Contributor's Opinion

Opinion: A just friendly reminder that dissent develops democracy

Beny Gideon Mabor

President Salva Kiir and Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar during the independent government of South Sudan(Photo: file)
President Salva Kiir and Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar during the independent government of South Sudan(Photo: file)

July 25, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – the Republic of South Sudan is governed on the basis of constitutional democracy.  According to the literature on the roots of the American Government, constitutional democracy is defined as “a system of governance based on popular sovereignty in which the structures, powers, and limits of government are set forth in a constitution”.

Accordingly, Article 1(4)of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011 as amended provides that “South Sudan is governed on the basis of a decentralized democratic system and is an all-embracing homeland for its people. It is a multi-ethnic, multicultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-racial entity where such diversities peacefully co-exist”. Equally important under article 1 (5) of the constitution, South Sudan is founded on justice, equality, respect for human dignity and advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It was a known fact that such a highly diverse society with established political pluralism will have competitive views on the state of affairs. This includes having dissenting opinions on certain matters of governance. But is dissenting a disloyalty? Edward Murrow cautioned that “we must not confuse dissent with disloyalty”. In political theory as contained by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, dissent is “an opinion, philosophy or sentiment of non-agreement or opposition to a prevailing idea or policy enforced by a government, political party or other entity in a capacity of contextual authority”. This is simply how one or group see things differently with different solutions.

Therefore, it is a strong reminder to all South Sudanese mandate holders of different governmental portfolios, roles, and responsibilities to live up to the letter and spirit of the constitution and the law which tolerate dissent. The government must bear with dissenting opinions or dissenters on the management of public affairs. Dissent is the mirror through which the government will clearly see things from a distance, read between the lines and choose or do the needful.

In conclusion, it is to remind you once again that the history of progress of humanity is a history of informed dissent, a reflection of many ideas and finally agrees to forge unity of purpose. This objective reality of political life is what brought South Sudanese to present day South Sudan. Today, many political systems including South Sudan choose constitutional democracy as system of governance because citizens will have the right to dissent without fear, favor or contradiction as long as such dissent does not lead to unconstitutional action.

The author is a Commissioner at the South Sudan Human Rights Commission

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