Worrying signs that South Sudan has leaders but no leadership.

BY: Dr. Sebit Ireneaus, KENYA. MAY/03/2013, SSN;

The oil in South Sudan has started to flow again. This means South Sudan will soon see substantial increase in its financial muscle. Oil accounts for nearly 98% of South Sudan Gross National Product (GDP) and is supposed to be a critical factor in the development of emerging country. The GDP of South Sudan is actually estimated to be 1,546. If one compares the GDP of South Sudan to that of its neighbours, it is apparent that South Sudan iswell above all. The South Sudan neighbours of Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia have the following GDPS: Kenya 769, Uganda 503 and Ethiopia 356. Similarly The Gross National Income (GNI) of South Sudan is higher compared to the neighbouring countries. South Sudan GNI is 984 compare to Kemya’s 784, Uganda’s 490 and Ethiopian’s 380. This means that South Sudan has more income compared to these countries.

Before the independence of the country, income from the oil was estimated to be 8 billion USD. This was a share of 50% of the total oil income thanks to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) arrangement of 50% to 50% sharing with Sudan. After independence this amount increased to 10 billion USD just before South Sudan shut down the oil wells claiming that Khartoum had confiscated oil worth nearly millions and millions of USD from its oil revenue ushering in the recent economic crisis that befell these two warring neighboring countries. However with all these resources, South Sudan after 6 years of CPA and nearly 2 years of independence has not seen or experienced anything near to semblance of development. The literate rate in South Sudan is just 27%. Apparently more than 80%of adult South Sudanese cannot read and write. 51% of South Sudanese live below poverty line while only 55% of them have access to improved water but not piped portable water. This is indeed surprising when nearly all major towns in the ten states except Yambio are located on big rivers.

The health situation is even pathetic. There are 2,054 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in South Sudan. This is the highest maternal mortality in the word. 31% of children below 5 years are underweight, 35% of them are stunted while 18.1% have moderate to severe acute malnutrition. The infant mortality is 71.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. HIV prevalence is on rise. The prevalence currently stands at 3.1% among pregnant mothers. The degree of risk of infection by major infectious diseases is described to be very high. These diseases include food or waterborne diseases such as bacterial and protozoan diarrhea, hepatitis A and E and typhoid, vector borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and sleeping sickness, water contact diseases such as schistosomiasis and respiratory diseases such as meningococcal meningitis and animal contact diseases such as rabies. On the other hand the Government has been spending millions of US Dollars sending its staff to foreign countries such as Kenya, Jordan and India for medical treatment, money that could have been used to construct good referral hospitals in South Sudan. Such hospitals could not only benefit the previlaged South Sudanese but could have actually benefited all the citizentry of South Sudan. It is indicated that half of Nairobi Hospital beds are occupied by South Sudanese.

On the educational front nothing is better. Able South Sudanese continue to send their children to Uganda and Kenya to access better schools in these countries while the governments spends colossal sums of money on questionable scholarships for children of people in the government’s good books. In fact the educational system in South Sudan has broken down right from primary system up to the university level. The recent mess in the South Sudan examination where useless examination papers were set while during the examination some states ran out of examination papers attest to the confusion in the educational system. The universities have no proper teaching facilities. They lack qualified lecturers and there are inadequate accommodation facilities for both staff and students making learning environment extremely difficult for both lecturers and students.

Food security remains a major headache in South Sudan after 8 years of relative peace. Most major towns in South Sudan depend entirely from food imported into the country making it difficult for many poor people to have access to balanced diet. It is amazing that people in Unity state and parts of Eastern Equatoria state are still dying of hunger while politicians zoom around in Juba or in the state capitals with guzzler cars never seen in some of our developed neighboring countries. More than 90% of South Sudanese still dependent on subsistence farming. Few of the farmers who have ventured into large scale farming cannot access markets because of bad roads.

