Southerners have better reasons to vote for H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit
By: Gieth A. Dauson
The Sudanese in general and South Sudanese in particular are poised to pen history on April 11th 2010 by participating in the first inclusive democratic elections since 1986 for those who regard the 1986 election credible; although the marginalized will cast votes for the first time since independence. Regrettably; the Sudan despise being one of the first African Countries to attain independence from the colonial rule; subsequent governments in Khartoum continued to use the Countryís historical and contemporary diversities consisting of both ethnic and religious miscellany to the disadvantages of ordinary citizens; resulting into civil wars of various magnitudes and for akin reasons that; characterized the nation for generations. For once; the populace will have an opportunity to choose their leaders.
Given the sequence of events that comprise the history of the South on their quest for self governance; coupled with undeniable fact that we are closer to the finish line of putting the South into the World map; South Sudanese have better reasons of voting for H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit, flanked by the hard working vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny. Remember; this election is not about change as some people have been trying to confuse the public. Itís about finishing the marathon towards plebiscite on self determination and subsequent attainment of secession, depending on the outcome of the referendum. If we could always remember where we came from and where we want to go; we need to be visionary and therefore look beyond April elections.
The history of South Sudan is characterized by bitter past and recent memories of marginalization and exclusion
dating back to colonial era culminating into a fertile ground for the to be governments in the Sudan (Khartoum) to marginalize the South and excluded it from the winds of civilization and development for decades. Although our honorable heroes staged resistance from day one; the so called 1947
Juba conference favored the Northern professors and lawyers who negotiated with illiterate but very wise chiefs from the South. The forged unity between the two regions was a matter of imposition by the colonial government who had their own headache from South for various reasons including the protection of natural resources which were of prime value the colonialists.
If anything has ever been justifiable; itís the gallant resistance by the Southerners which started with pockets of confrontations by courageous individuals a little before 1955 when the Anglo- Egyptian rule still flourished in the region. The historical mutiny led by the most courageous Catholic priest in Torit became a foundation stone for future liberation struggles from Anyanya I; Anynya II and Finally the Sudan peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM)/A.
The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was and will continue to be a turning point in
Sudan history. For the Southerners and other marginalized Sudanese whose sweat and blood brought the CPA; it was a chance to correct the past mistakes from the past agreements that now lie in the dustbins of Sudanese history; dishonored. We should always remember how many lives we had to sacrifice to get to where we are. Had it not been that the balance of power between the Sudan peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) almost reached equilibrium; the CPA could not been attained or its contents could have been different. Had many lives not been lost resulting to serious pressure from the public to solve the
Sudanís longest civil war through negotiated settlements, we could have not got here.
When the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) was formed; countless challenges were anticipated and dealing those challenges was not going to be an easy ride. These included; reconciliation and healing of all Southern Nationalities; reduction if not elimination of small proliferation from the hands of civilians; professionalization of the SPLA; provision of developmental services that the South dearly missed; Capacity strengthening for the GOSS public servants as many sacrificed their education to resist the Khartoum regime oppressive policies for decades; and more importantly; keeping the CPA partner on its toes in the course of CPA implementation.
Revisiting and comparing what GOSS has achieved in five years to what other governments in Africa, which were formed by liberations movementists; GOSS has not done so badly as others try to project.
Despise all internal and external hypocrisies; GOSS has gone down in the corridors of history as the only government in
Africa formed by of freedom fighters to embrace multiparty democracy. Handful developmental projects have been
successfully implemented and many more are underway. Insecurity across the region has been significantly reduced to date; professionalization of SPLA is well on track; reconciliation projects have been initiated across the region and the south Sudan is opened to other countries in the region as we now host Tens of thousands form Ethiopia; Eriteria; Kenya; Uganda etc. Given that these were only done in five years, the government of
South Sudan honestly deserves to be applauded.
However; it can be acknowledged that not all the public expected was achieved timely. These included slow pace of development; corruption from individuals within and outside the government and ethnic violence. Institutions have been set up to amend the fault lines and the results are being seen. As
Khartoum was not built in one day; Southerners still believe that they will get there. The only way you can move forward is by accepting your current gains and build on them. That is why I believe that we have laid a foundation for substantial progress.
In African democracies today; it has become a fashion to call for change and this is what is carrying away a few people in our context as South Sudanese. Of course, itís cheap to talk about change as itís all about promising the undone but little would the public come to terms with the reality as soon as voting for change becomes authentic.
In our context as Southerners, we need to look at three things before deciding if we should vote for change or not.
Firstly; is history of what planted seeds for dishonoring of 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Agreement repeating itself? Secondly; do we have a Country in which we are calling for a change? Or are we there yet? And thirdly, who are we voting in for Change? If itís true that the Southerners are to vote for SPLM ĖDCís Dr. Lam Akol, what is his Agenda for the South?
