Yei marks independence day in with great expectations

Yei marks independence day in with great expectations
Members of traditional dance group at Yei Freedom Square during the Independence Day. [Photo: Sheila Ponnie]

Thousands of residents from Yei gathered on Saturday at Yei Freedom Square to mark South Sudan’s 11th anniversary of independence.

This year’s Central Equatoria State celebration of independence—under the theme “consolidating efforts for sustainable peace, security, and socio-economic development”—was held in Yei River County, under the leadership of Governor Emmanuel Adil Anthony, as the chief guest of honor.

The residents marked the celebration with a lot of expectations as they recover from the devastating 2016 civil war.

Traditional dances and speeches rented the air in the presence of thousands of returnees and other residents who had honoured the call.

But according to Bishop Levi Marandulu Yepete of the Episcopal Diocese of Yei, South Sudan’s eleventh independence anniversary may be significant for the country, but there is nothing to show for it.

 “These 11 years have been years of hardship, tribalism. “Nepotism, corruption, looting, raping, and land grabbing,” he said.

“Continued displacement of our people due to insecurity and national disasters, hunger economic crisis, lack of adequate services to our people still haunts the country,” Bishop Levi added.

“Civil servants are not highly paid people; the country is disabled.” Peace and prosperity that the country fought for are missing. “

Bishop Levi urged the citizens to “reflect on their weaknesses as a nation and as individuals to desist from differences and self-interest.

 “The people of South Sudan should be at the top of our agenda, and we should always ask ourselves what we can offer this country and not what I can get from this country,” he stated.

Cleric called on the parties to the revitalised peace agreement to work for South Sudan’s long-term peace.

He stated that the government leadership must put an end to cattle raids, which he said are a major sources of inter-communal violence in South Sudan.

“Stop killing one another and use our precious effort time and resources to fight our common enemy, which is illiteracy, poverty, hunger and dependence.”

He also asked the government to restore Constituency Development Fun (CDF), funding meant for members of parliament to support their constituencies.

 “When you go to hospitals, there are no drugs and you will be asked to go and purchase them from the pharmacy. The question is what about those who don’t have money?” he wondered.

The representative of Youth of Yei River County who spoke on behalf of the Young Adults of Yei River County, Johnson Buru, praised the government for establishing a military court.

He said the establishment of military court in Yei River County has made it easier to deal with cases of rape and robbery.

The military court was established in July 2020 to try government soldiers accused of crimes such as rape, looting, killings, and harassment since the conflict began in the Yei area in 2016.

While praising the court’s work, Poru said the government must implement the majority of the  provisions in the peace agreement to give peace a chance.

Also, he urged the government to prioritise transforming the rural countryside into habitable and peaceful spaces so that people returning home can live comfortably.

“The government should ensure that once people come back to their habitats; these spaces are safe.” It should increase service delivery and build the capacity of youth in entrepreneurship, skills management, and leadership is crirical.”

Buru stressed the need for unity among the youth to “pull efforts to live peacefully and passionately guard the revitalised peace agreement.”

“This is the time for us to work in collaboration to achieve, peace, freedom, and prosperity,” said Buru.