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Where will the resources to host 500 opposition delegates come from?

By Ms. Kuyang Harriet Logo Mulukwat

 

There is a very limited assessment of the direct economic costs of the war on the South Sudan economy, but a cursory look around, shows the significant toll of the war on the citizens, infrastructure, oil revenues and the entire economy. If peace must be maintained, the political leadership must amicably resolve their differences. A first step has been the commitment of both parties to sign and implement the peace agreement signed in August 2015. At the very onset, implementation requires that members of the Sudan people’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM/IO) join their counterparts the SPLM in Juba to begin the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU).

But there is already a hitch with regards to the opposition members that would be travelling to Juba. While the SPLM leadership has asked the opposition to produce a complete list of those coming, including a short biography of each member, it has fallen short of telling the opposition to rethink the size of the delegation. Both parties are looking to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development(IGAD) and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan(UNMISS) for support and the two bodies have blatantly stated that they do not have the resources and the capacity to ferry and maintain a delegation of 500 people.

Blatantly speaking, the SPLM/IO should undertake a self-assessment of the current economic situation in South Sudan and come to an honest conclusion that the meager resources cannot support the needs of over 500 people to travel to Juba. To insist that a delegation of 500 people who will need per diem, both local and international travel arrangements, feeding and accommodation be hosted by the government in Juba is asking what is beyond the capacity of the incumbent government. What are all the proposed delegates coming to do in Juba? Why is it that the SPLM/IO cannot fund the arrangements of the 500 people and expects a government that is already economically struggling to get by, to foot the bill? I did not expect such behavior from the opposition and I am extremely appalled that they are making too much noise regarding the state of affairs and acting like spoilt brats, who are incapable of noticing that 500 is just too big a number.

Just a little reminder to the extravagant SPLM/IO – this time round, the peace agreement is not like the Comprehensive Agreement (CPA) of 2005 whose implementation and resource implications were well thought through by the development partners and donors, who convened a funding conference for that purpose. Lessons have been learnt that in 2005 and throughout the interim period, the resources have been wasted. The now warring parties where engaged in all sorts of joy rides to and from Rumbek and sometimes for no apparent reasons. When the move was made to Juba, the resource wastefulness continued unabated. It was common for government delegations with close ties to the resources to live in expensive hotels, purchase expensive cars and fly in and out of South Sudan as they pleased. Some government officers were so extravagant that they sourced for laundry services outside of South Sudan! All the resources were squandered and there is nothing meaningful to show for it, except bloated personal accounts and unexplained wealth.

Wake up! Donors and developmental partners have woken up and will not allocate resources for your excessive and unaccountable spending and joy rides. Cut the unnecessary 500 figure delegation to something reasonable that both the government and you in the opposition can afford to maintain. It is also time that the opposition grows up and revisits its excessive demands that are made without the slightest realization that the resources coming from the developmental partners don’t just fall off trees, but are drawn from tax payers’ money. Put the wider costs of the war into perspective and refocus your minds on the stakes of failing to bring immediate and lasting peace to South Sudan.

 Look at your actions and compare the potential costs of continued conflict and exert more effort towards a negotiated solution to the conflict, which is a small price to pay. The government and the future TGoNU will be ill prepared to bear the heavy social costs of another generation growing up in a violently divided society and how the SPLM/IO, the front runners of reform, federalism, post conflict reconciliation and restructuring are failing to see these things is unbelievable. I reiterate my earlier sentiments and advise the SPLM/IO to revise the number of its delegates coming to Juba because the human cost of the conflict should be a central consideration and an urgent matter. It is perhaps time that the leader of the opposition places a strong reign on his people and provide the expected strategic thinking and direction.

 

The Writer is a South Sudanese Lawyer and a United Nations Consultant on Democratic Governance and the Rule of Law and teaches on a part time basis at the College of Law of the University of Juba. She can be reached on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

 

 

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