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Why SPLM Should Not be A Political Party?

By John Adoor Deng, Australia

October 27, 2014 (SSNA) -- Many people who have the focus in South Sudanese politics, these days have been bombarded with many coined Acronyms around SPLM. Truthfully, it has been a sense of confusion in digging to understand why do people defect from SPLM but later align themselves again with the SPLM in terms of retaining the Acronym; examples in his context are SPLM-DC, SPLM_OP, & SPLM-FD respectively. For clarity and for layman consumption, SPLM stand for Sudan people liberation movement, SPLM-DC stands for Sudan People Liberation Movement for Democratic Change, whereas SPLM- OP stands for Sudan People Liberation Movement in Opposition, and lastly SPLM-FD stands for Sudan People Liberation Movement Former Detainees.

This article shall explore historical origin of political parties, and unpack the significant reasons surrounding the importance of SPLM in the South Sudanese history of struggle and in the context of political genesis of freedom, and as well as the current political dispensation of South Sudan as a new republic. The article shall expose implications depicting why SPLM should not be a political party, but a national common identity that should be left with either national army or other national commonly shared ideology.

On the onset, it is essential to first look at the origin of political parties in the world, their common ideologies so as to understand whether what we popularly call the South Sudan really fit in the context of the world politics. The origin of political parties goes back to the 1600s. The ancient Greeks, who were pioneers in developing democracy, had no organized political parties in the modern sense. The senate of the ancient Romans had two groups that represented people with different interests — the Patricians and the Plebeians. The Patricians represented noble families. The Plebeians represented the wealthy merchants and the middle class. Although these two groups often mingled, at times they voted as factions or parties, on particular issues that were important to the groups they represented. In Africa, the governing system used were chiefdoms, eldership and kingship along separate tribal groupings

For many centuries after the fall of Rome (AD 476), the people of Europe had little voice in politics. Thus, there were no true political parties — only factions that supported one noble family or another. Political parties developed as representative assemblies gained power. In England, this change began after what was called the Popish Plot of 1678. These narrowly based parties were later transformed to a greater or lesser extent, for in the 19th century in Europe and America there emerged parties depending on mass support. However, the 20th century saw the spread of political parties throughout the entire world. The political parties are guided by their ideologies; common in the western world politics are conservatism and liberalism. For example, in the United States of America, the Democratic Party represents liberal ideals, while the Republican Party commonly represents conservative ideals.

Apparently in Africa, arm struggle was used as a major tool in the quest of independent in many countries in the continent. Arm struggle was predominantly the strategy used to unseat the colonial regimes. Contextually, after Sudanese (both Arabs & indigenous African) fought and achieve independent of Sudan in 1956. The South Sudanese was forced conditionally to wage second war for the independent of South Sudan. The independent which was later achieved in 2011. Historically, the SPLM was born in the second phase of South Sudanese quest for independent; it was thus a tool used to achieve South Sudan independence. Hence, SPLM was not meant to be a political party in scientific terms but an ideology meant to rally all South Sudanese around a common agenda which was than the self-determination of South Sudan with hope to culminate into total independent of South Sudan. The key word was liberation and movement. Obviously, it becomes inactive after independent. The question is liberation from what after independent?

This brings me to parade significant reasons dictating why SPLM should not be a political party. The following in my view have sharpened my intellectual impetus on opposing the existence of SPLM as apolitical party in South Sudan.

Firstly, SPLM has an outdated or already achieved mission that was a total liberation of the people and land of South Sudan. The independent was brought by a liberation movement carried by all South Sudanese people. This memorable and sacrificial work of all people from all work of life, from all creeds, faith, and gender cannot be narrowed to a single membership based entity.

Secondly, SPLM has become a source of conflicts, political bullying, and divisions with some cadres saying they are the ‘real liberators' and questioning a patriotism of others who in really sense contributed to the struggle just like them. It is clear from daily utterances from SPLM speakers that boosting on who did what during the struggle is the only slogan being repeated each day.

