Who is responsible for the delays of service delivery and infrastructure development in post-conflict New Sudan regions?

(Part One)

By John G Nyuot Yoh*

12 March 2007

Those who visited Southern Sudan capital Juba and elsewhere in the states, especially during the period between January 2006 and March 2007, would notice that Juba and most capitals of the Southern Sudan states, Southern Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains have not changed in terms of development, and instead, there seems to be no interest among the stakeholders that things should move ahead.



There are certainly immediate challenges that are facing the SPLM and GOSS leaders, among which are: challenges of transforming the SPLM into a political party; training of its cadres, preparations for its upcoming 2nd National Convention in November 2007; the harmonization of old and new laws in Southern Sudan; lack of trained manpower in states and counties; possible difficulties in integrating the former SSDF and other armed groups in the SPLA and possible outbursts should the integration process be derailed as SSDF commanders negotiate high ranks with the leadership of the SPLA; lack of functioning administration in Abyei; delays in the formation of vital national commissions and other host of administrative and management challenges in various levels of governments in the South.

The urging questions then are: why is that despite the availability of funds in billions, since the first budget was approved in 2005 roads are not paved in the main towns, hospitals are not built, clean water and sewerage systems are not in place, thousands of police and civil servants from the SPLM liberated areas and those from the NCP controlled towns are not yet integrated, and schools are not built?

Who is responsible for these delays?

GoSS

Is it the GOSS ministers or the lack of capacity of strategists in GOSS ministries or is it the lack of experience of governors and counties' commissioners or should the blame fall on the lack of supervision by the SPLM leadership over these vital projects as the ruling party?

World Bank

What is the role of the World Bank as the international financial institution responsible for supervising the awarding of contracts in Southern Sudan and the institution which manages donors' funds, and as such is responsible for disbursing these funds in allocated five services areas: education, health, roads, water sanitation and electricity generation in the South?

GIBB Africa

What about GIBB Africa, the Kenyan consultant company that is responsible for the supervision of construction of roads, renovation of 700 government offices and houses in Juba, and for the installation of power plants in Juba and water sanitation and sewerage system in the town? Has GIBB Africa been up to its mandate, and why is it that it seems the company, as a consultant firm, responsible for supervision of these projects, is not interested in finishing these projects on time, and instead, it is accused of delaying the completion of these projects intentionally?

National Congress Party

What about the National Congress Party (NCP), does it have a hand in the delays that the developmental projects in Juba and elsewhere in the South, Southern Kordufan (Nuba Mountains) and Southern Blue Nile states have witnessed since October 2005 when the government of Southern Sudan, governments of Southern Kordufan and Blue Nile were formed? Is it true that the NCP has been intentionally delaying release the oil funds allocated to the south on time? Who are the NCP affiliates in Juba, does it have influential members in the GOSS and in Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly, who have interest in delaying development in the South?

I was faced with these questions during my last visit to Juba in March 2007, and tried while there to find some answers to them. My preliminary conversations with some of the actors in Juba have revealed that, leaders of Government of Southern Sudan and the SPLM have the big share in the blame, because as the main beneficiaries, they should take keen interest in seeing to it that these projects are completed on time and that funds are not wasted on unnecessary man-made delays.

One of the pillars of the SPLM ideology is the determination to establish a New Sudan, where ordinary Sudanese who have been deprived of all kinds of development opportunities could enjoy equal distribution of resources, equal access to power and live in a country where leaders serve their people with dedication and respect. The CPA and the National Interim Constitution of Sudan have, for the first time in Sudan history, provided the framework for the achievement of these rights.

Indeed, millions of Sudanese who supported the SPLM policies and slogans during the twenty two years of struggle were convinced that the movement was well-placed, given its commitment to justice, equality and freedom, to provide them with clean water, quality roads, health care and education and access to sources of energy and electrification. The SPLM, soon after the formation of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan was therefore expected to speedily implement a comprehensive developmental programme, particularly in those marginalized areas, where its power and support were based.

It is this understanding of the SPLM historical mandate that informed my discussions in Juba regarding the challenges of implementation of developmental projects in the South:

Firstly, it seems that GOSS developmental projects are not coordinated; each ministry seems to concentrate on its projects. The ministry of roads for example does not coordinate its activities with the ministries of housing, education, and health, which means that the same contractor or consultant company that supposes to carry out or supervises these projects, in the same city/town/state, is accountable only to the ministry, which signed contract with it. The fact that the ministry of finance pays these companies regularly, even when they have spent over a year without having completed any of these projects, meant that the ministry of finance does not coordinate with other ministries, which are beneficiaries in these projects.

GOSS as the voice of Southern Sudanese people should work as a one unit, and that is why there is a Council of Ministers, which meets every Wednesday to discuss all aspects of governance and service delivery throughout the South. The question is: what do they talk about whenever they meet, if the resolutions of their meetings do not have effect on the ground.

