Views on the National Dialogue (Part 5)
Such miss-conception and ill-practice must be discussed and rectified through a centrifugal civil service mechanism operating on the basis of unified lists of officials of different professions and laborers of various trades and skills, whereby all regions or states of the country could get their shares in the human resources available to the country equitably, amicably and devoid of tribal favoritism and any other form of segregation. There are many states that have been lagging behind in the number of qualified personnel that they critically need, while others have more than enough manpower at their disposal, many of whom are redundant. It would as well be very expedient to the country as a whole to have its civil servants working in all or most of the states or regions so that by the time they ascend to positions of national leadership as Secretaries General, Undersecretaries, Directors General or Directors, they could then be well informed of the situation across their own home country. The Civil Service would in this way be more competent, knowledgeable, pragmatic and capable to render expeditiously services to the people under their authority and respond to their aspirations.
Delocalizing State and Local Government Leadership:
Political or constitutional office bearers in the States such as Governors, Ministers and other position holders, same like the civil servants, are widely conceived that they must as well be from among the sons and daughters of those very states. They must as well be represented according to their tribes and tribal clans or counties and areas on all levels of government. Qualifications of education and work experience have many times been compromised in favor of tribal affiliations or what is being referred to more than often in political lobbies as “Tribal Balance”. Empirical experience has shown that although such allotment of offices is intended to draw people together in unity in the states and the counties, in order to solidify the basis of national unity, it has instead been tearing those states and counties apart and causing as a result unwanted animosity and instability.
In order to rectify the situation, we must discuss and make use of the positive experience of the government in Sudan, whereby state Governors, Ministers and other constitutional position holders are not necessarily selected all from their mother states or home states. Our late leader Dr. John Garang De Mabior applied similar formula when he appointed the heads of the state administrations just prior to his death, whereby Dr. Wani Igga was appointed to administer Upper Nile State although he was from Equatoria, Dr. Riek Machar Teny was appointed to govern Western Equatoria when he was from the Unity State, Dr. Lam was appointed to run Western Bahr el Ghazal despite the fact that he was from Upper Nile, and so forth. No one was heading his home state. It is time to follow suit in the interest of our national cohesion and unity. Even during the Regional Autonomy following the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement 1972 between South Sudan and North Sudan, Mr. Samuel Lopai was the Commissioner of Bahr el Ghazal and Mr. Benansio Loro was the Commissioner of Upper Nile and later on became the Commissioner of Jonglei although both gentlemen were not hailing from those areas and were Equatorians. What is important is that these executive officials must belong to the political party or the political parties’ coalition running the government of the day with one clear platform that ensures the anticipations of every single good citizen of the country.
Detribalizing the Election Constituencies:
Public Elections in South Sudan have been conducted for years and since early fifties on tribal or ethnic grounds, whereby every citizen ought to go to his or her tribal origin, namely his or her home village of birth or home town to seek mandate to parliament. Hence he or she comes essentially to represent his or her tribal village or tribal location, as a constituency, in parliament. Such Member of Parliament would obviously be more concerned with issues, of his or her tribe or clan, which are trivial, compared to national matters but he or she would always be obliged to do that in order to be able to keep his or her seat in parliament at the following elections. No Member of Parliament would be duty bound to care for citizens in his or her neighborhood outside his or her territorial constituency let alone neighbors from different tribes other than his or hers. Such state of affairs which exists right now would certainly continue to be counterproductive to the need for national cohesion and national unity of a newly born nation as our country South Sudan. The country can thus be fragmented and annihilated.
It would alternatively be much better for the country and its various states therefore to drop the system of “Territorial Constituency” elections and adopt instead the “Proportional Representation” elections whereby a candidate must seek mandate from people who are not necessarily from his or her tribe, ethnicity, clan, geographical location or village or even political party. To do that he or she must have good relations with all his neighbors on the basis of Christ’s Massage of: “Love Your Neighbor as You Love Yourself”. If he or she is voted into parliament his or her concerns and views would be more national and patriotic. Hence national unity would be more consolidated and the various parts of the country would be more bound together and tied to each other than ever before.
In case of insistence on the territorial constituency election system and the British “West Minister Democracy”, the gate-way to transform such system into a means for national unity instead of tribalism and hostile ethnic politics is to have candidates nominated to contest elections not in their home villages of tribal origin as is the case at present. A candidate could be from different state or county but nominated by his or her political party to serve the particular constituency according to the Party Platform or work program. Sudan has already experienced that in its endeavor for strengthening its national unity. It has worked very well so far and it would be a feasible project for us in South Sudan.
