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Articles and Analysies Last Updated: Dec 20, 2009 - 3:34:53 PM

Understanding SPLM-DC: A Comprehensive Response to SPLM Leadership’s Media Propaganda BY: Deng Bachech, KHARTOUM

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Understanding SPLM-DC: A Comprehensive Response to SPLM Leadership’s Media Propaganda

BY: Deng Bachech, KHARTOUM


Nowadays certain news media affiliated with the mystified and corrupt SPLM party has been running a smear campaign disseminating false, half-baked and unsubstantiated allegations against the SPLM-DC party (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change); thus making the bona fide objectives and vision of the SPLM-DC almost misconstrued by those who cannot differentiate between lies and truths. And those objectives have been misunderstood at best and misinterpreted at worst by those whose intentions are to confuse and manipulate the minds of ordinary citizens, and to manufacture white lies about the SPLM-DC whenever and wherever they possibly can.

But we, in the SPLM-DC, have rather kept silent not because we are not able to defend the image of the party nor do we have issues to capitalise on to expose the unsavoury political junks of the SPLM to the people of the South Sudan in particular and Sudan in general. Instead we prefer silence because the failures of the ‘traditional’ SPLM speak for themselves and they exceed the usefulness and beauty of its good name and slogans. In other words, the usefulness of this party remains only in name; but it’s a mere name without substance and meaning in its entirety. However, for I know that writing always about SPLM and its increasingly obvious messes occurring daily would be a waste of my valuable time. But few days ago I read a piece circulated in the electronic newspapers and today on October 31, 2009, The Citizen newspaper has published the same article authored by Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny titled: “Measuring SPLM-DC’s Chances”. Mr. Ateny is not a new personality to me as I have got to know him for many years in the cyberspace and have on few occasions discussed a number of political issues and challenges facing the country, particularly Southern Sudan . As such, my response will not be confined to comments and questions which appeared in his article but I will rather comprehensively respond by dismissing some false remarks and labels against SPLM-DC made by other writers. So I only picked on him because he mentioned why the Sudanese in Diaspora had stampeded in a big number to support SPLM-DC since he and I are both residents of foreign lands ( United Kingdom and Canada respectively) and the reasons why we chose different political paths or parties, and all of a sudden we find ourselves living in Sudan .   On top of that, although I respect his choice (being an SPLM member), I consider him as one of few intellectuals whom GoSS/SPLM leaders can accept to join their club, for reasons known only to me and him, one way or the other; but I am not interested to say anything in this paper as to what makes him a likable and attractive to self-serving small clique in power in Juba.

Looking back in history, the Movement was formed as an organised political and military force which championed the cause of the marginalised and oppressed masses in the whole country with ardent interest and zeal to achieve freedom, justice and equality for and of all citizens regardless of their creeds, ethnicity, race, religion, sex or age. To us, in the SPLM-DC, the movement’s objectives must remain intact but can also be progressive and adaptable to changes, events and circumstances taking place nationally and internationally at present so as to prepare ourselves for the future. Starting in 2005 following the signing of the CPA, before the now SPLM-DC members parted way with the conservatives within the old SPLM party, there had been many attempts made from within for restructuring. Some wanted a new order, a new thinking and a new conduct of doing business, and a new political culture, while some were adamant to maintain the status quo, (the bush-like thinking with no rules and laws) to continue to govern the country in such a way. So irreparable fault lines surfaced between those who wanted to see injustice, inequality and mismanagement of public funds continue and those moderates who wanted to see that democracy takes place. The latter justified their position that leaders should practice what they preach; and that their actions and words should be compatible with party principles and objectives. Differently put, those practices and actions ought to be non-discriminatory, realistic and dynamics so that a total emancipation of the citizens of Sudan is achieved—such as political, physical, mental, attitudinal and materialistic liberty.

