By Goy Malual Leek
December 13, 2012 (SSNA) — We have all heard the cries of the people of South Sudan in expressing their discontentment with the government of the day. And we have also heard the cries of the government of the Republic of South Sudan equally expressing their struggle to make their policies applicable to the masses effective. This shows a quick relapse in believe of our principles for the struggle where majority of people are retracting from the major fundamentals of the existence for the nation. This is a manifestation of the countless governing concepts seemingly theorised by the peoples of South Sudan and its government perhaps out of unconsciousness.
To be blunt enough, I would like to point out that as the people of the new nation; we are all doing more impairment than good to the newly created nation perhaps inadvertently according to global watch standards. A nation was not going to be similar to a United Nations-run refugee camp where the daily responsibilities for the livelihoods of all residents were apparently spontaneous neither was it going to resemble a neighbour’s house or a country of exile. The road was actually going to be quite tumultuous and potholed. Therefore, the procedures required to restore the dignity of the people of South Sudan are immeasurably daunting tasks; tasks that are not for the feint hearted as such are the basic requirements to creating an establishment where everything comes down to the nitty-gritty orientations to setting a precedence for a national prosperity.
Obtaining sovereignty as has been secured through the referendum and eventually through the affirmative public response of the independent vote was not effortless as evident and will not be simple to maintain either. A sovereign nation sounded a great ideal at a distance but a mere challenge at a closer look leading to experiencing it. To be sovereign is to be inalienable and thus requires absolutism – unconditional approach to complex tasks, amicable bond creation through sustainable development and perpetually principled programs with planned advancement in addressing the primary social and economic needs of the nation. This way the people of the new nation will have time to recuperate and revisit the past so as to instil into the present the characteristics of the struggle. The act could be accordingly emulated leading up to determining the future of the nation through constructive address to elementary concerns.
To elaborate on some basic ideals representing the nation, the following points will be explicated in reference to the national motto statements; Justice, Liberty and Prosperity
As to the significance of Justice
In the Motto of the Republic of South Sudan, justice has been prescribed as one of the three chief pillars to represent the foundation, proceedings of the nation (ROSS) and its government supposedly in a practical and a justified comportment.
In every society, justice is highly dependent on the resident cultures that are socially constructed through shared history, religion, social adaptations and mythologies. Therefore, it is crucial for both the government of South Sudan and its people to understand that justice differ as per cultural sets where ethics and moral values influence any given justice system. It is consequently insufficient and ineffective to solely base the South Sudanese justice system upon any global standardization however similar some Justice principles may form part of a generic concept.
However, as there are many contemporary theories subscriptive to Justice, it is imperative that any authority needs to prioritize and articulates justice in its prime sense and applicability basing it on the norms of the particular society to reflect pragmatism and legitimacy. Moreover, justice in its principal concept is distinct and fundamental than just the basic notions of mercy, fairness and well-wish. It is an instrumental concept that directs the activities of the government unto its people and conversely the unlimited reliance of people unto their government with the basic motive of serving and protecting as well as being served and protected, respectively, thus confirming and enshrining justice as a harmonious state of a nation.
Relative to the variations and other understandings of justice, few if not all acknowledgements are deemed necessary for justice to flourish. The public needs to understand where they stand in respect to justice and how they claim justice willingfully in scenarios of robust and dependable practice.
Significantly, retributive justice, restorative justice and distributive justice all do form part if not whole of the justice system and therefore needs proper projection by the system itself. Retributively, our system ought to have a clear projection of efficiency and efficacy in that the general population (inclusive) are aware that any wrong-doing will be met with a proportionate punishment hence creating deterrence and also availing safeguards.
Restoratively, the government is charged with a responsibility to reform and rehabilitate a society in bringing about harmony and reconciliation amongst the population without signs of favouritism. And distributively, our governments or administrative systems should at all time aspire to bring about social and economic equality to advance societal cohesiveness by means of secularism and absolute altruism.
In a just society where moral consciousness for equality is high, the inclination is always to prioritize and minimize negative popular uprising and extinguishing anarchic attitude to instilling change. They capitalize in the maximization of equality of all kinds especially of opportunity and of outcome. Among the various egalitarian approaches to creating reforms, philosophical concepts such socialism and communism have evolved and flourished over the past two hundred years portraying elements of egalitarianism.