Thirdly, SPLM is using the gone war rhetoric instead of policies that enhance social and economic development of a newly born country. It is not democratic in practical terms although democratic terms are used in pretense.

Fourthly, current SPLM is old school based, most of the powerful cadres in the current SPLM lack conventional knowledge of current political civilization. The world has moved from institutional power to people's power. Hence, SPLM still holds to institutional power in the expense of people's power.

Fifthly, SPLM is still using what Professor Anyang Nyiogo of Kenya call a political militarism. They act militants instead of using power of political persuasion. Honorable members of parliament like to be referred to as ‘Generals' instead of civilian politician preferably. 

Sixth, quitting SPLM is equated to deleting history of struggle. Quitting SPLM is seen as betrayal. It is this very reason that people leave SPLM but added in SPLM in their names (SPLM- DC, SPLM -OP, SPLM -FD) so that they are accepted or given credit of struggle. These are foundation set on falsehood rather than on ideologies.

Having stated these, SPLM as a historical name that connotes the struggle of the people of South Sudan should be only instituted on a ground where all South Sudanese people should feel belong to and embrace it proudly. Realistically, SPLM should only be aligned to a commonly shared identity. For example, the national army fit this very well or other institutions such veterans, etc. 

The rationale and benefit of taking off SPLM name in politics are to provide:

  • Equal platform of all parties to compete on policies and strategies for social and economic development of South Sudan.
  • Encouragements of parties that are now badly labeled as non-contributors to the war of liberation to active participate without intimidation.
  • An opportunity for South Sudanese to sees and practice politics.

As an SPLM file member, I believe that for the change to occur, SPLM must be repositioned, reconfigured, refocused to fit the current human political civilization or migrate it to commonly shared institutions.   I also believed that a political party must be ideologically driven and that the membership of the party is crowded by people who identified with the party‘s ideology.

Although ethnicity has shaped most of the African political parties, it is important for South Sudan, a country born lucky in the 21st century to embrace what I now call current human civilization. With this realization, SPLM should not be a political party.

The Author, John Adoor Deng, is a Director of Civil Society Organization in Australia, Former President of Sudanese community of Queensland INC, & Former President of the Federation of Sudanese Australian communities. He is reachable by emailing:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The problem is not Mathiang Anyoor, its Salva and his entourages who planted hatred and anger to their hearts

By: Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut

October 27, 2014 (SSNA) -- The level of hate, anger and malice is simply astounding. The vile and toxic language that is routinely used defies all forms of human decency. We are caught up in this conundrum of heightened intolerance, disrespect and vulgarity. Brother has turned against brother and sister has turned against sister.

This is now a mumbo-jumbo spectacle of tongue-lashing and hate-filled malicious slandering and lewd propaganda.

South Sudan is on a knife edge. All caution has now been thrown to the wind as the struggle for political supremacy and economic dominance has entered the home stretch.

It is now dog-eat-dog. It’s now gloves off as the moment of reckoning is fast approaching. Where to South Sudan? Which way are we heading towards as an otherwise civilized nation? Is it all doom and gloom? Is there any logic in this madness?

We want to build a Federal Nation which will be South Sudan and as such we have to dismantle the spirit of hate, anger and intolerance that is permeating the nation; across the political divide. South Sudan is our beloved country and we, all of us, are obliged to be patriotic, respectful and indeed tolerant of different and sometimes, opposing political and religious views and convictions.

It is simply not feasible to build a great and progressive nation on a foundation of anger, intolerance, hate and malice. There should be unity in diversity.

We cannot afford the idiotic luxury of lambasting and publicly humiliating those amongst us whom we think are our enemies and political adversaries. There can be no homogeneity of ideas and political views in any nation.

It is simply impossible to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach when you are dealing with human beings. Human beings are very unique organisms; each one of us with a perfectly distinct set of fingerprints even if we are otherwise identical twins.

Thus, any attempt to package all South Sudanese into one political envelope will be as unwise as it is bizarre and impracticable.

South Sudan is at a historic turning point; make no mistake about that. We have now reached a defining moment in our national political discourse.

