Cablegate: Governance Capacity in Southern Sudan

DE RUEHKH #1323/01 2451246
O 011246Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) was
created with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) in
2005. No government of its kind existed before it in Southern Sudan
-- the earlier Executive Council that resulted from the 1972 Addis
Ababa Accords did not have anywhere near the mandate for governance
provided for the GOSS in the CPA. That the GOSS functions as well
as it does is a tribute to the resilience and determination of the
southern people. Yet it faces enormous difficulties and suffers
from a lack of capacity and managerial talent most outside of Sudan
simply cannot grasp, a deficiency that explains its frequent
missteps and reactive tendencies, often making it the pawn of events
rather than the master of them. This often is successfully
exploited by its opponents/partners in the National Congress Party
(NCP) against the GOSS.. End Summary

2. (SBU) After over four decades of the South's conflict with the
government in Khartoum, it is hard for most to comprehend how the
South lacks the most basic physical and social infrastructure,
including roads, schools, hospitals, and established social
institutions other than religious organizations and the SPLA.
During the almost 50 years from independence to the signing of the
CPA in 2005, the central government in Khartoum made little to no
investment in Southern Sudan. Roads and other transportation
systems deteriorated to the point where travel between cities is in
many cases best accomplished by air, and even then many airstrips
(which are dirt except in Juba) are unusable in the wet season.
Public education was intentionally neglected and missionary schools
closed or harrassed, resulting in an overall illiteracy rate in the
South at close to 80 percent (UN sources estimate 63% illiteracy for
men and 88% for women). Those who do have an education got it
almost exclusively outside the country, including in Europe and the
US, as well as in neighboring nations. Agriculture suffered as
large scale farming collapsed due to the conflict, and even small
subsistence farmers found it difficult to raise crops in an unstable
environment that often forced them to abandon their fields. The
lack of even the most basic medical facilities not only means that
large numbers of people die from normally treatable causes, but also
that such conditions discourage the return of educated expatriates
who will not bring their families to an environment that cannot
provide basic health care and educational opportunities for their

3. (SBU) In 2005, with the creation of the semi-autonomous GOSS,
infrastructure, social institutions and governing traditions that
normally unite and bind a modern nation state had to be built almost
entirely from the ground up. Given where it started from, that the
GOSS has come as far as it has in just three years is nothing short
of miraculous, yet it still has barely scratched the surface of what
needs to be accomplished.

4. (SBU) The biggest challenge facing the GOSS is the dire shortage
of a managerial class that can direct the massive reconstruction
effort needed to transform Southern Sudan into a modern state that
can educate, care for, and develop its human and natural resources,
but most especially its human resources. No where else in the world
are so few educated managers spread so thinly in both the private
and public sectors. ConGen Juba consistently finds itself dealing
directly with a Minister or his or her number two on any issue of
importance to the American government because we find that lower
down there is a profound lack of qualified personnel capable of
properly managing their jobs. There is also a problem of senior
GOSS and SPLM figures holding onto aspects of their portfolios that
should be delegated in order to develop the second tier of

5. (SBU) This is true even at the most basic level of office
management. In one of the most influential ministries in the GOSS
the ConGen was asked to send two important letters, which the
minister needed right away. The letters were delivered within 5
hours. Ten days later the ConGen visited a visibly agitated
minister who complained bitterly that the letters had never been
sent. Informed that they had been immediately sent, he went through
his office manager's desk and found them. Although a minor example,
it highlights that even at this basic support level the GOSS has
serious operational obstacles that undermine even routine

6. (SBU) The GOSS management of the census crisis presents an even
more telling example. First, the minister in charge of negotiating
the structure of the census for the South became overwhelmed by his
job. In his confusion, he agreed in writing to a seriously flawed
census format that did not reflect the concerns of the South. Once
the mistake was discovered, the GOSS vacillated for months over what
to do about it, unable to develop a clear strategy for how to
respond to the problem. Finally, two days before the census was to

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start, and after tens of millions of donor dollars had been spent
(money that would be wasted if the census was delayed or canceled),
the GOSS announced it would not participate because of these
problems it had known about for months, problems that could have
been fixed earlier if the proper amount of attention had been
focused upon them. Then, finally realizing that it was too late to
back away from a project it had specifically agreed to in writing
months before, the GOSS found itself in the embarrassing position of
having to backtrack on its decision, allowing the NCP to gleefully
portray it to the international community as an unreliable and
unpredictable partner.

