June 9, 2013 (SSNA) — Notwithstanding the many voices that continue to relentlessly advocate for a federal system of government in South Sudan, the issue of type of governance to be adopted in this newly independent country remains largely unsettled.
A federalist myself, I have always wanted to do everything I can in order to bring about the realization of what I not only consider as the best way forward for the multi-ethnic South Sudan, but also a responsible and historical judgment handed over to my generation by our fathers, most of whom are no more with us today.
Hence my primary intention here is to highlight the current unraveling political developments in the country and how they are likely to impact on us as a nation and how we move towards addressing the existing anomaly in our system of governance.
As much had already been written by better scholars than my humble self on how federalism is bent to benefit our nascent country of South Sudan, by taking the towns to the villages, a goal that we have collectively failed to attain under the existing centralized or better still a pseudo-devolved system, I plan not to bore you with that again here.
However before delving much into the core theme of this article, I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to each and every South Sudanese who sacrificed much of their valuable time to persistently write and educate our masses on this central issue. We will still need each other in our endeavor to see this giant political leap move into fruition.
But as things stand now, the next and immediate challenge of how to bring this much talked about ‘federalism’ into a practical reality, requests us to initiate the often overlooked task of identifying possible avenues through which this new dispensation can be engraved in a new and permanent constitution that will survive the test of time.
Let us be under no illusion that the coming period is going to be an easy one. It has been an uphill struggle all through because changing the mindset of certain communities who for mere power greediness defined South Sudan in a way that only serves their chauvinistic agendas, won’t be an easy task.
Bringing federalists together under one discussion forum is necessary if we are to readily answer the national call. This will eventually enable us to forge effective alliances all across the socio-political and ethno-political divides.
One practical way of achieving this strategy is to encourage grassroots engagements throughout the forthcoming period and successfully overcoming the traditional powers of darkness as represented in the status quo and its beneficiaries.
It is our faith in federalism that will see us through and that is more than enough to fuel the long political journey that lies ahead. Our immediate aim in the run up to the 2015 general elections would be to see more and more of those candidates, aspiring for seats in the national legislative assembly and the various state assemblies declaring their positions on the “federal system” before we proceed to either accept or reject them.
New development as the heated debates gather momentum…………….
By the sound of it, people who read the Sudan Tribune article on June 4, 2013 (JUBA) under the heading : ” Vice-president says the federal system best for governing South Sudan”, will undoubtedly agree that H.E Dr. Riek Machar is one such candidate who has an unequivocally declared his support for federalism. I quote:
“Federalism is the best system of governance for South Sudan, said the country’s vice-president, Riek Machar, who further advocated for the creation of more states in the country”. The article reads.
Further to this, the incumbent Vice President also signaled to a couple of other things like the creation of more states. However it was his boldness in declaring his support for federalism which not only echoes well with a large section of the country’s population, and especially so the minorities, but it also falls in line with the long held demand for this form of governance since the 1947 Conference, already referred to earlier in this article. These declared positions are likely to win him more followers and supporters.
But as we are still not completely out of the woods yet, it is time that we reflect on why our fathers weren’t successful in similar calls for federalism in the Old United Sudan. Learn a good lesson of history and you will persevere in this world.
Our forefathers’ inability to persuade their northern counterparts on the issue of federalism were largely due to the educational gap that existed between the two groups, but novice also played its part. Northerners in 1956 had already mastered political shrewdness to which the southerners were no match, not to talk of the general anti-native political atmosphere that prevailed in the world at that time. Money also exchanged hands. But where do you and I as federalists stand today in the independent republic of South Sudan? You will have to answer that for yourselves!
Be reminded that although the White, the Yellow and finally the Brown colonialist have come and gone, we are still not safe from ourselves. Blinded by greed for power and their ego to socially and economically cannibalize on fellow countrymen, our so called liberators are now playing the new masters in the country. What was initially meant to consolidate agrarianism has only benefited a few and created a new set of oppressors.
An equally important development reported in the Sudan Tribune article on June 4, 2013 (JUBA), is Dr. Riek Machar’s support for the creation of more states in the country. This is a second sign that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel, a thing bound to receive much applause and garner him extra political support across wider electorates the nationwide.
In short, what we are witnessing here is an indisputable increase in the “political will” to implement federalism. And at this stage no one in their right state of mind can still go around to portray federalism as an exclusive Equatoria thing. The one obvious fact now is, all federalist across South Sudan’s ethno-political divide are convinced that not only are their communities set to benefit from a federal system of governance, but also see it a sure way of attaining a better placed national unity.
However I must make this crystal clear to all my readers that this article is never meant for the promotion of Dr. Riek Machar’s candidacy in any way. What I primarily intend to promote and celebrate here is the fact that he has openly expressed his position on the long debate on federalism.
Winning one crucial battle in the “political will” front represents a strategic achievement that should interest all supporters of the proposed federal system of governance, from Renk to Nimule, from Akobo to Nagero and from Narus to Kafia Kinji. And in as far as democratic politics is concerned; this is one big step forward, and in the right direction.
On the other hand as we are still one and a half years away from the 2015 general elections, it could just as well mean that there is still room for the other presidential candidate(s) to come up with a similar support for federalism. Should this happen, it will only push federalism further into the center of events and increase its chances for realization.
The other technicalities can at the time being, better left to be dealt with by more qualified committees. The creation of new states is obviously a key issue for a more efficient system and many such calls have already reached the office of the incumbent president, unfortunately he has shown no interest in that direction. By so doing he has disappointed many communities and lost their trust in him.
Money to run the federal system is not the issue here and this needs to be made abundantly clear to our friends who while busy embezzling the public coffer under the current anomalous structure, are always quick to jump in, to tell us that federalism is an expensive system to run!!
I totally disagree with them, for I believe that under a federal system of government, given the limited area size of the territory and the small number of population to be served by the state government, every official becomes under thorough public scrutiny.
Secondly, how can we have the money that our politicians are freely helping themselves to [those $4 billion dollars, the ones that go missing on daily basis from the President’s Bank in his office, and the many others that we know of and those we don’t know or may never know of], and yet you want to tell us there is none to run an efficient system that is more likely to cut down on any financial spoils?
And further in line with the spirit of good governance, the current rotten financial policies are bound to become obsolete, as the bulk of the country’s budget will be transferred to and spent in the states and by the states governments.
That time if you are an elected governor in your state and you chose to embezzle the public money, then you will have to iron it up with your people in the court of law, away from any central government coming to your protection.
This far, should any other candidate(s) still come up to support the rotten status quo, and insist to block federalism, only to promote some ethnically driven politics with the intent of tribal domination, let them rest assured that such ethnic supremacist(s) will never make it to the presidency whichever way s/he or they come up with the calculations.
Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, is the Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.[You don’t have to wait till your party is in power to have an impact on life at home and around the world.]