South Sudan Crisis and the Future Shortcomings!

“But having labored for years to nurture democracy in South Sudan, the White House is loath to turn against it. “They’re very worried that they’re going to have to do a major policy shift,” said Sarah Margon, the acting Washington director of Human Rights Watch. “They’re trying to figure out how to balance a very tricky situation in a way that doesn’t end up being a major fail for them.”” Diplomatic Memo, The New York Time

By Deng Elijah

August 2, 2013 (SSNA) — Since the days of Britain there has always been hopes that South Sudan would one day be independent; independency from atrocities, marginalization, dictatorial regimes, Sharia and everything that the “first class” imposed against the wills of the African Sudanese. After a series of struggles, South Sudan gained independent in 2011, which was vigorously celebrated as a sign of the better days that were eagerly anticipated.  But South Sudan is not yet independent.

Within the last two years, although the country is theoretically independent, the death toll has hit very high for an independent state, more rebellions, more ethnic cleansing, more foreign interventions, horrible mistakes within the government, rough’-and-tumble autocracy, corruption and untold tokens of a “failed” state. Surprisingly, South Sudanese still celebrate and maintain those hopes that, surely, the better days are yet to come.

Although the better days would come, South Sudanese should wonder how long would they anticipate these magical days when tribalism is the only traded commodity? How would the South Sudanese achieve these hopes? Patience pays, but is always guaranteed? The ten million population should sit down to find N, the numbers of years!

The South Sudanese intellectuals and leaders must optimize these scarce hopes and dreams to build a democratic society that is inclusive of every child’s dream otherwise the current populace aspirations, which are likely to fade, are potentially constructive and can as well be destructive. Thus, should be wisely materialized. These joyrides are the only mechanisms that currently unite a nation that has heavily invested powers in ethnic frontiers, quasi-federalism and illiberal democracy. As learned from her own history, South Sudan’s unity has always been short-lived due to greed for power, lack of equitability, nepotism, tribalism and quasi coexistence. Although we are in twenty first century, South Sudanese have not modernized. We are still about five decades behind other Africans, a sad truth to accept. Some citizen use MacBook air and IPods to fight tribal interests, when the country cannot even produce a needle. These are tough pills to swallow but South Sudanese intellectuals and leaders have to recognize them in order to move the nation forwards.

Thousands South Sudanese who have seen the glimpse of the dark days gleaming are still confirming with the majority who believe in prosperity and better days that would paradoxically immerse the failed state. But only time will judge the magnitude and the scale of this conformities and patience. As seen from – the online criticism, journalists arrests and flees, rebellions, hapless public policies, dwindling government, downsizing of army and polices when the country is at the brink of war, massive corruption, unconstitutional intimidations of governors, increase dependent on foreign aids and international interventions, recessions and inflation –South Sudanese scholars and leaders should celebrate with cautions. There is a little than shame to celebrate. These are manifestations that should necessitate leaders and intellectuals to behave within their own standards and ethics, but sadly the citizens are paralyzed within the wildness of autocracy, and hardly could an exit be distinguished from an entrance; a moment of razzle-dazzle, where every sign seems to bring change.

Due to the current political states, there are very limited differences in rationales between the rich and the poor, the literates and the illiterate, the politicians and the religious leaders. A very unique tropospheric state that only revolves over South Sudan, perhaps the true presentiments for change!

The recent government crisis was not long awaited rather a despondency and despair!

The current state in South Sudan has demonstrated a failed in the country’s public policies, and should have hardly been celebrated in the short run. The president had independently shouldered a rare astronomical undertaking that is infrequently (if any) implemented. This decision is a political suicide in a broad daylight:

“But now President Kiir is himself a problem: last week, he dismissed his vice president, who had threatened to challenge him for his party’s leadership before elections in 2015, and his entire cabinet. “ Mark Landley

“Too much sacrifice has been made to see that effort go backward. The world is watching to see if South Sudan pursues the path of peace and prosperity, or the tragic path of violence and conflict that has characterized much of its past.” Secretary of State John Kerry

Critiques would argue that there are alternative schemes that would have been more efficient and effective compared to this extravagant dissolution. It is expected because the president did not consult his right wings chambers, the Political Bureau, the Secretariate and the Liberation Council due to the power struggle that shakes the foundation of the nation. He solely depends on his state of mind and the constitution, however, not everything that is constitutional is desirable. The constitution, like prescriptive medicines; should only be administered when it is necessarily necessary.

