By Dr. Lam Akol,
March 19, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —- This question is provocative to the feelings of the masses of the people of South Sudan. But we raise it today not to confirm it, but to disprove the flawed logic of those who claim that the end of the SPLM is synonymous with the end of the South Sudan state. In fact, the claim is preposterous; the fate of a people can never be tied to the fate of a small group whatever service it has delivered to its people.
What prompted one to raise this strange question is that not a small number of the SPLM leaders, especially those who were thrown into jail by their comrades after the December crisis in 2013, kept reiterating that South Sudan will cease to exist if the organization known as the SPLM disappears from the scene. The last among them to say so was interviewed in “Al Maugif” newspaper for two consecutive days, the 14th and 15th instant. When asked about the unity of the SPLM, Dr. Majak D’Agoot replied: “For me it is the solution, … If the SPLM collapses, there will be no state called South Sudan, only parties such as SPLM- Bahr El Ghazal, SPLM-Nuer, SPLM-Equatoria, and so on….or unpatriotic parties.” End of quote. Such a serious statement is peddled without the slightest justification even on a theoretical level. Our interlocutor should have shown how the fate of a state is tied to the fate of a party or group or section. Did he ask himself why the state of South Sudan did not disappear when the SPLM was divided with its factions fighting each other for two full years? And where will the parties he mentioned exist if the South Sudan state is no more?
If such a logic were to stand, the state of South Sudan would have collapsed when the SPLM splintered after the December 2013 events and the talk of reunification now would have been rendered meaningless. The State of South Sudan is its people and these people existed before the SPLM and will continue to exist after its demise as is expected by many who suffered in its hands.
Those who tie the end of the South Sudan with the demise of the SPLM are those who are unwilling to face the current reality and take the requisite difficult decisions. While they acknowledge that the SPLM has lost direction, deviated from the course of the struggle, abandoned its slogans and did not provide for the people even a semblance of services and development since taking charge of South Sudan since 2005, they completely fail to recognize that such a failure which culminated in a devastating civil war requires a surgical operation that may lead to the amputation of some parts of the body that are affected by the cancer. Such a move requires, among other things, even as a last resort, the readiness to form a mass party that would restore the dreams of the masses in the revolutionary slogans and the defence of democracy and human rights; slogans the SPLM espoused in its revolutionary days and abandoned by the SPLM in government. This option becomes the more pertinent because this group boast of having a clean untainted record of struggle and that they are ”in the inner feeling of the common South Sudanese”.
Therefore, the people expect them to go to them so as to sense their feelings but don’t expect from them to be indulging in arbitrary determinations as to which party is “tribal” and which is “unpatriotic” from among patriotic parties that have chosen the path of reform and are resisting dictatorship by deeds not mere words. Because being with the masses is not an option to the group, the road must be paved for the return to the fold of the SPLM in government with excuses including that without the “unity of the SPLM”, there can exist no South Sudan state! This is the height of self-deception. Everyone knows that the intended unity is that between the horse and its jockey. With the obvious difference in the means, such a position reminds one of the position of the “Legitimate Command of the Sudanese Armed Forces”, who were three officers from the General Staff of the Sudanese army ousted by the Ingaz coup d’ etat in 1989. They left the country, after the coup, so as to struggle to topple the new regime through an armed action. However, they refused to raise an army to confront the Sudanese army arguing that they are the commanders of it!
We wish the SPLM well to unite as and when they wish. But this does not prevent one from saying that there is no room for the unity of the SPLM except under the current project of the SPLM in government, a project which concerns only power. They have no room for internal reform and other democratic demands raised in Arusha or elsewhere. The mobilization that is taking place among the elites is tied to power, therefore the line has grown very thin between the SPLM and the National Congress, for example. Leaders of the latter are now occupying top positions provided by the SPLM to its supporters, and they are the ones who defend with zeal the decisions which the interviewee has described as dictatorial, they are, in addition, the ones who expelled from the chairmanship of specialized committees in the National Legislature those who struggled for years in the ranks of the SPLM while they were leading the other side. Without power, these people would not have joined SPLM in government, and so is the case with the so many that swell the ranks of the SPLM today. This fact is undeniable.
We request those who tickle the feelings of the masses, that there can never be a South Sudan without the unity of the SPLM, to ask the following question: Where is this SPLM?
SPLM is not an idol to be worshiped, nor a name without which nothing exists. The SPLM is principles and ideas, programmes and plans, organization and organs. If these are abandoned, what does the name stand for? They talk about historical parties, we do not know what parties they mean. Suppose the SPLM was a historical party, do we fight over the name simply because it is historical? Where is Anya-nya? Where is the Southern Front? Where is South Sudan Liberation Movement? Are these not historical names?
Going beyond our borders, the Eritreans have struggled under the umbrella of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) for a number of years not less than the period during which the people of South Sudan struggled under the leadership of the SPLM. However, after the independence of Eritrea the name of the front, that led the armed struggle, was changed to the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice. This action did not take away anything from the impressive record of the EPLF. What yardstick are you using?
To go back to where we started, the interviwee went on to say that the alternative to the SPLM is regional or tribal parties (he mentioned) or unpatriotic parties (he did not mention). With the exception of the last category, which needs to be clarified by him, why should the formation of such parties mark the end of South Sudan? How does he describe the parties in Kenya? Wouldn’t his description of the parties in South Sudan apply on them? Kenya now is an independent state that enjoys a central position in the continent and the region and did not end up as feuding tribes in the manner Kanu party, the ruling party by then, warned at the height of the peaceful struggle for multi-party democracy in the nineties of the last century. How telling is the similarity of argument!
The SPLM led the armed struggle that was crowned with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, which stipulated that the people of South Sudan exercise their right to self-determination, this resulted in secession of South Sudan and the emergence of our current state. This achievement is for sure a credit to the SPLM. However, during the interim period, the SPLM took charge of the affairs of South Sudan opening the doors wide open for it to translate its revolutionary slogans into reality and transform itself into a democratic political party. Alas! The hopes of the people were dashed for the SPLM acted contrary to what it called for. Corruption became rampant and the comrades could not accommodate themselves any more plunging the country into a devastating and destructive civil war. After all this colossal failure, comes somebody to say that the only alternative to this movement is the end of South Sudan state. Oh God save us from ourselves.
Lam Akol is the Chairman of the main opposition party, the Democratic Change (formerly known as the SPLM – DC). This article was first published by the Stance newspaper in Juba and later by PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese bloggers.
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