Articles and Analysies
THE SOUTH IS EMPTY by Tharwat Gassim
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Mar 24, 2008 - 8:47:56 AM



Tharwat Gassim      [email protected]




         Human resource development is the foundation to ,  and objective of , any development plan ,  for any country. Education,   both academic and vocational training , is the key to any human   resource development plan. In short , there is no development without education. Education is an essential parameter in indicating the level of development of any country.   Investiments in education are investments in the bright future and welfare of any society.


                 The situation today in   South   Sudan , with respect to the availability of sufficient numbers of educated and vocationally-trained personell , as well as indigenous businessmen and merchants ,   is indeed alarming.The problem is even compounded by the scarcity of indigenous  humans in the South . Yes, there is indeed a scarcity of human beings in the South, although the South is far from being an unhospitable desert.


                 The South seems to be empty and is further emptying by the passage of time. There is a massive human drain out of the South, in particular towards the North. The exodus of Southerners moving from the South to the North is many , many folds more than the returnees to the South . More troubling, the North-bound   exodus is composed of young , productive and competitive  men and women . While the returnees are mostly old men and women , who are returning to die in their respective villages.  


                  In the following paragraphs , an attempt is made to summarize and highlight this problem in South   Sudan .




           During the civil   war in the South, from the early eighties to the signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement   ( CPA ) in   January 2005 , institutions of higher education in the South ceased to exist. Students went to the North or outside Sudan   to study for their college and university education. The University of Juba , which should cater ,  in principle , for Southerners, was located in Khartoum rather than in Juba . Upon finishing their university education , Southerners tended to stay on , either in the North or outside Sudan , and seek suitable jobs therein .None , if any, returned back to South Sudan . With time , which extended over two decades , the South was systematically and consistently drained of its educated professionals .


                                Of course, the civil war played   a major role in this unfortunate and dramatic situation.


                      When the CPA was signed in January 2005, and the Government of South Sudan ( GOSS ) was established , there was a lack of educated and trained   personnel to run the civil   administration in the South. Hence you find the unique phenomenon of an illiterate Minister or an illiterate Army General, which you do not find in any other country in the world. Please roll over in your head the notion that a Minister, in charge of a huge ministry  or an Army General , commanding divisions of armed troops , cannot read and   write in any language.  Moreover, the fighters of the Sudan Popular   Liberation Army  ( SPLA ) , who took arms against the federal   Khartoum Government for the last two decades or more , and who were for the most part un - or semi - educated , rightly   and logically assumed responsibility   and occupied  important Government postions in the liberated South , to the exclusion of other more educated Southerners, albeit relatively very few ,  who opted to stay on in the South ,  and not join the SPLA in its jungle warfare. This has created havoc in the civil administration in the South.


                         One manifestation of this dramatic situation is the rampant corruption in the GOSS civil administration. One example to highlight this corruption is the recent episode where a Minsiter in the GOSS confidently and   unobtrusively  added more than 400 false names to the paysheet of his Ministry .He  daringly pocketed  himself the salaries of these imaginary employees.Other examples abound. These unfortunate corruption cases   are the direct result of the absence of qualified, educated and well trained personnel in the different disciplines   who should have ensured the  strict and proper implementation of the routine administrative ,  and control  office procedures   and regulations.In the absence of such educated and trained administration personnel, there was chaos in the civil administration . And everybody catered for himself and helped himself to the public pie. It is indeed … everybody for himself ……the Deluge is coming…….


        It is indeed sad to state that the South is currently   dangerously empty of educated and well trained personnel ( doctors, engineers, teachers, judges, accountants, clerks   etc ) who would be expected to run the civil   administration of the GOSS  , in a smooth , efficient and effective manner.




           The South is suffering from an acute shortage, even downright absence of , technicians in every possible discipline . There are no trained mechanics, no electricians, no plumbers, no carpenters   who would be expected to service the new Administration in the South.The booming   services sector is also devoid of any trained Southerners.In the many hotels which have mushroomed in Juba during the past few years since the signature of the CPA, almost all the hotels’ service personnel are foreigners ; from Ethiopia, Eriteria and East Africa. The cooks, the waiters ,the electricians ,   the plumbers , even the cleaning staff in the Juba hotels are invariably foreign.


                     Let me seize this opportunity to remind you that a room in a three star hotel which would cost around USD 40 per day in Washington D.C , would cost around USD 400 per day in Juba . Notwithstanding, all hotels are fully booked . You have to beg for a room at USD 400 per day, if your good fortune sends you to Juba .


                           You go the market and you are surprised to find that even   the barbers are foreign. The internet cafes are managed by Ethiopians. If you want to spend a merry evening dancing the night away in Juba nightclubs drinking Ugandan beer and South African wine  , you will find   many young beautiful Ethiopian girls who are eager to keep you company.But at what a price ?? Where are the indigenous local girls ? Nowhere to be found, not even in the black market ?


                   The foreign companies which are doing business in the South are self- dependent as far as maintenance and technical staff is concerned. Normally such maintenance staff is found in the local market. Foreign companies do not need to bring along with them their supporting technical staff. Because such staff would be a lot more expensive to bring from the companies’ home countries as compared to the those available in the host country. But in the case of the South, there are no maintenance and technical staff to be found.Hence the need for such companies to come loaded with plumbers, electricians, mechanics and what have you.


                   You will be surprised to note that there is not a single technical vocational training institute in the whole of South Sudan.The Federal Government in the North tried a policy of positive discrimination in availing unqualified and failed   Southerners places at the Khartoum Vocational Training Institute . But upon finishing their training courses, such technicians invariably opt to remain in Khartoum , rather than go back to the South.They claim that there are no jobs for them to go back   to in the South.


