By: Urbano Tito TIPO
May 30, 2008: The much-awaited SPLM convention did finally take place in a mess of contradictions, political blackmail, tribal alliances, several groupings and all the like. After long heated debates that went for several days and long hours, finally the convention came into an amicable end. But question is, what was Southerners waiting to see? What were their expectations?
The convention went as predicted by those who wrote earlier that it will be rigged. Mr. Yassir Arman, one of the architects of the convention, was very instrumental in widening the gap between SPLM leaders and wanted to see into it that Dr Riak Machar was removed from the leadership who he regards as having spearheaded the Nasir faction. He managed to smear Dr. Lam Akol as a collaborator of NCP until he was removed from FM.
Almost 80% of those who came from the counties were through rigging and hand picked delegates. Some could not even understand what the convention was all about. Some were recent converts from NCP. The amalgamations of the conventioneers were either to support their icons to retain their positions in power or for their tribesmen not to loose. The convention was not based on any ideological or political philosophy. It was not about protection of the CPA or any defined program.
The same faces were confirmed to their positions after several days of wrangling for power. Then where is democracy the SPLM was talking about?
This was a waste of resources which the south needs. The cost for conduction of such rendezvous must have run into millions of dollars. With this background, how many southern children are dying of diseases and hunger? How many are not going to school while we waste money that could have been used for providing the much needed services?
The paradox of the outcome of the convention that everyone should know is that those confirmed are the same leaders who were managing GoSS from the beginning. They are stained by corruption, tribalism and nepotism. There was lack of transparency and good governance. Then how come we hope that they will change overnight and do the right things? It is like a priest telling a thief to stop stealing and the heavenly treasures will become his.
Southerners will have to put up for the next five years with the past events. The next five years will witness the fattening of the foreign accounts of individuals. The new policy will be corruption tolerance.
Donors are demanding accountability before they could help. Accountants were brought from the north to audit the accounts of GoSS; instead they were redundant. They were refused to look into the books of the government. Those who squandered the money of the south and bought houses abroad are the heroes of SPLM now. There is an outstanding bill of 1.5 million dollars for accommodation in Juba for government organized workshops that the donors are getting concern of.
SPLM after the convention lacks the political will to lead the south into any meaningful future. NCP has even known the weakness of SPLM and are strategizing on ways how to deal with future situations.
There are two instances which showed the weaknesses. First is the pulling out of SPLM from the government of GONU in September 2007. After the reshuffle and removal of Dr. Lam Akol from FM, the other demands were dropped and SPLM resumed business as usual.
The second is the question of census. GoSS through the council of ministers refused to participate in the census because of exclusion of religion and tribe from the census forms. The Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha went on TV and criticized the move by SPLM justifying why the south should participate because their leaders had earlier approved the forms. All of a sudden, there was of change of heart by the leadership and the census went ahead in the south.
The concept of New Sudan may not be very clear to people in the south if it went on as explained. The concept seems to advocate for unity of the Sudan and should the southerners wish to separate then they vote in a referendum by 2011. Then should this brief explanation be the case then the convention has confirmed in the leaders that will work for unity of the Sudan than for separation.
In two instances, the secretary-general and his deputy suggested confederation as the best solution for the Sudan. That indicates the confirmed leaders will re-negotiate CPA in due course.
Southerners should now look into their future from the past. No miracles will happen. Come 2011, either we go in for the next war or live in a unified Sudan under the northern government since our current leaders will secure positions of power within government in a power and wealth sharing and SPLA becomes a renegade militia in the south.
Southerners will be assumed by the international community as trouble makers, corrupt and are not able to rule themselves in a separate country. Many of the returnees are disappointed because of lack of basic services in their home areas and thus decided to go back to the north. The confirmed leaders are now celebrating their victory that they have become a political party. But political party that does not deliver basic services and development is nothing.
A weak SPLM will not make it in the coming elections since the SPLM-Communist members will go back to their original party and some southerners from NCP who became or joined the SPLM tactically will definitely go back. In short, the convention did not unite the south.
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