Talking about infrastructure, South Sudan has only one major tarmac road linking Uganda to Juba thanks to the USA tax payers who sponsored this road through USAID. While this road has indeed opened trade between the two countries, incense it has not benefitted the entire people of South Sudan. Instead it has made it easier for Ugandan farmers to freely access South Sudan markets while the South Sudanese farmers have no access at all because the interstate and rural roads in South Sudan are nearly impassable particularly during the rainy season. The energy sector remains unexploited. South Sudan is endowed with many cataracts and a major dam in Nimule yet the coutry lacks electric power both for individual consumption and industrial development. The major towns in South Sudan are condemned to use high fuel consumption generators making it difficult for the people to have sustainable power. Water and sanitation is yet another area of concern. While most of the major towns are located on major rivers except Yambio, these towns are still dependent on borehole water or water deliver to houses by carts. The quality of this water is not assured this is why waterborne diseases are still causing high proportion of mortality and morbidity in the country.

In fact one would go on and on to illustrate the human ills in South Sudan but the main question is really where does the problem lie despite the fact that South Sudan has enough human and economic resources? To my mind the problem in South Sudan is lack of leadership. Of course South Sudan has leaders and indeed in plenty. One cannot deny this fact. It is also a fact that many South Sudanese aspire to be leaders. This is demonstrated everywhere in South Sudan; in Schools, university and even in the villages but these are leaders with no qualities of leadership. It should be realized that leader is just a title while leadership is competences. In any organization or country there are three pillars that are important for managing the organization or the country and these pillars are leadership, culture and structure. The leadership is crucial because it has to promote improvement in the organization or development in the country.

The organization or country must have its unique culture for example a working nation, united and harmonious coutry. The country or organization must also have structures that can spur development, harmony and team work or that can provide conducive atmosphere for investment or development. The triangle of responsibility of a leader is to give leadership, supervision and management. Leadership is important so that the country can continue to improve or develop according to plans initiated by the leader. Leadership ensures that right things are usually done in a manner that is consistent, sustainable and scalable. Therefore the leader should be delivering things without the box and not outside the box as many people may think. The leader must move things from current performance to best practice and ultimately to next practice. This is what is called delivering without the box.

Supervision is a crucial part of the leadership triangle because for anything to be done the leader must be seen to be present and monitoring. Leader should not be a hand off leader. He must ensure that his subordinates implement his directives to the later. On the other hand management is important in order to maintain the established system. This means the human resources and financial resources must be mobilized and maintain so that the system is sustained. Therefore the synopsis of a leader should include giving direction, carrying out actions and leaving behind a good legacy. Lack of these qualities are the real crux of the matter in South Sudan.

Having looked at the leadership issue in South Sudan, one finds it incredible that with abundant resources nothing has been done in the country. Taking two or three priorities in South Sudan, it is apparent that with leadership rapid development can be done in South Sudan. Let us take road network as an example. The major roads in South Sudan are: Juba Nadapal road (340 Km), Juba Malakal road through Bor (521.8 Km), Juba Wau road through Rumbek (567 Km), Juba-Yei-Yambio-Wau road (740 Km), Wau-Aweil-Bentiu road (265.3 Km) and Yei Kaya road (73.6 Km). The total distance of all these roads is nearly 2,448.6 Km. According to the costing of planed Juba Eldoret road, one Km of a Tarmac costs 1.3M USD. This means South Sudan could spend only 3.2 Billion USD for construction of these roads and would have linked up the country and opened it for rapid movement of people and goods. This could also spur farmers to improve agriculture and access to markets.

Health situation in South Sudan is critical yet mere expansion of the primary health care together with introduction of effective emergency obstetric care (EmOC) could reduce the sad situation of child mortality and both maternal and infant mortality significantly. There are two levels of emergency obstetric care which are aimed at reducing both infant and maternal mortality. These levels are Basic EmOC facility and Comprehensive EmOC facility. A Basic EmOC facility is the one that is performing all the following 6 signal functions: administration of injectable antibiotics, oxytocin drugs, and anticonvulsant drugs; manual removal of placenta, removal of retained products and assisted vaginal delivery while Comprehensive EmOC facility can perform all the 6 signal functions mentioned above as well as caesaren section and blood transfusion.

