Euphoria, independent South Sudan and brooking of corruption

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Thursday, 14 July 2011 16:29
Written by Kuir Garang, The New Sudan Vision (NSV), www.newsudanvision.com
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 (Calgary, AB) - Many historic moments have come and gone in South Sudan; however, none will ever go down in history books like the night and morning of July 9, 2011. It was an elusive dream duly turned into reality. That euphoric moment was felt by people of South Sudan origin all over the world and heard and seen by many around the world. It portrayed the unspoken misery endured by South Sudanese people for generations.

It was their moment and they enjoyed it. The most despicable thing in nature is to suffer in a place in which your humanity is regarded as questionable. To go hungry and thirsty in a land where you can’t even lift your head up and beam “I’m home!” is the most debasing of all debasements. However, that is now history.

The question many analysts, friends and enemies of South Sudan are asking is: “Now what?” This is a big question our leaders shouldn’t ignore. We have a mammoth task not less than unimaginable. The challenges range from changing the mindset of the average person from militarized, tribalistic mentality to a conducive, other-opinion-respecting mentality. This is a prelude to any successful physical development of the land. A changed attitude leads to security which in turn creates a good atmosphere for the development of infrastructure…hence, investors get attracted.

President Kiir is perhaps a humble man who listens to people (well, some); however, humility without initiative is wanting. The president should always tell the nation the ‘how’ of things not simply laments the existence of dangerous phenomena such as corruption. The president has to keep his eyes open for people who suck up to him for the sake of government positions. However, there are those who don’t suck up to him but have a concrete interest of the land in heart. The president needs to also identify who is good for what and how.

It is common sense that freedom fighters have to be respected and given the respect they deserve, however, they shouldn’t be excused if they want to derail our development train. Their name would be sung loud and clear should South Sudan become an economic example in East Africa. Freedom fighters in Africa have gone on to be their people’s oppressors. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen in South Sudan. We have hard evidence of South Sudan officials’ records of houses and luxuries in Europe, North America and Australia. Is this corruption? So you’re a freedom fighter, ugh?

But that is not all. Attitude! Aleu Ayieny could have avoided that embarrassing moment by simply telling the person concerned that he (Aleu) had no hard facts to authenticate the claim and that he would investigate. He could have avoided the problem. Autocratic tendencies were norms in the SPLA during the struggle. We should refine if not avoid them at all as normative requirement.

The SPLA old mentality that the authorities should not be questioned when they do the ridiculous should be ABOLISHED. The government needs to come out in force and let ALL ministers and other officials understand that questioning authorities is a democratic reality; abrasive but necessary for a healthy democracy.  Michael Gerson of Washington Post wrote in his column, which appeared in Calgary Herald on July 12, that “Kiir models himself on the chiefs of his tribe, the Dinka. It is an aristocratic, gentlemanly tradition, in which power is exercised through layers of leadership.”

This is a trend that could be a big stumbling block to development. It makes it hard for valuable ideas from quarters not well known to be respected. South Sudan needs ideas!

Ministers and governors have to have their records evaluated very often. It is very clear that some government officials feel they fought during the struggle and that whatever they do is their reward. They claim that anyone who didn’t fight during the struggle should just ‘shut up!’ These people too, get comfort in the fact that they see president Kiir as their fellow SPLA fighter who SHOULD brook (or understand) what they do. They act as if Kiir would understand why they are corrupt…and in deed he does.

The most corrupt people are those very close to Kiir, but no one can touch them because they are protected by the power of the presidency. Unless Kiir starts being tough on people around him (his home boys), we’ll never see Kiir as serious on fighting corruption. If Majut Yak, former assistant to the president and Kiir’s home boy) can hand pick incompetent people (with or without Kiir’s permission) and place them as government of South Sudan representatives, and Kiir says nothing, I wonder how serious Kiir is about corruption. If Kiir hasn’t put down private modalities to investigate the assets of his government officials and how contracts are awarded, then I wonder if he is serious about corruption.

Mr. President, the future and pride of our country and that of our children is in your hand. You need to act, and stop talking about things in which nothing practical is being procured as to how problems should be dealt with. If you talk about security, then explain to the South Sudanese how you plan to achieve that. If you talk about nepotism and corruption in South Sudan, then explain in clear terms how you plan to achieve that.

 

If you have clarity of vision and hands-on seriousness with which things have to be done, then everyone else will be challenged to follow suit. If you are relaxed; brooking the bad deeds of people you know then the officials will loot and embezzle our public funds knowing you can’t and won’t touch them.

Kuir ë Garang is South Sudanese poet and writer living in Canada. He’s the author of Carcass Valley (Poetry) and Trifles (Novel).  For more information visit his page: www.kuirthiy.info