Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Morphophonemic Reforms in Thuɔŋjäŋ Orthography: An Excerpt from “Thuɔŋjäŋ Cïdmënde”

Morphophonemic Reforms in Thuɔŋjäŋ Orthography: An Excerpt from “Thuɔŋjäŋ Cïdmënde” (Click the PDF)

“Ideas are constructed in specific languages, and if we believe that ideas are important in development, in the determination of relations of wealth, power and values in a society, then … we cannot divorce issues of language and writing from issues of wealth, power and values” and as such, the contemporary African intellectuals “…will grow their roots in African languages and cultures. They will also learn the best they can from all world languages and cultures. They will view themselves as scouts in foreign linguistic territories and guides in their own linguistic space. In other words, they will take whatever is most advanced in those languages and cultures and translate those ideas into their own languages. They will see their role as that of doing for African languages and cultures what all writers and intellectuals of other cultures and histories have done for theirs”, Ngugi wa Thiong’o

By Alëw Majɔg Alëw, Malaysia


1.0 Introduction

Whereas Thuɔŋjäŋ is arguably one of the few written and well researched South Sudanese languages, a host of orthographic challenges remain unresolved. These challenges are rooted in the unmarked phonemes and inaccurate morphophonemic designations that emanated from earlier missionary work in the language. There is a general consensus among a handful of western linguists, who researched into the language, on the approach that any new orthographic reforms, necessary as most of them content, should follow.

Nevertheless, discussions and proposals for reforms have so far focused on mostly the vowel system (representation of tones and length, having had the breathiness aspect already settled by Dhuruai’s umlauted vowels). The morphophonemic anomalies which form part of the reforms proposed in “Thuɔŋjäŋ Cïdmëndë”, a radical proposal for a total revision and revam of Thuɔŋjäŋ orthography and grammar, have not been raised or addressed anywhere in the available literature on  the language. This note, an excerpt from “Thuɔŋjäŋ Cïdmënde”, provides a brief explanation and illustration on only the morphophonemic reforms on [b, p], [d, t], [dh, th], [k, g], [u, w] and [i, y] as codas in lone morphemes (or single basic word unit) and for [u, w] and [i, y] as nuclei (or median letters in words).

Credibility of these reforms

For the benefit of readers, I would like to, first and foremost, underline that I am not a linguist nor did I have a conventional training in this field to speak with authority on these proposed reforms. But usually linguists work with native speakers of a language in issues like these. Hence, as a passionate and analytical native speaker, I will attempt to illustrate the logic that necessitates these reforms which I believe are necessary to adopt if we are to retain the authenticity and ease the grammar of the language, Thuɔŋjäŋ. Radical as they may be, I hope they will be understandable and sensible to other native speakers.

Furthermore, the proposal on these reforms is a conclusion of observational and intuitive research work done with many Muɔnyjiëëŋ/Jiëëŋ; those who are literate in other languages as well as Thuɔŋjäŋ and those who are completely illiterate (only monolingual in spoken Thuɔŋjäŋ). While the former group may sometimes have their pronunciations corrupted under the influence of second langauges they are literate in, observations from the latter group remarkably manifest and support the validity of these reforms. It is therefore helpful to refer to this group where further investigations and substantiation are needed.

Another point to underscore is that, unlike dialect-specific spelling and other grammatical issues, these observations cut across all dialects and are in no way dialect constrained (at least as far as I have noted from my discussion with speakers of different dialects).


By Simon Deng Kuol Deng, New York, USA


Demo-cracy or Demo-crazy?

November 8, 2016 (SSB) — My political philosophy is rooted on high degrees of believing that God has created humans with the rights and responsibility to recognize the necessity of having kind of nation state and government as the repository of the power aimed at protecting their common interests. Humans used to distinguish the functions of the nation state and government as the functions of public affairs, which means that, they recognize themselves as the possessors of the nation state and government.

