Dialogue with South Sudanese (part 2)

By Wani Tombe Lako

May 28, 2013 (SSNA) — In part (1) of these series of articles, I concluded by saying that, my sincere and honest concerns for the general wellbeing, of South Sudanese, could not amount to acts of treason. I was, and I am still, and shall always be opposed to misleading of the peoples of South Sudan, by abusing their raw political feelings. I was not against the informed choices of the peoples of South Sudan during the referendum. I was for full disclosure of political, security, social, economic and financial facts; so that, our peoples make informed choices, without hypothetical expectations that could not be realised in real life, on the ground in South Sudan.

For example, it was argued that, the incidence of absolute, endemic and chronic socio-economic and financial poverty of South Sudanese would disappear as soon as we secede from the rest of the Sudan. My reaction was that, no, that was not true, and it is not true now after secession. My arguments were informed by, and saturated in and with objective nationalism, and not the political exploitation and manipulation of the comprehensive ignorance of the majority of my countrywomen, country youth and countrymen.

I argued that, the socioeconomic and financial poverty in South Sudan has historical and contemporaneous variables. The comprehensive underdevelopment of South Sudan was and is a result of centuries of neglect and exploitation. This being the case, I argued that, and I still argue that, we cannot just deceive the peoples of South Sudan that, we were going to undo these centuries of hurts via poverty; by a mere casting of votes, and expect instantaneous positive reversal of the situation. This argument was not, and is not, the thinking of a traitor. This argument was and is, the argument of a South Sudanese, who wanted and still wants, to have the best solution to these issues of socioeconomic underdevelopment of South Sudan.

The peoples of South Sudan were misled, and are still being misled, into believing that, all structural factors and variables of their socioeconomic underdevelopment were, and are, based on exogenous factors and variables. That is, we do not have structural factors and variables of underdevelopment within our society in South Sudan. My argument was, and still is that, no; there are endogenous factors and variables of underdevelopment within the remit of our human society in South Sudan, and these factors and variables needed to be identified and resolved or neutralised. This is not the thinking of somebody who meant evil for the peoples of South Sudan.

I even suggested the extension of the interim period within the remit of the CPA, so that, these internal factors and variables of our socioeconomic underdevelopment, are resolved and neutralised. The resolution and neutralisation of these internal factors and variables could have allowed us to build solid foundations and various infrastructures in South Sudan. I argued that, this was necessary in order to functionally, and beneficially sustain the demands of a modern economy, and with it, the demands, and obligations of a modern State in South Sudan.

These were honest and sincere concerns for the happiness of the peoples of South Sudan. I was not thinking in this fashion because I selfishly wanted to become a minister in Khartoum or in Juba. I was and I am satisfied with what God has endowed me with, in terms of human capital that can allow me to support myself and those others dependent on me. My concerns were, and are, for provision of positive intellectual services, to safeguard the comprehensive interests of the peoples of South Sudan. Do feelings like these equal to treason against you the peoples of South Sudan?

I argued in the past, and I still argue that, the extension of the interim period would have allowed us to build the economic and technical capacities in South Sudan, to gradually, but gainfully, absorb and locate all our workforce in both northern and southern Sudan, in the hitherto united Sudan, into gainful employment in South Sudan, while we worked towards the implementation of the CPA after the expiration of the extended interim period.

This was necessary to avoid an “off–off” situation, in favour of “off-on” or “on-on” situations. That is, secession ought not to lead to a situation whereby, our peoples are put off gainful employment, and remain off gainful employment, that is an “off-off” situation. However, we voted for secession and now, the majority of our people are in “off-off”, situation, with no definite remedies on sight for a very long time to come.

I was very knowledgeable of the fact that, political Juba was not politically, economically, financially, security wise, socially, emotionally, bureaucratically, legally, constitutionally, institutionally and communally ready to discharge the obligations and duties of a sovereign government. Political Juba had needed time to put its house in order, and the extension of the interim period, with all other parts of the CPA remaining constant, would have bought political Juba the time it needed. This was, and is still, the thinking of a South Sudanese, who valued, and still values, the happiness of his peoples.

My suggestions were ignored, and we proceeded with the referendum. Political Juba was taken by surprise as regards the influx of thousands of all South Sudanese, from all parts of the Sudan, from which we have seceded. Even daughters and sons of South Sudan who were employed in the hitherto central government of the Sudan; found it impossible to get absorbed into the civil and other public institutions in South Sudan. The reason was that, relevant arrangements were not put in place, and in fact, these arrangements were not even visualised by political Juba.