As justice embodies fundamental variations and filaments, governments remain primarily the observers and legislators to overseeing the application of such variations to what constitute law. In a Utilitarian concept, it is best to educate the general public of what the needs are and that any action has a consequence thus embarking on morality for social benefits is essential. So, as a new nation, South Sudan needs to define its historical existence in justifiable terms to successfully bring about the justice it so desires if it so lacks.
Once again, it is important to revert to the protection aspect of the people by its government. Primarily, governments are there for numerous reasons well-known all; however, to protect “people” has varying projections; people need to be protected from themselves as to mean the protection of property and lives from eminent harm and destruction by others. And as far as governance is concerned, people need governments to put in place legal boundaries that assure them of their safety and that of family and businesses.
Fundamentally, protection needs to apply to all and on equal terms so as to serve its justification aspect. Nonetheless, people have the task too to protect their government from self-destruct in that the government should value the opinions of its people. This aspect is enshrined in the old saying that “governments are made by the people for the people”. The responsibility of the civil society heavily rest with greater involvement to see through functional governments. Failure to recognise the power of the people is to simply imply that the government is not a peoples’ government but a separate entity from the domain society.
This qualifies the statement that the government of South Sudan is a people’s government misconstrued otherwise. This analogy is based on the basic concept that as a new nation seeking justice, the people of South Sudan need to prioritise nationhood before neighbourhood. Our concept of justice does not correlate with what is practiced and thus require ultra-intrinsic realization of that fact. I call this a hypo-democracy syndrome phase, an attitude of seemingly being veiled and marred by the towering worldly concepts and principles of good governance neglecting our own interpretation of good governance. A government is only deemed good or functional by its people’s standards and not by foreign standards.
Our reference to democratic governments across borders seems to entirely shape and engulf the contemporary expectation which seems to be failing and killing the aspirations of so many innocent people. So in a nut-shell, we have not only imported foreign dress codes per se or foreign languages and fragmented cultures but are attempting to import foreign models of governance. Unfortunately, this concept is a fatal standpoint with grave crippling effects to nation building as it exceedingly warrants an atmosphere of imperialists’ subordination of resident government resulting to underdevelopment and elements of social unrest.
So in a firm defence to the future of our new nation, it is worth noting that our dealings as citizens could be equally mirrored to what type of a government we have in that the potential to make or break the new found sovereignty is in hands of the entire populace of the Republic of South Sudan. Moreover, let’s also consider that as much as we rely entirely on our government, we should also explore alternatives and avenues to advance our society if the consensus is that justice is not being served at best. If all mechanisms such as democratization show signs of malfunctioning, then other forms and systems of governance shall never fail a nation if the spirit is to steer the country onto the right direction of progressive development and social reformation.
Therefore, the Republic of South Sudan (inclusive) after identifying justice as a pillar upon which the nation stands should constantly encourage proper exhibition of a practical functional legal institutionalised system that clearly reflect and support the motto i.e. crimes must be privately and independently investigated to usher in truth through the justice system where lawyers, jury and judges have the impartiality to present a justified conclusion to an alleged crime or misconduct.
As to the significance of Liberty
Though there are different conceptions of Liberty in the contemporary global society such as negative, positive and social liberties, South Sudan as a nations has its distinct application as to the function of the inclusion of Liberty onto the motto manuscript. Its essentiality is far reaching and one that aims to safeguard the livelihood of the people of the nation however theoretical or ambiguous to the general public. Liberty is hereby meant to typically represent the ability of the people of South Sudan to have freedoms and rights without coercion and compulsion; this can be traced in the acronyms of the current governing political party, the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM)
Therefore, it is true to argue that the government of the Republic of South Sudan has a priority to secure the rights of the people within the realms of the social contract forged on the numerous infamous conventions i.e. the referendum of 2010 and the independence of 2011 and many future activities requiring the peoples’ vote such as elections and so forth. These are major milestones showcasing the might of the people and their will to help attain a certain arrangement. As to confer with the pragmatic concept of these actions mentioned above, the government has been entrusted with the responsibility of converting that power into a legacy for the people of South Sudan to continue the support of their government.
