Sudan: When Fear Informs Investment

Published on 24th March 2009

When two high ranking officials in US President Obama’s Administration were disturbed for failing to pay their income taxes, they resigned. This is even after they had actually paid the tax arrears. The fact of concern was that they delayed paying the tax at a time they were due.

 

This cannot happen in Sudan, and  in many African countries. As a matter of fact, in the neighboring Kenya, members of parliament have made every effort to ensure that they are not taxed even when Kenyans have demanded that they pay tax like anyone else. To the contrary, some of our leaders would rather engage in financial flight to hide their fortunes in foreign banks. The question then is, does our leaders’ conscience disturb them at all ? Do they feel they are smart to evade taxation and steal public funds in personal foreign banks?

 

I have no quarrel with anyone who wishes to invest overseas from his or her honest income. Equally so, I have no quarrel with anyone who opts to bank honest income in foreign banks. The problem in South Sudan is the fear of the future. It is said that once bitten, twice shy. Accordingly the Sudanese  recall the sufferings they went through during the struggle and vow  never again to live in Nairobi slums and refugee camps. They recall days when they were evicted from their slum dwellings over rent areas or harassed by the police for inability to bribe the police.

 

Fear of the future therefore compels those who can to purchase expensive state of the art homes in posh areas of Nairobi or Kampala. The plan is, one buys two homes: one to live in with family and the other to generate income from rent to feed the family.

 

To manage such an investment, one would have to seek a bank loan. It is unlikely that between 2005 (when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed) and now, anyone in South Sudan would have made a saving particularly from public service to afford such an investment. Accordingly, one should be excused for thinking that it is likely that embezzlement from public fund enables such investment.

 

Be it as it may, why should we fear the future? There is a song whose lyrics affirm that the future is ours to make. It is upon us to map out our destiny in a manner that we should have no reason to fear the future. It  is when we let others shape our future that we fear the future.

 

The fear of the future is based on the assumption that the North could lead us to another war to make it impossible to hold a referendum in which  the majority will vote for succession. If this is the cause of fear, we should be in a state of preparedness and avoid entertaining malignant designs for war.

 

Such state of preparedness should include plans to ensure that ethnic violence does not take place. We should perpetually work for unity of purpose as  well as  consolidate national cohesion and reconciliation. By removing the fear of another North-South war and the possibility of South-South war, the fear of the future should cease to disturb us and instead go for full fledged development of South Sudan.

 

One of the major consequence of the fear of the future is its by-product namely, corruption. They engage in corrupt practices in a bid to raise funds for investment in foreign lands. As it is well known, corruption is a cancer. Once it takes root, it becomes hard to uproot. In addition, it breeds a culture of impunity in which those involved cease to care about the harm they cause to society. It is for these reasons that we should not give the fear of the future a chance. We should always remember that today walks into tomorrow. What we sow today is what we shall harvest tomorrow. The future is ours to make.

 

It always disturbs me when I see the sons and daughters, widows of the martyrs suffering. Their beloved ones made a sacrifice to deliver us from  slavery enforced on the dark skinned people of Southern Sudan, Nuba Mountain and Kordufan and other marginalized people of Sudan as a whole.

 

It is the right time for our leaders who have participated in the struggle to acknowledge those heroes and heroines whom they have fought alongside with for the common cause of liberation of our beloved country. I urge our leaders and particular the President of the Government of Southern Sudan (Goss) Gen Salva Kiir to give greater priority to children and women orphaned by the war. I normally sympathize with them because they are still paying the cost of the liberation struggle.

 

By Mabior Mayom

 

Mabior Mayom writes for the Sudan Mirror

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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