The SPLM Leadership fails to fix the most pressing challenges of South Sudan

By: John Juac, Windsor, Canada, MAY/18/2016, SSN;

The greatest problem facing South Sudan is a leadership crisis in all areas of the state activity, and this leadership crisis stems from the inability of those in power to meet the basic material needs of their population. In terms of natural resources, South Sudan is one of the richest countries on African continent and yet the bulk of its people live as if they were citizens of deserts.

In rural South Sudan, most villagers either live in unnecessary frustration, hopelessness and die of poverty and preventable diseases or move away from the countryside to the major urban cities to gain appreciation. Some 85 per cent of South Sudan’s poor live in rural areas and depend predominantly on traditional agriculture for their livelihoods.

Cities ought to play a key role as drivers of growth in a country’s development. In the newly independent state of South Sudan, they play opposite role.

Populations of the major urban cities like Malakal, Wau and Juba have grown larger than ever before. This huge influx of new settlers in South Sudanese cities has not been matched by a growth in widespread structures, facilities or public services like water systems, electricity, roads, houses, sewer, schools or health facilities.

Deep poverty, leave alone urban slums, is the fate of most South Sudanese city dwellers. Unemployment and underdevelopment are the rules rather than exception.

The vast numbers of newcomers are driven to urban areas by the harsh conditions of peasant life. Most soon become disillusioned, discovering that their only escape from chronic urban poverty is to eke out a meager living through the informal economy.

Few have become better workers for foreign capitalist investors exploiting the cheap labor, consumers of the expensive imported junks, as opposed to being producers of their own food crops in the rich land. Vastly more South Sudanese rely on this informal and haphazard way of making a living than on the formal economy that characterizes developed countries.

President Kiir and his cabinet ministers never give urban issues, especially urban poverty, substantial attention in their analyses or their policies and the international institutions that profoundly influence them have equally failed to make it a priority.

In the view of the local rights activists, the lack of work for young South Sudanese is a political and social time bomb waiting to explode. Many are under twenty five and are unemployed.

All these indicate that the Juba regime must find ways to disarm this time-bomb, but its leaders cannot figure out where to find the tens of millions more that are needed. It is no laughing matter because millions of South Sudanese are suffering for no reason other than the terrible choices and failures of the so-called nationalist leaders.

This crisis in South Sudan is not due to the civil war and famine as most foreign observers would make us believe, said one rights activist, noting that all those things are tied to the leadership in some capacity.

In fact, the failure to give a substantial attention to poverty, unemployment, and a mobilization of the population to produce its own food from the millions of natural resources, is primarily due to backward type of non-progressive leaders of the ruling party.

These leaders are naive, vision-less, opportunistic and totally compromised. How can they be good leaders when they have failed to fix the most pressing challenges of their nation?

They have left brothers and sisters behind the enemy line of poverty, and this is in contrast to the view that the people do not struggle for things in the heads of individuals. The people struggle and accept sacrifices demanded by the struggle in order to be able to live a better life in peace, to see their lives progress and to ensure their children’s future.

The struggle against colonialism, working for peace and progress- independence- all these are empty words without meaning for the people, unless they are translated into a real improvement of standards of living.

There are testimonies in South Sudan of the older people asking members of the ruling party when they can see political order and economic and social benefits of independence. This is a strong indictment of the failure of the post-independence state to provide at the very minimum the basic necessities of life, health centres and schools with adequate equipment, furniture and supplies in the rural regions, and good roads and transportation facilities to make it easier for peasant farmers to bring their products to urban markets.

Liberation from colonial domination is meaningful only when it goes beyond the political realm to involve the development of production, education, health facilities and trade. Some experts have argued that priority must be given to the development, modernization and transformation of agriculture.

Then the real challenge for the rulers of South Sudan is to be able to conceive and execute development strategies that satisfy the deepest aspirations of the popular masses for economic development and material prosperity. The rulers must also make common cause with their people by opting for those policies that meet their needs.

Nevertheless, the pathological rulers have sided with the international capitalists and accepted antisocial development strategies and polices imposed by the international institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. When one considers the topic of development it is important to realize that all conceptions of development necessarily reflect a particular set of social and political values.

