We had a face-to-face interview with H.E. Amb. Monday Semaya. K. Kumba, the Deputy Head of Mission of Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan. In this brief interview, Mr Kumba talks about South Sudan’s independence process, relations and cooperation with China, the prospects of investing in South Sudan and so on.
watch the interview video ↓↓↓
Interview date | Aug. 17, 2020
Photographer | TOGA ABYALEW
INTERVIEW SCRIPT ↓↓↓
01 Opening remarks
Thank you very much for having me.
First of all, I would like to say confidently that, speaking or talking about South Sudan is very important and challenging at the same time especially in this kind of a short well organized interview. Reason being is simple, that is to say for someone like me and I believe many others, talking about South Sudan is a very important concern. It's also a honor, duty and privilege. On the other hand, speaking about South Sudan especially in a global leading country like China can also be defined or considered as an educative approach to people who will be reading of listening to such important interview. I will try my best to be brief and precise.
02 Brief information about South Sudan
The Republic of South Sudan is the newest and youngest nation in the world which gained its independence on the 9th July 2011 , following a self determination referendum whereby the citizens of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for its secession from Republic of Sudan. This historical exercise and referendum were in accordance with the provisions of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPC), which was signed in Nairobi, Kenya in 2005 with the Government of Sudan. This agreement ended one of African’s longest Civil wars. It also came as a result of long period of liberation struggle carried by Sudan’s People Liberation Movement (SPLM) towards achieving freedom, justice, prosperity and better life for the people of South Sudan.
The country is blessed with tremendous natural resources such as proven oil reserves in addition to deposits of gold, diamonds, silver, rare earth minerals, uranium and more. This also includes other potential resources in areas of agriculture, fisheries, livestock, tourism etc.
03 Peace process in South Sudan
After the independence, both the government and of course the people of South Sudan started working collectively to establish institutions , establish diplomatic relations with foreign countries including China , joined United Nations family, implementing developmental projects, making reforms and conducting other common nation building activities.
Unfortunately, after two years from the establishment of our country and specifically in December 2013, South Sudan descended into civil war again which was a result of political power struggle within our ruling party “SPLM” . It was not actually a war between us in South Sudan and our neighbors in the north or our brothers in Sudan. This happened because some of our specific leaders who wanted things to be done differently in their own un-justified way which created a serious kind of a political tensions and then serious un- defensible war in our beloved country. It was difficult moment in the history of our struggle. Nevertheless, good enough our able Head of state H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit was and still a vigilant and ideal leader , patriotic, peacemaking man, faithful and always good hearted. He successfully managed to bring the country back to peace and stability. As a result of commendable efforts led by our President H.E. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, and with the support from the African Union, IGAD and International Community including People’s Republic of China, we signed a Peace Agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2015. But, this peace didn’t not last for long, it was interrupted by another civil war in July 2016, which was caused by the major opposition to our Government and started inside the state house “The Presidency” in which we as a Government acted responsible and timely in self-defense and protection of our constitution, law and order.
Taking in to account the fact that, peace and stability in South Sudan is a priority of our Government, in the same spirit, our President took the lead and worked tirelessly which resulted to the signing of new Peace deal in 2018 named Compromised Peace Agreement which is now in effect. We formed Transitional Government of National Unity which is functioning very well now and will continue until 2023 whereby we will be having general and Presidential elections according to the signed peace Revitalized Peace Agreement of 2018.
Under this agreement, both the Government and the oppositions are working hard and closely the implement its provisions in letter and spirit to meet the needs and expectations of our people accordingly despite the existence of some common challenges in the implementation process. Further, it is my sincere believe that with the existing commitment from the Government and expected support from the International Community, African Union, IGAD and delightful and praiseworthy support from our good and trusted friend China and other friends, we will be able to address and overcome all the outstanding issues and existing challenges responsibly, timely and as expected. This will also continue to open windows for us to develop our country and bring joy, hope and prosperity to our people again.
Therefore, I kindly appeal to the International Community, the African Union, IGAD and Chinese Government to double their efforts in helping South Sudan in these difficult moments of our history.
