South Sudan’s news editor blasts health ministry critics

South Sudan News Agency’s editor, Duop Chak Wuol. Photo: file

Addis Ababa, March 31, 2020 (SSNA) — The newly appointed minister of health has been unfairly criticized for her limited English language, a prominent South Sudanese news editor and writer says.

Last week, South Sudan’s minister of health Elizabeth Achuei Yol updated the nation about the coronavirus and thanked foreign institutions for their help. The minister was widely criticized for her limited English language skills. However, many prominent South Sudanese seem undeterred by the minister’s English language skills.

“There is a presumption, though not always reliable, that criticizing a person who is in power is good because it allows the person to make some leadership improvements. Minister Elizabeth fits within the meaning of this belief. However, nearly all the allegations that have been leveled against her because she does not speak what some of her critics branded as “good English” are absurd,” Duop wrote in an article widely published in South Sudanese news outlets.

“Does South Sudan’s constitution ban anyone who does not speak perfect English from holding a national portfolio?” he asks.

An investigation by the South Sudan News Agency reveals that South Sudan is constitutionally an English-speaking country and anyone working for the government is required to speak in English. However, an in-depth analysis also confirmed that the Constitution does not ban anyone who does not speak good English from holding a national post.

“There is no question in my mind that English is the official language of South Sudan, but this constitutional acknowledgment does not prove that trashing a South Sudanese minister who does not speak good English. This thinking reminds me of some South Sudanese who shamelessly believe that knowing a foreign language or being fluent in English is a sign of good leadership,” he says, adding “The health minister deserves to be criticized. However, criticism should be based on facts, not about her English skills. Those who think articulating the name of Coronavirus wrongly or having a questionable accent in a foreign dialect entails leadership’s immaturity should consult their conscience.”

In his article, “Health minister, coronavirus, and English language nonsense,” Duop proposes that South Sudan needs to constitutionally recognize local languages. The SSNA editor is best known for his critical articles against the South Sudanese government.

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