Eight Years of Salva Kiir’s Presidency: The SPLM has Lost its Visions

By Gabrial Pager Ajang


November 9, 2013 (SSNA) — Eight years of Kiir’s Presidency, people of South Sudan went through tribal conflicts, and scandalous corruptions. His leadership is unclouded and culminated in an unending cycle of tribal fighting, corruption, and bad governances. In eight years, citizens of various counties are stranded in awful situation, hundreds died of diseases and starvations. Because of remoteness of areas that had no roads, it made it more problematic for few charitable organizations that wish to deliver medical and food supplies during rainy seasons. Sick are carried by loves ones on their shoulders to distance unequipped clinics. Citizens engulfed in these dreadful situations have long yawned for better roads and infrastructures. Nevertheless, the comprehensive Peace Agreement kept hope and optimism alive among South Sudanese. However, these hope and optimism were killed by Juba when it signed Cooperation Agreement with Khartoum’s government. This new accord was neither strategic policy nor it was beneficial to Juba, but it was rather appeasing Khartoum’s government or a deal made at the expense of South Sudanese citizens. It emasculates the CPA, undermines demarcation of the border. Even though, permitting movement of citizens between the South and North is good idea, it is politically bad for South Sudan. The Cooperation Agreement depoliticized the legitimacy of South Sudan as a sovereign nation, and somehow paves way for unification of the two Sudans at lease in the eyes of international community. It is an agreement that should have never been signed.

The precarious and horrendous situation of South Sudan is deteriorating, and Juba leadership is sole entity to blame. They failed to prioritize counties program, instead they work on gratifying their greed. Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) fails to stick to its vision. Kiir’s administration has chosen flawed policy, after flawed fallacy policies that were easily susceptible to be exploited by Khartoum and caused the High Implementation Panel to relax and lay back.  

In more than five decades, South Sudanese people have fought for legitimate cause. Millions of soldiers have suffered, shaded blood, and died for freedom and justice. The two wars have claimed the lives of generation and generations. We scarified our sons and daughters for freedom, good governance, peace and viable democracy but little did we know that we have sacrificed them for gloomy future. Even, after independence the price we continue to pay is high, and indeed too high to continue paying such price in blood and treasures. We have lost, and continue to lose treasures, and human resources. The highest prices we have paid in two wars are psychologically and physically visible in all veterans. We have committed and lost generation to war in order to see reestablishment of stability and peace. Again, it was not known that our government could watch tribes and tribes unleash their lethal weapons against each other and kill themselves in thousands. It is undeniably awful to see renewal of killing while the raw wounds and blood of 21 years of war are still fresh.

Although it is not easy now for President Salva Kiir to engineer economic and agricultural revolution in South Sudan, it could have been easy had the government made good policy choices. The best policy could have been connecting counties by roads, and provision of maximum security in corners of South Sudan. It would have attracted foreign investors and boost south Sudan current market economy. The government would have intentionally left the development of counties at the hands of its residents and embarks on maintaining laws and order, and provides security.

In contrast, I live in the United States, a country where President can protect me at all cost. Let alone people dying in hundreds, he can move bliss to protect one person. Therefore, the government that fails to safeguard a single cannot protect its citizens and its sovereignty. The SPLM as political party under Kiir leadership had lost its vision.  We now know that Juba lacks leadership’s skills and expertise to implement the existing three of six protocols that have not been executed. The party, we all anointed and praised for delivering us from the bondages of injustices, from oppression and brutal totalitarian regimes of Khartoum had lost its tasked mission. Juba’s leadership is wallowing in desperation and despair. Kiir resorts to clinging to power. He adeptly thinks that clinging to power by all means could preserve his leadership. However, he must be told that he had no power; good power is one that is derived from citizens. He looks unreasonable to citizens, and he is losing legitimacy at the eyes of citizens and international community, when he continues to claim powers that do not belong to him, for example power to appoint and fire governors.

In these eight years of Kiir’s Presidency, the Global Observatory a credible organization venerated and respected organization ranks South Sudan number three (3) among the failed and fragile states. South Sudan is also ranked number three (3) among the countries that have least able ability to reduce poverty. However, Transparency International and the World Bank landed South Sudan on the first position (1) among the most corrupt countries and labeled it as the most corrupt country in the World. Transparency International provides reliable data quantitative diagnostic tools regarding corruption at both federal and state governments, and global level by using corruption perception indexes.

