Political instability dashed out hopes for prosperity.
Women waiting to be distributed food in the Town of Bentiu in October, 2017 (File photo)
By Opio Jackson
The world’s youngest nation was born on July 9, 2011. The day was greeted with joy and optimism. Although the nation was scarred by war, investment showcase was held in Washington on December 2011 and in Juba in 2012 to attract foreign investors into the country to help rebuild its infrastructures.
However, these optimisms by many South Sudanese who had believed that the independence would lead to greater prosperity is being dashed out since the conflict broke out in December 2013 barely two years after the independence. The political turmoil in the country has continued to weaken the economy as major developmental projects have been put on halt.
Mario Mabior, a member of the defunct New Sudan Council of Chiefs who persuaded many Southerners to vote for secession of South Sudan said: “We did not vote for the independence in order to die of hunger, but rather to have freedom and prosperity.”
“This economic crisis is more dangerous than the real war,” Mabior said. “I don’t think if this was the country we voted for in order to starve from hunger,” said an old man while he looked so miserable.
Political instability in South Sudan has been a major concern for many countries around the world and nearly half of the population is experiencing extreme hunger as famine looms in the country, the United Nations said last month.
In a bid to end the four-year civil war in the country, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development has been mediating talks among South Sudan’s warring parties to revitalization the August 2015 Peace Agreement.
Mabior, 56-year old said though the religious leaders were at the peace negotiation pushing on the parties to reach an agreement, the leaders failed simply because they were interested in positions.
“The leaders were more interested in positions than the dire conditions of the citizens,” said Mabior, adding that he wishes the chiefs were consulted on who should lead the next transitional government of national unity.
“We know good and bad leaders and those capable of leading the people,” he said.
He said those days in the liberation struggle the views of the chiefs were highly respected because they were considered as the representatives of the community unlike today where they have been sidelined by self-ambitious politicians.
According to Mabior, the economy of the country is being driven by the business people. He said prices of commodities in the market are changing day and night and not even the authorities are able to question the business people.
Mabior who looked furious on government about the economic woes, said the government must work hard for peace to restore the dignity of its citizens, adding that even the “so-called ruling party” has lost its dignity.
“The SPLM Oyee is no more these days and if you say it in the public people will despise at you and others will call you a crazy person,” he said. “I don’t think the SPLM party should continue leading the country yet it has lost its popularity,” Mabior pondered.
He said although the citizens have the interest to cultivate to survive the looming famine, the existing insecurity in some parts of country does not allow local population to access the farm lands.
About 700,000 people were forced to flee South Sudan in 2017 as refugees to neighboring countries due to conflict, hunger and disease, the UN humanitarian agency said earlier this year.
Peter hut Kornelio said that not everybody who wants to be in leadership position is interested in providing services to the citizens. He said all politicians in South Sudan are interested in improving the conditions of their families and relatives but not the citizens.
“I have never seen in any country where a person rebels against the government when he is relieved from the public office. In South Sudan the person will immediately go into the bush simply because he wants to protect his interest,” Kornelio said.
Another member of New Sudan Council of Chiefs, Daniel Marko said they had worked very hard to ensure that all Southern Sudanese (now South Sudanese) who were in Khartoum speak one voice. He said their demand was the secession of South Sudan from Sudan, he said their dream became true in July 9, 2011.
“Our people had hoped that after the independence, they would have better standard of living, but now (things have) turned opposite,” said Marko.
“Right now the real South Sudanese who worked hard for this independent are left out,” he said. “The country is being owned by the foreigners because the real citizens are living in a horrible situation,” he added.
He said there was need for both parties to the conflict to bring peace back to the country, saying without peace the citizens shall remain as “slaves in their own country.”