By Ukongo Benson Athia
Opinion (SUDANS POST) – Every South Sudanese should be concerned about achieving peace in the Country after the destructive war of 2013. I am sending in my contribution to the negotiating parties and the parties to the conflict that, the priority now should be how peace could be regained back into the Country. Lives and property have been lost when the internal party wrangles within the current ruling SPLM party hatched into 2013 break out of the war.
The today party emerged into different headings, SPLM-IG (Kiir main faction), SPLM-IO (Taban Deng Gai faction), SPLM-IO (Dr Riek Machar faction), and Former Political Detainees ( FDs –Pagan Amum’s faction), and please name the entire break-ups of the once glorified SPLM party, that mobilized Sudanese people, and South Sudanese, in particular, to fight for freedom.
As a citizen of South Sudan, I have extensively been engaging various people to justify why the 28 States become a problem for them? What were these 32 States for? These States, until the contrary; were created to devolve power to the masses on the ground. In some opinions, however, there were substantially valid concerns raised, that block transfers to States under 32 states; do not take into account the population of States but on arbitrary transfers. These leave overpopulated states to receive similar funding with allegedly States, whose populations are equivalent to the population of one of the Counties of the 28 States, making densely populated states extremely vulnerable to financial burdens. The second observation was the worries over allocation of constituencies come elections.
My bold response to my discussants on the two questions of block transfers to the States and constituencies allocation were as follows: The transfers, if truly have been randomly executed merely on the number of States, were wrong decisions. I didn’t sustain such claims until I prove it at a given time but took note as worthy of debate. The reference to the 5th 2008 Sudan Population census should help in determining how the budgets and block transfers should be implemented. States have their previous budget records to assist in budget or block transfers as grants to fund states. And the same time, the means by which the former 10 States have been making subsequent transfers to the counties be strictly followed and made the best use of. Your budget remains as per the last population census until a new census takes place.
The cuts in budgets could be made, from counties whose population had been broken into different counties due to 32 States creation. The State taxation systems are rather consolidated so that, the states should generate 50% of their annual budgets from their taxations and other activities. A revision of present centralized taxation could address this discrepancy of over-reliance on national government fish out from block transfers. Receive and payout. I do not see this as a serious threat to peace when the politicians are serious for peace!
As to whether how constituencies should be allocated, during the future elections after the end of the transitional period, it should not be a surprise that holding free and fair election requires population census and voter registration. After the census, constituency allocations could be decided; based on population results obtained during the census. It will be possible that a vast but less densely populated State deserves fewer seats compared to a small densely populated State, which would earn more constituencies. The electoral Rules and Regulations when promulgated could dictate how constituency seats should be allotted. The dictate of the law should be an alternative to twist or fix any deficiency in governance, no need to worry about this.
Upon having answered those questions raised by discussants, the demand by the oppositions that 32 States should be frozen stand highly unrealistic and treasonous against the Sovereignty of the people of South Sudan. The opposition is misdirecting themselves and misleading the people; that they are for peace, yet their ill-plans may tend to send more people to the bushes over the freezing of 32 States. The people of South Sudan want 32 States. Unfortunately, the oppositions and those who lost power monopoly, huge budgets associated with former 10 States and positions, are the ones complaining and signing against the 32 States. Otherwise, jubilations were thereafter the creation of 32 States and more areas may be demanding for States soon. What will be the result of the joy that followed the creation of 32 States, when opposition demands of abolishing 32 States are heeded to by the Government?
Was the problem the 10 States or the 32 States? This is everyone’s quest for the right answer. The 10 states we have been operating under since 2005 to 2015 were not the problems of underdevelopment and lack of service delivery in my opinion. The people assigned to do work in the then 10 States’ who are there now out as oppositions or serving the current TGONU to the very system they miserably failed to set up disguising, deserve the benefit of doubts. Now, with the same people who failed to deliver in the then 10 States, calling for the dissolution of 28 States, in favour of the 10 States, how sure could one be that these same people will not fail again the 10 States or 28 States as before? Could be that these opposition politicians had learnt new tricks of development in the four-year bush life? It cast doubts into one’s mind and perhaps 10 states demand may be an opportunity to reserve more resources for loots due to losses for years in the bushes.
To claim honesty, there are voices within opposition cycles, especially those who are making unjustified claims; that those who had served in the transitional Government of National Unity, should not be allowed to contest for elections after three years transitional period and also to refrain from holding any political office for the next 10 years. Why only the members TGONU? To me, anyone who had been in Government since 2005 whether or not he was a member of TGONU the if justice favours everyone, and to make sense, all be barred from political life forever, not just 10 years for TGONU alone but for anyone who had been in the system throughout CPA. Their previous office records should be audited and where warrants so allow; they should be prosecuted for any possible offence of abuse of authority committed in the process. Is that what opposition groups want people of South Sudan to invest in?
