The State South Sudan … Shouldn’t Be Business As Usual – CHANGE NOW!
By Bramatali Wani Lo-Lipo Lo-Lisi | Juba, RSS.
August 07, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Alas, this State my Country South Sudan has copiously and dreadfully bled and her children killed with impunity in and by the hands of irresponsible leaders and reckless leadership even now. Even bricks including the mental that are most poignant and fundamental for foundation for healing for building for developing for prospering and for bliss of the Country are messed up and misunderstood right in the mental processes. But must it be business as usual? A resounding no! Things must be different now onwards …
Concepts form ideas – the bricks – that build society so understand them correctly to innovate prosperously. In South Sudan, however, there is a high affinity to misunderstand, distort or intentionally confuse, with comfortable ease, for “know knowns or unknown knowns or known unknowns” (Donald Rumsfeld expressions) or, to be blunt, selfish or wrong political calculated outcomes. Some people claim they know while in fact they don’t. By this default act, I am reminded of the maxim: “Little education is worse than no education”. Let me attempt to clarify and unravel the deep structure of some concepts victimized in common usage hereunder, for example, “Nation”, “State”, “Government”, “Party” … plus the relatives: “Ruling Party”, “Chief Whip”, “Leader of Government Business” and “Leader of Opposition”.
First, South Sudan for lack of an exact official description seems a democratic parliamentary or presidential system – legally on paper at most, but practicing at worst. Therefore, these concepts are intrinsically unavoidable in theory, definition, understanding, application and usage. Though subjective, they are known social scientific concepts conventionally delimited so as to apply in real world. Because it cannot be business as usual, I am destined to achieve some enlightenment, at-least for the citizenry. The reader with full scepticism has an added advantage to benefit in the affirmative.
A State with a capital S is territory or space that comprises land surface, soil beneath it and empty air-space; nation or people; constitution or system of law and sovereignty or independence. Among these germane components of a State, a nation to me is the most important. For its significance and given more latitude, I am obliged to elucidate further on her in the space hereunder.
A Nation is a community or a group with all the conditions for a common life giving rise to natural sentiments of loyalty and identification but not limited to specific purposes. A nation as opposed to alien inhabits common territory, shares common language and tradition, has memory of a common history and looks forward to a common future (goals and aspirations). There are other common factors that include geography, strategy, religion, economics and statesmanship. Oruho (or Otuho), Nyiŋarith (or Topos or Topossa), Nyepo, Baka, Ŋarim (or Larim), Azande, Annuak, Luwo, Cholo, Nuer (or Naath), Bari, Balanda, Kakuwa, Kachippo, Ma’di, Murle, Makaraka, Jieŋ (or Dinka), Kuku, I’bili, Boŋgo and Pari are examples of nations or communities famous as tribes or ethnic groups in South Sudan State today. That said all should cease referring to South Sudan as a nation but as a State for she is until further notice – not business as usual.
Further, a nation as a community or a tribe or an ethnic group is perceived as natural organization. One can’t deliberately – not politically – organize a nation. Nevertheless, dependent on perceptions at play, organise a nation for socioeconomic rationales. Like a family with natural positions (father, mother and child), a nation has natural set structures: kingdom or chieftaincy and natives or subjects (pejorative though). Their respective civilizations stipulate how those structures are filled. For instance, in Azande, the family of Gbiyo Gbuduwe, not any other, traditionally inherits the royal thrown. Indeed, the grandson Wilson Hassan Pen is the current Paramount Chief of Yamgbiyo and the Chairman of the chiefs of Western Equatoria State at large. In addition, the Nyepo Chieftaincy in Kajokköji is a customary dominion of the Reli Royal clan (Bura) not any other, not even my own Bekat Limat can inherit chieftaincy for instance. So, we are obliged to strengthen not denigrate our medieval traditional institutions in order to add value and enhance our modern State South Sudan.
