South Sudan: Is it really a booming nation, or another Somalia?

By John Bith Aliap

November 12, 2013 (SSNA) — Readers of this article may agree with me that South Sudan’s historical issues are far from resolved. The current state of affairs in the country tells us a differing story. After its independence, South Sudan is now seen to have entered yet another phase characterized by sever instability in its post-independence history.  South Sudan, a country which Dr. John Garang – the former leader of SPLM/A movement  once referred to "as a country worth dying for"  is a nation that prides itself on equality and unity in the face of adversity, but is that really the case or is this nation a facade? A million dollar question like this may not sit well with those in the echelon of power in Juba to which mishandling of this hardly won country rests upon their shoulders. However, for those who believe in truth, the harsh realities embedded within the South Sudanese society today under the current government are hard to swallow.

However, before I shed some light on issues facing our country, it’s important to remind ourselves as [South Sudanese] to take a hard look into the history of South Sudanese’ various struggles that resulted to the birth of the new nation on the 9th of July 2011.  The north-south long-decade civil war- which left an estimated 2.5 million people dead and 4 million homeless according to UN estimate was not for fun! It was for a good cause. Although the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA] succeeded in silencing the guns, the agreement is far to have solved all the country’s predicaments.

Two years now since its independence, the calamities in the country are still ongoing with no change insight. South Sudan as it currently stands, remains one of the poorest and least developed country on earth, and most communities still have little access to basic services. However, despite the wealth the country holds, South Sudanese leaders often throw their tongues on high gear in the media that they need urgent support from the international community, something they think could shore up their efforts to provide food, water and essential services to their people, but  how long will the country rely on foreign aids? Nobody knows!

The country suffers from an enormous lack of enlightened leadership and a bad style of political and economic guidance. The current South Sudanese leaders (including the president) can hardly escape the public scrutiny. These people who call themselves leaders have introduced corrupt, unethical and immoral practices which continue to reduce many of their people into paupers in their own country. 

The hosting of the universal referendum vote in 2011 signalled the end of Khartoum’s discriminatory policies, their abolition which resulted to the formation of the Republic of South Sudan was a necessity to the future of its people. While a portion of South Sudanese notably [government officials] in the country have risen up the social ladder, becoming a modern day middle and upper class, there remained a vast, widespread depression within the poor South Sudanese communities across the country. Since the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement in 2005 and up to date, the living standards among South Sudanese communities deteriorated further, with unemployment rate, criminality, tribalism, corruption, cattle wrestling  rebellions soaring to new heights.

The current SPLM-led government has sadly failed to deliver on its promises. The ensuing lack of equal distribution of wealth, economic growth, untold human rights abuse, have crippled the resolve of many formerly proud South Sudanese. As a result, doubts have evidently been cast over the security of Juba regime and its leaders’ ability to deliver on their promises. South Sudan’s economic situation is one of complete contrast, having an inequalitous mixed economy. There is a minority community that possesses a measure of wealth the rest of the nation’s working classes could only dream of (you know what I’m talking about). The economic gulf between the rich and the poor makes South Sudan the most inequalitous nation in term of income equality.

Equal opportunities are few and far between, with many often citing the current state of the country as having been blighted with corruption, tribalism, inequality, gross human rights abuse, unemployment etc. With the above mentioned issues and leaders incapable of combating any of these issues, it is hard to see how South Sudan will emerge from its transitionary period.

The largely impoverished communities are not aided by a current system built on the basis of corruption and other ill practices.  This question must be posed; is Kiir and his team really the right people to lead a proud nation such as the Republic of South Sudan, with any degree of success? The answer is an emphatic and categorical contestable depending on your view of the matter in question, but these people have managed to draw criticisms from opposition parties and citizens alike, due to their rather concealed past, in which $4 million dollars (known as dura saga) went uncounted for and no signal minister was charged in the court of law. Only in South Sudan would such people with mucky records of corruption and crimes hanging over their heads be allowed to lead the nation.

Conversely, the successes of a unified South Sudan must also be outlined, in order to understand whether it can be branded as an unmitigated disaster or an unheralded accomplishment. Somalia, a country worse than Congo, Chad, Yemen and Afghanistan is the most failed state in the world according to the annual ranking by Foreign Policy and the Global Fund for Peace. Citizens of this nation have been suffering, and are still suffering today from an ineffective government, famine, disease, piracy, militant extremism and frequent external intervention.  The question that hangs on our lips is; who really needs to see the Republic of South Sudan going through this path? I guest no one would wish to see this beautiful nation undertaking the path of Somalia. 

For South Sudan to avoid the same fate of Somalia, it is imperative that the unemployment rate, corruption, tribalism, nepotism, criminality, rebelliousness, cattle wrestling and the list goes on…. are combated with a relative degree of immediacy. Nobody wants to see a great nation like South Sudan with ‘unimaginable wealth and beautiful geographical landscape’ deteriorates beyond recognition. South Sudan to remain as a proud nation, there must be an emphasis on change for the better rather than maintaining a status quo.

John Bith Aliap lives in South Australia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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