Category: National

South Sudan: Human Rights Deterioration and Possible Consequences

BY: Jwothab Othow, RSS, DEC/28/2012, SSN;

The purpose of this paper is to examine and identify the major human rights violations and their consequences that have occurred in South Sudan within the last 8 years since 2005. As citizens of South Sudan, we are deeply concerned about the deterioration in the rule of law in the country since the attainment of independence has raised questions on the fundamental principles of human rights. It has become common knowledge that the framework for establishing the rule of law in South Sudan has fallen short of the expectations of citizens and the international community.

The alleged extensive killings, disappearances, media harassment, detentions and torture were carried out by the government of South Sudan’s security forces. As we all know that human rights violation is an unlawful deprivation of individual rights considered inherent to all humans. Perpetrators of human rights violations within the security forces used numerous tactics of repression, with both physical and psychological consequences.

The government of South Sudan must be held accountable for human rights violations against it citizens and it is crucial as a deterrent, in order to ensure that these violations are not repeated. Therefore, by international law South Sudan is obligated to effectively investigate suspected breaches of human rights and prosecute those responsible. For example, we have witnessed what happened recently in Wau town whereby SPLA soldiers were killing peaceful protesters. Nine civilians were reportedly killed and several wounded. South Sudan must be held responsible for the protection of their citizens and therefore what is happening in Wau is not acceptable and the government of South Sudan must be held responsible for failing to protect its citizens.

On December 4, 2012, Isaiah Abraham was killed in his home in Juba by unknown gunmen. On December 17, 2012, Lawrance Korbandy who is the chairperson of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission (SSHRC) called for the resignation of security ministers due to the killing of innocent civilians across the country, and in the capital, Juba, in particular; and to allow investigations into the death of Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol to take place fairly. Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak who is the National Security Minister expresses his concern that, “I will not accept to work for an institution which kills people.”

One of the most difficult things for civilized people to comprehend is that these wicked barbaric acts of cruelty were not the actions of psychopaths, but soldiers. Their “enemy” was not an invading army from foreign borders, nor were they fighting for freedom against a repressive racist regime; the vast majority of the “enemy” was their fellow South Sudanese. This is a clear human rights violation of the fundamental right of freedom of expression and assembly.

According to Amnesty International in it reports on South Sudan human rights violations that time has come for accountability. There are assaults on the media, the political opposition, civil society activists, and human rights defenders; these are important components needed for a democratic society to prevail.

According to European Press Photo Agency reports on November 21, 2012 who visited the South Sudan two prisons: Rumbek Central Prison and Juba Central Prison which was built in 1948 by the British colonial government, Rumbek Central Prison houses some 600 prisoners who live in overcrowded cells with practically no access to basic health care, sanitation, as well as adequate food and nutrition. Many detainees have no legal representation and South Sudan has no functioning legal aid system. Many are also vulnerable to illness and diseases, which they rarely receive proper care, unless they can pay for medicine themselves. Ten inmates died in Aweil prison and at least five died in Bentiu prison in 2011 alone, most of treatable illnesses, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Arbitrary detention is widespread in South Sudan, according to HRW in its 2012 report. Conditions in South Sudan’s prisons evidently do not comply with international or domestic law or standards on prisoners’ welfare. South Sudan’s human rights deterioration could possible result in serious consequences against the government of South Sudan and possible isolation by the international community if it fails to improve its human rights conditions. It is also disturbing that United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) seemed to have failed to fulfill its responsibility to observe human rights violations carried out by the elements of SPLA in South Sudan since the country gained independence.

The whole world was shocked by the atrocities and abuses which were committed by SPLA in the Chollo (Shilluk) Kingdom in 2010. According to Aljazeera report which was broadcasting the video report on the Television network; it was clear that there have been serious human rights abuses against the civilian population in the name of so-called disarmament program in Chollo (Shilluk) Kingdom. The government of South Sudan’s security forces committed a range of human rights violations despite the presence of UNMISS in South Sudan to monitor and report human rights abuse both in Chollo Kingdom and Jongeli states. In 2010, the SPLA army clearly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Shilluk Kingdom where Shilluk men and women were targeted as a result of Robert Gwang’s rebellion, women were raped and men severely tortured or killed.

The women were raped by SPLA soldiers to dehumanize them and as a form of punishment for their male family members, as rape not only humiliates the person raped but also the whole family and their community. It is clearly based on the evidence of ongoing human rights abuses against civilians in the Chollo Kingdom during the so-called disarmament. The element of Padang Dinka’s elites within the SPLM ruling party orchestrated their agenda to grab Chollo land using Robert Gwang’s rebellion as an excuse. Until now, the SPLA forces who committed odious war crimes and crimes against humanity have not been brought to justice.

Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the government of South Sudan under the leadership of President Salva Kiir has been engaged in extrajudicial and other unlawful killings; arbitrary arrest, torture; harassment on the media, and inhuman treatments or punishments against its citizens and those who are critical against his government. Arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention without trial is against international law and it is a serious violation of human rights. South Sudan’s security agents have been carrying out killings of civilians and journalists; e.g. a political commentator who are critical to the government and questioned the unconstitutional practices of the security forces.

South Sudan Security forces routinely commit political violence, including torture of citizens in custody, particularly in areas suspected of support for the opposition. For example, on July, 7, 2011, the SPLM-DC leader of opposition in South Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) and Deputy Chairman of SPLM-DC was harshly beaten by the SPLA Military Intelligence.

The government of South Sudan must reform it security forces because continuation of these abuses such as extrajudicial arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention without trial, torture, harsh prison conditions; restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, freedom of assembly, association; prevention of international human rights observers and discrimination against women and child abuse could lead to more deterioration of human rights abuses that will damage the nation creditability in the international community which could result in sanctions against South Sudan and isolation from the international community. If the South Sudan government wants a sustainable peace and to be part of the international community it must respect human rights and should demonstrate its commitment to international law by carrying out full thorough investigations into human rights violations nationwide. According to HRW researchers who have met scores of people sent to prison by chiefs who had no formal legal training, for crimes that do not appear in South Sudan’s criminal code.

South Sudan government should prosecute those responsible for any criminal acts within it security agency. According to HRW that, “The government of South Sudan should send a strong and clear message that it will not allow soldiers to abuse civilians or fail to protect them during clashes.” For example, the SPLA carried out operations against militia allegedly linked to SPLM-DC in Fashoda County, committing serious human rights abuses in the process. The SPLM leaders who are perpetrators for the crimes committed against civilians and are criminally responsible as are both military and political leaders who participated to implementing the policy that instigated tribal violence among the communities and human rights violations.

President Salva Kiir could be qualified for criminal liability as a leader and under whose administration crime which has been committed against civilians populations. South Sudanese civilians found themselves the target of mass atrocities at the hands of the government of South Sudan and SPLA forces.

The international community and regional and sub-regional bodies must act now to protect the populations. Call for SPLM/A to be held accountable for human rights violations against civilians. Since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2005, civilians have been at risk of mass atrocities in the hands of SPLA forces. As we have witness the recent killing by SPLA forces shooting at protesters and peaceful demonstration in Wau. The government of South Sudan must uphold the responsibility to protect civilians. The SPLA armed forces and their leaders expressed clear intent to continue committing massive human rights violations against the civilians in South Sudan.

The SPLM ruling party are responsible for manufacturing ethnic conflict between the communities in South Sudan since 2005 as result of SPLM policy of provoking ethnic violence where it will remain free from challenge in the political arena. Until now the government of South Sudan has not addressed the land dispute between Shilluk and Padang Dinka communities that has turned violent on several occasions in recent year”s alienated Shilluk communities according to HRW.

According to Amnesty International Executive Director, Suzanne Nossel, who made the following comments in response to reports that the international hip hop artist and human rights advocate Emmanuel Jal had been seriously beaten by South Sudan police in Juba. His account of an unprovoked attack, preceded by the seizure of his mobile phone, must be immediately investigated and all those responsible must be held accountable. “We further call on the authorities to ensure that Jal is able to move freely and in safety while in South Sudan. Jal has been a dedicated advocate for peace and security in the region for years. His early years as a child soldier had made him extraordinarily credible as an advocate to prevent the use of children as soldiers worldwide to support the establishment of a global arms trade treaty and to defend human rights.”