United Nation recommends that at least for 500,000 population, there should at least be four basic EmOC facilities and one comprehensive EmOC facility; at least 15% of all births in the population take place in either Basic or Comprehensive EmOC facility and at least 100% of women estimated to have obstetric complications are treated in EmOC facilities. It further recommends that as a proportion of all births in the population, Caesarian sections account for not less than 5% and not more than 15% and the case fatality rate among women with obstetric complications in EmOC facilities is less than 1%. However, to achieve these indicators is a far cry in South Sudan.

Considering secondary care, the situation is not different for the ordinary South Sudanese because the tertiary hospitals in South Sudan are so poor that they are abandoned by the rich and the mighty in the society. These privileged South Sudanese can waste millions of USD to access health care outside South Sudan while the poor are condemned to die in the retched hospitals in the country.

However, the reality is that the Government of South Sudan could be able to construct ultra modern hospitals equipped with latest state of art technology. The estimated cost to construct such a ultra modern teaching hospital in UK is nearly 440,525 USD per bed. This means having a 200 bed modern hospital equipped with latest state of art technology that includes magnetic resonance imaging, Doppler ultra sounds etc would cost 88.2 million USD. Of course this is the highest quality of referral hospital but other well equipped hospitals can be constructed with less money. The famous Beacon of hope Build Mirebalaise Hospital in Haiti, which is one ultra modern hospital been built by PIN will cost only 15 million USD. This is just money which one imprudent South Sudanese has embezzled and is resting in his accounts somewhere while the people are dying of treatable diseases.

South Sudan can in no way in the foreseeable be able to develop unless sustainable source of energy is guaranteed. This is only possible if the Fula Rapids can be fully developed. Energy is very crucial for industrial development unless the government is preparing for South Sudan to depend on its neighbours for finished good. Ideas have been going around that the Eastern part of South Sudan will have power supply from Ethiopia. It was proposed that South Sudan will import 100 MW of electricity from Ethiopia. This is just a wild idea that is expensive and unsustainable. In South Sudan itself Haphazard ideas have been thrown around regarding power supply. First South Sudan needs about between 150 to 200 MW of electricity. Juba city alone needs 40MW. In response to these needs the government has proposed several unwarranted and perhaps uncoordinated plans.

I may not be an expert in power supply but if a government begins to think of several power sources to supply the same country when there is Fula rapids which can supply the whole country then something must be extremely wrong. Consider the following plans. Fula Dam to be constructed with help of Norwegian government procuring only 40 MW ; cost 100 million $. This power is meant to supply Juba alone. Bedden rapids to supply 250MW at cost of 26.9 million $. Please note the differences in the costing. Shukoli dam on Yeroba rapids on the same River Nile, some few kilometers from Fula supplying 4,746 GWH at cost 23.7 million $ and Lakki Hydro Dam at Gugi rapids still on the Nile South of Juba to supply 2,427GWh at cost of 31.5 million $. In addition, there is a plan to construct 200 MW heavy fuel oil thermal plant at 540 million $ in Unity state. If it is true that Fula rapids can supply the whole South Sudan with the power it needs why go for several plans yet heavy fuel therma plants are not sustainable considering that oil in South Sudan may not even last forever.

Just to mention something about education, one beings to wonder as to what is the problem that government does not really consider the quality of education in South Sudan to be important. The government seems to be satisfied by reports that this number of schools are opened by the states or NGOs working in the country yet it should be understood that it is not the school buildings that determine the quality of education. Equality of education is determined by many factors some of which include the educational curriculum, the capacity of the teachers, the libraries, the science laboratories, school discipline and culture of education among others. These are not expensive things to do in South Sudan but indeed it all boils down to leadership.

