In Defence of SPLM Democratic Change: A Rebuttal to False Accusations
By Deng Yiech Bachech
These days the formation of the SPLM for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) has stirred up and stimulated important intellectual and political discourse among Sudanese nationals all over the world. Had this occurred long time ago, and if people involved in these political exercises, debates and discussions in the media or on one-on-one personal encounters are indeed honest with regards to issues and challenges facing the country, favourable common grounds would have been found.
However, constructive intellectual debate is terribly lacking particularly in South Sudan, to say the least. This is why when one is not confident in oneself, lacks any substantiated facts or intellectual ability to back up his/her claims, resorting to name-calling, character assassinations, threats and intimidation are often the cheapest tools used to defend his/her alleged position. Therefore, this absence of critical thinking and consciousness in political engagements has led to some violent confrontations between groups with conflicting ideological and political orientations.
Based on my personal experience and historical knowledge of the politics of the country, I am more-often-than-not compelled to write on major issues affecting the marginalised masses. Until recently, I wrote a piece about the historic formation of the SPLM-DC party, its policies, vision and platforms in Canada.
In the press release (dated June 12, 2009), as stated by the SPLM-DC leadership during the launch of the party on June 6, 2009, we in Canada offered, on the basis of rich historical facts, both logical and subjective rebuttals of false accusations against the party; and that marked an academic, political and philosophical manifestation on the subject matter: The demand for change. We succinctly stated our position (and will continue to do so) where we differ with the ruling SPLM party. Then we explained this position to both curious individuals who genuinely wanted to know more about our party and also to certain ignoranamuses (uninformed chaps) who simply asked irrelevant questions just for the sake of asking.
Accordingly, we have come to realize that issuing rebuttals against trivial accusations as our instruments of political justifications for our demand for democratic change are not sufficient. For that reason, we reserve the right to not respond to articles that contain no legal, political or intellectual merits. Furthermore, because our demand for change is not superficial, but rather a strategic purpose to fulfill the objectives of the people‚Äôs revolutionary movement, we have objectively identified, defined, evaluated and explained major issues that we think best that need eradication through careful policy planning and effective administration. This initiative led us to form the SPLM-DC because the current SPLM party under comrade Salva has always been a failure due to its lack of competent leadership and clear direction.
Along these lines, the SPLM-DC party leadership came up with intelligible programmes championed by competent policymakers, technocrats, politico-bureaus and academics in Sudan and in the Diaspora who will generally strategise how the objectives of party be advocated, executed and achieved for the betterment of the Sudanese society.
Practically, to effect this change, we can deal with the resisters of the reforms in an honest fashion using rational strategies and methods to prove them wrong because we do not want them to instil baseless rhetoric and propaganda in the minds of the ordinary citizens in order to resist change. Because we understand that when public moods are corrupted, dangers of pessimism and resistance to change do always set in. Thus, the cheated innocent civilians‚Äô minds may not realise that they are indirectly being stripped of their natural rights and freedoms. This is manifestly witnessed in the existing strong sentiments of pacifism among the general public at this critical time.
But if we wait, while no concrete strategic policy planning and clear outlining of strategies to achieve our common goal‚ÄĒthe unconditional liberty‚ÄĒhow can we be so sure that referendum will take place, or the achievement of New Sudan vision, that is democratic Sudan be realised?
Introspectively, I certainly do understand that active public participation in matters of war and peace were nonexistent since war started in 1983-2005; and it was not sufficient to influence military commanders‚Äô attitudes as our aims were about to defeat the enemy militarily or otherwise. However, now it is a different time altogether and circumstances which dictated non-public participation at the time are now different and irrelevant. We are in a relative peace time. That we have established government institutions such as legislature, executive and judiciary branches, with the SPLM being the ruling party, although they are ineffective and inefficient. But the idleness and irrelevancy of those institutions requires a strong political opposition party to arouse the sleeping heads in power to do the right things; and the SPLM-DC is the right opposition party that can correct the situation.
Being the central objective of this article, now let me reiterate the issues that need redress, and I will therefore answer some frequently asked questions about the party as well as the recommendations and implementation strategies that the SPLM-DC has in store.