The government of South Sudan must comply with international law and investigate all abuses by it security forces and end “horrific acts of violence” by security forces against it citizens. As a consequence South Sudan must and should address the atrocities committed against civilians by South Sudan’s security forces.

South Sudan civil society has been weakening due to consistent harassment and intimidation by security forces and its leader Mr. Deng Athuai Mawiir Rehan was once abducted and beaten badly. Also it is undeniable that the notions of tribal politics in South Sudan has weakened and divided the organizations such as civil society and the media to prevent them from taking a united concerted action against the repressive regime due their tribal loyalties. These organizations are important components and a cornerstone in the society to maintain social peace and defend human rights in South Sudanese society.

It is my sincere belief that if South Sudan is to be great, it must live up to her ideals for freedom, equality and justice for all. It must continue to fight against tribalism in order to succeed in her pursuits for an inclusive society that is base on the principle of equality for all, democracy, freedom, justice, human rights and lasting peace. South Sudanese must and should understand that tribalism is the most divisive and destructive element in our nation’s social fabric future.

South Sudan’s government has clearly failed to stop the security forces that have been committing these horrific acts of violence against its citizens. President Salva Kiir promised during an independence-day speech to respect and ratify human rights treaties. He also signed into force a new constitution that proclaims the country to be founded on justice, equality, and respect for human dignity and guarantees rights to due process, physical integrity, and protection from unlawful deprivations of liberty.

According to Human Rights Organization that, “The abuses committed by the government of South Sudan, including lack of the rule of law and lack of respect for the basic human rights. Arbitrary arrests by South Sudan’s Security Services targeting vocal journalists and active members of civil society are widely becoming a public concern these days in South Sudan.” Mr. Deng Athuai Mawiir Rehan who is the chairperson of South Sudan’s Civil Society Alliance was abducted in June and tortured because of Alliance’s outspokenness towards just and democratic governance including a fight against corruption in South Sudan. No group has been found responsible although the government had promised to conduct investigations to establish who was behind the kidnapping.

It is undeniable that the South Sudan government continues to use repression and intimidation to silence human rights advocates and to prevent them from exposing abuses and promoting respect for human rights. South Sudan authorities continued to stifle the media by arresting, detaining, and prosecuting journalists reporting on sensitive topics, and extra judicial killing and torture.
The government of South Sudan has failed to investigate the ongoing cycle of violence in Jonglei state, and to stop the violations committed in the course of civilian disarmament, and ensure that those responsible are held accountable. Lack of accountability for serious crimes is a longstanding problem in South Sudan, a country with limited law enforcement capacity and a vast territory.

President Salva Kiir has promised in many occasions to investigate the crime which has been committed by security forces and he has established a committee to investigate the violence and identify those responsible but nothing has been done until now. Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right and the government of South Sudan must ensure to respect and protect freedom of expression. According to Africa director of HRW, “South Sudan is a new country and badly needs an effective justice system that upholds human rights and dignity. It is a fundamental building block for establishing rule of law and accountability.”

Most of South Sudanese ruling elites within the SPLM party still behave as if they are still operating as guerrillas and not knowing they are no longer a guerrilla but statehood and they are require by the international law to comply with the international law as member of the international community. It is very important to highlight the series of human rights abuses in chronological order for the readers to understand the extent of serious human rights violations in South Sudan.

May 15, 2012, the police in Lakes State’s capital Rumbek arrested Ms. Ayak Dhieu Apar, the Radio Rumbek 98 FM journalist. She was detained for hosting a live radio talk show with the title, “How Could the Public Respect the Police?” which drew in callers, questioning the conduct and competence of the police.

February 06, 2012, Mading Ngor Akech, the New Sudan Vision Editor-in-Chief and the host of the popular ‘Wake Up Juba’ show on Bakhita FM was assaulted and humiliated at South Sudan’s parliament. According to a journalist who witnessed the scuffle in the August House, Mr. Mading “was manhandled by the security guys who tore his trousers to the extent of nearly exposing his underpants to the public.”

On June of 2012, Mayol Kuch, a South Sudanese American who was on a family visitation in South Sudan, was detained and beaten to death by SPLA soldiers in Bor, Jonglei State. The soldiers suspected him of having participated in “the violence that followed disputed elections in the village for chief of the Adol community” in which two people lost their lives. The case is yet to be solved, two months after it occurred.

In 2007, Nhial Bol Aken was arrested after his newspaper exposed “wasteful spending at the finance ministry, which purchased 153 cars for government officials.” According to Aljazeera, the price tag was $60 million, a staggering $400,000 per vehicle. On June 12, 2011, just before South Sudan independence, Mr. Nhial Bol “was arrested again on his way from a dinner party organized by the British Consulate in Juba at a hotel called Da Vinci, south of Juba’s main town and was threatened to back down from his activity or risk dying before July 9,” South Sudan Independence Day.

On October 1, 2011, Mr. Bol was arrested for the fourth time by police before being released “following his newspaper’s investigations into the business dealings” of a Warrap state minister, Joseph Malek Arop, who was reported to have unlawfully acquired 10% stake in the Chinese oil company, Tesco South Sudan Ltd.

Many South Sudanese citizens had publicly expressed opinions critical toward the government behavior whereby the state security continues to intimidate citizens who criticize the government and routinely arrest those who are critical of the government. The South Sudan security services have also to stop their brutality against the citizens of South Sudan that violated basic human rights and systematically denied civil society activists the right to peacefully assemble and associate.

South Sudan’s ongoing massive oil corruption which has benefited the political and military leaders within the SPLM/A led government for the last 8 years. They have been smuggling out of the country billions of dollars while leaving millions of South Sudanese facing severe food shortages and are dependent on emergency international assistance. The whole world is now aware that the SPLM’s ruling elite is corrupt and are profiting from the country’s oil exports at the expense of the poor. It is apparent that Kiir’s administration encourages and harbors those who have stolen billions of dollars from the people of South Sudan and they have never been arrested or prosecuted for corruption charges.

We know very well that when South Sudanese from all walks of life took up arms in 1983 against oppressors in Khartoum, people did not fight the war only to benefit the ruling elites or bourgeois at the end who are now the ones enjoying the benefit of freedom after South Sudan has gained its independence on July 9, 2011, which was fought by all the people. The US and European Union should maintain travel restrictions as well as freeze the assets on President Kiir and his inner circle until South Sudan carries out concrete human rights and institutional reforms.

You can go on and on, for example, Dengdit Ayok and Ngor Arol Garang of The Destiny Newspaper were forcefully detained on November 05, 2011, over a column article in The Destiny written by Dengdit Ayok, questioning the rationale behind President Kiir’s daughter’s marriage to a foreigner. As reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Gen. Akol Koor, the Director General of the South Sudan’s National Security Services, faulted the two gentlemen of “non-adherence to the media code of conduct and professional ethics and of publishing illicit news that was defamatory, inciting, and invading the privacy of personalities.”

In the same way Dr. James Okuk a former ambassador to Brazil was arrested on October 21, 2011, for allegedly “writing against President Salva Kiir on the internet.” In January 2012, the New Times editor, Richard Mogga and his counterpart, Badru Mulumba, were quietly “picked up by people claiming to be police.”

The South Sudan army’s also known as SPLA has been accused of human rights abuses in Jonglei state and other areas in South Sudan where deadly ethnic clashes erupted. In September of this year, the government of South Sudan has forced a UN human Rights officer to leave the country. Sandra Beidas, a human rights investigator with the mission, was ordered by the South Sudan Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry, to leave the country within 48 hours. The United States government was very concerned about South Sudan’s decision to expel a human rights officer working for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). This action by the government of South Sudan is evidence of how the human rights condition is deteriorating in the country.

