WASHINGTON, December 28, 2013 — If South Sudan wants eternal peace and to release the talents and knowledge of its people, it must put in a justice system.
Just a few years since gaining independence from Arab North Sudan after a difficult war of attrition, South Sudan finds itself on the brink of a full scale civil war. The civil war, like most post colonial strife in Africa, is breaking down on ethnic lines. Unfortunately, this country which only gained its independence in 2011, did not learn from the tragic history of the countries around it.
Even before independence there were ethnic tensions in South Sudan.
Those tensions were exacerbated after independence, by concentrating power in government. This gave certain factions the ability to dole out favors, including granting business licenses and mining concessions, to friends and to those who can pay bribes. It also causes resentment.
A constitution that guarantees equality, respects individual rights and ensures a free market would help alleviate these tensions.
Guaranteeing equality makes losing power less of a calamity than it is under an unjust system. One gets a bruised ego, rather than losing potential graft from giving out licenses and concessions. Resources are distributed fairly through a clear system, rather than based on friendship, bribery or other inequitable terms.
Africa needs a true freedom fighter who understands the fight is not about using people for power but about giving power to the people. This should not be a slogan but a call to action. It is a call for equality, fairness and justice.
Freedom, equality and justice allows people to participate in a free economy. They can produce, buy and sell. Slaves and second class citizens are not free to engage in the market.
Guarantee property rights, let the power flow to the people and let them use their power in the way they desire. They can start a business, a bank, a farm, sell and buy property. Rather than consult economic advisors in London and Washington about strategic planning, South Sudan needs to start with basic free market economics.
There is still time for lasting peace and development in South Sudan. Empower all Soth Sudanese people from repression and the country will move in the right direction.
Disregarding equality always causes trouble. In effect, South Sudan is only trading supression by the Arab Sudan for its own governmental supression. It creates an aristocratic class which seeks to preserve its privileges, like mining concessions, banking licenses, telecommunication licenses, casino rights, rather than improving the good of all.
Elites of today, modern aristocracy, fear equality because that recognizes that everybody is a human being with rights, and the elites have spent centuries and millennia trying for total control. People will always end up fighting for their humanity one way or another.
South Sudan has a chance to show that freedom works. Economies flourish when people are free.
When equality is eroded, those in power consolidate control, granting lucrative concessions to cronys. Income gaps grow and the economy becomes skewed.
As long as the central government remains all powerful, it will be difficult for the government and the rebels to reach a lastning peace. Power is only attained on the battlefield, and there is no incentive to stop fighting.
South Sudan has large oil reserves and could be a very wealthy country. It must, however, plan think beyond current spoils and focus on sustainable development. The only true way to prosper is through respect, equality, and justice.
Maybe it is time to negotiate a proper constitution before it is too late.
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