Lack of Ideology, Moral Politics and the Rule of Law: The Cause of South Sudanese Problems
By Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda
March 25, 2017 (SSB) — Six years ago South Sudanese overwhelmingly voted for separation from Sudan after over forty years of struggle for independence. Thus, independence made South Sudan become a sovereign state.
In that regard, when we talk of State sovereignty we mean the State responsibility and because of that responsibility the state has a primary duty to protect its citizens, which lies with the state itself (see “The Report of the International Commission on Responsibility of States to protect and Intervention and State Sovereignty,” December 2001)
Sadly six years down the road, South Sudan has lost the road as it has fallen into some of kind of a military dictatorship (though it is not a typical military government) that retains power through the use of political violence, kidnappings, and other oppressive tactics. These tactics are used solely to protect and maintain the interest of the cliques that have held the government and the president hostage in order to continue sacking the blood of South Sudanese amidst ruthless and aimless war.
Thus, South Sudanese are now trapped in war, famine and potential genocide though the beneficiaries of the war do not like to hear the word “genocide”. I would have explained the meaning of genocide and how it is likely to come about in South Sudan but because it is not the focus of this work, I will preserve it for another article in future and beg the readers to continue with the discussion as indicated by the title of this article: the problems of South Sudan, which are caused by lack of ideology, true politics and the rule of law.
In that respect, the recent report on South Sudan’s war, famine and potential genocide by the Enough Project entitled “How The World’s Newest Country Went Awry: South Sudan’s war, famine and potential genocide” properly summarizes describes the State of South Sudan as a “den of thieves,” in which battles by profiteers over power and the corrupt spoils of power, including an “oil-fueled gravy train,” have fueled endless cycles of conflict.
In addition, the same report of Enough Project cited above pointed out that the current war is the cause the famine due to the war and political violent, which is likely to result into genocide. This is because as report puts it “The competing kleptocratic factions are fighting over a lucrative prize: control of the state, which in turn brings control over oil and other natural resource revenues, patronage networks, some foreign aid, massive corruption opportunities, immunity from prosecution and accountability, control over the army and other security organs, the ability to control or manipulate banks and foreign exchange, the opportunity to manipulate government contracts, and the chance to dominate the commercial sector”.
As described in the above paragraph, conflict has become a source of income for the political elites and hence, are not interested in seeing peace prevailing in South Sudan. As the above report puts it, it is undeniable fact that the current situation in Sudan is current famine in South Sudan is caused by a violent, greed-fueled by kleptocratic system, in which institutions of accountability have been deliberately undermined, and dissenting voices within the messed State called South Sudan are not tolerated. The youth are sidelined, and instead, are used as killing machines by different competing individuals for power.
Looking at the report cited above which explains the problems of war, famine and likelihood of genocide facing the country currently, the immediate question that comes in mind is: what is the problem or what causes all these problems in South Sudan? The simple answer is that all the problems facing South Sudan now have their genesis in the lack of ideology, moral politics and the rule of law.
As I discussed in the last article entitled No Ideology, No Country: the Problems of South Sudan, I exhaustively explained in details the role of ideology in nation building and development of the Country. The argument that I put forward in that article is that without ideology there is no country as the ideology helps the country to progress towards the desired goals in nation building and the improvement of the welfare of citizens.
However, for the benefit of those who might have not come across my article as I referred to in the above paragraph, it is imperative to draw their attention to the fact that an ideology means philosophical direction of a country, which is important for the country as it provides for the direction and guidelines which the state must follow to achieve short and long term goals. For example, the American ideology is summarized by the phrase the “American Dream”.
The “American Dream” guides the USA government in ensuring that all American people achieve their dreams of liberty, freedom, equality and many other good things for Americans. Therefore, capitalism as a known ideology for America is only used by the Government of the USA as a means to achieve the end which is called “American Dream.”
Thus, where the country is run on proper ideology guided by the interest of the state and citizens, then a true, moral or proper politics develops. The true or moral politics is the politics that puts the nation interest above individuals. Hence, where there is a conflict between individual personal political preference and that of a country itself, then those individuals who have political ideology different from the state are supposed to resign from the politics. This is the basis for which some politicians resign or are forced to resign from politics or from the government.