Unfortunately, our SPLM brothers and sisters currently in power in Juba and Khartoum abused their power and authority, and completely lost direction and legitimacy because, for four good years (2005-2009), they have failed to accomplish their entrusted mission. Rather they continue to engage themselves in practices which are completely anti-democracy and anti-social revolutionary change. As a result, the SPLM-DC emerged with clear programs and plans to correct those bad practices which might make our social, economic and political progress and prosperity as well as democratic transformation of the country perhaps impossible. As such, despite all challenges—such as harassments, arbitrary arrests and intimidations of our political cadres on the grounds—we are unshakably committed to pursue this reform project rather peacefully and democratically contrary to false claims daily spread by the resisters and enemies of change that we have a military wing supporting us to take over power. We are not for power per se, albeit it’s the taking over of power that can and will allow us to fulfill our objectives and vision—which is democracy. All that we wanted is a genuine democratic change, but it will be a change decided and carried out by the people, and with the people, not for the people. Because we know and understand that people of Sudan in general and South Sudan in particular are politically mature and informed about their situations. So when general elections time comes (April, 2010) they will exercise their constitutional rights to freely elect who and what political party into offices that will protect and fulfill their needs and interests.  

The good news is, the citizens of this great nation are not that ignorant to see the unadulterated truth as mistakenly assumed. At present, the SPLM has run out of ideas and things useful to offer to the marginalised masses of the Sudan , because their party leadership is devoid of any commendable significance or quality except its name sake. Its party cadres everywhere, in the Sudan or Diaspora, are disoriented and disorganised. The chain of command in the military (SPLA) is broken—thus making the whole south Sudan regrettably anarchic and ungovernable. The principle of party’s collective responsibility in policy planning, decision-making and execution is nonexistent—everyone and everybody from the top of the leadership to the bottom operates and talks in parallel, you may not know “who is who” and “which is which” going on with them.   Corruption “ma’abegulu”, it is just normal way of life. Revolutionary party slogans and songs they continually sing about justice, peace and equality become so boring, tedious and worthless into the ears of their audience because these naked ‘slogans, communiqués, and songs’ lost their true meanings and contents. And ultimately they have got lost, misapplied and abused.   Trust, solidarity and dialogue within the party are missing. Internal rifts or call it power struggle within the party heightened and hardened every minute awaiting full explosion. Rational planning and creativity with regards to the direction of the party are absent, if not displaced or substituted by absolute ignorance, arrogance, irrationality and extreme laziness. Serious internal criticisms, debates, discourses and discussions are prohibited, and if one dare asks “why” this or that, that itself is a crime punishable by dismissal, isolation or derision; and worst of all it (an expression of personal opinion) can be equated with disloyalty, betrayal and disobedience because free exchange of ideas, opinions, critical reflections, debates, doubts and criticisms would open up a Pandora’s Box. Intellectuals within the party are deliberately sidelined and contemptibly viewed as threats. Hence making the party an anti-intellectualism club or a simple gathering of semi-intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals, who can’t, in any rate, digest critical and abstract ideas nor can they think beyond their doomed perception of Sudanese situations that their little brains could accommodate.

Therefore these prophets and preachers of doom consider honest, constructive and free debates, discourses and criticisms as basic components of the democracy which are antithesis to their design, that is, keeping the status quo. Because these democratic values can only occur in an already established democratic society or in a society ready for democratic change; but that change is a threat to their grip on power. In the south, especially, word democracy is heard when elites speak, and not in action.

Now it has come to the attention of the general public and the international community that the CPA has not brought peace at all to the common man on street, but to a small clique of self-serving elites. As such the ordinary citizens are simply used as shields to protect the interests of those tribal elites. It’s now known that all tribal conflicts and violence occurring in the South are politically motivated and engineered by politicians.   Otherwise had it not been “them” (self-fish politicians), solutions to these unwarranted conflicts would have been found if a responsible government were in place. But the SPLM is always quick to point fingers at the SPLM-DC as if these conflicts started with the formation of the SPLM-DC, forgetting that the root causes of instability in the region are injustice, inequality, nepotism, corruption, and incompetence that caused all these.

