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The G10 are power grumpy hogs whom will never stop at nothing but ascending to the coveted seat

By Chemical Thanker

August 25, 2014 (SSNA) -- Yes as shoddy deals and back room back-stabbing are beginning to emerge in Addis, it's important to revisit the position and contribution of the messiahs of the conflict to its resolution. The G10 throughout the crisis are perceived by majority of us, as the least of the 3 evils. Whether that's vague argument depends on which part of the fence you leaned on. Of course they don't have any army to carryout deadly skirmishes or capture a territory like the two warring piglets but their neutrality gives the crisis a green light to continue. Had they joined either of the parties, the peace deal could have been struck long time ago and crisis brought to an end because there would've not been any middle men to juggle the talks. With G10, IGAD and TROIKA are attempting to impose a deadly deal on South Sudanese which maybe deadly as the armies of the two parties. Deadly because they would stand rewarded for a blood of other parties who sacrificed their families/friends to be freed or maintain the status quo. This will not stand well with those carrying guns and their families.

G10 are neither neutral nor innocent. We have seen in their statements what they stand for. Their policy for way forward and governance in South Sudan can't be differentiated with the SPLM-I-O. They demanded a federal system of governance and Ramciel as a capital and so did SPL-I-O.

Based on their fairly- sewed policy document of way forward in South Sudan, the G10 wants to address the war and its causes, democratic governance, reforms in the economy, security sector transformation, the justice sector, civil service reforms , the Nile waters, Social policy, fighting corruption, development of infrastructure, land and natural resources, the process for a new Constitution, foreign policy and more importantly, the establishment of a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) that will prepare and lead the country into a new era of peace, stability, democracy, justice, the rule of law and constitutionalism. This is no different to SPLM-I-O position either and I believe they saw the SPLM-I-O paper before they wrote theirs.

Now, what do G10 wants to get away with sitting in the middle of the whirling pools of polices made by government and SPLM-I-O? Simple: power and IGAD & TROIKA want to deliver just that because "they are neutral". These are the guys whom among them stole millions of dollars in dura scandal, bogus anti-fire equipment deal and disparities in austerity measures. They also among them have one of the architects of the current damning constitution that gave Kiir the upper hand in everything. The already obsolete group were made to be so special by IGAD that they are now negotiating with the SPLM-I-O on transitional arrangements without the other warring party, the SPLM-Juba! And they seem to be comfortable with it even when knowing that the outcome won't bear anything. (Yes, the 6 days boycott by the government delegation is so wrong given that they also share the same need for direct talks with SPLM-I-O, who preferred the government delegation to lead the protest and receive condemnation in return. A political manoeuvring).

The G10 want to remain as yes men as possible to escape with a much bigger plate. Now with Dr Lam Akol disowned by political parties' delegation to Addis Ababa, "for ganging up with a group of disgruntled delegations to work out a deal to overthrow the government through pen and paper" as SSTV's Oyet Patrick called it, do not rule out a possible coalition between the G10 and Dr Lam Akol. Although it may not appear as a major breakthrough in peace talks if they formed one, it's indeed a worrying one since IGAD and TROIKA forcefully want a way out of SPLM-I-O and the government of salva kiir, and that coalition can fit their bills.

Interestingly, the South Sudanese have fully understood the former detainees’ shaky project and how they can’t be trusted anymore to bring the much needed peace to South Sudan. To add insult to the injury, their popularity continue to dwindle ever often they present a press statement. The group don’t appear to realise this either, instead, they’re depending so much on IGAD and Troika that they forgot the core of the South Sudanese who sang in ululation when they were released early this year.

The recent stalls in peace talks in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) will be felt so badly by the group more than the government and SPLM in Opposition. Former detainees were given a lot more recognition than they should by IGAD. Per the failed IGAD communique, the group were given the post of a deputy prime minister, the second vice presidential posts in the transitional agreement as well as numerous government ministerial portfolios. Technically, the group who are currently 10 in number can all be in the transitional government if it was not for warring parties to abstain from signing the presented IGAD document. To them, failure in striking a deal on Monday is not business as usual and so it might not be a surprise if they pursue sanctions on warring parties with the help of IGAD and Troika as long as it clear the way for them to ascend to power.

The Author is a concerned South Sudanese who lives in Australia.

