In July 2011, South Sudan got its independence as a militarized rule or power, corrupt political system of governance. During the period of gained independence, the political marketplace was so much expensive for the South Sudanese; the revenue of the country was consumed by a patronizing military system, leaving little or nothing for the development of public infrastructure. The efforts of nationalists and foreign development enthusiasts produced little pockets of true integrity however the country’s history made it somewhat resistant to change.
In the month of January 2012, there was a close down of oil production that led to bankruptcy of the South Sudanese system. It is seen that the President Salva Kiir failed to show the skills required, and also an experienced political business manager would also tend to struggle. As soon as the first rounds of gunshots were fired, the truce holding together the opposing sides fell apart and civil war followed close behind.
During Sudan’s (north-south) war in the 1990s, Riek Machar who is now the First Vice President of South Sudan was then a senior Nuer SPLA commander. With him and some others split from the SPLM/A, which made them show their anger with the leadership of the SPLM who was led under the command of John Garang, a Dinka accused and alleged of human rights abuses. Riek Machar and his followers who were from Nuer and Shilluk later associated themselves with the government of Khartoum which later made them hold some positions in the Sudanese government.
The fight between Garang’s soldiers and Machar’s cost a lot of South Sudan resident their lives, and report from Amnesty International estimated a total number of 2000 civilians who are from Dinka where the victims of Nuer forces which Machar’s was the one that commanded the attacks or raid. In the early 2000s, Riek Machar reconciled with the SPLM and he was assigned the third-highest after John Garang and Salva Kiir his deputy.
In 2005 after the signing of peace accord, Garang had a helicopter crash and died; Salva Kiir then took over and became the head of the SPLM, with Riek Machar as his own deputy. 2010 Sudan held its national elections, which was prior to the referendum of 2011 on southern independence. Kiir won the election and retained his post as the President of the Republic of South Sudan, with Machar remaining his vice president, for a term of four-year which took effect July 9, 2011. President Kiir in 2013, made some changes to his government and address governance concerns. The political dispute that appears to have started this crisis was not based on communal dispute or ethnic identity either. Machar and his political associates claimed that President Kiir has become a dictator and so corrupt, but to Kiir and his loyal followers; Riek Machar’s false charges are seen as political quest for power.
In March 2020, Kiir announced his peace cabinet. Since then, other branches of the government are yet to be set up, especially the national legislature. The executive is also expected to appoint the governor of Upper Nile State. Though nine state governors and three administrative areas have been appointed, the leaders are yet to form their governments. All those have allegedly kept some members of the public anxious and wondering what is taking the peace presidency too long to implement the provisions stipulated in the 2018 revitalized peace agreement, but it is very unfortunate that the people that sacrifice a lot to get the freedom much needed by South Sudan are now be neglected by an insensitive leader. Looking at the recent happenings within South Sudan, the sporadic arrests by the NSS, the deteriorating infrastructures, weak institutions and continuous increase in violence and killings within the country, it is fact that the government isn’t sensitive to the cry of it citizens.
Recently, two people have reportedly been killed by unknown gunmen in Jenderu residential area in Juba. Those killed include male constructors who sleep at the construction site of a house they are building in the area. In May 2020, the body of the woman who went missing for days was found in the same area of Juba.
Also the devastating floods that have continuously hit most parts of the country. The Government has continuously depend on humanitarian support for victims rather than dealing with the root cause of the floods. Most part of the country lacks drainage system. Why wait till your citizens become IDPs before you now do the needful? As rightly said by some analysts, it looks as if the government is using its people as a bait in other to woo donor organizations.
Various reports of civilian on civilian violence in recent times can actually be traced back to the fact that leadership is insensitive to the needs of its citizen, the heinous destruction which has been manifested in child abduction, human killing and maiming, and cattle rustling, forced communities which are otherwise civil to step up in self-defense when the President himself challenged them to do so when they complained to him. And it is the responsibility of a government to provide adequate security for the citizens.
Also conflicts in some part are largely politically motivated, A sensitive leader should encourage the participation of its citizens in issues of governance. The civil society should be allowed to play its part in bringing reconciliation to the conflicting sides and also educate citizens on their civil rights and responsibilities in a quest to make them more responsive to governance and to empower them to call for accountability by the government.
As the sensitivity of the president continued to decrease and the thirst for wealth and power on the increase, there is continuous conflict in the South Sudan and this subsequently translated to degradation of social conditions. It is safe to suggest that as a result of this, there is increased hunger, disease infection levels as a result of poor sanitation and higher death rates. With fewer people available to join the labour force and contribute to productivity, the economy of the country is negatively affected leading to a general fall in the nation’s economic output.
The issue in South Sudan is something that is endemic and manifested in many post conflict African nations. South Sudan underwent decades of conflict with the north in order to gain its independence. However, according to Paul Collier, there is something structurally wrong with the way in which we build our post conflict societies.
One of the main issues is ‘democratic’ and ‘free and fair elections.’ The manners in which elections are conducted in most societies are based on majoritarian decisions.
However, in a country that is split into ethnic and tribal communities, and who have jointly fought for independence for decades, the victory of the majoritarian ethnic group in elections lead to further schisms and disillusionment in society. And unfortunately the leader that emerged isn’t sensitive to this. He continued to cut the branches of the problem rather than dealing with the root. He forgot that such scars are hard to heal.
And this leads the country into a spiral of internal infighting and instability. South Sudan faces a host of issues. It has immense potential with its resources. However, peacebuilding efforts must ensue to harmonize the relations between inter-ethnic groups.
A system of proportional representation in governance could be a way through and it takes a leader with heightened sensitivity and also very proactive to implement this, such as Switzerland. Otherwise, the hopes of one of the world’s newest state lie in peril of it becoming into a failed State.
Binningsbo, H & A. Siri A. R. (2012). Sharing the wealth: A pathway to peace or a trail to
nowhere? Conflict Management and Peace Science, 29, 548-555.DOI:
Chibueze Victor Udemba, South Sudan: A Failed State? Case in International Relations
Edwards, A. (2008). Interpreting New Labour’s Political Discourse on Northern Ireland
Peace Process. Peace and Conflict Studies 15, 60-76. Retrieved fro
Prosper Beeni, South Sudan crisis and a way forward
Eye Radio Website