The flight of South Sudanese journalists is well captured according to Ojja William Benjamin, a freelance journalist from the Eastern Equatoria State that, “It is becoming a habit these days that journalists are picked up and arrested by the powerful individual government officials and released without charges after spending long periods in jail. This is not acceptable! On December 31, 2011, Dr. Jok Madut Jok, an ewmployee in the government of South Sudan was beaten in Wau airport. According to Dr. Jok Madut Jok that, “I was brutally attacked, my arms tight by several men, a blow to the side of my head with the butt of a gun and several punches straight onto both of my eyes; no questions asked, not even any accusations of wrongdoing. I was tortured properly while I had quickly shown the soldiers my identity card, demonstrating that I am a senior official in the national government, undersecretary in the Ministry of Culture, but the ID thrown away and several men wrestled me to the ground.”

Late Dr. John Garang once said, “If the SPLM government will not provide basic services and security to the people under their care, then the people will throw them into the sea, and even if there is no sea around, they will definitely find one.”

Ngor Garang, Editor in Chief at The Destiny newspaper, and journalist for the online newspaper, The Sudan Tribune, was arrested on 1 November. He was summoned to meet with the Director General of South Sudan’s NSS concerning an article that had been published in The Destiny. He attended the meeting with two colleagues, who were released following a three hour interrogation. Ngor Garang remains detained without charge. On 5 November, two cars full of NSS personnel, six of whom were carrying guns, entered the offices of The Destiny and arrested one of its journalists, Dengdit Ayok. He also remains detained without charge. Both men are believed to be held in the NSS headquarters in Jebel. It is the failure of South Sudan civil society, social media and grassroots movement to put pressure on the government of South Sudan to make a meaningful institutional reform concerning human rights violations over the last 8 years.”

In conclusion, the government of South Sudan must uphold its international obligations to respect the fundamental human rights, freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and cease arrests, harassment, and detention of individuals based on their political views. The government of South Sudan must make serious reforms within it security forces because continuation of these abuses such as extrajudicial arbitrary arrest, indefinitely detention without trial, torture, harassment on the media, harsh prison conditions, restrictions on freedom of speech; restrictions on freedoms of assembly, association, prevention of international human rights observers and discrimination against women and child abuse which would lead to deterioration of human rights abuse that will damage the nation’s creditability in the international community which could result in sanctions against South Sudan and isolation from the international community.

My appeal to the South Sudanese citizens that they should demand their fundamental basic human rights to be respected by the government and to put pressure on the government to make institutional reforms and to educate society on their basic human rights and encourage South Sudanese civil society, human rights defenders, media, grassroots community, etc to stand together.

The author is a South Sudanese concerned citizen; he can be reached at jwothab@yahoo.com

New Year 2013 Message to the Government and People of South Sudan

BY: Beny Gideon Mabor,JUBA, DEC/23/2012, SSN;

The world youngest country called Republic of South Sudan has now successfully passed over one year and five months since independence on 9 July 2011. Although seven years have passed notwithstanding the said period after independence from rest of the Sudan, the task of nation building for establishment of a vibrant, stable state and an all-embracing homeland for its people realistically remains a big challenge. Yet, there are potentials for change and needs a lot of commitment to implement the task of nation building.

Surprisingly, both ordinary citizens and the relevant stakeholders in governance are aware of these challenges that impacted our progress as seen in several opinions and resolutions for the former and the later but nonetheless without implementation. After one year of full control of our own affairs in Juba and state governments levels respectively, we have fully observed the records of our government at all cost in its constitutional duty as a democratically elected government of the people for the people and by the people.

The most worrying question is what can the government and its law abiding citizens remember to crossover to the New Year 2013? It is certain that the youngest state is significantly prosperous but with surmounting difficulties.

The second question is how can these challenges be reduced so that Year 2013 is different from 2012? First to the citizens, we must take with us a message of peace, love, unity, understanding, forgiveness, tolerance and hope for change in our aspirations from the government.

Second, the government must redouble its efforts to create a conducive environment and tirelessly listen to the voice of the people to make this call a reality. In other words, I always say and it shall remain my motto that the will of the people is the best law. The government must work according to the will of the people which is a core element of democracy.

However, it is only through collective responsibility as government and good citizens that such huge aspirations can be achieved. The government is not ruling in the vacuum to do or continue doing what is narrowly observed this year 2012, where the prioritised duty of the government to provide security of its citizens, their properties and territorial integrity was almost at stake.

The continuous inter-sectional clashes in some states like Jonglei state, Lakes State, Warrap State and Upper Nile State; politically motivated violent crimes like Wau incident in Western Bahr el Ghazal State; the Madi-Acholi civil unrest over a contested piece of land in Eastern Equatoria State, all are clear points of security instability in South Sudan.

The rampant killings in South Sudan and Juba in particular, robbery and to larger extent the presence of rebel groups in the bushes of South Sudan are things we must collectively pay attention to put them to rest.

In fact, if such situations persist, what would be the reason for liberation struggle to attain an independent South Sudan if the
government is not capable of protecting the very citizens and other elements of a living state? This young generation and the coming ones must grow up in a peaceful South Sudan where their liberators have dearly paid the price for freedom instead of a bad historical repetition.

In reality, it is not a Pandora box at least to say that insecurity in general and violent crimes in particular have risen up to immeasurable stage over the last six months in South Sudan and in Juba than ever before.

According to a research data released by my senior colleague, Mr. Zachariah Diing Akol , a Ph.D student of political science at the London School of Economics and a Director of Training at the Sudd Institute under his article entitled Juba’s Insecurity: A Challenge to state authority and credibility, he said the violent crimes in Juba are organised into three categories: “organized crimes that target individuals for commercial reasons, organized political assassinations and random killings both directed against South Sudan nationals and foreigners.”

It is true as all killings for the first target are well calculated against individuals of financial capacity. A case in point is Dr. Alemayehu Seifu, Ethiopian national and Country Director for African Medical and Research Foundation AMREF-South Sudan Office who was killed outside his residence in Malakia, Juba on 14 January 2012, and the assassins ran away with his car. Another case is the broad day light shooting of an employee of the Mountain Development Bank in Juba Town market on December 12, 2012. And other similar attacks in the in Juba city.

Alternatively, the government must rise up to this challenge and address it without delay or else be declared similar to a failed state.

Second, on accountability and transparency, it is very unfortunate that we are crossing over to the New Year 2013 without bringing to justice the accused senior government officials allegedly said to be behind the painful loss of 4 billion US dollars.

The year 2013 is expected to be a year of a just developmental state with serious business of nation building and zero tolerance to many evil thoughts of underdevelopment including corruption, incompetence to do the job, diseases, hunger and illiteracy amongst others.

One may wonder and courageously direct a question to the President, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, who has written notice to the said individuals and institutions responsible for alleged corruption, when will he bring them to justice?

Mr. President ought to know that justice delayed is justice denied. The non-appearance or non-prosecution of the accused individuals discredits President’s declaration of war on corruption and a countdown to zero tolerance remains very high in South Sudan.

Third, on legislative development, our country has magnificently done its best compared to the old Sudan when it got independence from colonial masters. In one and half year now, South Sudan has legislated over 50 pieces of legislation apart from laws enacted during the interim period. This achievement is due to the Ministry of Justice and other line institutions to the national legislature for enactment.

Yet, there are important areas that are not governed or provided for in any legislation namely: insurance, intellectual property, national security, firearms and ammunition, public and animals health, to mention a few.

In conclusion, this message is just intended to wrap-up what is noticed to have gone wrong in the year 2012; the expectation of the year 2013 and what is progressing or achieved or observed with potential to archive and finally the proposed middle ground for us and the elected government to solving the challenges of nation building.

The government once again must adhere to its constitutional principles vested with will of the people under the Transitional Constitution 2011.

Last but not the least, this country is ours and none ever will rescue it from likely destruction by enemies of peace and stability, be them from within or outside, but only through unity of our internal forces regardless of political color, ethnicity and interests. The public interest represented by the Republic of South Sudan must prevail over any self-sponsored interests.

Beny Gideon Mabor, lives in South Sudan and can be reached at
benygmabor@gmail.com

Distortion of concept of taking towns to villages in South Sudan

BY: Jacob K. Lupai, RSS, DEC/15/2012, SSN;

After the dust of turmoil settles down in South Sudan some people may find themselves in the dock in the International Criminal Court of Human Rights at The Hague for crimes of human rights abuse. There are civil liberty groups which can assign human rights investigators to establish the level of human rights abuse. The human rights investigators could press charges against human rights abuses in South Sudan because South Sudan will not be an exception.

