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Southerners Synergy at Kenana: A Noble Call for Leadership Change For GoSS *By James Okuk
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Apr 10, 2009 - 10:09:26 AM

Southerners Synergy at Kenana: A Noble Call for Leadership Change For GoSS


*By James Okuk


After their honest three days meetings and deliberations at the Hotel Complex of Kenana Sugar Scheme (KSC), the Political Leaders, Activists, Elders and Intellectuals of Southern Sudan broke their long silence and joined the resenting voices of the suffering people of Southern Sudan against the corrupt, tribalist, incompetent and dictatorial SPLM leadership of the GoSS and SPLA that has failed so far to deliver effectively the direly needed development and security in the South. Not only this, but also the Group rightly warned the SPLM leadership of the fatal consequences of its dubious stand with the ICC attempt to humiliate the President of the Sudan despite his commitment to the implementation of the CPA where the SPLM itself got more power and wealth than it used to have during the time of war. The Group finds it hard as to why the SPLM Secretariat and some of its friends support Occampo and his women at The Hague to gamble with future of the Sudan, and particularly the interest of the South from the CPA. The Group was so concerned about the safe life of the CPA because this is the right gateway to democratic transformation and peaceful self-determination for the South.


The concerns that have been sent out from Kenana are a reality that has been disturbing the common people of Southern Sudan since the SPLM and the SPLA constitutionally took the upper hand of public affairs in the South. The synergetic message of Kenana Group to SPLM leadership is neither speculation nor caricature for someone or a party who is in touch and concerned about the deepening disappointments of the people of South Sudan with the current SPLM and SPLA leadership. Part of this reality is the fact that it was very risky for such kind of a high Caliber Group to meet in Juba or Rumbek because of the repeated instances of insecurity that has been witnessed in the South, so far and so bad. Assassination attempts and humiliations of courageous and focused Southern intelligent political veterans like H.E. Bona Malwal and Hon. Dr. Lam Akol cannot be guaranteed in the South, having seen some recent bitter experiences they went through in the face of SPLM and SPLA. Also the South has become every expensive in terms of Hotels renting for accommodation and meetings of those who fear to misuse public money. And for sincere and meaningful deliberations, such kind of sensitive meetings are supposed to take place in a serene environment; a place far away from interruptions, fear and noises like the way the CPA was negotiated abroad in quiet and secure hotels in Kenya. Thus, Kenana was the best place for that historic synergetic meeting of the concerned sons of the Sudan; the organizers choice for it was splendid. Not to forget, it was in Kenana that the political forces of the Sudan united and came up with a common road map for the solution of the problem of Darfur based on internal national initiatives without complications of competing external interests.


But why should the Kenana Group become so concerned and vocal about the SPLM and SPLA failures in the South in this year? Because right away from the beginning of time the SPLM marched into the government offices in Southern Sudan, the people were overwhelmed with great expectations from the new regime from the bush. They hoped that their sufferings and destitutions will come to an end as they thought the fruits of the vision of New Sudan will descend down from heaven on earth, beginning from the marginalized villages to the centralized cities without slums. Alas! Not more than a year the good hopes of the people were dashed into regretful hopelessness by the SPLM political novices in the GoSS and in the transitory South Sudan Army (SPLA). Those who were supposed to protect them turned out to be their brutal killers and looters. Look at how the undisciplined trigger-happy SPLA shot dead brutally the “Lost Boy” who joyfully came back to Malakal from America to be with his people. Even the wounded and the orphans of the fallen heroes of the SPLM/A struggle were neglected and left on their own to linger as beggars on their very Motherland despites the huge sums of oil money spent by corrupt SPLM politicians on ostentatious luxurious trips to America, Europe and Middle East, which are good for nothing except media news and photo albums. Where else will the hope of the poor Southerners come from? Jesus! Come down from heaven and save the South from leadership crisis!


The SPLM leadership has been telling the people to be patient about their high expectations because the new government in the South has to start from the scratch. However, and no later than longer, many enlightened people started to wonder as to why a government that starts from a scratch should start on wrong footing of corruption, tribalism and one-party hegemony of public power and wealth! Why should the activities of SPLM party alone be funded from GoSS Treasury and protected by the SPLA while the other political parties in the South are left to struggle on their own and prevented or even sacred from propagating their presence amongst the people?  Are the South and the SPLA for the SPLM alone? God have Mercy!


The wonderings of these people were objective and correct, as it came out clear later that the motive of most of those who got high government positions on SPLM tickets was not to mitigate the suffering of the common people from decades of wars, but to embezzle public funds from GoSS and SPLM coffers and divert it to their private affairs; including education of their golden children and relatives in the best private learning institutions in Khartoum and abroad without minding about the common good of other citizens. Thus, the long-awaited opportunity for the timely delivery of the basic services and goods to the marginalized neediest poor ones all over the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan was thwarted. Where else would the infrastructure (like highways, schools, hospitals and etc.) come from? What miraculous “Moses’ Rod” could the SPLM leaders use to bring down a ready-made development from heaven without honest management of public monies? Would the NGOs and UN do the job! No! At least the Church could be trusted because it consoles the poorest of the poor and gives them hope when they are neglected by their governments.


