“Waiting to Exhale”: South Sudan and the Cabinet Re-shuffle.

David Majok

July 29th 2013
The not so anticipated shake up in the government of South Sudan is finally here. Though it seemed like something would not happen, the writing on the wall was clear. As well, given the increased in-party struggle to set the tone on the future of the country, the shake up was highly needed. Two issues were concurrently addressed by the President’s decision to sack all the ministers and Vice President. The stagnant performance of the last government and the infighting in the leadership incapacitated the prospects for change. The president in his decrees wanted to address both of the problems at once and clear the path for the SPLM convention so that those who are currently voicing concern over his leadership are forewarned of the road ahead. However, looking at the two issues concurrently hinders the level of analysis that is required to set the record straight. As such, analysing decision in relations to the operation of governance is relevant in this climate for change.

First, given the failure of the last cabinet in meeting the expectation of South Sudanese after the independence and the sagging popularity of the SPLM was a major reason for the change. The last government that was formed post-independence was a consensus based government that was meant to bring a wider array of political forces together for the purpose of governing. Conceptually, it was a great idea; however, fiscally, it was a great scheme of paying lip service to a lot of politicians who are unproductive and have no proven track record. The drag of this concept was apparent on what the cabinet was able to accomplish since its inception. Very little can be attributed to these group of ministers.

Yes, we may argue that the shut down of oil affected the potentials of the last cabinet; however, one would argue that politically, these group of ministers still could have improvised and looked for alternative policies that relied less on income from oil. This would have secured their place in history of re-engineering alternatives to the state of institutional, economic, political and social development in the nation. The reality has proven otherwise and the change was highly overdue.

Now, the nation is “waiting to exhale” after what had happened. People are waiting to see what will the President do to instill hope in the people of South Sudan that his new government will reignite the passion with which the people saw the new nation’s independence on July 9th 2011. Because it is normal for the people of South Sudan, whether at home or in the diaspora to hope for better than what was. And highest on the list of what need to be addressed is the issue of corruption. It is something that people can see its results right away, by bringing the implicated to justice. And what we expect is that there be a more robust application of law instead of rule by committee. Because we have seen over the last few months was, what rule by committee can really achieve. It achieves nothing! Why? Reviewing the performance of all the committees that were ordered into being, their main aims were to establish a political investigation and not a legal one. Hence, their work and its outcome were confined within the realm of political reprehension instead of legal accountability. As a result, this only says that our legal system, which is a far better instrument for addressing the issues of law is sidelined.

It also says that people who are entrusted with applying the law within these institutions of governance cannot be trusted with investigating and applying the law as is prescribed under the constitution. It also clearly informs those who are concerned with the future of our nation that concentrating power in the hands of few is the only way to answer our many problems, is problematic. Here, I would argue that if the future government empowers the legal system and provides it with the right powers, it will function the way it was intended to function. However, if the new government is intended to function like its predecessors, the likelihood that it will be meeting the same fate as the last cabinet is very high. Hence, the same predicament of ineffectual government will continue to be the on the track of discussion.

As such, the nation is waiting in anticipation on what the new government will add to the template of change that the president would like to bring. Would it be a government that is looking to recreate the past or chart a new course? The people of South Sudan would like to expect the president to form his government and provide the tools to his ministers to implement his policies and ideas about where he needs the nation to go. It is important that the people continue to see the president as a unifying figure for the nation. Thus, the president must not just look for consensus in the forming his government but also look at who would be able to implement his ideas of what our nation will look like in the next two years.

Now that the world is waiting along side all the South Sudanese, the anticipation for the appointment of Vice President and cabinet must really meet peoples’ expectation. Because, as many have already indicated, the measure is not on the decision to reshuffle the cabinet and removing the Vice President, but what the new cabinet will look like.

About dusouth

Passionate South Sudanese who is interested in advancing the cause of peace and new thinking into the political discourse in South Sudan.
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