OpEd, Politics

Reconstructing of a new state (part 12)


By Agar Mayor Gai-Makoon


Institution building and resilience

When it comes to national growth and prosperity, the measuring stick is whether or not institutions are available and working out their intended purpose.

In South Sudan, it is difficult to factualize institutional progress or decline with accurate data. There is very insufficient institutional evaluation and analytics. This has made it very hard for anyone to trace the roots of our problem and consequent redress. But the general outlook puts very bright rays on the problem. We are able to spot and even feel that there is a crisis, somewhere in our institutions. The most likely reason for this institutional crisis could be a lack of institutions, or certain constraints that have stunted growth of institutions. It does not require any higher knowledge or data to reach this inference. Because if truly institutions were built and proactively functioning, the nation would have taken a direction so different from this one—the populace would delight in the noble upshots by the progress and growth of their institutions. Ideally, institutions are expected to reflect and actualize interests of a given society. Other than that charge is disastrous and a bane to people’s livelihood. Is this not where we are? Surely, yes. There are few but deadly constraints to institution building and resilience that have sailed South Sudan to this beginning of a lethal tunnel. The stronger we act to eliminate these constraints, the earlier the deadly journey will have stopped. Today(yesterday), we will look into these constraints and how possible it is to reduce or totally remove them.

  1. Lack of strong institutions

For an institution to be strong, it should have two things. First, it must have a clear vision. Here, institution has a direction and has outlines of how and when to get there—time frame is very vital. The new WHO country director for South Sudan, Dr. Humphrey Karamagi captures it well in his speech this week, “With the launch of the Health Sector Transformation Project, we aim to implement the strategies and interventions outlined in the Health Sector Strategic Plan 2023-27’’. In this statement, the Ministry of Health has a clear vision and this vision will have been realized by 2027 if the needed support is availed to the institution. For instance, giving this institution financial support will make it implement areas of the project that require funds. Secondly, institutions must have a strong technocratic workforce with unshakable integrity. This aspect of an institution is very important. And it requires a vigorous process to get technocrats with integrity to progress the vision of any institution. The integrity aspect is eminent for institutional growth and prosperity and the bad news is that it is not projected in our school curriculum. So, it is difficult to examine integrity. But, sometimes, people consider conduct and work experience from previous jobs to know the values that the employees cherish so much. If past work indicates they were involved in corruption, the current institution will have right definition for that person—he has no regards to transparency and accountability. He does not deserve the privilege to be in public service because, in actual sense, such people do not care about others. What matters to them is theirs alone, while for all is less important. And when an institution has reached that point where it has a test system that recruits right people, then, can the public realize the rewards of a state to her citizens.

  1. Corruption

Corruption impairs the functional capacity of institutions. And the worst fact is that almost all areas of life are fertile enough for growth of corruption. This makes forestalling the best way to suffocate corruption because when it is allowed to grow, it builds firm roots that make it impossible to remove. So, institutions should always have strong mechanisms that kill corruption in its embryonic stage. For South Sudan, donors and non-governmental organizations have been helpful in the prevention and fight against corruption. Trainings on capacity building, building institutions through policy-making for instance, National Health Policy 2016-2026, supporting civil society organizations are among the many ways that they are directing this country in the path away from corruption. It is important for the unity government to fully cooperate with international partners and civil society organizations in this fight against corruption. It has to do these two things. One, the government should establish Performance Check and Evaluation ministry. The role of this ministry will be to always evaluate progress and growth of institutions, and recommending approaches to curb any decline or for maintaining progress attained.

Secondly, the public service and labour ministries should be strengthened. They should have the power to recruit, recall or deploy public servants from, or to areas of need without interference from any higher authority. Chapter three of the South Sudan Labour Act 2017 gives the office of Labor Commissioner only the power of recommending people for the higher authority to decide their deployment. This is acceptable because the labour commissioner is presumed to give the right recommendations. But the problem is that this is not a genuine process as things stand. There are many ministers and undersecretaries that have not passed through this process. The unity government, if it is their scheme to do away with corruption, should consider making these institutions stronger so that there is a possibility to develop processes that only recruit right people in the right places.

The writer has a background in Socio-Political Philosophy. He studies Medicine in Egypt.

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