Governors of Southern States up to this time have not started building schools, clinics and other service oriented projects, simply because the majority of them believe that GOSS will take care of these projects. Did GOSS give these governors and commissioners some funds for developmental projects, if not, how do they expect them to carry out their duties, given that they are living among 90% of the Southern Sudanese population, on whose behalf the struggle was waged and are expecting rewards and dividends for their long struggle?

It is difficult to understand for example that without an integrated comprehensive economic and developmental programme for the whole Southern Sudan, which should be supervised and implemented by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the GOSS, states and counties can not pursue any substantive developmental programme. Each ministry, state and county, can only implement its allocated portion within this comprehensive economic and developmental policy.

That is why it is only natural that organizations such as the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) can come in and become the developmental agents and planners for the economic system of Southern Sudan because there is no comprehensive economic policy for the south.

Economic policy of any nation is informed by the ideology, historical and economic realities and capabilities of that nation. The South for example has fought against marginalisation and underdevelopment in the old Sudan. Its main goal was to address and does away with these evils. If today, after over two decades of struggle, GOSS found itself managing $1.7 billion dollars, as an annual budget, it is only natural that such a budget is spent before the end of the budget year, because the needs of the people in the South are enormous.

To hear that hundreds of millions of dollars were returned to the treasury because they were not spent in 2006 meant that GOSS as a government has no unified and central agency responsible for ascertaining what has been spent and what was not. This is the work of the minister of finance and the treasury (Central Bank of Southern Sudan). The Bank of Southern Sudan (BOSS) was a demand by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) during the negotiations in Naivasha, for it to act as the treasurer where the money is kept, while the ministry of finance was supposed to supervise the balance sheets: how much has been spent, on what and how much remains unspent in the treasury.

Instead, what we hear today is that the ministry of finance keeps the money as well as disbursing them. It has taken over the work of BOSS. This explains why, when the financial year came to an end in January 2007, some ministers were surprised to learn that they have not spent 80% to 90% of their budgets, because no one told them that they were under-spending, because they assumed that they committed huge funds to projects which were underway. These are simple realities that the undersecretaries and director generals of ministries and governors can deal with on regular basis.

GOSS is therefore responsible for the lack of implementation of projects, which its ministries signed contracts to handle.

Imagine a minister telling his colleagues in a cabinet meeting recently that the ministry of finance has incurred a lost worth of $131 millions US dollars because of fluctuation of exchange rate of dinar and dollar. The question asked was why informing the cabinet only now, and not a year ago, when GOSS could have done something about it. The result of that unnecessary negligence was that every GOSS employee throughout the south will receive his/her salary less of at least %20, unless another alternative solution is found. This is what I meant by the lack of coordination between cabinet ministers.

SPLM

Secondly, what is the role of the SPLM as the ruling party and the guardian of the Sudanese revolution in the ongoing underdevelopment policy in the South? Developing an economic policy has always been the prerogative of the ruling party, and has never been that of the government.

The SPLM as a mass movement fought for a purpose, that objective was concretised and institutionalised in the protocols of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The philosophy and ideology of the SPLM were therefore embodied in the CPA, particularly in power and wealth sharing protocols and in the security arrangements protocol. In fact, the blue prints of the SPLM economic policies were enshrined in the wealth sharing protocol, where service delivery (taking towns to villages) became the point of reference for any government official.

The oil revenues were divided fifty-fifty, despite the reservations of Southerners, because the SPLM wanted to have access to funds and to prove to the people of the South and the marginalized areas that underdevelopment policies of the Old Sudan were the enemy that ought to be fought, and more so during post-conflict period. To achieve that the SPLM had gain access to oil revenues and GOSS and states' governments were to be the custodians of development in the New Sudan.

Any contractor, consultant company or international agency, such as the World Bank, would come in as a consultant, but the supervision of the implementation of these projects was to be the sole responsibility of the SPLM, GOSS and other Southern political parties as the guardians of the development in the South.

The above explanation was necessary in order for us to understand, why the SPLM and GOSS should bear the responsibility of managing, supervising and making sure that contractors and consultants are up to their expectations.

Managing people's expectations is the most difficult situation a post conflict government could find itself in. The SPLM and GOSS seem to have relaxed and left the fate of development in the South into the wrong hands. It is a collective responsibility, because the Council of Ministers is a collective, and no single person is expected to take decisions on behalf of the collective. The same applies to the SPLM, it is a collective, and any decision on shortcomings facing the development projects in the South, should be taken by the whole leadership.

Therefore, if anything is to be rectified, it is the GOSS' cabinet and the SPLM National Council to ask themselves, have we given up some of our revolutionary duties to non-SPLM members, and what can we do to regain our sense of responsibility? The answer is obvious: SPLM and GOSS must sit down and remember that two years have lapsed and nothing substantial has been done in the rural areas, counties, states and in Juba. Someone or some people must be responsible for this situation and something serious must be done about it urgently, unless the SPLM and GOSS leaders are waiting for public protests in rural areas, payams, counties, and states against the lack of service delivery and development, a probability that may happen if things remain unchanged.

* John Yoh is a Lecturer in Department of Political Sciences, University of South Africa in Pretoria. He is also a member of the Gurtong Advisory Board.
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