Indeed, it is true say that development can be conceived only within an ideological framework, and this is evident in the dominant understanding by the majority of governments and international institutions which view development as synonymous with economic growth within the context of a free market international economy.

Economic growth is identified as necessary for combating poverty, defined as the inability of people to meet their basic material needs through cash transactions. A key issue in the debate about economic system is the choice between economic growth and economic development and one starts by drawing a distinction between economic growth and economic development.

One can have economic growth without economic development. Economic growth is a necessary but not sufficient condition of economic development. Economic growth simply means that the pie measured by GDP has grown bigger, but it says nothing about how the pie is divided. Economic development differs in being concerned with whether the average person’s standard of living has increased and whether the person has more freedom of choice.

Economic development can be measured by the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI takes into account literacy rates, gender parity and life expectancy, which affect productivity and could lead to economic growth. Economic development implies an increase in real income for most families.

Economic development seeks to alleviate people from low standards of living and works toward providing citizens with jobs and suitable shelter. It seeks to improve lives without compromising the need of future generations. On the other hand, economic growth does not address the question of the depletion of natural resources and pollution and global warming.

The difference between economic growth and economic development can be well illustrated by Angola, where the GDP grew by 20 per cent and yet poverty increased substantially. Much of the higher GDP flowed into the pockets of the ruling elites and their relatives and cronies. The daughter of the president of Angola herself was a billionaire and yet did nothing to create value for Angola. By contrast, Bill Gates built a business called Microsoft that made him billionaire many times over, but at least the business contributed to the development of the U.S. economy and jobs

Furthermore, Egypt’s past ruler, Hosni Mubarak, had a fortune estimated at $42 billion, but also did nothing to create value for Egypt. In South Sudan, the central and state ministers are billionaire. But where did this money come from? A great deal came from petroleum dollars and foreign assistance designed to help with the economic development. Many South Sudanese blame poverty and unemployment problem on the incompetency, the corruption and the greedy of their leaders.

On final note, think South Sudan and many people think of endless ethnic strife, brutal civil war, pervasive corruption, universal poverty, diseases out of control and unworthy rulers. South Sudan faces a daunting list of challenges and its citizens live with no hopes and dreams. Their dreams of peace and prosperity have been shattered by the greedy, corrupted and unscrupulous rule of the nationalist leaders for most years of independence.

One would be contented with just a modest of development of better opportunities, health services, better education and eradication of poverty in urban centres and rural regions. But unfortunately even these modest goals are being thwarted by power hunger and rapacious leaders who can only achieve their very goals by depriving their people of the basic needs.

That much is understood by most southerners. What is less clear to an outsider is why many good people accept the warlords as their rulers and even celebrate their bad governments?

The answer has two parts: administrative corruption and traditional culture. Tribalism is the stumbling block to peaceful coexistence and progress. Ethnic ties in South Sudan are a magnified expression of family loyalty that become a fault line at times of political and economic distresses.

Like Islam in Muslim Arab Sudan, tribal attachments indeed can be convenient lever for a divide-and rule ploy by cynical political leaders. But, like nationalism, such solidarity is not necessarily a destructive force. South Sudanese are patient and long suffering to an extent probably unparalleled in East African region.

Indeed, any foreigner who knows the daily lives of most southerners must marvel that a percentage of the new country’s people is in civil turmoil. And those conflicts are largely the result of small groups vying for control of the nation’s resources rather than mass movements of protest against unjust governments.

Many southerners had sacrificed their lives during the national struggle to winning political freedom, but now most are passive and unwilling to interfere with what they see as the natural wheels of life. In this respect, they are like the rest of people in Western world. Few people in free countries write letters to the editor or campaign actively to change laws. But the extent and duration of dictatorship in South Sudan are such that political police or military force is not enough to explain it.

The ability of southerners to put up with difficult and mistreatment is reflected in the historically low incidence of depression and suicide in the country. There is a pain and suffering in South Sudan and yet people continue to accept bad governments for three reasons. First, the local culture induces them to respect their elders and accept their fate.

Second, patronage and corruption have a complex stranglehold on national life. Third, South Sudan has become a heavy-handed police state and dictatorship, where President Kiir and his cohorts do the dictating. Like the former colonial master, it is a one-party state, but the ruling elite is not disciplined and serious.