Going forward, South Sudan will never be the same again. The generation of yesteryear nationalists is now reaching the tail-end of their political careers.

Much as this generation might want to hold on to political power and appear to be defying the whims and fantasies of Mother Nature; but the long and short of it is that South Sudan has now entered a completely new phase in our national political tapestry.

We shall be witnessing a lot of political reconfiguration and regrouping in the not-too-distant future. Trust me. By the time we hold Election in a year I will not mention, the political landscape will be so very different and complex from what it is at the present moment in time. This is typical of dialectal materialism.

Nothing remains in an unchanged state forever. That’s the way it is and indeed that’s the way it is always going to be.

Whilst the national economy continues to be on life support in the intensive care unit, the ruling SPLM-Juba Faction party seems to be apparently lost in a maze of endless political factional bickering and mudslinging.

Of late, we have witnessed a complete abdication of governmental responsibility. In SPLM-Juba, things have completely fallen apart; the center can no longer hold. To all intents and purposes, SPLM has effectively split into at least two extremely antagonistic and opposing factions.

These two factions hate each other with a passion. There is certainly no love lost between these two opposing factions of the “revolutionary” party. Instead of attending to serious matters of State, of late, we have witnessed bootlicking Nuer (loyalist) Members of Parliament (MPs)making a beeline to show a fake deal to deceive President Kiir to work out mobilization in devastating areas control by mighty white army, will that bear fruits? Or it's a contract to steal President Kiir’s money this time……………..?

Otherwise respectable men and women were reduced to puppets childishly cheering on their puppeteer as the latter huffed and puffed; blurting out toxic hate language and malicious propaganda against perceived political adversaries. Some of us had seen this coming a long time ago. SPLM effectively split several Months ago. This is now just the moment of reckoning. The chickens are simply coming home to roost.

South Sudanese should flatly and resolutely refuse to be trashed, used and abused. We should say a resounding NO to the creation of a family dynasty to run this country.

For how long shall we continue to be this docile as our country is taken to the dogs? This is the time for all well-meaning patriots to stand up and protest! Enough is enough!

Surely, we cannot see our beloved country jumping from the frying pan into the fire and we still pretend that it’s business as usual! What is wrong with us South Sudanese? Why are we so fearful?

Why are we so cowardly?

Across the political divide, we should stand up and fearlessly confront the ghost of hate, division, anger, malice and retrogression. We should be principled and abide by what we believe in.

No one has got a monopoly of wisdom. Indeed, no one was born with the sole and exclusive mandate of being kingmakers in their respective political formations.

This is our national call to action. We are not talking about Drinking beer, Roasted 'Marial Nyang' and or swallowing "Assida" here. We are discussing very serious matters of State.

We should flatly refuse to be entrapped into factional enclaves that are a passport to nowhere. We should learn to speak truth to power.

South Sudan have suffered enough at the hands of unscrupulous, corrupt and populist demagogues. We run the real risk of sliding into a permanent mode of a failed nation State if we remain docile, fearful and unprincipled. Let us learn to call a spade a spade.

The authro can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A federal system of government will not divide people of South Sudan

By Jacob K. Lupai

October 26, 2014 (SSNA) -- Fears have been expressed that adoption of a federal system of government will surely divide up the people of South Sudan into hostile sectarian or reactionary groups along ethnic or regional lines, each trying to finish off the other. The question to ask, though, is the fear genuine, unfounded or both. One may tend to answer that the fear at best is both genuine and unfounded.

The fear is genuine as it is the fear of the unknown. People are simply not sure of what is in store for them in a federal system. However, those with genuine fears may easily be persuaded when the facts about federalism are laid bare for an informed decision. On the other hand the fear is unfounded because it is based on illusion and erroneous assumption that some people are targeted for special treatment and that the proponents of federalism have a hidden agenda of their own.

Those with unfounded fears of federalism may be stubborn because they themselves might have a hidden agenda of their own. However, it seems that many South Sudanese have now been persuaded of and seen the merit of federalism. Immediately after independence of South Sudan the governors of the ten states called on the national government to implement fully a decentralized system. The governors called for a more federal system during presentations to the First Governors Forum after independence.