Furthermore, humans recognize the offices of the nation state and government as the public offices in which they have rights to delegate individuals who may be interested in doing the public works for consent fixed periods of time for the purposes of providing humans’ legal needs such as law and order, security needs such as national defense, economy needs such as trade and employment, and social needs such as health care and education. While, they used to consider or regard the functions of individuals outside the nation state and government as the private affairs.

The nation state and government offices have designed to remain the public trust for the reason that people entrust the public offices of the state nation and government to the individuals who are capable of responding to the people’s general needs. Thus, the nation state and government consider by people as the repository of power, which they delegate to the public officials for the purposes of protecting the common or public interests. People expect public officials to serve the public interest with fairness and also manage public resources properly on a daily basis.


Captain John Garang’s February 1972 letter to Ambassador Dominic Akech Mohammed

Southern Sudan, 5 February, 1972 

Dear Dominic:

Thank you for the correspondence you dispatched to this end on January 25th, instantly. Very lucky, I go them today from Kampala through the lorry. It is lucky because I am leaving tomorrow morning for the interior, about 500 miles footwork from where we last met and I will not be back for over 7 months, maybe more.

Find here enclosed a copy of a letter I wrote to General Lagu and the negotiations committee. I have handwritten it (it is 2:00 a.m) since I have packed my typewriter for tomorrow’s long journey. You may type it and if necessary you have my permission to use it BUT AFTER the negotiations ONLY so as not to prejudice the same. As you can see I am not in favor of these so-called negotiations nor do I have any illusions that much will come out of them. What is more, a settlement with the enemy at the present time is not in the best interests of the Southern Sudanese people, the Sudanese people and the African people for some of the reasons given in the attached seven page letter.


28 states of RSS

The 28 states of the Republic of South Sudan

July 7, 2016 (SSB) — In his remarks during a workshop in Juba attended by the spokesperson of Dr. Riek Machar and President Kiir press secretary Ateny Wek Ateny, General Paul Malong Awan declared that the national army will be restructured based on the policy of proportional representation of all ethnic communities of South Sudan.

Quoting the SPLA chief of general staff, Lt. Gen. Paul Malong Awan, this is how National Courier reports the news:

“BILPHAM: SPLA to adopt proportional representation to curtail tribal dominance. ‪The SPLA Chief of General Staff, LTGEN Paul Malong Awan has announced that the SPLA shall start implementing the policy of proportional representation. Lt. Gen Malong said, ‘I have agreed to transform the army to represent all ethnicities as per country population of tribes to avoid domination of army’ by any one given tribe. This means that the number of personnel of the SPLA of a given tribe shall reflect representative percentage in the overall population of that given tribe. For example, if Zande represents 5% of the entire population of South Sudan then the number of personnel of Zande origin in the SPLA shall be 5% of the entire army. This shall apply as well to the officer corps, where 5% of the entire officer corps shall be Zande etc.”

See “The Principle of Tribocracy (Part 3)”, section IV (for Dr. Riek Machar) and section V (for President Kiir), written in March 2015, for more information about the application of tribocracy to the national army (security quandary during the IGAD peace negotiation).

By David Mayen Ayarbior, Juba, South Sudan

our founding fathers, splm-a

Salva Kiir, John Garang, William Nyuon, Arok Thon and Kerubino Kuanyin

May 9, 2016 (SSB) —- Under this column (“Notes of Statecraft”) in the esteemed newspaper The Nation Mirror as-well-as on the esteemed online blog, I intend to sometimes post a few extracts from my 2013 book titled “House of War: Civil War and State Failure in Africa.”  This is motivated by the fact that not so many people have come across the book and my belief that knowledge sharing is the engine of social progress. The extracts bellow are from Chapter Three (Literature Review) where I engaged various perspectives of other writers on causes of state failure in Africa (Page 38-41). We can thus look at some sociostructural causes of state failure as viewed by a couple of African writers:

Said Adjumobi (2001), an African historian, attributes state failure in Africa to the structure of modern African states in which the main binding sociopolitical force between citizens is the institutionalization of ethnic entitlements rather than citizenship. He observes that the term nation-state suggests a collectivity of nationalities all bound together in a state through the tie of citizenship. Hence, he defines the institution of citizenship as, “that political artifact through which a state constitutes and perpetually reproduces itself as a form of social organization” (p.152).