Identified Issues at Stake
The identified issues in all marginalised areas under the ruling party (SPLM/GOSS) take place due to political and administrative malpractices. They include, but not limited to, widespread corruption of all kinds; lack of the freedom of conscience, access to education and health care; discriminatory distribution of resources among all segments of the society; hegemonic ambitions of certain individuals or groups to rule others; mismanagement of public funds by a small clique; raging insecurity; constraining of traditional/customary legal systems; land grabbing; tribalism and nepotism; unregulated taxation or customs laws and practices; high unemployment rate; neglect of service men and women in uniforms (SPLA); famine; perceived or real subordination and domination
of ethnic minorities; bureaucratic in-fighting, scaremongering, leadership incompetence and the list is endless. These issues are very compelling and are very necessary conditions for the intervention of the SPLM-DC because they are too sufficient conditions and causes for the persistent generation of ethnic tensions, mistrust and ultimately social disorder. Combined with irresponsible behaviours of some SPLM ruling elites and their blind supporters, our territorial integrity, shared values and unity as a society are somewhat at risk. Without addressing those issues, our dream for making a right choice between separation and unity of the Sudan comes 2011 referendum is tragically elusive, not to mention the conduct of February 2010 general elections.
Commonly Asked Questions about the SPLM-DC
Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin‚Äôs leadership credibility
? This tactic of challenging the personality of a leader, not issues, is simply a resort to committing abusive fallacy. This has been the common theme or issue of concern to individuals whose intellectual reasoning and understanding of the political system is impaired by emotional appeals in their writings driven by hidden tribal agenda and jealousy. The proof is that, those questioning and character assassinating the leader of the party‚Äôs credibility come from a particular ethnicity whose agenda is bluntly clear. Pretentiously, this group goes as far as saying if the SPLM-DC party chairman has been a different personality, they would join the party in a big number. This shallow claim reveals the real intent of the group.
The Difference between SPLM and SPLM-DC
? The difference between the two SPLMs has been made pretty clear right from the onset. It is a matter of policies and leadership. In other words, it is a matter of choosing between wrong and right policies, between incompetent and competent leadership. Thus, the SPLM all along
had been professing a desire for peace for several years, always to find pretexts for blaming others for its miserable failures in the expectation that a little more return to war gambit and scapegoating scheme would strengthen their positions to consolidate their stay in power.
SPLM-DC Name Change
? Unequivocally, SPLM Leaders and their unapprised supporters dredge up irrelevant claims to us that we can change the name of our party to something else that does not bear the acronym SPLM. From legal point of view, this appears as little more than self-serving justifications for the continuous misleading of the people because it has no legal basis whatsoever. All that they should do is to abstain from making claims for absurd manoeuvres.
Politically, their claims may make sense. But let assume their claim is legally binding, who or what court of law that would be an arbiter upholding legal ethics and fair judgment‚ÄĒsuch as impartiality and neutrality without any political influence and manipulation? Again, in any case, if the issue reaches the court of law, will that court case be conducted in Khartoum, Juba, The Hague or Washington? Furthermore, why is the SPLM-DC becoming so a nerve-racking matter for the SPLMers when in fact we have USAP 1 and USAP 2 in the legislative assembly of the southern government? Can they (SPLMers) also ask themselves about the existence of Ummah Party of Sadiq el-Mahdi and Ummah Reform and Renewal Party of Al-Fadil? If that is not enough, can they too consult with our neighbouring leaders in Kenya such as Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga about the history of party formations, factions, defections and the like?
The NCP and SPLM-DC Relations and Why the Party formed (or launched) in Khartoum
? The answer is that, SPLM-DC has no link with NCP, it is simple as that. Nonetheless, if we may ask, why was the SPLM/A revolutionary struggle initiated and announced in Ethiopia? History tells us that most political parties or revolutionary works are primarily formed and waged in exile, especially when the challenged system is an authoritarian, a totalitarian or a dictatorial regime or combination of the three. Read the world history of revolutionary theory and facts! Although this is not case for the SPLM-DC, as time will tell, political activists would have to exercise their political activities, rallies or meetings in a friendly environment. So this claim that SPLM-DC is formed in Khartoum because it is a creation of the NCP is totally absurd and it does not hold any water. We consider this cheap claim as obviously the SPLM‚Äôs scaremongering style as usual to brand other people whose views are different from theirs as traitors, enemies of peace, etc. Or simply they are bogus claims to make them appear just, while they are obviously not, because throughout history tyrants and dictators often had used this means to mobilise innocent populations through the use of propaganda to maintain their power for their own selfish gains. In turn, the hoodwinked populace could duel on popular loyalties toward a ruler, especially as in our case, toward a tribal figure like Salva Kiir.