Since September 2014 the national government has agreed to the installation of a federal system of governance in South Sudan. This all suggests that it is not now a matter of if but of when a federal system will be adopted in South Sudan. The unfounded fears are fast disappearing into thin air, giving way to genuine fears that can easily be managed.

Federalism

Many people may need to know why there is a need for federalism in South Sudan. It must be underlined that the present system is not federalism. After the opponents of federalism had come out with all their guns blazing against federalism there now should be a time for calm and reflection on federalism. South Sudan will not be the first in the world to ponder over federalism or centralization of power and neither will it be the last.

The people of South Sudan are dynamic and will always be searching for a better way forward for development and unity. The present conflict is precisely a search for how best South Sudan should be governed for prosperity for its entire people. This is evidenced by the peace talks in Ethiopia. The problem seems to be that there is lack of culture of dialogue for consensus but violence. In addition there are people who are inherently fearful of change and those include the diehard opponents of federalism who would do anything to maintain the status quo at all cost.

One important question to ask is what do people know about federalism. Perhaps, we may need to look at the United States of America (USA) as a model of federalism with principles such as the separation of powers, an independent judiciary and individual rights.

In the federal system in the USA a state has established tripartite division of governmental power, legislative, executive and judicial. The federal government cannot intervene to protect states against internal violence without a request from the state legislature or the governor, something contrary to what is happening in South Sudan where an elected governor can be unceremoniously removed on an allegation of insecurity in the state.

In the USA there is a commitment to state autonomy. In the federal system in the USA there is no provision for revenue sharing and it does not require the federal government or the states to cooperate or coordinate with each other on tax matters. The USA federal constitution does not require the federal or state governments to balance their budgets. In contrast, in South Sudan the national government dictates a ceiling within which the states should develop their budgets, a limiting factor indeed for the states to develop according to their needs.

With the brief highlights of principles of federalism as in the USA, it is hoped that people would have a glimpse of what federalism may all be about to appreciate the contribution of federalism to development.

Unity of people of South Sudan

South Sudan was created not by a voluntary union of its diverse ethnic groups but by the work of the British in their colonial administration of the old Sudan. According to the British the administration of South Sudan was to be developed along African rather than Arab lines. The British were not therefore committed to administering South Sudan as part of the old Sudan but believing that South Sudan might eventually be linked to the British East African colonies.

South Sudanese were not part of the concept of linking them to the British East African colonies. They had no power to choose voluntarily where to belong. Like most people of diverse ethnic groups in Africa before the British colonial rule, South Sudanese were of various ethnic groups occupying the geographical area the British called Southern Sudan with no common agenda.

South Sudanese were never united in modern sense. They saw themselves as people of different ethnic groups, each with its distinct language and ways of life. South Sudanese only became united in the face of harsh treatment by the Arabs of old Sudan. It was then when South Sudanese realized they were people of one destiny thanks to the Arabs’ arrogance and insensitivity which helped to consolidate southern unity for a protracted struggle for freedom.

After having attained independence it is not clear whether the unity during the period of the protracted struggle for freedom still exists. Independence brought with it challenges and responsibilities for which South Sudanese seemed not to have been prepared. There was nothing to motivate in the form of a common agenda for unity as people of one destiny. Southerners seemed to have resorted to tribalism and nepotism instead of nationalism.

After independence tribalism and nepotism seem to have surfaced with vengeance and this is likely to wreck havoc on unity of the people of South Sudan. The current conflict cannot only be claimed to be a contest for leadership. It has become something on ethnic lines although it is now a search for an appropriate system of governance as shown by the talks in Ethiopia between the protagonists.

Some people would like to be neutral because of the ethnic nature of the conflict. The question, though, is not who is either right or wrong. It is purely a conflict for ethnic hegemony that is threatening to tear apart the unity in diversity of people of South Sudan. The giant ethnic groups want to be rulers by all means and whether this is at the expense of unity of the country or not, is yet to be seen.

