Category: Opinions Written by The Nation Mirror Admin
By Wol Deng Atak
The recent reunification Deal reached by Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) Factions in Arusha, Tanzania, serves as the opportunity to save the nation from falling further into abyss of political decay and crisis. The Deal is crucial for the SPLM and country as well because it lays democratic transformation within Party. The Deal lays electable positions for catch of every capable member. This is so important in that it will change the current hierarchal order or structure hence improves democratic practices in SPLM and the country in general sense. It is most likely to set a term limit of office, therefore enhance democracy and peaceful transition of power. Prior to Arusha Deal some key electable positions were designated for people within the chain comprised of former Leadership Council or High Command and not otherwise.
In fact, it is not only an opportunity, but also a platform for transformation on which to build national pride based on national unity and state building. Arusha Deal commits the leaders of SPLM to admit publicly their individual’s roles in the differences leading to violence and lost of many innocent lives and properties. It tasks them to make a public apology to the nation as a show of repentance to previous bad practices to governance and embark on transformation. The transformation would include returning decision-making process within the party back to the hands of SPLM organs, thus, barring any leader from consulting with his or her relatives, friends, and regional henchmen for party decision or public policy. The above could only make difference if the leaders wholeheartedly embrace Arusha Deal and implement it to the letter; else, the hierarchal order of SPLM, which seemingly promotes a dynasty of clientelism, and regionalism would continue to ruin the young nation.
I singled out SPLM Hierarchal order among numerous political parties in South Sudan because it is important for the country to have a healthy SPLM. The SPLM and National army are separate institutions in theory, but in reality they are not. When SPLM has a problem the entire country suffers. A case in point is 2013 violence, which started as differences between SPLM Leaders in Juba, but turned violent and spread to other states; resulting into lost of many lives, destruction of properties and mass displacements in the country. The country is currently in war because the party failed to manage its differences amicably. However, the Arusha Deal paves the way to depoliticize the National Army and National Security and reconstruct them to be impersonal institutions. Therefore, it is significantly crucial for the nation as a whole to support the Arusha Deal.
The current SPLM hierarchal order has no regards for fresh blood, capability of individual member; fostering unity of the country, etc. but builds based on more equal individuals than the others in the party and to larger extent, the country. It is even more debilitating that the ‘more equal of the equals’ has a ‘prerogative’ to disregard the system and work out side of it. Most often tends to rely on the friends or relatives or regional henchmen for decisions-making and expects the system to have functioned very well. The hierarchal order of SPLM is stemmed on who belongs where in previous leadership council under late Dr. John Garang De Mabior.
This article is not meant in any way to disrespect the former occupants of the leadership council or members of the high command, but to highlight the defects of hierarchal order that has out lived its usefulness. I appreciate the individual sacrifices the former members of SPLM Leadership Council or High Command have made to attain freedom of South Sudanese people. A lot may still be admired in relation to freedom, prosperity for all, and equality explicitly stated during the struggle. Nonetheless, if it weren’t for last minute deviation, efforts by Leadership Council or High Command had set a direction for which the dream of South Sudan could have been built further.
The demands for liberation struggles were clear-cut. This persuaded people to willingly make sacrifices even to the point of death, show commitment and obliged their loyalty to the cause of liberation and its leadership. These values were rare commodities during the civil war, but some of the people governing this nation including Chairman Salva Kiir, Wani Igga, Koul Manyang, Awet Akot, among others sacrificed for this nation unwaveringly when under Dr. John Garang.
Perhaps, the war heroes and heroines developed the current system (hierarchal order) in order to protect the movement’s vision and mission. I agree there was a need for it by then. But the current atmosphere needs altogether a different approach to governance. In fact the hierarchal system has turned out to be a burden to progress, peace, and the unity of the country. This is important to note because it divides citizens behind the leaders from regions of South Sudan, instead of national programs or policies by individual leader. It has also induced in the party a trend different from the clarion call that saw heroes, and heroines sacrificing to point of death. They died believing in an impact the vision would have on the citizens. Their belief does not in any way include killing of innocent civilians, or turning guns against comrades at Barracks, but fostering prosperity based on equal opportunities and unity of South Sudanese.
I believe those who died defending the SPLM’s vision and mission did it for South Sudan we gained nearly four years ago. Of course, it would not add to anything without emphasizing the values they fought for such as equality, freedom, prosperity, secularism among others. Although the above have been enshrined in the Interim National Constitution, they seem to be slipping through the fingers.
In the same light, the last ten years the current leadership has spent serving this country convinced me that they were truly built and cut for liberation of the people of South Sudan. Therefore, the SPLM Leadership ought to open up for fresh blood (in second layer of SPLM) to take lead to the cause of the nation and state building as to help develop a strong merit based system. Without which their millage could possibly come to an end while messes accumulate everyday.
The current situation narrated below calls for transformation. Despite receiving billions of United States Dollars from oil revenue annually since 2005 to independent South Sudan, the government under current leadership did not tarmac a single long-distance road. Except few internals road, which have been constructed in Juba. These internal tarmac roads cost the country more money in terms of cost per Killo meter than USAID funded Juba-Numile Road. Numile-Juba road covers many Killo meters than all internal roads constructed in Juba combined. Moreover, donor community donates billions of dollars to South Sudan including funding Referendum, and 2010 general elections. It is hard to understand that government accounts are depleted and state resorted to taking loan to service the previous loan. Where has billions of the oil revenue went since donors funded some of major projects is untold.
