TO: Presidents and Chairpersons of Political Parties, Civic Organizations, Trade Unions, Associations and Professional bodies.
FROM: Simon ElHag Kulusika – Associate Professor of Laws
(A Native of Arapi, Ma’di, South Sudan)
June 1, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– This writer has learned with great consternation the threats made by a number of countries to withhold funds to South Sudan if President Salva Kiir Mayardit does not reverse the decree to establish twenty-eight (28) states in South Sudan. The countries threatening to withdraw funds, as is the case with some opposition political parties and a number of prominent South Sudanese, the establishment of the twenty-eight states was unconstitutional. These countries and those who hold the same views have demanded the cancellation of the said decree and to reverse to the ten states that were in existence before the declaration of the Independence of South Sudan.
One could not be dismayed if the calls for withholding funds were issued from opposition political parties. Because for these parties whatever decisions were made by President Kiir those decisions were bad and should be denounced regardless of their merits. But foreign countries to condemn President Kiir and called for the holding of Funds is very disturbing. One wonders on what grounds these foreign countries are condemning the establishment of twenty-eight (28) states. If the argument is that the establishment of twenty-eight (28) states will result in increased expenditure for the operationalization of the twenty-eight (28), the argument misses an important consideration that is the function of a federal system is expensive regardless of the numbers of state, region or province established.
Whether it is a devolved system of governance, or a quasi-federal system of governance, or a true federal system of governance, the important political consideration is the nature of people’s participation in active and actual governance. Under the previous ten (10) states arrangement, there was no active participation in governance by the people. Political powers were wielded by a few elites or petit bourgeois amongst the population with no or little concern about the plights of the majority of the people of each state. What was pervasive was rivalry amongst the ruling elites, and this vice transcended the elites utopian world to infect relations between ethnic groups in the same state. The result was allegations of ethnic monopoly of political and economic powers and this allegation has since escalated into outright claims of ethnic domination.
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One may cite the rivalry between Lotuka, Toposa, Acholi and Ma’di ethnic groups in Eastern Equatorial state. The same can be said about Upper Nile State or Western Bohr Al-Ghazal state. The truth is that under the ten states system, a Ma’di politician may not aspire for the office of Governor of the State due to numerical inferiority. Even those of late Gama Hassan and others after him who climbed up the ministerial ladder had to lick the boots of their masters. Indeed, very dramatic.
The establishment of twenty-eight (28) states is likely to reduce rivalry among elites and minimize intensive competition between ethnic groups. This, it is hoped, will enable people in every state to devote their energy for development. A question which has to be raised is whether a state ‘X’ is politically and economically viable. And the new states should not be manipulated in order to protect the President and his or her ruling party.
Federalism becomes more efficient where the states are smaller in size and they must have a “geographical contiguous”. Federal system is important for our new state for a number of reasons:
- (a) It provides basis for solidifying community interest guided by the principle of “unity in diversity”.
- (b) The states enjoy equality in respect of the exercise of political and economic powers.
- (c) It fosters socio-economic development. The states government will strive to educate the people in order to assume responsibility of development.
- (d) It teaches people to understand their allegiance and commitment to two levels of government: national and state.
- (e) It creates a sense of belonging and facilitate the process of national integration, provided that intensive ethnic rivalry is minimized by positive national integrative measures.
- (f) Federalism in South Sudan should foster cooperation rather than competition between the national and state authorities.
It is hoped that the threat to withhold funds will not be carried out. What is required is for the donor countries to endure that the 28 states are made functionable rather than merely facades for authoritarianism.
SIMON E. KULUSIKA is an Associate Professor of Law in Lusaka, Zambia. He can be reached at email@example.com
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