This particular decision will have economic, social and political outbursts that the South Sudanese will manage for a lengthy period. The next one-year will be wasted in trading internal and external accusations, while the North (Khartoum) and Uganda interchangeably control the remote system of South Sudanese future. If not properly mitigated, the South Sudanese may resolve the aftermaths through a major revolution(s), or through a slow democratic process, which is another stumbling block to the South Sudanese people. The decision did not weight the social costs and benefits to the society rather than the political benefits to the president and his allies. But the surprises of this resolution would be likely shocking!

The recent delay in formation of a new cabinet, per se, was not by design rather by default. It is most likely that the team behind the dissolution dubiously assumed that the cabinet positions are still a hot-cake since the unemployment rate is extremely high, which is true, however, that seems to have neglected that the president has to find some good apples that would not only be yes-men and women but candidates with strong military ground and grass root popularity. These candidates also have to be pillars of the SPLM party, the Politburo and the Liberation council, who would help the president wins the party chairmanship, 2015 elections or violence. When these factors, alone, were condensed, chances of qualifying these criteria (without recycling the old faces) were insignificant.  The appointed few had to submit their resumes after their appointment, on August 1st, something unusual. Otherwise, if such leaders exist and support the president, then their patriotism would be questioned if they would miraculously fulfill the South Sudanese dream in less than two years (i.e. before the 2015 election).

The president exhausted all the potentials from the chief of general staff to opposition parties. This was a desperate trial that was only necessitated by the pressure that the president was in, and still the country has no vice president and a governor in Jonglei State. In the worse case scenario, the president could have downloaded more bugs in the light of installing the anti-virus to clean up the system.  This was an invisible.

A wise landlord should never pull down the roof of his tenants before he finds a roofer!

Social Cost and Benefits to the Society

The decision has partitioned the nation and the SPLM party into political camps. The party may split before or after the party convention, which is long overdue. The split might only come before the convention if and only if the political situation continues to deteriorate and if the president postpones the convention. This move would only be a last resort in an attempt to isolate or impeach the chairman. If this happens, it would either be a cost or a benefit, depending on how the split is materialized. For example, if the South Sudanese people are politically mature to divide along their political interests and not along their tribal lines, then it would be a benefit to the society. This would mark the birth of democracy in South Sudan. Through democracy, the party and the nation at large would be moving on the right direction and the South Sudanese people would enjoy their rights and freedoms. However, this path is the hardest to achieve due to asymmetric belief systems that the South Sudanese built up during the struggle, and also because the cheaper path would seems attractive and competitive but it would be unsustainable in the long run. So, it is most likely that many people would prefer the lazy alternatives!

If the SPLM does not split, which is hard to predict, then the power struggle would boil to climax and tensions would tight up. This would lead to a tribal escalation, dictatorship or even a military coup before or after the election. To avoid this path, South Sudanese politicians would have to moderate their current behaviors and tactics that are becoming eminent. The president would have to call for the party and national conventions before the turmoil builds up. Through a convention, if the SPLM party freely and fairly elects the chairman, who would then be the SPLM flag bearer, then the other candidate(s) would either support the chairman or split to form a new party. If the candidates approve the convention results and decide to support the elected candidate, then that would be a surplus to the nation and the entire Eastern Africa. Otherwise, if the convention leads to the split of the party, then the net social benefits would depend on the above materialization.  

The long-term political consequences can always, although a cost, be abated through deliberations and candidate debates (i.e. waste time telling the citizen the sweet things the citizens would want to hear), if the country were democratic. Perhaps, seeing the current presidential aspirants debating on South Sudan Television could further relieve tensions!

Government failure, and the last days of the old SPLM

The current government crisis is one of the last kicks of a dying horse. SPLM has been grieved by challenges, and the SPLM chairman ensured he added an ounce of salt to each of the fresh injuries. The president mistakenly wrote a letter, which was meant to be a fair comment, to the seventy -five SPLM officials. This letter was the basic collateral damage to the SPLM, or the chairman in particular. The 75 officials have been criticized, called thieves and branded as the ideal icons of corruption in the country. They are the classical convention of corruption that the international community and the media reference. This letter confirmed to the world that the Republic of South Sudan is “rotten to the core”, and one of the most corrupt countries in Africa. The president later tried to apologize, admitting that he did not mean to called his colleagues “thieves” as portrayed by the media and general public. Sadly, it was too late and the damage was irreversible. The 75 SPLM pillars and their colleagues have been a passive party within the SPLM party, waiting to be triggered.

