By David Deng Chapath, Kampala, Uganda
February 6, 2017 (SSB) — One of the major problems facing South Sudan today is the lack of understanding of the concept of government. South Sudanese in general turn to personalize the government whenever they have had an opportunity to work in it. This is why many politicians turn to stick the government and if possible they can even use force to retain the posts in the government.
The clear examples are what we see every day around us in South Sudan. For instance, one of the causes of the current war in South Sudan is to a greater extent attributable to the removal of Riek Machar, Majak Agoot, Pagan Amum, Giir Chuang and others.
The removal of the above individuals was seen as wrong because of the way they understand the politics and the government. The ideal definition of the government is that the government is a group of people that governs a community or unit. The government sets and administers public policy and exercises executive, political and sovereign power through customs, institutions, and laws within a state.
The government can be classified into many types–democracy, republic, monarchy, aristocracy, and dictatorship are just a few. What distinguishes the government from any other organization is its independence.
The government is an independent organization which only retains those who works for its interests. In order to get those who are capable to serve the government there must be politics. Politics is the process of making decisions applying to all members of each group. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance.
The governance is the organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that “politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community (a usually hierarchically organized population) as well as the interrelationship(s) between communities”.
However, that does not mean that the communities must protect politicians who are not protecting the interest of the government. Hence, the communities must not get very much involved into politics to the extent of incapacitating the political decision-makers from making appropriate decisions and policies for the government.
The above point gives the definition of politics as the art of promoting or forcing one’s own political views on people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws, and exercising force, including warfare against adversaries. It means that if the communities have become an obstacle to the policies of the government then the government has all rights to impose its views on people where they do not know their best interest.
Because of that politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states, to the international level in order to create coordination and give smooth running of the government.
Hence, the common saying is that politics is about power. A political system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods within a given society. History of political thought can be traced back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as Plato‘s Republic, Aristotle‘s Politics and the works of Confucius.]
As referred to above, there are two types of politics: Formal and informal politics. Formal Politics refers to the operation of a constitutional system of government and publicly defined institutions and procedures. Political parties, public policy or discussions about war and foreign affairs would fall under the category of Formal Politics. As it has been correctly pointed out, many people view formal politics as something outside of themselves, but that can still affect their daily lives.
Informal Politics is understood as forming alliances, exercising power and protecting and advancing particular ideas or goals. Generally, this includes anything affecting one’s daily life, such as the way an office or household is managed, or how one person or group exercises influence over another. Informal Politics is typically understood as everyday politics, hence the idea that “politics is everywhere
However, as already pointed out above, the politicians of South Sudan have not understood the meaning of politics and the government, which complicates the matters in South Sudan. In South Sudan, politics and government are understood in a monarchical way. In other words, politicians look at the political post as their inherent rights and don’t expect to be removed from them.
When they are removed from power they see it as a move against them and their communities. As a result, the communities are brought to the centre stage of ethnic and identity politics. This is because communities rally behind their politicians. This leaves the issue of the national interest at the hedge of politics.
Therefore, the interests of politicians are above the national interests in South Sudan and if not handled with care, the interests of politicians can crush the nation as seen in the removal of Riek Machar and others. Today South Sudan is blooding partly because of the removal of the politicians from power and the whole thing goes back to the fact that the politicians have not understood the concept of government and politics.
The government as I have already pointed out is an independent organization that works only with those who serve its interests, which implies that those who have contrary interests from the government deserve to be removed and they are expected to abide by that removal.
In politics and government, there is nothing like inherent right in regard to political posts. Political posts are temporary and they are held as long as a person is useful in that post. As soon as the person becomes a liability to the government, then the government has all right to remove that person without any reasons. This is in particular associated to the ministries and other posts at the same levels.
The failure in South Sudan to understand the concept of government as an independent entity and politics as the way of running the government has caused many problems and it is going to be a long term problem in South Sudan unless we change our mentality and attitudes towards politics.
The President of the Republic of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, is the head of the government and has a right to remove any politicians that do not serve the people of South Sudan. However, South Sudanese politicians’ understanding of the government and politics always put him in dilemma.
This is because politicians turn to use force when they are removed and also mobilize their communities to stand with them. If the president leaves such politicians in power they misappropriate national resources and later mobilize their communities who turn around and complain that the president is weak for allowing bad politicians to misuse the resources.
In addition, some politicians work in the fields which are not related to their qualifications as long as there is money in those fields. What makes matters even worse is the fact that they do not have interests in those works but they remain there to milk the nation with limited resources.
The interest in work can help a person perform better this was in the case of General Paul Malong Awan was able to defeat rebels because he was qualified to be Chief of General Staff and at the same time he has interest in his work.
In summary, what I wanted to say is that for South Sudan to achieve peace, we must change our mentality, attitudes and understanding of the government. We must learn that government is an independent entity and working with the government as minister or secretary general is a privilege not human rights.
The politicians and all of us in South Sudan must get the message clear that the political posts are not for the communities but for the individuals who are capable of serving the government and protect its interests.
NB//: the author is South Sudanese Students staying in Uganda and can be reached through: email@example.com
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