It lies on an elaborate network of the cell leaders who suppress inconvenient points of views, and these kleptocratic leaders have given South Sudan a bad name. They have plunged their people into abject poverty and despair, and incited bitter ethnic violence and even armed conflicts. They are the ones largely responsible for underdevelopment, food scarcities, rising infant mortality rates, soaring budget deficits, human rights abuses, breaches of the rule of law and prolonged serfdom for million South Sudanese.

They have, in short, brutally complicated the very sever political, economic, ethnic and health issues that challenge South Sudan. The new state will most probably continue to crumble until the new leadership come to value the long-term betterment of its population over its own personal and political interests.

With terrible weak national and state governmental institutions exacerbating South Sudan’s trauma, the leaders of the capitalist West, whose timorous approaches to African problems have been documented, cannot be expected to take strong hands in helping to resolve the political, social and economic problems.

Even as regards peace making and conflict prevention, only other African countries are likely to see the Western activity. On the other hand, there are ongoing conversations in the various South Sudanese online media about the lack of political democracy, but elections are merely indicator of the democratic process. They are not worth very much if one leader, or group totally dominates the system and if oppositions are harassed, intimidated, often shoot at, even arrested, and obligated to campaign fearing for their very lives. Sometimes they are even killed along with critical journalists.

South Sudan held elections in 2010, the year before independence, but now it is a new authoritarian state dominated by Kiir and Machar and their respective supporters. The lack of political democracy overall, the general weak economic growth, poverty, rampant diseases and sweeping neglect of the country’s agriculture by politicians does not bode well for South Sudan’s near-term future. As some local rights activists have indicated, South Sudan’s positive role models need to be offered to the new leaders.

John Juac Deng
Journalist/writer,
Juacd@yahoo.ca
Country: Windsor, Canada

13 Comments

  1. Gatdarwich says:

    Juac,

    Killer NyanKiir’s kleptocratic government have proven beyond reasonable doubt that it’s has ZERO plan to provide even the top two basic human needs(Food and Security) to the people.
    Unembarassingly, the regime has openly authorized its militants–SPLA-IG to terrorize–kill civilians– in Nuerland, Cholloland, Equatoria region, and in Wau–, raids their cattle, chickens, goats, sheep, and robbed them of foods at gunpoint!
    There’s absolutely no any tangible service that would be rendered to the South Sudan’s civil population by this current kleptocratic regime of Killer NyanKiir and the Jenges Council of Evils period.

    Juac, it’s an insanity to expects anything good for the South Sudanese people–particularly, the 63 tribes—from Killer NyanKiir’s kleptocratic regime!

    Regime change is the only viable option to rescue the terrorized civilians full stop

  2. False Millionaire says:

    Mr John,
    Applauding your article so greatly,one particular question has caught my attention.
    “Why many people accept warlords to be their leaders?”
    If u weren’t born yesterday,then it’s rediculous to pretend not to know.The prevailing political climate in RSS is one created by the elites who are always engaged on the struggle for power.Take for the example the events of 1991 which quickly got transformed into a communal struggle setting the nuer and dinka masses against each other.If u were a dinka in those days among nuer,u would risk getting kilt in much the same way as if u were a nuer among the dinka.That grave tendency amplified it’s self during the events of 2013 and has become the norm should other likewise events break up again to provide an occassion.To such context,it’s to assure one’s own survival that is the priority than any geographical need for the nation and all the development that goes with it.
    Mr John,I hope u would agree with me that Dr Garang was the only leader under whom citizens could feel secured without any regard to the tribes of their origins.Today even most educated people with great sense of national and economic consciousness are scared to stand up for meaningful changes for the simple fact of fearing to compromise their communities’ security so far as those changes will target the very warlords whom they see to be the guarantors of their communities’ security.That’s the core of our problems.

    • WAN RAN says:

      The only solution is the formation of pple’s vigilantes to help eliminate those warlords one by one untill they are done only that will THE RSS be peaceful. This is possible through poisoning them, injecting their assess with radioactives materials

  3. Ishakho says:

    False Millionaire,

    Thanks so much for that ingenious comment. it undoubtedly true Dr. Garang was only leader who didn’t divide Junubiin along tribal basis. Dr. Riek is the King of Tribal military and tribal politics.