South Sudan hardly has any constitutional or human rights courts and if they exist may either be under-resourced or incapable to handle cases of human rights abuse. This may explain the rampant rise of human rights abuse with much impunity. People in power deliberately engage in human rights abuse because they are sure to get away without being charged. If people were acutely aware of the consequences of their actions, the unprecedented level of human rights abuse could not have been sadly witnessed in South Sudan. However, at the end of the tunnel there is a ray of light.

The turmoil that is engulfing South Sudan should be considered as something temporary. People are already aware of what the problem is. The problem is that the population is in trauma. It is, however, a delight that as the problem has been identified it is half solved.

Concept of taking towns to villages
The concept of taking towns to villages was of Dr John Garang, the iconic, charismatic and visionary leader who was instrumental in bringing independence to South Sudan. It was the concept of a revolutionary who genuinely wanted each and every South Sudanese wherever they were whether in urban or rural areas to enjoy modernism. It was not something to be imposed but a natural development strategy in the national master development plan for the progress of the country.

Basically, the concept of taking towns to villages is an attempt to deliver basic services to people nationwide. It is also a solution to rural-urban migration which has its adverse effect on development. It is a well thought out attempt to deliver to the rural areas the same basic services found in towns. It is not necessarily the transfer of a county headquarters to a village but rather to transform the village itself into a vibrant town with or without transferring a county headquarters there.

The concept of taking towns to villages is in reality to transform villages into attractive towns with all the necessary services delivered in a modern town. It is to create and develop towns in the vast rural areas of South Sudan where about 80 per cent of the population lives. The concept is to electrify the rural areas for cottage industries, to bring clean drinking water, health services, education and modern infrastructures to mention but a few to the rural areas for a high standard of living.
For South Sudan the concept of taking towns to villages should be seen as independence dividends and a justification of the costly liberation struggle that lasted for about four decades at the cost of over 2 million dead and 4 million displaced notwithstanding the massive destruction of the rudimentary infrastructures.

Relevance of the concept to South Sudan
When Dr John Garang took the mantle of the liberation struggle he knew that the vast majority of people of South Sudan lived in the rural areas. Dr John Garang also knew that since the British colonial era and the mismanagement of the old Sudan’s affairs in post independence era, South Sudan never tasted modernism. He then carefully developed the concept of taking towns to villages as a strategic acceleration of socio-economic development of South Sudan that had remained one of the most backward and underdeveloped regions on planet earth.

The concept of taking towns to villages is therefore of high relevance to South Sudan in the effort to deliver basic services nationwide. Dr John Garang did not want to see two worlds of prosperity in towns and abject poverty and squalor in rural areas. Truly Dr John Garang was a legend, visionary and charismatic, and had he lived long enough probably people would not have experienced the acute frustration with what is engulfing South Sudan in the post independence era.

Distortion of the concept of taking towns to villages
The poor abstract understanding of the concept of taking towns to villages seems to be causing problems. Also, poor conceptualisation of town-village dichotomy seems to be compounding the problem when people resort to a dogmatic approach with little or no flexibility. For example, in Western Bahr el Ghazal State serious clashes occurred between protestors and security forces in Wau, the capital, because of the imposed transfer of Wau County to a place called Bagari some 12 miles from Wau. Bagari is assumed to be a rural area.

There are conflicting reports of causalities. One source said 10 people died while another talked of 25 dead with many more, about, 21 sustaining injuries. Regardless of causalities it was senseless to hype up the transfer of Wau County the way it was done. The dispute in the transfer of Wau County to Bagari was evidently the result of poor grasp of the concept of taking towns to villages. Bagari is only 12 miles from Wau and should be considered near Wau. How then is Bagari not a suburb of Wau with the expansion of population? Is Bagari really that rural to justify the imposed transfer of Wau County to it in a misguided enthusiasm to put into practice the concept of taking towns to villages?

The Governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal State had appeared insensitive to the felt needs of his subjects who were strenuously opposing the transfer of Wau County to Bagari. This is evidenced by how the Governor is now backtracking in his approach of using security forces to impose his will. The Governor has established a nine-member committee to investigate the clashes between protestors and security forces (Sudan Tribune, December 12, 2012).

The Governor is now pledging that his administration will seek a peaceful resolution to the dispute arising from the poor decision to transfer Wau County to Bagari. The U-turn of the Governor shows some naivety in not perceiving the strong opposition to the transfer of the county only to turn around for a dialogue after a serious damage has been done. This seems to suggest that the traumatised may not care and indeed can be very dangerous in their ambition as the causalities in Wau show.

The imposed transfer of Wau County to Bagari is at best a distortion of the concept of taking towns to villages. Dialogue and a peaceful resolution of the dispute could have been the appropriate option from the beginning instead of being rigid. The use of excessive force and by using live ammunitions on unarmed civilians exercising their right to express themselves was very regrettable. It was shocking to watch innocent civilians not armed deliberately gunned down by the security forces as shown by Al Jazeerah TV English Channel on 14 December 2012 at 4.00pm local South Sudanese time.

Taking towns to villages
One high profile case of taking towns to villages is the relocation of the national capital from Juba to Ramceil. The national government has used its prerogative to relocate the capital as stipulated in the constitution. The relocation process is at an advanced stage. As the national government has handled the relocation of the capital with sensitivity, there has never been a trouble like that which has been witnessed in Western Bahr el Ghazal State as a result of poor decision to relocate Wau County headquarters. This should be a lesson to all governors who are contemplating to take towns to villages in their states.

With regard to the concept of taking towns to villages it should be the state capital to relocate instead of relocating a county headquarters that shares the capital with the state. County headquarters should be transformed into cities, and payams and bomas into towns respectively. This is when people are serious about taking towns to villages. It will be truly putting into practice Dr John Garang’s noble concept of taking towns to villages for modernism in South Sudan but not the distorted and erroneous concept adopted by Western Bahr el Ghazal State. It is unfortunate that the Governor who seems to have an agenda of his own has tried very hard to mask the agenda with the noble concept that took brains to develop.

Conclusion
The concept of taking towns to villages should not be implemented enthusiastically as in the case of Western Bahr el Ghazal State where unnecessary innocent lives were lost as the Governor ignored the explosive situation created by his rush decision to relocate Wau County to Bagari. Taking towns to villages should be seen as a smooth transformation of the rural areas with equal opportunities for peaceful co-existence and also to make rural-urban migration to nearly zero. With improved infrastructures such as roads urban and rural areas will be a continuous land mass with equitable facilities that the rural folks will have no cause to envy their counterparts in urban areas. In short the concept is that rural areas should be urbanised.

In conclusion, the concept of taking towns to villages should not be politicised. The concept is mainly an economic one to bring material wealth to where poverty exists. In South Sudan poverty is more prevalent in the rural areas which lack employment opportunities and basic services comparable to urban areas. The concept when applied properly is likely to promote national security and unity, and prosperity for all. People’s basic needs are addressed through the delivery of services which are the focus of the concept of taking towns to villages.

The author can be reached at jklupai@googlemail.com

Why the killer(s) of Isaiah Abraham will be very hard to find

BY: DENG DUOT DENG (DENG-Ajith), Queensland, AUSTRALIA, DEC/09/2012, SSN;

In any political environment there is and there will always be political assassins that tend to occur in every day lives. The tragic death of Isaiah Abraham is a political assassination and it is going to be very difficult or harder to find his assassins because it’s politically motivated. According to history, there had been great politicians with other popular persons being assassinated in the past around the world like Abraham Lincoln of United States of American, John F Kennedy of USA, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Patrice Emery Lumumba of Congo, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan and civil rights activist and revolutionary leader Malcolm X. Likewise Isaiah Abraham was also assassinated in Juba Capital in the early of hours of Wednesday morning local time. These men are victim of political assassinations including Isaiah Abraham.