                    Technical and vocational  training is the backbone of any viable economy. The machine of any Government ,worth its name, depends on the availability of trained medium- level technicians.The GOSS  cannot expect to continue to function in a smooth manner   without such personnel. Any   self-respecting Government cannot accept that , when a car of a Minister breaks down, an Ethiopian mechanic comes along to fix it. A Minister should be ashamed to be served in any Juba hotel by an Eriterian waiter. A Minister should be upset to find that all the maintenance and supporting   staff ( including cleaning staff ) of   a South  African company   involved in building a road in the South ; all such staff are   foreign and does not include a single Southerner.


                      The GOSS should give first priority to the establishment of technical and vocational training institutes in the South. The GOSS should ask potential donors to concentrate on the provision of turn-key vocational training institutes, a package complete with and  including   instructers , training workshops , instruments and   manuals . Such vocational training institutes should be established as soon as possible, in Juba , Wau and Malakal as well as in other cities in the South. Otherwise , the South is doomed to continue to be a failed entity in the true sense of the word.The recent Japanese   grant for the establishment of a national Teacher Training Institute in Juba is a step   in the right direction.


                 It is indeed shockingly sad to note the complete lack of adequately trained medium-level technicians in the different disciplines in South Sudan . This situation should be corrected , and as soon as possible, if the South is to thrive as a viable entity.




            The import/export field is exclusively controlled and managed by foreigners, namely Ugandan and Somali nationals. You will find no indigenous local Southerners in this field. Even the merchants who are selling retail   goods in the main markets , for example in the Kongi Kongi Popular Market in Juba , are for the main part Ugandan or Somali. The Southern merchants, albeit very small in number to start with ,   are closing shop. They cannot compete with the richer and more resourceful Ugandan and Somali merchants.As for the merchants from the North of Sudan ( the so-called galaba ) , most of them had left after the infamous   incidents following the late Garang untimely  death.And the remaining galabas   (   albeit , a rare species in the South of the CPA ) are preparing to leave for good ,  following the recent Abeii incidents.


                The room will thus be free for the Ugandan and Somali merchants.The latter are also penetrating the hinterland as well as the small shops (canteens ) in the low-income areas   of cities and towns.


      It is mind-boggling  how foreigners are slowly controlling all business and  trade ( whole-sale and retail ) in the South to the exclusion of local indigenous merchants and businessmen.


  Other Humans


                If you drive from one population centre to the next in the South, you are bound to pass through empty roads fringed with tall trees and equatorial plants. You drive for hours without a trace of a human being. Your companion explains that during the civil war, the local population had fled to the hinterland . The roads were unsafe.You take this explanation with a pinch of salt . But three years had passed since the signature of the CPA , so why they did not move back from the hinterland to more business-promising areas adjacent to  the roads ?


                 The fact of the matter is that the Southerners who had fled the South ,   in large numbers   during the civil war, to North Sudan , to   East Africa , to Ethiopia and overseas .These southerners are yet to return home. They are still in the refugee camps in East Africa and Ethiopia . In the outskirts of   almost each and every village in North   Sudan , you will find a small colony of Southerners leading a marginal life. Khartoum alone houses more than two million Southerners , by a most conservative estimate. All these Southerners will not return to the South in the foreseeable future , due to   lack of jobs and housing in the South.


                       The South is indeed lamentably empty. A vast and rich region without human beings to develop it and make use of its rich natural resources. This is indeed a formidable problem for the   GOSS to contend with.


                        Therefore, the GOSS should put the cart behind the horse and start , first and foremost , by arranging for the displaced Southerners, refugees   and others to return to their   respective homes. This is a Hereculean task indeed but a job to be accomplished come what may.




               The SPLM and its sympathizers in the South   , who are often more SPLM than the SPLM itself, control everything in the South through the GOSS and their security organizations.They control the use of funds, the media , the armed forces and all other couvert   means of influencing the public opinion in the South. The overwhelming majority of the Southerners who are currently in the South are docile and are not politically orientated. They are not competitive and do not have any   aspirations nor grand dreams. Otherwise , they would not have stayed on through the miserable and dangerous nightmares of the civil war. They would have migrated in pursuit of a better life, like the millions of their other   fellow citizens who are more resourceful and intuitive. The Southerners who are  still in the South ,   are only interested in existing through their day, tomorrow is another day and another problem.


              According to the CPA, a plebiscite   should be organized by 2011 for the Southerners to decide whether to cede from the Republic of Sudan or to continue as an integral part of it.    Since :


-         the SPLM and its cohorts effectively   control the public opinion in the South as indicated above,

-          the SPLM cadres are massively in favour of separation, mainly to maximize their personal benefits and gains.      

-         there are  many illiterate and short-sighted            ( without strategic visions ) decision-makers within the upper ranks of the SPLM ,  who tend to look under their noses.


              Yes, in view of  the above  considerations, you can well assume that the result of the 2011 plebiscite is a foregone conclusion. 95% for separation , if not more.


                   As a matter of fact , the name of the new entity is now being openly discussed. Many advocate to follow the example of the Congo . There are  two independent , sovereign states   , one is   the Republic of Congo   (   RC ) or commonly known as   Congo- Brazzaville. The second is the Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC) or commonly known as Congo-Kinshasa. In the case of Sudan , there will similarly be two independent sovereign states    : The Republic of Sudan ( RS ) or Sudan- Khartoum and the Democratic Republic of Sudan ( DRS ) or Sudan-Juba.




                    In view of the above, someone may wish to start tolling the bells in Khartoum ? or rather the Nihas ?

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