KIIR REGIME’S LATEST MOVE DRIVES SOUTH SUDAN INTO FURTHER ISOLATION
(Posted 17th September 2014)
‘Get the hell out of our country’ appears to be the message by the regime of Salva Kiir in South Sudan, after
Ministerial Circular 007/2014 made its entry into the public domain yesterday. Investors representatives, Executive Directors in companies, even those owned or co-owned by foreign investors, private companies in general including airlines, hotels, lodges, banks, insurance companies and apparently also foreigners employed in the public sector, must hand over their positions to South Sudanese citizens by 15th of October 2014, according to the document.
Individuals known in Juba / South Sudan have added that this applies apparently too for NGO’s and foreign aid organizations, a move which could lead to the instant collapse of the economy as by and large the expertise is lacking to fill such positions with suitably qualified locals.
With the fledgling tourism sector already down the drain following the outbreak of violence in December last year, following largely baseless regime allegations of an attempted coup to remove Kiir, and an economy at its knees following the often intense fighting which brought the oil industry to a near standstill, leaving the regime strapped of cash and the country unable to meet import bills and other financial obligations, was this latest move quickly dismissed as an attempt to create, per force, positions for regime cronies even though the consequences might be as stark as they were for Uganda in the early 1970’s when one Idi Amin expelled the entire Asian community, eventually leading to a near total collapse of manufacturing, production and services.
One source from the diplomatic community in Juba, on condition of strict anonymity, commented that this decree, if truly enforced, could be a serious detriment to foreign investment in South Sudan, which is already degrading due to the lack of foreign exchange to pay dividends or service loans in foreign currency taken out to establish businesses. The source also pointed out that NGO’s are likely to withdraw and halt their aid programmes, often directed towards the poorest in society, providing safe drinking water, health services and other social support, leaving an already overburdened public health and education sector at the brink of collapse.
While it is acknowledged that South Sudan as a sovereign country can by and large do as they please, are the consequences of such ill thought out actions potentially catastrophic for the economy as there is a wide lack of qualified personnel in South Sudan, aggravated even further through the departure of thousands of professionals fleeing the ethnic violence and fighting.
Sources in Kenya and Uganda, South Sudan’s main trading partners and main source of foreign investment, have already indicated that they will seek clarification from the regime, while some more outspoken individuals were swift to say that South Sudan’s accession to the East African Community, given such shenanigans, will be coming under serious threat as, should companies and citizens of the EAC be affected by this decree, it would create an instant backlash against a country already under scrutiny of how it conducts its internal affairs and how suppliers from Uganda and Kenya remain unpaid which in one case led to the collapse of Kenyan airline Jetlink which still has over 2.5 million US Dollars stuck in Juba’s banks. Watch this space for breaking and regular news from the Eastern African region.