What is common from this list of those few people that I have mentioned is they are politicians. They were killed by their own people or assassinated. Lumumba of Congo was executed by the Congolese military which had the backup support from the Belgium government and the CIA of the United States of America. This is evidence because the Belgian government apologized to the Congolese people in February 2002, the Belgian government admitted to a moral responsibility and overwhelming portion of responsibility to the events that led to the death of Lumumba.

Such a typical killing like one of Isaiah Abraham case is a very organized crime that cannot be committed by a cheap person. For example, how do we call the tragic death of late Dr. John Garang De Mabior? Some people might believe it was an accident but I doubt, it was not an accident. His death was a political assassination that went beyond African capacity.

Look, the former chairman of Southern Sudan government plus others were selected to investigate his death. However, they never reported back to us as people who are waiting for their finding. These have let me to apply my hypothesis that the death of Isaiah Abraham is one of those political assassinations.

I think some of my readers will question me that Dr. Garang’s death is a bit different with Isaiah Abraham’s. But I can assure you that Late Garang’s death was organized in a foreign land. While Isaiah Abraham death is within the ground rules of South Sudan. I have a lot of things to justify or say in relation to this horrified death that has caused many concerns for South Sudanese around the entire earth as well as on social networks/forum, e.g. Facebook.

In this situation, many people including me myself made little statement about the future of this nation call South Sudan. From this perspective I strongly believe there are a lot of questions running in everyone’s mind which need to be asked. We deserve answers from the current authority.

As I was one of the people who heard the tragic news of Isaiah Abraham locally recognized by his parents, relatives and friends as Diing Chan Awuol., that there was an operation in Juba which had been carried out and conducted professionally to take away Isaiah Abraham life from us forever. This has caused some dynamic concern about the Generals turned politicians governing system.

Personally I am a person who sometime gives my opinions about the way our current government in all levels across South Sudan is doing things or governing the Country. I am really surprised of who is doing what? And what role is the government of Generals actually playing. This change game is not providing us with what we fought for all those years. Yet, we are not getting what we hope to find as results of going to the scrub land.

What is more, who are the current trouble makers in South Sudan? Is it the current police, the South Sudan Army common known as Sudan People Liberation Army referred to as SPLA? Or is it the National Security. Or finally is it insufficient individuals whose are to kill people house to house in South Sudan capital Juba every night?

It is really excruciatingly and unbreakable for people like me to believe that the war of liberation that started 1955 finished in 2005 when the CPA was signed would end up in this dreadful way. What was all those years of war all about? My answer(s) is short and sample, for basic human rights, freedom, like freedom of expression, not being torture without good judgment, and hope to have rule of law in place. That why the ministry of justice was established plus other court systems. There has to be a stage people who committed crime have to go through without killing.

If we looked at Western world today, fighting is the last resort. The same to South Sudan, killing should be the last alternative. Isaiah Abraham was the victim of no crime he had committed except tell our government that they are not doing enough job to satisfy their Citizens.

Therefore, I can say we are way behind and will remain way behind as South Sudanese in many angles. For examples, people like Isaiah Abraham who has the brains, the knowledge and critical thinking, we need them in this crucial time for the good of our beloved nation of South Sudan. He did his part like others who have contributed to this struggle movement since it was formed in 1983. Late Isaiah Abraham I can term him as a Nationalist who like his contemporaries, have capacity to speak out. He was hoping to change something from the current system.

Substantially, we the brothers, sisters and friends of the same nation are hoping to find his killer(s) and bring them to justice so we can really understood the motivation of his killing. I never knew that the current government would eliminate top officers like Isaiah Abraham and exceedingly educated people in such a way. The building of any nation is it resources. And who are the resources of the nation? The can be natural resources such Gold, Iron ore, oil and many more. Also there is human capital or resources. Isaiah Abraham was human capital or asset to South Sudan according to what he has done and what he was willing to do for the benefit of his Country.

Every culture in this world have it owns aspects, but what is common across cultures in the whole world is that parents usually told good and bad things to their children in order to be better mature up children. This is equally important in a political reality; criticism of the government is like parents telling their kids what is good or bad so they can be well propagated kids.

Now what type of Country are we if we eradicate our brave men like Isaiah Abraham. Many people assumed including me that we had learned through experienced when important person like late Judge Martin Majier, Thon Ayii Jok, Makur Aleiyou, were murdered in cold blood in political environment without even full justification of what they had done wrong. I think the same person in charged now was in charged at time when these gallantry men’s lives were taken away from us.

I am not interested to bring the past back but indicating what they have done previously was very wrong.

Does this current system care about the future of this nation or is it about the time being? Subsequently, the future of South Sudan is very hard to determine because if they assassinated their own party member, who stand behind them since the founding of the SPLA/M movement. He had never been accused of disagreeing with them. He worked for them and gave his opinions based on current issues facing the nation. In the end, the killed him in cold blood.

What about others who are in the opposition parties? No question, they will liquidate them without being questioned by any chance. The death of Isaiah Abraham has led to so many to believe the current administration is only caring for what is going into their compartments instead of the public interest.

In the last few days, many government officials such the Police Spokesman, Inspector General of the police Acuil Tito Madut and the current president of the Republic of South Sudan have promised the entire public that they will make thorough investigation into the death of political commentator Isaiah Abraham. This has been always the statement produced by high authority in any form like this. I have no hope of finding final conclusion with positive fallout. In saying so, an assassination is always complicated to find out the real killer/s so they can rationalize the actions into good conviction.

I don’t want our well-founded nation of South Sudan to go into international scene as a country that is well known for killing her innocent people. We are already identifiable as a failed state that does not meet the UN mandate. These behaviors are very unacceptable on international level by human rights groups.

In conclusion, the killer/s of Isaiah Abraham will never be convicted. The justice will never be done to please me as an individual. In my knowledge they will never provide us with full explanation. This is a high-tech organized crime by the authority of South Sudan especially the intelligence inner circle. Let’s make some moves in correcting the wrong things and go forward to transform the lives of our society in positive manner than causing this unforgettable incident.

Isaiah Abraham you will rest in peace. God shall be always with you.

Regard. By DENG DUOT DENG (Deng-Ajith)
Deng Duot Deng is a South Sudanese. He is residing in Australia, state of Queensland. He can be reached at email, deng_bior@hotmail.com

Labour laws and private sector employment opportunities

BY: Panom Koryom, RSS, DEC/05/2012, SSN;

The high rate of unemployment in the youngest Nation in the world where literacy may be 20% or so is ridiculous. There has to be a correlation between job market competitiveness and skills supply but this isn’t the case in South Sudan. There seemed to be job market competitiveness and little skills supply, especially for South Sudanese who seemed not to fit the private sector employment requirements.

Before shifting the blame to policies or foreigners whose their characteristics seemed to match private sector job requirements, I want to briefly expound on who’s fit to be called unemployed.

Who is unemployed?
Unemployed person is a job seeker who is actively seeking for the job that matches his credentials or qualifications. However, the person who was seeking for the job but did not get it and therefore gives up that the labor market is not opening up for him/her is not called unemployed but the discouraged person. This means he/she has given up and does not have any interests in the job anymore.

So that means there are two categories of people, the unemployed and the discouraged person, that we have to blame the institutions or policies of not having created employment opportunities. For unemployed person, the Government has to be seen exerting better policies that would create or avail job opportunities in the private sector for unemployed persons to explore. However much job opportunities may be available or created by the Government in the Private sector, there seemed not to be the responsibility of the Government ‘to make the cow drink the water,’ so to say.

However, it might be the responsibility of the Government to educate the public about job market and productivity. People don’t have to stay idle and expect to eat for the food will not put itself into the mouth. You need to fetch water, flour, firewood and do the cooking.

Living in the village is characterized by hard work either; farming, looking after cattle and taking them for water and pastures before you could enjoy the milk and meat. Anywhere and everywhere in the world, there has to be efforts put in to survive. This means that discouraged persons don’t have to give up for if they do that, then they have given up living.

So whose responsibility is this? Both the government and public must respond to each other’s call if we are to make South Sudan a better place to live in or make our people appreciate the fruits of liberation, independence and freedom. The Government, through public services, needless to say, has to make a call and people have got to response. This call has to be enforced by laws like it is done in Jonglei State; calling citizens to pay taxes of 100 SSP per year.

