OpEd, Politics

You will receive your increased salary this month; Insha’Allah, replies a soldier

If you want to be put in prison within zero minutes, ask an SSPDF soldier when he received his salary last. He will put you in prison immediately if he respects himself, but if he does not respect himself, he will ready his gun and shoot you.

Nothing else provokes, not only soldiers but the entire civil servants’ body, like the issue of salary payment. Simon looked at it and concluded that what the authority is doing over the army is more than a joke.

He told himself the forest could be a good place for him, and he used the little money he had in buying the requirements for making charcoal. He made sure he had spare parts of all it takes to cut down a tree, chop it, burn it, cool it and draw closer to pick charcoal out of the whole lot.

To his wife and children, he is a hopeless man who fails to get food from Bilpam like other soldiers but decides to go to the forest in the name of fetching food. But to himself, he was making the right decision. Simon acted as if he was mad and managed to convince his wife and children to allow him to go to the forest for at least one week.

They released him on the condition that if he did not return within one week with food, his wife could exit without an alarm. Simon’s heart was too strong to mind what was said and he insisted on going to the forest. In the forest, he did his best and within one week, Simon surprised his wife and children with three sacks of charcoal.

They were sold at SSP 30,000, each at SSP 10,000 and smoke was seen flying on Simon’s house, meaning his wife put food on fire. Simon then received full permission from his wife and children to stay in the forest as long as food landed on their table every day. Simon, indeed, accepted to stay in the forest as he provided food to his family.

Whenever rumours came that the salary could be earned in one- or two-weeks’ time, Simon’s colleagues used to inform him to come and receive his salary in person. When he came and the rumour became a rumour without truth in it, he could return to the forest to continue cutting down trees for charcoal. His life was beginning to show some glows as could be noticed from the look of his boots, which were then polished after a number of years with the dust.

His cheeks were swelling normally, he paid something little to get a new military uniform and his hair looked combed. He was becoming Simon of his liberation days. A big rumour reached Simon in the forest, and he called his colleague to confirm it and he was told that the thing was true. His colleagues exaggerated that our salaries are increased three times our old salary, adding that whoever is cutting down trees for charcoal should not do it anymore as the new salary caters to our needs and those of the family.

Simon left charcoal-making and came to Juba to await the reception of the new salary. What he saved for the black day began shrinking and Simon started becoming Simon of Bilpam days. Neither the old salary nor the new one is even received. Simon’s heart became now divided into two; if he returns to the forest, the new salary may be received tomorrow and since it is three times bigger than the old one, the commanders may eat it and use his absence as an excuse.

Secondly, he is like, if he stays in Juba, it may take him long to return to where he puts food on his family’s table. Every time he meets with people, he can be congratulated and told that you will receive your increased salary this month and all he can say is “Insha’Allah, Insha’Allah, Insha’Allah”.

And by the way, when is the new salary going to be received? This question comes from me as an opinion writer. The government was like it would be received in 2023 and the civil servants are counting down for 2024 now. What could this be? Someone must have charmed the government to see soldiers and civil servants like a ball that could be played with.

The author is a medical student, the University of Juba.

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