Absolute power corrupts absolutely

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

July 11, 2013 (SSNA) — As South Sudan celebrates the second anniversary of its independence from Sudan, the world will better remember it as a country which made it nonstop to the league of the failed states, less than two years from the moment it was declared sovereignty.  However its traditional pride continues to be the resilience of its people whose support for the decision to secede from Sudan never wavers. They have recently even shown more maturity in their nationalism by successfully differentiating between the current state of affairs in their country and the opportunities that still lay ahead for many generations to come. No wonder at all, that they received the second anniversary of their hard won independence with reflections and contemplations.

It is true that, despite claims by the government that vast sums of money, in their billions of dollars that came from the Oil revenue and the International aid funds have been expended on investment in infrastructure, there is very little to show in the way of roads, medical services, and education for millions of South Sudanese who greeted the prospect of independence with eagerness and hope.

But down inside, the people are optimistic, that sooner than later, they will be able to get rid of the current corrupt administration and replace it with one that will have a clear vision and a set path to reposition this resource rich state in its rightful place, where it will lead the continent in areas of good governance, stability, security, economic development and food production.

Nothing of the kind mentioned above can ever be achieved without first bringing about drastic changes in the political landscape all across this country. How mysterious nature is to make possible the antidote of fatal conditions, attainable from what is left of the assailant, and the reaction produced by the victim. In many instances vaccines have been successfully developed from dead or attenuated organisms that used to cause the diseases in the first place.Today South Sudan is on a rendezvous with this discovery.

The emerging split within the ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) in recent months, with several senior officials publicly challenging Kiir’s bid for a new term,   if anything, it signifies an imminent end to president  Salva Kiir Mayardit’s visionless and clannish leadership. And our country is about to change course and sail towards a new direction with ultimate change of the old guard. But will Riek, Pa’gan and Nyandeng lead the split this time around, and salvage the country from the imminent collapse under Salva Kiir’s leadership?

From all the writings on the wall, SPLM is undoubtedly heading towards an inevitable breakage, more than any time in its entire history. Whether the outcome will be two or more factions, the end result is that they are likely to be more manageable political units, than what the “mother party” has lately become. We look forward to that and we encourage it as we look forward for multi- party democracy and encourage the realization of both for a better South Sudan.

President Salva Kiir has only himself to blame, because his party had unanimously given him all powers that an emperor can dream of in this world. Instead of using those powers wisely, he plunged the country right into an unfathomable mess.  As the South Sudanese poet, author and publisher living in Canada,  my fellow compatriot  Kuir ë Garang has stated it eloquently  in his article : ‘Accountability as the Golden and Cultural Phenomenon’, that appeared on the southsudannewsagency.com on July 2, 2013 (SSNA), that :

“Corruption isn’t going to end through the arrest of few individuals. What the government has to do is to establish systemic instruments that can act as deterrents for would-be corrupt employees”. I can’t agree more.

The president should have used his unlimited powers to establish deterrents to corruption in public offices, but he didn’t.  What he did was to use corruption as a tool of blackmail, in order to secure loyalty. And today we are seeing long standing ‘Corruptions Lords’ only are being confronted after they have fallen off with the boss.

To say the least, most of the state governors are up to their eyebrows, in corruption, but as long as they remain loyal to president Kiir, nothing bad will happen to them. All state governors, National Ministers and senior government officials who have been in office, starting well before the independence of the country, have all without exceptions, enriched themselves through the misappropriation of public money.

Of the many ironies in the country, the Vice President Riek Machar has publicly broken his silence and has criticized his boss on several occasions for the inevitable demise of the regime and the party. In an interview with The Guardian, published Thursday 4 July 2013 16.40 BST, VP Riek blames President Kiir for having failed to tackle the rampant corruption, rising tribalism, overwhelming insecurity, dwindling economy, poor international relations.  And he went further to stress that the SPLM as a political party has lost vision and direction. [ www.guardian.co.uk/…ek-machar-south-sudan-ambition… ]

On the other hand it is already an open secret worldwide that those who have benefitted in South Sudan and have become wealthy by misappropriating government funds—have often sent their families outside South Sudan, their children to private schools abroad, and have obtained the best medical services available in the world. “This occurs while ordinary citizens who remain in South Sudan cannot afford even basic health services or modest educations for their children" lamented a group of US-based activists that calls itself the “Friends of South Sudan”, in a letter they wrote to President Salva Kiir, warning him of the imminent collapse of the new country, should he not hurry up with crucial reforms.

Everyone who loves South Sudan, including this author, has repeatedly called for the complete overhauling of the SPLM party. This position has recently been echoed by the ‘Friends of South Sudan’. While this could have been the solution one year ago, it is no longer the case now, for as the SPLM stands today, borrowing the words of its late founder Dr. Garang de Mabior, this party has become “too deformed to be reformed”.

Worse still, the spill overs from the internal power struggles are now about to choke the entire state machinery and set yet another precedent, where political manipulations by a “one party” state, ends devouring the party itself.   President Kiir’s last minute efforts to save his regimes’ image unfortunately are bound to fail. They are too little, too late!

This far, haven’t we learnt any valuable lessons yet? For it will be completely unfair to put all the blames on Mr. President alone without equally condemning the SPLM stooges who for reasons only known to them, chose to empower him [president] absolutely. Have we forgotten that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely? We don’t want this mistake repeated and our people should do
everything to avoid it from happen again.

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba can be reached at: [email protected]

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