Dysfunctional Parliament in Southern Sudan is Worrying!

By Deng Riak Khoryoam, South Sudan

Quote: “It’s not the strongest, neither the most intelligent species that survive the possibility of extinction over the history; but the species that is responsive to change” (Charles Darwin, 1809-1882)

August 23, 2010 (SSNA) — At the outset of this piece of writing, I would like to make it crystal clear that I am not out there to criticize for the sake of it. My aim is to criticize constructively by offering suggestions/solutions to the problems facing our government in the south, and I do so objectively. I have got no ulterior motives too. I am not out to crucify personalities but challenging them (the leaders) to change their behaviors, which could have negative effects on people. Above all, I am advocating for a policy change to be more accommodative and subject to public scrutiny. We have to be honest to ourselves before we can demand from our northern brothers to show honesty on issues of concern. Although I know that sometimes honesty is not synonymous with the truth, but at least, we can set it as the one that should never get compromised.

In the past couple of months after the general elections, the focus of Sudanese politics shifted immediately to the referendum by Southerners for self-determination of the new status of South Sudan. This is generating lot of public debate about the two choices (unity and separation), especially when the compass tend to indicate that southern independence is inevitable. I have been following closely the events as they unfolded, and continue to unfold. I read a lot of nonsensical comments made by different northern figures denouncing southerners opting for secession as it’s practically the case now because southerners are fed up with northerner’s unwillingness to abolish Islamic laws, which are discriminative in nature and coupled with other countless undesirable things. They’ve blown things out of proportion and now it is dawning on them either to respect and accept the outcome of the forthcoming referendum or prepare for an eventuality that they might not enjoy.

But now in addition to this, there is something much more disturbing; is that the regional parliament in the south. This parliament has not really been up to the duty expected from law-makers. The members there are not speedingly doing their business in the August house in light with this upcoming referenda in the south and Abyei. Some reports were obtained that the MPs are going up to three months without sessions or sittings because apparently there are no agendas that have been set to deliberate on, and that the acting speaker (who is the deputy speaker) is unable to do the job since the speaker is on long holidays.

But here comes the questions: why are there no agendas in parliament to discuss when there are a lot of things that are supposed to happen as a prerequisite for the referendum to happen on time and to avoid the worst case scenario of like what happened to the previous population census and general elections? Is it because there are no agendas or it’s because the MPs are incapable of carrying out their duties as expected by the electorates? Were these MPs really voted in by their constituents or were just rigged in by SPLM on people’s behalf as a kind of political patronage?

You will certainly agree with me that most of the 171 MPs currently in the Juba parliament are just masquerading as people’s representatives, yet in actual sense, they are not. They are either there to represent and protect the interest of their appointing authority or their own selfish- interests. The wise ones had managed to woo their constituents to vote them in using unrealistic promises, which they knew will never be fulfilled except in ideal circumstances. A government institutions where there are no checks and balances, is as dangerous as a car on high speed without a brake. The implications are dire. This is the case in our parliament as well as the GOSS. With this, the South could be emerging into troubles as we watch it scaringly!!!

The issue of national anthem being drafted or handled by army personnel instead of parliamentarians shows how dysfunctional and empty the parliament is in its dealings, especially on public affairs. In my view, just like any other southerners who have expressed their opinions and bitterness on this, the work of military personnel in the likes of Kuol Deim Kuol and Malaak Ayuen is not supposed to be in direct interference into the civilian politics. They can only be invited to give a helping hand to the civilian executive or legislative branch of GoSS if at all they are proven to be having useful experience in composition of national anthems, but not doing the other-way-round as if they are above those powers.

In my opinion, a special committee should have been formed by parliament to draft and handle the national anthem and try to get the views from the masses to see whether it represents the conscience as well as the diversity of all southerners. This brings me these questions: when did the MPs declare themselves as obsolete in their duties so that other could do them on their behalf? When did the constitution legalize army generals to get involved in civilian politics or is it because they know that the Southern Sudan parliament is not able to do its duties? Which system of government do we want to have or adapt; is it parliamentary and presidential or military one? Now the Juba parliament is just quiet and reluctant even after the thing came to light a couple of months ago.

In conclusion, the South Sudan parliament should reconsider its position again or be educated on what they are supposed to do if they think they represent people in that August house. Otherwise, I hold an opinion that majority of the SSLA MPs don’t know their responsibilities and duties as the people’s representatives; they only know to cause havocs and intimidations like stripping off the SPLM-DC members of their immunities on no substantial grounds. The committee that was tasked to look into this found no reason to implicate the four innocent SPLM-DC MPs in the murder of the Shilluk Paramount Chief and those accompanying him in the GoSS donated new brand Toyota Double Cabin Hilux last May. But funny enough, some malicious SPLM’s MPs insisted that they were involved in whatever circumstances surrounding the incidence even if there are no legal evidences found? It is like saying "whether it flies it is still a goat."

What kind of a parliament is this in the whole world that does not respect the rule of law when its members are supposed to be law-makers!!!. I am tempted to say here that I can only have confident on those MPs who went to the parliament either as independent candidates or from other political parties’ tickets, because they really have the real mandate from the people. Change will happen one day.

Deng Riak Khoryoam lives in Southern Sudan and can be reached at [email protected]

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