South Sudan government had no strategic vision and policy. The government is run by quasi pseudo skills individuals who are addicted to talk, talks and talks without substantial results. We had all hoped that both independence and interim period would yield prosperous, but that has not been that case, South Sudan is presently ranked number one among corrupt nations, a country without border, a country without laws, a country without constitution, a country with government muddled between honoring Abyei protocol and its results and appeasing Khartoum because it can shutdown oil pipelines that passes in its territory. Again, South Sudan is ranked number three among the failed and fragile states, a country where the president,  ministers and some governors claim full entitlement of oil revenues, built their houses in Juba and mansions in abroad, and never appropriated small percentage to those people in villages who have scarified their sons and daughters during years of the liberation struggles, a country where foreigners empty banks of South Sudan of funds (i.e. Kenyans and Ethiopians) and send them to their countries each month. A country where UNMISS allocates protection where ever it wants. The government of South Sudan is irrefutably in its worst state of affairs.

South Sudanborder between the South Sudan and Sudan had not been demarcated; hence she had no internationally recognized border. The border between South Sudan and Kenya remain murky. South Sudan disputes towns in border with Uganda. Clearly, South Sudan does not have an international and regional recognize borders.

On the security fronts, the government fears of being accused of war crimes by the international parties if it chooses to use military against robbers of cattle and child abductors. Juba carefully chooses not use military, police or security personnel in an event of tribal conflicts. This key policy of government mounts to lawlessness in several states of South Sudan. The policy of nonintervention has or will trigger an armed race as tribes are left at the mercy of cattle raiders and child abductors. Various tribes will embark on buying more military weapons and equipment for their own protections. The government policy of none intervention will simply turn this beloved country into Somalia, a country where each tribe provides its own security. This will inevitably illegitimatize government authority among insecure tribes. It is a worst policy any sovereign and viable state can advocate but in South Sudan, officials are scared of the UNIMISS. Appeasement policy toward Khartoum and UN agencies has either left thousands of civilians killed or immensely suffered.

Constitution and Agreements

Liberal constitutional democracy outlines eight years of presidency as an unsurpassed and legal periods for any president to set concrete policies, and model of achieving. Although South Sudan had no constitutional democracy, empirical evidences indicate the president of South Sudan would have accomplished substantial programs/works in eight years, even if the country emerges from the ruins of the 21 years of war. Challenges and problems are overwhelmingly devastating, unbearable and far more difficult to meet but it does not exempt or omit South Sudan from the liberal constitutional guiding principles. The nation should been developed with it little resources it had, but the president opted to build and satisfy his own insatiability.

The Compressive Peace Agreement (CPA), the governing document of the two Sudans during interim provides the way forward and roadmap of disputes resolution. It provides more promising and hopeful future for citizens of South Sudan. The CPA laid foundation to nascent nation and provides the most viable political frameworks of handling border, Abyei, security between the South and North. Certainly, the euphoric triumphant and awe-inspiring hope came from South Sudanese people, when the South Sudan held its referendum on time and declared its independent on July 9th, 2011. Those joyous days and euphoric moments were thought to be celebrated for generations and generations but we now know that celebration was temporary, it was cut short by own policies of Kiir’s administration.

History indicates that constitution is annexed to guide nation through challenges and difficulties. Transitional Constitution of South Sudan was not design to do that. It was adopted to enhance the powers and responsibilities of the executive. And interestingly enough, this transitional constitution had expired, and the South Sudan Constitutional Review Commission did not review, amend or write new constitution.  The country is officially operating without constitution. There are laterally no laws that are meant to protect citizens, and no legal grounds for bringing criminals to justice. Money laundered funds, properties looted, houses burned and raided cattle and no single person prosecuted. Although, I do not know the legality of imprisonment of the former SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum, the president had no legal authority, when the constitution is expired. Concurrently, there is no constitution that guides and protects life, freedom and property of citizens.

The president Kiir uses staggering gigantic bogus dressed up military powers and presidential privileges to terrorize his subordinates i.e. governors, ministers and members of the National Legislative Assembly. On the other hand, the Sudan South expired transitional constitution impedes citizens’ political participation; it undermines separation of powers that enhances check and balance among branches of government. It escalates unwarranted arrest of citizens that had opposing views with the president, and rule out bill of rights (freedom of speech, religion, Press, Assembly, Petition).  It is worth noting that this expired transitional constitution is not a replica of South Sudanese societal norms and values, it does not reflect social economic, and political culture of South Sudanese citizens. The constitution must be anchored deeply in South Sudan culture and traditional values, and at the same time premised upon the founding principles and endearing legacy of struggles; freedom, equality and justice.

