By: Justin Ambago Ramba, MAY/04/2015, SSN;
The independent Indian Ocean Newsletter has recently exposed the institutionalized corruption network of the infamous Jieng “Dinka” Council of Elders in South Sudan. In its report, the Newsletter ascertained that there is a small number of “privileged people close to the ruling circles” in South Sudan who are benefiting from the country’s collapsing currency and shortage of dollars.
According to the report those well placed corrupt individuals continuously access dollars from the Central Bank at a rate of about 3.1 and then sell them for pounds at a rate of about 9.1. God knows, this could just be the tip of the iceberg on how damaging the hidden hands of the infamous Jieng Council of Elders can be.
It is also true that the IMF made no secret of it when it recently warned the regime in Juba of the imminent economic catastrophe. Summing all these whistle blowing, one conclusion comes to mind… that this new country’s economy is literally now gasping its last breath.
Yet many who have keenly followed the developments in South Sudan can tell you that in actual fact this new country has never had any economy to start with, and it would be too much of a courtesy to thus talk about its collapse.
A country totally dependent on Oil revenues and again spending the whole of that revenue on paying millions of unproductive soldiers, security agents and idol civil servants cannot be said to have an economy. I mean, what is the economic activity here!
A country dependent on Western Aid for the last decade to run its rudimentary institutions while services like schools, hospitals, roads, clean drinking water, and electricity are all non-existent or run by foreign NGOs cannot be claimed to have an economy.
Even the claim that the government was working towards diversifying the economy to shift from Oil dependence to agriculture, is itself becoming an empty rhetoric. This overdue and long term plan will not solve the immediate economic crisis in a country looted dry by its own government.
What agriculture are they talking of in South Sudan when an average member of its ruling nomadic pastoralist community still cannot tell the difference between spinach and wild vegetation or between maize, millet, cassava and elephant grass?
Indeed South Sudan has a lot of potential to diversify its economy, especially in the area of agriculture and other resources, including untapped minerals and livestock, but not in a population genetically ingrained with “predator genes” for cattle rustling, child abduction, lawlessness and revenge killings.
Under the incumbent Salva Kiir regime it can be argued that the Kleptocracy, corruption and nepotism currently crippling the state institutions of the new country are the direct off-springs of the widespread predatory attitudes towards public funds on display.
These in turn are the direct products of the deeply seated “cattle rustling mind-set” characteristic of pastoralist communities worldwide. .
The only hope is in a future government that is prepared to embark on introducing legislations that does not tolerate any complacency with government officials known to be Public Fund Predators. Impunity must end and accountability must prevail. Government appointments must be based on meritocracy and sound track records.
The priority of the future administration must be to improve the management of local revenues by developing and introducing a revenue management system in what will be a federated system of governance, preferably starting immediately with the transitional government of national unity.
On a quick reflection we can say diversification of the economy has been a much talked policy of President Salva Kiir’s government for many years. However, under his rule this policy has remained a talk that has never been walked.
This is likely to puzzle a few as it remains unclear to them why this “much cry little wool” talk on diversification was never effected, leaving the government to solely depend on oil revenues to run the system!
The answer to this central question squarely lies in the “chaos by design” policy hatched by the infamous Jeing “Dinka” Council of Elders.
The existing socio-economic and political chaos in South Sudan are without a grain of doubt, the brain children of the Jieng Council of Elders. It is its way of securing an economic advantage for itself and its wider membership and political constituency.
This is a tribal capacity building project that’s being achieved at the expense of the national capacity building.
This same policy is also designed to relegate the members of the others 63 ethnic groups to a yet another designed state of destitution characterised by both political and socio-economic disenfranchisements, except of course for a few who serve as widow dressings for corrupt Jieng Council of Elders.
The much publicized current tour of East African nations by the country’s vice-president, James Wani Igga, a co-accomplisher of the corrupt Jieng Council of Elders, can be seen to have come at a time when the official exchange rate for the South Sudan pound has reached 16 pounds for one US dollar in these East African countries.
And although the deputy president and chief co-accomplisher for the Jieng “Dinka” Council of Elders, James Wani Igga might have been to invite these East African countries to send their financial experts to participate in an economic conference scheduled for May 6, 2015 in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, the tour is likely to have become an end in itself.
Inviting East African economic experts whose countries are themselves caught up in the same economic crisis and tasking them to strategize on how to remedy the dire economic situation in South Sudan, sounds more like a blind man asking directions from other blind people.
A crazy thinking at its best, especially when salvation is expected to come from these very East African countries that not long ago turned down South Sudan’s request to join the East African Economic Community because the former does possess what constitutes an economy in the real sense of the term!
Common sense dictates that you must have an economy to start with if you are ever to join an economic community. It is straight forward like this, isn’t it?
Those who keep count of events, they will remember how many international experts including East African advisors have ever since been advising President Salva Kiir and his corrupt Jieng Council of Elders government on all kinds of issues on economy and governance from since 2005.
How many times has President Salva Kiir and his corrupt Jieng “Dinka” Council of Elders regime visited countries like Botswana and Rwanda to hear their success stories? Were they not impressed by what they were told in those countries or did it all fall on deaf ears leaving the inherent “predator genes” to dominate.
No wonder, the only diversifications to the source of government revenue in South Sudan under this ailing regime has become confined to begging from neighbours and friends, taking high risk loans, and of course over-printing of worthless South Sudanese bank notes!
“The Zaire of Mobutu”, we are becoming!
Author. J.A.C Ramba. A South Sudanese citizen and a voice for the voiceless.