The questions could be: is the Government only interested in collecting taxes? There may be no obligations for citizens to pay taxes if they are not getting any benefits – jobs creation, security, roads, health facilities and any other social benefit – in return. All these are possible only if the law and enforcement mechanism exist.

As the old slogan says: ‘you can take donkey to the river but you can’t make it drink water.’ That slogan is the Government slogan. The Government slogan is that; it can take donkey to the river and make it drink the water. So the river here is job opportunities and people have got to work. They must be made productive or else our blood would have gone in vain.

Do job opportunities exist?
There are plenty of jobs available for nationals in the labor market. The only thing that needs to be done is to create policies that make these jobs opportunities available for citizens. There are some labor sectors where jobs should only be limited to nationals, period.

In Hotel and restaurant industry, waiters and waitress must be South Sudanese. The question of attitude and laziness doesn’t have to arise in the first place. An employment is one of the major conditions or requirement in investment policies and prerequisite before business registration. Investment law clearly entails how citizens are going to benefit from this Hotel/restaurant investment.

Selling food is not a benefit but an act of generating profits for the owners but the benefit to the Nation is employment. These sectors must employ only South Sudanese people of various qualifications. That one has to be a law and it is in the interest of both parties – the government and the investor who needs money (but not to create job for his people in a foreign Country).

Of course, when you are investing in a foreign country, it comes with a cost for training staff who will staff your business. People don’t cook cheese here but you can’t import a cheese chef from abroad either. You have to train somebody here on how to make cheese.

Once that law exists, it is now the private sector that will be soliciting for employees and not employees seeking for jobs, for there will be more demand for labor than supply. And this means even those who are still in the universities would even get jobs before completing their studies.

Each and every business has its own culture and what they ought to do is to create their own brands by training their staff on how to provide the services, how to dress, how to pose, how to walk and so on. There is no way a business person says he doesn’t love South Sudanese but he wants to make more money here in South Sudan.

You either love South Sudanese people and love making more money here or you hate South Sudanese people and therefore quit go invest in a Country that you love its people, period.

Not only in hotel/restaurant industries but also in driving sector, shop attendants sector and NGOs sector where the skills can be sourced within South Sudan, it doesn’t have to be outsourced, and there should be no law that permits that.

Once all these jobs are availed to citizens, the living standard will improve and this comes with responsibilities of paying taxes and therefore more revenues for the Government to provide social benefits without borrowing from anybody else.

So the Government needs to make decisions on this and enforce it. And this finally means there is a relationship between labor laws and private sector employment opportunities.

The writer holds MBA, degree in Procurement & Logistics Management and BA.
He can be reached through mpkoryom@yahoo.com

South Sudan’s new laws offer a blueprint for a transparent oil sector

For immediate release: 29 November 2012: GLOBAL WITNESS

NOV. 29/2012, SSN; Amid reports of endemic corruption, escalating security concerns, and delays restarting crude oil production, South Sudan’s new oil laws offer grounds to be optimistic about the prospects for development and stability, said Global Witness in a report released today.

The report, ‘Blueprint for Prosperity: How South Sudan’s new laws hold the key to a transparent and accountable oil sector,’ outlines the major opportunities and challenges the government faces in ensuring that management of the country’s oil wealth is responsible and open to public scrutiny.

“South Sudan’s new oil legislation contains strong public reporting, revenue management, and contract allocation requirements,” said Global Witness campaigner Dana Wilkins. “But laws are only as good as their implementation. The real test will be in whether or not the government follows through with these commitments.”

In July 2011, South Sudan became both the newest and the most oil dependent country in the world. With the oil sector bringing in more than 98% of the government’s revenues, South Sudan halted all production following a dispute with Sudan over confiscated oil shipments. The two countries have now agreed a deal for the export of South Sudan’s oil via Sudan’s pipeline infrastructure and operations are expected to restart shortly.

Since independence, there have been concerning reports of new oil sector deals being negotiated and awarded apparently outside of transparent bidding processes. No oil production data has been published, and it is not yet clear if exploration and production sharing contracts will be made public.

Building a transparent and accountable oil sector in South Sudan will require serious political engagement from the government, major capacity building, and consistent implementation of the blueprint set out in the new legislation. The report released today seeks to support such efforts by providing an analysis of the new requirements and making recommendations to address major risks and challenges. Key recommendations include the following:

The government should pass the draft Petroleum Revenue Management Bill without delay and ensure that strong provisions for the collection, management, auditing, and public reporting remain intact. [1]

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mining and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning should immediately start implementing the requirements for transparent contract allocation, and for the publication of production data, contracts, and quarterly and annual oil revenue management reports.

The government and international donors must ensure that South Sudanese civil society groups, and oversight bodies like the Audit Chamber and parliament, have the resources, access, and technical expertise necessary to carry out effective checks on the oil sector.

“South Sudan’s new petroleum laws are a major achievement which, if implemented effectively, could ensure that South Sudanese citizens are able to see and trust in how their oil is being managed,” said Wilkins. “Accountable management of the oil sector will be critical for the long-term development and stability of the nation.”

/ Ends

Contact: For more information contact Dana Wilkins on +44 (0)7808 761 570, dwilkins@globalwitness.org and Faraz Hassan on +44 (0)20 7492 5848, fhassan@globalwitness.org.

Notes:

[1] This bill has not yet passed the parliament but is expected in the next few months.

_________________________________

Dana Wilkins

Global Witness

+44 (0)20 7492 5828

+44 (0)7808 761 570

dwilkins@globalwitness.org

twitter: @dwilkinsgw

Nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, Global Witness is an international NGO campaigning to prevent natural resource-related conflict and corruption.

Urgent solution needed to Sudan, South Sudan conflict

EDITORIAL: STANDARD DIGITAL NEWS, NAIROBI, KENYA, NOV. 20. 2012, SSN;
It is unfortunate that the ongoing conflict between Sudan and South Sudan has dragged on to the extent that the South can no longer meet its international obligations. But probably the worst hit foreigner in this conflict is Kenya, which also happens to the largest trading partner in this region.

The importance of South Sudan to Kenya and the regional East Africa Community (EAC) is too critical to be left at the whims and tyrannical tendencies of the Khartoum Government. After participating in the birth of South Sudan, Kenya has been exploring the possibility of linking the rich oil fields of South Sudan to Kenya`s yet to be built Lamu port, providing this landlocked country with a vital route to the sea.

This is if a railway line linking the city of Juba in Sudan to Lamu, an idea first sold to the Kenya Government by the late John Garang de Mabior then leader of the Sudan People`s Liberation Movement (SPLM), becomes a reality.

The discovery of commercial oil deposits in South Sudan has created renewed vigour on the Lamu Port and Lamu Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).

It is against this background that the ongoing forex shortage in South Sudan should be seen.

Sudan President Hassan Omar Al-Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit are old warhorses and commanders, but above all else, friends that know each other very well having been Head of State and Vice President of a United Sudan.

These statesmen stand on the threshold of history should they move fast to settle their differences on sharing of oil revenues before further damage is done to regional trade and the economy of this region.

We urge leaders of the two countries to iron out their differences over borders, oil revenues and the disputed region of Abyei.

Restore sanity

Kenya has remained a passive bystander in this conflict so far but should now step in, if only to protect Kenyan businesses operating in the Sudan, including airlines, commercial banks and other private enterprises.

The hardline stance taken by extremists on both sides of the negotiating table, should not only be discouraged but that other regional wellwishers, including Kenya should also weigh in, just as it has done to restore sanity in neighbouring Somalia.

We urge for speedy resolutions on such sticking points as the region of Abyei, which is claimed by both sides, how much South Sudan should pay Khartoum for transporting its oil and demarcating the common border.

In January 2012, the South shut down oil production, accusing Sudan of being somewhat economical with the truth about its oil, and the two countries` economies have been seriously damaged as a result.

The fact that the Sudans are reliant on oil revenues to drive their budget means these disagreements cannot be allowed without causing severe damage not only to the economies of the two but the entire East Africa region.

Interesting some 75 per cent of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. This means that the Juba administration must begin to think seriously of how they will build their own oil pipeline, probably through Kenya to the sea and still retain the Sudan line.

