Is the circular concerning foreign employment in South Sudan a good one?

Personal Opinion By: Jackline Warille, Doctorate Student, SOUTH SUDAN, SEP/19/2014, SSN;

South Sudan is a sovereign state and therefore should protect her citizens. There are some common sayings that we helped South Sudan, their children are in our schools, they come for treatment in our country, they are illiterate, they do not have capacity, they and they and they.

All these are fine and by religious standards, they will turn to be blessings on the so called illiterate and people with less capacity.

While I do appreciate all the help South Sudanese are getting from the neighbouring countries or the international community as such, one of the help they should give to South Sudan is to help the country to put systems in place.

In business, people usually make a lot of money in any unfortunate situation in a place. If there are no hospitals, you can put up a clinic and charge any amount; if there are no transport means, you can bring in an airline and charge any amount, etc.

For the last nine years, South Sudan accommodated all people in the name of building capacity. I do not know whether the capacity has been built or not.

The point I am trying to raise here is if there can be a time limit set for when the country should be operating in its current status where all nationalities work without being questioned.

This ranges from hawkers, making and selling charcoal in the rural & urban areas, cleaners, cooks, house helps, vegetable sellers, saloons, chapati makers, building graves, building houses, working in the government ministries, the banks, insurance companies and other private sectors, and name them.

While I personally appreciate what has happened all this while, I also feel that there should be a time when the country should say this and that job should be given to a South Sudanese or at least no foreigner should be permitted to do that. This is to give the nationals the chance to also do business in their country.

In some countries, if you have to get a work permit, your employer will have to justify whether a national cannot do the job before employing a foreigner. I do not know whether we ask such questions or not. If we do not have nationals to do all the jobs I mentioned above, then I am not sure whether there are South Sudanese in this world.

We complain that the development in South Sudan is going on a low pace. Yes, this is true. If the money is not staying in South Sudan, how do you expect development to happen?

All people make money in South Sudan and the money gets out of the country. What is the ratio of the foreigners who rent decent houses in Juba compared to those who stay in Konyo Konyo, Jebel and other places?

Are we checking on the documents and the visas? Countries check visas and they have a time limit when you should be in their country. Once they renew the visa for a certain time, you are to cross the border before you can be permitted to come in or you will have to get some permits to enable you to stay in the country.

If the country wants to put systems in place, let us accept that there will be many victims. If we shy away from this truth, we will never change the face of South Sudan.

Change comes with resistance and this is normal. Yes, we will be insulted and told we are the one doing this and that for South Sudan. This should not discourage people from making changes.

How many educated South Sudanese are in the diaspora who are not able to get work in South Sudan. I have heard the following over and over again:
• South Sudanese are lazy people.
• South Sudanese want the white collar jobs
• South Sudanese cannot work in some remote places in their own country.
• South Sudanese do not have the capacity

I am not disputing these because I do not expect all South Sudanese to be good but it is not also right to generalize. Not all South Sudanese fall in these categories. There is no country in which there are no foreigners working.

There are international staff who are recognized, consultants or even organizations that have to recruit other nationalities to work for them. This is allowed but the procedure of employment of such personalities need to be followed as well.

If we are neighbours and neighbours would want to be accommodated in South Sudan, it is a good idea but this should work in all countries. South Sudanese should be allowed to work in the other countries in the same way the other nationals work in South Sudan.

If it is about selling, hawking and all the others mentioned above, should be given to South Sudanese without hindrance.

The Bible says that we should do to others what we want them to do to us, (Mathew 7:12). So if we want to work in South Sudan without the government questioning us, South Sudanese should also work in our countries without questioning.

In Mark 12: 31, we are told to love our neighbours as ourselves. Who is your neighbour? If as a country, we are one entity, our neighbour becomes the other countries. As South Sudanese, we need to show love to our neighbours and they need to do the same to us.

Our neighbours should not look at South Sudanese as bad people by the mere fact that they are trying to put a system in place. If they love South Sudan, they should not be happy to see the country in a mess where the labour market is not controlled. If anything, they should help South Sudan to develop her systems the way theirs are developed.

This should not in any way discourage investors from investing in South Sudan. Yes, invest your money but also allow the nationals to work.

If you invest in South Sudan and all your workers are also from your country, what have you done for South Sudan? We need to balance between our contribution to the economy of South Sudan and the return on investment that we expect.

If there is anything that I praise the Government of South Sudan for is the decision to look at the systems in South Sudan. Even if it is not implemented now, people should not relax because one day, someone will wake up and enforce these changes.

These are facts which happen in every country and should not be considered as being unfriendly or being unappreciative.

Let us see and check whether the other countries are putting controls over who gets work permit in their countries, then we can conclude whether South Sudan is doing the right thing or not.

May God help South Sudan to put systems in place and also talk silently to our neighbours to see the sense in the need for South Sudan to have systems.

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