I would like to end this first part of leadership discussion by saying that indeed South Sudan has leaders but seriously lack leadership. Somebody somewhere annotated that in an organization there are no bad employees but bad leaders and that employees do not go on strike but leaders force them to strike. Therefore my serious advice to our leaders is that they must wake up to not only show leadership but also to exercise it otherwise the country is going to the dogs.
God bless the great South Sudan.

Sebit Ireneaus
Nairobi; Kenya


  1. Dau-network says:

    Wooo, Dr Sebit,
    You deserved to be good critical analyst, l give you big credit with my all supporters!
    I have been looking for good equatorians to rally behind him but l failed to get except governor Joseph Bakosoro.
    Now you are the right person for the top job or Joseph Bakosoro and then you have to be first advisor.
    challenge to equatorians people for not following the right person for development, regardless he is a medical Dr or politician.

    Equatorians could do fabulous development. Dinka and nuer can do only defence of the country and no development. If Dr Sebit or Joseph Bakosoro become president and put those analytical plans in practice then we would say Dr John Garang has risen again from death.
    Equatorians have big problem by following non-productive leader Dr Riek Machar. he is a weak man. if we give him chance, make sure, guys, another zero 10 years like Kiir’s. we should support genius people like Dr Sebit but not angry power.

    I have witnessed what he calls MRI, Doppler ultrasound, CT scan and so many art technology where am working now for that machine and they are accurate for diagnostics, instead going to foreign countries. People worry about loans. America has a debt of 13 trillion and they are still borrowing now for their development. Australia also has 147 billion debt and they are still borrowing from China now.
    We should borrow 50 billions for infrastructures, health, agriculture and high education instead of wasting years without see the fruits of our freedom. Get money and them agencies like USAID or other well organizations.

    • Eastern says:

      Dau-network, the Dinka chief, must not think that Equatorians have a problem by following Dr. Riak Macher. For crying out loud Dr. Macher is a learned person. Dinkas should not become jittery once the alliance between Nuers and Equatorians come to fruition. You have been warned! Every person in South Sudan should be given the freedom to choose and follow a leader of their choice.

  2. upiu says:

    One of the best articles i have ever read on this site and to come from Sebit. A stark contrast to some of the regional/tribal rhetorics most prolific writers make a career on. A few ministries in Juba can take advice from this piece given the substance in it. Well researched and intellectually constructed!
    I think the author should consider sending this commentary on to some other prominent think-tanks where most people of influence can have access to it.
    Great Job Dr. Ireneaus.

    • Eastern says:

      Upiu, but you have recently lambasted the doctor when he opined another article, remember?

      • upiu says:

        Correct, but everyone should be given dues where they’ve earned them. The doctor doesn’t always have his facts straight esp. when he highlighted the circumstances surrounding 1991/1992 SPLA/M split. But on this piece, he’s spot on and penned a top-notch commentary. This is the difference btn blind (loyal) regional-cum-tribal following and rational thinking.

        • Eastern says:

          Come to talk (or think about ‘national’ in South Sudan). What is not tribal in South Sudan apart from Equatoria which most of your elks have failed to understand, Equatoria is the true conglomerate of diversity, it is a geographical piece of South Sudan where the various tribes come as an entity called Equatoria. Encourage the Anuak to join us.

          • upiu says:

            Thanks for the invite, but Anyuaks are proud south Sudanese and will always be despite the poor governance. Your likes who are preaching the politics of divisiveness remain to be seen if they’ll stand the test of history. South Sudanese are character strong to fall to the trap of petty regional/tribal politics. I challenge you to do better than that and the time for those few elements who are ardent preachers of hatred amongst our citizens will be history.

  3. Tyson says:

    Dr Sindani
    The indicators are indeed alarming for a country that could reduce this bad situation in a very short time. Our leaders floating in Juba have no real qualities. Just look at the whole Kitchen Cabinet….. it is just bunch of myopic idiots running the country.
    The parliament is a rubber stamp of the Cabinet while the Judiciary is a total mess.
    Nothing new will happen unless this bunch of stooges is removed out of power.
    Kiir is already threatening his Kitchen Cabinet…… with serious consequences if they dare speak against the government. He is scared after piling around himself stooges who have been stealing and corrupting the system.
    They should all be persecuted.

