March 30, 2014 (SSNA) — Whether people like it or not, Equatoria is always the political game-changer in the politics of South Sudan (SS). Those who argue that Equatoria must become an innocent and unconcerned spectator; while history, and the political roadmap, of SS are being redone, are gravely mistaken. Others must not confuse the protection of their constitutional posts, with commensurate financial and other privileges, with the selfless struggle for the comprehensive interests of the downtrodden and poverty ridden peoples of SS.
There are some Equatorians, holding constitutional posts, and other menial constitutional jobs, in the presidency, the states, and other ministries in Juba, who think that, because they are happy as individuals and families, and therefore, by implication, the rest of Equatoria is also happy. These detached Equatorian constitutional and other post holders, in the Sovereign Republic of South Sudan (SRSS), are, but, selfish others.
The gallant women, men and youth of Equatoria, in the Diaspora and in the SRSS, must understand that, it is grossly misleading, to jubilate, for being placated, by a mere appointment of some inward looking handful of Equatorians, into the said constitutional and other posts, in the SRSS. This placation is then peddled as genuine participation of the peoples of Equatoria in the administration of the SRSS.
When men and women, take up constitutional posts, and treat them as run-of-the-mill jobs, then, society must begin to look for some better men and women, who do not treat the said posts as run-of-the-mill regular jobs. Constitutional posts are service delivery jobs to the masses of the peoples. Constitutional jobs are not for earning a living. Those who want to treat constitutional jobs as income generating activities must look for other professional jobs, or go into business in the private sector.
The notion and practice of constitutional post holders; looting government assets, and then, conspicuously demonstrating these looted assets, to us, the public, in the form of fancy powerful vehicles, jewelries on their wives bodies, tall buildings that they built in Juba, or brothels, and pubs, or bars, that, they built in Juba, or the various fake companies, that they set up, with Somalis, Ethiopians, Ugandans, and Kenyans, as symbols of personal success, are some of the reasons, why, we must have a federal system of governance in the SRSS, so that, each region, can closely monitor their own political traders. Federalism shall help us in Equatoria, in carrying out political winnowing, in order to separate the political chaff; from political grain.
Federalism based on the three former regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr El Ghazal, shall give us the chance, in each respective region, to prune the mushrooming of accidental quasi-leaders, who have been rammed down our political throats, by various political and social developments of the last three decades in SS.
Genuine federalism shall allow us to keep these quasi leaders in the social and physical spaces where they historically and contemporaneously belong, so that, the rest of the peoples of Equatoria in particular and SRSS at large, can get on with the art and science of managing the SRSS for the delivery of the badly needed goods and services, to our gallant and down trodden peoples.
Genuine federalism shall allow us to protect the honour of our daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, aunts and grandmothers. In Equatoria, these female members of our society have been grossly and routinely emotionally, psychologically, physically, economically, financially, and sexually violated. The current system does not protect our women, and we are rendered helpless to protect our women against some others, who use comprehensive State’s privileges, to carry out their culpable intentions and conducts, against our women.
We in Equatoria are at the mercy of the current policing services in the SRSS because, the majority of the police forces are populated by others who do not emanate from our communities, and thus, they behave like an occupying force. It is commonplace knowledge in the SRSS that, the police force doubles as criminals at the same time. This shall not happen when the daughters and sons of Equatoria shall police their towns. They shall not double as criminals. They shall not kill their own people. This is a just reason for Equatorians to support federalism in the SRSS.
With federalism in place, there shall not be any reason why our daughters and sons, should not be the police commissioners, the prisons force commissioners, and all other security related commissioners. We shall do away with the current domination of our own local jobs by others from other regions. At the same time, these others also control their own regions as regards the said positions. What kind of a system is this? What kind of an existence is this? How can you, in Equatoria, say that, you are in fact, and at law, effectively and efficaciously, participating, in the administration of the SRSS?
The current administration of justice in the SRSS is utterly defective, partial, and abusive. We need federalism so that we can administer our own judicial institutions. All level of courts shall be run by our own daughters and sons throughout Equatoria. These are our own daughters and sons who understand their own customary laws throughout Equatoria. These are our own daughters and sons, who know and respect our cultural value systems throughout Equatoria. These are our own daughters and sons, who have no intentions and moral capacities, in the administration of a discriminatory judicial system. We shall save our women and men, from being sent to the death row, simply because they are Equatorians in the SRSS.
With federalism, we shall have equitable representation in the army of the SRSS. We shall then, therefore, have our daughters and sons, in the military and other intelligent outfits in the SRSS. This shall put a stop to mysterious disappearances of our medical doctors, engineers and such like. This shall protect our lives and dignity from those others, who do not value humanity in the SRSS. You Equatorians must fight to death for the establishment of a federal system in the SRSS for your own and other peoples’ dignified living in the SRSS.
