Why all eyes are on South Sudan?

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

July 28, 2013 (SSNA) — It was long feared that an independent South Sudan would become ungovernable, that’s why all eyes were quick to converge on the country the moment it came face to face with its first ever post-independence political fall off amongst its ruling elites.

Aware of this, the politicians and the laity alike did well to handle this historical incidence with much maturity and sense of national responsibility while they intellectualize their ways through the multitude of man-made political hurdle.

We can give ourselves credit here, for the way we all behaved in the face of our first ever test as an independent country. There could still have been a better way of tackling the political question that emanated from the ruling SPLM’s internal power struggle, they say. Well, Kiir saw otherwise.

Just to remind ourselves, it’s time we clearly understand that South Sudan is no longer the world’s darling child that it used to be two years ago. And it has long run out of favors it used to get particularly so in the eyes of the western countries.

At the same time the world is also keenly noting the new trend in which our leadership in Juba is no more focused on the national question of peace, security, prosperity and freedom for all. The promise that the leadership gave on the eve of the country’s independence way back on the 9th, January 2011, are more or less becoming things of the past.

So what exactly went wrong? Unfortunately many things have changed over the last two years, and believe you me, the love of power for the sake of it, have slowly taken over.

Whatever sleepless nights our politicians in Juba are currently experiencing, is no longer about services to the public. Nor are they about guaranteeing their subjects security. Their nights have been taken over by the uncertainties of the new political game of ‘power struggle’ between the comrades.

The struggle in the corridors of power in Juba is now solely about how to maintain a comfortable milking position within this system where leaders milk directly into their mouths. And while the country awaits a new government, the new trend of seeking self-interest before the national interest has in fact taken root so deep so that nobody ever sees anything else.

Many more elected governors will continue to be sacked by the president whenever he sees it fit. And we are told that he need not give anyone any reasons for his actions. This is democracy the Kiir’s way. Should anyone disagree, then they are likely to be labeled as unpatriotic instigators.

One other issue of concern is the tendency by the incumbent president to selectively apply articles of the constitution only to suit his personal interests. A good example is the firing of elected governors and not going the extra mile to organize by-elections as stipulated in the constitution. This one undoubtedly has become his favorite.

In the recent political somersault the president has not only proven himself as an individual with tremendously unlimited powers, but he too made it bluntly clear that he is indeed above the law. This leaves the majority of the SPLM politicians with only few options to observe. To others it simply means: “you better know who butters your bread”. This is the ‘politics of the belly’.

Things don’t stop there. Everyone one is now eyeing every other’s chair. And it undoubtedly goes to explain the current queue at the state house where power hungry politicians are willingly doing everything in exchange for a seat in the new cabinet.

What does it say to the outside observers, when power hungry politicians, mostly veteran SPLM former comrades are being played one against the other? 

Funny though no less than four of them were all promised the one single position of vice president at one point in the current power game. Why doesn’t the president show any respect for these gentlemen who are community elders in their own rights?

The much publicized meeting the president had  with the representatives of the various South Sudanese political parties, is in the real sense of it, no more than a last minute move meant exclusively to mislead the international community into believing that president Kiir is doing all that he can to be both consultative and inclusive. This is the essence of the show.

On the one hand the bravado shown by Dr. Elia Lomuro of the SSDF, who took upon himself the task of speaking to the media on behalf of the 17 or so political parties, was to its best a set piece. He was doing more or less what Dr. Barnaba Benjamin did before him when the latter continued to volunteer as the president’s mouth peace even when out of the government.

Dr. Marial Benjamin, who was sure of making it back into the cabinet, was seen and heard explaining the constitutionality of the president’s move in sacking the entire cabinet, long after the government was dissolved.  

Who can now doubt that his voluntary work has not only rewarded him with the lucrative portfolio of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, but he has also become the first minister to be appointed in this extraordinary cabinet.

With Dr. Marial Barnaba now back in government, only a thick headed individual will fail to figure out what the new era is set to look like. They have long said that, “The content of a letter is known from its address”.  Didn’t they?

No one should have any problem with what Dr. Barnaba Benjamin can and cannot do in the new cabinet of South Sudan. And since we are being constantly  reminded  that president Kiir will  officially remain to be the most power individual in the country until 9th January 2015, when the country will go for its first ever general elections, it will be better to leave everything  for that day.

However during his remaining tenure in office, we the citizens of South Sudan expect him to abide by the letter and the spirit of each and every article in the country’s constitution.

Many of us have their reservations about this transitional constitution right about how it was conceived to how it was finally adopted into law. But since it has become the country’s law we will not tolerate anyone abusing it, even if they were the one who wrote it word by word.

Do we need to remind ourselves that it is the Lakes State and The Jonglei State which need the president’s immediate attention even if he is finding difficult to quickly form his new government.  

The situation in the former may seem to be flattering down, after the initial escalation by the overdue military governor.

In Jonglei unfortunately the situation has further deteriorated to warrant an international involvement, now in the form of humanitarian assistances, but could at any time open the door for wider foreign interventions of the all-out type.

Talking about removing elected governors, maybe Jonglei is the right place for such a drill. However any intervention here must be well balanced and never prejudiced, for otherwise a further heavy handedly policy may drag the new country to join the list of the country’s that condone genocides.

The author would also like to remind fellow South Sudanese that while governments come and go, our destiny as one people is likely to remain together for a long time to come. It’s for this reason that those who join the new cabinet should remember that it’s not for the prestige of the job, but rather for the welfare of this fast sinking country.

As for brothers and sisters who are now on each another’s necks because of power, it’s my hope that they sober up to see that they have nearly been ten years in service.   Be it the president himself or any of his colleagues who have served alongside him since 2005, it may be time they consider stepping down when they can still leave the throne peacefully and dignified.

Your graphs of performance are beginning to go down, and if anything, you are already running out of creativity and ideas. It could be time to quit.

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

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