Citizens skeptical of joining EAC We are not ready to join the East African community – citizens
By Deng Machol Monyrach
Last week the government sent a cabinet delegation to Arusha Tanzania for high level discussion with the East African community members on the government’s bid to join the community.
The delegation that was led by Hon. Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, Minister of Finance, Commerce, Investment and Economic Planning, met the East African Secretary General, Dr. Richard Sezibera, and delegations from member states.
Sabuni reiterated the countries’ preparedness to join the community, saying that it is one way through which the country can gain economic prosperity.
“South Sudan welcomes the resolution that was passed at a recent Council of Ministers meeting held in Arusha that commences a formal process of negotiations for South Sudan’s accession to the East African Community. South Sudan has always been historically, culturally and ethnically a part of the greater East Africa Region,” Sabuni said at the discussions in Arusha.
He added that in order for the country to benefit from this cooperation, there is need for a mechanism through which the community can look through the different levels of development of individual members.
“While South Sudan shares a common culture and history with the EAC countries our economic development diverges sharply from the rest of the region… Regional integration efforts are only likely to succeed if benefits from integration are distributed, as far as possible, equally among Member States. Recent experiences of regional integrations show that unless proper policies are in place, economic integration will strengthen regions that are already strong economically at the expense of those that are lagging behind,” the minister noted.
He expressed skepticism that it is important to think through the policies and modalities that can ensure the development of South Sudan’s industrial and agricultural sector so that it will be enhanced rather than constrained by EAC Membership. He said the recent civil war essentially stalled the development of any significant industrial activities or modernized agriculture in my country, and the country’s prosperity could be compromised by joining the bloc.
The minister’s fears, however, are shared by the majority citizens. At least those we interviewed, it seems the idea is not very common among them and therefore the government must embark on mass sensitization campaign on why the country should join the regional block. More so, the youths see their future threatened when South Sudan joins now before adequate preparation.
What do you think of South Sudan joining the East African Communtiy?
Riak Maker Mading, 3rd Year Student, University of Juba College of Management Sciences
First, I thank South Sudan Today for coming here to collect our views on this hot issue in the city, in regard to South Sudan joining the East African Community. My point of view is that it is too early for our country to join it. I am against it. Our country should join it after ten years. Reason: we are not going to benefit from it. Once we are members, South Sudan would pay some fees to sustain the community. The other issue is that traders from these countries will come freely, and we would not tax them again.
Let us develop our country first. Infrastructure is very poor in terms of health, schools, and roads and so on. There is no need to join EAC. Our country is still unclean; respect for human rights is very poor, no good governance, and even no press and academic freedom. Let us first solve those issues and then think about joining East Africa.
Pasqaule Ungom Barnaba
Our country is two years old. When we compare it with the other East African countries which got their independence more than 50 years ago, joining it is like rubbing salt in the wound. Now there are many Kenyans, Rwandans and Ugandans here; they have taken all national jobs and if we join, definitely they will chase us away from our workplaces. Again locals are suffering now because of lack of basic needs like road and food. The government should provide services to citizens before thinking of joining the East African Community.
Aleer-Agutmagok Deng , 3rd Year Student of Natural Resources and Environment Studies
We should not join now simply because our workforce institutions are very weak. If we join, we are going to be dependent on just import and no export, with business sector being dominated by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Then the second hand products will be brought to South Sudan without proper regulation. East African Community has a wrong perception about us, so there is need for our Foreign Affairs Ministry to first rebrand an image rather than joining now.
We are Africana already, but we marched from slavery. We want to know first the culture and picture of the East African Community. We want to first understand them and maybe later we can join them but not now.
Yar Mading Dut, University of Juba College of Law
I don’t have any idea about our country joining the East African Community. We cannot rush such a decision. Our economy is very weak; the government should improve our economy first and respect human rights then afterward we can join the community.