If people like Lt.General David Yau Yau, took to the bush, due to marginalization and creation of Boma State out of Pibor, previously Administrative Area brought peace; what would be the result of freezing that State; that was created out of conflict? This is just an example of underlying layers of problems the opposition are driving the people of South Sudan into. South Sudan is neither a property of the Government nor the opposition. Thus, any decision affecting the national interest should be thrown to the people through a referendum. Those who could not wait for the referendum, in my opinion, should apply for a Republican degree to dissolve and merge their current smaller States into one of the 10 former States. We may thereafter have a reduced number of States from 28, 25 or less, depending on the number of the applicants. The rest, who are comfortable to operate under one of the current 28 States; should be free to wait for the result of the referendum, which would specify how many states South Sudan should be having.
The claims that budgets and vehicles for the 28 States, would not be there or leave little funds for development are immaterial. The opposition should be made to know that whether or not we go for 32 or 10 States, vehicles are routinely budgeted for by any government in the world. These are facilities for the work to get it done. I strongly aver that the problem, that made development impossible in South Sudan from 2005-2013, was not budget constraints or lack of vehicles. Instead, the vehicles we purchase are of the most luxurious class. Who authorized Government to purchase the costly V8? It was suspected that even their maintenances were to blame for the loss of funds meant for other services. To worsen the matter, an individual could scandalously own several V8s and other vehicles at his disposal; while some or all of his or her colleagues even lack motorcycle or bicycles to report to work. We may have vehicles but abuse the purpose of their uses.
Corruption has been another headache. Have all the opposition left their offices for the bushes, with their former official work records audited for possible abuse of public funds and any property? The opposition should show patriotism this time and expect no V8s or Hardtop but corolla or other cheapest vehicles. Four-wheel drives like land cruisers should only be available for hard to reach areas. This applies to those in the Government to expect that maintenance of high-class V8 is a liability to the national interest of development. Few V8 could be sustained for the President, Vice President, Speaker and the Chief Justice. This will help the government to save some money to be earmarked for development projects.
Do not wrongly presume that, mysteriously or by heavenly intervention; someone would emerge from nowhere to build good roads, hospitals and schools for our country, we must do it ourselves. Assistances are not ever enough. Judge me rightly or wrongly, compare the number of V8s you have seen in foreign countries where most of you reside or have visited. Tell the frequency of the number of V8s passing by the roadside where you live and compare with what we have a home. I hope denial of V8s should not drive people crazy and run to the bush again, in the name of dictatorship. We must start to work for our Country, lavish behaviours must stop. We better auction out the V8s to private companies or other interested Countries.
Having answered that way, this means even the claims for the reduction of the number of seats from the current ones to 200 seats as demanded by some quarters of the oppositions; are irrelevant. Rarely, nowadays, it couldn’t be seen when more states merge to form one country. We have seen the creation of more States.
The sole reason was more representations. Somalia is a small country with over 400 MPs or more. What’s wrong with more MPs provided that they rise above their party or personal interests and stand with the Country and the voters that elected them. We need an increased number of MPs for various reasons. Windows and Orphans, organized forces, disabled, elderly people, women from ordinary walks of life, farmers, traders, medical Doctors, the youth trade unions, name them; all need to be represented this time around in the next parliament. No one in his or her senses could claim that the above categories of important people are or were represented in the parliament, the current or previous one.
A party is not a country, but very small political interest group that should sell itself through its manifesto to the people to get permission to assume State power. Short of this, it will never win any seat. Therefore, as political parties nominate and sponsor the candidates, the mandate lies with the citizens to elect these candidates into the Parliament and State power to deliver services. When these elected individuals fail to execute their duties; they are named and regarded as a shame to the party and the people, narrowing their chances of winning other seats come elections, unless they intimidate or rig the elections. An innocent suspect does not fear the court. Come and face the majority. More members of parliament are needed to see the change in the Country.
The blame game should stop: Blaming General Salva Kiir Mayardit blab…blab for the 2013 crisis does not help at all. The squabble was an SPLM internal power struggle. There’s nothing more dangerous than working with the devil at your back. Most of you in opposition today, especially those who rebelled or were accused of rebellion in 2013; were eating from the same plate, enjoying all State and party privileges and benefits; but at the same time attacking your very SPLM party. This is like discrediting both its Chair, General Salva Kiir Mayardit and the SPLM party as a whole. When did people complain of dictatorship by the 2008 SPLM Constitution, who drafted that Constitution?
