Discussion: What Can South Sudan Do?
Based on the experience and evidence presented from other countries, the participants then actively discussed which reforms South Sudan could implement. These were a few of the ideas:
- Appointment of respected and cabinet officials that are vetted based on their qualifications and experience as well as creating institutions with clear mandates and accountability for monitoring.
- Media is an important medium to get the information to the people. Therefore this is the need to strengthen the role of the press and the role of the public as external evaluators and auditors for performance evaluation of the government.
- Clear macroeconomic policies including fiscal discipline and inflation targeting as well realignment of the exchange rate.
- The case of Rwanda is different from the case of South Sudan as the party that came to power after the war was the one that won. However, in South Sudan it will be a government of power sharing. Therefore, the government will have to work extra hard to deliver rather than rewarding individuals who have supported them. For example, they can create a special fund for areas affected by conflict and repatriation of internally displaced persons.
- South Sudan needs a strong commitment from the international community to help craft the peace. Regional partners can be helpful in promoting external commitment mechanisms (e.g. supervise the budget).
- Accountability for the crimes and atrocities committed during the war. However, there needs to be a balance between punishment and integration in terms of rebuilding the social fabric within the country.
- There is a lot of mistrust among the various diverse communities of South Sudan. The Government will have to start by finding mechanisms to rebuild trust amongst them. The Rwandan government recognized the importance for bringing the tribes together with one national identity. The South Sudanese government needs to work on this as well. If they can educate other people to participate in the economy, such there is a mix of people participating and benefiting, then it will send the right signal. It will also help people think as “South Sudanese” rather than specific tribes.
- They will also need to allocate resources equitably amongst them. Currently there is a bias towards Juba. However, the Government will need to open up and bring development to other places.
- Reform processes create winners and losers, e.g. any exchange rate reform will create some losers. Therefore, the government needs to allocate the sacrifices as equally as possible and not discriminate reform such that one group is consistently losing out. The Government should look towards the free market as this does not discriminate.
- As the transitional period starts, in addition to demilitarizing society, the army and the police need to be trained on the law. In particular, they need to be trained not to take laws in their own hands but rather how to enforce existing laws.
- To restore confidence in the Government, they will need to hold the peace and abide by the Peace Agreement. Additionally, they will need to put the interest of the nation first rather than putting the interest of the government or their respective tribes in the forefront.
- After the genocide, the situation in Kigali was perhaps more bleak than it is in Juba today. However, they managed to enter a path of virtuous development. Reforms can pay extreme dividends and give signals to the market. You need a dedicated leadership coalition to make that happen – it cannot be any foreigners to make it happen.