Southern Sudan Must Not Inherit Mediocrity
By Jacob Deng Mayom de Biör
May 5, 2006 (Juba) —Just a couple of months ago in a Khartoum hotel, on the headlines of the vigilant Khartoum Monitor newspaper, this caught my eyes: “Mr Kiir will root out corruption in Southern Sudan.” – a difficult venture and task Mr President has to take and face head on at the beginning of a long and awesome walk to founding a new Government and nation altogether.
That to me, is the right direction our young nation that has never had proper campus direction should be carefully treading lest it is divulged by some monstrous devilish practices.
The issue at hand now is very serious but many of us tend to brush it aside or intentionally avoid talking about it at all. Perhaps the fear instigating the lull would be that the topic in question might touch some of us in some way. I should think talking about it alone without taking remedial measures against it and perpetuators apprehended, makes relentless efforts exerted to nullify it unrealities efforts at various tiers and levels of the Government of Southern Sudan down to the States levels.
I think Mr President took an excellent step forward if the vision to construct the Southern Sudan would still call for relentless efforts from all lovers of the South; do not ask me why construction because you know it better, if you take a glimpse at the dirty lanes of what is supposedly should be roads in Juba, the Southern “capital city”, today, you will certainly understand my genuine complain.
However, all of us seem to silently node in unison, solemnly agreeing that we painfully eradicate the young monster budding in Southern Sudan but I just do not understand how the Government of Southern Sudan is going to ruthlessly deal with transparency and accountability issues, which if mishandled become the closest kin of “Uncle” corruption in our young and toddling Government. Nowadays when I look around me, it is scary – everybody, including me, wants to get rich overnight, a thing I think and believe are sheer nightmares and illusions we cannot get over easily.
I want to put across to our good citizens of this good country that it is critically important we put the nation and people of Southern Sudan first and then our stomachs and individual interests second, as opposed to the previous slogan that has existed over half a century since the so-called independence in the mid 1950s. That way, we will achieve the rest we so desired and triumphantly climb the ladder of national prosperity without trouble.
Transparency in public offices
When a nation is born, it desires to flourish into a formidably dignified, identified and self-reliant community, and does things in consultation with the society it emerged from no matter how frail or strong they had been. All these national aspirations could be easily achieved through democratic and fundamental respects for public opinions in the national domains. When considering the future of a country, the people to whom the issues touch must be involved to be aware of developments and events that may affect their lives negatively or positively so as to have a say in matters that concern shaping their destinies.
In the past, everything, including things that were meant for public consumption and society at large were classified and regarded as “top secrets” but that never worked out properly as that continued to build false brocades and iron walls, creating elites and other unnecessary classes. Those practices were during the war where secrets had to remain secrets. It should be noted with much keenness that the current moment is critical and that the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Human Resource of the Government of Southern Sudan must take a lead in creating an open avenue where all civil servants are taught ethics and public service practices to deliver more effectively and efficiently.
In this context, I do not want to pre-empt or negate the effort already being made now by our good Government but I am just concerned with the way the issues of this budding nation are being handled now. Appointments, recruitment and remuneration in the service must be well stipulated, coordinated and done transparently on the basis of professionalism and capability, not on shady ways that end up sparking accusations and counteraccusations.
Relevant Ministries in GoSS must perform their work with the same keenness because it has been previously observed that not right people or resource is used for appropriate .
It is also seen that every tom, dick and hurry comes with a “big fish”, marched into the Southern Sudan with friends as “partners in business”. It is all right to have friends who can help promote us in business but what kills my nerves and pains my heart most is the fact that these “nice friends” who triumphantly walk in the silhouettes of their big friends with malicious intentions arrogantly mistreat Southern Sudanese at work places and everywhere in the South, when the people whom Southerners look to actually just stand akimbo, watching agape, probably enjoying how their friends molest their countrymen.
Instead of getting what is good for the people of the South, these “good friends of the big fishes” bring services that are not even close to third or fourth class category in their own countries and people are forced to be comfortable with them because that is all we can afford now. “This is the best we can get. After all we do not have anything now.” Were remarks by an anonymous top GOSS official in an informal interview I conducted earlier this year.
I think such remarks are misleading and exploitatory and must not be accommodated or condoned in this country. Who said that people of Southern Sudan do not deserve what is good or even better? I want to stress that Southern Sudan must not be made a place for experiments or a dumping ground for all kinds of rubbish ranging from communication networks, gadgets, aviation technologies and facilities, motor vehicles, electronic goods and even people! You will understand my point better if you took a walk down the Juba custom market - a cluster of scrap junk motor cars, motorcycles, generators and other goods are increasingly assembled for sale there. This is an indication that no one is ready to discriminate what kind of services or items should be rendered to the South Sudanese.
In that regard, anybody with such thinking of seeing Southern Sudan as a potential dumping ground must be warned and advised to halt and forget it forthwith because some of us are carefully watching.
It is also observed that many aimless people come into this country, linger, plunder and reiterate that Southerners do not have capacity and ridiculously, people happily join in to sing that they do not actually have capacity, a song that has become endless since 1892 when the Turkish and the Anglo-Egyptians regimes colonized the whole of the Sudan. Until when will Southerners be able to handle their own affairs without any outside help or interference? Children are borne and their growth can be evaluated and predicted: Soon after birth, they start to learn to crawl, toddle, walk and finally even run marathons or any race of whatever nature. Can’t Southern Sudan’s retarded growth be established where it emanates from? Someone out there help me answer this nagging question.
All that, must be dismissed as a mere nonsense and simply state that people of Southern Sudan deserve dignity and descent lives and above all should be served as human beings because they are the bad people who help us to get where we are today.
More painful is the fact that these friends of the big fishes leap the order and cunningly say, “I talked to the President, the Vice President or ‘big man’,” with intent to intimidate the juniors. What these people do not understand is that the juniors they tend to intimidate are part and parcel of a big political organization whose Mr President and the Vice President represent and whose opinions count on all matters regarding the State as an entity. Moreover, leaping procedures and talking to the “big men” is no good enough because this is where “Uncle” corruption creeps in, only to take the nation by surprise. Such people must also be warned against their new system of approach of issues because dealing with individuals as public figures ends up tarnishing or publicly disfiguring them when their shady deals backfire.
Anyway, I won’t blame such people because they are coming into a society that had been exploited, traumatized and made to believe in disorder resulting into chronic stereotype and weird inferiority complexes. To ensure transparency and accountability, our good Government should consider opening up matters that concern the very society whose interest it represents at various forums.
Accountability in public offices
You may think I am so biased with Khartoum but a sane man will agree with me that since the time immemorial, successive regimes in Khartoum from the Turkish, Anglo-Egyptian, including the present regime had been bad, biased and encouraged systemic corruption by discouraging Government officials from owning private property and instead luring them with glittering fake properties by encouraging them to mishandle public finances and assets without being accountable. People are made to believe that if one want to get rich, they must work with the Government. To the contrary, the reverse is true.
I would request to be pardoned if I misrepresent any view in this highlight, because I left the Sudan at a tender age of nine and when I returned a couple of years ago, I was shocked by the level of corruption that exist in this country. However, that does not make me absolutely green about Sudan issues. A couple of incidents evident my dissatisfaction with the regimes service delivery.
It is clear that not all purchases made by the Government are ever receipted. I should think this is not a way to introduce corrupt to the system. I guess taxpayers in Southern Sudan or in Sudan as a whole will not face difficulties in realizing the returns of the taxes they so collect for services.
It is then paramount that the good citizens and Government of Southern Sudan must not inherit malpractices from former masters.