As a mini-politician, I have learnt that politics is nothing but struggle for power. If this is the case, what is the future of South Sudan governed by 28 different parties and led by 28 different politicians with 28 different ideologies?
A State is a political unit composed of a stable population of people with defined territory, an international legal recognition, and a capable government. This defines South Sudan, but is South Sudan just a state? This compulsorily takes me to another definition—Nation: It is a group of people who share a common identity and a claim to a territorial homeland.
But there are two kinds of ‘nation’ when it comes to nationality—Ethnic Nationality, which means people belief in common blood ancestry and have shared attributes like language, religion, and culture. For example, Japan. Then there is Civic nationality, which means people belief in “National Consciousness” based not upon common blood ancestry but upon shared principles, values, and culture. These shared principles, values, and culture of civic nationality are democracy, civil liberties, sports, food, and music. For example, the United States of America.
Based on the definitions above, South Sudan is not just a State, but a Nation—–where we belief in both ethnic nationality and civic nationality. We fought the Arabs since Sudan’s independence because we are African with common blood ancestry but were not represented. We yearned to establish a nation where all enjoy democracy, civil liberties, and other principles and values. —–Thankfully, we have South Sudan, but have we defined the functionality and fundamentality of our New Nation?
If South Sudan is “ Garden of Eden” according to Samuel Baker, “The Bridge between Africa and the Arab World” according to Western political scientists, and “The Virgin land in Africa” according to South Sudanese”, then all eyes are on South Sudan.
The whole world is very pessimistic about our departure from Sudan and the future of our country—South Sudan, but if you let someone define who you are, and think that he/she is right, you are good for nothing. As South Sudanese, the only way we can prove the world wrong is by introducing exceptional governance never before seen in the whole of Africa.
It is imperative that our government found a unique constitution and governs in accordance to its mandates. “We must choose the winner—-skeptics or us.” In my analysis, the world doubts the stability of the to-be New Republic of South Sudan for two primary reasons.
1. Remember the term “Dark Continent”, which means Africa is a land of primitives who know nothing about modernity and civilization. South Sudan is a typical example of a state in a “Dark continent” because our human capital, technology, and military, is nowhere near conventional. We have no record of governing. We have been governed since birth and our current politicians are former military fighters without democratic experiences of governing. We have the lowest primary, secondary, and university enrolment all over the world.
2. South Sudan is the only state in Africa and the whole world where over 90% of the population is jet-black. It is assumed that black people cannot govern without confusion. This explains why South Sudan as a sovereign nation sounds like a mockery in the eyes of our friends including fellow African. For example, the on-going violence between the forces of George Athor Deng and Sudan People’s Liberation Army is a clear manifestation of egotism and ignorance, which could overshadow South Sudan’s independence. Critics can use this unfortunate incident to justify their argument.
They might be partially right because every beginning is rough, but whenever I’m confronted with such skepticism, I chuckle because I’m hopeful that South Sudan would be an “Island in Paradise.” I hope South Sudanese including our president and all politicians share my feeling.
All people are born with wisdom, but not knowledge—everything is learned, and South Sudanese are not exemption if we can instil in us the pride of our nation. Our people are law-abiding citizens unless the politicians and government lead them astray. I kindly appeal to our leaders to establish the chart. To totally free our people from tribal skirmishes and hatred, the government must introduce good governance now not later.
South Sudan should be a republic with a strong constitution as its only foundational guidance. The constitution must state that people are all equal under the law regardless of race, gender, religion, or status. Our constitution must also establish a government ruled by citizens through their elected representatives. South Sudan’s government would only succeed if we all (leaders included) place the goodness of our nation a head of our corporate, sectional, and personal interests.
The constitution must identify that nobody is above the law—and that leaders must listen to the demand of citizens or face political consequences. Under the constitution, all citizens must independently pursue their economic and political interests without interference from the government, and the whole nation would benefit.
I, however, encourage the appointed constitutional drafters to look beyond their parties and appointers for the sake of our nation and write an ideal constitution. An ideal constitution must have the following:
Federalism—the constitution should specify the relationship between the 10 states and the federal government and how they should use their different powers. This should divide and differentiate the powers between the states and federal government to circumvent collision.
Term Limit—-the constitution should defined number of terms and period of time for every office Election—the constitution should emphasize the need for elections, which means competitive elections at all level including top executive positions, granting opposition’s candidates and supporters access to ballot, universal adult suffrage, and peaceful handing over of power by loser to the winner.
Free Media— the constitution should give all networks, private and state-owned freedom to operate freely.
Separation of Powers— the constitution should outline that executive, legislative, and judicial are all equal under the law with checks and balances, but with separate powers. Each branch should not act beyond its specified powers. Independent Judiciary: the constitution should establish a judiciary that is fair and balance and does not favor the government. This means a justice of any court can be impeached by legislature upon careful and judicious deliberation but not fired by president or governor.
Independent Army: the constitution should establish a national army whose function is to defend and protect South Sudan national borders from external attacks. It cannot be part of politics. It should be neutral when it comes to political issues. The army only role in politics should be limited to voting just like regular citizens. It cannot owe allegiance to the president but to the nation.