It even becomes exceptionally sophisticated when a nation mobilizes to control affairs of a diverse State as South Sudan. A case in point is the Jieŋ Council of Elders a possible misappropriation of a select legion of Jieŋ living in Juba under the tutelage and chairmanship of a certain Riiŋ Ambros Thiik. This council’s sole intent seems to be snooping into the national affairs of South Sudan, “… Condemned and opposed the self-acclaimed Jieŋ council of elders for promoting a feeling of tribalism among South Sudanese by looking at and defending the President of the Republic as one of their own …” (Deŋ, Juba Monitor, 6 July, 2015, p7) Such move(s) can generate regrettably mammoth suspicion, condemnation and retribution with radioactive repercussions from other nations thus upsetting the established nationalism of the modern State. ‘Seeing that “Jieŋ Council of Elders” has started to tone down their proprietary claims over our President …, in warning them off the dangerous project they had embarked on … “Jieŋ alone, without other tribal/ethnic communities, did not bring Mr. President by 98% votes. All the 64 ethnic communities of South Sudan voted in the elections for him to come to power”. (Lo-Liyoŋ, Juba Monitor, 2015, p. 5).
Therefore, as a nationalist, I out-right deplore deliberate manipulation of nations to usurp State-wide politics. With the same sage vitality, I condemn targeted organization of students in our universities, our highest homes of excellence, into nation bodies for political purposes. This is a misfortune that the SPLM inherited from the erstwhile Sudan but particularly from the National Congress Party (NCP) and its precursor the National Islamic Front (NIF). Application of a wrong prism let alone interference into students’ politics murders our patriotism right in its bud and matures what I once called Tribonepoisia, a micro-psychosocial embryo of tribalism, which now is unbearably hazardous to the State of South Sudan. For that reason, I strongly suggest that we should revert and only cling to impartial students’ associations as Juba University Students’ Union (JUSU) the only unquestionable fountains or abodes of nationalism in a State.
To sum up, these useful attributes of a State mentioned overleaf together commence to submerge and a common sentiment emerges around the Territory or Space and the symbols such as flag, coat-of-arm, anthem and government which gradually transcend those of the original smaller nation’s results into a modern State like South Sudan. Basically, this is an artificial act of what is government that has power and authority over the social-contractual, dissimilar and submerged nations. A government therefore is the administration in a sovereign or independent territory or space with known nations or tribes or ethnic-groups or communities and has a defined constitution or system of law as its agreed social-contract, in our case, the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (TCRSS), 2011 so far.
The conventional process of forging a government, by and large, is carried out courtesy of pluralistic politics through political part-ism not tribal associations. In this respect, a “Political Party” is an organization of individual citizens in a territory or space peacefully associating and adhering to common political ethos for the overall goal to democratically, consensually and procedurally form government.
Therefore, a “Ruling Party” is an incumbent political party or coalition of the majority in parliament that administers the affairs of a State, for example, the Conservative Party in Britain; the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDP) led by Rajif Ghani and the National Coalition of Afghanistan led by Abdullah Abdullah; and National Resistance Movement Organization (NRMO) in Uganda.
If South Sudan is a democracy, the majority in the National Legislature (NL) controls the executive arm of government too. For example, as the overwhelming winner of 2010 elections, the SPLM should have formed government alone thereby qualifying it as a “Ruling Party”. That is not the case though. For instance, Martine Eliya Lomuro from SSDF has ‘perpetually’ been a minister including Minister of Cabinet Affairs currently besides members from other parties also being appointed into NL and Government of South Sudan (GoSS), or its unusual variant: Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS), courtesy of “their” love for names and acronyms. Truly, a “Ruling Party” rules, succeeds or fails alone! So, current utterances that ‘the SPLM is the “Ruling Party”’ are nonsensical rubbish. In fact, tell me when SPLM ever gained the status of a “Ruling Party”? One thing I know for certain is individuals usurped powers of the SPLM “Party”, formed government(s) and ruled anyhow the State of South Sudan thereof till now.
Definitely, South Sudan as a State is governed by parties that have coalesced in obscure circumstances – not by election. We have NCP, ANC, SSDF, a variant of USAP, SANU, SPLM, and others that have formed GOSS or GRSS. In this case, the SPLM as the Afghanistan PDP led by Rajif Ghani is known as the “Majority Party” in the coalition. Political parties form coalitions to avoid likelihood of what would be duelling parties concurrently occupying the executive and legislative branches of government. An American style presidential system where the party of the president does not necessarily also have a legislative majority is a case in point.
