Analyses Op-Ed Opinion Simon Elhag Kulusika

The Reconstituted National Legislative Assembly: The tasks ahead


By Simon El hag Kulusika (Prof),

Lusaka, Zambia

May 22, 2021 — I have learned and listened about the dissolution of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and its reconstitution. The new TNLA is reported to exceed 300 members.

Building of the South Sudan parliament (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

Whether this figure is not too large to frustrate the functioning of the National Assembly remains a concern. It’s also reported that political parties to the peace agreement have insisted on that number.

What is not convincing is whether South Sudan has the financial resources to pay salaries and allowances of members in a regular fashion without excuses for delay of payments.

Another question that has been raised pertaining to the new National Assembly is its tenure. All these issues must be cleared before the new National Assembly is convened or inaugurated by the authority.

On my side, I tend to believe that there are 8 major challenges that the National Assembly must tackle.

Armed insurgency: I consider this as a priority for the National Assembly. It must engage the government at all levels and all armed groups to dialogue in order for the many armed groups to agree to sign the Peace Agreement of 2018 or its revised version that shall accommodate the demands of the new parties to the conflict. Peace is required if the National Assembly and government are going to carry out programs that are vital for the development of South Sudan.

The National Army: This can be given a name that reflects the character of the Republic that had not yet attained the status of a nation. The composition of the army must take into account the diversity of the state in terms of ethnic groups. All have stakes in the National Army and must have a representation in the army. That is, South Sudan requires a balanced national Army to prevent cries of domination by Dinka and Nuer, the largest ethnic groups in the country. This can be worked out by devising specific formulae for allocation; distribution and deployment that takes into account numerical advantages that must be recognized and moderated in the interest of peace and stability.

The National Army should introduce flexible checks and balances on the RTNGoNU: This should focus on efficiency and service delivery by ministries both at central and state governments. The National Army should give particular attention to transparency and accountability to prevent and punish those prone to looting the wealth of the state and the people. A stiff penalty must apply where such misconduct Is detected and proved through judicial inquiry. The staff of ministries should be balanced. There are no justifiable reasons that a ministry under Madi should have a majority of its staff from the Madi ethnic group. Such acts are illegal and it transforms this ministry into a Madi institution rather than an institution for all the people of South Sudan. The RTGoNU definitely required reconstitution to give place for others who have been left out.

Political parties: The National Assembly should enact laws to organize existing political parties to make them perform those tasks that bring developments to South Sudan. Political parties are supposed to be the engine of progress rather than retrogression. The National Assembly must provide guidelines for the registration of political parties subject to certain requirements; such as registered membership; sources of finance and missions that are nationalistic. Some political parties must reform and effect changes to their names. Historical names such as SPLM/A or Anyanya should not be used but consigned to Archives.

The National Assembly should play greater roles in economic matters: South Sudan is facing many troubles in all sectors of the economy, agriculture, livestock, energy, manufacturing industry, mining and minerals, petroleum, investment, health, education, etc. The National Assembly must ensure that government at all levels addresses those problems to move South Sudan forward. I have put forward several suggestions as possible solutions to some of them with special emphasis on the energy sector.

The reconstituted TNLA should urge the government to establish an administration for expatriates affairs with a view to harnessing the wealth of South Sudanese in the diaspora for economic development. Remittances from these groups can contribute a lot towards development as can be seen in Sudan; Egypt; Rwanda and so on. The Expatriates will just require incentives for their investment in services back home.

Another urgent task for the new parliament is to revisit the name of the Republic flag and National Anthem: A Republic must have a name that is honorable and reflects the aspiration of all the people. The same can be said regarding the flag and National Anthem. They should not project the ideology of one particular political party. It must be universally accepted by all political stakeholders in South Sudan.

Another major task for the new National Assembly is the drafting of a new Constitution for the Republic: It should create a commission supported by a secretariat and a technical committee and subcommittees. These are to draft the new National Constitution and state constitutions based on the principles of federalism or confederalism. This new constitution should provide firm paths to eradicating ethnicity; inequality and leads South Sudan to real development and prosperity.

Professor Simon El hag is reachable via Sophie.chibale@zaiu.ac.zm

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