There is a range of opportunities for South Africans in the continent’s newest state, South Sudan, ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete said on Tuesday.
“I mean [opportunity awaits] people in general. You will not know until you are in South Sudan that there is a space for you… I most definitely want to encourage business people,” she told reporters at Luthuli House, in Johannesburg.
Mbete described South Sudan’s independence day celebrations as “electrifying” and reminiscent of the birth of South Africa’s democratic nation in 1994.
She said the relationship between the ANC and the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM) spanned decades. More recently, former president Thabo Mbeki had brokered peace and secession negotiations, and the South African National Defence Force had provided security at the new country’s formal independence celebrations.
And now that South Sudan’s government was looking at nation-building, the ANC would see what it could do to contribute, said Mbete.
“We are now going to be sitting down and looking at what we should prepare ourselves to do.”
The ANC would start by helping the SPLM build party structures “on the ground”.
“That is the area we think we can be most helpful … when a party gets into government and forgets the party itself … it gets into problems,” Mbete said.
It was also important not to be discouraged by the problems the country faced and be distracted by the “prospects of war”.
Mbete expressed concern at overly-negative media reports on South Sudan.
“I call on the media (both local and international) to properly inform people about many opportunities that exist in South Sudan. People there have hopes and aspirations that we share. Let’s find ways to help attain them.”
The country is in ruins after 50 years of conflict between southern rebels and the successive Sudanese governments.
German news agency, Deutsche Presse Agentur, reported on Monday that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had warned that tension could resurface in the oil-rich Abyei border region should the newly formed government of South Sudan fail to respect arrangements governing the area.
The country reportedly lacks basic infrastructure and is among the poorest in the world.
Mbete said the one of the ANC’s major capacity-sharing projects with the SPLM involving sharing political and election experiences and governance and administration experiences.
“The SPLM has attained its prime goal of independence. Now begins another critical and difficult phase of developing and restructuring of the SPLM from being a purely liberation movement.”
Mbete said an ANC task team on South Sudan would meet on Monday to discuss other ways in which the party could contribute to the new country’s development. — Sapa