The Parliament: Presidential Approval Machine or the Voice of the People?

By Kuir ё Garang

October 11, 2012 (SSNA) — Okay, take a deep breath for you’ll get annoyed in the process of reading this article. If you don’t get upset at me then you’ll get angry at those idlers in Juba we call the Members of Parliament (MPs). (And by the way Mr. Paul, Elhag, that is, I’ve not forgotten you. There are only pertinent issues first)

See, the useless me has already annoyed you. We’ve all seen with annoying truth that our MPs are only there to approve whatever the president fancifully decides. This is one sad reality the parliament has to rectify if it has to maintain its legitimacy. Oh, I forgot: they don’t care!

The purpose of the parliament is to check and put some brakes on out-of-control presidential and executive decisions so as to make decision-making process efficient, informed and broad-based.

Many South Sudanese have become very used to the cult of personalities that their ability to question the leadership has become nonexistent. Any decision made by the president and his fearful cabinet is applauded without any critical analysis. This always gets the MPs off the hook.

When the president decided to go to war because of Khartoum’s continued occupation of Panthou, the people were not well informed, or consulted. Decisions should not be made and executed whimsically because the president feels they are right, they have to be executed for the benefit of the people. The assumption that such decisions benefit the people without any rational, informed and empirical analysis should be stopped with ‘immediate effect.’ You can laugh here!

When the president decided to chase away Beshir’s soldiers, (not invade, because Panthou belongs to the South) the parliament just approved the decision made by the president. The parliament should have questioned the decision and ask the president if he’d put into consideration the diplomatic cost, the human cost and the economic cost of the incident: verifiable figures should be given. None of these happened. The president decided so it must be good for us.

The parliament went ahead (like a good boy) and approved the decision. The parliament should be the voice of the people not the approval instrument for all the whimsical decisions by the president and his Kiir-wary cabinet. Kiir has so much power so I understand the fear! Damn, man!

Panthou is our land, no question, but in the today’s world, the decisions have to be made in a manner that protects the people and the integrity of the country. The president, the cabinet and the parliament, all acted (and always do) out of gut feelings, which no state authority should ever do so.

When the president decided to shut down oil production, the parliament didn’t question the president’s decision about the cost of the shut-down to the economy and the civil population. Now, the inflation is still over the roof, the value of our pound has become miserably uncompetitive and costly, the commodity prices a painful reality, and people have gone for months without salaries. This is not an allegation or a fanciful imagination, it’s a testable fact. When will the parliament stand up for the people they represent? 

Again, the president made a dubious agreement with Beshir on oil fees and the resumption of oil production. I’d admit, the deal is better than the previously proposed ones; however, the deal should be taken before the parliament and debated without fear of what the president would do to dissenters. 

Malong Awan, the governor of Northern Bhar El Ghazal, has questioned the agreement due to the placement of ‘Mile 14’ as part of the areas to be demilitarized. It’s the first time someone has ever stood up for the people. The MPs, not only from Northern Bhar El Ghazal, but others in the parliament, should thoroughly debate the agreement and question different clauses. The Kiir-wary cabinet has already approved the agreement.

Questioning agreements, parliamentary motions, policy proposals and state initiatives in the parliament is the reason why MPs get elected. We can’t all go to the parliament but we shouldn’t be electing people who divorce their electorates to marry presidential whims out of fear of losing their jobs.

It’s time for the MPs do their jobs and stop being approval machines for presidential and executive brusque decrees. Why are you there if you are only there to approve what the president decides? Why are workers going for months without being paid? Why are there no accountability modalities being put in place to reduce corruption? Why are South Sudanese citizens being treated by foreigners as dirty, stupid second class citizens in the country they fought and died for? Why is our economy in the hands of foreigners who don’t respect us? Why are foreign business people not investing their money within the country? Why are there no checks put in place for foreign workers? Why are restaurants owned by foreigners not employing citizens?

It’s because we’ve sent to parliament a bunch of ‘respectable’ men who don’t want to annoy Your Excellency, Mr. President Sir; and the cabinet members; ministers who are bribed by foreigners in order to protect their (foreigners’) interest at the expense of the people.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m for credible, respectful and locally beneficial investments, which respect the citizens and follow the laws of the land. I’m against a bunch of indoctrinated opportunists out to exploit the citizens of a land with lose policies and careless or bribed law-makers. Foreign businesses should be screened to see if they employ citizens. Fines should be imposed on foreign businesses employing less than 80% citizens. Yes, I said it, less than 80% South Sudanese citizen.

I’m calling on our parliament to protect South Sudanese interest from foreigners and presidential whims. We were treated by the Sudanese government as second class citizens, and foreigners in Juba are showing the same disrespect to the poor, powerless South Sudanese. The president is getting into that zone: disrespecting the intelligence of South Sudanese citizen through lack of consultation.

Oyay Deng Ajak, is that what you fought for? Pagam Omum, aren’t you wasting your time negotiating oil agreements that’ll only be controlled by foreigners, not the people you fought for? Marial Benjamin, you annoy us every week with embarrassing positions not researched at all while the average person’s interest is being betrayed by you and your colleagues! Hon. Wani Igga, you lead a parliament that is basically useless! Why aren’t you leading them into protecting the interest of the people they were elected to protect?

Mr. VP. Riek Machar, when you split in 1991 you had a roaster of grievances and governance strategy to ‘reform’ the movement for the benefit of the people of South Sudan; you claim credit for championing the course for self-determination…now we have it…where has your brain gone to? Why can’t you implement the 1991 political and reformist platform you and Lam Akol brandished as a reason for split? Are you very rich that you’ve forgotten that you meant to help the average South Sudanese?

Mr. Machar, you sadly told Aljazeera immediately you and Kiir decided to shut down oil production that South Sudan has reserves. Did you mean the reserves were to help run the government and pay those exorbitant salaries of workers who do nothing, or did you mean the reserves would help the average South Sudanese? You know many have gone for months without pay. Reserves!!?? Oh, you don’t care about the average citizen, eh?

This is a sad state of affair and it’s high time everyone in leadership start to realize that cultic crusade should stop and the parliament should start representing the interest of the people, not the president.

Kuir ё Garang is a South Sudanese poet, author and publisher currently living in Calgary, Alberta. He’s the author of the newly released novel, The Pipers and the First Phase. For more information, visit

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