South Sudan under SPLM’s “Mock Democracy”

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

February 3, 2013 (SSNA) — When a system of governance is not founded on concrete institutions, such a system will obviously come to show signs of instability given the fact that its foundation wasn’t   thoroughly thought through before the heavy load of running a nation is finally superimposed on it. This is the situation in our country.

South Sudan has ever since been a home to all kinds of problems that impacted negatively on the citizens starting from the days of the European and Arab slave traders, the cultural and religious conquest, to the modern day colonialism, neocolonialism and imperialism as is continuously being imposed on us by both the Western governments on one hand and the so-called Arab Islamic world on the other.

Needless to overstress here is the second civil war that left a huge legacy on the whole population and the institutions by further complicating an already complicated situation set back the on almpst everything.

Nonetheless the need for a system of governance has always existed and one way or the other the establishment and development of such a system was squarely the responsibility of those who had the upper hand in running the day to day affairs of the territories under their control.

It is here that whatever system of governance that was used in areas under the SPLM/A seems to have followed them right into their new positions as rulers of the newly independent country.

Conversely the whole story about southern Sudan during the two decades of the bush war has never and will never be fully told since many voices have been either silenced through blackmailing or otherwise, and not forgetting those who have voluntarily chosen to keep their mouths shut. 

But as the days go by it will the outrageous and countless irrational behaviors of those in top offices  that is  bound to betray the so-called liberators  as the chickens come home to roost. 

To state the obvious, South Sudan’s government structures that existed during the interim period of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement are still largely relevant today. 

It was largely the constitution that needed a review to suit our new status as an independent country following the 2011 self-determination referendum and indeed that was done in spite of  the way it was done.

What will continue to haunt us now is the fact  that  even  in their best forms, the reviewed laws [constitution] came out with outright  deadly abrasions since the whole process was overshadowed  by the massive presence of political greed and  patronage, typical of  the ‘politics of the  belly’.

The latest negative political developments in the country have brought the Lakes State to both the local and international spotlight as it sometimes bact bdid with Jonglei State and the others.

Although an unjustified use of a presidential decree have cost the popularly elected governor Engineer Chol Tong Mayay his job, but the appointment of yet another dismissed SPLA Maj. General as his successor have undoubtedly brought to the forefront the question as to whether the ruling SPLM party is in any way prepared to follow the path of democrcy and subsequenly respect the people’s choice of their leaders.

Of course whether the move itself was actually right or wrong is no longer a topic for discussion given the latest political developments in the embattled State. The new boss has already made his mark in his maiden speech to the citizens of the State who turned up in their thousands for the occasion.

But following the military caretaker Governor Maj. General Matur Chout Dhoul’s speech, not only has the Lakes State been thrown into a political confusion, but one can say that the whole lot has sent out shocking waves across  the entire nation of South Sudan and  beyond.

Maj. General Dhoul’s speech undoutedly reflects President Salva Kiir Mayardit official position in as far as what H.E.  wants to see being implemented in South Sudan, with the Lakes State as a starting point. 

If you think that you are far away in Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, Jonglei or the three states of Equatoria, then you are wrong. The lesson to take home is that,   better be prepared for your turn is just by the corner.

It cannot be overemphasized that as the going gets tough and the economic crisis coupled with the austerity measures begin to bite, one obviously expects some degree of nervousness from the people in authority.

But did anyone ever expect what came from the mouth of the caretaker Governor when he banned politics in the Lakes State? Read what he had to say and I quote:

“Anyone who is putting in mind that politics is his life in this state, you are wrong, no room for politics now till 2015,” said Dhoul. [ – 01/02/2013]

“He also warned members of the Lakes State’s legislative assembly to stop debating politics in parliament, saying he will shut down parliament if political topics continue.” [Sudan Tribune – 30/01/2013]

Fellow compatriots, as a nation we are requested to research our minds and question as to where this SPLM leadership is trying to drive the country?

It doesn’t really need a rocket science since we can all testify to the fact that the legislative assemblies in the ten states and the national legislative assembly in Juba the capital of South Sudan together with the redundant Upper House are indeed the creations of these guerrilla fighters turn politicians.

If they do not want MPs to engage in politics, then can they tell us why they had gone for this one dozen parliaments, and just now to turn around and begin telling them that they should no longer discuss politics?

The Lakes State may be experiencing a rampant wave of cattle rustling and subsequent losses of lives that are associated with it, however this state is not alone in that! Are we about to forget the mother of all chaos and instability in South Sudan, none but the “Jonglei State”? 

Or has the SPLM leadership dropped Unity State and Warrap State from being equally hot spots for the infamous cattle theft and retaliatory killings? Why single out the Lakes State as if it’s the only hell on earth in the entire territory of South Sudan?!

Alright, let’s say fair enough that H.E the president of the country has much loved his subjects in the Lakes State that he sent to them a savior in the person of Maj. General Matur Choul Dhoul. However it is crucial that the new Governor wins the hearts and the minds of his subjects before he can ever think of being successful in his mission.

