By Deng Kur Deng
With everything going wrong in South Sudan, President Salva Kiir has exerted an enormous amount of effort to resolve the social issues that have overwhelmed the country. I must give him credit for returning peace to the people, as it is our strongest desire and top priority. Everything else follows in its wake.
Let me be clear, even though many of our people hate to hear facts, that won’t stop me from getting right to the point: I respect President Salva Kiir for what he has done for us all along. In general, economy deterioration is not anyone fault as we speak. For example, many countries that are depending solely on oil are currently struggling and in the process their currencies are devalued as a result; therefore, the government is not to be blamed. Currently, the President is doing everything he can to stabilize the country. We all know perfectly well that he is working very hard to restore the normal lives of the people of South Sudan. Unfortunately, the failing economy has forced many people to scatter and even abandon their old lives. Therefore, we need a better way forward that will strengthen the economic growth of our country. This sort of shift will require a serious commitment and the resources to see it through. This sort of movement may demand more than what we have right now, but something must be done, regardless of the circumstances that may come with it.
As you and I know, the majority of the problems in South Sudan are related to both security and the economy, which are major threats to the wellbeing of the people. Categorically, these two concerns are the pressing issues—which are essential in every country—so it is up to South Sudan to make corrections. Right now, our country’s aspirations and possibilities are in the hands of many people who are disregarded because they are considered too young and inexperienced to make the right decisions. Many of these people, especially young South Sudanese, have the best intentions for the country, but ridiculously, they are denied the opportunity to live up to their potential—even if they’re experts. In order to fix our economic problems, we must embrace solutions, no matter where they come from.
Personally, I’m incredibly curious to learn more about the economy. Who in South Sudan isn’t disappointed about the way things are going at the moment? We live with the consequences of a failing economy every day, and this problem cannot necessarily be easily resolved without properly analyzing the cause. Ill-equipped politicians and economists have been using optimism, trying to give people hope and encourage their patience, but their resources have dried up, leaving them empty handed.
According to various foreign investors, there is no significant investment occurring in South Sudan because everything is so jammed together economically; it is nearly impossible, and by some even inappropriate, to try to navigate through that mess. As a result, even though many people in South Sudan have disagreed on certain things, I can assure you that we the people are as mad as hell that the economy has so strongly affected our country.
As it stands, for instance, the South Sudan Pound has become worthless against the dollar. We are being held hostage by the struggling economy, as the dollar still holds power over our people. Given that the economy has created a very complicated situation, we have little control over what we can do next. Ultimately, the instability of the economy is creating a heavier and heavier burden for citizens because families are drowning amidst this crumbling economy.
In the past, terrible mistakes had been made concerning the governance of our country, but like everyone else, I am certainly very happy that the war is coming to an end. However, our priority as of right now has become economy, and we have denounced the flexibility we need to fully address the problem. We are demanding a solution to the economy, but even if we find that solution, is country going to be able to put it into practice? Even though this economic crisis was caused by the drop of oil prices in the world market, there must be an alternative to depending on oil income alone. However, we are currently experiencing something that has not yet received a proper term from the economists and politicians, so it is difficult to find an alternative when we do not yet grasp the extent of the problem.
Since the crisis started over a year ago, we haven’t seen any objective solutions, and the problem is getting worse every day. To put this bluntly, our people are overwhelmed and frustrated by what has happened to the economy—and now, it’s going down much more quickly than it once was growing. Many people are still trying to put a name to it, but I will not feel relieved if I give it a name. Named or nameless, it’s still a serious issue.
As of right now, all we know for certain is that inflation has hit the country’s currency. We can no longer ignore how hard things have become, as people’s conversations are rooted in fear—a fear that may lead to the deterioration of families’ relationships. This vulnerability applies to every person in every corner of the country. Those who were privileged before the war are now speaking of defeat, because the economy has weakened each and every one of them. Even though they continue to withstand the horrors that have affected families throughout the country, they still feel the pain of this conflict.
Our people’s strength is being put to the test, and we need serious-minded people to create a collective consciousness that will bear the fruit of change. Those whose salaries are less than $100 are affected most of all, so we must always remember them. When those people can no longer afford anything, and when their families are stumbling, even the smallest expenses seem impractical. While politicians and economists are depicting this struggle with little enthusiasm, as they are aware, there are no quick resolutions to the problem.
The South Sudanese have caught global attention as this economic crisis has dehumanized so many people. It is very hard to emulate other countries, but the East Africa Community (EAC), which South Sudan joined less than a week ago, may rescue the economy. A minor number of people are questioning South Sudan’s motives to join the EAC, but those same people failed to look at the long term components of the EAC, particularly at related economic problems. If new solutions can emanate from East African countries, those solutions are even more likely to alleviate the economy in the region. I have suggested that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is helping ten countries to boost both economy and security, also join this conversation so we can begin fixing this problem.
This article was written by Deng Kur Deng, AKA, Raanmangar. You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org