By James Monyluak Majok Thon, Calgary, Canada
August 11, 2011 (SSNA) — Most of Southern Sudanese and outsiders as well always talk about the vision of the SPLM Movement – a mass movement during the liberation and as a political party during the CPA, and will continue to do so after the independence of Republic of South Sudan. During the movement or liberation, if you will, the SPLM Vision like the SPLM Manifesto, which was first published in July 1983, are its main ideals, concepts, principles and core values that would guide and inform the development of Movement’s programs, strategies, policies, and tactics in the various spheres. In short, the SPLM vision has been the notion of creating “New Sudan.”
The “New Sudan”
The vision of the SPLM Movement then and as a political party at the moment has been the creation of New Sudan base on freedom, justice, equality, democracy, and prosperity. Before analyzing these visions of what they intent to achieve and how, I want to make it clear that the SPLM Visions are almost the same as that of Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), other Southern political parties, and Southern Sudanese people as well. What is different is how we approach these visions or the strategies and plan of actions of how we can achieve these visions.
Freedom: the first SPLM vision is that all Sudanese people must have some of basic human freedoms. These would include Political freedom, in the context of the relationship of the individual to the state free from oppression or coercion, religious freedom by choosing what kind of religion a person wants to belief in, economic freedom – free markets and private ownership of a property, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom of media, freedom of protesting any idea considered to be unlawful or serving individual interest and not a public or national interest, freedom of social association or assembly, etc. of course, many would agree with me that these freedom ideologies are always theoretical or ideals in underdeveloped countries due to many factors.
In the west or in developed countries, there are some programs and conditions attached to freedom ideologies to make them work, especially when political, economic, social, and cultural pluralism is realized at all levels of society. Southern Sudan is not exempted from the underdeveloped countries and it will take a while to see all these freedom ideologies reign in years to come.
We can be certain that all these freedoms are prevailing in the South since 2005. There have been free markets and private ownership of properties in Southern Sudan. Business communities within Sudan and from foreign countries have flooded South Sudan in the last 6 years enjoying the free markets in which traders are free from government involvement in the private sectors. We all know from the economic perspectives that there are advantages and disadvantages of economic deregulation or regulation. I will leave it now for the economists to draw their own analyses on such deregulation of the economic markets in South Sudan and what it means to Southern Sudanese economic currently in South Sudan. But, anyway, the SPLM vision of freedom is prevailing, especially after the CPA, but more needs to be done to make sure that individual Southern Sudanese are able to make right choices for their own lives in an in dependence South Sudan free of restraints.
Justice: second SPLM vision is social and legal justice. Coined by the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in 1840 based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. It has been the vision of SPLM Movement to see that the proper administration of the law; the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals under the law given the injustices inflicted upon marginalized Sudanese masses throughout the independence of Sudan in 1956 is guaranteed in the national constitution. In other words, the Sudanese state had the responsibility and duty to address the needs of the Sudanese individuals before addressing the needs of the state or the few.
This is because there has been a concern that judiciary system (the courts, police, and correctional facilities/prisons institutions) were very much corrupt in the way they would always interpret the laws of the nation. It was always clear that government institutions and officials were always above the law and when that happened, the whole systems become corrupt, authorities become weak, authorities then loss trust from their citizens, and these lead to the breakdown of political systems and anarchy.
Equality: the third SPLM vision has been that all Sudanese people must be equal stakeholders in political and economic arenas. This also means economic egalitarianism in which production, distribution, and consumption of the national resources is done fairly among the various societies in Sudan. Furthermore, it has been the intent of the SPLM Movement to create the economic and political opportunities at all levels of Sudanese society. This would be achieved through affirmative action, gender equality, equal education for boys and girls, and labour market policies that are fair and free which would also posture the conditions to economic equality and prosperity.
Democracy: the fourthvision of the SPLM Movement is the transformation and democratization of political systems within Sudan – that Sudanese people should be given the right to choose government of their own by its citizens that works for Sudanese people and not puppet governments that work for few as it has been the case since independence of Sudan from Britain in 1956. SPLM Party has been transforming itself and Sudanese political systems through the CPA devolution of political powers to all three levels of governments, which did not happen before in the history of Sudanese people.
Prosperity: the last vision of the SPLM Movement is the political, economic, social, and cultural pluralism that guarantee the progress in all aspects of the societal institutions. One of the main reasons of the SPLM Movement was to eliminate the old ways of doing things in old Sudan namely nepotism, favoritism, corruption, tribalism, bad governance, political and economic marginalization/exclusion of the Sudanese majority, and create a system that belong to all Sudanese regardless of their race, gender, age, region, religion, and political affiliation. The end goal or the mission was to elevate the lives of our people instead of letting them down. We can do this by building more schools, more roads, more hospitals, and more water boreholes, train more teachers, more doctors with better pay in more places. That is what people fought for and that is what people are yawning now in South Sudan after independence.
Now, having analyzed the visions of the SPLM Movement then or party after the CPA, most Southern Sudanese and outsiders would equally agree that most of the visions have already been achieved, but not all given the fact the old united Sudan has been going through a lot of political turbulent in the past. I can say that most important visions have been achieved and we in the SPLM Party will continue to work together with other political parties and all Southern Sudanese walks of life to make South Sudan “a place to be.”
What is needed then is the nationalism and patriotism where national interest is primary key over the individual interest that ignores our common interest and heritage. To earn back the trust that we once had, I personally advise my colleagues in the SPLM Party that we should always do our business with Southern Sudanese people transparently and accountably so that we move our country forward together as many expected us to deliver accordingly.
James Monyluak Majok Thon is Secretary General, SPLM Canada National Secretariat reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.