South Sudan - Governance

South Sudan represents the single largest state-building challenge of modern times. South Sudan’s capacity deficit is the highest in Africa. The lack of capacity is one of the single most important challenges facing the new state. Despite enormous progress during the interim period in standing up ministries and administrative systems from scratch, half of all positions in ministries remained unfilled in 2010. Only 50% of public servants had early education and only 5% had a graduate degree or higher. Informal reviews indicate that many of the staff lacked necessary work experience and had major difficulties in English communication, the official language of government.

The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) was created with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) in 2005. No government of its kind existed before it in Southern Sudan -- the earlier Executive Council that resulted from the 1972 Addis Ababa Accords did not have anywhere near the mandate for governance provided for the GOSS in the CPA. That the GOSS functions as well as it does is a tribute to the resilience and determination of the southern people. Yet it faces enormous difficulties and suffers from a lack of capacity and managerial talent most outside of Sudan simply cannot grasp, a deficiency that explains its frequent missteps and reactive tendencies, often making it the pawn of events rather than the master of them.

South Sudan is a republic operating under a transitional constitution signed into law upon declaration of independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. The country was led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, whose authority derives from his 2010 election as president of what was then the semiautonomous region of Southern Sudan within the Republic of Sudan. While the 2010 Sudan-wide elections did not wholly meet international standards, international observers believed that Kiir’s election reflected the popular will of a large majority of Southern Sudan. International observers considered the January 2011 referendum on South Sudanese self-determination, in which 98 percent of voters chose to break from Sudan, to be free and fair. President Kiir is a founding member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) political party, whose representatives control all but four of the 29 ministries, 298 of 332 seats in the National Assembly, and nine of 10 state governorships. The parliament was weak and dominated by the ruling party. There were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of civilian control.

The timing of the South Sudan population and housing census, provisionally scheduled for February 2014, and of the elections anticipated to take place by July 2015 following the census, according to the Transitional Constitution, remained unclear as of late 2013.

The SPLM enjoyed a near-monopoly of power and has been the most broadly recognized and supported political entity since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. SPLM membership conferred political and financial advantages. Opposition parties headed four of 29 ministries and suffered from limited financial resources and poor infrastructure. Only a few held regular party conventions or established communication networks. The Political Parties Act, passed in March, mandated new and more rigorous requirements for registering political parties. Opposition parties and some international observers saw the act as an attempt by the SPLM to restrict the growth of existing opposition parties and prevent the formation of new ones. Opposition parties complained the government harassed party members and claimed they were represented insufficiently on the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC). Some boycotted the NCRC entirely. SPLM leaders alleged that some opposition parties were financed by or loyal to the Sudanese government. In practice there was little or no distinction between the political wing of the governing SPLM party and its military wing, the SPLA.

Corruption appears to be pervasive at all levels of government and society. Extortion and arbitrary taxation increased after the collapse of the South Sudanese economy following the shutdown of oil production in January 2012. Government officials of all ranks are reportedly engaged in corrupt acts. The regulatory system is poor or non-existent, and dispute settlement is weak and subject to influence. The Ministry of Justice is charged with prosecuting acts of corruption, but has consistently failed to do so. The government’s auditor general has published condemning audits on public financial management (the last report was for fiscal year 2008), but no reported action was taken by the government to pursue investigations.

In May 2012 President Kiir sent letters to more than 75 current and former ministers, some members of parliament (MPs), and prominent businessmen, asking them to return in full or in part approximately four billion dollars in missing government funds by depositing them in a Kenyan bank. In later statements Kiir clarified the letters did not accuse these ministers, MPs, and businessmen of stealing the money but rather that the funds were “lost somewhere.” This followed reports from the country’s auditor general in January that nearly $1.5 billion in government funds was unaccounted for from the 2005-06 fiscal year. Several recipients of the letters denied the allegations, and others have argued the four billion dollar figure was inflated or inaccurately calculated. No money was returned.

The government spends large sums of money to maintain a big army; delays in paying salaries have periodically resulted in riots by unruly soldiers. The legal minimum age for compulsory and voluntary military service is 18; the Government of South Sudan signed a revised action plan with the UN in March 2012 to demobilize all child soldiers within the SPLA; UNICEF reported 250 confirmed cases of the SPLA's association with children at the end of 2012.

