By Wesley Kosa,
April 17th, 2019(Nyamilepedia) — Our past experience in united Sudan under the leadership of the northern elites is overwhelmingly filled with exclusivity, domination, manipulation, oppression, suppression. Every political tool was used to help the north have total control over the people of the Southern Sudan. They feared the unity of South Sudanese people and saw it as a threat to their sole grip on the leadership of the Sudan. After the Addis Ababa agreement, Southern Sudan was granted a semi autonomous region I.e. Southern region. This brought all the Southern Sudanese from all walks of life very close.
The unity among the Southern Sudanese people was very evident, there was no tribalism, and people viewed each other as fellow Southerners. This did not sit well with the northern Sudanese people, who immediately introduced the three Southern regions, Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal followed by the introduction of the notorious decentralized system of governance known as “Kokora” to dismantle the unity of southern Sudanese and inject into them the destructive spirit of tribalism which continues to haunt us to this day. The people of Southern Sudan bought into the evil and ill-intended decentralized system o f governance, killed and destroyed one another, leaving the real enemy untouched. As the southern Sudanese were actively killing and destroying each other, the northern elites were busy uniting their ranges and files to rule. Though the whole intention of the decentralization was to bring chaos only in the Southern Sudan, the chaos soon engulfed the entire country which exploded into a civil war that the northern elites were unable to contain. This happened to be the last war that led to the independence of South Sudan. The call for separation came as a result of many failed attempts made to resolve the national issues under one Sudan. The people of South Sudan said enough is enough, we want to be free and indeed on July 9th, 2011, the World witnessed the independence of South Sudan.
Economic perspective: Since South Sudan got its independence the government never developed a tangible economic policy to improve the economic state of South Sudan. As a result, the country never kicked off its economic development. Instead of economic growth, South Sudan has deteriorated due to lack of a vision. The current conflict has huge impact on the economic well being of the country coupled with lack of proper economic planning and massive corruption that continues to hurt south Sudan’s economy severely. Due to these, the government is facing tremendous challenges in delivering basic essential services to the people even paying salaries has become almost impossible. A visionary leader could have cut down spending by forming a lean government, reducing the number of ministers and even reducing the number of states. These are some of the remedies to tackle the Country’s economic crisis. Instead, President Kiir inflated the federal government and introduced the 32 states which are contrary to economic measures that could have helped in resolving the country’s economic crisis. Today we have huge federal and state governments, and both consume huge parts of the national budget. Kiir has no idea where the money will come from to meet the financial needs of these states, and there is no money to pay the salaries of civil servants. To make matters worse, the Khartoum peace deal comes as a result of accommodation, i.e. both the federal and State government are to be inflated, putting more pressure on the already overstretched budget. The government continues to beg for funds to implement the peace agreement, not knowing that the international community is aware of the level of corruption in the government of South Sudan.
One of the right recipes for the country’s economic crisis could have been the lean government but instead of this, Kiir decreed the 32 states without considering the economic crisis the country is undergoing. These states have become a huge economic burden to the country that is already in the middle of economic crisis. Looking closely at some of these states, they have nothing to contribute towards the federal budget due to lack of substantial economic potential or their economic potential has never been realized. Such states in the real sense are just consumers; will only be on the receiving end.
Negative impact on the national unity
The force of unity and the energy it brought during the referendum was indeed a positive sign that made most foreigners to believe that South Sudan is not ethnic minded as portrayed by the northern Sudanese. It gave a positive view of the new nation, that it would emerge to be a viable state. Unfortunately, Kiir’s policies worked contrary to the expectations of the South Sudanese people and the international community at large. The appointments in key government offices were overwhelmingly taking over by Kiir’s ethnic group and he deals with national issues along tribal lines. For instance, when Paul Malong rebelled against the government, Kiir selected only Dinka people to meet with Malong and when Thomas Cirilo rebelled, Kiir told Bari elder that they should convince their son to join the government. President Kiir selected only Dinka elders to discuss and advise him on national issues thus excluding other ethnic groups. Since the introduction of the 32 States, the word greater surfaced, and it’s used not do define the country, but predominantly implies to states rather than the country. Hence people identify themselves with their respective states and ethnicity than the country.
As well, the introduction of the 32 states has witnessed more inter communal conflict than ever before. Those conflicts are mostly over state boarders, natural resources such as grazing land, water e.t.c. In most cases such conflicts find their way to the federal political system. Such conflict when it’s full grown will give birth to greater tribalism and eventually kill nationalism. Since the birth of South Sudan, President Kiir has never developed any policy to promote national unity, cohesion and identity unfortunately this made the South Sudanese to view themselves as tribes such that it’s almost impossible to develop our national identity and nationalism. Though these are Kiir’s ethnic- oriented policies, he always misrepresents the unity in his speeches which he is not living up to.
Taking a close look at the 32 states, majority of them intentionally belong to one ethnic group. This means that state representatives from those states to the federal government/parliament will be the majority. Democratically their views will always rule and their tribe will always dominate, and decide the future of the entire country. This was the same issue that brought lasting conflict in the Sudan which resulted in the separation of the Sudan. This is a recipe for a lasting conflict in South Sudan and president Kiir will take sole responsibility for the disintegration of South Sudan. Kiir’s policies do not promote unity of the country, instead tribalism is on the rise. Northern elites did try it, but it resulted in the separation of the Sudan. Kiir decided to do the same and yet expects a different result. One day he will be taken by surprise and he will be to blame of the consequences of his own policies.
Kiir’s 32 states is one of the many causes of the conflict and it has to be revoked. Ignoring it will not bring a lasting peace to South Sudan. The northern government ignored many demands of the Southern Sudanese to resolve our issues under the united Sudan and did not develop policies that recognize the entire Sudanese people equally under the law. As a result, Southern Sudanese people demanded for separation. This demand was very costly over 2 million people died on the long journey to freedom and it was sacrifices that made it possible for us to attain our independence. How can president Kiir forget this and repeat the very same crime the northern elites did? It will not be long before other ethnic groups demand separation and such demand will be very attractive and impossible to suppress. If IGAD is serious to bring lasting peace to South Sudan, then it’s important that the issue of 32 states be addressed and if president Kiir wants to maintain the unity of South Sudan, then let him revoke the 32 states. Otherwise forcing it on the people will result in the total disintegration of the South Sudan. The military might will never solve any problems nor will it succeed in forcing unity on the people as we have experienced with successive Khartoum regimes.
Wesley Kosa is the Secretary for Information of South Sudan National Movement For Change (SSNMC). He can be reached through his email at email@example.com