By Junior William Deng, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
December 23, 2016 (SSB) — People are saying that the idea of national dialogue from the president is a good initiative but I believe an idea that doesn’t have premises is not good. It is a waste of time; energy, resources and knowledge. Thus, the idea is not a creation of the president, it is a creation of all the stakeholders. These are its limitations and recommendations.
- National dialogue is a brainchild of the ARCISS, Arusha Agreement and recent FDs national dialogue proposal, JMEC, IGAD and international community papers on solving South Sudanese conflict.
- Of course, President is the head of state of the Republic of South Sudan irrespective of political rivalry; he can pick any good idea from anybody or organization for the greatest good for all citizens, though he needs to consult all the stakeholders on how the initiative should be conceived, planned and executed in an inclusive manner with grassroots approach not from state approach;
- The grassroots or the country side is not under the influence of the state to some greater extent and this makes it hard to form a national dialogue committee without identifying local influential leaders and by extension categorizing them according to political affiliations. This would help warring parties to work harder and fast to identify themselves with masses and create conditions necessary for dialogue. This is largely ignored in this initiative and will not work without such fundamental involvement.
- Most of the imminent members in the list are official advisors of the president. Meaning that, their work and level of impartiality is staggering, minimal and will be risking the dialogue to produce the same advisory activities they have been rendering the President, most of which have led to current animosity in the country.
- President is not rightly informed that the current war is no longer war of the elites (Kiir, Riek, Pagan, Majak, Mama Rebecca, Kosti or Bakasoro), it has changed face into masses against elites: statesmen; members of parliament, clergies, business men and soldiers. The majority of President’s appointees are elites who have picked up a fight with the masses for failure to perform, corruption, lack of commitment and lack of touch with local population. This means, the masses will not accord the dialogue the audience and harmony needed for it success, so practically, it will be a usual business of nothing and it will fall hard in the face before the sun kisses Jebel Lado.
- National dialogue cannot be generated by the President who in the larger part is the problem. So, his self-elevation to be the patron of the dialogue is a ready crisis to any procession and progress of dialogue.
National dialogue should take the following dimensions:
- Political dimension
This takes us back to request all parties in Conflict to give in names of their participants. This gives them sense of belonging and by far will generate consensus on the ingredients of the dialogue in lieu of ARCISS, AA and FDs National dialogue proposal and all other parties’ objectives and resolutions toward the dialogue. Thus, anything constructed outside these premises is a hoax and doom to failure.
- Social dimension
As I said before, the war has changed it face and has gained traction against the elites. Masses are tired of the president, MPS, town councils, governors, business gurus and some imminent persons in the country. Thus, imposing these men and women to carry out the dialogue is not possible without listening to the masses.
These masses are political and certainly listen and follow certain political and social leaders. That said, ethnicities should be consulted on those whom they trust to be part of the national dialogue. This is about grievances and grievances need grassroots mobilization for permanent solution.
There should be concerted effort to allow tribes to engage with political parties they are affiliated to in order to generate consensus of the grievances through identification of shared grievances and individual grievances among them.
Failure to undertake an inclusive path for national dialogue will enhance dissension against the state and the dialogue team. The best criterion is to make sure both political and social dimensions are extensively given consideration in devoid of state presence.
The author, Junior William Deng, studied Master of Arts in Security & Strategic Studies at Nkumba University, Entebbe, Uganda and is currently a PhD student of Political Science at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Tanzania. You can reach him via his Facebook page here.
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