All South Sudanese who were not working in South Sudan were literally put “off-off”. Even some South Sudanese in political Juba, were put “off-off” due to pressure on the government of South Sudan after our secession. All these issues were foreseeable to me, and I tried to warn my peoples that since we were actually going to have this referendum as per the CPA, we should put our political house in order. The right to vote in the referendum was not going to be extinguished by the extension of the interim period. All these genuine concerns of mine were turned around by my political detractors as acts of treason, and many peoples in South Sudan believed these political lies against me.

The kernel of my political argument was that, secession ought not to lead to the comprehensive structural disruptions of our peoples’ lives. My cardinal political believes were, and are still that, self-determination leading to secession ought to lead to comprehensive empowerment of our peoples, and it ought to be celebrated and enjoyed as the climax of the liberation process. I did warn that, we ought not to make our people regret voting for secession in their life time.

However, now, our peoples are voting with their feet, running away from South Sudan. You may not believe me, but, thousands of our peoples have voted with their feet towards other parts of the Sudan from which we seceded. These are not political South Sudanese. These are ordinary South Sudanese who just want something to eat, and feed their starving children with. Other South Sudanese have fled to Kenya as refugees. Those financially capable ones have gone overseas, and others refused to come home to South Sudan. Others have expressed the same regret that I warned people of. My concerns were that, we should not have emotionalised the issue of secession.

As a matter of fact, it is not only the ordinary peoples of South Sudan who are voting; or who have voted, with their feet, and running away from South Sudan. Those ruling in Juba, and in many other States in South Sudan, have voted with their children and other members of their families. These politicians and others have made sure that, their children never came to sovereign South Sudan because they knew that, political and sovereign South Sudan lacks comprehensive capacities to provide all what their families need in terms of security, goods and services. I was knowledgeable of the tension within the SPLM as regards the possible outcomes of the referendum.

My dear sisters, brothers, and youth, you the citizens of South Sudan; I have to tell you that, the majority of political leaders we have ruling us now, are not sincere leaders at all. There are many within the SPLM who are there for material reasons only. There are many in the SPLM with multi-political colours, men and women who are in there for constitutional positions only. I know many in the SPLM who use to tell me to not say a word about the political situation in South Sudan, so that, I can be found a place in government of South Sudan.

If I were like them, I could have kept silent and pretended that all was fine in South Sudan. I am not created like that. I am not a materialistic man whatsoever. I despise richness for richness sake. I am among those South Sudanese who are ready to work for free in South Sudan. I was expressing my intellectual heartfelt opinions on issues of secession and unity, not because I hate my own sisters and brothers in South Sudan. I was anaylsing the comprehensive environments of my peoples from many dimensions, not just from simple political dimension, blurred by historical and contemporaneous emotions of hurt, agonies and human revenge.

Human happiness is a composite of many dimensions working harmoniously to produce a happy persona and community respectively. Good and honest leaders always carry out these types of complicated analyses. Good leaders ought to know the differences between; and consequences of, incremental permanent positive development, and abrupt and transient negative developments respectively.  

Good leaders ought to know about the perils of disappointed expectations, based on carelessly; and recklessly delivered information, upon which, those others have based their now disappointed expectations. I was looking at the situation in my country of South Sudan through these lenses of an informed and concerned human person, who was not politically excited by political thoughts, nor ready to emotionalise the sacrifices of his peoples for a future built upon ramshackle foundations.

I want to enjoy human happiness through the happiness of my fellow human beings in South Sudan. I want to use my intellectual faculties for the common good of the peoples of South Sudan. Within the remit of extant independent South Sudan, I am hurting, and enduring daily excruciating pain, knowing that, out there, in rural South Sudan, and in some miserable urban centres in South Sudan, there are millions of children, women, youth and men; who are dying of hunger for acute lack of food, and of treatable diseases as well as comprehensive insecurities in South Sudan.  

This is me as a human person. This is the meaning of politics for me. I do not see politics as means for personal enrichment. I see politics as means to make all my peoples happy and secured. That was how I saw the debate on unity and secession. I was seeing and anaylsing this debate through the lenses, and with the mind of an informed South Sudanese, who has the cognitive ability to analyse issues in the best interests of the peoples of South Sudan, not in the best interests of the rulers of South Sudan.

