Understanding Federalism: Federalism is Desirable in South Sudan!

By  Augustine Lonyia,


Flag of the Republic of South Sudan. The newest and 193rd country of the world.( Deviontart)
Flag of the Republic of South Sudan. The newest and 193rd country of the world.( Deviontart)

August 05, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Let us acknowledge the origin of federalism and why it was implemented around the world. Hurley et al. (2013) stated that “Federalism has evolved over the course of American history. At different points in time, the balance and boundaries between the national and state government have changed substantially. In the twentieth century, the role of the national government expanded dramatically, and it continues to expand in the twenty-first century. Federalism was used in the Constitution to make sure the national government didn´t gain too much power” (p. 1). Federalism will play a significant role in the South Sudan’s national and state government.

The global network on federalism and development governance has given numerous countries that have practiced federalism and up until then federalism has been functioning very well. However, Forums of Federations illustrated:

There are roughly 25 federal countries in the world today, which together represent 40 per cent of the world’s population. They include some of the largest and most complex democracies – India, the US, Brazil, Germany and Mexico. Their system of government, while it can be complex, has made many federations amongst the most prosperous countries in the world with high standards of government services.

Historically, most federations were the result of previously separate entities – the 13 colonies of the American, the Swiss cantons – coming together to form a federal government. The entities would keep some powers to themselves but others were pooled with the central government of the new country. More recently, previously unitary countries – such as Spain, Belgium and South Africa – have adopted federal structures as a way to maintain common central government for some purposes while empowering regional governments for other purposes. In many very diverse societies, a federal system of government permits a recognition both of this diversity and of common interests and identity at the same time.

South Sudan is highly diverse country with 64 tribes. There is a need for a fair system which helps to serve our communities equitably. The current political crisis is disastrous with very poor governance in the country and we need a better system. Doig (2012) explained that “Federalism is the most important political device for the regulation and accommodation of the world’s most burning and devastating conflicts” (p. 1).

Federalism is desirable in South Sudan because it will allow for sufficient growth in our country. We need a political system which allows the citizens and the government to resolve problems. Nivola (2005) described that “Federalism is a political system permitting a large measure of regional self-rule and gives the rulers and the ruled a ‘school of their citizenship’, ‘a preserver of their liberties’, and ‘a vehicle for flexible response to their problems’” (p. 1). I believe that federalism will lead to political reformation by removing the national government and resolving some of the contentious issues. Federalism will allow the South Sudan government to achieve and maintain stability.

In addition, Doig (2012) described “Those who prefer a federal system of governance generally argue that this plan reduces the dangers while increasing the benefits. Thus a federal system may be helpful in encouraging and preserving individual liberty, since citizens who feel aggrieved can appeal to more than one final authority, and they may also be able to move to a different state or province” (p. 2).

Federalism is desirable in South Sudan because it encourages pluralism. Federal systems will allow the South Sudan government to develop at the national, state, and local levels, giving the South Sudanese people more access to leaders and opportunities to get involved in their government. Doig (2012) illustrated that “Federalism encourages each state or province to devise its own strategies for economic development — strategies which may be more effective because they are based on a closer understanding of local culture, resources and skills, and which, through the variety of different strategies tried by different states and provinces, may produce innovative programs whose success can then be emulated by other regions & nations” (p. 2).

The South Sudanese people will benefit from federalism because it will ensure the separation of powers and prevents tyranny in South Sudan. Even if one person or group took control of all the other branches of the federal government, federalism ensures that governments would still function independently. Federalism, therefore, fulfills the vision of a governmental structure that ensures liberty in South Sudan.

Federalism is a system of government in which the same territory is controlled by two levels of government. Generally, an overarching national government governs issues that affect the entire country, and smaller subdivisions govern issues of local concern. Both the national government and the smaller political subdivisions have the power to make laws and both have a certain level of autonomy from each other. The United States has a federal system of governance consisting of the national or federal government, and the government of the individual states.

It is also important to understand that federalism is not a perfect system. The government has to be mindful of the states that may not have enough natural resources to offer to the country. Doig (2012) elaborated that “Yet perhaps the benefits are overstated, and some disadvantages may be lost to sight. For example, will the devolution of responsibilities in a federal system sacrifice values of equality and social justice, because of differences between rich and poor regions? Will those values and others be diminished when states and provinces are given more power, because citizens of these limited regions may be less tolerant of minorities in their midst?” (p. 2).

Doig, James W. (2012). The Benefit and Dangers of Federalism Retrieved on July 18, 2014 From


Hurley, Bree, Befumo, Astrid, Harr, Maddy DiGiamo, Nick (2014). Civil Rights Movement

Retrieved on July 18, 2014


Forums of Federations (2014). The Global Network on Federalism and Development Governance

Retrieved from http://www.forumfed.org/en/federalism/federalismbycountry.php

Nivala,Pietro S.(2005). Why Federalism Matters Retrieved on July 18, 2014 from


The author can be reached at alonyia@hotmail.com

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