7. (SBU) The Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) is another
arm of the GOSS where a glaring lack of capacity has demonstrably
handicapped its operations. In the last three years, the SSLA has
only been able to pass a handful of laws. Its members often
complain of lacking the legal expertise to properly understand the
legislation they are asked to consider. There are reported to be
only four lawyers in the whole of the legislative body. This
bottleneck to passing critically needed new laws, including such
things as an anti-corruption law and a media law, means that in many
cases the Presidency has been forced to promulgate legislation
through executive decree, circumventing the legislature and
potentially seriously undermining its constitutional role.

8. (SBU) US military advisors report that in the Sudan People's
Liberation Army (SPLA), senior generals lack staffs capable of
properly supporting their functions. The numbers of educated
soldiers needed to act in that capacity simply do not exist, often
crippling SPLA operations. One American military advisor found a
senior general in the SPLA to be more concerned about his
headquarters building than he was about the force structure he was
commanding, the maintenance of his equipment or the training of his
soldiers. It will take a generation to fully educate the new
upcoming lieutenants and captains in conventional warfare. Then they
will need to rise to the levels of responsibility that will allow
them to replace their aging guerrilla leaders, which is essential to
the SPLA's having the leadership capacity needed to run a modern
conventional army. ConGen Juba American military advisors report
that the very first graduate of an IMET Basic Course will have more
operational and tactical knowledge relevant to a conventional army
than any of the current SPLA general officers, other than those few
who originally spent their early careers as regular officers in the
Sudanese Armed Forces of the Government of Sudan (before the SPLA
was formed in 1983).

9. (SBU) Other examples abound. The GOSS is a government in the
making, with poor mechanisms for communicating and a lack of
qualified support staff to implement programs.

10. (SBU) The consequence of this is that the GOSS is severely
handicapped in dealing with the affairs of state. Important
decisions are often made late because decision makers are
overwhelmed by the demands placed upon them. This inability to
properly focus upon and manage its most important affairs puts the
GOSS at a severe disadvantage when dealing with an able and ruthless
National Congress Party (NCP) and others. The NCP does have
considerable human resources at its disposal, and is masterful at
manipulating the GOSS into making mistakes - though often the GOSS
makes the mistakes on its own. As a result, the GOSS winds up
almost always reacting to events on the ground rather than framing
or steering them. This is a problem that is sure to persist over at
least the next few years, and has the potential to lead to conflict
where conflict might have been avoided.

11. (SBU) Comment: The damage done to Southern Sudan during its long
struggle against Khartoum has cost it dearly, and it will take a
generation or longer for the South to fully recover from these many
years of not just neglect, but active efforts to undermine its
development. The GOSS will continue to suffer from a lack of
capacity for years to come, which will make dealing with it time
consuming and often exasperating, not because that is the way those
running the government want it to be, but because it is going to
lack structural coherence and capacity in the short and medium term.
Decision-making will continue to be disorganized and uncoordinated.
This can have the appearance of the GOSS saying one thing and doing
another in an attempt to play donors off against each other, though
in our opinion this is seldom the case. Rather, it reflects the
difficulty the GOSS has in reaching decisions and speaking with one
voice because of its lack of bureaucratic coordination. One of the
most important things that the GOSS currently has going for it is
the leadership of Salva Kiir. As GOSS President, he is untainted by
corruption, his political instincts are strong, and his e consensus
style of governance gives hope for a democratic future for Southern
Sudan, Kiir is a unifying force in a culture deeply susceptible to

KHARTOUM 00001323 003 OF 003

and threatened by tribal and ethnic divisions.

12. (SBU) Comment Continued: If the South does vote to break away in
2011, capacity will become an even greater issue as the GOSS becomes
a national government that must then deal with even greater
administrative burdens, without excuses, including such things as
creating and managing its own currency and banking system. Should
the SPLM win national elections in 2009 and find itself in control
of the National Government (Note: we view this as a long-shot, but
it is a scenario worth considering. End note) it will also be very
hard-pressed to find the managerial talent needed to govern all of
Sudan, given the problems it now has in just managing its affairs in
the South. Whatever the South does in 2011 concerning unity versus
independence, it will continue to need massive donor assistance for
at least the next 15 to 25 years to help it recover from almost two
generations of warfare. Such aid is essential as it struggles to
create the social and physical infrastructure needed to create good
governance, modernize, and lift its people out of poverty. A
continued effort to tackle corruption is desperately needed with
guidance and leadership from the US while other economic
opportunities, aside from government service, develop in South


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