Now that President Kiir’s regime has come to its senses and accepted federalism, why did they first object it?
By James Kuac Kuoth,
Oct 12, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — During independence of African states at the end of WW2, the fundamental problems posed by ethnic heterogeneity in these newly established states were enormous. Until today in the 21st Century, most African states still face two fundamental problems namely; the failure of national integration and the absence of political legitimacy. Rwanda’s horrific genocide, long and bloody civil wars in Liberia, Somalia and Sudan were results of failure to tolerate and accommodate ethnic diversity. These tragic civil wars high light the dangers that ethnicity and ethnic conflicts pose to African emerging states and suggest to African political leaders the importance and urgency of coming to terms with ethnic heterogeneity within constitutional and governance framework.
However, it would be too simplistic to attribute all problems facing African states to ethnic heterogeneity alone. There are other causes. Admittedly there are other problems but as ethnic conflict destabilizes the African state and impedes development, African political leaders must give it priority attention. Most African political leaders ignore or suppress the reality of ethnic heterogeneity in the mistaken belief that any official recognition would foster divided loyalties and separatism. This fear of the unknown lingered in the minds of African leaders up today. This was the fatal mistake made by President Kiir when he arrogantly pushed aside senior SPLM members concerns and proposals for reforms within the SPLM political party and governance institutions. President Kiir equally rebuked Equatorian leaders for supporting federalism and accused them of trying to revive “KOKORA”.
Of course Kiir’s reasons for objecting to federalism are quite known to us. First, if federalism is applied to the South, his grazing area would have been de-limited and so would his resources. Currently President Kiir has a free hand to spend any amounts from any budgetary item of any government institution. His magic hand extends to every state and development budgets. He treats the South as his own cattle camp where he can choose any bull to kill for “nyamachoma”. President Kiir hands out huge sums of money to friends from both sexes from public money without budgetary justifications. A federal system will therefore tie his hands because each state will be constitutionally mandated to manage its own affairs without the whims of the president in Juba. Another reason why Kiir and his clique fear federalism is that by centralizing political power and arrogating it to himself, he can employ his supporters without reference to merit or public service laws. The public service now is filled with junk, inexperienced and illiterate fellows mostly from his Warrap constituency.
Kiir’s acceptance of federalism is not without reasons. At home he is facing a crippled economy that is being devastated by war and corruption. Almost all the oil wells are closing down as SPL-IO forces are closing in on Paloich, the largest oil producing Area in Northern Upper Nile. Kiir is also facing a stiff opposition from Equatorians and the Church for his intransigence and arrogance for refusing to give concessions in the on-going peace talks in Ethiopia. Externally, Kiir has become a “spent cartridge” as he cannot sell any new ideas towards resolution of the conflict. He has bored his foreign audiences about a false claim that he was an elected president and cannot be removed before the end of his tenure. He has forgotten that he extended his term by his own Decree up to 2017. On the other hand, how many presidents and prime ministers stepped down for the sake of resolving national political problems? Should the South remain burning, its children and women dying until President Kiir completes his term? What a power hungry president that does not care about the lives of his own people! What does Kiir want, while he has already stolen 75+ Million US$ from the public money. Even if the oil money was divided among South Sudanese his share would not reach that much.
For your information Mr. President, federalism is good for the South. The South is vast in terms of geographical area and has much ethnic diversity. Federalism will ease administration, accommodate these ethnic diversities and will foster the values embedded in ethnic community. This will in turn cement national unity and preserve national integrity. The pursuit of these goals and mitigating any signs of ethnic conflict should have been the legitimate concern of your government from 2005 rather than encouraging and aggravating them. Federalism by the way is in line with the policy of your party’s program of taking “towns to the people” instead of concentrating on Juba. Therefore political power has to be structurally divided among states and Juba – the seat of the federal/central government.
Federalism constitutionally mandates the division of power among the federal constituent units and allows normative disagreement s among the levels of government so that each community may live by its own norms and according to its own values, while retaining membership in the wider national community. A federal system therefore aims to provide a mechanism for uniting different communities within the framework of overarching political system which still allows each community to maintain its fundamental integrity.
Furthermore, there are other important benefits to federalism too. A genuinely and properly implemented federal system will offer economic benefits. The currently redundant states will mobilize their local resources and engage in serious development and effective provision of public goods and social services. By being closer to the people a state government has the advantage of knowing the needs, preferences and local conditions of particular groups of citizens than a remote and corrupt national government in Juba. By adopting federalism the citizens of the South will enjoy the fruits of their independence equally because we all fought for it. It is not a few selfish and greedy politico-ethnic group and even military leaders, to arrogate themselves this privilege.
So Mr. President the people have spoken and have chosen federalism, you either toe the line or resign.
The author is a student in Diaspora- Australia- and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org