A C-turn and SPLM is full swing into Regionalism

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

May 21, 2013 (SSNA) — Regionalism has made it back into the South Sudanese politics, thanks to the leadership of the ruling SPLM that sees these as a way to grainer regional loyalties before the 2015 general elections.

So far three regional conferences have already been sponsored and held by the SPLM ruling party that brought together party leaders from the three states that comprise the Greater Equatoria Region.

But although other quarters did voice some criticism to the holding of these conferences, it’s now clear that the top leadership in the country was indeed not only directly involved in planning and executing them, but is in fact the primary beneficiary. 

We don’t need any more evidence to prove that these regional gatherings are being used by the SPLM as alternatives to the party’s national conference (or so-called convention). The resolution adopted  at the Greater Bahr el Ghazal Region’s first ever regional gathering recently held in Wau to support president Salva Kiir Mayardit’s candidacy for the forthcoming 2015 general elections has said it all and this is an extract of what it said, I quote:

“The greater Bahr el Ghazal regional leaders have adopted a resolution to fully support the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit now and beyond 2015.” Gurtong 20/05/2013.

In contrast the position held by the SPLM Equatoria leadership in its last conference was to uphold some neutrality on the issue of supporting any one candidate for the party chairmanship. The assumption is that a real SPLM party convention will be held sooner or later and it will be there that they express their views on the issue. 

This position to avoid openly being seen in favour of any one presidential candidate also reflects how divided the Equatoria SPLM leadership is in its preference for the two self-declared candidates. Nowhere can this be better seen than in Hon. James Wani Igga attendance of the Wau conference as a representative to president Kiir.

So going by what has come from the Greater Bahr el Ghazal (SPLM) regional conference, should a similar regional conference be held by SPLM in Greater Upper Nile Region, the outcome will for sure have the final say on whether regionalism has finally become the way to go by in SPLM’s South Sudan politics.

None of these unraveling scenarios are far from explaining the country’s stratagems and polity.   Equally so is the much evidenced statements emanating from the SPLM top echelon as can be seen the deputy chairman, Dr. Riek Machar’s warning in Juba as it appeared in the Sudan Tribune and I quote:  

“May 19, 2013 (JUBA) – The deputy chairman of the South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Riek Machar has warmed of a possible collapse of party, unless it democratically transforms and re-focuses itself”. It went on to say.

Addressing senior officials at the party’s general secretariat that the SPLM had “lost direction and vision”, making references to reports from various state secretariats across the country, which depicts the party was largely unpopular.

Obviously a political party that is continuously dodging its National Convention and instead choses to settle major party issues in regional conferences that should have been better confined to inter-states affairs – has for sure lost direction and vision.

However the truth be said and said loud, for its no secret anymore that regionalism which many superficially minded people would want to criminalize and equally blame for being responsible for the rudimentary state of affairs in the country, is in fact ignoring the fact that this is just the symptom of yet a huge organizational defect that the people of South Sudan under SPLM rule are forced to take refuge in.

You can talk all your bla bla blab la about political parties; however the bottom line is that all these so-called political parties are more than ready to succumb to regional loyalties.  Don’t look far for a proof. It’s all there embodied in the SPLM where once everyone was referred to as comrade. Not too long when they all went back pointing fingers at one another this time as  Dinka, Nuer , Bari, Azande, Fartit, Shilluk, Murle etc  ………..name it.

Now it seems that the best that RSS can ever get to under Salva Kiir’s SPLM leadership, is to refer to people by their regions or former colonial provinces of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal. No one needs to be ashamed of that and should we all agree on it – since we are already doing it in our daily lives, then we can go ahead to adopt it as the government structure for our so much talked about federalism – thus pleasing both the regionalists like Hon. Kiir and Hon. Wani Igga and the federalists like our prolific opinion writer none other than elder Jacob K. Lupia.

SPLM has lost both the direction and the vision; in other wards it has become blind to follow any clear direction. People can deceive themselves by pretending to resuscitate it; however for the people in the grassroots, this thing called SPLM was to some extend good until the declaration of the Independence. Thereafter believe you me; even those born after the independence are aware that this party has since become irrelevant.

In brief but to the point,  it is important to draw the attention of my dear readers to this  very important fact , and that is both president Salva Kiir Mayardit and his deputy Dr. Riek Machar Teny can only use their ethnicities and their regional (Provincial) backings to run and win the 2015. This will have nothing to do with the so-called SPLM vision – for it no longer exists.

We are all aware that these two candidates and their so-called SPLM party has since regressed into a rudimentary organisation and if anything just read what president Kiir said in his letter to the 75 senior SPLM officials who were implicated in the embezzlement of no less than $4 b dollars of the public money. Here I quote:

"We fought for freedom justice and equality," Kiir added, about the decades-long war against Khartoum. "Yet, once we got to power, we forgot what we fought for and began to enrich ourselves at the expense of our people."

Under SPLM one party system and Kiir’s totalitarian leadership, South Sudan has gone all the way to make a C- turn and embrace regionalism as the nation’s direction, vision and only way to leadership. You can agree or disagree, but the truth remains that more of these are likely be witnessed should the same leadership remain unchanged.

Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General – United South Sudan Party [USSP]. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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