  4. Gatdarwich says:

    False M & Ishakho,

    Total crap.
    There wasn’t and isn’t absolutely no single Jenge leader in South Sudan who wasn’t and isn’t tribalist period. They were and are all tribalists–starting from Abel Alier, Garang, and Killer NyanKiir. They were and are all indisputable tribalists national traitors full stop

  5. Ishakho says:

    Gardarwich,

    i know some patriotic Nuer leaders and Dr. Riek is not among, he is ill-motive, greedy, coward, visionless and above all a tribal Icon
    Howere there are greet Nuer leaders and i can mention them as follows;

    1. James Koang Chuol(CDR), he participatd in many frontline including the capture of the first town ever by SPLAI ie Boma in 1985

    2.Peter Panom Thanypiny who was killed by Riek in Nasir for refusing to join

    3. Nyuon Kuac

    4. James Hoth Mai, another honest and peers fighter.

    5. John Koang Nyuon who liberated most of Western Equatoria when their sons registered as refugees in Congo

    6. Stephen Buay, the one who defeat Riek forces in Melut.

    So dear comrade we should give the praise where it is due, Dr. John Garang was and is the best South Sudanese leader ever, please be honest he is not tribalist.

  6. Toria says:

    Ishakho
    Where were all those great jenge and nuer leaders when spla was crushed by the jalaba from upper nile to bahr gazal?Only Equatoria was the last place left when worriors from Equatoria stood up and pushed the jalabas out once and for all. Where did you get your fabricated story from? Fyi, If it wasn’t for Equatorians there is nothing call spla today. You can see it today all you idiots ran away from your areas and soon jalaba will take over all jenge land. As always you jenge only know how to lye and steal just like the devil who only came to steal and destroy and liars. You will end up in dungeons when the time comes you cowards.

    • Force_1 says:

      Toria;
      You sound like you were born in the year 2000; because you don’t have any clue in any way shape or form about the history of struggle in South Sudan. Please help yourself by leave the history of struggle to those who were born before the beginning of the war in 1983 to tell it!

  7. mading says:

    Toria you are the most devil lying woman I ever read her posted, Dinka soldiers were kept in Equatoria against their will leaving their people with out protection in Dinka villages and towns. I am sure you know Dinka soldiers who punished for leaving their area of deployment in Euatoria during the war, if were in then Sudan.Toria may be you are talking about Euatoria Defend force, arianga mundri militias.

  8. Ishakho says:

    Toria,

    you need to liberate yourself this delusional thinking, CPA was not the work of all tribes. it was only referendum you Equatorians turn up in numbers because no physical fighting was required. just a simple one minute vote.

    Uppernile and Bhar el Gazal really suffered alot, do you Equatorians have child soldiers? all your children were safe on the mountains, or in refugees camps or even with Mundukuri.

    am talking about the multitude of people contributed by these regions, not officersif that is what you say because of Jadalla, Thomas Cirillo(both were captured in Juba 1992).

    the only fiercest fighing Equatoria then was Gen Mamur Mete and he did not have any army, he only used Dinka sons because most of Nuers were busy with Riek fighting us.

  9. Toria says:

    Ishakho and mading
    You claimed that you suffered more, that’s is because of your ignorance, you kill yourselves more than the jalaba or any foreign forces did. Your big number was useless in the war of liberation. The truth is you don’t use your brains thinking that your big number can solve anything. It isn’t about number but constructive planning. Who is keeping the dinka soldiers in Equatoria? isn’t it your visionless tribal warlord idiots like Nyankiller Kirr and his co-habitus the JCE, Malong Awan, Koul Manyang and the rest of warlords? and if you who claim that you are bright enough can not even figure that out that then you are the same bunch. “birds of the same feather flock together”? You jenge men are cowards, you are so scared of jalaba that you ran to Equatoria to hide, leaving only the elderly, women and the sick in your villages to suffer in the hands of the jalabas.
    No body wants to work with betrayers, you betrayed the southern revolution so that a premature agreement was signed in 1972. Who invited the foreign mercenaries, the UPDF, the JEM, the northern rebels etc to fight on your behalf fearing from those you called minorities? who is the real traitor and coward? None other than you jenge men lunatics.

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