South Sudan facing unrest over delayed salaries

Saturday June 25 2016

South Sudan faces escalating unrest as workers down their tools demanding salary arrears. Civil servants have gone for four months without pay, prompting strikes involving judges, doctors, teachers, lawyers and university lecturers.

The new transitional government is unable to pay salaries due to a donor-freeze on aid and reduction in oil production. 

Leader of the People’s Liberal Party Peter Mayen Majongdit said the situation could lead to an economic collapse that would result in serious security risks for the country.

Mr Majongdit said that the leaders — President Salva Kiir and his deputy Dr Riek Machar — should appeal for international assistance to meet the basic needs of South Sudan’s citizens and government.

“There are chances of civil strife as it is most likely that the situation may remain constant,” Mr Majongdit said in an interview with The EastAfrican.

Concerns continue to rise after a soldier in New Site, three kilometers north Juba, killed himself after his children died of hunger. The soldier had not been paid for months.


Aid withheld

South Sudan’s main donors — the European Union and the United States — have withheld aid worth $54 million to the transitional government formed in April, until the government initiates economic reforms to restructure the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance in order to reduce wastage and corruption.

READ: One month on, no reprieve for Juba as donors remain tightfisted

South Sudan charge d’affaires in Kenya Jimmy Deng said the people should be patient as the government tries to initiate the economic reforms as demanded by the donors.

“It is not that the government has money and is refusing to pay. It is the collective responsibility of everybody to help the economy improve. South Sudanese should remember that they fought for their freedom for 21 years without pay,” said Mr Deng.

The food shortage has hit the capital Juba due to lack of purchasing power and poor supply. Most South Sudanese rely of food imports from Kenya and Uganda.

The food supply from Renk in Upper Nile to Juba has been cut off by Johnson Olony, the militia leader who is blocking the Nile River transport corridor, until President Kiir reverses the controversial 28 states.

READ: Donors to Juba: Revoke 28 states or be starved of cash

Some 2.8 million people — nearly 25 per cent of the country’s population — remain in urgent need of food assistance.

“Inflation has hit 300 per cent, food is hard to find, and the situation continues may trigger another conflict,” said Lam Jok, Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition representative in Kenya.