These politicians defined self-determination in terms of their offices, positions and salaries only. They never defined self-determination and secession of South Sudan in terms of the comprehensive stabilities of lives of all ordinary peoples of South Sudan. These were the issues which made me to stand against hurried secession without guaranteeing our peoples the minimum of life’s requirements that they need as dignified human persons. I was not, and I am not against the freedom of my peoples. However, I am for freedom with dignity and pride.

We were already in full control of South Sudan, nobody, no power was going to take the South Sudan from us again after 2005. We had comprehensive opportunities to turn the South Sudan into the Garden of Eden on earth that we wanted, without diminishing the comprehensive political, economic, technological, financial, educational, health, and others spaces for our peoples during the interim period as extended by us; for our own interests. These were not the feelings and concerns of someone who was against the peoples of South Sudan.

I argued that, true self-determination of our peoples ought not to be measured by ministerial positions, and other constitutional positions, exclusively run by South Sudanese. Even the issue of sovereignty; this concept of sovereignty is vested in the peoples of South Sudan; and not on group of South Sudanese meeting together in a group called government or the cabinet. Self-determination of the peoples of South Sudan is to be measured in the peoples’ aggregate happiness in terms of their freedoms, rights, security, access to all goods and services and such like.

I argued that, we South Sudanese had the golden historical opportunities to shape the hitherto united Sudan into socio-economic and political entity that we wanted; without ever exposing our peoples to more hurts and agonies whatsoever. In several rallies and meetings, I even presented statistics to show that, as a result of the CPA, we South Sudanese were participating in the effective running of the Sudan more than any region in the whole Sudan.

We were exclusively running the South Sudan as an autonomous region, and nothing was going to change that. We were participating in the running of the remaining part of the Sudan at all levels. Our daughters and sons were graduating from institutions of higher education in greater numbers and with excellent qualifications. Our engineers were running major institutions in the Sudan and such like. Our medical doctors were found all over the Sudan and graduating from universities all over the Sudan.  I argued that, with proper refocusing, we could have obtained all crucial political, economic, financial, social, cultural and technological benefits, without ever exposing our peoples to life’s uncertainties.

I argued that, we needed to have cool political heads for making these political, economic and financial calculations. My arguments were based on the fact that, we wanted to make our peoples to quickly catch up in all fields. I argued that, we should not make our peoples start from scratch again. The proposed extension of the interim period was to avoid this starting from scratch. These were my honest and sincere arguments; all in the interests of the peoples of South Sudan in their totalities.

To return to issues of the 49% of the crude oil revenue that was allocated for the federal government, and for your information, we South Sudanese were also benefiting from this 49% in terms of the myriad of goods and services that accrued to us singularly and severally. Critical calculations of the expenditure of this 49% shows that, given the numbers of South Sudanese peoples who were in the other parts of the Sudan, and therefore, benefiting in one way or another from this 49%, it can be empirically argued that, a huge financial and economic burden was taken off the shoulders of the government of South Sudan (GoSS) by then.

This was evidenced by the huge amounts of monies floating in South Sudan from the public coffers as a result of this socioeconomic burden which was lifted off the shoulders of the GoSS. However, the rulers of the GoSS dropped the marble, and abused these monies and thus, they succeed in convincing the innocent peoples of South Sudan that, they the peoples, of South Sudan were remaining poor; because political Khartoum was withholding their monies; for the benefit of northern Sudanese. This was of course a huge disinformation and political dishonesty.

In terms of pediatric medicine alone, the federal government in Khartoum was treating more than 90% of South Sudanese children without charging the GoSS a penny. This information was not made public to the peoples of South Sudan. The numbers of South Sudanese involved in informal economy in the other parts of the Sudan was very huge. Many South Sudanese families educated their children because of these opportunities; and some others were able to sustain their relatives back in South Sudan from their remittances.

All these were opportunities which disappeared overnight, with the secession of South Sudan from the rest of the Sudan, and this was why I suggested the extension of the interim period so that, we do not expose our peoples to permanent economic and financial shocks; from which, they shall never recover. These were difficult political decisions which needed objective nationalism, and not subjective nationalism. It is obvious that, the interests of the peoples are always secured and protected by objective nationalism. Subjective nationalism is like a careless hen, which lays her eggs everywhere, and hatches them carelessly; creating a field day for hawks, and other flying birds of prey. See you in (part 3).

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

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