Kenya is a cruel marriage, it’s time we talk divorce

By DAVID NDII, Nairobi, Kenya


Do Not Confuse a Camouflaged Call for Confederation for Call Federalism

March 28, 2016 (SSB)  —-  A decade ago, Prof Bethuel Ogot, one of the country’s towering intellectuals, pronounced the “Kenya project” dead. Kenya has never been a more distant idea than it is now at the beginning of the 21st Century. Nationalism is dead, replaced by sub-nationalism. The tribe has eaten the nation. Few years ago, the country exploded into an orgy of political violence.

There may be some people who will be wondering why Prof Ogot is talking about Kenya in terms of projects and ideas. Is Kenya not a concrete reality, an internationally recognised sovereign state?

Although the notion of a nation as an idea is an old one, it is Benedict Anderson’s 1983 book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism that offered the most cogent articulation of the concept, and in so doing shaped the contemporary study of nationalism.


What is Government in the View of Dr. John Garang? Dr. John Garang Talking to the SPLA Military Officers about Leadership and the Role of the Government in Readiness for the Post-CPA Era in the Republic of South Sudan


The Genius of Dr. John Garang: Speeches on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA); Paperback – November 26, 2015 by Dr. John Garang (Author), PaanLuel Wël (Editor)

November 27, 2015 (SSB)  —  With the advent of peace, comrades, we have reached a new phase of our armed struggle, a new phase of transforming the guns and the bullets—that is military power—into political power, and using the political power to achieve socio-economic development rapidly. This is because there is no meaning of revolution—the revolution is meaningless, unless it makes our people happy, unless the masses of our people, as a result of our glorious revolution, become prosperous.

Socio-economic prosperity quantifiable with the degree to which people go ahead and advance in their individual and communal lives: they get food, they get shelter, they get clean drinking water, they get healthcare services, they get social amenities, they get economic infrastructure such as roads, they get jobs and so forth. Unless we provide these essential services to our people, unless the revolution provide these things to our people, then the people will prefer the government of the NIF that provide salt to the government of the SPLM that does not provide anything to its people.

This is simple arithmetic: if the SPLM cannot deliver anything and we just shout REVOLUTION! REVOLUTION!; and yet the cattle of the people are not vaccinated; their children are not vaccinated or sent to school; there is nothing to eat, there are no roads, there are no basic necessities of life—there is no cloth, no needle, not even a razor blade—when the barest minimum of essential things of life are not available, then the people will drive us into the sea, even though there is no sea here, they will find one. Mind you, we have no other choice.


“…it is our survival that is at stake. Therefore, survival itself, if nothing else, will force us to fully implement this document.” —John Garang, January 2002 

John Garang, Salva Kiir, Riek Machar and James Wani Igga

John Garang, Salva Kiir, Riek Machar and James Wani Igga

“”…To your question about whether we, Dr. John Garang and Dr. Riek Machar, are now really reconciled and reunited and whether we are therefore going to honor this peace agreement unlike the 1993 Washington Agreement that you said to have been dishonored by us: well, maybe you have a point to doubt, but at least your doubts should start to go away because here we are in front of you and in front of the international media…With respect to whether we are going to honor this agreement, unlike the 1993 Washington Agreement, my answer is YES, we are serious to abide by it. The agreement does not belong to us, both leadership of the two movements, it belongs to you; it belongs to the people. And so in its implementations, honoring or dishonoring of the agreement, it will be your responsibility as well to hold us to it, as well as it is our responsibility to give guidance with respect to its implementations. Otherwise, as Dr. Riek said, we have suffered long enough, eleven years of suffering, of confusion and of aimless infighting. So the situation as of now, as we said in the signed reconciliation document, it is our survival that is at stake. Therefore, survival itself, if nothing else, will force us to fully implement this [peace] document.””….DR. JOHN GARANG’S STATEMENT AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE PEACE AND RECONCILIATION PROCESS BETWEEN THE SPLM/A AND THE SPDF OF DR. RIEK MACHAR TENY, NAIROBI, KENYA, JANUARY 5-6, 2002


