21 February 2013

South Sudan: Presidential and Ministerial Rights and Privileges in South Sudan - for What in Return?

opinion

The ordinary downtrodden populace in South Sudan (SS), in their various villages, and urban centres, are pleased and happy that, they have a country of their own, called the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS). They are also happy that, they have a flag and a national anthem, to complete the emotional and conspicuous paraphernalia of a sovereign independent State of SS.

I am going to take a huge risk here, and say that, these same downtrodden folks of SS, are also happy to be reminded every day, by the wailing of Presidential and Ministerial sirens that, they do have a President, a Vice President, Presidential Advisors and tens of Ministers and Deputy Ministers. There are of course tens of other constitutional hangers-on, who, from time-to-time, also create constitutional storms, in various tin spoons.

However, I am not really sure, as to whether, the citizens of the RoSS are equally happy, with individual and group performances, of this special group of South Sudanese, who are always, driven around in armoured vehicles, preceded and accompanied by, sirens and heavily armed relatives, doubling as official body guards, in national army fatigues, and who are ready to shot-to-kill anybody, who dares slow down, the motorcades and entourages, of their proxy breadwinners.

Notwithstanding the overwhelmingly, doubted performances of this special group of South Sudanese, they are nevertheless, paid Presidential, Vice-Presidential, Advisors', Ministerial, and Deputy Ministerial salaries and privileges, and other constitutional fringe benefits. All these payments are comparable to what their counterparts are entitled to, in some and many other viable countries.

However, I am aware that, the salaries and privileges of this special group of South Sudanese, are more and far above the rate of what, some of their counterparts get in many other countries, and countries which are more viable in terms of the deliveries of goods and services, to the peoples of these countries. There are many presidents, in some viable countries, who get far less salaries and privileges, than what our president gets in SS.

I am afraid, others shall jump into wrongful conclusions as usual that, I am just a complaining and jealous South Sudanese. No. That is not true. I one hundred percent support the payment of salaries and privileges of this special group of South Sudanese. However, these salaries and privileges must be proportionate to their individual and group output. I want us the public to pay out salaries and privileges which are conscionable.

Why for example, should the peoples of SS, pay yearly salaries and privileges, plus other constitutional expenses and fringe benefits, of a minister, whose average performances and output, are far below that of a senior clerk, in a viable and functional Borough Council, in a viable and functional country? Is this conscionable? What are the skills, knowledge, experiences, aptitudes and attitude, for which, we pay out all these financial and economic values, to such a below average human person dubbed minister?

For example, if we pay such salaries and privileges, to somebody, to whom, for only Constitutional and Sovereign courtesy, we politely refer to as His/Her Excellency, the Minister for Fisheries and Crocodiles in SS, for example. In return, we wait for Ugandans and others, to bring us fresh fishes from Kampala every day. Or, to come and fish for us our fishes in SS, and we go on, to sing and dance, in celebration of the glory, of our omnipotent Minister and Ministry of Fisheries and Crocodiles. Are we sane others?

Alternatively, if we in SS, pay the same rights and privileges, to some busy body, called Minister for Cooperatives and Rural Development for example. Yet, we pray that, God the Almighty, bless and protect our Ugandan brethrens and farmers, and other subsistence producers therein, in rural Uganda, for feeding us in SS. In fact, we even risk being shot dead for smuggling in sorghum or dura from neighbouring Sudan. This Sorghum or dura, produced in rural Sudan. Oh God Almighty; with millions of acres, of virgin and fertile land, in rural SS, do we need to go through this ordeal?

On the other hand, we also pay somebody called the Minister for Agriculture and Happiness in SS, same rights and privileges. What for? Is it for telling the peoples of SS, not to burn trees for charcoal? Never mind the charcoal; we can import that from Kampala. What about the production of our own food as sovereign peoples of the RoSS? I always feel ashamed, and I hurt so much, whenever I see and hear that, our peoples are dying for want of food in SS. It is a paradox that others outside the SS find it impossible to understand and internalise.

If we cannot produce our own food; please, President Kiir, just shut down this thing called Ministry of Agriculture in SS. What else can one say? We fought for an independent sovereign State. Once we got it, we then want others to feed us, while we rule ourselves by ourselves. I do not understand. Where is the independence in this kind of sad existence? We as peoples, in SS, must become serious. We have already attained the status of the sick joke of Africa, and the world at large. Let us not make others, and the world, regret, in helping us, emerge as a sovereign State, because, we have, in a short time, become a permanent burden on them.