Were you not the very people that created a mess in your party by tightening laws, thinking that it will not turn against you someday? Look at the Political Party Act 2012, which passed through your hands, in which a political party should have representatives from than the 10 States, yet the same permission to mobilize the party members across the country, maybe thwarted and deemed an act of incitement of civil population?. When you see a wrong bill likely to become a law and you fail to protest by writing a note of objection, you will be liable for the consequences of this law.
The other issue raised by one of the opposition faction of having a hybrid government was a misplaced choice. No one country in this world could claim perfection in governance. All countries in the world have their successes and shortcomings. Hitherto, inviting foreigners into your country does not mean these foreigners are angels. Foreign countries alone have their problems; sometimes more than what we have which I do need to explain, since as each Country knows its weaknesses. The difference between ours and theirs that they handle their problems in silence. Bring in those hybrid governments, and see the risky probability of importing their weaknesses into our countries, let alone leaving behind the same bad legacy after the end of the transitional period. This should not be taken lightly. Let South Sudanese create their system of governance without eternal interference.
When you accept peace today without conditions, it should be your national pride and nobility. This message is to you, our brothers in opposition, that your submission for peace will, neither be seen as a defeat nor surrender but a nationalism, and love for your people and nation. Equally, the Government should assure the people that it needs peace and thus should never under whatever circumstance; treat the acceptance of peace by the opposition a victory over them other than a quest for lasting peace. This will not help at all when we are to keep finger-pointing each other. All have sinned and badly need forgiveness. The people dying daily are the South Sudanese, due to war started in 2013. Our people want peace, dialogue and reconciliation and subsequently development.
Last but not least, the position paper by the SPLM-IO of Dr Riek Machar calling for handing over the Security of Juba to Regional Protection Force was the wrong button. The Country has its army. Why do our politicians demand protection from foreign forces or demanding separate protection? I doubt if one who submits to peace and apply for State protection, even if he or she was the one to make a selection of his or her protection from among organized forces; there could be any problem. What the government could do, should be to specifically make a selection of VIP protection, send them for vigorous training and deploy them to do their work. The opposition does not need to worry about their safeties. Anyone not going to the battlefield or intending to fight does not need an army contingent. He who seeks justice must come to the court with clean hands. The opposition should stop their mind-sets of seeking to assume State power, while at the same time remaining hostile to lasting peace.
You cannot hold elections while in the bush, return home, forget about armies or two armies, and organize the elections. Keeping fighting would make you not to have time for elections. Until the result of the elections, General Salva Kiir remains the legitimate President of South Sudan. Without his patience after the death of Dr John Garang in 2005, we would be still fighting the NIF regime in Khartoum by now. He would have ordered attacks on SAF positions if he did not breathe in and took courage. The last word I heard from him, with consolation from Mama Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior; on BBC Monday, 1st August 2005, was that the people of South Sudan should be calm, he (Kiir) needs facilities to push on with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA 2005). This was followed by the brilliant decision of SPLM/A field commanders, nominating him to succeed late Dr John Garang de Mabior.
Accepting the nomination, in a mourning mood after the untimely loss of a long-time brother was not an easy task.
It was such bravery and constant nobility that CDR Salva Kiir Mayardit accepted the nomination. He would have opted for a fight but his good intentions did not allow him to take that direction, for it would have squandered the hope of South Sudanese from their common destiny. Let alone that. How about his wisdom which did not let him succumb to the provocative acts of Khartoum Government calculated to derail the referendum process? Despite the provocative behaviours of Khartoum that did not want South Sudan breaking away, Kiir humbly told South Sudanese, not to be taken away by attacks but to wait and decide their destiny through ballots. His call for patience has been said by him in severally his public addresses after every attack.
The credit goes to SPLM as s party including those now in opposition under various categories, the other South Sudan political parties and above all, the people of South Sudan, present or passed. Why can’t we retreat to our historical links, when we swam in the full of blood together, drunk from the same cup of liberation (Koryom), unanimously vote for independence in 2011 and got our country at last? Mull over your personal direct or indirect contribution and you will shade tears. A leader’s success is measured by the level of teamwork from his colleagues. When you are surrounded by those thinking 24 hours of disposing you from power, it would not be easy to succeed since sabotaging the central system of government could be part of that 24/7 plan. Join the peace process with open arms and hearts, put the suffering of South Sudanese on the top agenda and let us move on to the next step. It is not too late to make a miracle.
Oh God bless South Sudan!
The authors holds Bachelor of Laws degree and pursuing Master of Laws majoring in international law. Reachable at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in the ‘OPINIONS & ANALYSIS’ section of the Sudans Post are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not this website. If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email us here.
NOTE: Sudans Post reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations (if any).