Contributor's Deng Vanang Politics South Sudan

Back To The Future: Neither 21 nor 28 States the Panacea to our Current Problems

By Deng Vanang,

Map of the 28 states decreed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit
Map of the 28 states decreed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit

May 22, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— Old wisdom of 1947 Juba conference has proven us wrong that centralized government is neither our grant protective shield nor breadwinner. In that Juba conference South Sudanese chiefs and political representatives agitated for an independent federal Sudan as Anglo-Egyptian condominium government bowed out of the scene.

In the proposed federation sovereignty would be divided between the Centre and the sub-regions and there in would lie an opportunity for Southern Sudan not to be politically bullied and economically robbed of its invaluable resources by the politically advanced, but economically impoverished North.

North prevailed through hooks or crooks to keep the independence kitty wholesomely united under its burgeoning tight control while it continued to rape the region’s resources. But fifty years down the line, South got more than it bargained for, complete independence than the half loaf called self-governing South.

Again before South Sudan gained independence in 2011, ghost of 1947 Juba conference came knocking noisily hard on our door with majority responding favorably, but a few rose up in arms against.

Like natural power of water which can’t be blocked from where it chooses to flow, some politicians alongside the band of erratic supporters couldn’t stop such great idea whose time has come and now.

And there and then the great thief of time, energy and resources that is centralized government, has been finally caught up with and nailed pants down. It couldn’t be on the run forever no matter how faster it might have been.

A thief so great for it reaps where it did not sow. Collects taxes from its constituent states to which it doesn’t return them through social services. Misuses the absolute sovereignty to pin down states against realizing their potential to fend for themselves the way they so wish.

Makes some states ever since 2005 go on tax holiday while eating big from the jackpot pooled by the rest. In fact, the so called centrality of state – the bottomless drain on the country – has been the abhorred slave – master relationship from which the country needs a clean break.

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However, popular demand for federalism shouldn’t endorse the dictatorship with which leaders who always remind as of being democratic unilaterally decided the type of federalism, number of states people want and who are to be paired with who. No thinking of how economically viable they are in terms of population, resources and internal trade. Similarly, no consideration of being vital constitutional process not to be whimsically reduced to an individual’s quest work. Instead, that must rather remain their proposals to be put on an acid test of nationwide referendum.

If accepted, such type of federalism should as well guard against introducing yet another broad daylight theft of some people’s communal lands and resources by others through curbing out of the new states from already existing ones.

With clear understanding federalism of devolved powers to the lower levels alone isn’t enough, however. Sufficient and efficient skills in personnel to whom those devolved powers are transferred matter the most.

The same goes with authoritative use of federalism as divisive tool to keep everybody quarantined in their Bantustan called state from the rest. And neither for a few to run away with plateful of meal from fellow brothers and sisters in less fortunate states.

The central pool should remain the ever caring mother for less fortunate areas through equalization funds in our equal forward match in step and development.

While the less fortunate states be warned of indulging in a free lunch via the policy of spurring healthy competition for a quick and timely economic development.

Allowing the grassroots to manage their resources and in turn proportionally contribute to the Centre that holds us together must always remain the hallmark of what federalism is all about. Followed by grouping of grass root communities into manageable administrative units for easier and equitable distribution of both goods and services.

Said administrative sub-groupings need to reflect the beauty of ethnic diversity and spirit of nationalism among citizens. For without such spirit of brotherhood as something that made us what we call South Sudan, unity won’t be tenable. It should be solid national unity first that begets stability from which economic growth and prosperity accrue.

While ethnically balkanizing the country, only makes people tend to believe they are enemies to one another and nether will they know themselves as people of the same one country.

If they can’t live together, it is only presupposed to say they couldn’t manage to be global citizens like what the rest of the world aspires for. And neither shall they be able to share and make use of the harnessed resources to their satisfaction.

Since even in a country, there are areas not endowed with material resources while others may be rich in human capital and vice versa. Which brings to mind the inevitable economic question of comparative advantage.

Where some areas get what they don’t have from others just like no country can be independent of another. It is interdependency that helps the nations and peoples found in one country economically subsist.

Given the country being resourceful and big in landmass, although sparsely populated, it can make do with ethnically or clan based counties whose population sizes must be closely proportional to avoid silly sleaze in budget allocation while subject to review in the range of mandatory period of ten years.

While 10 states remaining reflective of national social fabric and togetherness of South Sudanese people, with powers to run their own clearly spelled out administrative affairs independent of the Centre meant for both national defense and representation in the community of nations.

For many counties and states that are currently introduced require a lot of man power to staff them. Besides so many disputed boundaries enough to fuel the already existing inter-communal conflicts to become endless.

The perceived extra-ordinarily large man power can eat into financial budget in form of salaries and fringe benefits that could instead take care of much needed services delivery. A great step away from Stone age of one living for the stomach that is long gone.

Quite in line with politics of the modern world that leaders and citizens from a poor country are not respected by their rich peers wherever they go on bended knees and extended begging bowls.

And not how much a country has brutally kept her perceived enemy, whether internal or external, under crashing feet that matters. But how enough she can feed her citizens and donate the surplus to the starved beyond the internal borders that earns her global admiration and social respectability.

Deng Vanang is a political scientist, journalist and author. Reachable at:dvanang@gmail.com

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