Are Independent candidates still SPLM members? I doubt
BY: Isaiah Abraham,
It has been claimed by many, including the independent candidates themselves that they are still full members of the SPLM, only temporarily out during the elections. People gossip openly that these men and women were unfairly treated by the Political Bureau (PB). Their votes were stolen in favor of the anointed ones, it is charged.
We are hearing them talking aloud that they have the same rights like those nominated by the party, because no one can fire or dismiss them from the party. Interestingly, large section of the society buying the catch that the independent candidates are agents of change don't know.
But the tone and intent are two different things, given that these candidates are sending unequivocal messages about issues at party level, other than individual constituency at their levels. I believe after election, we shall see things clearly.
Whichever comes first about what is it about independent candidates, one must not lose sight of how did we arrive to this situation of independent candidates in the first place. If there is time, we would have rehearsed our memory on the party gubernatorial primary elections and others. But for now, we can attempt the gubernatorial one.
Since we have many of the independent candidates on the ring, let me waste your time about a few. Let's take the Central Equatoria State, Western Equatoria State, Northern Bahr El Ghazal State, Jongolei State and Eastern Equatoria State Governorship contests; how did Mr. Clement Konga emerge the winner over his closest rival, Gen. Alfred Lado. The same is true between Brig. Louis Lobong vs Brig Aloysius Ojetuk, Ms Nunu Kumba vs Col. Joseph Bakosoro, Gen. Malong Awan vs Brig. Dau Aturjong and Gen. Kuol Manyang vs Gen. George Athoor.
Well, Gen. Lado never beat Clement after all and that is the story to others. Whether that process was undemocratic or not, the SPLM democracy is unique. It is a mixture of everything, but a sandwich between the uniform and civilian attire. Peoples choice comes second, but the party's.
Candidates are weighed on the basis of their political weight as well as their personal future contributions. Mr. Lado has been inconsistent and still harbor grudge against Garang in the grave after the latter went for Wani Igga for the then prestigious Political and Military High Command at his expense. He thought James Wani was a bitter pill. He never forgave the entire SPLM on the same.
Gen. Konga on the other hand was known during the liberation war as the black fox (known within as thabur Al Gamith), and contributed greatly in the establishment of the Government of Southern Sudan, since his State hosts the National Government. How does anyone expect him to be bypassed?
Ms Jemma Kumba, right from
Ghana and then with the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC), gave it all, and Garang posthumously was a very happy man after her appointment as a governor. She did so much to the SPLM/A during its trial times in the 1990s. By passing her for Col. Bakosoro who benefited from a special promotion made in Rumbek in the 2003 would have been insensitivity to Nunu and over to others who spent over 20 years in the struggle.
I thought the army requires young and brilliant officers like Bakosoro for its transformation. The decision to deny him the post was proper.
Gen. Dau Aturjong fought in critical battles and is a great fighter. He is naturally a gentleman and very hard working young man. Equally, the army needs him most than his people at home. In that election (primary), he never beat Gen. Malong; they squared it. Gen. Malong however had an advantage over his rival when it comes to maturity.
Gen. Dau would have been a great governor, but Aweil politics require the character of Malong, not Dau Aturjong. You can be loved in Aweil for few months and the same people can still go around near the corridors of power in
Juba whispering your removal. Malong is smart and is on top when it comes to these and security. SPLM can't take a risk there.
Gen. Kuol was ahead of Gen. George Athor and other package by a large margin before the Electoral College. Others were ahead of Gen. George. But Gen. George capitalized on the withdrawals of Gen. John Duoth Nhial Pech, Gen. Chuol Rambang Luoth and the NCP low popularity rate to project his campaign. Gen. George as we all know is one active and energetic officer the SPLA has ever produced. He could have been a great governor in Jongolei had it not been that Gen. Kuol is too big to be sidelined. Gen. George fits into Jongolei crisis that have troubled Governor Kuol administration since he came to that position nearly 2 years ago. Gen. Kuol was short changed by Kiir and this was his time to be healed.
Brig. Louis Lobong beat Gen. Aloysius Emor Ojetuk like nothing. There is no way anyone could reverse this process, whether by choice or design. For the party to prop up a loser would have been disastrous. That man failed the State and the people of the State took the decision to punish him.
After being beaten he went around that he had been cheated, a voice that couldn't be expected from an incumbent. He further claimed that Chairman Kiir is with him the same way the SPLM is with Brig. Louis. He put it across that he never lost but was cheated by the PB. He then accused Mr. Louis of being an agent of the NCP and that he (Lobong) will kick out Dinka displaced persons from there, among other noises.
Such a reckless leader couldn't be taken serious and applause to the SPLM for leaving him in the cold. I don't think he is in the party after he was rejected by the party.
Brig. Louis is winning and would do it by a landslide. SPLM goes for winners!
In as much as we can defend democracy and pluralism, there is an urgent need to apply them on the objective realities facing Southerners. We need true leaders from the people, yet there is no way anyone could be true to the people when he/she is unfaithful to the party.
Loyalty to the party means a lot because our society is still fragile. SPLM is rooted in the people and no way should we separate the two. Either you are with the SPLM (people) or out from the people (SPLM), simple.
Independent candidates are rude and selfish. This is where we need to pick up this argument from as we conclude.
We have gone round, but let's wrap it up this way: what do you make of independent candidates, are they still members of the party, and if yes, in which way?
Whether this is debatable or not, the argument lies thus: independent candidates are rebel candidates and any treatment given to rebels in a system should be accorded to these people immediately (now), not after election.
The SPLM struggles to find an answer to this crisis, but I'm certain that if the survival of this party matters to its leaders, Dr. Machar and Gen. Kiir, something drastic must be done. A painful decision will have to be made.
Time for democracy has not yet come, we are still in the liberation. Mr. President said the same words yesterday in Aweil. That means, the party must not waver by saying one thing here and another one there; this is costly.
Independent candidates are a nuisance to the party and to our people. They are confusing many. You can't be loyal to the party again after refusing to toe its decisions (good or otherwise). The party is popular and can still beat anyone who comes in disguise as independent candidates.
The NCP is taking advantage of our own dilly-dallying (indecisive) and had actually infiltrated us through these men. They are most likely linked to other Southern Political Forces opposed to the SPLM.
What makes the SPLM think that these men are still members of the party? Better to have respectful members than a sea of rowdy cadres. SPLM will survive without independent candidates, flush them out!