Moreover, it is important to note that Liberty is an embodiment of the Libertarian views which suggests that as much as people can behave and act as they do, they are equally responsible for the results of such actions so as not to interfere with others’ liberty. The government of South Sudan has the entirety of power to create confidence in the laws of the state having the full confidence of the people hence having a full domestic sovereignty keeping in mind that man is forever free by nature, liner homo, and that he/she is not under any dependence or anyone’s arbitrary will.
Under the theory of social contract which has been extensively popularized by the Enlightenment thinkers such as Jean-Jacque Rousseau, Thomas Horbes and John Locke, the people of South Sudan ought to have a coherent confidence in that the government fosters a practical liberal society consistently monitored and regulated to ensure safeguards on freedoms and rights. The government is hereby affirmatively responsible with the supposition in view of the fact that liberty remains to be one of its guiding principles.
As a modern and a contemporary concept, liberty also denotes an aspect of egalitarianism and libertarianism. Therefore, South Sudan as a nation ought to deliver on a working modality to project the desired liberty either from the government to its people and vice versa from the people to their government. This analogy reminds me of a saying by Dr. John Garang that “poor people have a poor government”. This happens to be one of my favourite quotes from him because not only does he probes into people’s ability to be stronger than their government, but he also challenges the people that without a strong (any perspective) societal economic independence, any government is deemed weak.
As to the significance of Prosperity
Even though the widespread prosperity has occasionally been associated with wealth and immense successful fortunes, it also means the affluence or the social status of any given inhabitant society per geographical location with commonalities such as shared politics, economy, culture and religion. A nation could also be deemed prosperous by standards of low foreign debts, surplus economy and continuously achieving and meeting promises on socio-economic policies whereby the degree of happiness in the general public is elevated.
As a guiding aspect and an element on the national motto, prosperity is hereby allotted as a goal and a lead star. It is therefore impossible to conclude that South Sudan is a prosperous nation unless in terms of natural abundance not yet subjected to conversion into products and service. Equally, we cannot blame any given South Sudanese authority for the lack of prosperity regardless of its grandeur responsibility due to time ratio per any determinant. Pragmatically, the nation ought to be groomed and steered towards the varying attributes of democratic governments such that people could realise prosperity through consensus and collectivism. A guiding vision towards such systems of governance will eventually guide the nation away from a pejorative form of governance which potentially warrants anarchic and an authoritarian government with dismal consequences.
South Sudanese communities across the three main regions (Equatoria, Uppernile and Bhar El Ghazal) have for so long lived under a natural principled philosophy of prosperity. This principle has been based on the concept of collectivism whereby a society’s prosperity is based on the contribution of all that make and constitute the society. Such a conclusion could be argued to be at odds with contemporary engulfing capitalistic societies given the constant labelling of capitalism as a greedy concept capable of allotting prosperity degrees to specific marginal group within members of a society.
The motto; Justice, Liberty and Prosperity in the context of the Republic of South Sudan is appropriate and a brilliant projection of what a nation should aspire to. However, the current situation is presumably negating this notion. Our public is disgruntled and our government is faced with immense challenges to meeting the needs of its people. This state of the nation (ROSS) is one that needs a thorough intellectual scrutiny and proper analysis by all concerned of perpetual progress in order to forge a way out. The current blame-game is not going to present us with an exit strategy from the shackles that have thwarted the nation from achieving the prescribed national interests as well as international obligations.
As identified and highly visible in the triad commitment crowned upon the nation through Justice, Liberty and Prosperity, it is envisioned that the people of south Sudan have a greater gain by working towards achieving the goals of our motto. This should be done irrespective of the emergent perceived maladministration. At a greater stance, the national defence force being our amour and shield ought to work alongside the public for the achievement of any stability required should the civil society be under any prominent threat to advancing national prosperity either internally or externally.
