Contributor's Opinion

Opinion: Nation-building affects all and shouldn’t be taken as ethnic targeting

By Daniel Deng Mario

Souther Sudanese children rehearse their dance routine to be performed at half time during South Sudan's national football team match with Kenya as part of the independence day celebrations.
Souther Sudanese children rehearse their dance routine to be performed at half time during South Sudan’s national football team match with Kenya as part of the independence day celebrations.

February 19th 2020 (Nyamilepedia)Until February 15, 2020 at 10:00 AM, South Sudan still had 32 States. As we all know, the States of South Sudan were created out of the three historic former provinces (and contemporary regions) of Bahr el Ghazal (northwest), Equatoria (southern), and Greater Upper Nile (northeast). The 32 states are further divided into 180 counties.

The creation of 32 States owed its roots to two aspects. The first aspect is due to the power struggle and politics. President Kiir used the creation of State to please the people in order to garner the support of the masses on the grounds. He did this by capitalizing on tribal boundaries.

Consequently, the creation of 32 States stirred up tribal sentiments in the communities or tribes who became stanch supporters of President Kiir in defense of their tribal States. They really loved President Kiir unconditionally.

Another aspect is the aspect of National Policy of South Sudan. National Policy or Public Policy is the process by which governments translate their political vision into programmes and actions to deliver ‘outcomes which are desired changes in the real world’ (Wikipedia). The National Policy is designed to ensure effective government implementation of its development plan.

In other words, National Policy is a broad course of action or statements of guidance adopted by the government at the national level in pursuit of national objectives. All these explanations point to the fact that national policy of the government is to implement its activities towards achieving the welfare of the citizens by bringing services closer to the people.

In that regards, the creation of 32 States by the President was based on misunderstanding of the statement that the SPLM Policy is to bring towns to people. The President appeared when he created 32 States not to have understood the rationale behind Late Dr. Garang came up with the Statement of bringing towns to people.

Dr. John Garang did not mean the creation of many empty towns for the people when he stated that the policy of the SPLM is to bring towns to people but what was in his mind was to bring services closer to people. President Kiir however messed this by creating 32 States without services for the people, which was not in line with the provisions of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 as amended in 2015.

It is the same reason, the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 provides that South Sudan is to be governed on the basis of a decentralized democratic system and is an all embracing homeland for its people. Those who made the Constitution of South Sudan were aware of the fact that for South Sudan to benefit citizens equally, it must take into account its multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-racial entity nature in which such diversities peacefully co-exist.

The creation of 32 States was against the above provisions of the Constitution of South Sudan as instead of uniting citizens it became source of division even internally. As we all know, each State was founded based on tribe or clans. The clan members used to defend their members working in the government which increased tribalism and hatred and source of division. It further increased the disputes over boundaries and almost destroy the unity in diversity.

The creation of 32 States was against the national policy of social contract between the citizens and with their government as provided under Article 9 (1) of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan. Article 9 of the Constitution provides for the Bill of Rights that it is a covenant among the people of South Sudan and between them and their government at every level and a commitment to respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in this Constitution; it is the cornerstone of social justice, equality and democracy.

The creation of States is supposed to provide democratic principles and political pluralism guided by the principles of decentralization and devolution of power to the people through the appropriate levels of government where they can best manage and direct their affairs. The creation of 32 States militated against these principles and it is the same reason the government found it necessary to dissolve the 32 tribal States and reverted to the 10 national States.

The reversal of 32 States to 10 States is important as the initiation of the beginning of the comprehensive process of national reconciliation and healing that shall promote national harmony, unity and peaceful co-existence among the people of South Sudan among South Sudan.

Promoting national reconciliation and unity helps in inculcating in the people a culture of peace, unity, cooperation, understanding, tolerance and respect for customs, traditions and beliefs of each other; and mobilize popular energies and resources for reconstruction and development.

The reversal of 32 States to 10 States will further help in improving the security and welfare of the people of South Sudan, which is the primary duty of all levels of government. In the same way, the composition of governments will be taking into account ethnic, regional and social diversity in order to promote national unity and command national loyalty.

As the Constitution requires, the reversal of 32 States will enable the national and state governments to select the suitable personnel that can give effective services as they will hold all public offices in trust for the people where all they will be answerable to the people of South Sudan in their work.

In conclusion, the message I wanted to convey to the communities of South Sudan, and the community of Gok in particular is that the reversal of 32 States is part of the national policy of the government of South Sudan. It should not be seen as targeting them only. It affects every community in the country. In the same way Kiir unilaterally created 32 States, he has power to unilaterally reverse them for the interests of all South Sudanese.

The reversal of 32 States to 10 States will help to bring in a health politics that is seen as a fair game rather than tribal projects that a given tribe becomes bitter when they have lost politically. The recreation of 32 States is going to ensure competitive politics, which is the best. The benefits of 10 States outweigh its negative aspects. I therefore call upon all the communities to support the recreation of 10 States since it is in their best interests and the interest of South Sudan as a whole.

The author can be reached at mariodeng88@gmail.com

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