OpEd, Politics

Can Elections Bring Salvation? The Confluence of Crisis

By Gama Hassan Oscas


South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, has been plagued by a myriad of socio-political and economic crises since its independence in 2011.

The once hopeful dreams of peace and prosperity have been shattered by rampant corruption, escalating violence, and institutional decay. As the country grapples with collapsing economy, deteriorating security, and deep-seated political turmoil, the question arises: Can elections serve as a panacea to South Sudan’s multifaceted woes?

South Sudan’s economy, heavily reliant on oil exports, has been in freefall due to a combination of factors including mismanagement, corruption, and poor governance. The lack of diversification has left the country vulnerable to external shocks, exacerbating the economic downturn. Unemployment rates are soaring, poverty is rampant, and basic services such as healthcare and education remain grossly underfunded and inaccessible to many, let alone the easy to produce food which is in scarcity as government failed to prioritize food production in the country.

Corruption has permeated every facet of South Sudanese society, with public officials looting state coffers with impunity while the vast majority of the population languishes in poverty with Juba’s unprivileged feeding on garbage. The culture of corruption has bred a sense of cynicism and distrust among citizens, eroding confidence in the government’s ability to address their needs. The lack of accountability and transparency further entrenches the cycle of corruption, as those who attempt to expose wrongdoing are silenced or sidelined.

South Sudan’s political landscape is characterized by instability, tribalism, and authoritarianism. The proliferation of armed groups, fueled by ethnic rivalries and power struggles, has led to widespread violence and displacement. Dissent is met with repression, as the government clamps down on civil liberties and stifles opposition voices. Discrimination against minority communities exacerbates social tensions, further fracturing the fragile social fabric of the nation.

Despite the facade of democratic governance, South Sudan’s institutions remain weak and ineffective. The judiciary is compromised, the legislature is toothless, and law enforcement agencies are plagued by corruption and incompetence. The proliferation of vice presidents, a symbol of political patronage and ethnic favoritism, further undermines the functioning of government and exacerbates divisions within society.

South Sudan’s development trajectory has been marred by poor infrastructure, inadequate healthcare, and an education system in disarray. Basic services are inaccessible to the majority of the population, exacerbating poverty and perpetuating cycles of underdevelopment. High mortality rates, particularly among women and children, underscore the urgent need for investment in healthcare and social services.

Elections as a Panacea?

In light of South Sudan’s myriad challenges, the prospect of elections in December 2024 as a solution to the political crisis appears dubious at best. While free and fair elections have the potential to usher in new leadership and foster democratic accountability, the underlying structural issues plaguing the country cannot be addressed through electoral processes alone. The entrenched culture of corruption, institutional decay, and social division requires comprehensive reforms and a commitment to good governance.

Moreover, the current political climate in South Sudan is not conducive to credible elections. The stifling of dissent, the suppression of civil liberties, and the dominance of certain ethnic groups in key sectors undermine the principles of democracy and fairness. In such an environment, elections risk exacerbating existing tensions rather than fostering genuine democratic progress.

The Imperative of Reform:

Instead of placing undue emphasis on elections as a panacea, South Sudan through its so called “Road Map Agreement” must focus on instituting meaningful reforms aimed at addressing the root causes of its crises. This includes strengthening institutions, promoting transparency and accountability, fostering social cohesion, and investing in human capital development. A comprehensive approach that prioritizes the needs of the people over narrow political interests is essential for steering the country towards a path of sustainable peace, development and subsequently a peaceful democratic transition.

In conclusion, South Sudan stands at a crossroads, grappling with entrenched political, economic, and social crises that threaten to unravel the fabric of the nation. While elections hold the promise of democratic renewal, the underlying structural issues plaguing the country cannot be resolved through electoral processes alone. Meaningful reforms, grounded in principles of good governance, transparency, and inclusivity, are imperative for addressing the root causes of South Sudan’s woes and charting a path towards peace, prosperity, and social justice.

The author of the opinion piece is an advocate.


Comments are closed.