The main reason that the president seems to be circumventing the politburo, the liberation council and other SPLM organs could be a mere isolation. If that were the case then the president would be jumping out of a frying pan into the fire for consulting the oppositions appointing and approving the new cabinet without acknowledging the SPLM chambers. Winning the SPLM chairmanship does not require yes-men and intimidations but qualities and a vision. The president had already tried options such as “voting by a show of hand” or appointing some of the delegates to the convention but all seem to have failed, if not then the convention would have been convened in May. These suggestions were criticized by his opponents, such as mama Nyandeang, and therefore the only last resort, that rang a bell, was dissolving the cabinet and removing the Secretary Generals. This was a gateway of hopes for new recruitments; however, it could be a ticking bomb in the long run.

According to the SPLM constitution, the party should elect the new secretary general. Furthermore, Dr. Riek is still the vice-chairman of the party and Pagan Amum would still be a member. Therefore, the crisis has not impacted the membership in the party, instead it will affect the decision making within the party. This crisis will procreate more political rivals for the president. Thus, chances of the president winning the SPLM ticket are drastically declining.

The only missile that the president would be gearing towards would be delaying the convention and the election, which again come at their own consequences. In sum, the president would just be weighing between what crisis would be less consequential than the other(s).

Dr Marial Benjamins and his misleading campaign comments!

As the former Minister of Information (currently Foreign Affairs), Dr. Marial Benjamin, spoken in his usual political tongue that the “reshuffle” was “long awaited”. First, the recent government crisis was not a reshuffle unless the term reshuffle has been redefined in SPLM. Perhaps Dr. Marial just went “technocrat” with the terms as he was campaigning and begging prayers for his return. Likely, he was going to return since he is a free rider, who hardly balances public interest and philosophical theory of mind of his listeners. Marial had been a die-hard supporter of the President’s policies and his recent lone-cabinet appointment may cost him down the road.

The term reshuffle would, politically, refer to interchanging the positions of government appointees. The recent crises in South Sudan was not a reshuffle because it involves dissolving the national cabinet, dislodging the vice president, firing and ordering investigation of the ruling party’s secretary general, re-allotment, reappointment and recycling of ministerial faces. The decision risked genocides and another civil war. In a reshuffle, you would be required to have two vice presidents and two SPLM Secretaries generals, who should not only had been sworn in and fully acknowledged by the constitutions and the country, but also willing to interchange positions. Nevertheless, the president could have retained the same side of the cabinet, without creating a ten days vacuum. We never format a disk to reshuffle songs, for correctness sake!

In his interviews with Aljazeera, Marial could never agree that it was a government crisis, even when it was apparent. It’s a government crisis because the act of the president deeply divided the party, and the government; because some elements are believed to be unconstitutional; because some of the appointees turned down the presidential appointment; because the president mixed the party controversies with the nationals; because the president did not consulted or convene the party leadership, instead the president approached the oppositions. Above all, it is a crisis because the president removed 17 police brigadiers, a very clear sign of aggravation, intimidation and violence. It could be loosely concluded that the 117-army generals that were removed a few months ago (when the cabinet was on a one month break) could have been a preparation for the crisis. Other sources have also rumored that the Uganda troops have been deployed within South Sudan, in a readiness to encounter any ensigncies. In a reshuffle, you would never waste all these resources because it would be within public interest and also in the interest of the appointees being reshuffled.

The long awaited-ness of dissolving a cabinet was an option but not a necessity. A cabinet of twenty-nine members cannot be categorized as huge, maybe (small-) medium when compared to the economically slimmed cabinet, just announced. So, any Justification that is centered on the size of the cabinet may not be genuine. However, it is acceptable that the previous cabinet was immersed in corruption and it had also underperformed its duties but dissolving it was not a solution, instead it creates more loopholes. 

If the justification was the “zero tolerance” to corruption, then the cabinet would have been dissolved on the day the president wrote his letters to the 75 officials, as the former vice president asserted lately.

Surprisingly, the dissolution was not blamed on the Khartoum government as usual, although it is a direct consequence of NIF’s plan to collapse the South Sudan government. Sudanese are remotely controlling the Juba’s government through economic measures and this was an output of such plans. This decision is partly an austerity measure because of future uncertainty on oil revenue and party to mask the dislodging of the former vice president. Dr Riek Machar. The buttons of Dr. Riek and Bashir were flashing so Kiir had to hastily respond. Thus, some cabinet members, who are now rivaling the president, were just inadvertent casualties.

The author, Deng Elijah, Vancouver, British Columbia can be reached @ dengsimon2000 at yahoo dot com

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