04 South Sudan - China Relation
In fact the relation between South Sudan and China goes back to 1970s when South Sudan was still part and partial of Sudan. Many people may wonder who comes, while South Sudan just got its independence in July 2011? This is as a result of the positive impact of China - Sudan relations which South Sudan benefited by then from the previous relations between Sudan and China. That period of time was the real beginning of South Sudan - China interaction and here are some related indicators to the relations between the Republic of South Sudan and People’s Republic of China:
a. On 9th July 2011, China formally announced its full recognition to the newly established Republic of South Sudan, and delegated a high level delegation to Juba to participate in the Independence Day celebrations. The delegation was led by H. E. Mr. Jiang Weixin, Former Minister for Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China in his capacity as Presidential Special Envoy of the Former Chinese President H. E. Mr. Hu Jintao. In the same day, the two countries “South Sudan and China” signed a Joint Communiqué for the Establishing Diplomatic Relations where by The Chinese Special Envoy H. E. Mr. Jiang Waxing and Hon. Deng Alor Kuol, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation signed the Joint Communiqué on behalf of the two Governments. In recognition of the same efforts, South Sudan opened its Embassy in Beijing on 3rd April 2012 and the formal inauguration ceremony of the Embassy in Beijing was witnessed by H.E. Gen.Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan during his state visit to China, 23rd April 2012.
b. On 9th July 2011, China immediately upgraded its General Consulate in Juba to a full Embassy and designated H. E. Mr. Li Zhiguo as first Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of South Sudan, with immediate effect. At the same exercise and spirit, H.E. Dr. Eluzai Mogga Yokwe became the first South Sudanese Ambassador accredited to China as from 8th July 2012.
c. On the 4th of January, 1959, the established Chinese diplomatic relations with Sudan and South Sudan was by then still part of Sudan, and between the period from 1971-1985 China sent (15) medical teams consisted of (344) medical personnel and experts to South Sudan, and these teams provided best medical services to our people during that period of time especially in Juba teaching hospital, Wau and Malakal Teaching Hospitals.
d. In September 2008, China established its Consulate General in Juba by then South Sudan was still govern by the Government of Southern Sudan under the Government of National Unity as per the provisions of Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005.
e. In January 2005, China supported the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and encouraged the parties for the full implementation of its Protocols.
f. From 24th March 2005 - 9th July 2011, China contributed troops to UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and this later upgraded to a large number in 2015.
g. On 13th July 2011, China supported the immediate admission of the South Sudan to the United Nations unconditionally a new member state.
h. The two countries continue to consult and support each other in International arena and coordinate issues of mutual concerns and understanding.
i. His Eexcellency Mr. Yang Jiechi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs is considered to be the first foreign Minister to visit South Sudan, and his visit is one of the significant symbols of our existing cordial relations.
j. After independence , China continue to support South Sudan’s legitimate and eligible concerns within the United Nations, and it continues to grant remarkable support to South Sudan in different areas of cooperation.
k. The two countries continue exchanging views and visits at different levels.
l. There are good number of Chinese stated owned and private enterprises working in South Sudan, providing services and implementing projects. China National Petroleum Corporation is leading Chinese enterprises investing in oil industry followed by others namely China Habour Engineering, Shandong Hi Speed, Sinohydro, Norinco, and SINOPEC, Daqing Petroleum Administration Bureau, Huawei, ZTE, Jiangsu International, Guangxi Guizhong Mining Co., Ltd and others.Ltd and others.
m. China continues to grant South Sudan remarkable scholarships and trainings for government officials and our record seen in the Embassy is indicating that since the establishment of the country of South Sudan received more than (2500) chances of training plus (1600) academic scholarships. Some of our students graduated and others are still studying China in different fields.We are very grateful and thankful for the Chinese support in these areas.
05 People's to People Exchanges
- Cultural Exchanges
-Capacity building programs
-Youth and Sports
I am in agreement that culture is a very important element in terms of building nations and relations, and public diplomacy actually is stronger than formal and conventional diplomacy in terms of quick and direct outcomes.
I am pleased to announce that South Sudan and China are enjoying promising and good cultural relations and exchanges and South Sudan participated in several cultural events organized by China in different Chinese cities. We also value and encourage our students to participate in cultural activities in their Universities whereby they can present our culture to their Chinese friends including other foreign students.
We also have some delegations from our Ministry of Cculture and youth who successfully visited China in the previous years. This includes cultural organizations and associations in which South Sudan also participated in number of beauty contests in China, and still willing to participate in the same and other upcoming cultural events expected to take place in China.
Currently we are doing our best to promote our cultural and sports cooperation and exchanges with China to better and highest possible levels. In this regard, we managed to sign agreements with Beijing University for culture and languages and Beijing academy for Kong Fu. We are also engaging China football association and China International Cultural and communication Center. This also includes our efforts to convince Chinese Government to support the establishment of Confucius institute in South Sudan as an independent institution or within one of our Public Universities especially University of Juba. Furthermore, we as an Embassy are making efforts and advocating for exchange of cultural visits and hosting joint cultural events and projects in Juba and Beijing plus other cities respectively and in due course.