As pointed out above, moral politics is supposed to guide the nation towards achieving the interest of the people which was supposed to have been the case in South Sudan. Nonetheless, in South Sudan as we see today, there is lack of ideology which has resulted into the lack of proper or moral politics and absence of the rule of law as the three are interrelated. How the three are interrelated shall be explained later in this work.
But, the lack of ideology in South Sudan is the cause of ill-conceived and bad politics. Hence, politics in South Sudan is mixed with personal interest and because of that the government, political party and politicians are inseparable, which complicates the issues of governance in South Sudan.
In other words, due to the misconception of politics which is perceived as personal, the Government of South Sudan is run on patron-clientelism. This is ‘a patronage network that binds both patron and client together in a system of exchange in which the relationship is mutually beneficial but at the same time the power, control and authority lie with patron (see; peace and Conflict in Africa edited by David J. Francis p.10)’
In relation to the above paragraph and in relation to South Sudan, politics is based on patron-client relationship, which is replicated at different levels, including local, national and international, and between individuals, groups, communities and states. This is seen in Juba and in various states in South Sudan, which is a mode of governance. This mode of governance though it is bad it is not easy to eradicate as they feed into and support each other.
The type of politics discussed above comes about due to the lack of political ideology. Lack of political ideology causes messy or bad politics characterized by the systems of governance, which involve the exercise of political authority based on an individual wishes, which is further used to serve the private and vested interests of the state power-holders, including the ruling and governing elites. Hence, in such a state of affairs, the state resources are used for personal benefits and in oppression of the citizens to protect personal interests by authorities.
In the kind of system, as cited the above paragraph, the State governing institutions are appropriated, used, subverted, privatized, informalized and subordinated to the interests of the personalized ruler, the regime in power and its supporters as seen under the SPLM Government headed by President Kiir in South Sudan.
Therefore, in the country where the system as described above is adopted, there is no always a distinction between the public and the private sphere of governance and the political ascendancy as well as individual preferment is based on loyalty to the power holder. Hence, the power-holder such as the president emerges not only as a personalized ruler and the prime purveyor of patrimonial resources (public resources) but also commands monopoly over all formal political activity, whereby the formal state and governmental institutions are subordinated to the ruler’s vested and strategic interests.
In truth, the state where the ruler personalizes the system, there are always organized criminal activities in the form of informalization and privatization of state governing institutions in which large scale of corruptions and fraud are legalized or carried with impunity against the citizens.
Innocent citizens who protest against bad governance or corruption as referred to above become criminals while the true criminals such as government officials who steal government resources perceive themselves innocent and prosecuted. So, they end up organizing criminal activities sanctioned under the state laws and enforced by the State security apparatuses that go around tracking down patriotic citizens who complain against the misuse of state resources and power.
In addition, when they feel threaten and see the threat against their power, they form private militias and also privatize civil war that helps them remain in power in the pretext of protecting national interest, and consequently, there is a growth in an economy of plunder, and the ‘re-traditionalization of society’ through the use of witchcraft and occult practice in governance as seen in various government institutions in South Sudan.
The emergency and existence of the problems in South Sudan as discussed above are due to the lack of strong political ideology and the rule of law that should have guided South Sudanese leaders to lead the country to the desired direction in its development.
As mentioned above, the rule of law in simple language means the supremacy of the law. In other words, it refers to the situation where the authorities base their administrative decisions on law and everything done by the authorities must be done in accordance with the principles of law in their areas of administration and which must be in line with the Constitution.
Thus, ideology, politics and the rule of law are intertwined or closely connected. This is because where one of them is weak then the other two are weakened or become ineffective and by implication, citizens become the victims of bad governance.
In this respect, bad governance is the product of the absence of law or the rule of law. Where there is no law, there is always uncertainty and uncertainty creates anxiety among the citizens and where the citizens always experience anxiety caused by uncertainty in the governance, the citizens lose confidence in their leaders and hence politics experiences mayhem and eventual political crisis as seen in South Sudan.
Due to the lack ideology in South Sudan, there is no true or politics guided by morals and because of that the law has become an enemy to the leaders. The overall consequence of the absence of law in South Sudan is the outbreak of civil war and famine which have created a hell for South Sudan’s people. But at the same time it has created bloody and lucrative businesses for the country’s leaders and other commercial collaborators, i.e. South Sudan’s war profiteers” to the use the language of Enough Project Report.
