Federalism Would Lead To More Disunity

This article was last updated on May 26, 2022

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National Leaders like Governor Clement Wani Konga of Central Equatoria state and the SPLM-DC Chairman, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin have already publicly made clear their support for the system, arguing that it is what South Sudan needs to curb corruption, nepotism and control of big tribes over minorities.

Federalism is a system of government where more powers rest with state or province authorities and the central government only takes charge of issues with national security, treasury and defense among others.  South Sudan boosts at least 64 different ethnic groups and is currently practising the system decentralization.

The country’s national transitional constitution gives the president more powers to intervene even in state affairs and national resources are controlled by the central government in Juba.

Some communities think with centralization of power, a president of certain tribe will secure most powerful positions for their tribesmen and women, a situation they think can be eliminated through federalism.

“With centralization of power, a president of certain tribe is bound to award members of his clan most positions of power. This in turn will lead to resentment by other tribes and eventually conflicts will arise,” a proponent of federalism Yohannis Shamashi Kubari said.

Kubari says though federalism is not perfect, it would be better than the alternative. 

However, Adhieu Majok believes federalism would drag the new nation into wide spread corruption and rising of more incompetent tribesmen and women to useful positions in the state governments.

“How do we guarantee state governments when they themselves are guilty of corruption, inconsistent, and incompetent? And how will this improve relationships between regions? One of our biggest problems is lack of trust and unity (inter and intra tribal), which I feel will just be exacerbated by regionalism (federalism),” Adhieu reasons. 

She adds that federalism would not be fair to states with limited resources at this early time, suggesting that equal development of the states should be the first priority.

Wai Afrocent Deng weighs in, saying: “If we impose federalism because of tribalism then it will be a grave mistake. There will always be a dominant group in the states and region. I am afraid federalism will further disintegrate a fragile nation into smaller entities that will be hard to control.”

Some youth say leaders must jointly campaign for unity before urging for federal government that rather divides people into more autonomous smaller groups.

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