Introduction to Conversations with Lawyer and Politician Peter Sule about a Blueprint for South Sudan

By Margaret Akulia, Canada

August 25, 2014 (SSNA) -- “The present catastrophic crisis in our country has exposed in ugly details the monumental wrongs which afflicted our country long before the events of the 15th of December 2013”, began a Preamble to a position paper by Lawyer and Politician Peter Sule. It is the official position of his United Democratic Front Party (UDF) about how to resolve the ongoing carnage in South Sudan. However, the position epitomizes what the majority of the masses of South Sudan are thinking but unable to verbalize because of fear. In conversations with Lawyer and Politician Peter Sule about a Blueprint for South Sudan, we unveil the issues that have brought South Sudan to the brink of total collapse, along with solutions to the issues.

Conversations with Lawyer and Politician Peter Sule will include in depth discussions about the best system of government suitable for meeting the aspirations of the multiethnic groups of South Sudan in order to avoid future conflicts. These conversations will undoubtedly be very difficult but they are necessary. 

To set the stage for the conversations, this is what Lawyer and Politician Peter Sule had to say in response to a question postulated to him about a reference he made to the great mistakes of miss- governance and the excessive crimes committed against the people of South Sudan in his position paper. He was referring in part to the conflict between Salva Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar and their cohorts which degenerated into the mass murder of innocent South Sudanese from the Nuer tribe under the direction of Salva Kiir Mayardit beginning on December 15, 2013.

“To understand this piece properly, you have to view it from a historical perspective”, began Lawyer and Politician Peter Sule before elaborating.

“During a more than fifty-year freedom struggle, our fore-fathers and ourselves had committed ourselves to a struggle for liberty, dignity and the welfare of our people. This in a nut shell is the concise vision statement of the broad objectives and aims of our struggle against a savage and brutal Arab imperialist dictator. However, immediately after the SPLM/SPLA took control of the reins of power in the South, it shocked the people by what it really was: a dictatorial, brutal, kleptocratically corrupt and bankrupt system of government. Soon enough the SPLM elites began to make themselves rich by looting state coffers. Tribal centers of power started to be formed at the top echelons of government, critics were arrested and many disappeared and their property coveted. The rule of law and due process were thrown to the rubbish bins. Nobody is beyond the gaze of the ubiquitous Military Intelligence or safe from the nightly break-ins, armed robberies and killings every night. Life and property were no longer sanctified and inviolable, leave alone being considered as indefeasible rights. Entire villages and tribal lands were violently displaced and the villagers terrorized, shot and chased away from their ancestral lands which were seized by the SPLM/SPLA elites and the armies of commanders, officers and men who quickly built tribal colonies for themselves in the looted lands. They were joined by many others migrating en mass into cities like Juba, Wau, Yei, Kaya and Nimule, to mention only a few; displacing the original inhabitants in the process! The stand of the Murle tribe was a case in place against an attempted brutal genocidal displacement by the combined forces of Dinka and Nuer. The Judiciary is no longer independent and impartial, filled with tribesmen most of whom are unqualified and all lacking capacity and training. Judges take sides against the victims whose lands and houses are looted by the gun totting soldiers. The Civil Service is almost wholly recruited according to tribal considerations with the senior positions filled by men ill-qualified for their posts. If these are not crimes against the people of South Sudan, then what are they? Indeed, they are not only crimes against the majority of South Sudanese, but are crimes committed against the many innocent Dinka and Nuer in whose names they are committed”.

In conversations with Lawyer and Politician Peter Sule about a Blueprint for South Sudan, the following themes will be highlighted among many.

Miss-governance and excessive crimes committed against the people of South Sudan including but not limited to torture, looting state coffers, robbing properties of minority ethnic groups, murder, rape and maiming with unprecedented and imponderable impunity.

Lawlessness.

The need for a national army as opposed to the tribal armies that have currently divided the country into two warring camps of Dinka vs Nuer.

Misusing the most dire coercive machinery of the state leading to grievances that will undoubtedly boil over and explode the same way they did on December 15, 2013.

Lack of confidence in the government and total erosion of trust among the people of South Sudan.

The threat of total anarchy when communities such as the communities of the Equatoria region of South Sudan realize that their survival, and in fact their very existence in the country is in peril, unless they also move into the business of acquiring and possessing arms like the others, for their own self defense.

Lawyer and Politician Peter Sule has been consistent in asserting that the current calamitous ethnic war with its dire consequences felt country-wide, together with the mistakes which had led to it, have transcended and gone beyond its main architects: Kiir and Machar; that it has now become a national concern and not limited only to Kiir and Machar.