Solution Modalities in the Sudan Conflict as Envisaged Through Dr. John Garang’s Vision of The New Sudan



There are five political scenarios but only two solution models. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So I will present this analysis using Venn diagrams. ‘Model 3’ is the present Islamic Arab Sudan. It is the problem. The non-Arab and non-Muslims are excluded from this type of Sudan. Now it is even worse. To be included in this Sudan one has to be an NIF.

This model is unstable. It has led to two wars: the Anyanya war and the present SPLM-SPLA war. That is the Old Sudan and it must go or else the Africans can break away and establish an independent state of their own under ‘Model 5’.

We can also have a United Black African Sudan as in ‘Model 4’. It is a hypothetical model but it is not far-fetched. If the thirty one percent Arab population can claim to have an Arab Sudan, there is no reason why the sixty nine percent who are Africans cannot claim a Black African Sudan. This model is also unstable.

The non-Africans can resist this model and call for their own state, also under ‘Model 5’. Then we could agree on the transitional ‘Model 2’. This is the confederal model. The essence of it is that we have two states; one in the North and one in the South linked by a central authority responsible for the matters in which we have an agreement. These are what we call the ‘commonalities’. It is a model to end the war. You end the war by accepting the realities of the country.

There is no way, for instance, in which we can compromise on the question of Islamic Sharia no matter how it is coated. We believe that we must leave the issue of Sharia or no Sharia to each state to decide. Those who want it can have it one hundred percent. They can cut off their hands if they want to. We are opposed to the practice but we are not going to stick out our necks for it.



Meanwhile in the South, we would have a secular state. This model can end the war and can be stable during the interim period. Thus during the interim period, if the Southern economy works very well, the pilgrimage might be to Juba rather than to Mecca.

This is how communism collapsed. It was undermined through the demonstration effect. In this respect, this model is subversive. The Confederal model can lead to the creation of the New Sudan through the expansion of the commonalities over time. This is the preferred outcome of ‘model 1’.

I want to underline here that choosing one of these models is not like multiple choice exam questions where you say, what do you want, A, B, C, D, or E, choose one of them. NO. It is NOT. These models are not electives. Whatever model you choose, you got to fight for it, you got to struggle for it.

And so, for example, in the existing model 3 here of the Arab-Islamic Sudan state, it is in existent and it is in existent by sheer force. It is not there because someone just pick it; it is there simply because it is being enforced by force. If you, for instance, want model 2 or model 1 or model 5, you got to struggle for it, you have to fight for them.

I am saying this, stressing this, because some strange Southerners say we want model 5 (separation) and then they sit back in their chairs and they wait for it to come: but how will it comes ya jamaa? I mean, how could it ever possibly comes to them in their chairs in foreign capital cities, or worse, while they are in Khartoum?




Ajang Barach-Magaar, Nairobi, Kenya

A selfie of Ajang Barach Daau

A selfie of Ajang Barach Daau

June 4, 2015 (SSB)  —  This article is generally addressed to the public, and in particular to the folks that are touted to be ardent apologists of feminism. For quite a long time now, I have had to humble myself and begrudgingly bottle up as crusaders of feminism defend it with an aesthetic devotion of a juvenile, mostly elsewhere.

The primary purpose of the article is to remind everyone of some well-established, brutal human behavioural realities. The biological discrepancies between the dominant man and sullen woman extend far beyond the anatomical aspects. There are marked physical and intellectual inequalities between the two genders.

The male superiority is sufficiently certain to serve as a point of departure from the spurious equality that people have arbitrarily imposed on modern societies. Feminism is a dangerous philosophy confounded by relative poverty of knowledge of evolutionary science.

