A step up the ladder of transparency for South Sudan government

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Friday, 18 December 2009 01:33
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Manyok

(Texas, USA) - The recent launching of the website for the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) is not something that we can overlook. South Sudanese inside and outside South Sudan have been praising and criticizing the GoSS on nothing more than rumors.  It did not matter whether a person was good in research or not, the lack of information from the government was a ticket to what I would call rumor-writings. Now, critics and supporters of GoSS must be careful on what they write because they will be checked on whether they are telling the truth or not. I regard this launching of GoSS’ website as a great progress that GoSS’ ministry of information has made.

The availability of information to public fulfils the three institutional principles that include accountability, transparency, and governance. Leaders of political institutions as well as leaders of other social organizations often use these principles as slogan when they campaign for offices. But it doesn’t make any difference if one knows how to say these principles correctly but does not know how to practice them. What people appreciate is not what a leader knows, but what he or she practices. The government’s website can be the source of accountability.

 

Accountability in good governance means the administration’s compliance with government laws and regulations. People working for the government only know government laws and regulations if they have access to the information. Accountability may also mean that leaders give clear answers about what they do because they are familiar with the system and its demands. Accountability of the government in South Sudan was in question because not every government employee had access to government laws and regulations. Accountability is important because it leads to transparency.

 

Transparency means the openness of government’s activity or activities to public review. This stage was really lacking in the last four years of the existence of the government in South Sudan. GoSS was doing good work but few people knew about it. The recently-launched GoSS website will now give public access to reviewing of GoSS’ activities with no difficulty. Other countries who want to know how South Sudan is being run will now have few questions about what they do not understand because they will have access to government’s system. Transparency is what leads to good governance in every institution.

 

Governance is the control of government’s activities through informed decisions and actions. Informed decision is only achieved through research, and research succeeds only if a researcher has access to information. The past mistake, in an informed decision-making, guides the present and the future decision. It is not difficult for people to repeat past mistakes if they do not have access to information about such mistakes. Government’s websites are good sources of informed decisions because they keep the records of past activities. To put it the other way for the sake of emphasis, when government officials are fully aware of what failed as well as what succeeded in the past, they can redo what succeeded and correct what failed in the past.

 

However, the current GoSS’ website does not achieve the above steps fully yet because it is still under construction. Some ministries are better than others when it comes to planning. One feels sorry for some ministries that do not even have vision and mission statements after four years of existence. One wonders how these ministries achieve their objectives of the year without a vision and a mission that guide their objectives. One may conclude that activities in such ministries are more reactive, rather than proactive. That means the ministries without clear planning strategies are at risk when it comes to risk management. The leaders in these ministries can be sued by anybody and taken into prison without any system in their ministries that defends them.

 

Risk-management policies are based on clear documents that spell out clearly the ministry’s policy on office liability coverage,  workers compensation policy, disability insurance, assessment of need for personal liability coverage, assessment of need for director and officer liability, assessment of need for dishonesty bonding, contingency plans for replacing key personnel, among other policies. If the ministry does not have a mission statement, how would it have the above mentioned policies? If it does not have the above mentioned policies, then how will its leaders get out of trouble when accused of corruption, mismanagement, or favoritism?

 

Visions, missions, goals, and objectives are the first step any organized institution establishes because they are key points for institutional, ministerial, or organizational focus. They help the institution concentrate on priorities and key strategies. Visions, missions, goals, and objectives also help any institution in its systematic approach to future thinking, good performance, strategic determination of priorities, accountability, and the evaluation of institution’s effectiveness.

 

However, even though there are still deficiencies in the published information on GoSS’ website, we are still excited about the progress that GoSS is making. We the people of South Sudan hope that by the end of next year, GoSS’ website will have all the information that we need. There is nothing I can say than to wish our government good progress and to give my thanks to Minister Paul Mayom Akech and his ministry for this important progress.


*Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA and regular contributor to NewSudanVision.com. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and a Master of Science in Social Work, specializing in Administration and Planning. For comments, contact him at email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.