By John G. Nyuot Yoh*
12 March 2007
There is a perception that the difference between African elites and their Asian, European and American counterparts is that the latter, in terms of implementing developmental projects, make sure that, once they receive their handsome commissions in full, projects must be completed on time.
On the other hand, African elites receive their commissions in full and in collusion with contractors and consultants, make sure that projects never get completed and these projects become the source of living for them as long as new budgets are allocated for the completion of the same projects each year, even if it means one project is financed for five to ten years.
Is this what has been happening in Southern Sudan since July 2005?
While GOSS and SPLM may appear in the first instance responsible for the delays in the service delivery and developmental projects in Southern Sudan, it seems that other stakeholders carry some blame.
Indeed, during my stay in Juba in March 2007, I was made to believe that, while GOSS and SPLM bear some responsibility for the lack of supervising the developmental projects in the South, particularly in Juba, other stakeholders equally deserve the blame for the delay, they include the World Bank bureaucrats stationed in East Africa and in the South, GIBB Africa consultants and the NCP and its operatives in the South.
From the conversations I have had in Juba, I got the impression that the above mentioned stakeholders somehow had something to do with the ongoing state of
stagnation in the development arena and service delivery structures in the South.
Firstly, what about the World Bank, does it bears some blame for the lack of development and service delivery in the South? As may be recalled, during the last lag of the Naivasha negotiations, as part of the wealth sharing modalities, the SPLM, NCP and the United Nations, as represented then by the World Bank, worked out the details of the Joint Assessment Mission (JAM), a programme which was meant to assess the needs of the Southern Sudan and the other war affected areas in Sudan. These needs, most of which were infrastructural and service delivery oriented, were to be implemented within the period of three years from the time of signing of the CPA (2005-2007). The JAM process was well-detailed in terms of items to be carried out and time frames. The World Bank became the leading agency to supervise the implementation of the JAM programme.
On the other hand, in run up to the Oslo donor conference, which was held in September 2003, the SPLM and the NCP agreed that the developmental funds which
were to be received from the donors, as part of the Oslo process, were to be kept and disbursed by the World Bank through Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF). The
understanding was that all the developmental projects which were to be financed through the MTDF, including the awarding of contracts, must get the "No Objection
Note" from the World Bank representatives in Southern Sudan. The JAM process identified five areas as developmental priorities in Southern Sudan, Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile: education, health, roads, and water sanitation and electricity
Based on the above understanding GOSS started to invite bidders to compete for contracts in the areas specified within JAM process and based on the needs of GOSS. Until early 2007, about ten companies from United Nations (UNDP), Kenya, Italy, China, Germany, Uganda and other countries were awarded contracts, with the blessing of the World Bank. The agreement between the World Bank and GOSS was that every one US dollar that the MTDF contributes to developmental projects in the South, GOSS will contribute two US dollars. Two years since the CPA was initialled in Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2005, the contractors who were awarded contracts did not complete their work to date, and the World Bank which
gave the blessing to these contracts has not reacted in a manner that would suggest that it cares.
For example, while acknowledging existence of differences with GOSS over how to go about implementing developmental projects in the South, the World Bank representatives argue that they were given a go ahead by President Salva Kiir that GoSS should continue to use the World Bank's procedures for procurement and financial management in order to uphold its good governance goals.
This is of course an argument that would require qualification: President Kiir, like other leaders in Sudan, is aware of the shortcomings of the World Bank bureaucracies in Africa, and would not give a free hand to an organisation that has been largely responsible for damaging the developing countries' economic systems to run a weak region that is just emerging from the war. The World Bank might have had cordial relationship with Southern Sudan's Finance Minister, but certainly some of its policies and regulations, especially those relating to the funding of service delivery projects in health, housing and road sectors were not definitely welcomed by many SPLM cadres serving in GOSS. The slowness in the implementation of some projects, such as the renovation of houses, roads, and construction of hospitals, despite the availability of hundreds of millions of US dollars, has not been encouraging.
The attempts by the World Bank representatives in the South to encourage privatisation of service delivery projects in Southern Sudan and discouragement of GOSS policy of proceeding with human resource capacity development is another controversial policy that GOSS should look into with an open eye. Indeed, Mr Ishac
Diwan, the World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia and Sudan, in an interview in February 2007 admitted that there are disagreements between the World Bank and GOSS over the issues of capacity building of GOSS staff versus contracting out (privatising) to UN agencies, NGOs, and consultants some of the services; secondly, trading-off between good governance and speed of the delivery and thirdly, disagreement over what he referred to as striking the "right" balance between efforts to deliver results now, and efforts that only deliver in the medium term, but deliver big time. Southern Sudan is emerging from war, tasked to managed expectations of restless population and one would not expect such an infant government to privatise its vital public service delivery sectors, such as health sector to UN agencies and NGOs.
