By Isaiah Abraham
April 15, 2007 ? Unionists who could be reading here must not get offended; we shall meet at the ballot box on July 9, 2011, inshallah! It is not too earlier or too late to talk about this matter of our national concern. A capital is a symbol of our national pride and that of our identification. Generally, it reflects everything for that particular administrative region or state. Ours is a nation in making and this matter of our national capital has been in the debate for long.
When Addis Ababa Agreement was signed thirty five years ago, decision makers at that time were divided as to what should be the national capital of the Southern Region of the Sudan. The agreement then like now in our case (CPA item 53:4) pointed Juba as the seat of the Government (High Executive Council). The debate never died down and continuous until Joseph James Tombura time when Southern Sudan was re-divided by President Jaafer Mohammed Nimeri in 1983, into three regions namely Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal and the Upper Nile. Everyone knows that story.
At that time, there were voices who wanted the capital to be relocated to another place other than Juba. Most non Equatorians wanted it taken to places such as Yirol, Mongalla, Shambe or Bor. Yirol concept was popular. The argument was that Juba has seismic problem and therefore risky since there are no modern technology at hand to counter an occurring earth quark. Besides there was concerns that some Bari intellectuals are intolerable to others as far as the issue of land and ownership are concerned. The proponents of Juba on the other hand, argued that Juba inhabitants are hospitable, easy going and labor force. They are hard working and always make the city ever fresh with food even if food stops from elsewhere, they conclude. The debate ranges until SPLA change the debate or focus to ?New Sudan? vs. ?Old Sudan?- simply say war situation.
But the SPLM Government before the Agreement (CPA) - after Machakos, had tried out a solution to this matter. They proposed Ramciel as the new capital for the New Sudan (Southern Sudan). H.E Dr. Riek Machar Teny (our current Vice President) went to the place earlier in 2005 and assessed the feasibility surrounding the proposal. He was reported to have supported his colleague Dr. John Garang. The two suggested what they called Tent City and allocate plans and perhaps resources to make it happen. The events overtook this process or the rest is history. Sources say that Equatorians later met Dr. John Garang and Dr. Riek Machar in protest. They questioned the intention of taking away the national capital Juba. I don?t figure out the answer and the source didn?t elaborate, but it looks like the two leaders were not persuaded. People then moved to Juba after all and His Excellency the President Lt. General Salva Kiir Mayardit was backing Dr. Riek and Garang for Rumciel. He was categorical in saying the obvious and that is, the virus of Kokoro hasn?t yet died.
Last year when this matter was in the debate, the Executive jump the gun and left Parliament to watch things on the side line. The Executive failed to make Clement Wani Konga the Governor of Central Equatoria State to change his mind. His House went defying and scorned the decision made by the Executive that directed Yei to be the Governmental Headquarters of the state. Central Equatoria State Parliament wanted Juba to be administered like Khartoum; where seats of the nation and that of Khartoum itself co-exist side by side. But Hon. Michael Makuei the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (GOSS) read out position of the cabinet refuting that outlook. The tension and the war was murkier in the legal side of the interpretation but was relaxed even though heat wasn?t quenched. It went on un-smothered at the level of the two layers of the executive. It has just come out openly when H.E The Vice President disguised this in his ?Modern Juba City? development by Made in Africa Investment Bank developers. He has been suffering in silence for so long and looking for an exit. As Housing Minister he had had enough and becomes almost impossible to have Government land on his name around Juba. Partly because the Justice and Constitution Affairs Ministry and Parliament failed to table bill to regulate land ownership. But largely, the community around are still hostile to anything that touch their land without due processes. There are reports that say some leaders from that community have gone as far as telling the Vice President to take the capital else where. I think he has just obliged. There is an observation though. Law Makers in the Central Equatoria State and their Cabinet has this point. The Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan (ICSS) via CPA had in Part 12 article 180: (4) and here states ?all land traditionally and historically held or used by local communities or their members shall be defined, held, managed and protected by law in Southern Sudan?. Basically it says, that piece of land belongs to the people. There is legal term however in most cases will boiled down to what it means in the word ?defined?, ?held?, ?managed? and ?protected?. This is an area of careful balance and Parliament have every right to midwife this matter.
So, people of good will in our Parliament must rise up and save the image of the leadership in the eyes of the public. Parliament should adopt a firm resolution that should put this matter to rest. If Juba?s inhabitants are not willing to allow GOSS to exercise its policies, then it isn?t too late to keep Juba as Provincial Capital and decided (edict) on which place to be the official capital of the emerging state. Barely two years and there is this omen of cultural clash. Don?t blame Equatorians or non Equatorians, especially Dinka and Nuer, blame their socio-cultural background. The problem is that there is no way the two will leave apart from each other. The dilemma again is that the more they come closer the difficult it becomes. Their cultures often clash. Simple words such as ?sorry?, ?please? and ?thank you? are hardly in the vocabulary of Dinkas and Nuers, true or fals? Someone also says a number of Equatorians are irritants and gossip lots/agitators or magnified trivial things. Well, they say culture is like beauty, only gauge by the beholder. But Parliamentarians should seek solution that will bring our people together and shame the divisive veins among our communities. We want to face our future together and our internal wrangles however little aren?t healthy at all. To take capital to lesser inhabited place could be an idea. The capital will develop its own culture and Ramciel stands the chance of becoming our capital.
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