One Year Down the Line: Is this the Independence We Fought for?
One year ago when South Sudan celebrated the most prestigious occasion in the annals of history in the modern era, the citizens of this country knew that their problems would come to an end once and for all. On this day one year ago, I wrote an article trying to suggest possible choices available for South Sudan.
The central theme of my writing was that what South Sudan can learn from the independence of other Africans States. Will it be business as usual? Clinging on to power, corruption, tribal politics characterised by “we fought syndrome?”
Or will South Sudan choose the exceptional case of Botswana which served the interest of its people not the individuals in power. All its concentration was projected on economic development, good policies and service deliverance.
Well, as we enter into the second year of the independence it is clear which path we have chosen.
It is imperative to note that the population of this country are still happy with the independence because the main thing for them is their identity. I agree with Prof Alfred Lokuji when he said that the most important thing is not whether the expectations of the people would be fulfilled in one year or not but the identity of south Sudanese as free people was the essence of the independence.
The challenges affecting the country are overwhelming and nobody expect the miracles within one year to get all of these resolved. There is nobody in this country that ever thinks that he/she would wake up in the morning after independence and found out that our roads are built from Nadapal to Awiel and from Nimule to Reng.
No! They are not also thinking that there shall be everything such as factories, skycrappers built free for them. They understand that it is still a struggle and independence is a stepping stone in achieving what they have been yearning for.
What do not go down well with them is that the gap between the people and those managing their resources is increasingly widening every other day. The citizens don’t even know what the priorities of their government are. They don’t understand why we become two groups- “the haves and haves not?”
The citizens are asking why some few individuals would fly out to India for treatment when they are pierced by a thorn yet there is no aspirin in Juba Teaching hospital?
What moral ground do our leaders have when they go to the villages and carefully choose their English words to encourage the citizens; we are starting from the scratch, Rome was not built in one day.
What they fail to tell the citizens is why they are driving posh cars that cannot be found anywhere in the Sub-Sahara if we are starting from the scratch?
Citizens are tired of excuses. Blaming Khartoum won’t help either, why don’t the government provide clean water to the people yet the river Nile flows from Lake Victoria in Uganda not from Khartoum?
Why is the Law review commission not given support to give us the permanent constitution that carries the aspirations of the people of this country on how they want to be governed?
In the list of worries, citizens are worried about the impunity that is growing within our system. How the executive has become untouchable not even answerable to the parliament and Judiciary?
The budget shows that the government is not going to employ anybody for the next one fiscal year. Young graduates are not going to get jobs soon and the government has no policies that protect them and ensure that they should work in NGOS. Those who are working in the government will experience a salary cut which is in sharp contrast with the prices in the market. The graduate in grade 9 will spend his whole salary on food for 15 days only not to mention other basic needs such as cloths and shelter.
Another fundamental worry is how Juba is becoming? If you go to the country side you will realise that Juba is becoming another Khartoum. Resources are concentrated here.
A local think-tank organization carried out a social accountability research and found out that for the last six years Juba alone has spent SSP 22 billion and the ten states spent only six billion. Do your math. Who are in Juba? A certain clique who call themselves the owners of this country!
Why can’t the government reduce the bureaucracy in Juba by decentralising the resources? Thoughtfully, one of the ways is to have only about ten Ministries at the centre and take the other ministries to the states.
People in this country are now like passengers in the bus who could only contemplate the accident ahead with a curious mind. It is high time the government made it clear to us especially on issues of critical importance to the people.
We deserve to own a working government to enable the leaders stamp out the “who cares” complexity.
As we celebrate our independence, we should replicate on the values and ideas we fought for and judge whether we are still following the road that we intended to travel.
Like Patrice Lumumba said that, “history will one day have its say,” may the dreams of our heroes can be realised. Otherwise the future is unpredictable.
By Michael Thon Mangok, JUBA – SSN:, 21/07/2012