South Sudan: ‘A Failed State Status’ overshadows the country’s second Independence Anniversary!

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

July 4, 2013 (SSNA) — South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, only two years old, for that matter, but as a direct consequence of the poor leadership style by its elites who are largely drawn from the former liberation movement, mostly  last minute – ‘Post Naivasha converts’, the country has been fast tracked to face life’s most unpleasant experience. The experience of having been consciously failed by corrupt politicians, then labeled a failed state, and then expected to celebrate an independence and freedom that only exist in the   books and the country’s constitution, but nowhere else on the ground.

No normal human being goes around celebrating failure, and still expects not to be seen as one who rightly deserves it. But there is now a coincidence, and a precedent is about to be set, if you can call it so, as the Failed States Index 2013 Launch Event is scheduled by the Fund for Peace for Tuesday, July 9, 2013 – 9.00am-11.30am at The University Club, 1135 16th St NW, Washington, D.C. – the same day south Sudan is also set to mark its second independence anniversary.

Whether it is an arrangement or mere coincidence, it is bound to have a huge impact on how South Sudan will eventually celebrate its second Independence Day  Anniversary – unfortunately as a failed state with an alert sign of impending, imminent and probably inevitable and what…etc…………..crisis. God only knows!

In this particular case however it could still be urged whether the country went on to become a failure after it had seceded from Sudan, or was it in fact born a failed state? Like a rat giving birth only to another rat; so has the long failed Sudanese state given birth to a failed off spring – the Republic of South Sudan?  Yet a failed state simply refers to a state that has failed to protect and provide services for its citizens.  

To many people including the author, South Sudan’s secession from Sudan on the 9th of July 2011 was supposed to mean independence from Khartoum. However, evidence has it that the new country under the current SPLM’s leadership seems more drawn towards its previous foes.

Borders have never been demarcated, and millions of citizens remain trapped in the wrong country, most of who are forced to live a sub human life, under the weight of a political decision that they took, but were not followed by parallel action by their politicians in the new state. As I write now, many South Sudanese citizens are preparing to celebrate yet another independence anniversary in “Babylon” against their wishes, while they await transportation back to their ancestral homes in South Sudan.

Possibly out of intricate economic and security necessities, neither Sudan nor South Sudan seems ready yet to let go of each other. The umbilical cord now left only in the form of the pipelines that navigate through the swampy terrains deep in the hinterlands, then across the desert to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, continues to connect Oil fields of South Sudan to the international market. Do you call this independence, dependence of interdependence?

It could be this continuous dependence by this new state on its former rulers in Khartoum for trade and export route that has invariably impacted on the various aspects of life to its citizens. Already a new South has emerged in the new state of Sudan following the secession of South Sudan, and is battling the central government in Khartoum.

To ignore the stability or the absence of it, along the borders of the two now separate countries, and their effects on both sides, is to pull a blanket on a huge mountain on facts which obviously led to where the two countries are now, with Sudan and South Sudan occupying the third and four positions respectively in 2013’s list of the failed states.

Talking about the Failed States Index, the United States’ think-tank, the Fund for Peace, which annually releases its list of the world’s failed states, uses a system where it grades countries according to how seriously and terribly they have failed.

The think-tank also classifies the situations in these countries as:   Critical,   In Danger,   Borderline,   and Stable   Most Stable.  If you prefer to read   the list in the traditional way, that we commonly use in our educational system, putting the best candidates in the top positions; you simply turn the list upside down. But because this exercise is mainly to measure failure and not the other way round, hence it is produced the way it is.

Completely befitting the realities on the ground the 2013 list of countries by order of appearance in the Failed States Index of the United States think-tank Fund for Peace, stands with Somalia, DR. Congo, Republic of Sudan, Republic of South Sudan,  etc ………in that order. Together with others, these countries are very weak and are all in a critical situation, needing immediate local, regional and international attention.

Failed states have several attributes in common e.g.  : Weak and/or ineffective central government that has little practical control over much of its territory; failure to provide public services; rampant corruption and widespread crimes; refugees and forceful displacement of populations; sharp economic decline.

U.S. National Security Strategy America of the 2002 concluded that the US policy makers were now threatened less by conquering states than they are by failing ones." For a country whose foreign policy in the 20th century was dominated by the struggles against powerful states such as Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union, the U.S. assessment is striking.

The US administration isn’t alone in diagnosing the problem. U.N. former Secretary-General Kofi Annan had warned that "ignoring failed states creates problems that sometimes come back to bite us." the  French former President Jacques Chirac also spoken of "the threat that failed states carry for the world’s equilibrium." World leaders once only worried about who was amassing power; now are worried about the absence of it.

Long before this 2013 failed states list was released; many other reports compiled by renowned International organisations have preceded it, expressing much criticism of South Sudan under President Salva Kiir’s SPLM rule.  Some SPLM apologists , driven by the ‘herd mentality’,  were quick to condemn these reports,  as they exposed the massive and continuous encroachment on citizens’ Human Rights by state agents, lack of free speech, curtailed or absent free press, compromised rule of law…etc.

While well-known SPLM apologists continue to refer to every report that is critical of the SPLM government’s records specifically on Rights, and calling it fabricated and unrealistic, this time around my surprise was unmatched, as the government’s mouth piece seems to have matured-up over the years, given his silence, since the coming of the 2013’s list of failed states into the public domain.