Acceptance of reality

Acceptance of the reality will be the second liberation of people of South Sudan. South Sudanese are obsessed with the propaganda that they are one people. The propaganda seems to be borne out of the fear that unity in diversity will deprive others of their self-adored hegemonic tendencies. People are simply preoccupied with a strong belief that they have to be the rulers instead of promoting unity in diversity.

The reality is that there are about or more than 64 ethnic groups in South Sudan. This confirms that there are diversities. In addition the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan confirms those diversities that South Sudan is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-racial entity where such diversities peacefully co-exist.

One observation is that the phrase “where such diversities peacefully co-exist” is arguable. In the current conflict many are seeing it as it is on ethnic lines and, clans’ revenge killings are taking place with impunity. One may wonder whether all this confirms that there is peaceful co-existence in South Sudan. If there was peaceful co-existence with law abiding citizens, insecurity wouldn’t have been so rampant.  

One other reality is that a centralized power is not suitable to address the problem of diversities as in South Sudan. Devolution of powers is appropriate. In South Sudan the purported decentralization system is in reality centralized power where, for example, an elected governor can be removed and, the judiciary and taxes are centralized. Acceptance of reality opens a wider avenue for dialogue in exploring a better way forward. It also brings people closer for unity.

Factors dividing people

It can be asserted that it is not diversities that divide people but it is how those diversities are managed that divide people. In brief South Sudanese are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. The two factors of ethnic and cultural diversities are well pronounced and when they are poorly managed will most likely lead to disunity.

It is indicated above that South Sudan has many ethnic groups and for cultural diversities there are two main cultures, namely pastoralism and sedentary farming. The two cultures clash frequently both formally and informally. The clash can be a source of ill-feelings hence disinclination to unity. Relationship between pastoralists and sedentary farmers needs a special management approach in promoting peaceful co-existence.

Along Professor Taban Loleyong road, Juba-Kajo Keji main shortcut, some pastoralists led loose their animals that destroyed completely food crops in a total area of 4 feddans. The pastoralists carried guns and were a menace, being arrogant and uncooperative.

The destruction of food crops not only causes household food insecurity but armed and arrogant pastoralists are a security threat to local farming communities. In such circumstances how can there be peaceful co-existence for a strong untied South Sudan. The government must wake up in the interest of national unity.  

The factor of ethnic dimension in dividing up people cannot be overexaggerated. There are about 64 ethnic groups is South Sudan as already mention above. For only one ethnic group to take upon themselves to dominate in every aspect of state affairs is a sure recipe for disunity as had happened in the old Sudan when the South broke away because of intolerable marginalization.

When South Sudanese struggled for independence as people of one destiny it was not for fun. People were very serious to put an end to marginalization so that it was history. Now to revive the Arab style system of marginalization of fellow citizens is totally unacceptable. Those who are inclined to copy the Arab style of marginalizing others are surely digging a deeper grave for themselves that they would have difficulty in resurrecting because disunity would have been total.

Other factors that are causing disunity is poverty, poor enforcement of the rule of law where victims do not get justice and insecurity perceived to be perpetrated by other fellow citizens.

Federalism unites

One is hoping to see the emergence of a Federal Republic of South Sudan where power is granted to the states to handle economic affairs and implement national policies instead of the national government turning around to be another implementer in the states. Handling economic affairs and implementing national policies, and with adequate capacity and resources this can only accelerate tremendously socio-economic development in the country.

Federalism is a measure to handle ethnic conflict because of the adequate power granted to the states. In federalism the state has power to have the three arms of government, namely the executive, legislature and the judiciary which can only be good in enforcing the rule of law where one ethnic group with hegemonic tendencies is unlikely to dominate and be biased as in a centralized system.

In federalism each state will have its police, prisons, wildlife and fire brigade that serve the needs of the citizens of the state including those from the other states without fear or favor. In contrast centralized law enforcement agencies are likely to be dominated by only one ethnic group and this can be disturbing to other ethnic groups because of the perceived favoritism being openly displayed.

