OPINION: The First Coronavirus Patient Demands Ten State Governors in South Sudan

By Dak Buoth,

Photo: South Sudan First Vice-President and Chairman of Coronavirus Taskforce Dr. Riek Machar addressing a press conference at Juba Pyramid Hotel in Juba | Credit | Eye Radio

Photo: South Sudan First Vice-President and Chairman of Coronavirus Taskforce Dr. Riek Machar addressing a press conference at Juba Pyramid Hotel in Juba | Credit | Eye Radio


6th April, 2020 (Nyamilepedia)This foe known as coronavirus is now at our doorsteps following the announcement of the first coronavirus case in South Sudan on 5th April 2020. The high level task force on covid-19 deputy chairman and the first vice president, Dr Riek Machar in a press briefing at Pyramid hotel revealed the first patient that was tested positive of coronavirus at a public health laboratory in the capital Juba. This is overwhelming news, and it was long overdue.

This contagious coronavirus pandemic has already engulfed the neighboring countries namely Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda. Thus, chances were high that South Sudan was not going to miss it due to the high influx of our people from these countries and around the world. I must say thanks to the Chinese philanthropist, Jack Maa who earlier donated face masks to South Sudan and other poor African countries named above. Any lucky South Sudanese that will survive this coronavirus pandemic must make sure that they honor this true friend, Jack Maa in a most befitting way. And if I will be among the survivors and in decision-making bodies, I will suggest that a road be named after him in one of our cities.

Having said that, this fatal and scary information from the task force tells us that the war against coronavirus is real. The covid-19 disease is now near our houses, and we need to face it frontally. As of now it is no longer an invisible enemy which should be ignored or taken for granted. It would be recalled that the countries which ignored the threat of covid-19 pandemic at the first place are now heavily hit by this coronavirus pandemic. It was on this 5th April that the Kenya Government stopped the flights to and fro after the coronavirus cases shot up to hundred and above.

In the wake of this covid-19 infection, South Sudan should not talk softly about it anymore. From today henceforth, we should be tough and audible enough when addressing our population about covid-19.

The task force should increase their volume in all their daily briefings on this critical issue. They should speak in a manner that demonstrate that we are very serious and scared people. They should not be seen like they are faking that seriousness on covid-19. As a matter of fact, why should we not look so scared of this when our population is residing in crowded IDPS slums that lack running water and sufficient food stuff? In fact, some of the measures on covid-19 like frequent hand washing with soap and social distancing are luxuries in South Sudan. But I know our resilient people will try their level best to do what they can at this critical time in our life.

Most importantly, the ministry of health in collaboration with the task force must restart or re-enforce their work now. At the onset they must retrain themselves and appear in public like they know what they are doing, for this is not a laughing matter. We need well informed persons who can articulate the information on coronavirus timely and correctly. What we saw in the recent weeks is a national embarrassment to say the least. The minister of health, Madam Acuei Deng needs to come out clear. We are surprised to learn that she cannot even pronounce the term coronavirus well. The million dollar question is, if she cannot pronounce the name of this deadly disease, how will she be trusted to lead on the fight against this coronavirus? It means she does not know this common enemy that the world is fighting against.

You remember in her two press briefings on coronavirus in Juba, she appeared and sounded very naïve. If she can easily stumble in her communication on this health issue then she should be substituted or exchanged and taken to another ministry where she can perform well. Since she started speaking to the press on this disease, the social media is awash with mockeries directed toward her. Some Social media commentators say she is calling coronavirus as ‘conorabyruth.’ I don’t know whether they just don’t hear her accent because she comes from the United Kingdom. However, If at all she has problems speaking English then she should speak in her mother tongue and she will be translated.

Personally, what I noticed in her speech was that she sound as if she does not know that coronavirus and covid-19 are one and the same. When she mentions coronavirus, she would seconded it with covid-19 as if they mean different things. The two terms are used interchangeably. The south Sudanese citizenry deserves correct information from competence person, and they have a right to complain and or criticize her where she is experiencing academic challenges. 

As we converse, the citizens are watching and listening to her keenly; and they are interested to learn and implement what they hear from the horse mouth. Nonetheless, if the health minister pronounces words wrongly, it means her listeners will get wrong messages on covid-19 which is a recipe for disaster to the nation as a whole. 

In this regard, Madam Acuei Deng needs to be an honest mother and leader. She should resign as minister of health to avoid all these shenanigans on social media. To resign in a scenario like this demonstrates one’s honesty to the public.

On 26th March, Romania’s health minister, Victor Costache resigned due to a medical crisis brought by the coronavirus pandemic. So it is not something new for a minister to resign where there is big problem that she or he cannot handle.

Away from that, President Salva Kiir needs to swallow his pride on the issue of the state governors. We have been reading and hearing unending squabbles over ten state Governors’ appointments. It is unfortunate that every day the government mouthpieces keep saying that they would maintain their demand to appoint six out of ten governors. Why are they arguing blindly when in fact the peace agreement is very clear? Apart from the peace agreement being crystal clear, it is also flexible, owing to the fact that it is a compromised peace deal.

No peace partner should refuse to change its position for sake of this problem at hand. Now, without apportioning blames or pointing fingers on one particular group in the agreement, I just wanted to remind the president that the war against covid-19 demands ten state governors for they cannot fight this war alone. This new covid-19 patient will certainly multiple, God forbid. Hence, the spread of information on covid-19 requires concerted efforts from all sectors. It needs proper coordination between national and state levels of government. 

Once appointed, the Governors will be able to reach out to their respective state residents on how to protect themselves via all means possible at their disposal. We are in a dire situation that does not need political arrogance on matters of life and death. 

As I end, I appeal to all groups to do the necessary in ensuring that state governors’ appointment is expedited so as for us to face the combat against covid-19 effectively. This first covid-19 case is a clarion call for an immediate appointment of ten State governors in South Sudan.

The Writer is the chairman of Liech community Association in Kenya, the views expressed here are his own, and he can be reached for comments at eligodakb@yahoo.com


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