Where on earth can peace and development prevail when less than 1% of population loot public coffers alone and expect harmony? Where on earth can sustainable economic growth occur when only the children of elites are sent abroad for studies? Where on earth can security, peace, equality and justice prevail when only one ethnic group takes all the top echelons of the government (for example, Presidency, Minister of Interior, of Defence, of Finance, of Foreign Affairs, of Justice, you name it)? Where on earth can stability happen when soldiers, doctors and nurses, police officers and teachers can go on strikes because they have not been paid their salaries for months (if not years)?

For example, in yesterday’s edition (Saturday October 31, 2009) The Citizen correspondent, Mr. Ater Garang Ariath reported that an “angry” teacher by the name David Joseph from Secondary School in Juba courageously told Ann Itto, the SPLM Deputy Secretary General, that he “won’t vote” in the upcoming elections [for SPLM] because “the government has failed to maintain security in Southern Sudan and accountability.” Then Dr. Itto, in a measure of dichotomy between guilt and virtue, admitted that her party had indeed failed to deliver services to the needy but she urged the electorate that “it is not good to deny one’s civil right of voting just because the SPLM is failing to deliver what people want.”   This statement is so strong and I appreciate her sincerity. Because it would be a blunder from my side if one could not appreciate his/her political opponent simply because they are opponents. However, I fail to understand her seemingly contradictory remarks that “the SPLM has achieved many things, such as the image of development in Southern Sudan within four years time compare[d] to some other parties who rule”....and she continued to say: “teachers are tools of self-determination of Southern Sudan and it’s not good to [get] disappointed ourselves in the middle of historic journey;” and that “she will present all the requests to the Government of Southern Sudan and the State Government”. No wonder I consider her statements as contradictory.

First, the SPLM Dr. (I am told she is a PhD holder) should be reminded that SPLM is the only party ruling the South for the last “four” years (2005-2009) and that its failures cannot be compared with or to “nothing”. I meant in this interim period no “other parties” have and had ever ruled the South, unless Her Excellency is talking of the National Congress Party (NCP), the ruling party in the North. But NCP is only in the north and therefore Southern citizens know only the failures of their own government, that’s “your failing government”. Second, telling people that they should not worry about the failed system since we are “in the middle of historic journey” towards “self-determination” is itself a mockery, if not an utter hypocrisy. By simple definition, the right to self-determination means a citizen has a “free choice”, without compulsion, to decide what form of a government or country that would rule him/her and this free choice is exercised using a ballot box (that’s in a referendum). In this particular case, a citizen may choose ‘yes” or “no” depending on the wording of the proposed item (for example, unity or separation as in our case). Back to the argument, given the history of our country (the Sudan ), we the southerners went to the bush not because there was something wrong with the land of the Sudan or Arabs per se, but because of economic and political imbalance and injustice. Therefore, if we now have a semi-autonomous government we call our own that legally treats us equally, distributes wealth equally, and provides services equally, then our unity would be strong and our choice for separation would be a unanimous “yes” with capital Y.   But now while we are “in the middle of historic journey” our own government under your watch is doing us injustice, so what guarantees and promises left to the citizens to decide to break away from the north when their predestined choice (the Independence of South Sudan) is messed up by your government? Can one reject one injustice and accept another injustice, if I may ask?   Or it’s with same attitude that the SPLM leaders harbour—(always taking things for granted)—that the choice will be between the injustice in the hands of distant brother (a northerner), which is worse,   and injustice suffered in the hands of close brother (a southerner), which is better? This last argument or question I heard it many times from some SPLM elements who benefit from such a hypocritical state of affairs.   It’s mind-boggling to see our dear leaders and their blind stoop that low to such level of sincere ignorance and deceit. We need leaders who can lead by example at this critical time so that the destiny of Southerners is realised in 2011.

Now let someone out there correct me if I am wrong that those “problems” I highlighted don’t actually exist in the GOSS/SPLM and that they are my own imaginative creation. If I am wrong, then I stand to be corrected, because this is the beauty of intellectual discourse that can open ways for further finding of the ‘real’ truth since I am not a “Mr. Know-it-all” (and will not claim to be one). Quite the opposite, if those problems “did and do” indeed exist in the government run by the SPLM, before and after SPLM-DC creation, why blame us for things intrinsically SPLM’s self-destruction?

