South Sudan: Crisis Looms

Salary Crisis Looms in South Sudan as Oil money dries up amid falling prices

In the past two months there has been outcry among South Sudanese as they stayed without any salary for almost two months now. Salaries were paid to most people in December 2008 for Christmas but then immediately afterwards Government of South Sudan (GoSS) was acting like they were running short of money or going bankrupt with even officials being asked to pay back bonuses which was said to have been paid out illegally.

Some GoSS leaders also claimed to send out GoSS and SPLM officials who had stayed in hotels for almost 4 years in Juba at the expense of the GoSS budget. Did their directives really work, I doubt it did? I wrote an article then that GoSS was going burst otherwise they would not be making drastic decisions like that considering how corrupt and irresponsible the South Sudan Government under Kiir can be.

South Sudan Faces Bankruptcy

The measures announced in December by GoSS to save money could be seen pointing to the fact of GoSS becoming bankrupt at the end of a turbulent year with everything from corruption, to tribalism, to insecurity and to ethnic strifes spiralling out of control. Even the budget spiralled out of control so much that the SPLA which was already using almost 40% of South Sudan budget blew their budget of almost 500 million dollars ( 1 billion Sudanese pounds) by June 2008 and had to be rescued by another $500 million (2.1 billion Sudanese pounds) got from no where.

Then economic downturn hit oil prices which began to fall freely from November 2008, these hitting oil revenues in turn. The fact of being bankrupt was true because now two months in the New Year and all GoSS employees and SPLA had been crying money, money everywhere as no salaries had been paid out to GoSS or SPLA soldiers for January or February 2009. Now there are unconfirmed reports from Juba that some salaries had been paid just one month regardless that people have been without pay for two months but the states will have to wait even longer and now the pay will always depend on who got the biggest fist to grab the money for their state before it disappears in the dust thin air of Juba.

Of course South Sudan is a land of grabbing things: land grabbing, wife grabbing or money grabbing, you name it. Where is the GoSS money for the new budget of 2009 and even the GoSS should have left over from last year because unless the coffers of the Government is declared zero and a bankrupt government cannot even unction without a penny in the bank? Well it seems to be the case and as 2011 nears GoSS and old SPLM officials are now eating money to the maximum to try to increase their accounts abroad to the maximum. The credit crunch around the world meant that their wives and families abroad now complain to them that the previous amounts have become valueless and they need to add more to guarantee their future outside once the South Sudanese kick them out.

Also the South is not immune to the credit crunch as oil prices plummet and the fountain of money which at time went to almost $150 a million a month remittance from Khartoum can barely make it around $50 million a month nowadays. As a result it is more likely now that that South Sudanese will only continue to be paid salaries against future oil payments like credit via the money remitted by Khartoum and the budget will no longer depend on current month but things being done against future unknown payments from South Sudan 50% Oil revenue share since we cannot even generate any money from any other sources as corruption overwhelms the ability to raise money via other means from any where be it taxes or sell of services. In other words you combine budget or remittance of oil money of two months or more in order to allow salary payments of one month in South Sudan. In such lottery situation eek states will miss out easily and the WES could be one of them where some people even missed even being paid for Christmas.

What does this mean?

Well it means GoSS have now to take next month remittance to combine to pay for last month’s salaries which can mean we could end up with a deficit of $150 -$200 million in order to bring the salaries to the same month which will have to be found by some leader of South Sudan in the future. This deficit will continue to increase by the month and soon or later it could reach $1 billion just to pay salaries. The fact of Southern Sudan squandering their budget and making monthly salaries payments irregular is not new.

During the defunct previous South Sudanese Government under Numeiri and subsequent post-Addis Ababa governments money was constantly eaten and then borrowed against the future remittance from the North to pay for current salaries which meant that you either waited one to three months or even six months to get paid and the government will always owe you money. Such a scenario leaves the handler of the money a lot of room to manoeuvre to even eat more money because they can even eat all the salaries of one month or two and thankful enough the South Sudanese have the patience to wait all that long to be paid against future payments from the North. But with a savage war which took a chunk of 22 years from our lives, for how long can the patient of the SPLA soldiers continue to hold. Do they really know the odds of ever being paid the unpaid salary again?

Late payments of Salaries is an example of a failed Government

Well we went to war in 1983 to try correcting such conditions like late payments of salaries or no money to pay salaries but now after just three to four years in power the GoSS of Kiir have taken South Sudan back to the same situation where salaries were always late and there was no money to invest in development. The slogan of SPLM late leader Dr. John Garang, before he died, talked of big projects and industrialisation never seen before on the African continent. Just read late Dr. Garang's speeches during and after signing of the Sudan Comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) in January 2005. One could easily cry from the happiness of hearing all the big words of peace, development, inclusiveness, equality, justice and freedom for all. Now you can easily cry because of tribalism, corruption, marginalisation, lack of development, lack of money and insecurity. What went wrong that can not be corrected?

