State Council for South Sudan

By Simon Kulusika,


South Sudan parliament (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

October 14th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 paved way for the establishment of a Transitional Government for South Sudan. This government was called Government of South Sudan (GOSS). That name was adopted for South Sudan (SS) after independence. The chief executive of GOSS is called President, i.e., executive president. He or she is assisted by a deputy and a council of senior ministers. The deputy to the President is designated as Vice President (at times referred to as First Vice President, clearly borrowed from Khartoum).

It is claimed that the President of SS wields enormous powers, numbers of these powers are provided under the constitution and others are conventional. There is no clear distinction between constitutional powers of the President and those powers alleged to be exercised contrary to constitutional stipulations. The President exercises powers of appointment and dismissal of senior government and public body officials at all levels of government, including Governors of states and judges of Superior Courts. The President also exercises Emergency powers.

It was claimed that abuse of power by the President was the main cause of the crisis of December 2013. In that year President was reported to have sacked his Vice President Dr. Riek Machar resulting in armed confrontation in which many lives were lost. The details of that sad incidence are history. The aftermath of that fighting is still being experienced all over SS: political instability.

One would argue that the real cause of differences between President Kiir and Dr Machar could not be attributed to release of Dr Machar as Vice President of SS. It was the psycho of the two leaders. They are ambivalent to subordination or the acceptance of chain of commands, since both of them believed strongly in the implications of the phrase ‘Badit’ or ‘Julle Dwong’, or ‘I am not subordinate to another (man). Such a belief impedes administrative functioning of organizations including government organs. If such belief is transposed on the political arena conflict is bound to erupt between the protagonists. In the current situation, President Kiir and Dr Machar found that they could not work together in harmony. No one of them would accept to take instructions from the other. The result was stalemate in the administration of the State where efficiency requires submission to a superior commander without challenging or refusing to carry out orders even if put in a blunt manner. Both men in that incidence were acting under the influence of superiority complex: ‘Ma Amba’, meaning ‘I am big, above all others’. This can be stretched further to dramatize the claim of superiority by asserting that ‘I give commands, but I do not receive commands from other men’. Among the Ma’di the phrase ‘Ma Amba’ is rarely used by self. It is employed by others to recognize a person as old enough to have acquired knowledge of Ma’di culture and is deemed a wise man.

Superiority complex is a factor detrimental to modern politics. It is a tradition that is a challenge to modernity as recognized by Professor Francis Deng in his seminal book on the Dinka. Dr Machar and President Kiir were brought up under traditions of integrity, pride, gallantry and combativeness. Those traditions do not countenance submission to another man except one’s Age – group leader. Simply put, among the Dinka and Nuer men are equal in status and authority. They do not have leaders as known among the Zande or Shielluk of SS. In a democracy, how does one resolve such dilemmas? It is unmistakable that Dr Machar will continue to reject instructions or directives from President Kiir or any other man, say Ali Abdu Razak a Nubi (Ma’di) from Nimule, if this could by miracle be president of SS and Dr Machar or Manyang (Dinka – Agar)were to be his deputy.

A man or woman is inextricably attached to his or her traditions. This can only be mitigated through time. Until that time comes one has to put up with such a person and devise a mechanism of working together as a minimum requirement for cooperation under a new democratic dispensation in SS.  It is for this end that this article is suggesting a State Council (SC) to be created as a substitute to the current Executive President for SS.

The SC is to act as a collective leadership and presidency for SS. The presidency will rotate among the members of the SC on a monthly basis and alphabetically. There will be permanent members as well as alternate members. The latter will have no voting right unless they are acting for a permanent  member of SC who is unable to participate in the session of SC for some specified disability. The SC as a collective leadership performs all functions of a head of State with necessary modifications

It is suggested that the membership of SC should consist of nine persons, seven of who are permanent members and two are alternate members. The members of SC to be chosen by an ad hoc National Panel agreed upon by all political parties in SS. Each member of the SC shall be confirmed by 2/3 majority of members of the Upper House of the national legislature present and voting. At all times membership of SC should consist of Dinka 2; Nuer 1; Shielluk 1; Zande 1; Ferttit 1; and Bari 1, in addition to two Alternate members as follows:  Annuak 1; and Latuko / Taposa 1. A member of SC shall be removed for misconduct through impeachment by the Lower House of the national legislature, subject to confirmation by 2/3 majority of all members of the Upper House of the national legislature.

The SC takes decision by consensus, failing which by 2/3 majority of members of SC present and voting. The national constitution should contain specific provisions dealing with SC.

The mechanism suggested is to ameliorate the issue of subordination. All members of SC are equal. All are Badit, Julle Dwong, Amba, Xobu, or Assiyyad (Arabic singular Sayyed), or all are none.

The general administration of the country is to be undertaken by a Prime Minister (PM) chosen from members of the majority party in the Lower House of legislature. In choosing the PM the constitution should outlaw the formation of alliances for the purpose of winning the position of PM. But the constitution should permit the formation of coalition government in order to ensure stability. The PM should vacate office on losing a motion of no confidence in the Lower House of the national legislature. If the PM refuses to vacate office, the Supreme Court shall issue a mandatory order for the PM to be removed from office and be subjected to prosecution for treason.

The rules of Master and Servant work perfectly in a pluralistic democracy where powers are distributed between the centre and the units forming the whole country and among their various organs. In this arrangement hierarchy of authority and flow of commands are accepted as necessary and as basis of the rule of law.

But one must keep in mind that obedience, supplication and blind submission are processes that are alien to most Nilotic, Nilo – hamatic people and other ethnic groups in SS. These people need time to confront the challenges of traditions. As this disadvantages everyone in the new nation, a mid – way solution must be found and the State Council is such a solution, hopefully.

The author, Simon Kulusika is an associate Professor of Laws Zambian Open University (Zaou), he can be reached via: sophieimasiku@yahoo.com


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