Details of a secret deal that saw South Sudan officially join the East African Community (EAC) becoming its 6th member state are starting to emerge, and the SPLM-IO is (understandably) expected to not like any of it.
On Wednesday, mainstream media outlets announced that during its 7th ordinary summit in Arusha – Tanzania, members of the EAC that include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, decided to approve South Sudan’s membership application. However, the nitty-gritty details tell of long hours of negotiations, tough conditions and secretive deals that South Sudan was forced to agree and sign in order get the seal of approval from the member states, and be allowed to become a member, thus expanding the size of the bloc to a massive 162 million people.
Saakam can now reliably reveal that South Sudan, represented at the summit by its VP Wani Igga, has agreed to cede some of its “sovereignty” giving away at least four key ministerial positions plus the municipality of Juba, the capital city of South Sudan to member states of the EAC for a period of at least five years when the new Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) is formed.
Experts who have seen the leaked document said that it will be hard to sell to the SPLM-IO which is still struggling with the implementation of the peace agreement amid a row over the creation of 28 states. Plans to contain and appease the leadership of the SPLM-IO are already in place, but more importantly, experts wish that the main aim of the tough conditions is to steer the country out of its quagmire and make it fit and worthy to remain part of the EAC, and part of the civilized world.
According the document, EAC have agreed to the following positions in the government:
1. Ministry of Defense – The Republic of Uganda will serve this ministry. Uganda was officially nominated because of their support during the crisis and experience of the Ugandan army in the country over the two years of conflict. Uganda has also “successfully” chased Joseph Kony of LRA from its territory and contributed to the AU force in Somalia. Uganda in holding this portfolio has also planned to relegate the “Veterans Affairs” tag of the ministry to a “commission” because of the exploitation of the word veterans by many in the country to loot the meagre resources available.
2. Ministry of Interior – This important ministry will be managed by the Republic of Burundi. In the recent past, Burundi has experience in thwarting an attempted coup against its president and harshly quelled demonstrations and civil unrest in the country. This experience will be used to bring some sanity to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, with issue of rampant crime and shootings by the “unknown gun men”. According to insiders, even VP Igga loved the idea of this ministry going to Burundi.
3. Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning – The Republic of Tanzania will manage this ministry during the five years because of the experience of the new President Magufuli who has put in place tough economic policies, cut foreign travel for diplomats and waged a war on corruption. Tanzania will also ensure South Sudan diversify its economy to non-oil revenue such as agriculture and minerals.
4. Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife – The Republic of Kenya will be responsible for this ministry in order to develop the tourism potential of the young nation based on its experience of attracting tourist to the country. The Kenya Airways will officially use the tagline “the Pride of South Sudan” in order to promote the country. EAC is aware of the huge potential of the country in terms of wildlife, waterfalls and national parks. VP Igga raised a concern that Kenya might nationalize South Sudanese wildlife, but that concern was silenced after it was agreed that wild animals do not have nationalities and should not be required to acquire visa to cross political boundaries.
5. Mayor of Juba City/Capital City – Although not a ministerial position, the City of Juba – the will-be seat of the TGONU has been assigned to the Republic of Rwanda, which has been tasked to turn Juba into a world-class capital city like Kigali. Juba City suffers from lack of waste collection, running water and persistent outbreaks of cholera disease. Rwanda said it is up to the task.
Many pundits have said South Sudan is not ready to join the EAC because of its current state, with no viable exports and a run-away inflation. The member states of the EAC believed that by implementing these tough measures, South Sudan will be ready in a long run to effectively benefit from the economic bloc. It will also ensure the success of huge development projects such as the Northern Corridor and oil pipe lines to the Indian Ocean.
The government and the SPLM IO have refused to comment on the leaked reports.