In any human population, the female’s physical and intellectual inferiority is strikingly evident. Taxonomy of our distant posterity might eventually sub-divide Homo sapiens by placing women in a distinct, inferior sub-species. Some Scientists have even already suggested Homo frontalis for man, and Homo perietalis for woman. But let’s defer deliberations on that subject to a future date.

There may be a few exceptions, incidences where a woman exhibits venerable capabilities, vastly superior to the average man; evidence of this trend has been observed in studies involving the weak, emaciated and effeminate man, congenital idiot or a senile man. But as Gustave Le Bon brilliantly observed, this is as rare as the birth of any monstrosity – like the birth of a gorilla with two heads.

First of all, the behavioural patterns of the juvenile of both genders conspicuously resemble the woman during their early stages of development. As they hurtle headlong towards maturity, the male acquires superior intellectual and physical traits. The girl undergoes an arrested development. She continues to be timid, emotional and irregular in her actions. In fact, a mature woman is a stunted man! She is a replica of man’s past and a lower state of civilization.

As Gutave Le Bon succinctly quipped, women are closer to children and savages than they are to grown up civilized men. If you are a Dinka, then you must have witnessed a girl submitting to an elemental force during a marriage. Submission is a profound manifestation of inferiority. The explanation for the redundancy in women is encapsulated in our tortuous evolutionary history. The guiding generalities for our supremely disproportionate behavioural ramifications were the selective pressures.

The tasks of man have always involved complicated, high stake manoeuvres. Our ancestors used to hunt to mince off a living from their wild environment. As we all know, history is replete with innumerable instances where the hunter becomes the hunted. Our hunter progenitors had to balance between the risks of family starvation and avoid being devoured by the carnivals while scampering about on the remote Savana.

Taking this analogy as nicely elucidated by Charles Darwin, we can conclude that natural selection would have eliminated the weak, and allowed the strong to thrive. So a muscular, fast, intelligent hunter would be more apt to survive the hunt and bring back home the meal. This was in stark contrast to the woman who was exclusively restricted to a sedentary life of child-bearing and house-keeping.

Therefore, the woman’s brain & physique weren’t adequately challenged. Reports amongst South Sudanese Australians suggest that a substantial portion of women opt to offer child day care services. I’m genuinely not baffled by this widespread eventuality. For all practical purposes, even the woman of our modern era would optimally excel in small, repetitive role!

Secondly, there’s a stiffer competition for wives amongst men than amongst women in their bid to get husbands. To eclipse the chasing pack and carry off the prize (the wife), the man must not only be physically superior to his rivals, but also ought to be wittier. The man who is unfortunate enough to be deficient of these benevolent qualities have historically been dumped to the periphery of any society.

Through time, natural selection eventually ensures his descendants fizzle out of the gene pool, effectively rendering him extinct. While the man essentially requires these to gain a competitive edge, the woman only needs to be beautiful in order to summon his attention. She is also only tasked with choosing a suitable spouse, a far mundane challenge.

At this point dear reader, I must stop, for this is certainly not a scientific paper where you would expect a catalogue of postulations to serve as justifications behind the aetiology of the female’s inferiority. My argument was to demonstrate why feminism is a farce. In this paragraph, I would like to summarise my case. In 1860s (please refer to T. Bischoff’s work), Scientists performed series of craniometric experiments to determine the size of the woman’s brain.

The highest measurement ever obtained from a woman was 1,565 grams and it belonged to a woman who had killed her husband. Throughout human history, the woman has always played second fiddle to the man. Any deviation from this norm must be closely monitored. Too much of grandeur might be detrimental for some people. The women who have always proved superior to men have never made the requisite grade of good wives, or house-keepers.

Instead of lending a helping hand to the feminists, I feel that they deserve to be treated to a chorus of utmost contempt. Those who advance feminist views should be educated on the dangerous warmongering they are engaging in as equating a woman to a man would propagate perpetual elevation in the disintegration of family unit. The general implications of this should be better imagined than experienced.

