to the peoples of South Sudan were being misused and abused. Those abusing and misusing these monies were individuals in government, and thus, it was actually indeed, a government of self satisfaction.

I do not think that, when the majority of the peoples of the RoSS, voted in the plebiscite for the birth of the RoSS, they voted for nominal statehood. No. The peoples of the RoSS voted in their totalities for tangible and intangible meanings of the RoSS. They voted for their psychological freedoms and comprehensive ease of conscience, and collective assurances of their authorship of their sovereignty, and at the same time, they voted for the tangible, measurable, quantifiable, monitorable, evaluable, and satisfying RoSS. A RoSS that shall not allow them to be unnecessarily thirsty and hungry in the midst of rivers and fertile soils, and bountiful animal resources, wild and tamed animals alike.

Critical and scientific analyses of the monetary resources that have been misused and abused in South Sudan, by South Sudanese themselves, raise multitudes of logical questions. The temporal aspect of these analyses covers the time period, since the signing of the CPA, and since when South Sudanese becamed one hundred percent, in charge of running of their own affairs by themselves. These analyses deal with many political, economic, financial, social, cultural, psychological, moral, religious, tribal, ethnic, educational, skills, and institutional variables. The combinations and permutations of these variables produce raw information which point to the fact that, South Sudanese themselves, are now, systemically, developing efficient and effective methods and tools, for comprehensive underdevelopment of South Sudan.

The alarming and pitiful mesmerisation of the government of South Sudan, with conspicuous secondary side-effects of modernity, as being the actual development of the peoples of South Sudan, is a great cause for concern, for those discerning others, in South Sudan. The government of South Sudan can build electronically controlled public baths and toilets, in all its major towns, and it can erect the most glittering skyscrapers in Africa, in competition with the Arab countries, but, all these, shall not move us an inch, towards the direction of positive human development. These are simply secondary conspicuous aspects of modernity. You can have what the American have, but how to use them is the issue. We can in effect write the best democratic constitution in the African continent; also, how to put it into practical use is the issue.

For example, look at the fashion we use our traffic lights, and zebra crossings, in our roads. A Scandinavian European will stop at a red traffic light, at three in the morning, even if he is the only driver on the road, until the light turns green, signaling him to move on. A South Sudanese senior officer, and such like, will drive through such a red light, at the height of the rush-hour, and will probably assault a pedestrian who dare complain against that conduct. It is the case that, for the Europeans, they developed to the level whereby, their actual human needs compelled them to have these traffic lights, whereas, we, in this part of the world, just imposed these lights because, they are supposed to be there, in modern roads, and in a modern city like Juba as it were. Therefore, these traffic lights just came crashing down on us, somewhere from their moral and value system pedestals. In fact, the value systems and moralities inherent in these traffic lights are centuries away from us.

In the early 1980s, as a young development economist, I was employed by almost the most successful non-governmental organisation that ever worked in South Sudan and by then, it was called, the Norwegian Church Aid Sudan Programme (NCA/SP). I was employed in the Cooperative Project. It so happened that, with the intensification of the civil war, in South Sudan by then, a Sudanisation and localisation process was implemented in which, the whole NCA/SP operations came under the control of South Sudanese. The South Sudanese also moved into hitherto European quarters of the residential area, which was a mini Oslo in South Sudan, in terms of all that is Norwegian, as far as housing was concerned and all amenities therein. A civil engineer colleague was unhappy because he spent most of his valuable time replacing toilet seats which got broken right from the base. It was discovered, that, these modern European toilets were misused and abused. Instead of sitting on them properly, people were climbing onto them, and then squatting on them, and for some reason or the other, these seats cannot withstand the unstable forces of a squatting South Sudanese, running down from the top of their rims, and so, they just gave ways.

I am not being sarcastic here whatsoever. I am in fact hurting right now as I write this article. I am hurting because, I am seeing with my own eyes how we in South Sudan are paupersing our own peoples, but, we do not want to admit to these facts. For example, in millions of pounds allocated for various expenditures, within the remit of sectoral development of the RoSS economy, for example, is the budget sensitive to women and children needs. How much has actually been allocated for education and health, to the extent that, the ministers and others, shall allow their children to study in government schools, together with all the children of ordinary citizens of the RoSS, the real owners and authors of the sovereignty of the RoSS.

How much has actually been allocated for hospitals and free medicines for the ordinary peoples of the RoSS. I am hurting because, we in the RoSS are so few in numbers, but have much more resources which could make all the peoples of South Sudan happy individuals. I am hurting because, as I said during the interim period, and before the birth of the RoSS, the government then was a government of self satisfaction, I am very much afraid that, others in the current government of the RoSS, and especially those others with the kinds of moralities which made them to stash away millions of our poor people’s monies in Europe and elsewhere, these ministers, want the Republic of South Sudan to become the Republic of self satisfaction, and the government within this Republic to be seen as the government of self satisfaction also. What else could people say if they see what is happening to them with their own eyes? The peoples of South Sudan do not need any instigators for them to know that, others are living happily, because they the people of South Sudan are suffering unfairly. This is not an incitement. This is a responsible monologue of a national who wants positive change for his nation.

The RoSS is a dramatic paradigm, and it has such contrasting and contradicting themes that, it risks turning all of us into phenomenologists. All of us are labouring under the weight of moral and human obligations, in our collective efforts to make the RoSS a functional human society. I, for one, would sincerely say to my fellow South Sudanese that, I am one those ready to work in my country for free as long as the people are free to advice the government in positive fashions. Money and all other values are just transient. They are as transient as human life itself. Let us fight underdevelopment, and the government of South Sudan must allow all of us to join hands in fighting underdevelopment. Many South Sudanese including myself just need the space to work in, without being harassed by the so-called security and intelligence peoples, who seem to have lost the marble.

We in South Sudan ought to understand that, self-determination is not the proliferation of constitutional and other lucrative public offices, nor is it high ranking positions in the army, and other regular forces. Self-determination is about the happiness of the ordinary woman, child and man in the streets of South Sudan. The happiness of this woman, child, and man is summed up by their total access to beneficial goods and services. Their happiness is summed up in the ministers of the RoSS having treatment at home like the rest of the people. If you as ministers are flying to Nairobi for minor operations and such like, where do you think the poor villagers who voted for you to become ministers shall go for treatment? If you as ministers are running away for treatment in Nairobi, because there is no medicine in South Sudan, you should not be ministers for these people whom you left behind in your search for better treatment in Kenya.

The more we migrate to other African countries for easy access to educational and medical services, the more we underdevelop South Sudan. The more we misappropriate the wealth of South Sudan, for our personal and tribal interests, the more we underdevelop the RoSS. The more we allow our children to be at home because their teachers cannot teach them for want of salaries, books, chairs and such like, we further underdevelop South Sudan. The more we discriminate among ourselves on the basis of tribes, the more we underdevelop South Sudan. The more we neglect human development in South Sudan, the further we underdevelop the RoSS. The more our intelligence and security personnel become enemies of the people, the more we underdevelop the RoSS. The more the government of South Sudan allows the killing of constructively vocal South Sudanese the more we underdevelop South Sudan. The more the government of South Sudan fears South Sudanese intellectuals, the more it underdevelops South Sudan.

The Author can be reached at [email protected]

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