Authoritarianism in the Twenty First Century
By Hon. James Pui Yak.
April 16, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — If you read through the official books of the government of the Republic of south Sudan you will be made to believe the government of the country is democratic, but the reality is that the government is authoritarian in the sense of the word. In fact, some experts some of whom are sons and daughters of south Sudan who are adept in the institutional as well as constitutional making process labored extensively to prepare these official books in the period leading to the country independence in the hope that they would be translated into tangible practical institutions. To the surprise of many these documents were later rendered dysfunctional by the country President who chose the Autocratic and Authoritarian system of governance spurning the lofty ideals of democracy enshrined in those official documents.
Authoritarianism is a system of governance that had predominated in the past centuries at the time when human being was struggling to shape and refine the governance system that would suit the aspirations of the ordinary man. Historically, Authoritarianism was a system of governance widely used by Feudal lords, Monarchs and Autocrats as it was the perfect system that inherently allows them to suppress their subjects in order to extract compliance necessary for running the machineries of the system at the time. However, from the Eighteen century to the present most states of the world abandoned this system since it is associated with too many vices consider to be inhumane in an era when human being is almost reaching the apex of civilization.
Today the states that still cherishes this oppressive system of governance including the Republic of south Sudan are implicitly and explicitly suggesting that they have not yet come of age to embrace the idea of democracy which had been empirically experimented and accepted as the best though not the perfect since there is no perfect political system yet in the world. Inasmuch as Democracy is a system founded on the Ideals of the rule of law, transparent & accountable government, respect for human rights and a responsible government that place itself at the service of its citizens that is why it has become so ubiquitous that many believes it is the right system from among the multiple systems of governance ever adopted by human being in the recorded history.
Despite the political rhetoric in Juba that the system in south Sudan is democratic, yet its actions which few of them are highlighted here illustrates the type of government in existence in the country. Accordingly, base on those actions the reader is free to judge whether the government is democratic or authoritarian as some may think this is a premeditated media campaign to tarnish the government image.
Civil liberties including individual human rights are virtually nonexistence. The bills of rights enshrined in the country constitution are mere commitment on paper but not actual laws that are respected in real life by the government and this had created social injustice of unimaginable scale where individual rights are curtailed on day to day basis.
Opposition to the system is a risky affair because if you don’t play it carefully it can cause you your life. The security apparatus are always very vigilant against possible critics to the government and they have arbitrary power to arrest, torture, Lynch and assassinate as they wish because the government license them to carry out those actions without any fear. It is therefore a policy that the opposition must be intimidated and harass to sow fear in its midst and if need be silence their voices by eliminating the most active among them.
There is pervasive corruption which the government deliberately instituted so that social stratification is created in the society. In order to execute this policy the officials running the government especially those who come from the President home area are allow to embezzle the government fund with impunity thereby making them the most affluent section of the society. This economic privilege could be seen from the lavish life style these men and women are leading. Ultimately, this economic disparity in the country has created two distinct classes of the HAVES and the HAVES NOT.
Since coming to power, the President has divided the people of south Sudan along tribal lines and there is nowhere this is clearer than in the government institutions. The Dinka are controlling most government institutions at the national level and the rest of the tribes sit under trees in the country capital while some toils under the hot sun trading in dollars in order to earn a living. Any attempt to cultivate the sense of nationalism does not only prove difficult but also impossible because the Dinka members whom the government gives some favors believe they are the masters of the nation who should not equal the rest of the citizens.
The president had completely refused to give way to others in the leadership and as a result he is employing every tactics including breaking the law to remain in power. Examples when he fell out with the governors of Lakes and Unity states instead of considering it a normal situation in politics, he decided to dishonor the constitution by removing these elected governors and replaced them with caretaker governors who were his supporters. Though, the constitution says in the event an elected official is removed an election has to be organized after sixty days but this had never happened. It is however unclear whether the caretaker governors are still caretakers or became fully mandated governors now that the sixty days deadline is already over.
When the President removed his then deputy Dr Riek Machar and appoint in his place Mr. James Wani Igga he threatened the national assembly that they would risk walking the streets of juba if they do not vet into office his newly appointed vice president. Of course walking the streets implies he will dissolve the national assembly and the members would become jobless and wander about the streets of the capital Juba.
During the election of Mannaseh Magok Rundial as the speaker of the national assembly replacing the outgoing speaker James Wani, the President in a meeting held at the parliament premises forced the SPLM caucus in the national assembly to elect Magok and nobody else because that is his only favor nominee. In so doing, the President not only undermines the sense of democracy in the nation political system, but also the electoral procedures in the national parliament.
In the light of the enumerated facts, the question one need to pose is when south Sudan would become democratic? If you refer to the statement made by EX President George W Bush when he lamented the situation in south Sudan I quote “the whole thing is a mess, how the hell they would manage this young nation” unquote you will concur with the President that the sun will never dawn in south Sudan as long as the current president remain in power. The truth of the matter is that President Kiir does not utterly know where to begin and where to end. The man landed in the country top seat by cheer luck and it is a well known fact that he does not have the require competence that would enable him run this country and that is why the country slide into tribal and political rifts right from its inception.
The ineffectiveness and inefficiency that characterizes the government institutions in south Sudan is attributed to the obvious lack of vision and competence of the political leadership to translate policies into daily practical realistic activities. The system is perfect in its design but lack only practicality in its implementation especially in the rules and policies promulgated to run the machineries of the government. Despite, its short comings in the area of governance, the country leadership particularly the president resist reforms by pretending to have the knowhow while he does not have the cue of knowledge in this direction.
Nevertheless, the emergence of the so called “Jieng council of elders” which of late had come to represent the invisible decision making body in the country is a clear testimony that the country leadership having dismally failed to steer the country reverted to this notorious tribal cohorts for advice leaving the supposedly formal institutions mandated for this kind of task redundant and dysfunctional. What meaningful advice this tribal council could give beyond their narrow tribal whims. It is ridiculous to place one tribe above sixty three tribes to decide for them when these tribes are all independent social entities and the only thing that binds them together is the political territory called south Sudan.
Finally, sincerely speaking, this unfortunate situation could only be reverse if all south Sudanese rise above their narrow tribal interests and together rally behind the country interest. Ultimately, this entail calling spade a spade. We must all accept that the President is incompetent and therefore is dully responsible for all the ills that beset this country. South Sudanese should not accept to be fool into accepting bad governance simply because those who run that government are our Kith and kin. If we do not criticize bad deeds by the government but only support them this would not only cause us our journey toward democracy but it will entrench a tribal system which will be an indelible curse for this nation for the generations to come.
The answer to all these is to change the current leadership with an able leadership that would address the entire country problems and avoid plunging the country into tribal enclaves similar to the situation that existed in Somalia. South Sudanese do not deserve an authoritarian government in the twenty first century where individual liberty not only matter but is the cornerstone of the governance system itself and also where man adventure into the outer space exploring the infinite universe for signs of life beyond our reach.