Lawyer and Politician Peter Sule has asserted that the ethnic war that has pitted South Sudan's Dinka tribe against the Nuer tribe can be brought to an end through an all-inclusive negotiated settlement by all South Sudanese stakeholders on the basis of a Federal system of governance, founded upon the values of justice, democracy, good governance, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, mutual understanding and tolerance of the diversity within the realities of South Sudan. 

Stay tuned for more conversations with Lawyer and Politician Peter Sule about a Blueprint for South Sudan and becoming fully involved in crafting the best “system” of government for South Sudan which will satisfy and live up to the aspirations of the people of South Sudan in the share of power and wealth and the proper governance of their own states, in the long run.

Conversations are intended for all South Sudanese and not just Kiir and Machar's SPLM in government and SPLM in opposition as they want to have it.

A DOWNLOADABLE AUDIO VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE AT:

http://www.savesouthsudan.com/politician-peter-sule-speaks.html

Margaret Akulia is co-author of the sequel Idi Amin: Hero or Villain? His son Jaffar Amin and other people speak. She brings to the South Sudan dialogue a multidisciplinary professional background including but not limited to “grassroots activism”.

Additional information at: https://travellinglearningcircles.com/Save_South_Sudan.html AND http://www.savesouthsudan.com/home.html

Intra-Africa trade: Going beyond political commitments

Progress will come when agreements are implemented

Note to editor: With trade within Africa at just about 11%, experts are calling on the continent’s leaders to implement the right policies to boost intra-Africa trade. Africa Renewal’s Masimba Tafirenyika explores the obstacles to trade within the continent and identifies what needs to be done to turn the situation around.

By Masimba Tafirenyika

August 24, 2014 (SSNA) -- Among Africa’s policy wonks, underperforming trade across the continent within the region is a favoured subject. To unravel the puzzle, they reel off facts and figures at conferences and workshops, pinpoint trade hurdles to overcome and point to the vast opportunities that lie ahead if only African countries could integrate their economies. It’s an interesting debate but with little to show for it until now.

The problem is partly the mismatch between the high political ambitions African leaders hold and the harsh economic realities they face. Case in point: they have set up no less than 14 trading blocs to pursue regional integration. Yet they have shown “a distinct reluctance to empower these institutions, citing loss of sovereignty and policy space as key concerns,”  says Trudi Hartzenberg, executive director at the Trade Law Centre (TRALAC) for Southern Africa, an organization that trains people on trade issues.  As a result of this reluctance, she says, “Regional institutions remain weak, performing mainly administrative functions.”

Trade flourishes when countries produce what their trading partners are eager to buy. With a few exceptions, this is not yet the case with Africa. It produces what it doesn’t consume and consume what it doesn’t produce. It’s a weakness that often frustrates policy makers; it complicates regional integration and is a primary reason for the low intra-regional trade, which is between 10% and 12% of Africa’s total trade. Comparable figures are 40% in North America and roughly 60% in Western Europe. Over 80% of Africa’s exports are shipped overseas, mainly to the European Union (EU), China and the US. If you throw into the mix complex and often conflicting trade rules, cross-border restrictions and poor transport networks, it’s hardly surprising that the level of intra-Africa trade has barely moved the needle over the past few decades.

Not everybody agrees intra-Africa trade is that low. Some experts argue that a big chunk of the continent’s trade is conducted informally and at times across porous borders. Most borders, they point out, are often poorly managed or informal trade statistics are simply not included in the official flows recorded by customs officials. “We don’t have a way of capturing these types of activities because they’re informal,” said Carlos Lopes, the head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, in an interview with Africa Renewal. The ECA, he explained, is planning to plug this information gap with a more precise picture of economic activities in Africa and give economic planners a better data set with which to work.

Regional economic blocs

To accelerate regional integration, the World Bank is advising African leaders to expand access to trade finance and reduce behind-the-border trade restrictions such as excessive regulations and weak legal systems. Nevertheless, saddled with weak economies, small domestic markets and 16 landlocked countries, governments believe they can achieve economic integration by starting at the regional level and working their way up, merging all the regional trading blocs into an African Free Trade Area. But with 14 different trading blocs, critics say that’s just too many. Some blocs have overlapping members and many countries belong to multiple blocs.

Yet, the challenge is not simply the number of trading blocs, experts say, but their track record. Governments need to implement their trade agreements. On this score, African countries perform poorly despite their strong political commitment to regional integration, notes Ms. Hartzenberg in her report, Regional Integration in Africa, published by the World Trade Organization, a global body on trade rules.