Otherwise, the SPLM should formally concede that South Sudan is a “Single-Party” State like the Communist Party of China in the People’s Republic of China! So then, we the People of South Sudan resign to cope with the methods and rationale of despotism – unchanging monolithic society, tyranny, autocracy, and Decreecracy (or Decreetocracy) without any participatory opportunities offered us the population. After all, we’ve already been experiencing forced shutdown of schools and markets, heavy-handed closure of businesses, repugnant stoppages of other life activities, objectionable limitations driving on public roads, strong-armed attendance of public occasions in “Freedom Grounds” and similar others. There are surely usual overt heavy deployments of soldiers carrying bloodcurdling lethal weapons in any public event.
It is good to recall: the SPLM-DC was the “Official Opposition Party” in Southern Sudan because it was second to the SPLM in the election tally of 2010. Those elections only saw the SPLM and the SPLM-DC win seats to Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA). All other political parties at the time did not win any seat thus were lumped together as the “Opposition Parties”. SSLA under its bylaws – the Conduct of Business Regulations, 2005 – structured itself and created positions for SPLM and SPLM-DC Members of Parliament (MPs). It is common knowledge that in that heavily dominated SPLM Parliament (98%) the Speaker and Deputy Speaker inevitably were SPLM that in-turn moved-on to appoint a “Leader of Government Business” (LGB) who was the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. Ideally, the LGB must try to carry the house along with him with minimum discontent and obstruction. He/she is the lead speaker for the ruling party during floor debates; should be friendly and co-operative with the Chief Whips; listens to the Chief Whips though not obliged to agree with their views. GOSS or GRSS should have appointed LGB to the NLA as well as the COS since 2011. Conversely, the SPLM-DC appointed the “Leader of Opposition” (LOO), Hon. Onyoti Adigo Nyikwac, an equivalent of the LGB. The Americans call this the “Minority Leader”.
Furthermore, South Sudan like Sudan and India inherited the concept whip from colonial British rule. Chief whips are appointed by all parties present in parliament: ‘… There shall be appointed … a Chief Whip, to represent the “Ruling Party”’ (Regulation 28 (1), Council of States Conduct of Business Regulation (CSCBR), 2014). By inspection, this Sub-regulation is lopsided in spirit as it invalidates the succeeding sub-regulations making them senseless or illogical. In fact, the drafters of CSCBR, 2014 overtly contravened popular conventions of whips.
Factually, the role of Chief Whip is regarded as secretive because he/she is concerned with the discipline of his/her own party’s Members of Parliament. Therefore, it is customary for both government and opposition chief whips not to take part in parliamentary debates. They never appear on television or radio in their capacity as whips. So, whips in NLA should not speak in debates unlike their equals in the COS who may speak to support line ministers or act as a spokesperson for a ministry since there is no COS member appointed as a minister.
Also, Whips as party line should write whip letters in which importance of a vote is indicated by underlining the items to all MPs of their party at the start of the week. They determine the outcome of the votes crucially far more than the debate. These visible instructions in the chamber plus the “whip” letter are unrecorded in Hansard, as they are considered an internal matter of the political party. Indeed, the system exists because any explicit direction to an MP as to how they should vote would technically be a breach of Parliamentary Privilege. However, there are some peculiar cases as when we elect President no whip letter can be issued directing on whom to vote.
Indeed, Chief Whips can wield a large amount of power over those in their party. For a minister, the consequence for defying the party whip is absolute: swift dismissal, if not resigned yet. For disloyalty: no future promotion to a government post, reduction of party campaigning effort in constituency in next election, deselection by local party activists, or, in extreme circumstances, “withdrawal of whip” and expulsion from the party.
To wrap up, “Chief Whip” is a political office in legislatures assigned to an elected member whose task is to administer the whipping system that ensures that members of the party attend and vote as the party leadership desires. They are appointed by each party in parliament – they make sure the maximum number of their party members vote, and vote the way their party wants.
Nevertheless, for the NLA and the COS to perform their trio—functions of legislation, oversight and representation both the SPLM and SPLM-DC should control their rightful positions in the engine of those houses – the specialized committees. Apart from the LOO and the Chief Whip, the SPLM-DC must control the specialized committee of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the NLA as well. The SPLM must surrender this committee to its rightful occupant, the SPLM-DC – for the sake of efficiency and accountability. The SPLM can’t both expend and account the State resources! In fact, the SPLM tightfitting to and monopoly over PAC since 2010 is a colossal nasty joke that must cease now – not habitual business.
