- Written by Deng Riak Khoryoam
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"Poor leadership leads to poor living conditions."(Former Kenyan president Daniel Arab Moi).
It's undisputable fact that there is a lot to write about the last month's general election which has come to past now. The good thing is that the elections are long gone and the rest is just hangovers which should be dealt with peacefully.
An amicable solution should be found to put the issue to rest. In fact as some good analysts have stated that if the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) is willing to negotiate with renegade general to resolve the issues at hand in a pragmatic manner, then it would show how competence and capable the SPLM/A leaders are in handling their own problems in their entity, and prove wrong those pessimists who hold the view that south Sudan will not be a viable state if it secedes from the North. This would not just be a supposition but indeed a figment imagination!
But unfortunately, the situation we are in now doesn't seem to prove the pessimists and critics wrong. In fact it proves them right, given the unfolding events in the aftermath of elections in Southern Sudan .
As the president of GOSS, Mr. Salva Kiir, has been sworn in and his government is about to be formed sooner after this, everything seems to be at stake. And since the masses or people of Southern Sudan have been robbed of their fundamental rights (votes) when the choices they made in choosing their representatives were ignored despite overwhelmingly voting for them, it remains painful and heartbreaking. But they have decided to maintain silence for one reason or another. One obvious reason is nothing other than the referendum which is just seven months away from now. It takes a big head and a good reasoning capacity to just forgo of all this and focus on what lies ahead of us - the referendum.
Kiir‘s last five years in office was marked by rampant corruption, tribalism, nepotism, favoritism, and most badly, lack of service delivery to the grassroots. This is adequate enough to judge him based on all these facts. If anything is to be remembered of him or perhaps as his trademark, it would be the mismanagement of Southern Sudan resources, imposing unwanted leaders, instigating insecurity and encouraging other evil activities that undermine the unity of Southerners. I guess his trademark may not be his cowboy hat alone, and am not being sarcastic but the truth!
It goes without acknowledging the adage that says: "Almost all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man‘s character, give him power" (Prescott). This helps to clearly explain the current phenomenon since it calls for a different yardstick to be employed in determining who actually is Mr Salva Kiir. And we could as well judge him by his deeds and misdeeds without any prejudice; since we have the culture of strictly evaluating and judging people on their past records like is the case for Dr. Lam Akol and Dr. Riek Machar who have been victimized and given unnecessary terms like traitors for the 1991 SPLM/A split.
So let's review Kiir and his previous government and try to give credit where it's not due since that is what his cronies and beneficiaries want us to do. Despite all malpractices and misappropriation of funds, this hasn't yet hurt Kiir's recorded collection and that of his closest friends and the beneficiaries unlike other national leaders. But what do the people of Southern Sudan expect from Kiir upcoming government?
This is a million dollar question that one could almost guess right given the experience of his five year term in office. As I mentioned that the elections are gone and what remains now is serious work to deliver to people the services they need most and that would ultimately be the fulfillment of their campaign promises if they want to be taken seriously. Failure to live to the campaign promises is tantamount to making empty promises on flattering tone and that is where lack of trust creeps in.
In retrospect, the last SPLM-led government, with comrade Kiir as its chief, did less if not nothing to improve the lives of people of Southern Sudan . Instead, Kiir's government even impoverished the people further. That is, as a result of poor leadership, tiny privileged groups were accorded the opportunity to loot the resources at the expense of many who remain poor as monopoly of power continues to be the core business of GOSS.
Are we expecting the same leadership style that Kiir portrayed to the people during his past tenure? Giving all the powerful ministries to his Bahr el Ghazal people and other commissions, corruption spree, unfair distribution of southern dividends, lack of development, lack of provision of services to the grassroots communities, the spiraling violence, and countless other things will continue to be on rise.
I have chosen to use the above quote from the former Kenyan president mzee Daniel Arab Moi to symbolize our president's last five years in office since taking over after the untimely demise of the chairman Dr. John Garang de Mabior in a helicopter crash. Indeed poor leadership can lead to poor living standards of the governed, especially if there is insecurity which makes it harder for locals to go about their business and activities, especially agricultural. The last five years is a living testimony as many Southern Sudanese were subjected to abject poverty from Kiir's bad leadership.
Of course, his beneficiaries do not want anybody to point out truths about Kiir; and would always want to cover up for him as they are ready to do anything and at any cost, to make sure that people don't talk openly or at least hold him accountable for the bad governance, squandering of public kitty, and going contrary to the SPLM objectives. And when one talks of all this, they either accuse you of being bought by Arabs, SPLM-DC supporter and a tribalist. Yet if you see what they do they are the ones who qualify to be called tribalists as their actions can show.
The SPLM was promising people of South Sudan beside others: peace, security and prosperity and these were kind of messages used by any candidate contesting on SPLM ticket at all levels. However, it remains to be seen how a government who failed miserably to provide security and stability, and deliver social services to its people could dare talk about bringing peace, security and prosperity even after five years of bad rule. The real question is: are the SPLM leaders really trustable?
The SPLM bad leaders have failed to put things into perspective and more importantly, failed the test of good governance. The elections have come to pass and what remains now is putting words into practice. All the SPLM candidates who won the election (including those who won without figures) must be seen working very hard to fulfill the promises or pledges made during the campaign and to see to it that they put the people of South Sudan at the centre of their activities. Failure to put this into consideration, the new government will be deemed defective.
At this junction, it's worth noting that people's expectations are realistic. They are anchored on basic things such as clean water, road networks, schools, health care centers, creating conducive environment for agriculture and most importantly, providing security.
But the biggest problem is that our president is not a man of his words as what he says today is not what he says tomorrow. In other words, what he says is not what he does. He likes preaching water but drinking alcohol and that he is not bothered at all! Mr Salva Kiir needs to be serious this time round if he wants to be taken seriously by the people he is leading or ruling. I should say then he should be consistent in his words and the way he puts his messages across to the Southerners. Otherwise, he will not be trustworthy and a reliable person because he shall be categorized as a chameleon leader and his reputation shall get damaged beyond repair.
We still don't know how his new government is going to be like. Will it be drawn or dominated by his people from Bahr el Ghazal as usual who are appointed based on non-merits without know-who? Or will it be an inclusive one with equal representation reflecting the diversity of South Sudan ethnic groups? If Mr Kiir decides to maintain the current status quo by retaining those kingdom ministries like the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development, Ministry of SPLA Affairs, Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning, and so forth, then this shall fail any call for fight against corruption. The disease (social evil) called corruption shall continue to incurable for another five years. Perhaps Mr Kiir is fighting this with different message because he himself has an upper hand in it.
What values should guide the distribution of national dividends? The answer was not there in the last five years. But I think now we ought to instill the values of honesty, accountability, fairness and transparency as opposed to the assumed heroism in stealing from the public kitty without feeling any guilt; corruption with impunity. The SPLM leaders at all levels need to work extra hard and to exert a lot of efforts to put words into actions in order to regain the trust they lost when they went astray. First and foremost, Mr Kiir should spearhead reconciliation and forgiveness between the people. We need to address our internal problems and find lasting solutions to these problems otherwise the road leading to 2011 where we are supposed to exercise our rights as Southerners in a plebiscite, shall not be smooth. I pen off herein and leave the rest for you to complete!
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