In conclusion, the boy child is born brave, with all the hopes and responsibilities of the future. It is the man who is constantly active in combatting the hurdles of human advancement. Let the girl child remain weak and vulnerable. In evolutionary terms, education induces an almost insignificant transformation in anyone. Nothing will ever harmonise our biological disparities.

Formulating ideas for the welfare of women as a prelude to elevating them to equal societal status as men is an idea of a feeble logical maxim. This facet of activism is a sheer waste of everybody’s energy. Its proponents must know that there are phenomena that you cannot exonerate by just fighting.

The man will always be the serial paragon of wisdom in any human society. Nature has confined women to a position of permanent inferiority. Not even a professorial virtuosity can astutely counter the woman’s innate propensity of excelling in indolence, skewed logic and domination by emotions.

The author, Ajang Barach-Magaar, is a 4th Year Student of B.Sc. Biomedical Technology at the University of Nairobi, Kenya and can be reached through his email: Dau Barach <>

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are 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 does reserve the right to edit the material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

Cabral at 90: Unity and struggle continue in Africa

By Dr. Ama Biney.*

Source: Pambazuka News.

In this special issue on Amilcar Cabral (photo) we seek to return to the life, writings, legacy, political, social, economic and cultural insights of this revolutionary figure whilst examining what he means to Africans and their struggles of today.

Amilcar Cabral would be 90 years old on 12 September 2014 if his life had not been cruelly cut short by reactionary forces on 20 January 1973. He was 49 years old at the time and therefore 20 January 2014 marks forty one years since his brutal assassination. Cabral risks becoming an obscure figure to new and younger generations not only in Africa but globally who are able to reel off sportsmen and women, musicians and celebrities, rather than revolutionary internationalist figures such as Cabral. Therefore in an attempt to reinsert Cabral into the consciousness of African people and progressive peace loving citizens around the world, Pambazuka News celebrates the short life, thought and contribution of this almost forgotten figure who was not only an agronomist, guerrilla fighter, but a poet and political theoretician committed to the unity of Africa and Africans.

Forty-one years since the assassination of Cabral, much has changed in the world and much has remained the same. Apart from Africa’s last colony of Western Sahara, the rest of Africa has achieved flag independence but remains economically enslaved to Western neoliberal capitalism whilst the majority of Africa’s people continue to live in wretched conditions. In studying Cabral’s life and writings they will give further inspiration to the present generation who face new conditions of a globalised world in which empire has reconfigured itself with African allies of imperialism and as globalised imperialism seeks to depoliticise ordinary people and disconnect them from African history. In returning to the writings and speeches of Cabral, we reconnect ourselves to a struggle devoted to genuine socio-economic and political transformation in Guinea Bissau which ordinary people were empowered to be subjects of history and reconstruct a new society. Revisiting this national liberation struggle should inspire us to do the same today.


In our times Cabral’s praxis, that is, theory combined with practice, remains relevant to progressive Africans, activists in social justice movements in Africa and around the world. His thoughts and practice can teach us something in our own specific struggles and concrete conditions of today. However, to this, Cabral, if he were alive today, is likely to have cautioned that: ‘rice is cooked inside the pot and not outside.’ This political principle and practice that he strongly upheld is beautifully conveyed in this African proverb. As the political theoretician he was, he insisted to militants of his Partido Africano da Independencia da Guiné e Cabo Verde (African Party of Guinea and Cape Verde, otherwise known as the PAIGC) that it was essential ‘to start out from the reality of our land – to be realists.’ To put it differently, he insisted that it was fundamental that the positive and negative, strengths and weaknesses of every reality had to be carefully evaluated on its own merits. He told PAIGC militants: ‘A very important aspect of a national liberation struggle is that those who lead the struggle must never confuse what they have in their head with reality.’ The correct diagnosis of a particular reality was for Cabral fundamental ‘so as to guide the struggle correctly.’ Moreover, he insisted that: ‘reality never exists in isolation,’ for the reality in Guinea and Cape Verde was integral to the reality of West Africa and with the reality of the world, ‘although there might be other realities between these.’