We hope that South Sudan will resume exporting oil through Sudan on by the end of this month if recent announcements by the country`s Oil Minister Stephen Dhieu, is to be believed.

In the meantime, we also hope that Kenyan business affected by the forex crunch will not pull out from the territory as preparations are being made for oil production to resume.

Eighty per cent of the oil preparations in the Republic of South Sudan are said to be in place and that oil production could resume any time soon.

Oil production

We expect the two governments to keep their word on the deal signed in Juba to discuss strategies for resumption of the production, which included modalities of operation both between the two governments and the oil companies.

This will bring an end to South Sudan`s economic problems especially the pressure as a result of the shutdown of the oil production early this year after failing to agree with Sudan on transportation fees among other issues.

Kenya stands to benefit greatly if there is a resumption of oil production in Sudan as this event will assure the country`s investment and business in Sudan of stability and returns.

There is a lot at stake in terms of employment and contribution to the country`s economy, to allow the Sudan to slip back into chaos and retarded development. END

Gold fever sweeps South Sudan ahead of new mining law

By Hereward Holland
NANAKANAK, KAPOETA, EASTERN EQUATORIA, South Sudan, NOV./9/2012;
(Reuters) – Taking a break from the toil of digging, Leer Likuam sat on the edge of a shallow trench, puffed his pipe and boasted he once found a 200 gram gold nugget bigger than his thumb.

In Nanakanak, a village of stick huts in an area that has attracted hundreds of diggers since Sudan civil war ended in 2005, Likuam find would have been lucrative but unexceptional.

Everything is luck, he said through a translator. On an average day he might dig up six grams, worth around 1,200 South Sudanese pounds ($270), he said. Some days you’re lucky.

Word of NanakanakS riches has spread. In the capital Juba, international mining firms are lining up at South Sudan ministry of petroleum and mining, aiming to get their hands on part of the vast, unexplored territory.

Officials say firms from China, Australia, the United States, South Africa and other African countries plan to apply for licenses when new mining laws are passed later this month. After many delays, parliament is set to begin debate on the bill on Monday.

The South voted to secede from Sudan, then Africas sixth largest exporter of oil, in a referendum last year.

The new nation inherited three-quarters of the united country oil production, but in January a row with Khartoum led it to shut down the industry whose receipts gave South Sudan 98 percent of its income.

The sudden loss of funds prompted Juba to introduce severe austerity measures, centralize and expand tax collection and explore fresh sources of revenue to replace petrodollars.

Oil production is expected to restart in the next couple of weeks, reaching around 230,000 bpd by the end of the month, but in the meantime the government hopes to pass mining legislation that will formalize the industry, let them tax precious metal and mineral exports and sell concessions to large-scale investors.

It will diversify the economy. The mining sector has great potential, Petroleum and Mining Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau told Reuters.

VIRGIN TERRITORY

On the international market, Likuams prize lump would fetch $11,000, an enormous sum in a country where the average teacher earns just 360 South Sudanese pounds, about $90, per month.

Likuam is not the only man with the golden touch.

Around him dozens of other Toposa tribesmen and women, festooned with plastic necklaces, brass piercings and beaded amulets, hack away at the red soil with metal poles and shovels, digging small craters in a boozy revelry.

Despite the morning hour, girls distribute crates of lager, sarko moonshine and pitchers of bitter smelling beer brewed from sorghum.

Many of the miners claim to have found nuggets of a rival size, or even larger.

Nobody knows the extent of South Sudan mineral reserves because the 22 year war prevented exploration.

The latest geological surveys date back to the 1970s and 80s, but mining officials say diamond and gold deposits in South Sudan mineral rich neighbors are encouraging. They describe the 16-month-old country as virgin territory.

We are neighbors to the DR Congo and Central African Republic so we cannot rule anything out. Geology does not know borders, said James Kundu, acting director general for geological surveying at the ministry.

As well as gold and diamonds, he lists potential deposits of chromite, copper, uranium, manganese and a belt of iron ore, which is often associated with aluminum. A lot of records were lost in the war. One report by a Belgian company was half-eaten by termites, Kundu said.

There is a lot of stuff here but people do not know about it. They are too focused on oil, said one international gold trader who preferred not to be named in connection with the as yet unregulated trade.

It is the best stuff I have seen in central Africa, he said, explaining that the samples he has tested show a purity of over 22 carats (91.6 percent gold) compared to around 18 carats in the Central African Republic.

COW BANKING

Locally, artisanal miners like Likuam are making their fortune, investing much of the money in the traditional method of storing wealth – cattle. In the last year alone, Likuam has bought 10 cows, each worth around 1,000 pounds.

In another nearby artisanal mining spot called Napotpot, Julia Lakalay panned the red earth with water she had carried two km (one mile).

The gold mining has completely changed my life, she said, swathed in colored beads and spattered with mud. In my village I could not even earn 1 pound. Now I am earning 200 pounds per day.

Merchants in Kapoeta, a local town of tin shack pubs, dirt roads and scampering goats, say the price of gold is inflated by the scarcity of dollars, a problem across the country since the oil shutdown.

In the absence of banks or an official exchange rate between the pound and the Kenyan shilling, Kapoeta economy relies on gold as a form of cross-border currency.

The main purpose to buy gold is to change currency. We buy gold, take it to Kenya, sell it to dealers, and buy more stock to bring back, said Kenyan businessman Junius Njeru, weighing a pile of gold nuggets.

It is in your pocket, nobody searches you, he said, describing the process of taking the gold across the border.

Miners sell the gold for around 200 pounds ($46) per gram, leaving traders a narrow profit margin for resale on the international market at $55.

BIG POTENTIAL

Officials hope the new mining law will bring this trade out of the black market and, by selling land to prospecting companies, eventually let the national and state governments benefit from the underground treasure.

The mining companies with 42 so-called grandfather exploration permits approved by the semi-autonomous southern government before independence will have two weeks to claim their licenses after the bill passes through parliament, which could take as little as one day.

Norway, the United States and Botswana helped draft the law that caps large-scale exploration licenses at 2,500 square km. To prevent exploration companies from sitting on the land, the law forces them to surrender 50 percent of their concession every time they renew their contracts, which will be variable.

Firms that find enough minerals to start digging can convert their license into a mining permit.

If you put them in a queue, there is at least 20 meters of investors waiting to get a license … Others must know that if they want something, they must come quickly, said Rainer Hengstmann, a ministry adviser working for consultant firm Adam Smith International.

However, in a landlocked country with just 300 km of paved road, Hengstmann cautioned it will take many years to get commercial mining off the ground.

You need a railway if you want to go large-scale. It will take time. They really need roads and power, he told Reuters, echoing investors complaints about the lack of infrastructure.

Ministry officials say two firms, New Kush and Consolidated Mineral and Energy Resources Investment Company (CMERIC), are exploring actively on their grandfather licenses.

But Equator Gold, a British company working on the CMERIC license, says it will still take several years to actually produce anything.

I think there is going to be a big rush to get land but exploration takes a long time, said Emma Parker, the firm chief operations officer. The progress has been slow but the geology is interesting. There is big potential.

(Editing by Alexander Dziadosz and Sonya Hepinstall)

Basic Salary Cuts for Government Employees: Who did it?

BY: Machien Luoi, BENTIU, UNITY STATE, NOV. 7/2012, SSN;
The Republic of South Sudan (RSS) shutdown its oil production earlier this year over dishonest distribution of the oil resource revenues with the Sudan. Oil revenues compromised over 95 percent of RSS budgets prior to the relationship breakdown between the two countries. Moreover, conflict between the two countries raged over contested border areas of neighboring states, particularly at Panthou in Unity State, a South Sudan territory claimed by the Sudan. Consequently, South Sudan economy went down drastically forcing the RSS to operate on austerity budgets.

In response to the austerity pressure, some states in the RSS immediately cut civil servants basic salaries. Western Bahr El Ghazel is claimed to have cut salaries by 50 percent while in Unity State basic salaries for civil servants were curved by 25 percent. What this meant was that a civil servant, who earned 600 SSP a month before austerity budgets, earned 300 SSP for 50 percent cut for Western Bahr El Gazel and 450 SSP after 25 percent deduction in Unity State.

