The New Governor of Jonglei On The Charm Offensive

Posted: August 4, 2019 by aljokd in Junub Sudan

By Malith Alier, Sydney, Australia

Sunday, August 4, 2019 (PW) — It’s really exciting to be carried shoulders high in traditional style! That was the treatment the newly appointed governor of Jonglei State, Hon. Maker Thiong Maal received from Aliap wrestlers in Bor Town two weeks ago. Hon. Maker was seen waving a traditional stick, Yuaai, in the air full of self belief.

Until 2015, Jonglei was the largest state in South Sudan. The republican order 36/2015 altered that status forever. Jonglei was subdivided into four states; Jonglei, Boma, Fangak, and Akobo. Order 36/2015 is still being contested by opposing sides as we speak.

Hon. Maker is the fifth governor of Jonglei State. The following governors ruled in Bor since 2005: Philp Thong Leek, Kuol Manyang Juuk (The King of Jungle), John Koang Nyuon, Philip Aguar Panyang. Among these governors, Kuol Manyang was the only elected governor in 2010 Sudanese general elections. Since 2011, no more elections are organised in the country. Governors are only hand picked and appointed through decrees, also known as dekiirees because the issuer of those decrees is always Kiir; the only ruler the country had since coming out of the bush in 2005. The only two untochable governors that survived the dekiirees are Louise Lobong and Rizik Zachariah Hassan. These two governors are now in charge of Kapoeta and Lol states respectively.

The turnover of governors in states is unprecedented. Jonglei for example has five governors in fifteen years. Some states have the worst records. Lakes state for example has a previously dismissed governor reappointed a second or third times leaving people wondering about his recyclability!

South Sudan generally is a troubled country and Jonglei was among the most affected. Internal conflict is the prime culprit. This conflict manifested in cattle theft, child abduction and wanton killing of innocent people. The troubles of Jonglei prompted the recall of the King of Jungle from Khartoum to come and solve them once and for all. It was not to be. The troubles outweighed the might of the king of jungle. He left for Juba bruised, disappointed, and downcast. The local people lost faith in his ability to solve the perennial conflict. He left for Juba where he was assigned to the Ministry of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs just before the outbreak of 2013 war.

Jonglei was one of the most affected by the post-independence conflict. The city of Bor exchanged hands between the rebels (SPLM – IO) and the government forces more than three times. This resulted in displacement to neighbouring Lakes state and across international borders. Some residents of Bor permanently settled in UNMISS camps. ten of thousands got killed including children and elderly overall.

Hon. Maker has come at a relatively stable time in terms of security and other troubles mentioned earlier. His only challenge is lack of funds to run the state government activities. It is a general problem in the country that depends on oil revenue almost 100%. This means that all the states looked to Juba for funds. Their local economies are nonexistent or too powerless to generate a dime into the coffers of the state government.

Not all the states are the same. Some states can do better if they put more effort into harnessing and collecting local revenue in a diligent manner. The problem is that the states revenue authorities as they are called are too disorganised to function. They have little knowledge on tax collection and revenue management.

One of the reasons why South Sudan was subdivided from ten to thirty two states was the concept of “taking towns to people.” No one really understood it from the out set. The idea of being a governor or County Commissioner or Mayor of a city is simply taken for granted. This means that each time a new appointment is made, nobody should raise hope that something different is in the pipeline.

We therefore not expect the new Governor to do miracles in Jonglei. Governor Maker is a great talker who can convince all and sundry in a jiffy. Many were hopeful that he was the right man in the right place. This author does not dispute that claim however, in the absence of resources, he will leave like the past governors having accomplished no tangible result. Hon. Maker has been in government since 2005. He was in Khartoum for six years. He was an MP in Juba for the last eight years with nothing to show for it. Whatever happened to the Constituency Development fund, CDF, allocated to every MP is a question that looms large over us all.

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