For example, GOSS ministry of health was apparently persuaded by the World Bank representatives to contract out primary health delivery to private operators and to award a contract for the construction of what was referred to as "semi-permanent" hospitals in ten capitals of Southern Sudan states. The Norwegian company which got the controversial contract is nowadays advertising positions for doctors, nurses and lab technicians for these hospitals. In other words, the contractor will be in charge of recruiting, managing and constructing these hospitals. The pretext which the World Bank representatives gave was that privatising these essential services will speed up the delivery because GOSS does not have the capacity, while the people of the South are desperate to get these services.
Another thing that irritates regarding the politics of contracts in Southern Sudan is that huge amounts are spent in projects, which could cost less if thorough studies were carried out. For example, the renovation of one office or house of the Addis Agreement era is costing the Ministry of Housing between $150,000 and 200,000 US dollars, an amount which, some argue, could build at least 2 three-bed new houses.
Lack of transferency
Another important aspect which requires immediate attention is an apparent lack of transparency in the reports of the World Bank operations in Southern Sudan. For example, how much funds has the World Bank committed to projects in Southern Sudan, Nuba Mountains, and Southern Blue during the years 2005 and 2006. The recent World Bank media reports talked about buying 750,000 mosquito nets, medicines, school books, but did not talk about having constructed clinics, schools etc.
Another question which requires an answer is to who did KPMG, one of the leading South African accountant firms, submitted its reports on the funds that were spent during the 2005 and 2006 budget years. KPMG was assigned, upon recommendation of the World Bank and donor countries, to handle the accounts for the funds which the MTDF were spending in Southern Sudan. This was an appropriate decision because the SPLM then, did not have the man power and the trained accountants to handle such sensitive assignment.
These are serious issues, which GOSS should discuss closely with the World Bank and the United Nations agencies involved in developmental programmes in Southern Sudan. The World Bank is an important financial institution that the South must have cordial relations with, but such a relationship must be informed by mutual interests, which must be managed transparently.
Secondly, GIBB Africa, a Kenyan consultant engineering company, is one of the consultant companies supervising the implementation, among others, of the following projects: pavement of 60 Kilometer road inside Juba, electricity plants in Juba, renovation of 700 government offices and houses in Juba, and installation of water sanitation and sewerage system in Juba.
GIBB Africa came into contact with some SPLM leaders during the negotiations in Naivasha, and had shown interest in helping in developmental projects in post-war Southern Sudan. Two years down the line, GIBB Africa seems to have difficulties carrying out it duties: either it is unable to push the contractors to complete their work, or it has interest in delaying the completion of these projects.
For example, ministers and their employees have been told to evacuate their offices and houses, some since mid 2005, and none of these ministries and houses was renovated. In every house or office, handful workers are assigned to do the work, and in most cases, only work until midday, especially if they are Chinese complaining about the heat. In fact, most of the GOSS officials are complaining that they are displaced from their houses, where some are forced to spend $250 US dollars daily to get accommodation in the tents and containers' hotels in town, while they could not
employ new employees, apart from the displaced directors, because the offices are still under renovation since the government was formed last year.
On the other hand, GIBB Africa seems to have difficulty in urging its engineers to push contractors to finish work in Juba roads: the Italian company which won the contract, with the blessing of the World Bank, has been in Juba since early 2006. The
impression everybody has in Juba is that the Italians are not doing their work and are taking their time.
On the other hand, the Italians seem to have difficulties in communicating their frustrations to GOSS. According to the World Bank contract regulations, the contractor and the client (GOSS) have no direct communication; they must communicate through the consultant, and in this case the Italians are not allowed to talk to GOSS. GIBB Africa is therefore the link between Italians and GOSS.
This is also the case with the installation of Juba electricity, which thank God has partially been installed and functioning and water and sewerage system, which are still not operational. The Ministry of Housing, Land and Public Utilities cannot
communicate directly with the contractors, but through GIBB Africa.
What does this mean in practical terms; it seems that, according to this arrangement, and as the consulting company, GIBB Africa decides when the projects should finish. One wonders indeed, if each consultant engineer is being paid since early 2006 between $14,000 US dollars and 29,000 US dollars every month by GOSS, why would that engineer be in hurry to urge the contractors to complete the renovation of
GOSS offices, houses or the roads in Juba!
