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Five questions to Ann Itto

Davis Mugume
The former Deputy Secretary General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Minister of Agriculture, Ann Itto, answers five questions about South Sudan’s fifth independence anniversary.
8.07.2016  |  Juba, South Sudan
Ann Itto in Juba, April 2016. (photo: The Niles | Mugume Davis)
Ann Itto in Juba, April 2016. (photo: The Niles | Mugume Davis)

TN: How do you feel about the fifth anniversary of independence?

AI: I am happy we are independent. Each independence day reminds me of the long years of struggle. Our people long fought for independence, not just for the sake of it, rather they saw it as an opportunity for us – the citizens of this country – to sit together and make plans, to build a country that is equitable, just and prosperous.

Each independence day we celebrate, I reflect on how much has been achieved. Are we going in the right direction? Can we do things better? I ask myself: What is my role in this? In the next year can I do more to achieve the South Sudan we want. We have not arrived to the destination. Our people did not want just independence but to build a country devoid of wars and conflict. They want us to have a country that we are proud of.

TN: Has independence achieved your fore-fathers’ dreams?

AI: I would say no. The most important thing is that we are now free. Nobody can take that away from us. But the fact that we have war among ourselves is an indication that we did not get certain things right.

Our people did not want just independence but to build a country devoid of wars and conflict.

This is not the time for fighting. It is supposed to be the time for building the foundation of a just and equitable country. A country where our youths can go to school and get some skills so that they can become the building blocks of this nation. I would say we have not reached this stage yet – but we can learn from our mistakes.

The most important thing is that we have admitted that things have gone wrong with the management and the administration of this country. We have agreed to sort it out by having a government that has a separation of powers. We have also admitted that our people have suffered enough so we have to bring them back so that they can become productive. We have also agreed to have a government that provides security for everyone.

We have a lot of resources so we have to work to be developed and stop depending on other countries. We have the opportunity to address the economic challenges as well as having a permanent constitution where people will be able to debate and agree on the political systems and the values of this country. We have to look at a better transitional justice as well as a favourable reconciliation process.

TN: What has been the greatest achievement for this country in the last five years?

AI: The main thing is, of course, keeping the country independent. Before this conflict started, we had begun to put down roads and improve the connectivity of people thorough telephone systems. We had started inviting investors from different countries. But the conflict derailed these efforts. It removed confidence from both nationals and investors – so we have to work hard to restore it.

TN: As an individual, where do you see yourself in the next five years?

AI: You know I am a political animal. I have been in politics for a very long time so I will continue working with anyone who wants this country to recover. I will work with both women and youth to achieve this. Another thing that I want to do is agriculture which I think is very important. More than 80 percent of our people depend on agriculture so we, as a nation, have to improve production and allow our people to be able to contribute to our development.

I am putting up a modern farm which will be a model farm for the youth and anyone interested in agriculture. They must look at farming as more than subsistence but more as a business venture. Therefore farming must be financed and scientific.

TN: What about your country, where would you want to see South Sudan in the next five years?

AI: I believe by that time we would have totally ended the war and would have addressed the impact of conflict and have laid the foundation of infrastructure and institutions and systems that would allow a country to run peacefully. We would begin to achieve things and create harmony. I believe there would be increased productivity and that people would be happy about the services they get.

This article is part of:
Five: Enter houses through their doors ...
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