The army must only live in designated areas not loitering with army uniform in town for no reason. Any person in national service ( army, navy, air force, police) that want to run for any office must become civilian first before declaring his/her candidacy
Fair police: the constitution should note that a police role cannot go beyond maintaining law and order and protecting citizens from internal aggression. This means a police can only arrest and detain suspects without beating, abusing, mocking, or tormenting. In case of criminal’s insubordination, the police must act according to the law. The rest would be up to the judges and the jurors. Again, no one is above the law and the police must face charges for taking law into their own hands.
Fair Justice: the constitution should state that all accused are innocent until proven guilty and must appear before the law at a reasonable time to answer to their charges and face trial. No one should dodge appearing before the court, and no one should be denied appearing before the court.
Civil Liberties—the constitution should state that government must obey citizens’ freedom of speech, assembly, property, and religion.
Bill of Rights: the constitution should include laws that limit the government from infringing into specified individual rights.
Rule of Law: the constitution should state that all are equal under the law and deserve equal treatment and punishment.
Role of Traditional Chiefs: the constitution should indicate respect for different cultures and languages of South Sudan. Under the “House of Nationalities”, which is built on the concept that languages and cultures are very important to all South Sudanese, Culture is an invaluable wealth that needs respect and protection. Every community under its chiefs in South Sudan should be held responsible for strengthening the government of South Sudan and the House of Nationalities.
Cultures and languages are significant aspects of South Sudan national identity. Therefore, the government must respect the traditional ways of life, and this would lead to peaceful coexistence and development among South Sudan nationalities.
Outlaw Coups: the constitution should condemn all coups. It should state that anybody that comes to power by coup d’état is illegitimate and against the law and must be removed by the people through any means necessary.
Limited number of Parties: Not numerous tribally-based parties. If our constitution preaches that we are patriots and nationalists, who deserve to defend, protect, preserve, and serve South Sudan as equals, the people will bless and proudly honor it at all time. In return, we will avoid chaos and earn respect worldwide.
One potential problem facing our nation now is multipartyism. If this is not dealt with, it would lead to tribally-based parties, which means people would only be loyal to parties instead of the nation. It would also polarize our nation into tribes-based political parties that are not loyal opposition parties based on ideology.
Loyal opposition party respects a governing party expecting to receive the same when its chance comes.
If we have too many tribe-based political parties, each would be forced to campaign against the other through tribal lenses and overlook its political ideology. I’m not for single-party state, but I believe few political parties would serve our interests and that of our nation well. Each would have sufficient time, ground, staff, and resources to deliver its ideological beliefs across the country.
On the other hand, citizens would have undivided attention to receive the message. Of course, single-party state is dictatorship and South Sudan cannot be governed by dictatorship. Conversely, it costs money to run a political party. Where would the money come from to feed all the 28 or more political parties? All parties would be encouraged to justify corruption for the survival of their respective parties.
I call upon my fellow citizens to adopt true democracy. For the sake of our nation, all parties must merge and form smaller and reasonable parties that represent the vision of South Sudan. The law of compromise states that an individual can disagree with one or two people but not the third person. This is how the term “stupid majority” emerged. In politics, a person that cannot agree with the majority ideologically identifies with the minority, but does not create his/her own.
South Sudan leaders must compromise for citizens’ tolerance and nation sake. Having too many parties in a country creates complications among the citizens, especially in the developing nations like South Sudan, where constituencies are less literate. People’s attention is divided, leaving them limited time to focus on ideologies.
It is up to us to get it right now or ever face difficulty in establishing a democratic South Sudan. If our conscience is for united stronger South Sudan, let’s do away with too many political parties now before it is too late so that our people grow into loyalty rather than fragmentation.
With due respect, all South Sudanese political parties must identify with each other. I believe many parties have a lot in common than in indifferences. It is sometimes good to have several political parties, but there have to be a special rule. For example, although there are 63 registered political parties in Nigeria, its Gentlemen Agreement in the People’s Democratic Party states that power (presidency) rotates between the Muslim North and Christian South every two terms. This makes it easier to choose a president at the religions level.
However, it is always controversial when it comes to fielding presidential candidates because 63 political parties scramble for it. Each thinks of its corporate interests because the president makes presidential appointments which favor his/her political party at most. South Sudan could do better than adapting a contentious culture of multipartyism.
Leaving my mother, father, sibling, relatives, and homeland at 8 years old for the sake of South Sudan was an endless pain, but it has finally paid off. I cannot imagine another 8-year old South Sudanese child going through the same tragedy for South Sudan. Our nation, gods, ancestors, people, land, and resources have wept for centuries. Now that we are free, it is time for us to wipe out those tears through good governance. In my humble opinion, I do not want to offend anyone or a party, but too many political parties won’t serve our nation well.
Our nation would be a failed state divided on tribal lines. It would be wise to downsize all the political parties to 2 or 3 so that our people grow into a well-designed system of governing and constitution as South Sudanese and not Acholi, Anyuak, Balanda, Bari, Dinka, lotuko, Nuer, Moro, Madi, Murle, Shiluk, or Zande, etc…….
As a warning, the Somali-like anarchy is inevitable in South Sudan unless we create, develop, and embrace nationalism rather than multipartyism.
The author is a concerned South Sudanese, who resides in the United States of America.