In a related issue, because political activity is a universal preoccupation in every organised human collectivity (Aristotle 384 – 322 BC), then, politics is the mother of society; when upset as is the case in South Sudan today, society fairly becomes troubled. So, habitual engagement in politics should aim at the goal of political commitment in a State: provide systems, institutions, structures and processes through which multiplicity of rival groups (parties and ideas) compete over means and ends, priorities and differences and areas of conflict and accommodation of scarce resources.
Today our State demands total political paradigm shift. In this regard, I zealously support “Political Renaissance” and tremendously denounce contemporary “Political Patronage and Clientele”, which degrades people to only lobby positions for survival than practice procedural politics in order to live graciously. Therefore, our politics should concern with peaceful resolution of competing claims; seek harmonizing our diverse relations; and ensure our State core values of real peace, true progress and real happiness. In this regard, the budget, the most important issue, for government and the State in a fiscal year (FY) must be treated with highest clearness, proficiency and decorum. All units, sections, departments in institutions especially NLA and COS must be involved in budgeting, otherwise, the select few involved (the Speaker, the Clerk and Finance offices in the case of COS) end up in horrendous misappropriation, a crime committed with impunity in South Sudan since 2005 hitherto. Indeed, the most formal demands of the COS year in year out are routinely never met but private personal demands only.
Otherwise, when our conflicting interests, goals and perspectives degenerate into physical violence to be settled with lethal weapons as it has been since 15 December 2013 hitherto, we exit the domain of politics. Then, our State collapses. For example, the recent stupid and disgraceful violent events that unfolded in the Western Equatoria State towns of Mundra, Maridri and Yamgbiyo, moreover our best strongholds of peace and peaceful coexistence in the State are glaring and harrowing illustrations of this breakdown. Thus, as citizens, we are under law to protect our established sound systems, correct institutions and right processes from disruption by violent and selfish parties or individuals. In solidarity, we should make our government good and exemplary, functional and efficient, transparent and accountable, real and practicable, pluralistic and inclusive, people-based and democratic, refuge of rule of law and moral – we should now.
So, now onward, let us as individual citizens behave politically according to the rules to serve the national public interests and not like an animal that serves its own individual self. No more business as usual – no more looting of the national coffers, no more plundering of the Country’s resources, no more mercenary mentality, no more political actors as the most rich in the Country but entrepreneurs who invent, innovate and produce, no more idleness, no more nepotism, no more tribalism, no more political patron-client rackets, no more place for using concepts or ideas wrongly in our Society – no more business as usual. Work and more work and more work, reward and reward excellence and punish inability and earn proportionate to worthy sweat.
To emphasize, let us in real terms pursue excellent knowledge for it will enhance our mental capability to grasp, comprehend and apply, down to earth, these social scientific concepts, among others: “State”, “Government”, “Parliament”, “Party”, “Ruling Party”, “Opposition Party”, “Opposition Parties”, “Chief Whip”, “Leader of Government Business” and “Leader of Opposition” better for they immensely underpin our polity, our peace, our progress and our happiness. In addition, celebrating excellence will embolden us to sincerely accept the consequences (rewards and punishments) of our responsibility or irresponsibility in order to achieve true justice for all in our State of South Sudan: “All public offices shall be held in trust for the people and all persons in positions of leadership and responsibility shall be answerable to the people in their work and duties” (Article 36 (5), TCRSS, 2011).
All should stop possible sponsorship of groups as “South Sudan Civil Society Alliance, Red Army Foundation, South Sudan National Youth Union, CES Youth Union, and the students” or others against IGAD Peace Proposal simply because certain individual positions and interests are threatened. Rather, you should organize opinions on national interests to enhance and add value to the peace “proposal”. Excellent and great minds do not demonstrate against proposals but suggest educative alternatives for good.
