By: Justin Ambago Ramba
June 9, 2012 (SSNA) — Many critics and analysts have for since long predicted the fact that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) left unchecked was actually leading South Sudan into a social, economic and political Cul-de-sac. Thanks for its totalitarian style that dated back to the days of the bush war, and continued thereafter the inking of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 and through-out the six years interim period and now about to complete a full year since the July 9th 2011 declaration of South Sudan’s long awaited independence
As we approach the country’s first anniversary of Independence [9th July 2012] we will also be marking the fact that SPLM’s last credibility has worn out as kleptocracy reigns high in the system! Below I include a simple definition of kleptocracy for everyone’s benefit:
“[Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, (from Greek: κλέπτης – kleptēs, "thief" and κράτος – kratos, "power, rule", hence "rule by thieves") is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often without pretense of honest service. This type of government corruption is often achieved by the embezzlement of state funds. (Wikipadia)”
South Sudan is a country that seriously suffers from an ailment known as the “Mechanical Tribal Majority Syndrome”. It has unfortunately given birth to a strong belief that the members from the ethnic majority how ignorant or unqualified they be, they should and are imposed to be considered on the right and deserves to lead in every aspect of the social, economic and political life of the country. This has literary translated into the current status quo with poorly prepared leadership who unfortunately cannot be challenged or even criticised without one risking being labeled as an ethnic xenophobic (tribalist as they like to call it).
Today as I write the ruling SPLM which should rightly have stopped calling itself the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement following the independence of the Republic of South Sudan is neither a political party in the traditional sense of the word nor does it any more function as a liberation movement given its horrible records both on and off the political pitch.
The nascent state of South Sudan is ruled by a totalitarian regime that draws its majority support from a couple of main ethnic groups, which further dominates the organisations Political Bureau , the Government of South Sudan [Goss] , and anything else from the Parliament, the Judiciary, the Police, the Security, the Military , and even the renegade tribal militias. Given this structure as it displays itself in the country’s political scenery, civil service or the Military one can see how transparency and accountability were easily sacrificed to make way for the currently prevailing impunity. Who can pursue whom when everybody looks at the blood (relationship) side and not the ethics of nation building?
It was already abundantly clear for many keen observers that those ethnic groups which form the backbone of the SPLM where bent to use the Interim Period (2005-2011) to enrich themselves, which they have precisely done now. Those in doubt can check the records and find out the names and regional origins of all those accused of corruption, graft and embezzlement since 2005 to date.
Any recent acknowledgement by the SPLM leadership of financial mismanagement or put it in President Kiir’s own expression which implies “stolen public money” is to its best a warning to the group to hurry up as the “long night” is about to end and lest a new dawn find them still stealing. On the other hand it could be a genuine signal from the leadership to start improving its image after it has assessed that most implied community members have already amassed the necessary wealth enough to sustain them as the oligarchs of the new country for several generations to come. Nonetheless one fact is undeniable and the cash itself has run out since the abrupt shutdown of the Oil production which accounts for 98% of the country’s foreign exchange.
Undoubtedly to close this “dirty chapter” no wonder that the President has personally appealed to the “top seventy five thieves” to return some of the money as a token for official amnesty that he will grand them and remove their names from the infamous list, and putting a lid on the issue of the stolen funds once and for all. If the thieves comply, they will be forgiven behind doors and enjoy the benefit of making away with the bulk of their booties and all those mansions bought abroad – Australia – Canada- Europe – Middle East – Kampala –Nairobi ……..etc. – not to mention the millions in cash deposited in foreign banks. This is the story of how the so-called liberators have rewarded themselves.
However the citizens of South Sudan themselves and the members of the International Community both have a moral duty to rectify what is happening in this part of the world if the country is to be saved from the “liberators turn thieves”. There is a need to subject this nascent country’s political, social and economic institutions to an urgent treatment using both an electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and possibly cauterization. As radical as it might seem, the only way out of this young country’s real demise is a political overhaul at the national level – with no stone left unturned. A completely new system that can inject moral values is needed.
Left as it is President Kiir and his cohort of “graft-lords” will want to continue at the helm of political power not just until 2015 – but even forever. Given his confession:
“We fought for freedom, justice, and equality. Many of our friends died to achieve these objectives. Yet, once we got power, we forgot what we fought for and began to enrich ourselves at the expense of our people”. President Kiir has thus concluded it all in his letter and he himself with his cabinet are no longer fit in any way to lead the country.
Although some might suggest a government of national unity at this stage as a preliminary step to prepare the country for the long awaited democratic transformation, yet given the past experience any such a government will never achieve any of its goals as SPLM will insist to be the major partner in that collusion. Ideally it would be wiser and safer for this current government to resign from top to bottom and be replaced by a government of technocrats.
Why technocrats? The answer is simple for this is the least politicized group in the society and is expected to consider decisions on objectivity, away from party politics and any other biasness. This government of technocrats will then provide the favourable environment for political parties to emerge and formulate their political agendas, away from the current SPLM totalitarianism.
Under the technocrats the first step would be to guarantee the freedom of the Judiciary, the Press and the wider Human Rights and Freedom of expression which are now choked under President Kiir and cohort. The other equally important step is to guarantee a non-politicized National Army, Police and Security Organs whose members do not meddle in party politics –not what we currently have. In so doing, national political parties can have the necessary space and healthy environment to develop on principles of democracy as overseen by transparency and accountability.
The Care Taker government can then proceed to hold a national constitutional conference to permanently address the important issue of a democratic constitution for the country where power will only be transferred through democratic and fair elections with clearly fixed term limits. South Sudan can no longer afford to be held at ransom by a system that has lost its legacy through corruption and wide spread kleptocracy. SPLM will either have to democratically transform itself or it goes into the dust bin of history and anything less that this should not be welcomed.
Once again it may not appear easy to convince the current SPLM leadership to relinquish power peacefully given the fact that it is now so deeply involved in a nationwide corruption. However the International Community and the Donors alike will do the nascent State of South Sudan a favour by drying up any financial support to this irresponsible leadership. They cannot always be talking about zero tolerance on corruption when they continue to swim in it on daily basis. Hence we hereby conclude by saying,” Enough on the SPLM’s lip service on fighting corruption”.
Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General- United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at: [email protected] or [email protected]