Regarding South Sudan’s cultural projects in Bengbu city of Anhui Province, I am pleased to say that through collective initiatives and efforts from our Embassy in Beijing, China-Africa Economic Development Association and other related enterprises, we managed to secure an exhibition house together with some African Eembassies in Beijing such as Embassy of Kingdom of Lesotho and others to be utilized for displaying our cultural items and information. We are now coordinating with our Government to send additional cultural items and information.We are very thankful for the institutions which are helping us to achieve our overall objectives in this regard.
In terms of youth and sports, we also have some exchanges for example the visit to China in 2019 by the chairmann of SPLM youth league who is holding a very important leading political position in the party who successfully managed to exchange views with his Chinese counterpart and other youth organizations and Unions from other countries and also their Chinese comrades. So we are working hard to secure continuity of such visits and others not only at the level of the ruling party but also other institutions and related unions.
06 Covid 19 and Chinese Support to Sudan in combating the pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic is a global challenge which I believe has affected the entire world and south Sudan being a member of the international community, and we are also one of the countries that are affected with this Covid-19.
It's worth mentioning that South Sudan as one of African country whereby the first case of Covid-19 was detected in the last week of April 2019 reason being , because South Sudan Government closed the borders and locked down the entire country at early spread stages of Covid-19. South Sudan’s Government introduced necessary preventive and control measures for combating Covid-19. We also formed High level tasks, headed by the Vice President and supported by number of constitutional holders and other senior and junior Government officials to monitor and handle day to day issues and challenges related to Covid-19.These historic and responsible decisions from our able Government protected our nation from real disaster of this deadly virus - Covid-19.
In terms of the support, internationally we keep receiving support from different countries. However, I’m pleased to say that most of our support related to combating Covid-19 we actually received them from China. This is an honor and privilege for us in the Embassy here in Beijing of course including South Sudan’s People and Government. Until this stage, China dispatched four admirable flights to South Sudan carrying Covid -19 preventive and control supplies to South Sudan.We keep receiving these supplies from the Chinese Ministries of Commerce and Foreign Affairs, China Economic Development Cooperation Agency including Chinese state owned and private enterprises.
Additionally, the valuable systematic Covid-19 support we keep receiving from China are reflecting real and clear indication that China is great, real, faithful and trusted friend to South Sudan. This gives us a very strong belief that the Chinese People, Government and Companies Chinese are standing with us in solidarity to fight the Covid-19. Another new development in terms of Covid-19, I'm also very pleased to announce that in a few days to come Chinese experts and medical personnel from Anhui province will be traveling to South Sudan to help our people to combat the Covid-19, and they will also be taking with them number of Covid-19 preventive and control supplies. Here allow me to extend words of thanks and appreciation for the Chinese support to my beloved country.
07 Concluding remarks
In conclusion what I would like to say confidently is that the Republic of South Sudan is a new country with tremendous natural resources and everything in South Sudan is marketable.
The country has huge investment opportunities, and South Sudan’s Government has introduced attractive, conducive and encouraging investment and business policies for the investors.
There is no war in South Sudan now and the new Transitional Government of National Unity is functioning now very well.
We are committed to advance our cultural exchanges with China in the fields of culture and youth among others, and I am very thankful for Chinese continuous and notable support to South Sudan.
As a new country most of these resources are not yet commercially utilized, and we are looking forward to our partners around the world and of course the People's Republic of China to continue supporting us in utilizing these resources for the best benefit of our country and also our partners China is one of them.
Again in terms of our relations with China , it's historic , strategic friendly cemented by strong ties and mutual understanding and cooperation , guided by the comprehensive political, economic , cultural social and and other engagements on bilateral and multilateral basis including clear positive political will from the leadership of the two countries.
South Sudan and China are fully engaged in win-win cooperation and mutual support in International arena including their efforts in implementing the Chinese philosophy of Building a Community of Shared Future for all the Mankind which was introduced formally by His Excellency President Xi Jinping including the Belt and Road Initiative on top of the other engagement under the umbrella of Forum on China Africa Cooperation.”
I therefore, appealing and inviting the Chinese investors to seriously consider investing in South Sudan and continue supporting us in building our newly established nation , and we from the Embassy will facilitate their plans accordingly.