Has The SPLM Learnt Enough Lessons From Its Mistakes?
By Samuel Reech Mayen. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) which is the leading political party in South Sudan is a party of the people. Since its formation in the first half of 80s, the majority of the citizens submit their loyalty to the party. The party therefore enjoyed the support of the entire population ranging from supporters who voluntarily joint the military wing of the Moment, to the traditional authorities who provided constant foodstuffs to the SPLA. The Movement agenda was mainly liberation of the marginalized people.
With this massive support, the SPLM/A recorded many successes particularly in the battle fields that lasted two decades. On seeing the strong determination of the SPLM/A which adapted consultations to keep its supporters on board in achieving the vision of the people of South Sudan, the Khartoum regime gave in to the international pressure for peace negotiations that brought the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This CPA was signed by the SPLM and National Congress Party (NCP) of the Sudan. This SPLM- led peace accord brought the secession of South Sudan from Sudan, a huge achievement that can never be erased in the history of the nation.
However, the SPLM in running the affairs of the country that has trusted it for so long also recorded two major failures that have thrown the party into critical scrutiny by both the indigenous and international community.
The first mistake is the shocking degree of corruption during the interim and post interim periods. These unprecedented corrupt practices slurred the image of the previously respected people’s Movement. When the government was formed in Juba and the salaries started following in monthly, the top officials in the government stripped off their minds the cause of the struggle and prioritized the embezzlement of the public funds.
Millions of South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) started to be kept in houses, Boxes of money begun to be locked and transported in refrigerators to hide the truth, expensive houses have been bought in foreign nations, ministers and other officials permanently resided in expensive hotels and pressurized the Finance ministry to pay for their accommodation on monthly basis. The so called government cashiers with their bosses organize ghost names to steal money from their government.
Top government officials suffering from minor diseases begun to seek referral for treatment to India, US and UK just as a sham to access luxurious life in those countries forgetting that they worked hard for better life. Worst still much of these officials could not understand their tasks in their offices. They sit on the chairs as a mere compliance of obligation or to plan on how to
get money out of that department to continue with their extravagant life. Activists who criticize these kinds of attitudes and behaviors receive life-threatening impression. Some lost their lives and others stopped writing to live life.
The Second and the worse mistake being the engineering of the divisive circumstances (the circumstances that caused the war are not part of this article) by the SPLM top leaders that throw the nation into bloodshed. The 15 December 2013 war was a miscalculation from both sides of who are either currently in the government or in the rebels’ camp. Whatever political decision, omission, action taken or words uttered in 2013 resulted to the damaging war that shall be ended by the Compromise Peace Agreement (CPA II). This 15 December war could have been avoided by both parties if they were committed to lead a peaceful nation.
Although these mistakes have resulted into terrible destruction, it is advisable to stop aggravating accusations and open new page in the implementation of the Compromised Peace Agreement. Furthermore, it is important for every SPLM leader to be honest to himself/herself and personally asked quietly the contribution he/she has made in leading the nation into this devastating crisis. It is not a public confession but a personal sincerity. If the leaders begin to see where they went wrong, they will correct their political strategies.
Precisely, the author of this article urges the leaders to use the experiences of their mistakes as lessons and clearly prepare their minds on what they will do differently in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU). On this basis, the SPLM leaders who have been trusted with public affairs should play politics in good faith this time.
Finally the unity of the SPLM leaders and the Democracy within this party can not only be realized in its political success but also enhance meaningful life for the citizens. Therefore, the peace that has been signed should not be construed and treated as externally imposed deal. It rather creates an opportunity that should be accepted and exploit to improve both reputation of the Movement and lives of the citizens.
The author lives in Kampala and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 077 2727 857