Articles and Analysies
SPLM and the Neccesity of Criticism. By: Salah Shuaib
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Feb 2, 2010 - 10:45:28 AM

SPLM and the Neccesity of Criticism


Salah Shuaib


Being in an adequately supported position of sponsoring an expected new state, the SPLM, more than any political umbrella in the South, should answer the nation-building questions in a clear manner.

Having said that, let’s first recognize that criticism is but the “Second Leg of Creativeness" if I correctly translated the artistic wisdom I read- and have adapted- in Arabic.

However, the meaning is that there wouldn’t be a continuingly progressed inspiration for poetry, music, writing, thought, and etc, if we didn’t see a value of criticism, or an importance of having critics in all different aspects of life.

If we want to transfer that wisdom from the literature field to the political one, then  one may see that our politics is in need to those critics whose duty is to help politicians to see themselves in the others’ mirror. Theoretically, the wisdom is noble and revealed.

But one opines that our political parties were, and are, working in, or say working for finding, an environment hostile to a constructive criticism, which is the only factor in helping Sudanese politics prosper.

In fact, what was happening in the past and current Sudan is nothing more than suppressing courageous voices calling for freedom, democracy, human rights, ending marginalized policies, and all that what the era requires.

Frankly, criticizing the SPLM political experiment that has tested itself in governmental practices peacefully, just for five years ago today, is a task we didn’t exercise in order to see the SPLM positive and negative things.

From my readings to these criticisms intending to judge, or measure, SPLM political path, I can conclude by saying that there are three kinds of such criticisms, one is ideological, the other is created by those parties competed with the Movement, and the last is trying to be fair, so long as there is a benefit to maintain the SPLM, instead of trying to crush it by word arms.

As a believer in the necessity of achieving the New Sudan in our general scenes, whether the current Sudan is of future facts or the South is going to promote itself as a state, I always proclaim that the SPLM approaches should be clear as to the address and act concerning the nation –building questions.

One may say that I mean just the SPLM clearness toward the Center policies I care about, but I am, rather, concerning about the South as I do with the center. The reason is simple. Those dedicated themselves, since a while, to concern of Sudan’s marginalized areas are seen themselves as sons of such Areas. I believe that even if the brothers in the South have preferred to create their own state, that option doesn’t liberate us of humane obligations to share, in good faith, burdens with those responsible. Inevitably, at that time more who believe in Garang’s new Sudan concept will offer available experiences to build the expectedly created country.

I wrote, three years ago today, an article-about the south-for the Alsahafa newspaper, and from which I quote this paragraph: “implementing the New Sudan framework will be necessary, whether the South is part of Sudan or not. That Garang's inspired idea wasn't eager to eradicate Islam or the “Sudanized” Arabism, we have not seen an evidence of hostility towards Arab and non-Arab Muslims through SPLM struggles that kept the prisoners of war, at the time we did not find one prisoner of war kept by the central government. The second evidence of the nobility of the New Sudan idea is that the late hero John Garang admitted, in multiple speeches, that Arabic is to remain an official language of the New Sudan he dreams to achieve.”

Seeking return to the criticism issue and the SPLM nation-building efforts, I see there are three fatal failures in the SPLM governmental legacy:

1_Ignoring the role of the media:

Once, I spoke with my friend Mohammed Al-Mu'tasim Hakim, after joining the SPLM, and I had told him that he as an experienced journalist should convince the Movement's leadership to pay more attention to its need for the institutionalized media, as a key element in today's politics.

Beyond that, after a long debate continued for days, I had to suggested for Hakim the idea of providing, based on my experience in media institutions, a proposal for establishing the SPLM’ s media institutions, and he had approved my suggestion. I sat for two days and had lied out my vision for basing a newspaper, TV channel and a cultural center, in the name of the late hero John Garang. Together, we discussed the vision, and later on, he had told me that this vision couldn't be implemented unless the author achieved it through being part of the SPLM membership. Then, he asked me to join the Movement, but I had told him that I did not join any political organization in my entire life and that I am not going to do so, affirming him that I can help if the brothers in the Movement need my help at the process of the implementation of the vision, which had reached to Mr. Pagan Amum’s office, but I believe the vision was totally ignored, and no any concern of what I suggested was seen.

We have seen how the National Congress Party sought to employ the country’s media apparatuses against the movement, and the rest. So far, there is no any professionally institutionalized media that befits the SPLM approaches it wants to apply in both the center and the South.

2_Conducting not intellectual conference and institutions:

Politics and thought coexist to fulfill the present and future subjects. There is no any single political movement that would thrive without thought. There must be strategists who inform the people and educate them through media channels.

So far, the Movement Has failed in conducting a comprehensive intellectual conference that produces well-thinking proposals or academic papers for comprehensive development. It is true that there are efforts being helpful for the South’s political and intellectual issues, but for the strategic thought there are those who dedicated themselves for strategic thoughts addressing the issues of religion, cultural production, economy, tourism promotion, sport, the media, and the like. It was expected that the Movement conducts an internationally intellectual Conference with the participation and the presence of eminent personalities from regional and global boundaries, to brainstorming on the future of development in the South. This proposed conference may provide urgently varied benefits. Now, there are no well-equipped intellectual institutions in the South to deal with the cultural dialogue between the SPLM intellectuals and their rivals, whether in the South, or else where. Politicians alone are not able to accomplish goals, but with the participation of academic researchers there could be opportunities for them to take advantage. I hope that the SPLM, unlike old Sudanese parties, concerns with the importance of establishing research and thought institutions, which must be boosted with technical equipments and highly trained researchers. And there is still an opportunity to hold a special conference to discuss issues of region, religion and culture, social and educational, and etc. Thanks for the “Ustaz” Malik Agar for establishing that notable cultural center in Damazin.

3_Non-reaching out to Arab countries

Today's world is based on mutual interests, regardless of cultural and, ethnic and religious differences. The South’s Interest should be seen through assessing distinguished relations with Arab countries, also regardless of their historic positions versus the SPLM so long struggle to bring about a Naivasha Accord. Caving in the past grievances doesn’t generate political aspirations, but what it does is to consider for a future based on the findings of the current situation you can build on. I was expecting that the Government of the South would engage in such targeted visits, led by Comrade Salva Kiir Mayardet, to Arab countries, in the hope of establishing political relations based on economic, industrial, commercial and educational goals. There is much that can be given by the Arabs to the South in the field of investment, and in return there is much that can be given by the South in the field of tourism. Hence, there should be a re-consideration for the relationship with Arab countries in order to ensure these mutual interests. There are many ideological and emotional words against Arabs that can be said by some brothers in the South who have had grievances over Arab countries. But such grievances don’t serve the future aims of the South. In fact, the Egyptian government has extended its efforts with some projects in the South. All Arabs can fallow with usefully multiple projects for the sake of mutual cooperation. Is it difficult for the SPLM to organize an economic conference by the participation of Arab countries to persuade them to invest?

Thus, I wanted to refer to these failures in the SPLM strategic thinking. I am not convinced that all the readers agree with the points I mentioned. But, at least, the aim is to provoke debate about what we should dialogue about for the sake of promoting our concerns.

I, therefore, see that the Movement needs to focus on the intellectual project it wants to base upon building the South. Hopes, only, do not lead to successes, but acts based on a profound strategy.

The conclusion is that the answers of nation-building require a deep dialogue. And dialogue requires a more courage to examine failures. And failures could be eliminated only if we believe that there is a “ Second Leg of Creativeness.”

Salah Shuaib is a Sudanese writer and journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]

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