The Politics of Civil Society Alliances in South Sudan

Posted: October 5, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Wenne Madyt Dengs

By Wenne Madyt Dengs, Bor, South Sudan


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September 4, 2017 (SSB) — A civil society, according to different scholars, philosophers, and political commentators/analysts is defined as a social organization which addresses and represents grassroots needs and as well as voicing untold issues which disturb the locals as its key role in becoming the voice of the voiceless.

In context with contemporary South Sudan brittle political status, the roles of civil society alliance deserve high mentioning to ensure that they correct all the necessary affiliations which deter their trust, confidence, and stance in serving various communities in the severing republic of South Sudan. The key responsibilities which underpin the actual execution of independent bodies like civil society alliance and other organizations of equivalent authoritativeness are to raise their voices in airing all the impending and unaddressed issues which are stabbing the nation in the back.

A civil society alliance of any country should be known for stepping into areas where the government has not been able to meet the needs of citizens; involved in the representation of citizens, advocacy and technical input for initiatives to reduce poverty, capacity building, service delivery and community organization.

In other words, a civil society alliance should be reported to have a large impact on government initiatives by influencing policy and program implementation, and rising up to be recognized as “the voice of the poor”. It’s active participation in advocating for reforms in national policies and influencing decision making should be on the rise especially as the number of underserved poor populations. The alliance should empower all the grassroots CSOs to position themselves to monitor state government and to demand accountability for the use of funds.

Today’s political systems of representative government are themselves the outcome of previous civil society organizations. If these systems were fully responsive to everyone’s needs, there would be no need for civil society organizations, but this possibility seems remote. For political systems to co-opt civil society organizations, civil society organizations would need to become part of the system, with techniques such as strikes, boycotts, and sit-ins becoming part of the normal political process – a prospect as radical today. When that happens, we can anticipate that new forms of civil society organizations will arise, challenging the injustices of the system is in place.

The action of a civil society alliance’s activists goes beyond conventional politics, typically being more energetic, passionate, innovative, and committed. In systems of representative government like in the Republic of South Sudan, conventional politics includes election campaigning, voting, passing laws, and lobbying politicians. Then the action of civil society organizations in South Sudan will be outside of these areas which include neighborhood organizing, protest marches, and sit-ins. Although the boundary between civil society organizations and unusual politics in South Sudan which is blurry due to lack of understanding of global modern politics, the civil society bodies should never give up. They have to keep on enlightening citizens so that they know their rights, and also know what the government requires from them in return.

Civil Society Organizations should have strong advocacy, it should be a top-down approach which consists in influencing authorities and impacting their policy-making process by expressing cultural, spiritual, political, social, environmental and ethical concern. Advocacy can take the form of counter-power actions and protests. This includes notably bringing issues to the agenda through awareness campaigns and strategies. But it can also be a cooperation between CSOs and authorities as the latter consult civil society and incorporate its propositions in its policy-making process.

This top-down approach is mainly used when CSOs act at a national level (by influencing government). But in some cases, it can also be local actions sometimes like “community building” activities, especially in the culture and recreation sector. The current trend of advocacy for CSOs is to try to define their objectives beyond specific advocacy goals. Most of the advocacy CSOs should define their ultimate goal around the concept of democracy building, which mainly consists in giving voice to the people and create a citizen’s governance.

In South Sudan where rule of law is breached, the vital function of Civil Society Organization in peacebuilding and conflict mitigation, education, community development and health promotion has to be high; Civil Society Organizations should be recognized as a vehicle for strengthening services delivery at the national and local levels. The role of CSOs and other service providers has been outlined in the transitional constitution which aims to revitalize community wellbeing in South Sudan and to strengthen service delivery at local level.

The urban poor who live in dreary settlements is dealing with high levels of poverty and poor health outcomes due to limited access to social services. There is little or no presence of public social services such as schools, health facilities, roads, and water and sanitation infrastructure. Surprisingly, with such low levels of government presence in these underserved areas, there is immediate for CSOs to engage public and government in the informal settlement in all urban centers in the country.

There are hundreds of CSOs in South Sudan who have deviated from their actual roles due to conflict of interest within their top managements.  It is unclear what factors limit the CSOs from making the observable impact on services delivery among the communities they serve.

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The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from, plus a concise biography of yourself.

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