THE ROAD TO REFERENDUM: What is the Independent South Sudan that we want?

Dr. Sindani Ireneaus Sebit.
Last week I tried to answer the question: Can the South Sudan ever be a viable independent state? The answer was a real qualified “Yes It can”. The question today is if ever South Sudan becomes independent what is the independent South Sudan that we want? This is indeed a very difficult question to many. Many people would not want such a question to be asked now because they may be thinking that the future cannot be known now. However, such thinking is fallacious because for anything positive or negative to happen it must be thought of now and not in future. Perhaps what we are experiencing in Southern Sudan as disunity, maladministration and lack of development is a result of the SPLM/A failure to prepare during the war for the eventuality of peace and what can be done with such a peace. In fact the policy of the movement during the war could best be described as “everybody to the front. Let us fight the enemy and think about development when the war is won”. This is contrary to the National Congress Party of South Africa that had a policy of preparing qualified and suitable cadre for future development of multiracial South Africa. Indeed during the war South Africa started having institutions in friendly countries like Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania that were meant to develop cadre that became the foundation of the development of South Africa in the post racial segregation era.

What does this really mean in terms of managing a country? This means that Southern Sudan should by now be imagining and preparing for the South Sudan that people of Southern Sudan want and not the Southern Sudan that they do not want. This week, I would like to discuss the South Sudan that we want and perhaps next week I will discuss the South Sudan that we do not want.

The South Sudan that we want should be an independent democratic republic of South Sudan. A country where all citizens are equal before the law regardless of their tribes, ranks, political colour or affiliation; a country where there is transparency, accountability, rule of law and respect for both individual and community rights; a country governed by leaders periodically elected democratically by the people and for the people. We want a South Sudan where the three levels of government, executive, judiciary and parliament are effective and they act to create checks and balances in the management of the affairs of government but not subjected to the whims of the president, a South Sudan where participation in the government is not determine by tribal, sexual or friendly relationships but by genuine desire to serve the people of South Sudan and a South Sudan governed by a constitution that not only recognizes equality of women but also guarantees affirmative action for women.

We want a South Sudan where multiparty democracy thrives, a South Sudan where political parties compete to uplift the standards of the poor people and to alleviate poverty among the people of South Sudan, political parties and politicians strive to unite the people of South Sudan, cement community relationships and create social co-existence among the diverse tribes and segments of South Sudan for harmonious development of the people.

We want a South Sudan that has a strong professional army that is capable of defending its people from both internal and external threats, an army which is national in its composition, doctrine, training, outlook and acts, an army that is non political and stands as the guarantor of the independence of South Sudan and an army that is not manipulated or abused by those in power for their own survival and political hegemony.

We want a South Sudan whose foreign policy is based on non alignment and non aggression but guided by the desire of people of South Sudan be part of the civilized world and to work together with the rest of the world for mutual development and advancement of the human race, foreign policy based on respect for territorial integrity and good neighbourliness, a policy aimed at creating conducive atmosphere for foreign investment, guarantees the interest of investors while protecting the people against foreign exploitation and subjugation.

We want a South Sudan that exploits its vast natural and human resources for rapid socio-economic development of its people, a South Sudan that has deliberate policies aimed at strengthening food security through massive investment in agriculture particularly food for domestic consumption and for cash crops in order to uplift the standards of the farmers, a South Sudan where the animal wealth in South Sudan can be boasted through dairy farming and effective animal husbandry services, a South Sudan where farmers have adequate, equal and easy access to unlimited markets for their produce in addition to good profitable prices so that they can see value in the efforts.

We want South Sudan where health is considered a priority, a South Sudan where the primary care system is strengthened so as to effectively do away with preventable diseases through expanded program of immunization, decrease considerably the rate of communicable diseases while ensuring that the secondary care services in the hospitals are improved so as to deal effectively with the ever increasing non communicable diseases in South Sudan. All these combined can rapidly lead to safe reduction in maternal, neonatal and infant mortality. We want South Sudan where the health services are equitably distributed, are accessible and affordable by all.

We want South Sudan that has effective educational policy and system. Educational policy geared towards universal access to primary and secondary education, a policy that can address the imbalances in the girl child education. We want a South Sudan that ensures all children of school age have adequate and equitable access to education and education itself must be affordable to parents so as to alleviate illiteracy in South Sudan. We South Sudan where the educational curriculum is not only unified but actually geared towards child development and future development of South Sudan. In other words, the educational system must focus on talent and career development rather than creating intellectuals who may not be relevant to our socio-economic development. This means that South Sudan should have deliberate educational policies aimed at rapid educational expansion, quality improvement and equitable distribution. In addition the expansion of educational system also means rapid investment in teacher educational system so as to meet the demands of the expanding educational system.

We want South Sudan that has well developed infrastructure so as to facilitate movement of people across the country, movement of goods and communities and generally improve commerce and trade in the country. This means there must be massive investment in road and bridges building. Roads that not only connect the states but also roads that connect the hinterland so as to enable farmers access to markets in urban and rural areas. Massive investment must also be done to improve air and river transport particularly in areas susceptible to floods such as in Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal regions. We want South Sudan that has effective housing policy in order to provide the poor people of South Sudan with adequate and affordable permanent accommodation by engaging in creation of housing schemes particularly in the major towns. We want South Sudan where water and sanitation is not longer a problem. Portable water and good sanitation are fundamental in reduction of communicable diseases in any country. We want a South Sudan where electric power for both domestic use and industrial development is available in both urban and rural settings in the country.

We want a South Sudan, where the environment is respected and preserved by law. Policies on garbage disposal, forestry destruction, cities and towns expansion including building houses, protection of sources of water, guaranteeing good sanitary conditions and human waste management are put in place and must be enforced. Air and water pollution by both human beings and animals must be prevented while forestry preservation must be regulated through continuous replacement of forests destroyed.

We want a South Sudan where economic development is encouraged through both government and private investment. The private sector must be strengthened and expanded through government and private institutional support particularly by the private banks. We want a South Sudan where industrial and service sector is improved. Investment in manufacturing service industry such as banking, information and cyber technology and trade are expanded and regulated for the benefit of the citizenry.

We want a South Sudan where freedom of information is guaranteed by law, a South Sudan where the individual has the right to express his/her views without fear of arrest, intimidation or harassment, a South Sudan where media freedom is provided both for print, electronic and cyber media, a South Sudan where harassment and detention of the media personalities is a thing of the past. Lastly but not the least, we want South Sudan where wars of the liberation, intertribal or inter-clan wars never again occur, a South Sudan where human life is sacred and respected and a South Sudan where taking somebody life is punishable by law.

In conclusion, the independent South Sudan that the people of Southern Sudan is yearning for is a country where equality exists, wars are ended forever, socio-economic development is spurred and social services to all citizen are equitably provided without favour, a South Sudan where services are affordable and poverty is a thing of the past. Indeed this is South Sudan where everybody enjoys the dividends of liberation equally.

Dr. Sindani Ireneaus Sebit is based in Nairobi, kenya and a contributor to The New Sudan Vision, exploring the topic of Southern Sudan referundum and independence. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.