By Justin Ambago Ramba
November 11, 2009 — It is an undeniable fact that the South Sudan that has just emerged from the two decades long civil war remains one of the least developed places in the world. But of course though the war is to blame for the underdevelopment, yet it should also be recognised that the people of South Sudan actually took up arms and fought the successive Arab and Muslim dominated central government of Khartoum in reaction to lack of any tangible developmental programs in the region.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between the dominant National Congress Party of President Al Bashir and the former rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/ Army in 2005 did promise among other things, packages of fast development in this neglected and war ravaged region with the hope of winning the Southern Sudanese voters to opt for a united Sudan come the referendum on self determination in 2011. However to everybody’s dismay, while the referendum is barely 15 months away, no any tangible and convincing development has been carried out in Southern Sudan, a thing that coupled with the scarcity of resources, widespread insecurity and a weak law enforcement institutions, the majority of the citizens are made to still live in conditions more worse, even than during the war time.
Now given the fact that there is a mounting demand in southern Sudan for secession from the North, many within the Sudan, the neighbouring Arab countries, the international community who had looked for the unity of the Sudan as a better option for both sides are now made to review their positions. And some optimistic voices can still be heard here and their calling for the maintenance of a united Sudan with the vision that if the political will can be secured, the most needed development in the south can still be achieved within the left one year period and that it can succeed to make the choice of unity attractive to the Southerners.
However given the history of the Sudanese North/South conflict one finds it extremely difficult to imagine how the above optimism can be made to come true. South Sudan is a very vast area covered with jungles and difficult terrains, and to think of building roads, railway lines, hospitals, schools, mechanized agricultural schemes, factories, safe clean drinking water etc are all issues that need huge money and the challenge of achieving them all over South Sudan in a time scale before the referendum that is scheduled for January 2011 even makes it the more of an impossibility. And it is in fact this, which makes other people to conclude that there is NO time left to make the unity of the Sudan attractive.
But what I would like to stress here is the fact that to many South Sudanese the secession of the South is something that can no longer be put aside for any developmental projects. And since the signing of the CPA it has been made clear that the issue of providing development in the South was already entrusted to the GoSS and practically the government of national unity in Khartoum (GoNU) has seemed never to have had any developmental plans in the South. Even those projects which used to be known as national projects were no longer existing or may be just on papers. With the US$ 8 billion dollars that was spent by the GOSS should it have been done so in the right way the South would have now looked much different? But as we are all aware of the corruptions and weak government performance in the South, coupled with the widespread impunity, our politicians have rather concentrated on building up themselves using the public money. It is an open secrete that all our leaders with only few exceptions, are owing huge mansions in far places like the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Khartoum , Beirut and many other parts of the world.
In the light of the above failures of the GoSS to provide the expected CPA dividends and its rudimentary ways of addressing the widespread inter -tribal violence as well as the famine that has now struck vast areas of this semi autonomous region, the future of Southern Sudan remains completely unpredictable. However for the NCP which has always enjoyed a rough relationship with the SPLM, the latter’s failures was immediately looked at as an opportunity to win over South Sudan to vote for unity. But as time went by the voices calling for secession of the region contrary to the northerners expectations grew louder and louder. And this new development has in fact pushed the NCP to drag its feet even the more on the implementation of the remaining articles of the CPA especially so are the demarcation of the North / South boundaries particularly in the oil rich areas and it has also delayed the passing of the other bills e.g. the referendum bill with declared intension of making it difficult if not impossible for the South to secede.
The paradox remains that while the North is not really interested in genuine share of power and wealth with the South, it continues to counteract any calls for the South’s option at the referendum to opt for secession. The North is not really concerned with any underdevelopments neither losses of innocent lives in the South as they themselves played theirs roles in both cases and are still doing so even after the supposed peace agreement. The North is in fact interested in the Oil of the South. The CPA gave them 50% of the Oil revenues from the southern fields, but once the agreement is over in 2011 and if the South remains a part of the united Sudan, the NCP together with the other northern political parties are bent to use the disputed Census figures to redistribute the national wealth whereby the south will be forced to receive no more that 20% of the Oil revenues and its representation in the national parliament and government, where crucial policies are passed will also decline to a similar percentage below the current 33%.
People should have also learned from how the international community has shunned away from living up to its promises of committing a US$ 4 billion worth of developmental projects in South Sudan as it was declared during the CPA signing. The UN on its part brought in a peace keeping force which at most is only keen on observing and reporting but the complex situation on the ground where one ethnic group is pitied against the other remains out of their mandate just the same as it all happened in Rwanda and Kosovo and Bosnia genocides. Equally so is when South Sudan comes out victoriously in the 2011 as an independent state , the North backed by Egypt and the whole of the Arab league and all the conferences of the Islamic world will join forces to suppress this democratic choice and for sure that Sudan will slip back yet into another deadly civil war.
While those who still entertain the idea of one unitary Sudan, are far more day dreaming if their belief is based on the illusion that being close to the North or Egypt or even the Arab League may bring development to South Sudan. The North and its Arab allies had more than half a century to invest in South Sudan, but they chose not to do that. This takes us back to what was once said by late Joseph Oduho, that “the Northern rulers in Khartoum are not sure whether developing the South Sudan is really the right thing. They seem to be divided on the issue. Some say leave them undeveloped and hungry and the Southerners will all migrate to look for jobs in the North and above all they will come to believe and accept that they can not survive on their own without the North. While others maintain that to contain the continuous resentment in the South, a certain degree of development projects have to be in place specially using the Arab Oil funds. This they expect to sell the friendship of the Arab world down to the South and even beyond targeting the other countries in the interior of Africa. The assumption here is that the developments meant should not be of the magnitude that would stir the quest of a separate nationhood in the South, but just enough to keep them within the Arabs control thus perpetuating the chronic state of slavery that South Sudan have been reduced to in the eyes of these bloody thirst Arab Muslims of the Middle East as headed by the greedy Egypt. Late Oduho concluded by saying that, “These Arabs have really got themselves into a problem, because if they develop the South, then it will become and easily secede and if they do not then it will always take up arms to fight the injustices and eventually secede”. “This I call the northern Arabs dilemma”. He concluded.
