Atem Garang: the speaker of national legislature –ROSS

QUOTE: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power". (Source unknown)

By Deng Riek Khoryoam, South Sudan

February 28, 2011 (SSNA) — I think one thing that we, as Southern Sudanese, can be proud of is that we have great people – great leaders, for that matter; who are gifted or talented and who can deliver to the expectations of those they represent or their constituents. And I think we ought to acknowledge and appreciate this fact in order to establish or re-establish ourselves and forge the way forward as one people. It’s only from here that we can proclaim with certain degree of confident that we can rule and manage ourselves, proving those pessimists who think we cannot rule ourselves wrong, alas!

The political marriage between SPLM and the NCP is nearing an end, and the two partners are preparing themselves for the final de-coupling, with no chances of make-over in the near or far future as the terms of the social contract end immediately after July 9th, the ‘sacrosanct’ day when the formal declaration of independence shall be made by H.E. Salvatore Kiir Mayardit; who, by virtue of being the president of GoSS shall also be the first president of the republic of South Sudan (ROSS). In nutshell, he will become our founding father of the new nation!

All the ministers, MPs as well as other senior civil servants in the GoNU serving on SPLM ticket shall lose their positions immediately after that date and will have to return to the South. It’s not going to be easy as accommodating all these people will prove difficult given the already huge-for-nothing cabinet and other offices/commissions, which are already occupied in Juba; it will require making difficult decisions as to whether or not all or only some will get positions. It’s unfortunate that the NCP has already striped off Southern MPs of their rights to sit in the august house as early as April, contrary to the terms and arrangement of the CPA; a move which caught their partner (SPLM) by surprise as this has come a bit too early and it’s therefore a premature decision, whose implications should have been weighed before making or announcing it.

As we wait to receive our MPs in the national assembly comes April, we need to prepare some space for them and make all the necessary arrangements so that we are not caught unprepared by the influx of these people. One of the things that need to happen in the new republic or nation is that we need to crown right honourable Atem Garang as the speaker of national legislature – ROSS, replacing right honourable James Wani Igga, the current speaker of SSLA- GOSS.

Hon. Atem Garang has been serving as the deputy speaker of national assembly since 2005 in Khartoum, and has really proved to be an effective leader in the legislative blend of the government. He showed demonstrable and strong leadership qualities during his tenure, which is supposed to expire on July 9th, 2011. He had the audacity to face the recalcitrant NCP colleagues in government on issues of national concern/interest, and at various times, he would tell them off as he always argued his case consistently, firmly and in accordance with the law. He is a man of principle and integrity.

Thus, entrusting him with the task of being the speaker of national legislature will go a long way in reaffirming our determination and commitment to place the right people in the right positions, as Rt Hon. Atem fits for this position 100% plus. Hon. James Wani Igga has miserably failed the test during his tenure as the speaker of SSLA and I think it would be prudent to give him another position; perhaps, a ministerial portfolio in addition to being a MP for his Juba North constituency, would be more suitable and convenient for him. Hon. Igga has proved to be very weak during his tenure as the leader of this August house; and worse yet, he is without principles and values, something which has dealt a big blow to the legislative branch for the last six years of the interim period.

A case in point is that of four (4) SPLM-DC members of parliament, whose immunities were stripped off unjustifiably following the killing of Shilluk paramount chief in May last year, which is a living testimony. Hon. Igga, instead of maintaining the independence and the impartiality of the legislative branch, he just acted without due attention to the law and worse still, he acted based on emotions and heresy; which compromised his professionalism and moral aptitude. Thanks to the current minister of legal affairs and constitutional development H.E. John Luk Joak, who swiftly formed a committee to look into this case; the committee found them not guilty of any crime, as they were not involved in the criminal act of killing the paramount chief; they were just incriminated because of the political enmity between the SPLM and the DC.

Another serious case in point is the rampant corruption at various institutions in the government of Southern Sudan and which the legislators have not been vocal about it, let alone enacting laws that would curb or minimize the social vice – corruption in the semi-autonomous South. Since the formation of GOSS in 2005, in accordance with the CPA, a lot of billions of dollars (approximately 8 billion dollars) has been lost to corrupt individuals serving with the government as ministers and their cronies; no one has ever been prosecuted or tried or answered charges related to corruption in the court of law.

This corruption is said to be of higher degree or higher proportion and it’s without fear – you can also call it corruption with impunity, if you like, to be precise! So to fight it requires a strong and vibrant leadership at the level of legislative branch as the law making organ of the government. The legislative branch must ensure rigorous checks and balances at all levels of governance and should keep an eye on the executive branch so as to play the roll of government’s watchdog.

H.E. Salva Kiir blamed the legislators at the second opening session of SSLA, on January 24th, that they have not been up to the task on the fight against corruption. Obviously, it’s because the legislative assembly is headed by weak leaders: uncle Wani and uncle Awetdit, and since they are not immune from corruption too! This is contrary to the thinking of the public that it’s only the executive that is more corrupt, atlas! They are all corrupt and as a matter of principle, the blame should be apportioned amongst them, not only one arm of the government.

Another thing that has been perturbing my conscience for a long time is the fact that Hon. James Wani Igga always uses two wrong titles: one as H.E., as though he is an executive and two as Lt. General as if he is still active in the Army. His plate reads like this "H.E. LT. General James Wani Igga, Speaker of SSLA"! He is supposed to use the title ‘Rt Honourable’ James Wani Igga instead of H.E., and furthermore, he is not supposed to use the military title "LT. General" even though he might still be serving underground in the army, this is a shame to us as Southern Sudanese. As we become fully independent nation by July 9th, we shall no longer entertain guerilla politics/politicians as Molana Gordon Buay correctly put it last month. You are either a civilian playing politics as per the constitution or you are an army person, who should not interfere into the affairs of the civilians/politics.

I think its better and wise to place the right person in the right position and Rt honourable Atem Garang is the right man for the right job as aforementioned. This issue of accommodating people on regional basis is becoming increasingly costly and is getting irritating, I have to be honest. As a result, we have lost a huge sum of money in corruption-related activities and our reputation and image have been severely damaged due to this inability of the legislative branch to exercise its powers and obligations in accordance with the law. In other words, what kind of system do we want to adopt or establish? Is it unicameral or bicameral kind of system in regard to legislative or parliament?

I want to make it explicitly clear that I have got no reason to ridicule Rt. Hon. James Wani Igga neither do I have any prejudice against him, this is just business. It’s also free from any malice as this is not meant to malign or vilify him but to be truthful with ourselves. I stated or presented facts as they are and I hope the government of the new republic of SSU will listen to this proposal and act accordingly.

Aluta continua and viva for ROSS!!!

The author lives in South Sudan, he is reachable at [email protected]

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