Equatoria has the will, the capacity, the knowledge, the skills, the experiences, the attitude and the outlook; to produce its own food; and produce food for the other regions. In fact, Equatoria can produce food for export. However, with the current system in place, all these productive characteristics of Equatoria, as land and peoples, are being frustrated and undermined, to the detriment of everybody in the SRSS; not just to our own detriment in Equatoria. Therefore, we need federalism to be able to save ourselves from definite comprehensive underdevelopment.
With the current system in place, Equatoria shall not have the time, the freedom, the right, and the space to use all its prime agricultural lands for the production of badly needed food for all mouths and stomachs in the SRSS. We in Equatoria have been reduced to constantly protecting our agricultural lands from marauding nomads, armed to the teeth, by the government in Juba. This is not a life that shall lead us all to prosperity in the SRSS. We need to federate, to even save these marauding nomads from definite future famines.
Our educational system is in tatters. Our higher education is being undermined by unscrupulous policies including the appointment of tribal vice chancellors to run our universities. Federalism shall allow us to reform our universities in Equatoria for the benefit of all peoples of the SRSS. We need the intellectual space to concentrate on managing these technical institutions. For God’s sake, presidents all over the world do appoint academic secretaries of universities. We need to quickly save the SRSS from these laggards in Juba.
We need federalism to save our young women and men; and youth in general, from being wasted in Equatoria. From 2005 to date, the young women and men, and youth of Equatoria have been systemically marginalised. If we allow these processes of discrimination against our young women and men; and youth, to go on unchecked, then, we must forget about positive life chances of our posterities.
If we allow these injustices to continue, our young women and men; and youth, shall turn into women and men, who shall be the janitors and street cleaners; and workers in menial jobs and various handymen and women in the SRSS. Is this what these three governors of Equatoria want? Is this the democracy that these three current governors of Equatoria are on about? Is this how they think all is OK in Equatoria?
We in Equatoria need to work together, with those others; in the SRSS, to urgently form an interim government and then proceed to write the federal system into our permanent constitution during the period of this interim government. Therefore, you the young women, men; and youth of Equatoria, in Diaspora and in the SRSS; your futures are in your hands, not in the hands of these three governors of Equatoria, who seem to think more about their jobs; via the continuity of President Kiir in office; rather than about your futures in the SRSS.
Therefore; to bring all of the above changes in place, you need the political and security spaces in the SRSS. The current government in Juba does not care about all of the above issues raised. The current government plus these three governors of Equatoria think that, when we raise these issues; as the ones raised above, we commit treason. How can one be a traitor if one is literally telling the government in Juba to provide security and goods and services to the deserving peoples of the SRSS?
How can our concerns be rubbish according to the governor of Western Equatoria when we are saying all of the above because we love the peoples of Equatoria? How can what we are saying be rubbish when we are saying that, our women should not be abused? How can what we are saying be rubbish if we are telling the government that, we do not want tribal police to kick in the doors of our peoples at night in Equatoria; because, they want to violently rape our sisters, daughters, wives, mothers, aunts, and even grandmothers? Or, they kick in these doors because they want to robe what valuables are there to be robbed? How can all these concerns of mine be akin to the concerns of a traitor? Who is a traitor in fact, and at law?
Juba has been a killing field for years under the watch of the current governor. What did he do to stop this serial killing of Equatorians in Juba and other places and villages in Central Equatoria? He completely did nothing. Whole Madi villages and towns have been forcibly settled by political settlers from Jonglei and Bahr Al Ghazal. What did the governor of Eastern Equatoria do? He completely did nothing. Whole Acholi villages and towns have been forcibly occupied by the same groups. What did the governor of Eastern Equatoria do? He completely did nothing. Same violations have happened in Yambio. What did the governor of Western Equatoria do? He did nothing.
Equatorian Chiefs are hunted and murdered like common criminals. The case of the Madi Chief is one of many sad examples. What did all these three governors do to stop their citizens being hunted down and murdered? All these current three governors did nothing to protect our peoples from systemic displacements and murder.
Therefore, should we just sit there, and wait for whatsoever these other peoples, want to do with us, and with our land; simply because, our current governors say that all, is OK; and they are behind President Kiir come what may? Does the mere keeping of President Kiir in power shall return our stolen land, and provide legal remedies for hundreds and thousands of law suits which are pending because we have no lawyers of our own to protect our comprehensive interests judicially? Is this what these three governors want us to do? Just to follow them; just because they are they; and nothing more?
These three governors of Equatoria ought to understand that, we are not their chattels. We are not their property so that they can have absolute control of use and exchanges values over us. We are sovereign peoples of the SRSS, and we have sovereign rights to reject peacefully or by use of force; any rulers who cannot protect us; and have turned into tyrants; and killing us in cold blood. These three governors represent themselves not the entire interests of the peoples of Equatoria. They can say what they want to say. After all, they are cronies of President Salva Kiir.
The author is Chairman of Greater Equatoria Council of Rights (GRECOR).