Members of the public have expressed disappointment with the current leaders for deviating from the promises made by Dr. John Garang during the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.
Fifteen years ago, the SPLM through its former leader pledged to rebuild the war-devastated South Sudan using existing wealth.
The SPLM had just negotiated with the Sudanese government six protocols that formed the basis of the CPA.
These protocols, among others, promised to change the system of governance and provide services across Sudan, with the SPLM focusing mainly on improving life in the southern region.
It gave the government in the south the powers to control oil revenue produced in its territories and seek further external funding for development.
In his remarks to the world in Nairobi, Kenya on January 9, 2005, Dr. John Garang pledged that the SPLM would use wealth in diversity as a source of national cohesion and strength.
He stressed that the SPLM would implement a social, political and economic development strategy and programmes that include using oil money to strengthen agriculture as the engine of growth.
The ruling party also pledged to take towns to the people in the countryside through rural small town planning and rural electrification.
Garang’s aspiration emphasized on developing health, education and water sector by constructing windmills, build micro-dams for generating small scale hydro-electric power for rural towns as well as the use of solar, wind and biogas energy sources.
The SPLM document on transforming the lives of South Sudanese mentions exerting all efforts to build physical infrastructure – roads, rail and river transport and telecommunications by involving the state and local communities in the infrastructure building.
In one of his speeches, Dr. Garang said all these strategies would restore the dignity of the people.
“Our struggle for dignity, freedom, democracy and good governance, our struggle for justice and equality for all –irrespective of their tribe, ethnic group, race, religion or gender are indications that nobody is anybody’s majority, and nobody is anybody’s minority,” he stressed.
But nearly two decades later, the people of South Sudan say the ruling class has failed to achieve any of the promises made in 2005.
“None of the things Dr. Garang said has been implemented. These elites don’t even remember what Garang said -as we do,” said Mama Mary, a resident of Juba.
“When I think about the speeches of Dr. Garang, I feel like crying, because he had a clear vision for South Sudan. He talked of unity so that no group is marginalized. But that vision died with him,” remarked James Mawen, resident of Wau town.
Those who spoke to Eye Radio say the attainment of independence is the only thing achieved from the CPA.
“What we have achieved is only independence of the country, but this is empty independence because there is no development,” stated Mary Apai, a resident of Yambio.
Development in South Sudan has been bogged down by renewed conflicts since 2013. These conflicts have been attributed to power wrangles among the elites.
Five years of the negotiated peace settlement is yet to produce lasting stability in the country. This is because activists noted that even during peace talks, the leaders do not negotiate on behalf of their constituents, but rather strike transactional deals to preserve their personal power.
Marko Gatkuoth from the UN POC remembers vividly the optimism her mother felt when Garang made such remarks in 2005. His mother -like other women -supplied food to SPLA forces during the war.
He criticized the current leaders for prioritizing power and wealth accumulation over the interest of the public.
“Thanks to these current leaders, we have achieved the destruction of our country again, we have achieved the hatred for one another, we have injected tribalism into the lives of our people. This is so unfortunate,” he said.
And during peace, the elites loot public resources and stack their accounts with public funds.
The US-based Enough Project says violent kleptocratic leaders have hijacked institutions and stoked violent conflict, committed mass atrocities, and created a man-made famine.
South Sudan is yet to finalize the delineation of its borders with the neighboring countries especially Sudan. There are still several claimed and disputed areas along the borders.
Taban Juma in Wau said the internal struggle for government positions is threatening the sovereignty of the “only thing” he said South Sudanese have achieved since 2005.
“These people have spoilt what we got…people are just busy taking up arms randomly. Currently, our borders are not known, border demarcation is not completed. And a country with no borders or boundaries is not a country,” Taban stated.
These views were expressed during the Eye Radio’s Sundown program on Thursday during the commemoration of the CPA Day January, 9.
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