SOUTH SUDAN is not only the youngest nation in Africa but also the newest member of the East African Community.
In April 2016, South Sudan joined the EAC as one of the ways to accelerate economic growth and development of the young nation struggling with internal conflicts since her independence on 9 July 2011.
On top of other political and social aspects, by becoming a member of the EAC, South Sudan robotic ally agreed to the free movement of goods, free movement of persons, free movement of labor and workers, the right of establishment, right of residence, free movement of services and free movement of capital.
The Common Market milestone of the EAC is in line with the provisions of the EAC Treaty which has been in force since 2010. It’s through the same line that the socio-economic integration of East Africa will be released before the political one.
Uganda is South Sudan’s largest trading partner. Konyo Konyo market in Juba is a common meeting point for Ugandan traders in South Sudan. On top of these petty traders, many Ugandans are enormously doing business in the booming post-war economy.
In the same way, there are many South Sudanese who have found better opportunities in Uganda. Uganda also hosts about 1 million South Sudanese refugees, the vast majority of them women and children.
At this juncture, there are about one million Ugandans living in South Sudan, majority of them doing business.
Undeniably, life is not easy for these Ugandans. Watching incidents from South Sudan and the way Ugandan migrants are killed, beaten, arrested without cause and a plethora of other forms of harassment by Southern Sudanese and the security forces in the country, one can query the social relations in between.
Incidents where South Sudanese policeman beating Ugandans with whips, even without any provocation, are common on the streets of Juba and other towns. Some of their goods have been confiscated and numerous times, the South Sudan government has not paid for goods and services provided making Ugandan traders incur losses.
There are reports of people being drowned in the River Nile in addition to other killings, raping of women and torture. This misconduct by individuals is not satisfactorily been curtailed by institutions there with no sign of taking rational action against such human rights.
Well, perhaps this brutality stems from South Sudan’s history where some locals are former soldiers in the rebel army that fought for emancipation from the North, and now conducting themselves with no mercy in dealing with foreigners (they deem as enemies). But it’s obvious foreigners, especially Ugandans, in Juba and elsewhere within South Sudan need protection from this prejudice they often meet.
Today, East Africa and the entire Africa are faced with an urgent need to diversify their economies and international partnerships.
This partnership needs to be intensified as the EAC sorts out the regional pressures both economically and politically. Now that the Democratic Republic of Congo is joining and Sudan has also applied for membership, there should be clear social, economic and political benefits.
However, the human right abuses against Ugandans in South Sudan is a challenge to this regional integration, and this calls for a solution to this malevolent situation. The benefits are innumerable, definitely.