SPLM-Juba not prompt to bring peace to citizens

By: Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut

November 14, 2014 (SSNA) — SPLM-Juba-is really never going to fundamentally change in character and form. I am not amazed at the amount of political intrigue and backstabbing that is now happening. It’s obvious that everything is on hold as we witness political drama and unprecedented treachery as the SPLM-Juba congress approaches. This is the result of 9 years of dictatorships that is fast crumbling at the center.  

It has been a summer of long knives.

The tragedy is that all this noise we hear is much ado about nothing really. I doubt very much whether President Salva Kiir will ever stand down and I know that in essence, SPLM-Juba is really never going to fundamentally change in character and form. Our hopes for substantive change in direction and leadership must therefore not be too high; things will not change unless we make them change. In my opinion, political party congresses do not change the game unless a dear leader is booted out as happened with Thabo Mbeki in Polokwane.

What we are going to get in future is a mere shifting of chairs on the deck of the Titanic and the prospects for an economic turnaround is therefore slim.

The recent comments by the Minister of information and broadcasting Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth in the National TV was something that can not only weekend the system but destroyed the image of the president who has Himself participated in the talks.

Over the years SPLM-Juba has entrenched itself through a patronage system that is pervasive and permeates throughout all economic sectors. No wonder they are able to raise $1 million at a corporate dinner for their congress while ministries claim that they cannot pay wages on time.

In other countries, the corporate sector is the gatekeeper of democracy and funds other democratic movements in order to keep political balance. In South Sudan, our corporate sector has been and remains the funders of a dictatorship and a patronage system. It will be difficult for us to destroy it.

To add insult to injury, the Chinese has decided to re-engage with SPLM-Juba and I hear that there is even a possibility for them resuming direct budgetary support some time in 2015. I just cannot get the logic here and I am still battling to understand why.

Fundamentally the political environment in South Sudan has not gotten any better. This government, i.e., SPLM-Juba, has not only failed to revive the economy as they threatened, but have deliberately dithered on aligning our laws with the Constitution.

Added to this, is the fact that our economic resources continue to be abused by SPLM-Juba at the expense of the country. If you then add to that the negative impact of the succession battles that we are seeing and the increasing likelihood of a Salva Kiir dynasty, surely this is a cocktail for disaster that cannot be supported by anyone.

I therefore remain not only curious, but highly suspicious of the motives of the West because if it is democracy they wish to see, they are clearly not acting in its interest nor are they acting in the interest of us South Sudanese who want to create a better South Sudan.

On the issue of opposition political parties, (SPLM-DC, UPDF, etc…) we must now wait and see if the SPLM-IO is going to act any differently now that their congress is over.

In my view, we again have here a shifting of personalities without an obvious fundamental change in ideology or structure.

More important will be a change in strategy, they cannot hope for different results by doing the same things that got us where we are.

I wish them success.

I am of the opinion that the basis upon which we elect our political leadership remains questionable and rather opaque.

In my opinion, political parties tend to kill ambition, purge dissenters, stifle robust debate, promote loyalty and this commonly results in the mediocre prevailing. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Having said all the above, I remain convinced that South Sudan can only progress through a political settlement. Our political environment remains too polarized and the fact that a potential change agent such as the China has decided to side with a dictator at our expense will make it difficult for outright regime change.

On the other hand, our opposition political parties (SPLM-DC, UPDF etc…) remain disempowered while SPLM-Juba remains entrenched. Since the likelihood of a revolution seems slim, the only way out would be a political settlement.

But remember, political settlements only happen when either party has something to gain by settling or something to lose by not settling.

Unfortunately, I do not get the feeling that SPLM-Juba think that they have anything to lose and will do all they can to perpetuate a system that is working for them, but is clearly not working for the rest of us.

Transforming South Sudan from predatory rule into a political order that is more equitable and developmental which can address issues of growth, stability and poverty reduction will remain a complex and challenging political process that will not happen soon.

We have a serious dilemma.

Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut is reachable at [email protected]

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