Opinion

Why our nation is heading towards three confederate states?

It is apart that the problem of leadership and issues of good governance have continued to have devastating impact on nation—building to an extent that the nation is heading towards three confederate states like that of Soviet Union that fractured along linguistic lines into independent states. This has happened when the ice of totalitarian rule started to melt under Gorbachev. Likewise our people never accepted each other to form a meaningful nation without using armed forces against citizens than building a united country.  They often used military forces which is problematic and catastrophic on people. This makes it hard for us to live in peace and harmony as brothers and sisters. The truth is, leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania were in fact more foresighted and pragmatic than the current leaders who are politically problematic and chaotic at the same time. And that is a sign of leaders who are uncultured and uncivilized without any political sophistication according to African political contexts and perspectives.

In this paper, I argue that in addition to the aforementioned, problems and other critical issues of ethnicity take place within South Sudan. These include religious crises, boundary—border disputes inherited from the colonial era, good governance, refugee crises, election disputes like that of Kenya, terrorism in Nigeria, Somalia and coupd’etat, coupled with weakness of African Union.  That entirely continued to have deteriorating and concomitant effect on the process of nation—building within African continent.  In a sense, the interplay of leadership, good governance and nation—building is intricate and inseparable.  Because the context of leadership, both theoretically and practically, impacts governance and reflects on nation—building processes. Warren Bennis, a leading authority on leadership once stated in his On Becoming a leader that leadership is like beauty: it’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it. That could not be farther from the truth. In this sense, some countries in Africa are immersed in perennal violent wars, armed conflicts and small scale insurgencies, cross—border terrorism, unrelenting economic crises, financial corruption, kleptania, poverty, diseases, famine and political instability.

In this article, therefore, the attempts are to look at how leadership and governance have interacted and the implications of their interactions on nation—building within South Sudan. Thus, the matter is that there is little doubt that the challenge of how to find and nurture responsible leaders, leaders with vision, clarity of purpose, honesty of intent, and respect for the rights of the people or for the citizens is the case in point.  In such cases, our nation is being ruled by elected tyrants or dictators of first order, whose misgovernance impacts negatively on the process of nation—building as these leaders have created unnecessary crisis and violence that led to ongoing war and death of citizens within our country without any good reasons.

If that is the case, why do some countries fall apart, often along their ethnic lines, while others have held together over decades and centuries, despite governing a diverse population as well? Why is it, in other words, that nation—building succeeded in some places while it failed in others? Truly, Syria is good example of failed State. It is also true outside of the media spotlight, South Sudan and Central African Republic went through similar experiences in recent years. Thus in some rich and democratic countries in Western Europe, Such as Spain, Belgium and the United Kingdom, longstanding secessionist movements have regained momentum. Obviously, within our lifetime, they might well succeed in breaking apart these states. On the other hand, there is no secessionist movement in southern China or among the Tamils of India. And why has no serious politicans ever questioned national unity in such diverse countries as Switzerland or Burkina Faso? Thus, nation—building is defined as the mere existence of an independent country with a flag, an anthem and an army. Although some old countries such as Belgium haven’t come together as a nation, more recently founded states such as India have done so. There are two sides to the nation—building coin: the extension of political alliances across the terrain of a country, and loyalty to the institutions of the state, independent of who currently governs. The former is the political—integration aspect, the latter is the political—identity aspect of nation—building. To foster both, political ties, citizens and the State should reach consensus over ethnic divides. Such ties of alliance connect national governments with individual citizens, sometimes through intermediary political organizations such as voluntary associations, parties, professional groups, etc. Ideally, these ties link all citizens into networks of alliances centred on the state. Simply, citizens see themselves represented at the centre of power, even if their preferred party or political patron is not currently occupying one of the seats of government. Intellectual, political elites, as well as the average individuals will eventually see all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic background, as equal members of the national community. In such cases, effective nation—building does bring important and positive consequences within the society in the end.

Above all, some individuals embrace nationalist rhertoric and feel proud of their citizenship while others do not. This introduced an exchange—theoretic perspective, according to which national pride depends on access to political power, seen from this perspective. In this, members of ethnic groups that are not represented in the nation—level government should be less proud of their nation than those included in the polity. Furthermore, ethnic violence in the past or power—sharing arrangements in the present should reduce trust in the future stability of political representation and thus pride in the nation. From a dynamic point of view, members of ethnic groups whose level of political representation decreased in the past should also see their nation in a less positive light today.

Moreover, alliances that cut across the entire territory of a country depoliticise ethnic divisions as these groups do struggle for the state. But the important policy issues concerning the state should come to the foreground of the state. Inclusive political coalitions also foster a sense of ownership of the state and promotes the ideal of a collective purpose beyond one’s family, village, clan or profession for the sake of the nation with sense of integrity in mind as the best way of cementing people together. Conformingly, citizens who identify with their nation are less resistant to paying taxes, more likely to support welfare policies, and are governed by more effective states. Indeed, nation—building is believed to have a positive influence on economic and political outcomes, especially in countries with ethnically fragmented populations such as South Sudan. Yet nationalism is an indicator of successful nation—building, that has been empirically linked to protectionism and intolerance that suggest dismal performance as a more likely outcome.

However, inclusive coalitions comprising ethnic minorities and majorities alike greatly reduce the risk of civil war and promote economic growth. In this situation policy makers equate nation—building with democratisation. They believe that democracy is the best tool to achieve political cohesion within the country. The argument goes like this: democratic elections draw diverse ethnic constituencies towards the political centre and encourage politicans to build broad coalitions beyond the pool of voters who share their own ethnic background. But without that the country can definetly brake up into confederate states whether we like it or not.  And it is true that most states that failed at nation—building and are governed by the elites of a small minority, such as the Alaw: of Syria’s President Bashar al—Assad, are autocratic without doubt.

Conversely, democratic countries are on average more likely to include minority representatives in their ruling coalitions. However, ruling coalitions do not necessarily become more inclusionary over time after a country has transitioned to democracy. In many recently democratised countries, ethnic majorities sweep to power only to take revenge an hitherto dominant elites and their ethnic communities. Irga after the fall on Saddam Hussein of Al—quada’s and later ISIS’s domestic support came from the former Baath tribes who resented their loss of power. For some years after democratic existence, US still did maintain slavery without meaningful political representation within the country. Clearly, the association between democracy and inclusion comes about because countries that are already governed by a more inclusive coalitions will democratise earlier and easier than exclusionary regimes that fight democracy tooth and nail. In a sense democracy does not build nations, but nations that are already built are more likely to transition to democracy.

In conclusion, the more a government is capable of providing public goods across all regions of a country, the more attractive it will be as an exchange partner, and the more citizens reflect such encompassing alliance structures and thus the ethnic diversity of the population. Thus the liberal elites who dominated the country for some time relied on the cross—regional, multi—ethnic networks of civil society organisation to recruit followers and leaders. This emerging power structure therefore should include majorities and minorities alike. Everybody should be represented at highest level of government as well as the federal administration, roughly according to the size of its population. Indeed, the resources that citizen’s exchange with the state should be avail if they are to politically support a government that provides public goods in exchange for taxing them.   

The author is the chairman of Sudanile Christian Democratic Party (SCDP). He can be reached via email: prince.manyangparek@hotmail.com /Phone: +211 915334323 +211 924689069/www.sudanilechristiandp.org

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