GOSS and the SPLM are directly responsible for this impasse and should take drastic measures to resolve this problem by calling the consultants, contractors and the World Bank officials to an emergency meeting to explain some of these shortcomings.
Finally, is there any role for the NCP and its operatives in the delays of the implementation of developmental projects in Southern Sudan, Southern Kordufan and Southern Blue Nile? In Sudan, conspiracy theories abound when talking about whether NCP has a hand in any negative development in Southern Sudan or not, especially things that directly affect the well-being of the Southern Sudanese and the
Since the CPA was signed, NCP has presented itself as partner to the SPLM, however, soon after GOSS was formed, it became clear that the NCP has decided to either penetrate the SPLM through some of its cadres; compromise some SPLM cadres; use local militias to destabilize the region or delay the release of oil revenue funds on time to GOSS. Access to telecommunication system in the South, despite the installation of three national cell phone networks, Sudantel, Mobitel and al-Sudani, is almost non-existence, as Sudan security agencies use sophisticated technology to jam these networks. It is difficult to access these networks in Southern Sudan, thus making communication between and with Southern Sudanese impossible. It is much easier to call any town in northern Sudan, than to call someone within
Allegations abound that if you happen to be a politician or a senior SPLM member, it is most likely that you will never receive a call through one of the three networks mentioned above and even if you do, it is most likely that your phone is bugged. This
might explain why the SPLM had opted to permit the Gemtel mobile network to operate in Southern Sudan, to at least assist the GOSS, SPLM leadership and Southern Sudanese to communicate among themselves and with the rest of the world.
Abyei, Nuba Mountain and Blue Nile
In Abyei, Southern Kordufan (Nuba Mountains) and Southern Blue Nile, the situation in the South, in terms of developmental projects is much better, because at least there are developmental projects underway in some towns/cities in the South, while in the three areas mentioned above nothing has been done since the CPA was signed.
In Abyei, for example, up to date, the administration, which supposes to run the daily affairs and implement developmental projects and deliver services to the citizens of Abyei during the interim period, is not yet formed. For two years the NCP has refused even to consider the idea of establishing an interim administration until the two partners come to agreement over the status Abyei Boundary Commission Report which was compiled by the international experts. In recognition of this devastated situation the GOSS cabinet had to approved in March 2007 the release of $10 million US dollars to assist the Abyei people meet some of their immediate needs. Instead of sending health care and educational facilities to the area, Sudan army soldiers and
members of popular defense force are sent to Abyei in sizeable numbers monthly, thus raising tensions and insecurity in the area.
In Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile, the NCP had made it a point to creating internal conflicts among local communities in these two states, while making sure that there are no developmental projects implemented there. Although the CPA has stipulated that 28% of the manpower of public servants in various government departments in these two states will come from SPLM members, up to date, the whole bureaucracy is still under control of the NCP affiliates.
In fact, areas such as Kurmuk and Kauda, which were under the control of the SPLM before the signing of the CPA, are deprived of services or developmental projects, hence making it look like the SPLM has neglected people of these areas.
The CPA is clear in terms of who will pay the salaries of the civil servants and develop these areas: the Government of Southern Sudan would pay allowances to and maintain the SPLA soldiers, which are not part of the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs), and that is why, SPLA soldiers from Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile are paid as part of the mother SPLA. As for the civil servants, police, correctional services and wild life soldiers in these two areas, the CPA gave the responsibility of their maintenance to the Government of National Unity.
Moreover, the NCP representatives in the governments and parliaments of the two states have been frustrating their SPLM counterparts, making it difficult for them to initiate developmental projects, let alone implementing them. Imagine the offices of
Governor of the Southern Kordufan and the Deputy Governor of Southern Blue Nile, both senior members of the SPLM, have no access to internet, functioning telephone lines, fax machines, and two years down the line, they still use Thuraya satellite phones, which they were using when they were still in the struggle.
There is no doubt that as a result of the NCP activities in the marginalised areas an impression developed among some of the local population in Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile that the SPLM has given up some of its responsibilities towards its supporters in these areas.
The leadership of the SPLM will have to take serious steps in order to explain to its supporters in Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile that it is aware of the NCP activities in these regions and that it is doing something tangible about some of these challenges.
* John Yoh is a Lecturer in Department of Political Sciences, University of South Africa in Pretoria.
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