As for Egypt, its policies is driven by its interest in the Nile water and thanks to God that they do not have the hidden western diplomacy to hide behind. Southern Sudanese for that matter know exactly how the Egyptians think as more than two millions of its citizens has lived in Egypt at different times over the last fifty years. History is also there to tell us that it was Egypt, motivated by its interests that conspired with the Othman and the British to hold Sudan into captivity. It can also be taken as a logical deduction that Egypt was behind the reversion of the “Closed District Act”, which allowed the condominium rule to govern over South Sudan as separate entity from the North with the ultimate goal of later declaring it as either a part of its independent East African Colonies, preferably incorporated in unity with Uganda or to be on its own as a separate independent state of south Sudan.
As Egypt ‘s relationship with our fellow East Africans through who’s soil the giant Nile flows remains an area of uneasiness , the whole scenario of the Egyptian involvement in South Sudanese politics can never be any clearer that what the South can in terms of securing the Nile water for Egypt. South Sudan is no any different from Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Congo. Anthropologically and culturally these are one great black African people only divided by the boundaries drawn by the colonizers in which Egypt played a part. This brings us to the natural conclusion that if Egypt insists that our kinsmen in the forth mentioned countries should starve to death since the climate change has brought in a large scale drought and yet these countries are not allowed to develop an irrigated agricultural schemes to produce the badly needed food, then Egypt is playing a game of a total genocide on the black East African population of the Nile basin with South Sudan included. Yes it is this very Egypt that bribed the British into annexing South Sudan into the Middle Eastern region in order to guarantee its wickedness in playing about with the Nile water agreements.
Egypt will not in any way be allowed to repeat its fossil and non productive strategies in South Sudan after it has dramatically failed in Northern Sudan. If the North sacrificed their people in Old Wadi Halfa where the Aswan High Dam after its construction resulted in complete submersion of a whole civilization leaving the Northern Nubians homeless and self inflicted IDPs, the same can not be allowed to repeat itself in the Jonglei State of South Sudan ( over our dead bodies !). What did the Nubians of Halfa got in return is an eye opener to the people of Jonglei. They may promise the people of Jonglei state a branch of the Zagazig University with all its political zigzags, a handful of generators and some rudimentary health facilities. But remember that their security, intelligence and spying agents will always be attached to these facilities with the ultimate goal of manipulating the local politics in the interest of Egypt. As the Egyptians worked hard to hold the Northern Sudan under its feet, they would also do the same with the Southerners and for their interest they will never ever want to see a self sufficient and well developed South Sudan for the mere fear that such a country with all its vast resources, if ever allowed to become a strong nation, then the Egyptian superiority over the Nile basin will be gone if not compromised.
This article is not meant to discourage any Arab controlled business from investing in South Sudan. However whosoever entertains the idea of ever investing in this region, he/she must see to it that it is the business part that southern Sudanese would like to see translated into development and away from any political manipulations. Understand it that none of your investments can ever compromise the South Sudanese’s choice of secession from the North. Do you your business in the traditional professional way and get your profits at the end of the day.
Before I could wind up I would like to shade light on how some dirty political manoeuvres that may negatively impact on the socio-political fabric of South Sudan if it has already not done so. The cunning behaviours of the dominant Islamic NCP has for the first time become overtly clearer when it succeeded to hatch an alternative SPLM/A of its own making under the leadership of Dr. lam Akol Ajawin. This new party is a mutant of the original and has resemblance to the mother party especially so in sharing of the new Sudan vision of their late God Father Dr. Garang de Mobior. Hiding behind such outdated slogans and intimately sharing of political strategies with the northern political parties especially those whose ideology revolves around the creation of a religious state makes both SPLM factions irrelevant to any true South Sudanese nationalist.
And to prove all analysts right, this new party has also inherited amongst so many things, the genes of creating its own military wing. However if this is true, then the ultimate mission of SPLM-DC/A would be to liberate South Sudan from SPLM/A. This one here is quite a tricky one and for the sake of democracy should be handled carefully. And if at all the SPLM-DC is made to form its military wing in order to deter any SPLM’s use of the SPLA as a harassment tool against its political rivals (where SPLS is supposed to have become the national army of south Sudan without any political affiliations and with no role to play in internal South Sudanese politics), then the implication is that the Lebanonization of Southern Sudan has already reached a high level and possibly sooner than later it will extend to involve the other political parties. Look out for the different uniforms as we head towards multi-party , multi-military system!!
It can not be over stressed any further that the new realities on the ground in South Sudan clearly signifies that the people overwhelmingly prefer to have there independent country right now and not tomorrow. However due to the sprouting military groups and tribal militias, this part of the world is steadily heading towards another man made disaster that can even be made worse if South Sudan I still to remain a part of Khartoum to be governed by those who are currently in power struggle in the name of power sharing.
It is the authors belief that the unlikelihood of maintaining a peaceful, united Sudan through the initiation of the much talked about, “last minute developmental projects” in southern Sudan while we are already in the midst of a looming major insecurity which no doubt is destined to engulf every inch of the region very soon, I can see that this unlikelihood remains a reality that will come to pass.
Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MB, BCh, DRH, MD. Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). The party that stands for the independence of South Sudan. Can be reached at either [email protected] or [email protected]