Header Ads

 New website available at www.slguardian.org

Good governance and its importance in the independent South Sudan

People from Wau, a town in southern Sudan, sit with their belongings as they wait for the Government of southern Sudan (GOSS) to transport them back before the secession referendum, in Mayo, 25 km (15 miles) south of Khartoum January 4, 2011. Hundreds of people from southern Sudan say they have been stranded in the south of Khartoum for more than three weeks because the GOSS has ran out of money to transport them back. - REUTERS

by Zechariah Manyok Biar

(January 5, Khartoum,Sri Lanka Guardian) One wonders why many people want to be top leaders even when there are indications that they cannot manage it. For example, some like Sarah Palin of the United States resign as governors because they are unable to govern well, but they still think that they can be good presidents. Others cross their arms and do nothing when they are ministers, but they still believe that they can change things for better when they are presidents.

Why? I don’t know. But I think the answer lies in two factors: some want to be popular, in the case of developed nations like the U.S.; others want to enrich themselves and their relatives, in the case of third world countries like Sudan. There are few in both developed and third world countries who really believe that they can be popular when they are top leaders, not knowing that top leaders who do nothing become extremely unpopular until they leave offices in disgrace. Popularity of a leader lies in good governance at any level of leadership.

Many people think they know what good governance means. To them, good governance is a magic phrase that makes you win elections when you say it. But there is more to good governance than just the magic phrase for the winning of elections.

Scholars define good governance as maximizing public interest under community management process. It involves harmonious relationship between political state and civil society. The important elements of good governance are security of citizens, respect for law or rule of law and independence of judiciary, fair management of public expenditure; leaders accountability for their actions to the people, political transparency, and meaningful citizen participation.

As part of my focus on the future of independent South Sudan, I will write an article on each of the above mentioned elements of good governance. But now I will focus on the importance of service-oriented government.

Before I define what service-oriented government means, we should think about what bad governance looks like. Bad governance was summarized by a member of the prayer group at Emmanuel Parish of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan when his group played before the congregation on January 1, 2011 here in Juba. The young man from the prayer group advised government officials in the congregation by telling them a story of a man who was eating his food during the time that food was hard to find in one of the villages here in Southern Sudan. Maybe the scarcity of food was caused by a drought in the area.

A man was eating and his little two children were playing on his left and right sides and the wife was sitting in the kitchen not far away from where the husband was eating. The wife saw a scorpion going in the direction of the husband and the children and she warned that the scorpion was approaching them. On hearing the bad news, the husband took his food and his spear and moved away from the direction of the scorpion, leaving his small children at the mercy of the scorpion. The wife then called the child older than the baby and said, “My son, take care of your brother there. Scorpion does not sting the things that your father is running away with.”

What I learned from this story is that bad leaders care much about their powers and wealth and care less about the welfare and safety of their subjects like the husband who cared for his food and spear and left his little children at the mercy of the scorpion.

Having understood what bad governance is all about; let us now understand the meaning of service-oriented government which this article is focusing on. Scholars define service-oriented government as the one organized within constitutional and democratic framework in which legal procedures and the will of the citizens are the most important components. In service-oriented government, leaders think for and work on the purposes of civil services that are community-based and people-based.

Over the last six years, many positive changes have happened in Southern Sudan. Juba alone can witness these changes. When I went to the United States for my graduate studies in 2007, Juba was just a very small and dirty town. But when I came back to Juba in 2010, I could not believe how developed Juba was. That is a great progress in such a short time. But this progress can be explained in different ways. One of the most important factors for this rapid development is the freedom that we have obtained. Individual independence and creativity are encouraged by our current freedom in which the government serves the community and governs for the people.

However, there are few leaders in our government who are working extremely hard and the rest are snoring away in their comfort. These hardworking and high-achieving leaders have surrounded themselves with hardworking and high-achieving officials as opposed to those who have surrounded themselves with less effective relatives and keep wondering why their ministries are not achieving anything.

In order for our country to develop, all of us must understand that we need to provide services to our people at any level. Service-oriented government cannot be achieved by the president alone. The reason why thousands of officials are employed in any government is for them to render the needed services to citizens. Popularity can be achieved at any level by hardworking officials. It is not achieved at the top leadership position only.

Anybody should not lie too us that he or she can change things for better if given the position of president when we know that he or she is not changing things for better now at his or her present position. Good leadership shows even in one’s house. A person who does not govern well in his or her house should not think of governing millions of other smart people well.

We need hardworking leaders in the independent South Sudan, not sleeping ones. Leaders at any level must always respond to the basic requirements of the citizens and take appropriate actions to fulfill government’s promise to citizens for good governance. That is the importance of service-oriented government in good governance.

Zechariah Manyok Biar, BA. Edu, MACM, MSSW. He can be reached at manyok34@gmail.com

Tell a Friend

No comments

Powered by Blogger.