Of late, citizens in some states began to ask why their small incomes were getting sliced. Questions arose on whether the policy that slashed their basic income was a national government initiative or respective states decided on their own austerity policies.

Latest exchanges between the national government and some state governments are a revelation that neither the national nor the state governments can clarify specifically where the decision to cut basic salaries for civil servants came from. They are now trading accusations.

According to the National Minister of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) in their recent statement dated October 24, 2012, the National Government did not order for *any cuts in the basic salaries of government employees whether at the state or national level. Any state authority that cuts the salaries/wages of its workers is not implementing the policy of the national government. It has nothing to do with the austerity measures undertaken by the National Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.*

According to the Mr. Kosti Manibe, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, the national policy of austerity reduced *housing allowances by 50 percent.* The states of course have no civil servants housing allowances. Conditional salary transfers were reduced *except for elimination of job specific allowances,* while Block Grants to the States were deducted by 25 percent, according to the Minister.

It is not clear from the MoFED and Mr. Kosti Manibe what *elimination of job specific allowances* implies. Were these eliminated *job specific allowances* to special civil servants, politicians or who?

Certainly this is confusing and ought to be clarified. Maybe the states took advantage of such unclear pieces to reduce basic salaries for government employees. Other states may have chosen to use Block Grants for basic salary payments to government employees in their respective states. This is not difficult to comprehend.

According to the Minister, *States are free to use their Block Grants in the way they want.* Thus, if 25 percent of the Block Grant to the states was cut by the MoFED, in response the states can also incise the basic salaries of employees paid on the Block Grant to adjust to the austerity reduction.

While the national government is not responsible for how states use their Block Grants, states did not choose to cut 25 percent of their Block Grants, the national government did. If the states and national government were not on the same page on the issue, states that are using Block Grants for payment of government employees may scapegoat the national government for the lost percentages of their Block Grants, after all they could use the Block Grants as they wish.

So far, there has been misunderstanding and confusion over who cut the basic salaries of government employees. National government is obviously not taking responsibility. The states are pointing fingers at the national government on the matter.

For instance, the Deputy Governor of Unity State rejected assertion by the National Minister of Finance and Economic Planning that it is not responsible for basic salaries cut calling it, *a clear accusation against state governments.* The Deputy Governor said that his government lost $ 500,000 in 2012 because of the austerity measures.

Unity State previously received $ 12 million from National Government. That means there is 4.2 percent of $ 12 million that is lost to the austerity policy. What is not clear from the Deputy Governor is whether $ 500,000 is from the eliminated *job specific allowances* or from the 25 percent deduction in Block Grant to the State or a combination of the two?

At this juncture into the austerity measures policies in the RSS, neither national government nor state governments have answers for the deduction of the lowly paid government employees in South Sudan states. But who has answers?

In the light of this article, the ball is back into the court of the National Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to make specific some of the issues they tried to clarify recently with regards to the basic salary cut for government employees in the states.

It is necessary to shed light on this subject. It is painful to use the austerity policies to disadvantage the very people who are most affected by the economic downturn and austerity policies of the country.

Something is wrong somewhere as accusations between national government and state governments are indicative of the mess.

The writer is a South Sudanese residing in Bentiu, Unity State and can be reached at dhuretingting@gmail.com
(Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not of the website)

What is the future of education in South Sudan?

BY: Both Nguot Toal, SOUTH SUDAN, OCT. 5/2012, SSN;
When South Sudan became an independent state last year, many people hoped that the new nation will change the marginalization imposed on us by the Arab in the north when south Sudanese were not allowed to acquire education as their basic right. This resulted in mass immigration of many south Sudanese to East African countries as well as to the Western world to acquire knowledge, and some individuals went and studied in Khartoum. The few individuals who acquired knowledge were not allowed to work in government simply because they were south Sudanese and as result many students went to the bush especially the graduates. The others who accepted the remained in Khartoum were forced to work in the manual jobs such as building and farming in government projects such as Gezira schemes in eastern Sudan despite the fact that they (south Sudanese) have degrees and Diplomas.

On the other hand, some individuals who were discouraged by the situation left their studies and went back home for farming in south Sudan, others became Muslims just to get their daily services. Despite all these challenges facing south Sudanese in the old Sudan, the majority did not abandon their studies even though they were not allowed to get jobs in the government.

In those days, there were some missionaries schools operating in south, where south Sudanese to learn English since it was not accepted in the government schools in the old Sudan. From there some students were sent for studies abroad through missionaries schools and +acquired knowledge with excellence that they could compete internationally more than it is today.

Last year, South Sudan got its independence from the successive regimes of Sudan through a struggle which caused 2.5 million dead and displaced thousands to the neighboring states. That means southerners have been in war for 50 years. What are we supposed to do as an independent nation with its own sovereignty and as the country that has just emerged out from war?

Are we going to change the environment that we have been in for so many years or do we continue with the same situation created by Sudanese governments against our innocent people?

After the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) between the SPLM/A and the Sudan government, South Sudan as an autonomous region which had some powers to run its state policies without consulting the national government in Khartoum, was supposed to see the issue of education as its first priority so as to eradicate the rate of illiteracy from our huge population in south Sudan.

In this case, schools are to be built in every state rather than taking children to study in East African countries which cost a lot of money. Instead, government should have encouraged the citizens by constructing Schools and hiring teachers from abroad if the issue is because there are no teachers to teach in the country till we make our foundation.

Unfortunately, that did not happen as it was supposed to be. Instead, those responsible in government took their children somewhere else leaving the country without good education.

In south Sudan, the children of the poor families are the one studying in the country, why, because they do not have the ability of taking their children abroad, leaving the poor venerable.

For how long will our children continue studying in foreign countries while we are an independent nation? Is it difficult for government to construct Schools? If yes, what is its duty as a government? Who do you think will construct schools rather than government? Is it the responsibilities of UN, USA, EU or AU to continue supporting us even after we became an independent nation? I do not think so.

Therefore, as citizens of south Sudan who has been at war for a period of 50 years and who have seen all the events happening during and after the independence of south Sudan, we should look into the future of education in south Sudan and work hard for the goodness of our young generation to enjoy the fruits of our struggle.

If government is ignoring the system of education, what do we think the future education will be for the poor people who have no ability of taking their children abroad? What does it mean to be an independent nation if we are not able to promote education in our country?

Since we became an independent state, I do not see any reasons of continuing taking our children to east African countries for acquiring knowledge, instead, government must construct schools and train teachers from all educational sectors to teach our children locally rather than taking our resources to the neighboring countries without benefit.

The money you use for renting houses in those particular countries and the huge amounts you paid in dollars for the school fees of your children can educate twenty people from your relatives and build modern houses in south Sudan.

Since government officials are taking their children abroad, education in south Sudan will remain without any progress, simply because they are the ones running the affairs of this new nation. For instance, the minister of general and higher education, if his children are studying abroad, what do you think the minister will do in this country?

Even if there are no schools for so many years, they will not see it as a problem because their children are not here in south Sudan.

Therefore, for South Sudan to eradicate the rate of illiteracy in the country, the children of ministers who took our wealth to the foreign countries must return back to the country and study together with the poor families. That will be the time when we will see a change in the country. If not, South Sudan as a nation will never make any progress in any aspect whereby our country will continue with this spirit of tribalism, nepotism and other unlawful things that an educated people cannot do.

As a nation which has just come out from war, we have to consider education as our first priority so as to change the spirit of tribalism and to bring our people together for the development of this new nation and build a prosperous nation that respects the diversity, makes a stable state and lays the foundation for a united, peaceful and prosperous society based on justice, equality, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Therefore, for South Sudan to be a free nation is to avoid ignoring education and to adopt a good system of government that can lead its citizens not to be the victims of others but to enjoy the everlasting freedom of this new nation, rather than too much greed for wealth and desire of becoming rich quickly due to low life expectancy.

Finally, for the coming generation to live free and to allow the development to take place, the leadership of the country must look into this problem; because in a country where education is ignored, tribalism, nepotism and instability will not end.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not of the website)