SPLM ‘Thomases’ not satisfied with the report can demonstrate self-respect and political maturity by scoring the government’s performance against the 12 factors, in a kind of self-audit to see where the government of the day stands in as far as issues including security threats, economic implosion, human rights violations and refugee flows.

Those who want to know more about the Failed State Index are advised to visit the Organisation’s website, however I have included in this article, for the purpose of quick reference all the Factors  used by Fund for Peace to ascertain the status of a country.

Social factors: Mounting demographic pressures, Massive displacement of refugees, creating severe humanitarian emergencies,    widespread vengeance-seeking group grievance,   Chronic and sustained human flight.

Economic factors: Uneven economic development along group lines; severe economic decline.

Political factors: Criminalization and/or delegitimization of the state – Deterioration of public services.    Suspension or arbitrary application of law; widespread human rights abuses;   Security apparatus operating as a "state within a state";   Rise of factionalized elites;   Intervention of external political agents.

South Sudanese have, come a long since the 1947 Juba Conference, with loads and loads of experiences which should have taught them many things, the most outstanding being that social evolution is always a history of accidents, and un-intended consequences. Out of frustration, we have heard people saying that had ever visualized that some nincompoops would skewer South Sudan’s dream or disembowel   their great grand parents’ vision for an independent egalitarian  South  Sudan; they would have elected to let the country implode on its inglorious weight

Again equally, those seeking to resurrect current leadership as the best thing not to happen to South Sudan, seem to forget their roles in the bush politics, and subsequently in the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) which they were able to convert in the broadness of the day to another GoSS of their own making, the Government of Self Service, and the fact that history punctually recorded them as the men and women who led the introduction of tribalism and mediocrity into South Sudanese politics.

Today, people glorify the politicians that rendered the South Sudanese dream of years, and decades a fractured fairy tale. Many passively consult a historical amnesia that betrays buffoonery, while others actively seek to doctor or revise history, in order to rehabilitate the self-battered images of the tribal gods of their political pantheon.

Members of the National Legislative Assembly, the Council of States and the ten States’ Assemblies,  who prefer convenient compromises to hard choices born of principles, which have been the furniture of immortal and revolutionary changes, are equally guilty of failure to  challenge the non-visionary policies of the executive, while   consciously rubberstamping  whatever comes their way.   The outcome is that before they realized, they have been crowned the best bunch sycophants to have led the new born country into premature failure,   breaking with it all the set records in the failed states indices and their histories.

No doubt these men are great and original. But unfortunately the parts of them that are great are not original, and the parts of them that are original are not great. These flaws in their individual characters, is meant to sabotage whatever dreams they claim to have because the colour of one’s dreams must issue from the colour of one’s eyes.

These people unfortunately, are the principal players, upon whose shoulders will lay the responsibility of fast tracking South Sudan into the infamous club of failed states.  Like many other sub Saharan African countries, South Sudan is a nation, from an amorphously, conscripted conglomeration of tribes. Ontologically compromised by circumstances surrounding her birth, it could only take men of great genius, charisma and invincible character, to forge a nation out of a motley band of strange bedfellows.

Subsequently today’s government has wrecked South Sudan beyond measure. Ethnicity has been enthroned. Bad leadership mutated and peaked. Military brigands and civilian thieves now hold south Sudan to a ransom; creating a cabal of elitist leeches, masquerading as patriots. South Sudan has become a playground of international mafia. They sell and buy, ranging from everything to nothing.

Today President Salva Kiir and the embattled SPLM ruling party are set to navigate the entire country on a rudderless ship. Riddled with corruption, people have come to see the status quo as the triumph of greed and superlative kleptomania. While they pretended to have been shocked by the news of the country being declared, a failed state, only in that case better than Sudan, DR. Congo and Somalia, these criminals are responsible for every bit of this mess.

The important question here and now is, whether this status of being a failed state, a thing that is likely to remain with the country, or are there ways out of it and how, if any? Based on the 12 parameters of state failure, it is apparent that South Sudan has become what it is now as a consequence of many processes that entered into interplay, since the day the Arab slave traders and their white European colonialists counterparts set feet on the land following the infamous Berlin’s 1884 Scramble for Africa Conference.

Africa’s states were designed to fail; Sudan and so South Sudan are no exceptions. First they were designed by people who had only their Imperialistic interest at heart.  If there was any love in them for anything African, it was for the continents natural resources and cheap labour.  It took both the invaders and their native puppets to disfranchise this giant of a land.

But when it comes to undoing of this mess that has piled up since the dawn of history, it is only true visionary and selfless sons and daughters of the land, who can be looked to, to undertake the task. The fact that South Sudan now ranks the fourth among the failed states is indeed a thing to worry about. But there comes another bigger, should things continue to go in this same direction – from bad to worse.  

Whereas reluctance by the political forces to take the Failed states index report seriously and embark on seeking a consensus to bring about a radical change in the status quo, from the top to the bottom, any sluggishness poses yet a thread that could drag the new country towards the top of the list, to rub shoulders more intimately with those of Somalia and the DR. Congo. Unfortunately these are all possible Scenarios given the current leadership style. This week has made itself, a weak for contemplations and not celebrations.

The author can be reached at: [email protected]

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