The education, on the other hand, has not been given serious efforts by the leadership. Educational facilities are scanty in terms of meaningful structures. In addition, lack qualified technical work force. In reality, teaching is the most deserted job in South Sudan. Qualified teachers have left the jobs to seek greener pasture elsewhere. A teacher in many states is the poorly paid staff, most often paid lesser than a messenger in Juba. Even our leaders don’t trust to take their children in the schools they built within the country because they know they have no education. They prepare to send their children to Kenya, Uganda, and far distance places for learning. The poor in South Sudan who have no options take their children to public schools, which are technically free of knowledge.
The Juba Teaching Hospital, on the other hand, is not only in dilapidated conditions, but lack basic medicines including Paracetamol. The Hospital is equipped with medics who are poorly paid. Sometimes nurses would sit outside to knit while on job to make extra income so as to make end meet. The Hospital lack facilities and technical know how. The senior government officials don’t trust the hospital thus, prepare to be treated in Nairobi Hospital, Egypt, Dubai, Jordan, and Europe, etc. than in public or local hospitals.
Besides, the policy of taking town to the people did not take off from Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, where Dr. John Garang de Mabior first declared it. The population in Juba, where the seat of the of government is located, is drinking unclean water from the Nile River while the leaders do not only access clean drinking water, but have clean water for their showers. Electricity lights is only seen glowing at senior government officials’ residential areas in Hai Amarat. Since this is the ordeal of the population within the vicinity of the government seat, it could tell of the population in rural areas living in worse condition then imaginations would depict.
Insecurity is in worse condition than it was during the Sudan civil war. Citizens in Lakes State are left to kill themselves in sectional violence. Clan fighting in Warrap state has claimed many lives than ever. Crime in Juba is hiking every day.
South Sudan laws are for less fortunate citizens to obey, but others do not only violate the laws, but also trample on them with impunity or get away with constitutional crime such as failure to protect the Interim National Constitution. Prisons in South Sudan are filled with majority blue-collar related crimes, but the white-collar criminals get away to commit another tomorrow.
The judicial system in South Sudan is also made helpless in the face of deficient law-abiding executive syndrome (DLAES). The executives are simply above the laws of the land. No independence or job security for judicial arm. In addition, the manner of which a Chief justice is appointed or relieved in this country undermines the independence of Judiciary. A stroke of a pen by the executive branch appoints or dismisses a Chief Justice or a senior judge at whim.
In terms of deciding who is guilty or not National Security is axis of judgment determining who rights or wronged including freedom of individual citizen or thriving of their businesses. The State Security decides who can enjoy freedom or receives justice regardless of whatever circumstances. This scenario renders our judicial service helpless and ceremonial in a way. This, therefore, is an indication of dysfunctional system that has brought enormous suffering to the young nation. Could the above conditions change? I am convinced that even if Kiir, Riek and Wani presidency or the rest of them were given another 20 years to serve the same results would resurface. Until certain aspects of the system are changed no one among them would succeed!
It is important, therefore, for SPLM and the nation at large to command transformation in the system. The implementation of Arusha Reunification Deal gives the nation that opportunity to embark on the transformation.
The current system has bred a situation where tribalism and regional lineage supersede the values the fallen heroes died fighting for. Perhaps, it is not surprising, thus, the current crisis in the country has taken tone of ethnic dimension. The system we have simply draws us to favoring one’s clan, ethnic community, and regional inclination rather than meritocracy and interest of national unity. For one to get employment in this country (South Sudan), particularly in public institutions, you must have your clan member or relative, or regionally conscientious fellow in a position to get you hired. Without which one may stay home with his or her qualifications. It is not only the state, which is affected by clientelism or patronage, but even private businesses do not succeed without a powerful relative or a godfather behind the scene. Indeed there is no way these practices can promote opportunities for all or equality or freedom as the fallen heroes died believing. Even in the high office in this country, for example, is occupied by clansmen from office Managers to private secretary. This has even spiraled down further to those posted as immediate aids or guards. We have created a system that disregards hiring employees to key offices on merits, instead, State or County or Payam where a leader with the decision hails determines placement. Yet acclaiming that the employees are serving a national office. Can everyone really identify with it as national office? The question is, if all of us look for valuables to benefit individual members of our communities who then would look after the rest of the nation? Good practice, perhaps, ensures that a state and its institutions of governance are bureaucratic and impersonal. Nonetheless, if we embrace transformation as a nation through Arusha Deal, all these ill practices would get corrected.
The recent protest in the press conference held by the Equatorian leaders indicates our perception as a nation about our country. It is noticeable that the Dinka see the presidential position occupied by President Salva Kiir as safety valve to their insecurities and window to goodies from public arena. The Bari or Equatoria see vice presidency position held by James Wani Igga in the same lens. The Nuer follow Riek in the same pursuit. Every ethnic group looks upon their son or daughter at the realm of political power to access public goodies. Why? Political accountability in a sense does not have a place in this country. The sons and daughters of the Land are expected not to criticize lack of coherent policies or seek accountability. There is no consistent national program. Service delivery is not measured on policies implementation, but rather number of clan’s members a leader assisted by favors often from his or her pocket or by employment, etc. This is the reason why some employees lose their positions immediately after a minister vacates an office or when sacked! In addition, the system that we have created introduces a cycle that persuades for deepening ones’ hands further into the public pocket for conveniences. Government officials in South Sudan may not be outrage corrupt, since the system in place inspires those in power to tune to the practice. The ongoing corruption in the government of South Sudan, therefore, may not be a result of moral decay by the officials serving the state, but the influence by the system on the political actors.
In a nutshell, our current system has indications and tendencies to promote patronage, clientlism and inclination to tribal based ascension to political power. It is not a wonder that our leaders in Addis Ababa were bogged down over political positions rather than what is the best interest of our country. Every one of them seemingly negotiates peace deal with his ethnic group at his or her lens! But not the nation!!
Let’s embrace transformation through Arusha Deal and implement it without reservations. Transformation would give us a breathing room for national unity!