Happy Birthday to the World's Newest Republic
THE independent Republic of South Sudan has just had its first birthday. Instead of celebration, what we are hearing now from Monday morning quarterbacks is a lot of whining. South Sudan was totally unprepared for independence, they argue. So, all of the lobbying during the past few years in favor of splitting Sudan into two separate countries was a mistake. In South Sudan, we are observing a new country that was born a failed state. Those who brought this about should be ashamed of themselves.
It is true that South Sudan has had the least preparation for independence of any previously colonized nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Even the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which received very little preparation from Belgium in terms of human resources, inherited a strong infrastructure, productive export agriculture and huge mineral resources under exploitation. South Sudan had neither trained managers nor infrastructure, nor very much investment. The nation is literally starting at zero.
What particularly vexed the critics with twentytwenty hindsight were reports of massive stealing of oil revenues by Southern officials and leaders of the ruling party, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM). South Sudan President Salva Kir admitted the corruption by coming out with a public statement requesting that those who took the money, amounting to four billion dollars, pay it back.
In addition to corruption, South Sudan is suffering from ethnic strife and deadly cattle raids among villages and towns. Several hundred thousand Southern Sudanese, who had been escaping the civil war by taking refuge in the North, are now trying to return to the South without much logistical preparation and with much hardship.
As if the dilemmas described above were not enough, South Sudan has been suffering for the past few months from a total revenue cut-off due to the closing down of oil production within ite territory. Independence left South Sudan with approximately two-thirds of Sudan's total oil production inside its territory. Having lost most of its oil revenue, the Khartoum government decided to take advantage of the fact that all of North and South Sudan's oil is exported via pipeline and port facilities that are totally in the North.
Khartoum demanded a $28 per barrel transit fee and port handling charge for all of South Sudan's oil heading for export. This amount is about ten times higher than any comparable crude oil transit fee. The pipeline carrying Chadian crude oil to the ocean via Cameroon and the port of Kribi costs Chad about $5 per barrel.
In view of Khartoum's unreasonable demand, South Sudan shut down all oil production, thereby cutting off its nose to spite its face. There is no longer any money coming into the budget. Needless to say, this problem has made both Khartoum and the South governments more amenable to the resumption of negotiations on the oil transit and other problems related to border security.
In view of South Sudan's less than brilliant first year of existence, what do we say to the critics who are playing the blame game against people like John Prendergast (Enough! …