By Gordon Buay
August 13, 2010 (SSNA) — The news that came out of Juba that SPLA military officers were permitted by the SPLA C-in-C to “lead and facilitate” the formation of the committee for South Sudan National Anthem disturbed the conscience of South Sudan intelligentsia. So many intellectuals began to question the wisdom of giving military officers the license to interfere into politics in violation of strict separation between the armed forces and politics imposed by the Interim Constitution of South Sudan. These officers, who came up with the idea of the national anthem, did not get any resistance from the President of the Government of South Sudan who should have advised them to mind their military business. If any idea from military officers is to be entertained even if political, then, the military officers may one day stop South Sudan Legislative Assembly from discussing a controversial issue involving the army.
In addition to their interference into politics, the sad part of the saga surrounding the national anthem is that these military officers, who are not academic experts, came up with the title "Land of Cush" to be the national anthem of South Sudan. There are no more titles offered except the "Land of Cush". Neither Maj. Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol nor Col. Malaak Ayuen (the two officers who came up with the idea) is biblical historian who can intellectually defend whether the tribes of the South are the only people in the Horn of Africa who are Cushitic. The biblical scholars already concluded that Cush is referred to Bejas, Oromos of Ethiopia, Somalis and South Sudanese.
The question in the minds of so many educated Southerners is that if the people of South Sudan are not the only people in Africa who are Cushitic, why would these officers title our anthem as "Land of Cush"? One of the tragedies we are facing in South Sudan is that an officer who is not academically an expert in a certain field would claim some knowledge about a certain field. People should remember when late Dr. John Garang made a proposition that Lol in Rumbek could be a Garden of Eden. One could argue that Dr. Garang was using Good News Bible for political propaganda because he was not an expert in the field who should be taken serious. But there are some officers in the SPLA who believe everything Garang said about the creation of human beings because these officers lacked education to conduct more research whether what Garang alleged was a mere propaganda or academic truth that may be authenticated by the experts in biblical history. These officers did not even ask Dr. Garang to provide his academic references to support his propositions either out of ignorance or fear.
The idea behind the title "Land of Cush" originated out of propaganda of Dr. John Garang who used Good News Bible to support his argument for the creation of New Sudan. The problem is that when one reads King James Version, one gets a different interpretation which contradicted Good News Bible John Garang embraced. Because the SPLA officers do not read books on biblical history, they think Dr. John Garang was a religious expert although most educated Southerners know that John Garang was Agro-economist, not biblical historian.
Given the interference of SPLA officers into politics, South Sudan people should come out loudly to condemn such a thing if they want to build a prosperous democratic state in the future. One thing must be clear: If South Sudan will become an independent state, the first obstacle to democratization will come from SPLA officers. The people of the South should clearly understand this. If the people want to create a democratic state in 2011, they should make sure that the SPLA officers are locked in the barracks. South Sudan intelligentsia doesn’t get it up to now why Salva Kiir Mayardit allowed Maj. Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol and Col. Malaak Ayuen to interfere into politics without risking court martial. There is no doubt that President Kiir, in his capacity as C-in-C, might have given them permission to interfere into political affairs at the expense of separation of powers principle enshrined in the Interim Constitution of South Sudan.
People may begin to wonder whether South Sudan politicians learned any lesson from other African countries regarding the army. There have been so many coups in the last sixty years in Africa because the army gets involved in politics. Sudan is one example where the army has become a negative force in democratizing the country. Every Sudanese knows how many coups took place in Sudan. If Kiir Mayardit does not see this, people are afraid he will one day be told by the same SPLA officers to resign from his post as C-in-C.
What the C-in-C of the SPLA should do is to impose principle of civilian supremacy over the military on the SPLA army so that the officers begin to learn the strict separation of military from politics. Many SPLA soldiers have been conditioned for more than twenty five years to give no respect to civilian rule. The military supremacy that reigned supreme during the liberation struggle before the conclusion of the CPA is the first enemy of liberal democracy in South Sudan. If the South is to be made secured from SPLA officers, the GOSS must re-educate the soldiers to subject them to civilian rule. People need to take note from Dr. Pavlov’s experiment where he conditioned a dog to change its behavior. As we know that human beings are also animals like dogs, the army must undergo the same experiment of Dr. Pavlov. The SPLA army leadership must institute a process of slow disengagement of military officers from economic, political, and administrative positions of power. Failure to do so would be a recipe for disaster in the long run because most SPLA officers see civilian supremacy over the military as a foreign notion.
In conclusion, it is imperative for President Kiir to remove Maj. Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol and Col. Malaak Ayuen from the National Anthem Committee so as to observe the strict separation of the army from politics. The primary beneficiary of the separation of powers principle is Salva Kiir Mayardit himself because as a President he would not need military officers to stop Council of Ministers meeting on Fridays to impose their will.
The Author can be reached at: [email protected]