Taking towns to village was a policy spearheaded by Dr. John Garang during the liberation periods. He asserted that “there is no meaning of revolution unless it makes our people happy, unless the masses of our people as a result become prosperous”. He echoed development as core centerpiece of liberation struggle. Dr. Garang said that the government must provide enough food, clean drinking water, education, health services or the revolution is nothing unless it makes our people happy. He suggest that the people could even prefer the government of NIF (National Islamic Front of Khartoum) that provides salt than the government of the SPLM that does not provide salt”

In the last eight years, what has been the hallmark of Kiir’s administration? The whole government has been submerged in nothing but lousy talks and lousy works. Kiir government hallmark has been speaking more than setting concrete goals that are measurable achievable. His cabinets and advisers are fond of talking, but development demands construction of infrastructures and roads, schools and health facilities so that the citizens can see it and experience it. In the last eight years, there have been little or no development, counties and states infrastructures and roads in their pre independence conditions. The poverty, violence and hunger are at the highest level, even during the liberation struggles, the SPLA used to protect people in the areas its controls and supply foods but the current government does not perform that simple basic responsibility. Kiir has failed to at least suggest policies that could ensure foreign businesses, communities and regional organizations operating in South Sudan to help in remedying challenges of poverty reduction.

Kiir premiers policies that will help write his legacy, the Cooperation Agreement that he signed with Khartoum.  It is now clear that it was digression from the CPA. Signing new accord while the CPA has not been fully implemented is not leadership but inability to lead. The decision to sign Cooperation Agreement had done more damages to South Sudanese than to his legacy. I agreed and admit that the challenges are mountings and still intensifying but a true leader stick to leadership policies that would at the end help his citizens even if it means losing your own life. The Cooperation Agreement signed between Juba and Khartoum was malfunctions publicity stunt to because it will never contribute anything to people of South Sudan.

The issue of border, the popular consultations, and Abyei Protocol were not policies invented by Juba, they were signed by Khartoum and President, Bashir knows it. However, we all know that the ultimate power lies with the people of Abyei and they have spoken in their referendum. It is now time for the international community especially the United States and Europe Union to recognize and accept the Abyei Referendum’s result. Abyei protocol must be fully adhered to. I salute, honor and respect the Nine Ngok Dinka for voting to join South Sudan, they have actually up held and reactivated the forgotten the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The people of Abyei have made their position known; now it is time for the international community and the U.S and its ally to act and act quickly.

From the onset, the President Salva Kiir Maryardit pledges to fully carryout CPA and follows the footsteps of the founding father of South Sudan and architect of the CPA, Dr. John Garang de Mabior. After 8 years of his presidency, the hope, optimism, and vision of the SPLM have been lost. Governing independent nation and leading liberation struggle prove opposite, and indeed, too parallel but one thing is clear, challenges facing independent state cannot be resolved using policies and mentalities of the liberation struggles. He is frightened of criticism, and prioritized killing of people who criticized him. Well, Mr. President I got advice for you since you are good at listening to any advice: starts buying more bullets because armies armed with pens have just started writings.

Grading President’s Performance  

I will use rubric and renowned mathematics metric to grade President Kiir’s achievements in the last 8 Years:

1. He pledges to implement CPA, and I gave the president (A) for holding peaceful and fair referendum and declaring independent on time. I gave the president (F) for failing to demarcate the borders, honoring Abyei Protocols, and reluctant in term of implementing popular consultation in Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain in the last eight years.

2. Signing Cooperation Agreement was disaster to South Sudanese people because it impedes implementation of Comprehensive Agreement; I gave president grade (D-) for trying alternative policy although it finally failed.

3. Training of soldiers, security personnel and police, I gave the president grade (B+) but I gave the president grade (F) for failing to provide protection his citizens.

4. A creation of Corruption Taskforce was a better policy, I gave the president grade (B-) for establishment but he failed to prosecute culprits and corruptors, hence I gave the president grade (F).

5. The president has maximized and consolidated powers of executive, massive use of presidential powers, issuing decrees and extensive privileges; an idea that is contrary to liberal democracy and principle of a nation that seeks development. This maximization of power could potentially mount to 100% loss of public support for the president; hence I gave the president grade (F). Note: that I wouldhave given the president better grade if his issued presidential decrees were making different.