“In some cases, the challenge is that there may still not be a clear commitment to rules-based governance in African integration; [not] taking obligations that are undertaken in international agreements seriously,” says Hartzenberg in an email responding to questions from Africa Renewal. “Some argue that [African governments] need policy space to address the development challenges they face – but this does appear inconsistent with the signing of many regional agreements.” Lack of capacity to implement their obligations, she adds, is also to blame.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) shares this view. Its analysis of regional integration and intra-trade in Africa imputed slow progress to “a complex architecture of regional economic communities”. While this arrangement has yielded positive steps towards common regional targets, says the bank, “progress has been disappointing.”

Ms. Hartzenberg gave the example of the 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional economic group, which launched a Free Trade Area in 2008. Despite SADC’s decision to remove trade restrictions, she says, some countries have not eliminated tariffs as stipulated by the agreement. Worse still, in some cases countries that removed the tariffs have since reinstated them.

To be fair, the SADC Trade Protocol has a provision that allows exemptions from phasing out tariffs. Some countries have applied for such exemptions, the TRALAC executive director said, but others have simply reintroduced the tariffs or alternative instruments such as domestic taxes. “This can be argued to demonstrate a lack of political will to implement agreed obligations. It could well be that some member states recognise belatedly the implications of the agreement they have signed and no longer want to be bound by these obligations.”

Poor infrastructure

Lack of progress in implementing agreement along with the absence of reliable transport, energy and information and technology infrastructure make the journey towards regional integration long and arduous. “Road freight moves incredibly slowly, while major ports are choked for lack of capacity,” observes the AfDB.

Even with the current gains Africa is making in upgrading regional infrastructure, Ibrahim Mayaki, the head of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Union’s development arm, finds the continent still faces serious infrastructure shortcomings across all sectors, both in terms of access and quality. NEPAD has just completed a 30-year plan that focuses on regional trans-border projects like the 4,500-km highway from Algiers in Algeria to Lagos, Nigeria.

Africa requires huge investments to develop, upgrade and maintain its infrastructure. The AfDB estimates the region would need to spend an additional $40 billion a year on infrastructure to address not only current weaknesses but also to keep pace with economic growth.

Sophisticated protectionism versus EPAs

Many of the trade deals Africa signs with its partners ignore the continent’s efforts to promote intra-Africa trade, according to trade analysts. Nick Dearden, a former director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign and now with World Development Movement, a global advocacy group on poverty, accuses the West of pushing for free trade models that benefit their interests, not Africa’s. He complains that many African countries are “locked into trade agreements which keep them dependent on one or two commodities.”

Writing on his blog hosted by The Guardian, Mr. Dearden says the EU is attempting to foist Economic Partnership Agreements [EPAs] on African countries. EPAs require EU trading partners to lower their tariffs on imports and exports on a reciprocal basis. Mr. Dearden warns that EPAs thwart Africa’s integration efforts and he instead advises African leaders to follow South Korea’s example of using a “range of government interventions” to boost trade. These include, among others, protecting industries, controlling food production and banking, and passing strong regulations to ensure people benefit from trade and investment.

Mr. Lopes of the ECA makes the same point. “Protection is not a bad word,” he asserts. He favours what he calls “sophisticated protectionism” but cautions African leaders to “do it with sophistication, which means you need to strike the right balance.” The ECA boss views sophisticated or smart protectionism not as a choice between state and market as if  they “were two opposites.” His argument is that there cannot be industrialization without some form of smart protectionism; and without industrialization, Africa’s efforts to integrate its economies and increase intra-region trade are less likely to succeed. Free trade enthusiasts, however, argue that protectionist policies could shrink the size of the global economy, create few winners and leave everybody worse off.

Beyond commitments

There is much that African countries need to do to increase intra-regional trade. For instance, they need to reduce dependence on commodities by expanding the services sector, including telecommunications, transport, educational and financial. They need to increase investments in infrastructure. And they need to eliminate or significantly reduce non-tariff barriers that are major roadblocks to intra-African trade. The list of non-tariff barriers is as long as it is comprehensive, ranging from prohibitive transaction costs to complex immigration procedures, limited capacity of border officials and costly import and export licensing procedures. For this to happen, it will take much more than political commitments; it will require practical steps on the ground even if they come with some costs.

Africa Renewal

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