- Written/Submitted by Amanda Letiwa
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I am Sick of the South Sudanese mentality that currently condones the diabolical state of affairs in South Sudan. Statements such as 'we are starting from scratch' channel this dangerous and complicit idea through the South Sudanese psyche. What the South Sudanese spokes people of this cryptic 'We are starting from scratch' message do not understand is the underlying damage this statement alone has caused to my generation, namely the under thirties. It is breeding an acceptance of corruption, disorganisation and materialism. It doesn't take much to notice this developing trend among the young South Sudanese. Ask any under thirty who has a parent in the South Sudanese governmental system and you will discover their excessive support for the system or at best silence on the matter of governance in South Sudan. I remember having a conversation with a South Sudanese man in his early-twenties about South Sudan. I expressed to him my extreme disappointment with the pathetic state of the South Sudanese economy, especially because South Sudan's economic potential is far from being exhausted. He replied me by saying that he thought the Government of South Sudan/SPLA (GOSS) was doing very well, he urged me to consider the fact that they are 'starting from scratch'.
I have two main issues with this opinion expressed by too many South Sudanese, young and old. My first problem is, what then is to be said of the 1970s South Sudanese administration under Nimeiri's May 25th revolution regime (Nimeiri regime), set up in accordance with the Addis Ababa agreement. The second problem I have with the starting from scratch mentality is that, with the several years that South Sudanese have spent in the Diaspora and as a result the plethora of undergraduate and post-graduate degree holders we now have, why do we pretend to lack the brain power to generate adequate government.
Firstly let us examine the extent of the administrative autonomy held by the Southern Regional Executive council under the Nimeiri regime. The Addis Ababa agreement stipulated in Chapter four article eleven (Chp 4, art 11) that the High executive council for the then Southern region of Sudan was to have legislative capacity over a number of issues, for example "Promotion and utilization of Regional financial resources for the development and administration of the Southern Region." This effectively meant that South Sudan could explore, develop and administer policies and schemes that would generate regional revenue for regional development. What many of my fellow under thirties need to understand is that if our leaders in the seventies were as feckless as our current leaders, the resource that contributes to 98% of South Sudan's current GDP namely oil, may never have been discovered.
Oil exploration had been taking place in what was then Northern Sudan since 1959 to no avail. The Nimeiri regime continued oil exploration in Northern Sudan with no intention or obligation to extend the oil exploration to what was then Southern Sudan. In the late seventies the leader of the High executive council for Southern Sudan at the time approached and facilitated the exploration of oil by Chevron and as a result oil was discovered in Western Upper Nile (see: http://www.sudanupdate.org/REPORTS/Oil/08cn.html) . This is evidence not only of initiative but also an expression of interest in the development of the infrastructure of South Sudan. If this was the sort of activity South Sudanese leaders were taking part of in the seventies, surely South Sudan was not starting from scratch under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.
In fact what is clear from the example given above is that, the sort of initiative and interest expressed by South Sudanese leaders in the past clearly lack in GOSS today. If that were not so why does South Sudan's economy lack diversity? After the six year interim period I cannot understand why South Sudan's agricultural potential was not actualised. If GOSS had taken its responsibility to the people of South Sudan seriously by appointing competent officials at the beginning of the interim period to manage the oil, GOSS would have been prepared for the Oil stoppage stunt they pulled at the beginning of this year. They would have had hard evidence of the alleged unlawful diversion of oil carried out by the Sudanese government which would have strengthened their bargaining power in the recent talks held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. Therefore GOSS would have averted the severity of inflation currently in South Sudan as a result of the now diminished GDP. However Instead of planning and thinking ahead, our leaders were busy stealing the oil revenue to feed their newly cultivated expensive tastes, wining and dining their international friends.
In all of this governmental debauchery what hurts any sane human being is the deprivation our brothers and sisters living in South Sudan are facing, with the cost of living in Juba ridiculously high and the quality of life shockingly poor. Are our leaders thinking of anyone else but themselves? And what of we in the Diaspora watered, fed and educated. In fact is any South Sudanese person thinking of anyone else but themselves?
This leads me to my second issue with the statement 'We are starting from scratch'. A recent graduate myself, with many South Sudanese graduates before me and the several educated who belong to my parent's generation, is it plausible for anyone to believe that South Sudan lacks the capacity to govern itself effectively. In fact it seems to be a strategic ploy by our incompetent leaders that the cream of South Sudan does not rise to the top, because if they did our government would look lean and nothing like it does today. The restriction of brain power in South Sudan is perhaps the one thing GOSS has strategically carried out effectively. I find it sad that GOSS is successful at tasks that are counterproductive to the development of South Sudan.
I am honestly sickened to my core at the apathy my peers and in fact many of my parents peers have toward changing the state of affairs in South Sudan, we have developed a culture rife with immorality that is killing our people in their droves. If we, all South Sudanese do not begin to speak out and effect change in South Sudan we may very soon find that we have no country at all.
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