He [new governor] rightly appealed to the citizens of the state to cooperate and work with him in order to realize his core mission as he reiterated that he was appointed for the sole purpose of “security reform”.

“My mission in Lakes state is to stop road ambushes and cattle raiding with neighboring states.” the Maj. General emphasized.

Besides that he [the de novo military governor] also reiterated other important points e.g. the stoppage of the unjustified scholarship for the children of the few greedy public figures and SPLM big shots. He deserves a credit for that.

We are all aware of the tight economic situation of the country and any little money saved from being spent on the little spoilt children can go to improve the schools in the state.

What I don’t quite understand is this warning to the MPs not to engage in political debates in the state parliament.  To the best understanding of an average person these MPs were elected with the sole purpose of finding political solutions to political problems in the state. Do you agree?!

These [MPs] are people paid in order to engage in politics, which they have to do very religiously and not only from the parliament buildings but anywhere in the state. Has something got lost in translation, which we don’t know about?

Let’s hope that, maybe the Governor wants the MPs to refrain from hate speeches or the incitation of communities against each other, and this is suggested entirely for argument’s sake. But even in such a case the boss is however still expected to make his message clearer, sharper and to the point.

Unfortunately given the circumstantial evidence this was not to be the case and the guy the president sent to save Lakes State from imminent self-destruction seems already clear in his prescription when he made it abundantly clear that it is going to be the commissioners who will have to confront the cattle rustlers in their respective counties or else risk losing their lucrative jobs.

On the other hand all of the Lakes State officials including the cabinet ministers have been instructed by H.E the new governor to report daily to their places of work on time. But do we really need a Maj. General before people can take their jobs serious and start being punctual for work?

You’re naïve if you consider this Maj. General as special simply because he doesn’t want to hear any nonsense from the parliament and its MPs on whom he has already passed his judgment.

To him these MPs are in fact part of the problem and not of the solution. Hence his justification that they shouldn’t be consulting one another in the parliament [discussing politics] in order to find a way out of this WAHALA! 

Should this be true then what we are witnessing in Lakes State is a military takeover [coup] with the blessing of the country’s Head of State.

Certainly this is breech of the core principle of democracy. Any constitution that approves of what is undemocratic is in itself undemocratic.

Sacking of democratically elected leaders is not the answer, neither to the widespread cattle rustling nor to the general insecurity the countryside. We cannot abandon our existing institutions simply because we have failed to use them   efficiently!

The solution to a weak democracy is more democracy and not otherwise. Let’s look into the reasons behind our institutions’ substandard performances and address the root causes through a holistic approach that can rejuvenate and empower them.  And should there still be a need  we should   establish more democratic institutions which when put to function together, they can  stand the toughest tests of time. 

South Sudan shouldn’t be allowed to take a step backwards in its long journey towards democracy, good governance and accountability. Please not again in the name of some kind of cattle rustling or any other of the many inter-ethnic clashes which are more often than not the direct making of our liberators turn politicians?

The people voted for their MPs and for God’s sake they should be allowed to hold them accountable. Military rulers were and are the cancers that continue to hold back the democratization process in Africa, one countries after the other. So now  is the case with the nascent state of South Sudan which the ruling SPLM party wants to bury alive.

After all, those former governors of Lakes State who preceded the overthrown and first ever elected civilian governor, Engineer Chol Tong Mayay, were all Military Generals and yet this very cattle rustling flourished under their watch.

So what is it that Maj. General Matur Dhoul is bringing along with him this time around which wasn’t available to those known tough guys the likes of General Daniel Awet Akot – the current deputy speaker in the national legislative assembly?

This military takeover of Lakes State government and the subsequent ban on MPs from engaging in   politics is by all measures a worrying development in the politics of South Sudan.

It will not surprise anyone if some SPLM loyalist or those who are mentally enslaved to the current regime come up to defend it as being constitutional which anyway was already done by the National Legislative Assembly in Juba.

Nonetheless the cunning, crafty and yet calculated move has exposed   yet another hidden agenda of the unpredictable SPLM leadership.  Who can now deny that this military takeover was pre-planned long ago and then wittingly insinuated into the transitional constitution?

And now when the time and the need came for it, all we are left to discuss is some kind of a constitutionally blessed coup d’état that overthrew an elected civilian governor. What a joke?!!

In short, everything had been properly rigged from the very start! The elections, then the transitional constitution and finally now the first step into the many military takeovers yet to come all across the country should nothing be done to check this mock democracy.

Subsequently given the way things are unfolding, even the safety of the yet to be written permanent constitution remains in the balance. Can anyone out there pin-point to the public what guarantee is there that this both unreliable and unpredictable SPLM leadership will not contemplate a frank in-house coup against even the little democracy that our people are seeking to establish?

Remember that it is only under mock democracies that there exist articles in the constitution to allow for a military takeover from a democratically elected leadership, and the imposition of blanket ban on MPs preventing them from engaging and discussing politics!! This must be another joke too!!

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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