  4. Yaak Dau says:

    Good article, doctor. I believe South Sudan can experience rapid development if right leadership is ushered in as you have pointed out. That’s why Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar must go and allow new leaders with energy and people’s needs in their hearts to take over. Whatever scenario returns these two gents or either of them to the nation’s top job in 2015 will be a great disservice to the development of RSS.

  5. Dengdit says:

    This is a well-written, well-researched article backed by excellent facts & figures – I wish our leaders will sit up and listen to such voices.

  6. majok says:

    I have developed appetite of reading every article on this web page. there are so many questions southern Sudanese asked and they need answers. People of all ages sacrificed their lives because of our people who are poor farmers and uneducated. Their hopes and dream turn out to advantage small group of people who are self interested people. Honestly we lack a leadership that may hold on the SPLA/M principal as the movement promised. Changes don’t come from one person even if Mr. president has the spirit of transforming southern Sudanese lives. The individuals involved in the governing system should know exactly everything has an ending. If Kiir’s government failed don’t think you will be the better person and campaign to be elected for leadership.

  7. Manyok Chuol says:

    This is a great article, Dr. Ireneaus. In writing this article, I’m sure many South Sudanese will fully appreciate your efforts as a private citizen.

    The article is evidently well-researched and it’s obviously not a putdown of Dr. Ireneaus’ excellent efforts if to say that, what is utterly hopeless at the moment is not the lack of ideas per se but rather the shocking absence of determined implementations of government programs… that even as I applaud people like Dr. Ireneaus who despite knowing this abject reality continue to egg the regime on believing that it still is capable of adopting rapid research-driven development framework.

    In fact, nothing demonstrates my frustration more with the government in the article than the severally confusing power supply options that the government is reportedly considering and the angst-inspiring inconsistency of approach to costing!

    With petrodollars coming in again soon, the government should pursue and implement determinedly the following development priorities in no particular order— in fact concurrently: security, major roads networks as identified in the article, education, health, and agriculture.

    This country is, indeed, crying for better leadership! Thank you, Dr. Ireneaus for this article.

  8. Kuanyin says:

    I appreciate your article coz it focused on the challenges our country is facing and some suggestions are also there in your article, the worst part is that most of our politicians don’t have time to read and understand this article. Keep on. To change the mindset is good.

  9. GatCharwearbol says:

    Dr. Sebit,
    Thanks for this thoughtful article. Right now in South Sudan, there are no leaders but there are managers. There is great difference between leadership and management. Leaders listen and have followers while managers turn to lean toward the dictatorship system. They want things be done their way.

    If you take a close look at how Salva Kiir is running the RSS, he has shown many signs of dictatorship style of leading which is equal to managerial style. Kiir does not take advices and he has coerced the legislation branch to give him more power so he can intimidate more. You are on the right track to say there is no leadership in South Sudan.

    Furthermore, the issuance of decree after decree speaks volume that Kiir is practising dictatorship style. This type of management style will not come to an end any time soon. We better pray harder for things to turn around for better. But for right now, we are stuck until God knows when change will come.

  10. Akena says:

    Major development indicators fo s. sudan have been pointed out by Dr. sebit for the wise to see and adopt.
    this country should over rely on UN, UNDP, FAO, UNICEF and other reports because locally researched informations do not deal with the periphery but into the real acceptable and realistic reports. However, we should not rule off kirr’s government much as things are not as expected.
    Over reliance and compliance by most african governments to US and other foreign policy makers to favour their interest is a major break through hindrance.
    What is the justifiable reason to construct multiple small power dams instead of investing at one on fula dam?
    It’s so unfortunate that the resources of this country is in the hands of a few greedy citizens who are not educated, that is why they prescribe irrational decisions on the resource utilisation. Power (fula dam), road networks, health, education, security, and agriculture should be tackled concurrently.
    Credit to Dr. sebbit. keep exposing the information

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