6. He manages to provide his own security and not the security of citizens, and combined with his autocratic rules, I gave the president (F).

7. Construction of roads is best the program that would have moved South Sudan’s economy.  South Sudan is an agricultural market economy; therefore construction of roads at the counties level would have started the economy, buying Agricultural equipment, use of fertilizers, hybrid crops and ensure security could have helped but his bad choice of policy and presiding over the most corrupt nation and fragile state, I gave the president grade (F).

8. Appropriate nation budget to ministries rather legislature, a body responsible for budgeting and grants public officials luxurious trips encompass bad governance, I gave the president grade (F).

9. He supports and embroils in buying the most expensive cars i.e. SUV, and making Juba the most expensive village in the world, I gave the president grade (F).

10. He fails to connect three main cities with roads (Wau, Malakal, and Juba) I gave the president grade (F).

11.  Issuing decrees, President Salva is effective in firing and appointing new ministers and governors, but policy of independence nation require substantial and measurable, frequent firing of subordinates mount to doing nothing when citizens want results, hence I gave the president grade (F).

12. The President over performances of the last eight years of his presidency is grade  (F)

Recommended Policies

South Sudan is an Agricultural market economy. Hence, I will recommend governmental programs that would rejuvenate economy and helps the private sector to thrive in the midst of economic chaos. It is true, and I will certainly admit that the daunting jobs of leading an impendence nation. All the independent states have one thing in commons, they exist to protect and serve the needs of citizens. Quite often, it takes the combined efforts of government agencies and private sectors to bring about a needed development.  I will suggest programs that seem to be simple but if implemented, they will have lasting impact on the citizens. I will say them in non-concession terms: South Sudan government must transform its current economic, and political culture that have harmed citizens for the last eight years. This political culture that has been consolidated, and spread by interested group of individuals, and people consent to it to be the reality of South Sudan situation. Majority of South Sudanese people said that situation of South Sudan cannot and will not be transformed because the reality on the ground reject change. This is a lie, we are capable of change, this bad culture is spearheaded by failed and coward individuals who want to benefit at the expense of entire citizens. There must be root awakening, and groundbreaking that seeks to end systematics corruption mismanagement, and ensure feasible political and economic prosperity for citizens.  Eradication of corruptions by introducing strict ethical laws, conversion of dysfunctional government to vibrant agricultural market economy: nation-building programs are fundamentally vital to me, as a concern citizen, I will carefully suggest the best fiscal economic and political policies that would assist citizens and the government of South Sudan. 

1. Annexing national agricultural programs (buying equipment, fertilizers, and hybrid crops for all the 79 counties of South Sudan).

2. Trashes Transitional Constitution, and summons legal experts from the West, East, South and North to write a new constitution.

3. Initialing massive programs of connecting 79 counties by roads,

4. Fiscally streamlining budgets, and introduces moratoriums on unnecessary pay trips and wasteful spending in state and national governments,

5. Transforming culture of corruption by invoking amnesty on the most corrupt 75 individuals. This will at least show that the government had a will to act.

6. Training specials forces and personnel that could fly helicopters in the most prone tribal conflict areas: ending cattle rustling and child abduction. Training this specials force fly helicopters could enhance monitoring criminals in the air, and coordinate communications on the ground.

7. South Sudan leads the world among the countries with livestock. This resource should not be overlooked by the government. The government can strike a deal of livestock trade with other countries (U.S. especially Midwestern states of Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Coronado could engage in this deals. A potentially livestock deal that could be in millions dollars.

8. Stops foreigners from empting banks each month. Taking money out of South Sudan’s economy is not fair to citizens, policy indicating amount of money that could be withdrawn in a month must be put in place.

10. Starts immediate constructions of pipelines through Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, for it will serve as a political leverage and ease Juba hostage by Khartoum.

11. Restarts negotiation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, prioritized border demarcations.

If the above programs are executed, we could have a stable nation, a nation where laws and order are obeyed, and a nation that could attract investors. In the next few years, South Sudan could possibly move its few resources to improve educational quality, health, and political structure efficiently and effectively if it wants to stands on its own without foreign influence and interventions.

The author teaches political Science and History at Career College, former Nebraska legislative assistance and passionate advocates of responsive government that observes rules of laws, and guarantees citizens protection; as an important principle of democratic government. Besides, he is specialized in Public administrations and policy.He can be reached at [email protected]

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