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[Dehai-WN] Southsudannewsagency.com: South Sudan: The Long Journey Towards a Dignified Sovereignty

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2012 00:21:41 +0100

South Sudan: The Long Journey Towards a Dignified Sovereignty

By Justin Ambago Ramba, 27 February 2012


While the world remains fascinated about South Sudan's vast fertile and
virgin arable land, the situation on the ground at its best remains a one of
total dependency on foreign food supply. This unfortunate trend of events
becomes even more worrying when one looks at the year in and year out
records of certain states e.g. Northern Bahr Ghazal, Warrap, Lakes, Unity
and Jonglei where no single year has passed without the authorities
reverting to the international community for food relief in spite of the
abundant thousands of dissolute farming lands and water.

Whatever reasons are given be them the closure of the northern borders, the
constant intertribal fights, or the cattle raiding, yet the truth of the
matter is that the local population in most of these areas have lost the
motivation to farm the land. This too have been consolidated by the heavy
dependency on the Oil driven economy which the SPLM led government inherited
with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), but however failed to manage

Our citizens in the so-called states with the severest food shortages should
understand that if the shutdown of the Oil industry which is aimed at
liberating the South Sudan's economy from the grips of the Khartoum based
'Jallaba' regime restores self dignity and protects the nation's
sovereignty, the constant appeal for foreign food aid on the other hand
reverses all that claim. And truly indeed the habit of constantly begging
the International community for Food Aid has for all practical purposes gone
too far given the fact that the real war was ended 7 years ago.

Of course there are those who would want to blame the current "home-made"
insecurity for the ghost of famine that remains hanging over most of the
villages that have lately witnessed a break-down in law enforcement, it
shouldn't be forgotten that whatever was inflicted there was carried out in
all cases by local South Sudanese youth regardless of their ethnicities.
Could it not be argued that if this very youth were to refrain from
terrorising their countrymen and rather engage in food production, the story
would have been totally different?You can't eat your cake and still have it:

As a people we need to look back and see how far we have come from the days
of the rudimentary Regional Government of the Addis Ababa Agreement to today
in an independent Republic of South Sudan [RSS]. We fought for independence
and an end to servitude and second class status, and here still we aren't
ashamed of ourselves when we as an independent nation continue to shout
aloud, begging for foreign food aid. Our politicians have often talked about
a certain blessing in disguise that would come with the abrupt shutdown in
Oil production, however in reality they should have long anticipated all
these given the time tested history of our struggle against exploitation and
foreign domination.

Khartoum chose to close its borders with us thus obstructing any border
trading between the two countries and one sees nothing strange in that given
the "Jallaba" mentality. This might even go on for decades to come or
forever. What should have worried us is the defeated so-called Confederal
arrangement that would have still given them (Jallaba) the free hand to
manipulate and dominate our economy. As for the disputes over the pipelines
and the Oil transit fees, these are but a continuation of the unfinished
liberation struggle, for otherwise how on earth were we prepared to go on
'dining' with a regime that's stained up to the elbow with the blood of our
loved ones? Wasn't it South Sudan's free will when our people overwhelmingly
voted by 98.8% in rejection of the Khartoum (mis)rule?

That far the game was over, ones and for all, and any turning back to
Khartoum would be like going back to Sodom and Gomorrah in days of Lot and
his tribesmen. My advice to fellow South Sudanese who live along the
northern borders and still want to enjoy a meal of "Kisra" and "Weika" -
(flat pan-bread and dried Okra soup) don't necessarily have to import it
from across the border. You are better off growing your own field of okra in
your independent backyard this time around. This is what independence from
Khartoum translates into at its most basic level. You risk being laughed at
if you still yearn for food to come from a quarrelsome neighbour who in fact
is a sworn in enemy.

Thank God that South Sudan hasn't reached the stage of Somalia yet and for
this fact there is every reason for our people to work hard and avoid
slipping that way. The youth in Jonglei, Lakes state, Warrap or Unity state
should understand that they are better off with hoes, ploughs, machetes and
axes farming the vast virgin land of their ancestors which has now been
finally liberated by expensive blood, than rooming about with AK -47s and
engaging in cattle rustling. To our youth and the political leadership
alike, I say this, "You don't liberate a country and then become thieves in
it, but you rather strive to build it and develop it".

Although both politically and socio-economically the Oil remains a
negotiating force for South Sudan as it works to balance the development
equation, things won't be the same again a situation likely to persist for a
decade or more to come. The government will undoubtedly seek to find
alternative sources of revenues; otherwise it risks loosing the social
contract with the people. But the major

concerns however remain and it is how the so-called alternative resources
and the funds thus generated are managed. Austerity measures under a
leadership that categorically operated on an open ended budget, resisted
auditing its books and a tradition allows for its cronies to embezzle public
funds with impunity, is in fact a mockery and a self pity for what it claims
to stand for.

It cannot be overemphasised that a trustworthy leadership, a truly
accountable and transparent government and the rule of law are all crucial
to the success of any economy that plans to implement austerity measures.
These are undoubtedly in shortcoming under the current one man rule and his
rubber stamp parliament. President Salva Kiir will have to stop his overused
political rhetoric and it is needless here to stress ( to him) the
importance as well as the urgency of recovering all the embezzled public
funds as it becomes all the crucial, first for his government's credibility
in not only the eyes of the general population who are about to experience a
tough time ahead as a consequence of the new developments, but also for his
credibility with the others in the international fora and the equally
important need for South Sudan's survival as a coherent nation at this
particular time.

Let no one make the mistake to think that all these monetary scandals
committed under Salva Kiir's leadership which currently stand in billions of
dollars can just die like that unaccounted for or at the least unrecovered.
It is time that the so-called leaders understand that no foreign loans will
be easy coming if the government of the day do not deliver on its promises
to up-root the endemic corruption both in the government and the ruling SPLM
party. Without first settling this stigma of a system that loot at will and
with impunity, South Sudan's future remains for all practical purposes
remain gloomy!

The crucial massage that obviously matters the most, is for our people,
rulers and subjects alike, that they must be ready to face a new
dispensation. The decision to shut-down the Oil production could be easily
considered as "ridiculous" by the international community if the government
just turn around and begins to beg food for its starving citizens or any
other basic services for that matter. A very poor country like South Sudan,
but lucky to have been blessed with a vast Oil reserve, when it is known to
have mismanaged a not less than $20 billion of the Oil revenue, and suddenly
now for whatever reason shuts down its Oil production [98% of its total
revenues] isn't the ideal candidate that monetary institutions would happily
lend their money to and obviously not when the whole world is going
bankrupt. So if we rightly think that the shutdown of Oil production was a
blessing in disguise, then we have to prove that first to ourselves and then
to the world that we are capable of turning problems into success stories
without having to criss-cross the world with empty bowls in our hands.


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Received on Mon Feb 27 2012 - 18:21:46 EST
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