In the near past, and here, in this very SS, the Norwegian Church Aid Sudan Programme (NCA/SP), during the 1970s and up to the early 1980s, and thanks to the generous funding of the Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation (NORAD), the NCA/SP was able to produce enough food for the whole of Eastern Equatoria and beyond. No government, in SS has so far matched this endeavour. How can an international non-governmental organisation (INGO), perform more better than a national government?

Do not tell, nor give me, this crab about the lack of resources within the remit of national governments in SS. For example, if we, in this current government of SS, just stop the importation of all luxury four-wheel vehicles, and other conspicuous consumption items, using government monies, we could easily save 100 times more resources, than the amount of resources the NCA/SP had then. If we were just to have one quarter of human will, dedication, honesty, transparency, meritocracy and accountability, that the NCA/SP had, we could turn the SS into the East African bread basket.

The above hypothetical examples, about the said ministers and ministries, depict the reality on the ground in SS. It appears that, we in SS are just interested in structures and that is all. That is, we are just interested in formation of governments, and filling the organisational structures in these governments, with living bodies, and that is the end of the story. However, these living bodies must be sustained through the said rights and privileges. Do not also forget the other economic and financial burdens, of sustaining these redundant human bodies in the organisational structures of this government in SS. That is, the wives, chidden, relatives, and such like.

I have done a Critical cost-benefit analysis of the government of the RoSS, in terms of individual and group total positive output. The individuals and group include the President, the Vice President, and the Advisors of the President, all the Ministers and their Deputies. My initial findings indicate that, most of the huge numbers of constitutional posts holders are just waste of time, space, and resources of the peoples of SS.

The majority of the Advisors to the President, half of the Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the current government of SS are just useless human bodies. They are literally producing nothing. I mean nothing at all in terms of net positive addition into goods and services of the peoples of SS. They are aggregate burdens and dangerous leakages and waste, of our precious and meager economic and financial resources.

For these kinds of performances, there are no justifications whatsoever, for keeping all these useless people in government as Advisors, Ministers and Deputy Ministers. The RoSS could be efficiently and effectively run by a smaller and agile government than what it is now. We in fact need competent undersecretaries, who actually know the meanings of the ministries they are managing. We need undersecretaries saturated with knowledge, skills, experiences, positive attitudes and other practicable characteristics. I strongly recommend that, the number of ministries in the government of SS is reduced to just eighteen ministries as shown below.

1. Ministry of Cabinet Affairs

2. Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs

3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

4. Minister. Office of the President

5. Minister for National Security. Office of the President

6. Ministry of Justice

7. Ministry of Interior Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster

(a) Undersecretary for Interior

(b) Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management

8. Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs

9. Ministry of Finance, Commerce and Labour

(a) Undersecretary for Finance and Economic Planning

(b) Undersecretary for Commerce and Industry and Investment

(c) Undersecretary for Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development

10. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

11. Ministry of Health

12. Ministry of Agriculture Environment and Water Resources and Irrigation

(a) Undersecretary of Agriculture and Forestry

(b) Undersecretary for Environment

(c) Undersecretary for Water Resources and Irrigation

13. Ministry of Transport, Roads, Bridges and Telecommunications

(a) Undersecretary for Roads and Bridges

(b) Undersecretary for Transport

(c) Undersecretary for Telecommunication and Postal Services

14. Ministry of General and Higher Education, and Youth

(a) Undersecretary for General Education

(b) Undersecretary for Higher Education

(c) Undersecretary for Youth, Culture and Sports

15. Ministry of Housing and Electricity and Dams

(a) Undersecretary for Housing and Physical Planning

(b) Undersecretary for Electricity and Dams

16. Ministry of Petroleum and Mining

17. Ministry of Rural Development, Gender and Social Welfare

(a) Undersecretary for Rural Development and Cooperatives

(b) Undersecretary for Gender, Child and Social Welfare

18. Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism Animal Resources and Fisheries

(a) Undersecretary for Wild Life Conservation

(b) Undersecretary for Tourism Animal Resources and Fisheries.

The author is Professor of Social and Rural Development, and Lecturer of Laws.

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