Considerably, being a new nation should not be a curse and should not prevent us from advancing our national interests or neither should the time (2005-2011) that have passed justify a full developmental outcome. The forthcoming period should be dedicated to giving peace a chance, to flourish although the conditions for peace are being slammed with chaotic deadly news every now and then, news that have reverberated and shook the nation from under its feet thus creating fear and distrust amongst all. However, as a nation, we have a responsibility to firstly prevent dissension at any cost and provide for a framework for a unitary approach to nation building.
South Sudan is not just a great nation per se, but a destined great nation. This simply means that credible research into our history needs affirmation and that the current turbulence will come to pass and greatness shall prevail though we are seemingly in search of our national identity perhaps mistaken with our national entity, something that has long been established before the colonial era through our geographical boundaries. Indeed the current turmoil is being expounded by numerous factors impacting on progressive growth. Notably, the civil war has caused a major dependency syndrome that has proved crippling in any reforms attempted to propel the country into motion. Such a dependency has been manifested in all aspects of the nation’s existence, in both the governance systems and in the civil society’s quest to provide for alternatives hence accelerating the rate of foreign reliance such as on foreign aid.
In conclusion, the government of south Sudan is a one such government faced with numerous tasks pending almost at once, some of which are hyped and exaggerated in their performance. The public has been at odds with its government since the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement by a wider margin compared to times it has been in accord. Scenarios have presented themselves in favour of critics and against the government. Whether this is a sign of weakness by the government or a sign of over-expectation by the public remains a conflicting mystery within the realms of governance and seamless distinction of responsibilities.
Public dissatisfaction and disenchantment have varied at differing height over the last seven years. Particularly, the issue of Abyei has less public awareness as far as diplomacy is concerned. The public is not contented of the efforts and proceedings of the government and therefore there have been instances of distorted information on what is exactly involved in the discussions.
Equally, the alleged embezzlement of the $4bln has projected an image that the government of the new nation does not fancy to be associated with. The facts on how the figure of the $4bln was allotted is something mysterious to the public and some prominent politicians alike, however, the government has a chance to present any case deemed corrupt to its public and anyone responsible ought to not serve the public in any of the high offices. This is a task and an obligation for the government to serve its public in good faith and continue to enjoy the trust of the people.
In recent case of the oil production dispute, the issue of Heglig/Panthuo is one that has seemed to have lowered the level of our government’s approval in handling diplomatic dialogue and the level of political sophistication. The main reason is that the government’s decision seemed in best interest of the public relative to defending the nation from Khartoum’s oil field land grabs. However, it later transpired that there was no reserved plan for the action taken. So whether it meant deterrence or protection, the action seemed to have done more damage to our economic stability than previously thought.
Though the above have been mentioned in specification to the motto statements of justice, liberty and prosperity, there remain many other instances that are worthy of exploring subject to the way forward for the Republic of South Sudan. However, I have only identified a few that internally matter. Hereby, it is worth noting that the government of South Sudan has indeed displayed an attitude of a functional government as per the current established governing apparatus.
Moreover, given the history of the struggle, the government of South Sudan have laid a reasonable foundation for the future of the country by the standard of its ability and leadership experience. The course however, needs strengthening by forming a link, a bridge between the government and the people such that the nation progresses in a singular determined direction and put aside politically and financially motivated self-interested bargains. Nonetheless, it will require compromise from both side (people + government) to distinctively differentiate critiques on the government as a system and its officials, and the country as an integral indivisible entity shared by all its populace.
The current ruling political party, the Sudan People Liberation Movement is transitioning from non-existing democratic structured governance after it has waged successful guerrilla warfare by global standards setting a high bar; hence it now needs to lead by such standards in the 21st century. The ROSS is somewhat better positioned to have emerged a new nation at such a technologically robust era. It therefore, needs to utilize this period efficiently and promptly. The government should at all times engage the public through social and economic reforms to advance its public policies, conversely, the people of south Sudan needs to hear the government’s cry for help since such a plea does echo loudly at the international arena.
Hail the Republic of South Sudan! Peace be upon the Republic of South Sudan!
The writer is a dual citizen of the Republic of South Sudan and Australia, currently residing in Australia. He can be reached through the private e-mail of; [email protected].