In Juba, it had been known how the Office of the President and the Vice President of the GoSS became involved in approving big amounts of government monies to the cunning individuals and  cliques of opportunists as if these high offices were relief institutions for distribution of cashes and cheques. These monies have been distributed under the guise of ghost projects; for example, recuperating Southern Sudan traders and business persons but without guaranteeing how the loans would be reimbursed. And with no reimbursements, these amounts were lost for the kindness of the President and his Vice with beneficiaries turning critics to “Mother Theresas” of GoSS when the money handouts were stopped. But from comparison to how other countries manage their public wealth, it is well observed that such kind of highest government offices (of the President and his Vice) are supposed to direct and oversee the fair distribution of public goods and services on a larger scale and not to few favourite individuals and cliques of opportunists who happened to be well connected. Even accommodating people in expensive hotels on government expense for a long period without any serious contribution to government business was a wrong kindness from the President and his Vice.


With this mismanagement of big public monies for about four years now, it is not justifiable at all for the SPLM ruling party in the South to look for an outside   scapegoat to hang on all the blames and failures to erect proper infrastructure and provide better services and goods for trenching the economy of Southern Sudan so that it will not be threatened by possible collapse. Hence, the GoSS and SPLM highest leaders must come out courageously to the people and tell them sincerely that they regret the wrong start and erroneous continuity that had sank Southern Sudan into the current pathetic situation to the extent of irritating the Kenana Synergetic Group to meet rigorously and send out a serious message for better change of leadership in GoSS. Love letters that are full of honey words shall not be dropped in the GoSS and SPLM leadership inbox as long as nothing to love comes out in South Sudan!


When the people lose confidence in leadership of someone who has been tested for a four-year term in a public office, it is noble for him to concede and allow in new leader who is trustworthy for ensuring good governance and rule of just law for the sake of peace and development. It is even nobler for the rejected leader to resign and tell the people that he is grateful for their patience and tolerance despites the mess-up-on-the-job that occurred during his term of office. Clinging to public power and wealth when the people are not happy with a leader is not a humane thing to do in the civilized world. After all life is not only about enjoying government privileges with bodyguards by any means even when the people are unhappy with their leader; there are other private occupations out there with fewer public criticisms. Thus, it will be a very good move for the current troubled and disliked leadership in the South to retire early and leave the people alone to restore their hopes and great expectations with a new competent leader who is concerned about the pains of the crying citizens for public security, common development, good governance, rule of law, stable economy and CPA honouring. Look at what Thabo Mbeki did and see how he is remembered and assigned for missions of reconciliation in some war-torn countries in Africa even when he was caught red-handed in corruption. Humans are neither perfect nor imperfect; they may do other things well when they have failed to do some other things right at a particular time and context.


I commend the strong message from Kenana Synergetic Group. They have courageously stated it straight that the South does not belong to the SPLM alone and thus it will not be thrown into the abyss of corruption, tribalism, insecurity, failed economy, poverty and lack of leadership without protests from other Political Leaders, Activists, Elders and Intellectuals who hails from the different ethnic communities of the South. The common interest of Southern Sudan is far greater and everlasting than interest of any individual leader or political party who claims to exist for the well being of the people while practicing the opposite. This strong Group has understood it well that good change will never come from within the SPLM as it stands nowadays even if the attempts for reforms were pushed harder. The current SPLM leadership is so good at punishing the hardworking cadres and so best at rewarding the lazy and troublesome ones whose hands are greased with corrupted wealth, luxury and even blood of the innocent ones. And since the most constructive and enlightened cadres have been frustrated and distanced from the decision-making positions within the SPLM structures, there is no best option left but to encourage them to work from without  for effecting change of leadership in the South based on truth, logic and commitment to the common good.


Of course, the NCP leaders are happy with the current weak and incompetent SPLM leadership because this gives them free space to promote their objectives without a strong counteracting competitive partner. They know that election campaigns for the Sudan done in overseas are valueless because at the end of the day, it will be the very people who live inside the Sudan who are going to vote in who should lead the country as a united whole and who should lead the South as a semi-autonomous part. The SPLM has lost most of its supporters in the South and the North because its current leadership has disappointed the hopes and good expectations of many communities and intellectuals due to mixtures of bad decisions and inactive choices without learning from past mistakes. For instance, instead of attracting and maintaining the best cadres, the SPLM Secretariat has been so busy frustrating and even proposing dismissal of the best minds in favour of dull opportunists, sycophants and novices. The Secretary-General has forgotten the wisdom that the old broom knows the dirty corners of a shabby room.


The only felt support of the SPLM is only among the run-away Sudanese refugees abroad who still live with the past of SPLM/A glories instead of the present SPLM dooms. May be the current SPLM leadership will quit and ran abroad to join these unrealistic supporters once they are surprised with the lost of elections next year, which may complicate the full and join implementation of the CPA by its two sole partners (SPLM and NCP). Without any of these partners’ parties in the most sensitive constitutional position in the government after the elections, the CPA could become an obsolete document whose place could be reserved early in the dustbin of the dishonoured agreements in the Sudan The great loss to the SPLM could be blamed on Dr. John Garang who enjoyed his best leadership charisma without bothering to bring up articulate cadres and visionaries like him. The CPA hero shall become like a successful king who died without a successor and whose successes disappeared as it was mismanaged by his incompetent heirs due to their arrogance out of ignorance. Cry the beloved Southern Sudan for the lost of the dignity of SPLM/A struggle! But dry your tears and search for a new leadership that will make you not to cry gain but rejoice forever and ever   with the long-awaited achievements in peace, justice and development!


*James Okuk is a concerned Southerner and a finalizing PhD student at the University of Nairobi. He can be reached at [email protected]

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