Moreover, the absence of the rule of law caused by lack of ideology and lack of true politics has made the war crimes a source of income for South Sudanese warlords or leaders as it pays. This is because there is no accountability for the atrocities and looting of state resources that has resulted into the current famine and starvation facing the nation. As you read this article, thousands of South Sudanese are imminent danger of starvation caused by corruption within the system as it is the system itself, which is corrupt and which is the very purpose of the state of South Sudan.
In South Sudan, as the Enough Project found, the leading accelerator of the conflict is greed-fueled by kleptocracy in which state institutions have been hijacked by a network of individuals who are working hard to rich themselves at the expense of masses. This group or network of people is composed of leaders and their commercial collaborators internally and internationally, backed by the use of extreme violence.
As a matter of fact, the network is composed of leading government officials, generals, businessmen, foreign investors, banks, oil and mining company representatives, money transfer entities, and others connected to the international financial system. The automatic result as expected is the disempowerment and destruction of the viability of the state institutions that are supposed to hold leaders accountable. This is because all the parties involve want to avoid both accountability and transparency and then the National Security apparatuses comes in to brutally suppress all forms of dissent and independent expression or political activity against the corrupt leaders.
Besides the above, the insecurity experienced by corrupt politicians makes them not have confidence in national security and because of that they begin recruiting ethnic-based militias and armed to attack the communities perceived to be opponents to political leaders and their political mischief. Of course, there is need for fairness here, the use of militias goes back to the time of the British colonial and Khartoum regimes era, when identities were politicized, just as the Belgians did in colonial Rwanda, establishing ‘tribal authorities. However, that does not absolve the government of South Sudan as it has a primary duty to transform the society.
As pointed out above, tribal groups are recruited and dressed in the national army uniform to send the message that they are members of national army while other citizens join rebellion not because they want regime change and promote national ideology and the rule of law but they want to eliminate one ethnic group in the country.
Consequently, soldiers in the government and rebels in the bush are killed without accountability in the process of defending the national government without national agenda and rebels are killed in defense of their tribal interests threatened by the interests of the government officials. Hence, the country becomes divided and also a loser on both sides.
Sadly enough, after the soldiers or rebels have been killed in defense of the national government without national agenda or in defense of their tribal interests in the bush, no one among the leaders whether in the government or in the bush cares for the widows and children of those killed, so the war becomes most expensive and demanding venture.
Since there is no one who cares for the children and widows for those fallen soldiers, majority of the members of the army have lost patriotism and becomes mercenaries hence the army becomes a bunch of undisciplined group of individuals.
In summary, it is important to point out that due to the lack of ideology, proper or moral politics and the rule of law, the SPLM government has lost the objectives of which they SPLM of 1983-2005 was founded on. Because of that, if the SPLM/A of 1983-2005 were to meet face to face with the SPLM of 2017, they will shoot at each other because the SPLM of 1983-2005 will think that we are still under the Sudan rule.
The SPLM of 2017 is ideologically corrupt and seriously dictatorial which has put it in terrible mess and this means that there is a need for radical change in the SPLM political structure. There is a need for honesty to tell the leadership of the SPLM that the party is now in bad shape or political intensive care unit and because of that there is a need for restructuring of the SPLM in order for it to survive.
In addition, President Kiir should be informed that what he is told by the cliques around him in the state house is different from what is on the ground. The President should know that whereas he has weakened the rebels, he has completely lost control over the security of the country and citizens are in grave danger of death.
The president must also know that for South Sudan to be saved from falling apart there is a need for compromise. To compromise is part of ideology strategy because where there is ideology leaders are ready to compromise in order to agree on the ideological framework and development.
Finally, this article suggests a suggestion that the president does not want to hear but for the sake of South Sudan, the article points out and suggests that the President is no longer capable of leading the country and there is a need for him to prepare a strong person within the party that can save the SPLM from natural death or disappearance from the political scene.
If the President does not listen to this advice he must prepare for the collapse of the country and if the country collapses and citizens get finished then what was the purpose of liberating South Sudan and South Sudanese?
NB//: the author is South Sudanese Human Rights lawyer, a graduate from Makerere University, School of law and can be reached through: email@example.com/+256783579256
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