Philosophical inquiries aside, let us turn to and touch on real issues of concern.

This very dormant SPLM has gone far enough to the extent of accusing us that we are being supported by the National Congress Party (NCP) to destabilise the South and that we have or are building a proxy militia-training base. That we are ‘enemies of peace’ and therefore we are “hyenas in sheep’s skins” (Salva Kiir heard saying) like other Southern political parties who walked out during the Juba Conference (September, 2009). Second, people often ask ‘if we are for the interest or cause of the South or Southern Sudanese (they often sarcastically and naively pose this question), why we have our Headquarters in Khartoum , not Juba ?’ I can answer the question with question. If we have a military wing operating in the South, as a responsible government, why don’t they prove to us and all southerners the specific location(s) of our troops and their alleged bases? Again as a responsible authority, as they claim to be, with national army that can protect the region and its citizens from any threats, be it external or internal, why don’t they take action against these “proxy-militia” groups wherever they could find them?

About our headquarters being located in Khartoum . This is too silly a question that would not actually come from a well-informed Sudanese person but from some sort of alien from outer space. However, aside from constant harassment, arrest, intimidation and, worst of all, some lost of lives of our party members in the South in the hands of the SPLM security personnel, let me give the inquirer a simply answer. We have established offices operating in every state in the whole country, not only in the South. It is only our headquarters that is only in Khartoum simply because we understand that our party is a national party like “your” SPLM that has its headquarters located in Khartoum until 2011, whatever the outcome of the referendum might be. For your information, what you termed or considered as SPLM Headquarters in Juba is just a Southern Sector of the SPLM. Unless you wanted to regionalise it contrary to SPLM party constitution and objectives. But I am not surprised of the SPLM contradictions and confusions which make many of its party cadres confused. That is why I often tell my SPLM friends that they badly need further education and understanding about “their” SPLM they blindly support.  

Back to the issue of destabilising the south. Frankly speaking let me be honest to all readers of this piece, whether you are ardent SPLM supporters, sympathisers, or well-wishers and friends of South Sudan and all marginalised areas that SPLM-DC was not formed to destroy the hard won peace which ended 22 years-conflict in the Continent. And it will not have any ill-intentions to destabilise South Sudan nor will it betray the cause of the liberation struggle by forming a military force operating outside national defence forces (SPLA and SAF). The whole truth is that, the SPLM itself is the ‘enemy’ of Southerners and the rest of marginalised communities in the country because of the following reasons:

First, it lacks quality leadership to rule the country effectively and efficiently.   Second, It does not employ public servants according to their merits (skills, experiences and knowledge), except on tribal grounds. Third, it relies pretty much on foreign experts and consultants in the running of the day-to-day affairs of the south, instead of utilising its home-grown professionals (most of whom had their education in the West, if Western education is the issue). Fourth, corruption is the most dangerous evil, the evilest of all evils that destroys Southern Sudan in every aspect of life. Imagine a Minister of Finance in the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan would embezzle $2.7 billion US dollars at once out of national annual budget in a nation that has just emerged from war and the culprit still has not been put behind bars? (Source: Khartoum Monitor, October 30, 2009 —‘ South Sudan Hunts Missing Grain in Suspected Graft Probe’). What signal does it send to international donors who help provide humanitarian assistance to southern Sudan ? How about the rest of loots that went and still going without trace? Fifth, the intense internal power struggle and tribal groupings within the GOSS/SPLM undermines smooth running of the government. Sixth, the complacency and apathy of ordinary citizens and civil society organizations for not actively participating in the affairs of south make matters even worse. With all these, where does SPLM-DC fit in the destruction of the Southern Sudan and her interests?

Instead of bedevilling SPLM-DC, we should only thank God for its formation so that the morale, hopes, expectations and aspirations of the Sudanese citizens which were high when late Dr. John Garang was alive are restored.

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