August 4, 2011: It must have been a very daunting task for the president of the Republic of South Sudan to try to break with the past, in selecting the members of the new National Assembly. Balancing the factors for success and meeting the demands of ever increasing pressure to accommodate the old guards with the expectations of the people of South Sudan will continue to dog the president for sometime to come. This is unique, especially, when the need for consensus building is out-weighing all other pertinent issues, such as democracy, rule of law, delivery of basic services and reducing corruption.
The presidential decrees appointing the new Transitional National Assembly and the Council of States for the Republic of South Sudan is an indication that what is old is all new again. With this in mind, two streams of thoughts emerged in mind as I read through the two decrees:
Stream one; it reincarnated the nightmare that all will be the same, specially, when those who were implicated or suspected in corrupt practices are welcomed back with open arms to serve in ever influential positions in the government. Much elaboration will not do much here, or bringing up the names of people who were implicated will not suffice to make the changes that we so sorely need in order to break with the past. However, for reference’s sake, please review the list of those appointed for the Council of States, to make your own judgement.
Stream two; here, the author is going on a wild (but real) goose chase, to extrapolate on the decision to reintroduce old guard as saviours of the New Republic is not only to accommodate, but to also silence them in order to allow for the smooth transition, transformation and consolidation of the power and influence in the hands of ever increasingly worried power brokers in Juba; and, to avoid any discontent from the returnees of the South Sudan political class that have been disenfranchised from Khartoum as a result of the Independence on July 9th 2011.
But, how can the President be comfortable with recycling the old guards into the political domain of the New Republic, without looking into the potential for change as he correctly asserted during the independence celebration address to the nation and the world alike? And, how effective will these old guards be in implementing the programs that the President has initiated through his address to the nation at the inception of the Republic? And if in the many years since 2005, they have worked so hard to undermine the President through lackluster performances, among other things, as ministers, opposition figures and down right as enemies of the state, with regard to those who served under the umbrella of the NCP proper. What change will they bring?
I hope the president thought through all these scenarios before he initialed the decrees to bring to prominence those names of the politicians. If these questions have not been considered or contemplated, the president will surely be undermining his own legacy as a leader that worked so cautiously to steer the South through into independence. It seems as if the President has been highly reluctant to move beyond the interim period and the failures associated with it, for the sole purpose of accommodation, a hallmark of his success in buying time to achieve independence. But who will buy this same politics now that we are free?
As a citizen of South Sudan, I want to see the President succeed in his efforts to bring hope for a better future with infusion of fresh minds and ideas; guidance in service delivery; steady and accountable government; impartial legal system; and best amongst all, influential and effective institutional governance that we can all boast about.