Federalism provides for fair representation of ethnic minorities of the public service systems of the states and regions. This is in contrast to the domination of such public service systems by one ethnic group.

After the bloody war for the would be independent Republic of Biafra in Nigeria, the Nigerian government reorganized the country by creating 12 states in the place of the previous four regions to foster stability and reduce ethnic tension to realize unity. This was intended to undermine monopolization of power as well as to increase the political influence and safety of minority ethnic groups. This was to hold Nigeria together as a united country.

One may wonder why a federal system cannot be of service to South Sudan with its ethnic and cultural diversities as Nigeria. I am not suggesting copy and paste the Nigerian constitution. Surely the states in South Sudan will welcome the power to have the control over their own affairs and also to see that the central government does not interfere in state affairs, for example, in removing an elected governor on flimsy accusation and interfering with the appointments of ministers and commissioners.

One finds it strange that a system that is likely to accelerate development in the states is being resisted in contrast to the billions of dollars being squandered at the centre as in the case of the dura saga and 4 billion stolen without any recovery. How much that would have contributed to paved roads, clean drinking water, improved health and education services, availability of electricity and increased agricultural production for food security in the states for high standards of living of the people.

A federal system of government will not divide the people of South Sudan because there will be freedom of movement, residence and employment in any part of the Republic of South Sudan for all law abiding citizens. As a matter of fact federalism unites as in Switzerland where the Italian, French and the German ethnic groups peacefully co-exist as citizens of the Swiss federation.

Conclusion

Since after independence on the 9th July 2011 South Sudanese seem to have moved on because the conflict that started on the 15th December2013 has become an eye opener. Some may be wondering why to become independent in the first place only to slaughter each other. Others may be hopeful that after a storm there will be calm after the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) internal contradictions have plunged the country into turmoil and unnecessary violent confrontation that should have been replaced with internal dialogue for a peaceful resolution of outstanding issues.

The main problem here is that people seem not to understand the difference between the government and the SPLM, the dominant party in government. When one disagrees with the SPLM as a matter of policy it is likely to be interpreted that one may be against the government and vice versa. 

The government represents the country in its entirety while the SPLM represents nobody except its membership just like any other political party representing its membership of different ideology to the SPLM. On the other hand when an SPLM member dares to criticize the SPLM for whatever reason the member may be construed to have left and abandoned the SPLM as a party.

A party that has confidence will not be defensive but welcoming of criticism that carries everybody forward. Only a party deficient in abstract understanding of issues may be inclined to have robots or parrots as yes-man-sir members. This is nothing but the stifling of innovativeness in transforming a party into a modern strong party capable of being flexible enough to face challenges different from the pre-independence era of the liberation struggle.

When the government does not perform as expected it is not the fault of the SPLM but the fault of the SPLM individual members given assignments in government. This may seem contradictory. However, the only fault of the SPLM one can think of is its absolute weakness in applying the SPLM Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures, Draft February 2013 which is very clear on members performing poorly in assignments.

The SPLM is too weak to discipline its members in government who are underperforming and very corrupt. It may need to learn from the Chinese Communist Party how it is disciplining its corrupt members.

In conclusion, a federal system will unite South Sudanese as people of one destiny who are struggling vigorously to eradicate poverty, ethno-centricism, nepotism, corruption, injustice and inequality for a strong vibrant and highly developed South Sudan that will be a paradise for its entire population regardless of their ethnicity, language, culture, religion, educational background and political affiliation.

Jacob K. Lupai is the author of the book, South Sudan: issues in perspective, launched on Friday 24 October 2014 in Aaron International Hotel in Juba, South Sudan. The Special Guest of Honor was HE Manasse Lomole Waya, the Acting Governor and Deputy Governor of Central Equatoria State. The Book Reviewer was Professor Scopas Dima Jibi, the Minister of Cabinet and Parliamentary Affairs, and the Master of Ceremony was Hon Suba Samuel, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting. The audience included Advisors to the Government of Central Equatloria State, Cabinet Ministers and members of the public.

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