Cabinet of Ministers has always been formed under pressure of tribal, ethnic and geographical representation (so called tribal or geographical balance) because of the elections system we have in South Sudan as said earlier in item: 4. (b) above. This usually encourages creation of “Pressure Groups” to lobby for positions in government, e.g. ministerial or gubernatorial positions. Whoever wants the highest job in the country which is the office of the President of the Republic would have to negotiate with the lobbyists; bargain and strike deals with them by giving in to their demands respectively, to get in return their parliamentary vote and avoid, for an instance, vote of no confidence on his or her government or avoid impeachment proceedings to remove him or her from office or to have a mechanical majority to pass his or her policies and rubber stamp them, etc..
Election system based on proportional representation can be the best exit from the state of the self-seeking lobbyists holding hostage any person aspiring to lead the country patriotically and without bias, fear or favor. Present formula for constituting the Transitional Government of National Unity in accordance with the peace agreement signed in August 2015, referred to as the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) 2015, is an example of government based on proportional representation, although the percentages for the representation are unfair and have been premised on the whims and dreams of the IGAD peace mediators.
Strategizing and Energizing the Political Parties
Political parties have not been demonstrating their respective visions for the country, their ideologies or political thought and more importantly their strategies or work programs that tell the public what are they up to and what are they able to do in order to rid the nation of problems such as: the rising rates of unemployment, the high rate of poverty, the skyrocketing market prices, etc.? What are they prepared to do in the areas of security, basic infrastructure, education, health, water, electricity, sanitation, and so forth? What plans do they have to improve the economy, to ensure prevalence of peace and stability?
Political Parties as a coalition or as individual political parties must lay out their projections for debate by the public so that every single citizen knows what benefits he or she would get as well as his or her community, village, county, state or the country at large. No more should people, for example, vote or be coerced to vote for relatives, friends or for the sons or daughters of a chief of their tribe, or of an army general, or of a Minister or of a martyr unless he or she as a candidate has a party program covering a range of issues that could improve the lives of people and make the country a good place for all of us to stay and live in.
Political parties must be allowed and indeed facilitated to talk to the people across the board through the media or through public rallies, symposia and various other forums. Some authorities in the states, counties and payams fear political rhetoric that might not please their bosses at pinnacle positions of government of the day in the state or the country and therefore deny permissions to political parties to hold rallies and public talks. By-and-large, the political parties must foremost be legally registered in the country and alley the fears of the authorities. There must always be understanding between them and the authorities on the issues to be disseminated to the public. Political Parties must be registered and licensed to avoid anarchy and insecurity.
Schools and Schooling as Nucleus of National Unity
Negative tribal sentiments have extended to primary and secondary schools and the schooling regime itself across the country in contrast with what had been in the earlier years in South Sudan. The experiences of Lanya, Busseri, Meridi and Mundri intermediate schools in the sixties and seventies, among others, have to be recalled and re-introduced in the country’s schools and schooling system of our recent years. Likewise the memories of the Rumbek, Juba Commercial and Attar Secondary schools of those golden years have to be recollected and utilized. Those positive experiences in our memories could be rekindled to illuminate the path for our Youth in their endeavor for rock-solid unity of our country and prosperous South Sudan.
Revival and Encouragement of Social Clubs and Prayer centers, Not Only Sports Clubs
In the sixties during the First Civil War between Sudan and South Sudan led by the Anyanya there were so called “Officials Clubs” run by local government authorities in the three province capitals of Juba, Malakal and Juba besides few other districts’ main towns. Despite possible sinister reasons that the province authorities and Khartoum governments of the day might have for establishing and running those clubs, the intellectuals then as represented by government officials and some few private sector employees were able to converge over there, to socialize and familiarize. Ultimately their works and lives as individuals and groups of working class, men and women, were thus made easier and simpler. Today in the neighborhoods in South Sudan there are no clubs for socializing and familiarizing through acts of arts and letter or/and various social fans that draw people closer together and deter anti-social behavior, eco-centric or tribalism in their midst. People work or live in one place or even pray in one church or one mosque but they do not know each other or even talk to one another because they are probably from different tribes and are not familiar to each other. After prayers everybody goes his way. In earlier years churches and mosques were centers of familiarization and socialization. The priests or pastors do their best to know their church goers. So does the Moslem clerics. They even visit the faithful in their homes, solving some of their family disputes, encouraging them for education, skills training, and so forth. All these are no more happening but could still be revived to further solidify the basis of the national unity of our country – South Sudan.
The writer is the Chairman of National Democratic Party
By James Aniceto Batikayo