Job losses loom for foreigners as South Sudan passes new law
Friday May 15 2015
A new law passed by the South Sudan parliament to regulate non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and humanitarian agencies has again raised concerns over the job securities of nationals from other eastern African states.
The NGOs Bill, 2015 that was unanimously passed on Tuesday by 188 MPs within twenty minutes, requires NGOs to employ 80 per cent of their staff from locals and register afresh within three months or cease operations.
The Bill is now awaiting President Salva Kiir’s assent to become operational even as humanitarian agencies raise concerns that it will adversely affect their operations in a country where the war has displaced over 1.5 million people internally with two million facing starvation.
Critics view the law as a fulfilment of the aborted government directive last September, which required foreign workers to leave the country by October 15, 2014.
The directive was immediately rescinded following international outcry, with Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, arguing that it was released prematurely because “The Labour ministry was still in the process of working on employment regulations that would give skilled locals a fair chance to get jobs in private companies and non-governmental organisations”.
READ: South Sudan bans foreign workers despite looming famine
Details on how the law will be implemented are yet to be released with Oliver Mori Benjamin, the deputy chairperson for parliamentary committee for human rights and humanitarian affairs, noting that the law will enable the government minister to regulate the NGOs operations in the country, and issue guidelines at a later stage.
The government has accused NGOs of employing foreigners mainly Kenyans and Ugandans at the expense of South Sudanese citizens, but the new law will not allow their registration without meeting the 80 per cent threshold.
The NGOs will also be required to bank their money in South Sudan, contrary to the current trend where most of them have accounts in Kenya fearing insecurity.
A statement by the NGO Forum, a consortium of local and international NGOs working in South Sudan, noted that "If the law is implemented it could create a more regressive environment and will affect the large amounts of the South Sudanese population that rely on NGOs to provide basic services and life-saving aid.”