By Wani Tombe Lako
February 11, 2013 (SSNA) — Dr Luka Biong, for reasons best known to him, and he is entitled to his personal opinion, is calling for the withdrawal of South Sudanese Ambassador to Khartoum. I said for reasons best known to Dr Biong, because, the political issues, and other economic and financial misunderstandings, plus the borders and Abyei problems, as between Juba and Khartoum are not good enough reasons for the withdrawal of our ambassador to Khartoum.
In fact, for the above reasons, we must have a good ambassador in Khartoum, and I think that, we already have one in Khartoum. Ambassador Extraordinary H.E. Mayen Dut is doing an excellent job in Khartoum, given the circumstances in which he is operating, in terms of all the issues that, Dr Biong based his call for the withdrawal of the said ambassador.
Some SPLM politicians do not run out of capacities, and capabilities, to amuse, and surprise South Sudanese. It appears that, some SPLM politicians have a unique and peculiar understanding of politics, be it national or international politics. While politicians all over the world, shall always crave for political solutions, to almost most of political challenges; some SPLM politicians always, want to run away from political engagements, with other politicians. What is the problem?
I just want to know, suppose Ambassador Extraordinary H.E. Mayen Dut is recalled back to Juba; how is this going to help in the resolution of these intricate issues? You will just be making another South Sudanese diplomat and human asset, to sit idle in Juba, for some personal emotional reasons.
I do not think that, the South Sudanese Minister for Foreign affairs, should even give such a ridiculous suggestion, one minute of his time, let alone, carrying it into Cabinet meetings, as a prudent foreign policy input, into these issues. Someone, somehow, and somewhat, is just trying to attract attention for the wrong reason. We have enough muddling of polity, politics and policies in South Sudan.
It is true that, countries recall their ambassadors for consultations, and others sever diplomatic relations and such like. However, countries at war also maintain their diplomatic relations for obvious reasons. That is politics for you. On the other hand, the withdrawals of ambassadors, and severance of diplomatic relations, are not decisions taken so lightly, and these decisions are not used as commonplace tools of diplomatic relations, or international relations. These are extremely rare decisions, albeit necessary ones at times.
However, the outstanding issues as between Khartoum and Juba are not issues which just sprang out of the blues. For example, the Abyei and borders issues have their own instruments and political and such like mechanisms, for their immediate or subsequent resolutions. The economic and security issues do also have their established framework instruments, and mechanisms of resolutions. Now then, where does the necessity for the withdrawal of our ambassador to Khartoum arise from?
Is it not true that, Khartoum and Juba actually started talking fruitfully after the formal exchange of ambassadors? Is it not also true that, these respective ambassadors actually helped smoothen the rough edges of Juba-Khartoum diplomacy? Is it not true that, the presences of these ambassadors in Juba and Khartoum, act like the political and diplomatic pressure valves, for maintaining the stability of this diplomatic vessel, and thus its slow voyage towards the required common positive destination?
This suggestion by Dr Biong reminds me of the yester years of SPLM involvement and participation in the government of national unity (GoNU), during the interim period of the CPA. Those were the times characterised by endemic SPLM withdrawals from Parliament, and government, for some dubious reasons which caused the peoples of South Sudan a great deal of political capital.
We are now an independent State, and independent States handle political and diplomatic issues with seasoned political maturity and statesmanship. The days of SPLM emotional political decisions should cease. Had the SPLM handled the initial misunderstandings over the oil revenue issue, between Juba and Khartoum, with some semblances of prudential politics, we in South Sudan would not be going through this ordeal at the moment. We would not have entered into these protracted economic and financial issues in the first place.
The SPLM shut down the pipelines without proper economic and financial cost-benefit analysis. For the SPLM, everything is emotional politics, coupled with emotional political decisions-making. What actually makes it more annoying, especially for those discerning South Sudanese, is the fact that, the SPLM was/is even taken by surprise, by the ensuing comprehensive ramifications, of their political decision, to tamper with massive economic and financial infrastructure, without proper economic and financial cost-benefit analysis.
Now, the SPLM is blaming Khartoum for not allowing the resumption of crude oil export. Does the SPLM know that, politics is cunning calculations, saturated in interests maximizations? We in South Sudan are the ones suffering the most, as a result of politics of emotions. Some SPLM politicians find it difficult to understand that, politicians go into politics for the maximizations of national interests, and the national interests are embedded in the comprehensive happiness of the populace, and not political parties and their operatives and managers.
We are now suffering in South Sudan, and we are now thinking of building new pipelines, at times when, we could not afford that, and at times when these are not supposed to be the priorities. All these difficulties, and sufferings, are due to the fact that, some SPLM politicians, were running away from political engagements with their political counterparts in Khartoum.
When the going got tough, some of these SPLM politicians thought that, shutting down the pipelines was the most prudent solution, because, it allows them to relax and have easy times in Juba. We are now threatened with economic and financial collapse, as a young State; because of this reckless culture of running away from political engagements with other politicians.
If some SPLM politicians cannot withstand the pressures of politics, they should call it a day. National politics ought not to be overwhelmed by party political and personal considerations. National politics are not also realised by formation of new cabinets, especially if these new cabinets, are nothing but the recycling of same tired, and tried faces, and brains of those, who are ever characterised by politics of emotions.
However, what is the meaning of new cabinets in SPLM parlance? You can call these new cabinets technocratic cabinets, and such like. What are technocrats good for, if they are not allowed to really run the show based on the requirements of transparency, accountability, the rule of law, and meritocracy? Some SPLM politicians think that they are the only capable South Sudanese, to the extent that, if they are not in any cabinet, that government is always a failure. This is known as political selfishness and zero-sum politics.
It ought to be understood that, ridiculous political suggestions, cannot always become groundbreaking political inputs, within party political parlance; to the extent that, the person, or persons making such ridiculous suggestions, must automatically be included in any new cabinet. It is easy to talk oneself into a cabinet post, especially in these eras of liberation politics, and where others think that, they are extremely politically indispensable for reasons best known to them.
It is not true that, the SPLM is the ultimate national crucible of political luminaries. There are many nationalists in South Sudan, who are ready to serve their peoples while living in a hut or Tukul; without costing the nation a fortune, in hotel bills, paid to others, who sometimes come straight from dole queues, into ministerial posts. One wonders what minster that shall be. Or from dole queues into an ambassadorial; or governor’s; or deputy governor’s post, the list is long. This is the tragedy of South Sudan.
The Author is a Professor of Social Development and Lecturer in Laws.