In the first years after independence,In South Sudan , for example, the ruling elite has diverted oil revenues to fund their people through defense sector spending. The inflated military budget was used to pay allowances for 230,000 "own" soldiers and fighters of armed formations. At the same time, budgets and resources were being taken away from other departments in favor of the defense sector: in 2012, when defense and security spending accounted for 35 percent of the South Sudanese budget, health care in South Sudan was funded by 75 percent of donors.

For several years, the patronage scheme in South Sudan has worked; loyalty was bought and violence was under control. But in 2012, as a result of rising prices for fidelity, skirmishes with the government of Sudan over the exploitation of oil infrastructure and lower world oil prices, production decreased and incomes decreased. Because of this, Salva Kiir's government lost some of its ability to buy the loyalty of rivals, and Kiir began to fire his opponents. Within a year, the country plunged into civil war and a humanitarian crisis.

The Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) is another arm of the GOSS where a glaring lack of capacity has demonstrably handicapped its operations. In the first three years since 2005, the SSLA was only been able to pass a handful of laws. Its members often complain of lacking the legal expertise to properly understand the legislation they are asked to consider. asd of 2008 there were reported to be only four lawyers in the whole of the legislative body. This bottleneck to passing critically needed new laws, including such things as an anti-corruption law and a media law, meant that in many cases the Presidency was forced to promulgate legislation through executive decree, circumventing the legislature and potentially seriously undermining its constitutional role.

Although the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) is nominally committed to judicial reform, the existing legal system is ineffective, underfunded, overburdened, and subject to executive interference. High-level government and military officials are often immune from prosecution in practice, and frequently interfere with court decisions. Parties in contract disputes are sometimes arrested and imprisoned until the party agrees to pay a certain sum of money, often without ever going to court and sometimes without being formally charged.

Tensions have been aggravated by the failure of the central government to provide even basic levels of local governance, made worse by systemic corruption and patrimonialism. The new government has been effectively absent from much of the territory of the country. A recurring factor in poor security was the absence or weakness of the state. Community members frequently cite a “weak,” “biased” or “absent” civil administration as a determining factor in the perpetuation of conflict and insecurity. The perception of Dinka domination has become increasingly marked.

The South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS), under the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for law enforcement and maintenance of order within the country. The SPLA is responsible for providing security throughout the country and ostensibly operates under the Ministry of Defense and Veteran’s Affairs, although military personnel staff the ministry. The SSNPS, which consists largely of former SPLA soldiers, was ineffective, corrupt, and widely distrusted. An illiteracy rate of approximately 90 percent among police meant that reports were often incomplete, and files, if created, were often misplaced. Authorities often based detentions on accusations rather than official investigations. They rarely investigated complaints of police abuse.

On a rating scale of low, medium, high, and critical, Juba is rated “critical” for crime. A major concern is compound invasions. Oftentimes these invasions are done by individuals carrying handguns, rifles and hand grenades. They usually target compounds with weak security and flimsy perimeter defenses. During a compound invasion, one can expect a small group to rush the compound, force the occupants to the ground, and threaten them with bodily harm or death. It is also possible that the invaders may bind and gag the occupants. There are only a few reports of invaders killing cooperative occupants, and it has not been determined if they were targeted killings; if the invaders feel threatened or trapped it is likely that they will use any means possible to escape.

Officials in South Sudan said in March 2019 that obstacles in setting up and training a unified army would likely delay formation of a planned transitional unity government. The news came 07 March 2019 from the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC), one of the bodies established to help implement a revitalized peace deal aimed at ending South Sudan's civil war. An official from the rebel SPLM-IO says parties to the deal should consider extending the deadline so security arrangements are in place before the next government is formed. In about two months, an eight-month "pre-transitional" period ends. The government and rebel groups are supposed to form a transitional government by May 12 under terms of the peace deal, signed in 2018.

A lack of money was slowing efforts to bring together rebel and government forces, train them and create one, unified army. Before a new government is formed, a unified force must be in place. That is a condition for the establishment of the transitional government. Without that force, the Transitional Government of National Unity would not be formed. And this is important to all the parties to the agreement to move all the forces expeditiously to assemble them and move in cantonment.

The number of states and their boundaries must also be resolved before the new government is formed. Kiir unilaterally redrew the country's internal map in 2014. The Technical Border Committee would determine some of the tribal boundaries, and then the IBC, the Independent Boundaries Commission, would determine the number of states. The revitalized peace deal states that if the Independent Boundaries Commission fails to resolve the dispute over the number of states, the matter would be decided by referendum.

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