The Targets and Supporters (grassroots) of Our Party?
Well, we have no specific targets to support the change. Our targets and supporters are the general populations who are the victims of the current misrule, be they SPLM insiders, intellectuals, youths or downtrodden masses. Our democratic philosophy is as old as the history of the Sudan itself. That revolutionary change does not occur out of blue. There are indisputable conditions, factors, causes and issues that obligated the need for change. James Davies, in Revolutionary Change by Chalmers Johnson (1966), states that ‚ÄúRevolution is not a discrete, relatively isolable, purely political phenomenon; the factors that contribute to it are as manifold as the elements comprising society itself, and abstract generalisations about revolution must reflect this extreme complexity.
We can make use of any military, psychological, sociological, economic, as well as political concepts and data.‚ÄĚ
Therefore, the change that we advocate occurs as a response to identifiable and concrete political, economic and social issues that the SPLM has failed to tackle for the last four (4) years (look at the identified issues above). So, we think because creative and purposive policies are not there in the books and in the minds of the SPLM/GOSS cadres, then the change is inevitable. For, the ruling SPLM party has breached the fundamental objectives, vision and values of the people‚Äôs movement by doing the same things a few elites in the Northern Sudan had subjected us to, which we objected and cost the lives of our martyrs. Now because we have lost direction and focus due to the absence of a strong and competent leadership, we are like lost sheep in the wilderness. Our courageous and brave men and women in uniforms who are our nation‚Äôs protectors are neglected, each ethnic group or tribe is against the other, educated citizens are sidelined; widows and orphans of our fallen heroes and heroines are totally forgotten; the old and the poor are uncared for; ethnic minorities are discriminated against by the majorities; the peace dividends are not shared but rather pillaged by a few selfish individuals.
Where are we heading to? Blame the Jallaba for our own failure? Look, our mutual expectations, respect, caring, love, and sharing are the things that bind us together as a society. During the liberation struggle we together sacrificed our lives to defend those values; but the government (GOSS) of which we resigned our individual rights to for the sake of our common interests has violated that contract. That is why we are killing ourselves daily. Philosopher Thomas Hobbes states that scarcity of resources and lack of cooperation among individual members of a society, whom by virtue of social contract formed a government to protect their individual liberties and properties, always cause violence. If that happens, people would resort to living in the state of nature. Meaning, in the state of nature, ‚Äúduring the time men live without a common power [government] to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; such a war is as of every man against every man.‚ÄĚ Look, in several states in southern Sudan, ethnic violence is the norm of the day. Apuk against Aguok in Warrap state, East Yirol against West Yirol in Lakes state, the intertribal conflict among Lou Nuer-Murle-Dinka Bor in Jonglei state, Lou Nuer against East Jikany Nuer in Upper Nile, Shilluk and Dinka of Upper Nile state against each other, Western Equatoria under constant threats of LRA rebels, and Bari against Mundari in Central Equatoria (the seat of the semi-autonomous government of Southern Sudan).
