Pretoria – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa congratulated the government and people of South Sudan on their sixth independence anniversary on Sunday, saying the nation needs to reflect on unity and their vision for a peaceful future.
The world’s youngest nation got her independence in July 2011, but civil conflict broke out in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup.
The war since then has been characterised by ethnic fighting, sexual violence and extreme brutality with civilians the primary victims.
Due to the instability, the country skipped this year’s festivities to mark the anniversary due to lack of funds and the ongoing civil conflict in the country.
Deputy President Ramaphosa said South Sudan’s national day presented an opportunity to the country’s leadership and citizens to reflect on the unity and vision for a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan that led to the achievement of independence six years ago.
He was appointed by President Jacob Zuma as a Special Envoy to South Sudan to assist in the reunification of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and bring to an end conflict.
“Deputy President Ramaphosa has commended President Kiir and the people of South Sudan on the launch of the National Dialogue which is aimed at uniting and reconciling the people of South Sudan following the devastating conflict they have experienced and continue to go through,” the Presidency said on Sunday.
Deputy President Ramaphosa appreciated the strategic intention of the National Dialogue Steering Committee, which met in Johannesburg on 1 July, to ensure the inclusivity of the dialogue.
He assured the committee members of South Africa’s support by sharing experiences from South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Deputy President expressed the wish that the national dialogue would yield positive outcomes.
A total of 4 million people have been forced to flee their homes, while 6 million which is half of the country’s population, do not have food to eat.
UNICEF has noted that 2.2 million children out of school in South Sudan. In addition, one-third of all schools are believed to have been attacked by armed groups.
An estimated 1.1 million children in the country are also acutely malnourished, lack clean water, which has led to the ongoing outbreak of cholera – the longest and most widespread in the country’s history – with 10 000 cases reported, the majority children.