Is it true that South Sudanese are enjoying peace?
By Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa*
April 27, 2006 — The general security situation in south Sudan has improved greatly in various aspects, after more than a year of signing peace deal, but the building of infrastructure and provision of basic services is yet to start, which is a long way to go. But if one is following the various incidents in the southern Sudan, security situation in some parts of south is still posing a threat and hinders return of people in their respective areas. Disturbingly was the report by security committee of august House, of insecurity in counties of Juba, Kajokeji, Morobo and Yei that LRA menace is the major causes of this insecurity, beside the certain behavior of senior SPLA officers in Yei, Kaya and Morobo! Shockingly enough is the defenceless Kajokeji citizen situation, who are detached and deserted by the GOSS, as despite the call by Governor of Central Equatoria State more than two months ago to send a rescue force to defend those citizens, there was no respond from GOSS, but instead there was massive displacement of people from both counties, Juba and Kajokeji according to the report. As it is impossible to enter Kajokeji unless through Uganda, due to non-existence of link between Kajokeji and the rest of the Southern Sudan! This is a dreadful situation for both civilians and less than half platoon of SPLA forces, who are poorly equipped and some without arms is an easy prey to LRA. Then, where is the peace dividend here and how can people perceive that there is a peace! But during his policy statement before the august House, Kiir said "GOSS is now better equipped to prevent any bloody clashes among the people". So, one wonders, better equipped on which norms, to prevent ethnical clashes or CPA or south Sudan borders and its integrity, if still it could not respond swiftly in some parts of southern Sudan, and even unable to send rescue forces to Kajokeji as this date. Better equipped, one could presume that the GOSS has got the capacity now to reach the remote parts of southern Sudan whether by land or air.
In his policy statement before the august House, Kiir pointed out that people of Equatoria are still unable to enjoy peace in its fullest sense due to LRA activities. But one wonders, as whether the people of other states are actually, enjoying peace in its fullest sense? I doubt very much, as we have to be more realistic in our expectations. And it is my desire and aspiration for all south Sudanese to enjoy peace in its fullest aspect. But if we look at what is happening in parts of Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazal, Warap, Central Equatoria, East and Western Equatoria States, was a clear indication that no one in south Sudan is enjoying peace optimum. People still lacks basic services and daily requirements of life, particularly in ethnic conflict and drought affected counties and payams such as Mbara, Yeri and Mvolo, people desperately need food and are depending on wild yams and could hardly get water, due to absence of boreholes! Even officials in some counties has no salaries and are working empty stomach and has no means of communication and are in complete dilemma. Thus, people will start enjoying peace when building of infrastructure, basic services and all communication network facilities were installed in all parts of southern Sudan. Hence, it is still early for us to talk about enjoying peace, while the overall majority of south Sudanese have not yet started feeling peace in their daily lives. People need to experience peace in their lives, basic requirements, services and free movements without precautions and reservations. But most worryingly is the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF) who have not yet been integrated completely into SPLA/M for one reason or another, is another threat to the stability of south and challenge to the GOSS, as they are still being guided by Khartoum, and behaving as an independent institution within the south Sudan or areas under their control. Here one wonders, as where is the south-south dialogue and reconciliation to restore peace and unity among south Sudanese? As south-south dialogue has to be the base for reconciliation, healing wounds and restoration of trust among south Sudanese community or otherwise we are driving no where. We know that the building of a country or nation is not an easy task and it requires lot of sacrifices to reach to the desired goal. Yet another disturbing issue is the oil producing areas or counties, Palogue, Malut, Khor Adar and Western Upper Nile. As the oil companies in these areas, are taking law into their own hands with absolute underestimation to GOSS. And that was clear when Malaysia’s Petrodar security organs tied Makac accused of theft with grass and set on fire! This is completely inhumane, and GOSS shouldn’t allow such atrocities and humiliation of its citizens to happen on its watch, and even not to permit such companies to operate in south. And I believe it is time that GOSS has to takeover the control of those oil producing areas, as the local population are consistently subjected to harassment, intimidation, torture and threats from these oil companies or Petronet security personnel who are composed mainly from NCP police, security and Arab militias. And this is a clear indication that people yet do not have peace dividend on ground, if such atrocities continue to occur under the peace umbrella.
Also during his policy statement before the august House, Kiir affirmed that "now we have twenty-four functioning ministries which are doing its part in serving people". This is an excellent effort and achievement, but one wonders as whether Kiir was referring only to the heads without its body and the limbs. There will be no government or ministry functioning in its full capacity unless through absolute function of its entire system network, head, body and the branches. I do not think that those twenty-four ministries are fully functioning, and I wish it could. As you can’t expect government formed from scratch to be fully functional within five months due to lack of various factors and elements. Most of the ministries and departments lack building, office space, equipment, stationeries and cadres to accomplish its work. I believe we have to be a little bit realistic and clear to the public when it comes to the national issue. Twenty-four functioning ministries is a great achievement to GOSS, but here Salva Kiir said that "an interim policy for appointment of key officials and core staff pending the formulation of a public service law, and that the legislation governing recruitment, appointment terms and conditions of services shall be expedited". This is an indirect confession that the twenty-four ministries are partially practical due to non-existence of its essential bodies and branches. Thus, the GOSS and State governments will not be in position to render and deliver basic services, till its entire structure and system were in place.
* Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa is a Sudan Tribune columnist, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org