History has shown that the first autonomous government in the South, constituted as a result of 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Agreement had six governments in 10 years. Death coffin was nailed on this agreement by the concept ďdemocracyĒ and using words such as wings of change like itís today. The incompatibility of Southern traditional democracy and that of the west; the existence of two schools of thoughts, categorized under purely civilians regional institutions and military Anynya ranks and files catalyzed the destruction of the agreement.
Every time a government was constituted, calls for change in the name of corruption, nepotism no development etc, did not give room for those in power to plan for southern welfare and implement any meaningful developmental projects. Very unfortunately; as soon as the change agents were voted in, the same songs of corruptions nepotism etc haunted them. To the contrary, those who campaigned under the slogan; ďwind of changeĒ went down in history to be more corrupt than their predecessors. A fertile ground was therefore prepared for the enemy to act and Addis Ababa Peace agreement dumped in the dustbins of Sudanese history; and back to the bush, the southerners went.
This history would repeat itself if we start using the same slogan and cast votes in the name of change just for the sake of it. That is why I believe that South Sudanese have better reasons of voting for H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit and his team. With relentless commitment, determination and cooperation by the key leaders of the South (Salva Kiir; Dr. Riek; Paulino matip; Wani Igga; Pagan Amum etc), we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We equally have responsibilities as citizens to support them as this is the only way we can cross the river towards Plebiscite.
Bemoaning petty blunders from the government and immediately calling for change is a potential ground of losing focus.
Remember; this election is very important to the Southerners as a CPA milestone for getting to the referendum on self determination where we will decide our destiny through ballots. After securing the Country; we will decide what system of governance we will have.
Since we have already embraced multiparty democracy; leaders will be chosen and replaced on merits and that will be in a Country called
South Sudan or name it.
To me, just like majority of the Southerners, the time for calling for change is not now.
Even the unity of purpose shown by Southern political forces in the Government of south Sudan (GOSS) is another reason to believe that we lean from past mistakes. Despise their differences in terms of contrasting political ideologies and manifestos; these parties have continued to work with signatories of the CPA. We canít afford any more complacency.
With due respect to Dr. Lamís contributions in the liberation struggle as a former commander and a member of senior military high command in the SPL/A; the SPLM ĖDCís presidential candidate must work extra mile to get any vote in the South.
Although many Southerners judge him strictly on the basis of his past; recent political developments are not on his favor. These include breaking away once again from SPLM; formation of the so called SPLM DC; his declaration that the independence of the South would be suicidal; Militia operation in Upper Nile State said to affiliated to him; Tribalization of his campaign strategies; loud and exaggerated whistle blowing on many issues including corruption; nepotism etc, from which he is not an angel either; paints his image in is his disfavor.
Very clearly; the formation of SPLM ĖDC was reactionary action from Dr. Lam after being sacked from foreign ministry (GoNU) docket by the SPLM. The reasons that constituted his dismissal to amusement of every citizen became a gate pass to being befriended by the National Congress Party (NCP), who secretly masterminded the formation of SPLM ĖDC. Although he does little to uphold its vision, Dr. Lam is known of being in love with the term SPLM as manifested in his formation of SPLM/A ĖUnited in the Past. The naming of his political party was strategically meant to confuse the illiterate South Sudanese majority, since they would not have the capacity to distinguish between the two and may cast votes to DC unconsciously. The same strategy was applied in
Kenya recently. Despise all the denials, Southernersí doubt on the link between the so called DC and the NCP are not clarified. The question of where the source of DCís campaigns funding as millions of dollars continue to pour into the South remains unanswered.
This was aggravated by the NCPís decline in nominating a presidential candidate to run for GOSS in disguise of Salva Kiir support for presidency.
Once beaten, twice shy. The bitter history of our past in which political mafias in the North used ones of our won against us would be a bitter pill to swallow once again. We canít afford to slip up and hope of forming Anyanya III either. The time is now.
The issue of tribe is a card Dr. Lam has played for his entire political career, as one of his campaign team in
Juba rally asked their supporters to use remote against certain tribes.
Southerners have jumped that stage and Dr. Lamís wish of mobilizing some tribes against others will not be realized. The salt to DC wound as group of disgruntled individuals whose quest for power is not driven by desire to have any government; but rather hatred towards individuals within the Government of South Sudan whom they perceived to have blocked them from accessing power in the current government. That was all reactionary.
Claims and counter claims of harassment of DC supporters in the South are not justifiable whatsoever. All opposition parties in
Africa use that to generate attention from international community whom they look upon as the only savior.
When Dr, Lam launched his campaign in
Juba a week ago; he was accorded the necessary security right from the airport to the stadium and his supporters danced all the way to Nyakuran cultural ground. Although no one was reported harassed; Dr. decided to seek UNMIS protection by ridding on UNMIS vehicle all the way from the airport to the campaign venue and back. That did not only damage the neutral credentials of UNMIS but also portrayed the euphoria the DC chief was trying to generate.
The author is a South Sudanese; resides in
Juba and can be reached through [email protected]