OpEd, Politics

Restructuring of a new state (part 11)


By Agar Mayor Gai-Makoon

Implementation tool (b)

Three years ago, this problem-finding series came into being. It stemmed from the fact that we are in crisis and it is unclear to many suffering citizens why they have to experience such in their new heaven, the independent South Sudan.

Though the benefits of having a state have never been enjoyed here before because we were not independent, people had a lot of expectations. There are many explanations for this crisis depending on who you ask. Civil war, tribalism, lack of strong institutions, low education indicative of a poor technocratic workforce, and many more have appeared in the list of factors considered to be responsible for South Sudan crisis. There are differences in views but there is wide acceptance of the existence of a crisis. It is at this point that we have opportunity to evaluate each and every factor to see which factor is most contributing to crisis if for instance, they have all contributed.

This process has so far focused on only lack of strong institutions. I strongly believe that with strong institutions, good policies and laws guiding progress and unity of people can be initiated and protected for benefit of all. It has though, proven difficult for the new country to build strong institutions that not only propel economic and political growth but also, improve general livelihood of the population. We have institutions that have not worked for the common South Sudanese population. This failure could stem from two sources: First, lack of proper funding for implementation of policies. Since independence, no institution has enjoyed enough funding for its activities. Baseline institutions such as healthcare, education, law and industry have suffered tough financial constraints. And perhaps, the nation has been engulfed in all kinds of crises. The health sector for instance, is unable to fund the Basic Package of Health and Nutrition Services (BPHNS), Vision 2040 and the National Health Policy 2016-2026. These programs are a manifestation of commitment by the healthcare sector in South Sudan to build a system that aligns with WHO guidelines of sustainability, resilience and vision orientation. But because there is no enough government funding, it has been left to international donors which have so far been trying, but not actually enough. The government should prioritize health and other baseline institutions by channeling enough money in to these sectors for implementation of activities and policies aimed at improving the life of common man.

Secondly, there is serious institutional-based corruption. Despite the fact that we are a nation built on a foundation of benevolence and justice—getting what one deserves, there is a grave assault on these virtues. Most people in institutions have forgotten that it is the fight against corruption and greediness that birthed South Sudan. It is too early to forget about this but it seems nobody cares about the goodness of sticking to principles that have cost many lives. This is shameful and so painful at the same time. Our budget every year allocates more than forty percent of resources to security sector. But it is unfortunate that salary scale in the sector ranks among the lowest in the East Africa region. And worse of all, it takes government many months or more than a fiscal year to have this salary paid. This is very bad and we have got to change if the fruits of the struggle are to be realized and enjoyed. The same thing is happening in the education sector. We find that given our small population, only 35% is literate according to a report by UNESCO. This is bad both for the economy and individual livelihood. In fact, because the report is not so much broken down, we may only have a half or less of the 35% per cent as having skills and technocratic power. This is again alarming—it means that even if there are institutions as they are, there is no sufficient professional workforce. And this in itself, creates a fertile environment for corruption to thrive. It is easier for an illiterate mind to corrupt than a literate mind. And in order to do away with institutional corruption, educating people with the right knowledge is the key that opens many other avenues to corruption-free institutions. So, why not do this now? Simply, no funds.  The new budget must change the trend, of always allocating less percentage of money to the education sector. And actually, do the opposite—allocate more resources to the education sector. By doing that we will have ideally reduced corruption by a reasonable margin.

The crisis has many dimensions but making sure that there are strong institutions that have ability to implement their policies without interference and no constraints methinks, is what the country requires now. And on removing interferences and constraints to institutional growth and prosperity, follow on this NO. 1 Citizen Newspaper space next week.

The writer has a background in Socio-political philosophy. He studies medicine in Egypt.

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