Unjustifiable Long Wait For Yet Unjustifiable ‘same old faces’ Cabinet!

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

August 31, 2011 (SSNA) — First allow me to take my first deep sigh of relief, and I believe that I am not alone in this; for after 47 days the wait for the first cabinet of the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) has been brought to an abrupt end when President Salva Kiir Mayardit finally commanded the courage and declared the long awaited cabinet. A new country in need of each and every minute shouldn’t really have been that long under a caretaker government, when its people’s expectations see no limits, and more so when the wait was yet to end with the same old faces.

Whichever way we choose to see it, poor performance and the unbalanced representation together with lack of the sense of inclusiveness in Kiir’s former cabinets since the dawn of the first government of South Sudan had persistently taken the central position in discussions of the politics of South Sudan. For reasons too obvious, the end of the past six years served as a mirror where South Sudanese both leaders and the masses reflected on their individual and collective engagements in issues pertaining to their destiny as symbolised in the final walk towards statehood.

Today, looking at the new cabinet, the first reaction would be to acknowledge that the names are no others but those who have served in the different cabinets of the CPA Interim Period. In other words the same old faces. However, of importance to all people of South Sudan will be the deviation from the SPLM classics of appointing non-members of the Dinka ethnic groups to the portfolios of Defence, National Security, Interior and Finance, all of them previously domains under the infamous monopoly of a single dominant ethnic group. Of course, one will also not miss to comment the conspicuousness of the female participation this time around as both senior and junior ministers.

Let’s take a quick reflection at what President Kiir had to say in one of his several speeches since the Independence Day on 9thJuly 2011, on how His Excellency intended to form his new cabinet.  Of interest was his announcement that he wasn’t going to succumb to pressures for ethnic representations, and he went on to stress that his new cabinet would be based on qualifications. Well which qualifications? Those were left for him to show when he eventually forms the cabinet. Yet of course, based on the much talked about rampant corruption, it was thus implicitly expected of him to stress the issues of integrity, honesty, and good character (e.g. graft-free or bluntly non-corrupt) and above all people with no conflicts of interest.

Unfortunately, many of the recycled post holders, still in the most sensitive positions in today’s new  government are either company owners directly or by proxies – through sons, daughters or spouses, with still much talk going around them for abusing their former offices and dishing contracts to family businesses  in a clear demonstration of conflict of interest. This much said, one finds it difficult to see how clean the President comes on such appointments? Others have very long histories of embezzlements in all the many assignments they undertook in their political careers over the span of the last two decades and how on earth are they still being recycled?  At least some are still to answer questions as to why they failed to deliver on the voluntary repatriation of South Sudanese from the northern towns throughout the whole CPA period.

On the other hand,  the representations in the new cabinet are quite in keep with the constitution to a certain extent although it has for this very reason confined itself to gender only, while a broader sense of representativeness remains to be addressed. For again, when it came to the representation of the other political parties, the President wasted no time to make it abundantly clear that with exception of what are obviously SPLM satellites parties, four or five in number, he is not in any mood to work with the other South Sudanese opposition parties – not the SPLM-DC, not the UDF, nor the USSP to mention but a few.

Nonetheless, the spreading of the key ministerial portfolios over the old structures of Equatoria, Bahr Ghazal and Upper Nile was long in the centre of many visionary projections put forward by the USSP.(Ref. USSP speech on the referendum results celebration hosted by GoSS Mission to United Kingdom Date: 5th March 2011, Venue: Camden Town Hall, Euston Road, London WC1H 9JE.) www.pachodo.org/…/usspspeech-on-the-referendum-results-celebr… . We welcome it, although it is overdue and quite limited in scope for the same will have to be extended to the representations in the foreign missions abroad, high commissions and the rest of the government departments.

And before we are too much carried away by void euphoria, the detribalization of our national institutions need not end at the ministerial levels. Similar moves will also need to be realised when carrying out the much needed restructuring of the hierarchies in the military and the other organised forces if a sense of national belonging is to be instilled in these institutions on the one hand, and in all the ethnicities and regional affiliations that form what we now call the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) on the other hand. Any ethnic group which may have to relinquish its monopoly as a consequence of an inevitable government reforms to allow for equitable representation and inclusiveness for others shouldn’t feel as if they are losing positions for in fact these steps are extremely vital for them to gain the trust of others in what will jointly translate as an inclusive nation building.

We are aware that many congratulatory messages have already changed hands most conspicuously from those ethnic groups who felt singled out as corrupt for dominating key ministerial positions and others specifically expressing a relief by  saying and I quote, “now everyone is in it, so let us see who will blame who exclusively as corrupt”? Yet although the move to set regional balances in the cabinet is important, however, the basic idea should not be for all regions to share the blames for corruption, more than it is for all to feel the sense of belonging and national inclusiveness. We better talk about having to share the joys of success, fairness, and prosperity and not of corruption for it isn’t for the latter that the cabinet is been formed, nor the state for that matter.

Quite important to remember is that these ministers are not angels………… and even if they were to be, some angels (Lucifer and followers) are already being held responsible for the Fall of Man. Remember corruption and graft can only decline if laws are made, enacted, and offenders punished   and booties reclaimed.