So, let political parties like SPLM stick to – ideate, decide, choose and act – within their statutory dictates. All political parties including the SPLM should clearly know the distinction between them as parties on the one hand and government on the other. All must know that national occasions like SPLA Day (16 May), Martyrs Day (30 July) and Independence Day (9 July) are preserve and competency of Government not political party as SPLM for instance. Therefore, it is terribly wrong for the SPLM Party to erroneously manipulate the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) hence making it and some people believe that SPLA is a property or tool of SPLM. On the contrary, the SPLA is much larger than SPLM and is a national army for all citizens as well as parties – “The Sudan People’s Liberation Army shall constitute the national armed forces of the Republic of South Sudan” (Article 151 (1), TCRSS, 2011).
Accordingly, I would love to underscore my frank rage against GOSS or GRSS erroneous reshuffle, flexibly to and fro, civil and military positions enabling many individuals to reversibly move in and out of various civil and military positions at liberty. The most conspicuous is the recent decreeing of an elected governor and the chairman of SPLM as the SPLA Chief of General Staff (COGS) up till then. This eccentric practice compromises confidence, trust and proficiency in the system and institutions particularly the SPLA of the State. In this manner, the SPLM lured the SPLA into the nonsensical and ruthless war on the night of Sunday, 15 December 2013 plunging the State to extremely dire predicament moreover with no end in sight till now. You are either civilian or military, you can’t be both; otherwise, if both, chaos triumphs over order. Now, South Sudan State must be ingenious and tidy.
Conversely, the SPLM seems in flagrant breach of the South Sudan Political Parties Act (SSPPA), 2012 (Act No. 33): “… not engage in or incite violence or promote hatred among ethnic, religious or racial groups in the Republic of South Sudan” (Section 16 (2) (f) (ix), SSPPA, 2012). Besides, the laws of this State prohibit political parties including the SPLM to have an army or militia of any sort: “No person or persons shall raise any armed or paramilitary force in South Sudan except in accordance with this Constitution and the law” (Article 151 (3), TCRSS, 2011) and “the means to achieve its goals shall not include establishment of covert or overt military formation or cells within the party itself, armed forces or establishment of any paramilitary forces” (Section 16 (2) (f) (viii), SSPPA, 2012,). So, the SPLM as a corporate body can be sued and prosecuted for the gruesome setting of our beloved Country ablaze: “The right to litigation shall be granted for all persons … to resort to courts of law to redress grievances whether against government … or organization” (Article 20, TCRSS, 2011) and “A political party … a body corporate … may sue and be sued in its corporate name, …” (SSPPA, 2012, Section 6 Subsection 5).
Consequently, with the above political parties’ perspective, South Sudan experience of political or politics becomes bizarre – instead of breeding heroes, heroines and selfless leaders – South Sudan so far has become a fertile ground, which incrementally produces charlatans and villains who oversee worst forms of violence, rancour, social disintegration and application of naked force in desperation to impose their moreover wrong will; God forbid, such is achieved without remorse!
In a nutshell, we should refrain from misunderstanding, distorting or intentionally confusing for whatever justification concepts so as to define the exact character of our State. If South Sudan is left amorphous as it is presently, she won’t be better grasped for true growth, actual development, tangible prosperity and authentic happiness. Some of us vividly know that our Country has an indisputably opulent history that provides its great identity or character. Thus, let us teach none but our history in our schools to our children now. A State without a history is desiccated wood dead. Therefore, the so called ministry of education at whatever level in the Country must rise to the occasion – sort-out its mess and dilemma in the curriculum change mission now. 11 years down the line without a South Sudan State’s Curriculum, what a shame! Although your sons, daughters and closest relatives are studying in foreign countries like Uganda, Kenya and others, top importing and teaching alien history in our schools to our beloved children now. We cannot import both their merchandize or commodities and history simultaneously. We are who we are – South Sudanese – and that is the way it will be!
Fellow beloved Compatriots, let us accept and commit to sensible discourses about the issues that reinforce our State whatever the length of that argument – all that is required is conformity to orthodox reason and logic. Let us desist from too much impatience and haste while theorizing for even great countries like France spent an awful lot of time to synthesize on their myths. No more business as usual – it is not about you and me, not personal interests and position but PEACE the most demanded for South Sudan and for the People – change now! That said, My Fellow Compatriots, I hope I have added a modicum of wisdom just to enlighten you further. Viva the great People of South Sudan Viva!
Compatriot Bramatali Wani Lo-Lipo Lo-Lisi, Political Functionary, Juba, South Sudan. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org