By Atem Ayuen Biar, Melbourne, Australia
Sunday, August 15, 2021 (PW) — Wehad a dream, we were sure that when we have our country, our lives will change. However, sadly, this is not the case now, a majority of South Sudanese people have become poorer, and some elites become richer. I believe that our country is not poor, but has poorly managed resources, leaders who do not allow things to grow, and a lack of progress because we have lack of true leaders. We have so-called leaders who are managing our resources poorly, but our country needs true leaders who will take care of the country’s population and its resources. The true leaders are not interested to work for their own positions, but they prioritize their citizen’s needs and rights.
South Sudan has a wealth of natural resources such as oil, gold, and minerals and yet it is a poor country with stagnant growth because of poor management and misappropriation of the resource and money that comes from those resources. Poverty in South Sudan is caused by corruption and poor management of public funds. Therefore, a majority of South Sudanese citizens are living in severe poverty. Poverty has increased especially amongst the vulnerable for example women and exploitation of young persons forcing some of them to engage in civil conflicts.
Our country is struggling with the devaluation of the South Sudanese currency because everyone needs American dollars to pay their rents, their children school fees, medical expenses, and other essential things outside South Sudan. It seems the corrupted elites have invested their wealth in the neighbouring countries of, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and more. Some South Sudanese leaders or their families and cronies are so rich with unexplained huge sums of money in their accounts. If you see the wealth our leaders have accumulated in a short period of time. it is a shock to their followers and citizens. South Sudanese citizens are unhappy with their governments (both states and national level) for the mismanagement of resources.
Our country, South Sudan, will find it hard to grow because there are too few true leaders. Our governments at a local, state, and national level need true leaders to manage our resources. However, good leadership alone will not end deprivation, but we can substantially reduce poverty, especially within a human rights approach, but without true good governance in the citizens’; interests, then the country will continue suffer.
Our people are fighting each other along tribal lines and the South Sudanese government is borrowing a lot of money from other countries, which are not rich in term of resources, but have good management. The two priorities for our country, South Sudan, are resources management and to create a better system to eradicate corruption.
Our leaders should focus on better education for all adults and children, provide good sanitation, better health system, social welfare (we need money to improve the lives of our people), and we want our kids to be able to go to schools rather than to senseless wars among tribes within the country.
In addition, these are the things that destroy a country like South Sudan: greed, malice, deception, cronyism, looting (corruption), and arrogance. All these issues mentioned above are all related to poor management of the physical, economic and intellectual resources of the country.
Let me talk about corruption: it is a major issue in various parts of the World. It may be generated through bribery and misuse of public resources for private purposes and/or personal gain. In the case of South Sudan the critical aspects of corruption are: mismanagement of resources, nepotism, tribalism, and lack of transparency and non-existent measures of accountability.
Corruption basically means cheating or manipulating one’s influence or public resources one is put in charge of to benefit individually. In addition, corruption is practiced in various ways in South Sudan, particularly in ignoring or disobeying the rules and regulations governing an office or organization. Disrespect for such organizations compounds the problem. Moreover, failure to follow or display no respect for the law or the constitution and cheating by staff/employees are also types of corruption that encourage raiding and even homicide. Also inflating the figures during a census is a corrupt practice of government senior officers. Manipulating prices in the market is also another problem – hoarding the goods in the market to sell them later at inflated prices. Officials abuse authority and power by bribing or threatening judges and others in the legal system. Justice is denied to many as a result of these corrupt practices.
The issues of corruption impact on the following: illiteracy, diseases, poverty and ignorance, tribal conflicts, and human rights’ issues. For instance, corruption leads to public resources misuse in connection with money, goods, vehicles, building or land permits and aid diverted into individuals’ pockets instead of the publics’. The former also includes paying bribes to government officials in order to be given a government contract or license that leads to inappropriate companies (as well as a surplus of companies) operating in the various areas.
The failure to follow the code of judicial conduct is another form of corruption and professional ethnics. For instance, buying qualifications, which one has not acquired in any school or university, is corruption and a major source of crime. Furthermore, such corruption is common in South Sudan due to many top politicians and businesspersons needing immediate gratification at the expense of the general population. All forms of corruption are caused by such factors as: lack of transparency, lack of accountability, absence of democracy and failure to be self-restrained in using public resources for personal benefits.
It can be assumed that most of the key issues in South Sudan are embedded in corruption of the leaders, governors, businesspersons, and other personnel within the government who have sat on and enjoyed the fruits of power and authoritarianism and oppress their citizens and make them more miserable. Because corrupt officials mismanaged public funds, then South Sudan is poor. Another major factor is the lack of technology and independent scrutiny to manage flow of finances from bank to bank, South Sudan is quite rich with natural resources such as fertile soil, enough rain and sunshine for cultivation, and raw materials but lacks the techniques for exploiting them. This keeps our county in its poor situation. The South Sudanese administration is often borrowing finance from their western allies instead of getting access to advanced technology or industrial infrastructure to help them in managing of the resources through genuine ways to quicken the development in the country.
South Sudan’s War from 2013 to present is partly about our resources and this existing conflict has produced many bad leaders who have used their positions to grab funds for their own benefit instead using them to build our country with those resources e.g., oil, gold and other minerals. Fighting for their own power, wealth and positions made them preoccupied with themselves and hence the leaders neglected to communicate with and represent the wishes of people who are living in different parts of the country to address population needs. South Sudanese leaders, through these years of personal greed and power do not know how to boost the economy and invite more investors to build factories and infrastructure to create more jobs for working people.
South Sudan’s corruption has led to the country facing a myriad of problems in governance, starvation, challenges surrounding poverty and constant hostilities among tribes across the country. At the grassroots’ level South Sudan is struggling with structural obstacles such as a lack of basic infrastructure, the underdevelopment of markets and insecurities due to corruption.
In conclusion, South Sudanese elites and businesspersons must learn to make money but not through corruption. South Sudanese administration should create a better transparency, accountability, reform of laws, removal of corrupt officials and generating a population that is both well informed and committed to community will largely redress the above-mentioned problems. However, this will not happen in the short term but will require time to install much needed changes.
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The author, Atem Ayuen Biar, has attained a master’s degree of International Relations from the University of Melbourne, a master’s degree of Project Management from Victoria University and a Master of Policing Intelligence and Counter Terrorism with Master of International Security at Macquarie University.
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