As we progress as a united people, it will be good practice for government to adopt new and better ways of doing things, and improve on them, while bad ones, once identified, must be discarded. Changing the choice of  the ethnic origins of ministers, although it changes some perspectives, yet it doesn’t necessarily improve the performance in the ministry in question. Some government departments have become heavily tribalized beyond recognition and it is the new government’s collective policies to bring them in line to comply with the new wave of fair representations and inclusiveness right at the levels of the undersecretaries and director generals. No single minister can do this single-handedly and they need all the backing from the President and the Two Houses of Law Makers.

With almost the main issues on the new cabinet so far discussed as above, it will be a job half done if we don’t dedicate a few lines to highlight the central issue of financial reforms. Money, how scarce it is and how well it should be spent obviously hold the key to the success of this first cabinet of our nascent republic. And the sheer size of this cabinet put together with the king size and double-chamber parliaments (The National Assembly and The Council of States) means much money will  go for their super-scale salaries, the countless special privileges, from tickets to holidays and medical check-ups in foreign clinics of class. There will hardly be enough money left even for the frontline services like break-fast meals in orphanages or under privileged rural basic level schools if such services ever exist.

This new cabinet is a sizable one, and never lean as promised by President Kiir a few weeks back. It is of concern for two folds. First, it defeats the logic of balanced regional representation portrayed above in the first row cabinet, when the non-Dinka ministers are all shadowed by Dinka deputy ministers. Secondly, moving from the previous cabinet of 32 ministers with the intention of a leaner cabinet based on qualifications, one never expects to end up with a two row cabinet with a total of 47 ministers. Assuming that the newly named ministers and deputy ministers individually or collectively had nothing to do with the cabinet formation, and that it was entirely their qualifications that took them there despite the fact that the cabinet is anything but lean, simply shouts out very aloud that whoever formed it with the intent of having it lean, or those who will go on to endorse it as a lean cabinet are in a serious qualifications’ crisis. So can H.E. the President come out openly and tell us that his cabinet is not lean before we proceed to issue our final judgement?

Of equal importance is that some of these fellows shouldn’t have made it back into positions given their previous records. As mindful as we are of the fact they are about to restart a fulltime paid jobs, let things begin on the right footing this time. We the citizens and tax payers are entitled to the tract records of public officials’ performances, whether they are on duty or off duty. Assets must be declared first by the H.E. the President himself as a sign of leadership by example, and then to be followed by his new crew.

At this juncture it is also worth reminding Mr President that some weeks back promised to deliver on a list of services within a one hundred days period. As our people religiously go on bending their fingers and toes in keeping with the hundredth day deadline, the new cabinet should understand that the count started long time before they took office, yet they must be prepared to show us the competence on which they are hired and the readiness to make a difference. But why this entire long wait when no references were needed in recycling the same old faces, remains the 6 billion dollar question. I guess you are also wondering like me!

In conclusion, we call upon all our masses that they must spend the coming 4 years of the interim period in limitless battles of sensitization and mobilization and on all fronts until each and every one of the 8.5 million South Sudanese can enter our government Federal Institutionsoffices and departments and find them places where they see and feel the whole of South Sudan Nation.  And bye gone will be those days when you feel as if you are in some kind of a tribal agency or an ethnic syndicate, in spite of the decorative backgrounds given by our National Flag and Coat of Arms.

The author would like to stress that, while fair representations are extremely important at the national levels, South Sudan is too vast a territory to be exclusively run by a centralised one party system. This is where the call for Federalism and multi-party democracy become not just a necessity but in fact a pressing call. They represent the only way out of our current stagnation and offer the only alternative if we are to embark on development at the grass-root level. Federalism with all the participatory opportunities it presents,   it also offers to take the pressure away from the centre, allowing it the time and space to address bigger issues like the national security, foreign policy, regional interactions etc…..But in order to achieve all these we need to collectively remain vigilant as very soon we will be back on the battle of writing our new country’s ever permanent constitution. 

Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General- United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at :[email protected] or [email protected].


Comparison between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of South Sudan representations in their respective National Assemblies.



No. of States


Senator/Members of Council of States



If they Change positions


160 m






1 MP : 444,444 citizens


ONLY 6249 MPs

(using South Sudan standards)

South Sudan

8.5 m






1MP : 25,602 Citizens


ONLY 19 MPs(using Nigerian standard)


Reading from the above table we can deduce that one MP in Nigeria represents approximately Four Hundred and Forty Four Thousand, and Four Hundred Forty Four citizens (444,444 citizens) whereas a MP in Republic of South Sudan represents approx. Twenty Five Thousand, Six Hundred and two citizens only ( Only 25,602 citizens).

However if Nigeria were to use the representation ratio shown for RSS, they would eventually end up with 6, 249 MPs to represent their population of 160 m. instead of the current 360 MPs.

On the other hand should RSS opt to use Nigeria’s MP/Population ratio, then its MPs would see a drop from 332 (Three Hundred and Thirty Two) to only 19 (Nineteen) MPs for their population of roughly 8.5 m. (Eight and a Half Million).

Voters are 17.36 times over represented in South Sudan that it is in Nigeria. In other words for every one effective MP there are other 16 unnecessary ones who are actually in the National Legislative Assembly simply for employment purposes or more precisely being accommodated. END.

Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General- United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at: [email protected]or [email protected].

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