Politicians, Youth, and Civil Servants; to the Private Sector: Orders Dr Riak Machar

By Wani Tombe Lako

February 13, 2013 (SSNA) — I have been much begotten and consumed by incredulity, since I read the news item, processed by Waakhe Simon Wudu, for Gurtong website. This news item reported that, the Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS), H.E. Dr Riak Machar (hereinafter the VP of RoSS), urged all politicians, civil servants and the youth in the RoSS, to setup private businesses in the private, and must avoid dependence on both political parties’ and government monies.

Since the news item did not categories the politicians and civil servants referred to, it is then valid to assume that, politicians here include all ministers, the President and the Vice President himself, for they are all politicians de facto and de jure. The civil servants in turn shall include all clerks and all undersecretaries as it were. What about issues of conflict of interests here? What does civil services code of conduct and regulation in the RoSS say about this? What do the legislators of the RoSS think about this? I just need some enlightenment about these issues here.

As an academic lawyer, I know that, there are so many issues at stake here, regarding the suggestion that, all politicians and civil servants must flock to the private sector as profit maximisers entrepreneurs, while at the same time, holding-down constitutional posts and civil service jobs, with all types of fiduciary duties involved, and associated conflict of interests therein. What can one say? This is South Sudan. The VP of RoSS may mean well, but, these things do not work like that in real life. May be they can be made to work in the RoSS! The RoSS being the RoSS! Who knows!

One of the interesting quotes of this news item went like this, “I was talking with political parties and told them that look you got to ensure that you get away to maintain your livelihood. It will not be through politics,” Riek said.

This was the VP of RoSS talking to politicians in Juba. Well, political rhetoric and polemics are always safe ponds to cool-off in. However, politicians shall not always, and they shall never succeed, till doomsday, in prising the ought from the is. The is, is that, politicians in the Third World, and including politicians in South Sudan (SS), go into politics to maintain their livelihood.

That is why; some politicians do not hesitate to kill South Sudan. That is why; some politicians want to die in power, even if they are 99 years old, deaf, blind, and mute. That is why; some politicians want to remain in power even if; they do not understand the deliberations in cabinet and parliaments, and they think gross domestic products, are some goods made in China.

As for the ought; the ought is always value-loaded and aspirational. The ought is the ideal paradigm that humanity yearns for. In this sense, the VP of RoSS, aspires that, politicians, civil servants and youth of the RoSS ought to go into the private sector as entrepreneurs, because, some socio-economic, and financial panacea; for comprehensive socio-economic, financial, and other challenges and problems, connected with the excruciating unemployment, disguise unemployment, and underemployment, grinding the youth, and others in the RoSS, can be found in the private sector. 

Alas, do we, in the government of the RoSS, have a clue that, the private sector in any viable economy is intricately and intimately linked, and interwoven, with all the other sectors, in the said economy? Do we, in the cabinet of the RoSS, know that, all the various sectors, in a given viable economy, exist as a chain, whereby, something is a chain, because it behaves like one, and exists like one, and is structured like one?

The kind of a private sector that the VP of RoSS have in mind, shall not come into fruitful existence in SS, until the government of the RoSS, in which the VP of RoSS is number two man, listens to others, and then goes ahead to really build the foundation, for such a robust private sector.

The VP of RoSS must not confuse the informal sectors, in various places in the RoSS, with the private sectors that run the economies of Europe and elsewhere, where, cabinet ministers of the RoSS are fond of doing business with, and they keep their huge bank accounts in those banks run by these private sectors in Europe and elsewhere.

To begin with, the private sectors that run the economies of Europe and other continents, are surviving because, there are massive private national savings. These massive private national savings in those countries include the savings of all ministers in those countries, and all the civil servants in those countries. These savings are kept by commercial banks in those countries, and these commercial banks lend this money to entrepreneurs who then run transparent, accountable, and honest private sectors. This is just one tiny simple economic and financial scenario of genesis of good private sectors in viable economies.

Compare that with us in the RoSS, where, we smuggle our money out in coffins, fridges, army trucks and such like, to foreign countries, for safekeeping. Our ministers are too frightened to keep their money in our national banks, and yet, they want a flourishing private sector. Our public money is laundered out, to be sold by speculators, in the market place, and speculators, who have business links, with top others, in government. I can go on infinitum, as to why, the kind of a private sector that the VP of RoSS, has in mind shall not exist in the RoSS, as long as, his government, continues to conduct itself, in the way it is conducting itself now.

The VP of RoSS has also praised the East African youth in Juba, as being better than our youth, because, the former have penetrated the so-called private sector in South Sudan. For the information of the VP of RoSS, these East African youth were socialised for this eventualities in their life time. That is, personal survival in all environments. They were brought up to depend on themselves, and not on the tribe or tribal name or tag. They were socialised not to follow trees’ sheds. These East African youth were socialised to survive as individuals, not as a pack. Mr. VP of RoSS, you are witnessing socio-cultural dynamics in operation in the RoSS. You are in fact witnessing the concept and practice of conflict of cultures, and how they play out, and surpass or suppress one another. You are looking at intricate but tangible issues of social change in your life time.

On the other hand, the money we see in the undeveloped private sector in SS is actually the circulation of public money. There is no real creation of new economic and financial values in SS. Does the VP of RoSS receive monthly or even quarterly reports about our productivity? Does he receive any briefing in the cabinet from the minister of finance about our balance of payments and balance of trade of any sort? Does the VP of RoSS receive clear report about the main and important divers of the private sector in SS. This question of washing cars, and selling tea, and imported charcoal, and such  like from Kampala, ought not to delude the government of SS that, the private sector of the RoSS is booming.

Just because many in government have managed to build hotels, and houses for rent, pubs and such like in the RoSS; using government money, does not meant that, there is really a private sector in the classical sense in SS. How can there be a private sector in the SS if all families, half a tribe and such like, are in government pay sheets; including the dead. Private sectors are not wished for in real economies. They are grown and sustained.

Since that the VP of RoSS has elected to discuss this issues of youth unemployment in the RoSS, he should then be prepared to listen to peoples advise and put that into practice. For example, can the VP of RoSS investigate the fact that, some youth of the RoSS are being given a head start by the government of the RoSS for tribal reasons? Does the VP of RoSS know that there are many youth groups in the RoSS which actually receive funding for purposes of setting themselves up in businesses from some government sources?

If the government of the RoSS is interested in stimulating medium and small businesses among the youth of SS, then, this opportunity must be availed to all the youth of SS. The government cannot cherry-pick from among the youth of SS, and then setting up business incubators for selected tribal groups. It is difficult to take government’s word seriously if the public is actually seeing what the government is doing, and then pretending that it does not know what is happening in the SS.

The author is Professor of Social and Rural Development and Lecturer in Laws. He can be contacted via: [email protected]

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