Tragic Dilemmas of the Oppressed and Critical Analysis
The critical analysis of this section‚Äôs credit goes to Paulo Freire, a Brazilian native and author of the Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972). Paulo‚Äôs works have influenced many Third World countries, especially during the course of national liberation struggles against the imperialist and colonial powers. The main theme of the book is about the contradictions where both the oppressed and oppressors have. For example, it is the fear of freedom that both sides would go through. That way, the oppressors fear to lose power and can struggle as much as they could to maintain it; and they
can use any means possible within their reach to achieve their personal interests and objectives. While the oppressed, if they act against oppression, may fear the repercussions of their defiant action for the search of freedom and security. In this sense, the oppressed would prefer silence to speaking their minds; and thus they would remain mechanically domesticated like animals. Then Paulo called this ‚ÄúThe tragic Dilemma of the Oppressed‚ÄĚ of which he concludes that the
education or liberation of the oppressed that must be
taken into account ‚Äúlies
in the choice between being wholly themselves or being divided; between ejecting the oppressor within or not ejecting him; between solidarity or alienation; between following prescriptions or having choices; between spectators or actors; between acting or having the illusion of acting through the action of the oppressors; between speaking out or being silent, castrated in their power to create and recreate, in their power to transform the world.‚ÄĚ Therefore, this critical analysis is compatible with the kind of situation that southern Sudanese are going through under the rule of our highly praised ‚Äúliberators-turned-oppressors‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒthe SPLM/A veterans and now rulers in Juba. According to Paulo, there are two important issues, among others, that restrict the oppressed to free themselves and to think like humans.
Culture of Silence of the Oppressed
: Under this condition, the victims of oppression lack confidence in themselves; no critical thinking and self-reflection. They perceive themselves as ‚Äėgood for nothing‚Äô or ‚Äėknowing nothings‚Äô, a concept indirectly inculcated in their minds by the oppressors. They therefore live like domesticated animals that need guidance from their masters. Sometimes they have false impression that they are free when if in fact they are not.
Instruments of domestication and domination
: Paulo asserts that the ruling masters have well-designed instruments to mislead and dominate the ignorant masses. These include the use of ‚Äúslogans, monologue, communiqu√©s, instructions, propaganda, management, manipulation and intimidation‚ÄĚ. In our case, the SPLM (an offshoot of communist ideology) still confuses people with watchwords, for example, ‚ÄúSPLM/A Oyee‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúHis/Her Excellency‚ÄĚ,
‚ÄúHonourable‚ÄĚ, among other lexicons, it uses without practical significance and impact on the lives of the governed. If I may ask, how many people know the meaning and origin of the word ‚ÄúOyee‚ÄĚ? Second, under the SPLM, no political freedoms within the party where members would debate and discuss issues relevant to the progress of the party. Instead, leaders only talk and members listen. This situation is what Paulo Freire relates to a system of ‚Äúbanking‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúeducation‚ÄĚ. That leaders deposit their views in the minds of people without them (people) to have self-reflection, self-examination or response. Moreover, like teacher-student relations, the teacher lectures and the student listens, ‚Äúrecords, memories and repeats‚ÄĚ what is said without asking questions.
As a result, creative thinking and innovation are severed in such a learning process; and this is exactly the kind of a problem Africans are experiencing today. The only solution to this problem occurs only if ‚ÄúThe poor came to realise that their ignorance and lethargy were the direct product of the whole situation of economic, social and political domination‚ÄĒand of the paternalism‚ÄĒof which they were victims. Rather than being encouraged and equipped to know and respond to the concrete realities of their world, they were kept ‚Äėsubmerged‚Äô in a situation in which such critical awareness and response were practically impossible,‚ÄĚ Paulo writes. Also Karl Marx talks of ideological justifications of privilege advanced by the dominant class relating it to the instruments of people‚Äôs domestication and domination that: ‚ÄúThe ruling ideas of a period have always been nothing but the ideas of the ruling class...in each epoch, the thoughts of the ruling class are the ruling thoughts; i.e., the class that is the ruling material power of society is at the same time its intellectual power.‚ÄĚ
Conclusion and Recommendations
The SPLM-DC, under the wise and competent leadership of Dr. Lam Akol, is very candid in its commitment to make a real change and will not betray the hopes, expectations and goals exceedingly harboured by the marginalised masses of the Sudan. It will make sure the issues it identifies above are thoroughly and adequately addressed using right policies and plans. Therefore, we would like to inform our members (new and old) and those aspiring to join the party to think critically when you confront false allegations, accusations and propaganda labelled against the party by those who fear the change.
The author is a political analyst and currently an SPLM-DC Representative to Canada. For questions about the party, he can be reached via his email: [email protected]
and phones: Home (403) 453-8199 and Cell/Mobile (403) 554-7327.