Updated at 2:15pm, Sept 18, 2014(PST)
Sept 17, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Following a decree by Salva Kiir government to return jobs from foreigners in the country to South Sudan nationals, many foreigners have violently reacted, at least in writing, to attest the decision that was recently announced by the regime’s Minister for Labour, Public Service and Human Resource, Ngor Kolong Ngor.
The foreigners are responding to a statesmen, issued on 16th September, that reads: “all non-governmental organizations, private companies, banks, insurance companies, telecommunication companies, petroleum companies, hotels and lodges working in South Sudan are directed to notify all aliens working with them in all positions to cease working as of from 15th October”
In one of the responses, Mr. Mwangi S. Kimenyi, a Kenyan by nationality and a senior fellow and director of the Africa Growth Initiative, who currently serves as advisory board member of the School of Economics, University of Nairobi, decried the decision by South Sudan government calling it a very “stupid one.”
“The decision by the government is clearly a stupid one. It lacks any sound basis, and it runs counter to any informed and developmental-minded leadership” Mwangi uttered.
The economist, in his comparative analysis, equates Salva Kiir’s government to dictator Idi Amin Dada’s government, more than 40 years ago.
Mwangi believes that the decision is stupid on the part of the government because it embodies tremendous consequences such as those that hit Uganda after Idi Amin Dada’s regime.
“Such a move reminds us of the action by the former dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin, who, early in his reign, expelled foreigners and even seized their investments. The consequences of such actions—namely the collapse of the Ugandan private sector—are well-known, and it is quite surprising that a struggling economy would take actions that accelerate the downward spiral of economic growth and human development.” Mwangi said
“Again, I say this is quite stupid on the part of the South Sudanese government.” Mwangi reiterates.
This is the first time the foreigners have openly criticized Salva Kiir’s government and openly acknowledge its dictatorial tendencies as it now reminds them of dictator Idi Amin of Uganda, who ordered the foreigners to leave Uganda within 72 hours in the earliest 1970s.
Like the Europeans argued during the Berlin Conference in 19th Century, Mr. Mwangi believes that “South Sudan is in real bad shape when it comes to human capacity”, and for it to survive, it must employ and capitalize on the “well-qualified” foreigners to run the government and private sector of South Sudan.
“It lacks well-qualified personnel to run the government and private sector. There is a dire scarcity of medical personnel, teachers, engineers, agriculturalists, private sector managers, and indeed workers in all sectors. The country needs all the support it can get to build human capacity.” Mr. Mwangi said.
“It needs more teachers and doctors, and greatly benefits from private investors. It needs additional training facilities for agriculturalists to train extension workers in order to more effectively exploit the great agricultural opportunities that abound in that country. With a very weak financial system and where most of the population is excluded from access to finance, foreign banks and workers have been playing critical roles in extending financial access.” Mwangi continued.
“It is a totally poorly thought-out action and one that must be reversed if South Sudan is to make any progress in development. The African governments must make bold statements criticizing such actions as they have broader implications for the region.” Mwangi continued.
Mwangi warns the troubled government of the war-torn South Sudan that the days of dictatorship are long gone and the Africans are adopting democracy across the continent.
“But African governments have moved very far from the times of Idi Amin: Since the 1990s alone, the number of democracies has increased from four to 17, and the number of autocracies has decreased nearly fourfold, indicating a dramatic change the continent’s political landscape. South Sudan needs to not retreat to outdated and dangerous political decisions and risk falling into economic chaos” Mwangi warns.
The Kenyan’s economist cautions the Eastern African region to take note of this particular decision as it will lead to what the economists refer as contagion, however, Mr. Mwangi does not elaborate the theory and how it could be managed with or without reversing the decision.
“In addition, the actions by the government of South Sudan will have negative effects on other African countries as perceptions about a worsening investment climate in South Sudan will spill over to its neighboring countries.” Mwangi said.
The director of the Africa Growth Initiative, Mr. Mwangi, threatens that the South Sudan’s decision should serve as a red flag to deny South Sudan an admission to join the East African Community.
“This decision should be a red flag for members of the East African Community (EAC) and signals that they should not rush to admit this country into the EAC. Its actions remove it far from the convergence necessary for a well-functioning economic community” Mwangi.
However, the East African Community has been struggling to resolve its internal issues, since its creation, due to conflict of interests and suspicions. While Uganda and Tanzania have been skeptical that Kenya, with her relatively advanced developmental projects, would gain more from trade liberalization in the region, Kenya on the other hand fears that Uganda would dominate EAC leadership.
With similar implications, economists would argue that it is too early for South Sudan to join East African Community, otherwise, the newest state would gain very little from joining the East African bloc.
The conflict of interests on South Sudan and suspicion among the Eastern African countries have contributed in prolonging the war in the country as some countries (Uganda) directly fights alongside Salva Kiir to protect her political and economics interest in South Sudan.
The independent of South Sudan has polarized bilateral relations in the region as the countries compete to tie knots with Salva Kiir led government of South Sudan while maintaining old grudges among themselves. However, this collective decision may reunite the region to fight back for influence in South Sudan.
Utilizing the lack of “human capacity” and institutions in South Sudan, the regional allies have each secured a mega project(s), that include railways, highways and airports, which will be funded by the member states, but heavily by South Sudan, to “link South Sudan to the region”.
Foreigners have dominated many sectors in South Sudan, from political advising to private sectors, however, the country has helplessly remained in war for nine months. Majority of Eastern African countries have sent troops to South Sudan but the war has continue as IGAD peace process dwindles.
Despite the instability, South Sudan hosts more than 30,000 Kenyan workers, mainly in construction, banking, hospitality and humanitarian work. Foreign businesses, specially in banking sector, have continue to boom.
According to Daily Nation, Equity controls 40 per cent of the banking industry in South Sudan, while Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) accounts for 42 per cent, with its non-performing loans shooting from Sh 558 million in 2013 to Sh1.1 billion by June 2014.
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