The issue of misrule of South Sudan is like pointed today in the American Chronicle Newspaper: “And then there are the problems Africans have created for themselves- problems which have continually hindered the success and progress of Africa for many, many years. We all know them by heart- Corruption, poor governance, poverty, religious and ethnic clashes stand out among the rest. Over the years, we have witnessed civil wars and related conflicts that have resulted in genocides such as we have seen in the DR Congo, Rwanda and Sudan’s Darfur region. These conflicts have been instigated by us Africans”.

Why did People have to go to war to come back to the same things?

The case of South Sudan could become another example of failed Africa state where people fought for freedom and independent and then ending up with corruption and misrule worse then the colonial rule they fought against. South Sudan, a state which fought for justice for over fifty years from 1955 to 2005 should not be allowed to be handed over to tribal dictatorial fascist regime which is interested only in distributing the small amounts of money they get from the North among themselves. Kiir has encouraged tribalism by appointing his clan and stooge allies into all the major positions of power and money in the GoSS. Corrupt and irresponsible governors are then appointed to carry out the same things of tribalism, clanism, nepotism, marginalisation and misrule in the states.

Yet Lt Gen Salva Kiir had all the opportunity to take the country out of poverty into a modern democratic country with good governance to be a model for Africa as envisaged by late hero Dr. John Garang. But now it seems he is more serious about making South Sudan the most corrupt place in the world and the most tribal of all African states. Lt Gen Salva Kiir had no vision when the oil was boom business and money was pouring to South Sudan in millions of dollars. He opted for very high salary (the highest in Africa for a poor country).

A visionary leader would have said please let us not squander this as bad times may come and we should keep our expenses down. Further instead of strengthening the unity among Southerners to face the North he is more interested in bolstering tribalism and weakening the South resolve to defend the CPA. Now the North can do anything such as cutting the budget for Oil revue and even changing from dollar payments into Sudanese local currently payments and knowing that the Southern are fed up with Lt Gen Slav Kiir tribal regime and no one will cry to see it go. Well all his clan men are millionaires while most of the rest of the tribes have nothing and so will be like a clan which ate all the oil money to bare the responsibility of collapse of the CPA amid problems like not enough money to pay South Sudanese salaries.

Today the GoSS Finance minister Mr. Kuol Athian claimed he budgeted for budget of £300 million Sudanese pounds or $133 million for January 2009 and only received a fraction of that and moreover in local currency of Sudanese pounds. So Mr President of GoSS this is the kind of things which makes tribalism and corruption a bad idea because under corruption and tribalism you only see light at the end of the tunnel and never thinks there can ever be darkens at the end of the tunnel. It is the reason South Sudanese wanted a government with vision rather then a government of corruption with no accountability.

Conclusion and the need for immediate Change

It is the duty of South Sudanese not to allow the collapse of South Sudan and driving us to tribal wars and total collapse and brining the notion that South Sudanese cannot govern themselves to reality for the Arabized North. Usual it is not the whole nation to blame for descent into chaos of a country but one man who blindly leads a country to fall as can be seen like case of Zimbabwe.

I’m sure some people can talk sense to Lt Gen Salva Kiir so he can eagerly move away from tribalism, corruption and misrule and then change Southern Sudan for a government of accountability, inclusiveness, good governance, democracy, equality and justice for all. Everybody whether his/her clan or tribe is Dinka or not can all prosper well under a just system where equality and justice are at the top of the agenda. South Sudanese must embrace the wind of change away from a bad system to a good system for all and should not only think of the money one can amass and hoard under a corrupt system.

Think of the welfare under a good system where everybody receives salaries in time and there is no eating of money and there are good schools for children to go to and good hospitals for treatment rather then spending each time around $20,000 to go for treatment abroad. Change will be able to make sure civil servants are paid regularly and there is no borrowing from the future payments from Khartoum. A government of change will make a realistic budget based on reality of our nation and without astronomical salaries which only make a few people rich while driving the rest into perpetual poverty. People need to work for change in SPLM and masses of South Sudan are encouraged to join SPLM Patriotic organisation today and work with Kisanga to achieve a peaceful transition to good governance in South Sudan.

Charles B. Kisanga

Eng. Kisanga is former SPLM NLC member and chairman of Western Equatoria Azande Community World-Wide Organisation. Eng. Kisanga also heads the new SPLM Patriotic organisation.

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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey