News / Africa

South Sudan President Plans to Shrink Government

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir arrives at a leaders meeting at the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa July 14, 2012.South Sudan's President Salva Kiir arrives at a leaders meeting at the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa July 14, 2012.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir arrives at a leaders meeting at the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa July 14, 2012.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir arrives at a leaders meeting at the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa July 14, 2012.
Charlton Doki
There is growing support for President Salva Kiir’s plan to downsize his government. Kiir said earlier this month that due to the current austerity measures, he needs to eliminate positions that will save money and provide more social services.

The president acknowledged in his one year anniversary speech on July 9 that his government is larger than that of many other governments in the region. After the shutdown in oil production in January, which accounted for 98 percent of South Sudan’s revenue, Kirr said the government had to make dramatic cuts.

South Sudan has 59 ministers and deputy ministers at the national level alone.  And there are 21 commissions whose chairpersons have similar entitlements.

Civil society activists and opposition politicians are urging President Kiir to move quickly on implementing the cuts. Jimmy Wongo, a  senior member of the opposition United Sudanese African Party,  says the move is long overdue.

“Not only should the president cut down the number of ministries but even consider [downsizing] his big parliament, which has 332 members. This is too big for a new country like ours.”

Wongo says people should be hired on the basis of their competence and merit.

“There are people in civil service today holding the [upper] echelons of the administration in South Sudan that do not deserve to be there. But perhaps because of their role during the war they found themselves sitting there,” he said.

Edmond Yakani, a program coordinator for the local NGO, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, says it is not just administration jobs that must be slashed. He says the number of “constitutional post-holders” should be cut in half.

"If we can lose at least over 50  percent of the current constitutional post-holders as a principle of downsizing I would say congratulations to the president," he said.

Lorna Merekaje of the South Sudan Democratic Elections and Monitoring Program says she’ll believe it when she sees it.

“Is it going to happen, and when? I believe if it takes place as soon as this month then we will all believe that we have government that is working,” she said.

Yakani says some communities will perceive the removal of their members from government positions as a deliberate attempt to marginalize them.

“I think a public office is not for a tribe, a public service is not for a community, a public office is for qualified citizens. So regardless of where we come from, as long as we are qualified, we can deliver services to the people,” said Yakani.

The Sudan Tribune website reports a top government minister was authorized to overhaul the government structure and provide recommendations to the president last month.

President Kiir is to discuss those recommendations with his Cabinet before presenting them to parliament. It’s unclear when that will happen.

Listen to reporter Charlton Doki on South Sudan downsizing
Listen to reporter Charlton Doki on South Sudan downsizingi
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Comment Sorting
by: Molu mani from: Uganda
July 17, 2012 11:34 PM
Its Not easy to understand president and advices policy toward south Sudan apart from Corruption. lobbing for donnors for their own purpose. ok let me point out, how does those Country that does not have Oil survived? Sudanese econmic kaos are all based on oil Revenue. Why should the Gov't think of Agriculture, and also other mineral such Gold as source of revenue. the second thing the Gov't should do is not to downsize the ministries but analysed the function of those ministries first. and elaminate those inactive.

by: Edema Dominic from: Nimule
July 17, 2012 12:37 PM
President's decision is quite excellent. Unless downsizing, otherwise it will a miracle for the Government to end the year. He must be bold and principle and never to regret the action.

by: Papayankie from: Juba
July 17, 2012 6:29 AM
Surely and trustworthily speaking it will cut on our too much spending that has been the cause of the government cries all the time. Look at the report on the blame on the lost billions! No account or even trace of it just because as we are used to hand outs the money was handed out or dished out to individuals like the Rumbek money' with no accountabilty. To me somebody is holding an office that he did not qualify for or is just incompetent for no reasons at all.I visited Juba Central Pub and I saw elderly men driving into it in powerful V8 and after a little while all the tables were converted to sleeping rooms! I think its time to get them on their toes and get them to the right place working ACTIVELY.

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