Cabral, like Frantz Fanon, was clear that the characteristic failure of post-independent Africa was the absence of ideology underlying the political programmes, policies and vision of political parties. At the Tricontinental conference, Cabral said:

‘The ideological deficiency within the national liberation movements, not to say the total lack of ideology – reflecting as this does an ignorance of the historical reality which these movements claim to transform – makes for one of the greatest weaknesses in our struggle against imperialism, if not the greatest weakness of all.’

To a group of African American militants in 1972, he said: ‘To have ideology doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to define whether you are communist, socialist, or something like this. To have ideology is to know what you want in your own condition.’

Neither did Cabral have pretensions to be Marxist or Leninist. When asked in 1971 by a European journalist to what extent Marxism and Leninism as an ideology had been relevant to the national liberation struggle of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, Cabral responded thus:

‘Moving from the realities of one’s own country towards the creation of an ideology for one’s struggle doesn’t imply that one has pretensions to be a Marx or a Lenin or any other great ideologist, but is simply a necessary part of the struggle. I confess that we didn’t know these great theorists terribly well when we began. We didn’t know them half as well as we do now. We needed to know them, as I’ve said in order to judge in what measure we could borrow from their experience to help our situation – but not necessarily to apply the ideology blindly just because it’s very good. This is where we stand on this.’

In short, we must take from Cabral that today’s progressive individuals and their movements must theorise out of their concretely lived situations of self-understanding within the context of their specific history. Yet, they must learn from the experiences of others, to the extent that the experiences of others are useful to them in finding solutions to socio-economic, political and ecological problems. In this way, for Cabral, theory and ideology were neither static nor dogmatic but both were in ceaseless and uncompromising efforts of open-ended reflection in relation to a particular reality and specific history.

At the first Tricontinental Conference in Havana in 1966, Cabral said: ‘It is useful to recall in this tricontinental gathering, so rich in experience and example, that no matter how close may be the similarity between cases and between the identities of our enemy, national liberation and social revolution are not for export. They are – and every day they become more so – the outcome of a local and national elaboration that is more or less influenced by external factors (favourable or not), but essentially is formed and conditioned by the historical reality of each people, and is carried to success by right solutions to the internal contradictions which arise in this reality.’


Much has been written on Cabral’s position on national liberation and culture and specifically that the national liberation struggle was a struggle to reclaim African culture; and yet how that cultural reality is dictated by economic conditions of underdevelopment. Whilst he acknowledged the strengths of ‘various African cultures,’ we should note Cabral recognised a plurality of African cultures. He also observed that ‘culture develops in an uneven process, at the level of a continent, a ‘race’ or even a society.’ He was a realist and a candid political theoretician in also pointing out the weaknesses of African culture. From 19-24 November 1969 he held a series of seminars for PAIGC cadres at which he said:

‘Our struggle is based on our culture, because culture is the fruit of history and it is a strength. But our culture is filled with weakness in the face of nature. It is essential to know this… Various comrades who are sitting here have an amulet at their waist, in the belief that this will allow them to escape Portuguese bullets. But not one of you can say to me that no one of the comrades who already died in our struggle had an amulet at his waist. They all had them! It is just that in our struggle we have to respect this, we have to respect this because we start out from reality.’

Cabral advanced to point out that such practices are also an ‘obstacle to the struggle’ which is also complex. In many parts of the African continent particular reactionary cultural practices and notions exist that impede socio-economic development. For example, in the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s many soldiers wore amulets believing that they would protect them from injury and death from opposing militias. Similarly in some African countries albino individuals are murdered believing their body parts hold magical powers to be used in rituals. Today it is only the rapid and widescale advancement of education and science that can eradicate such pernicious ideas and practices.

Moreover, Cabral did not consider African cultures as sealed from other cultural influences. In his own words he said:

‘A people who free themselves from foreign domination will not be culturally free unless, without underestimating the importance of positive contributions from the oppressor’s culture and other cultures, they return to the upward paths of their own culture. The latter is nourished by the living reality of the environment and rejects harmful influences such as any kind of subjection to foreign cultures. We see therefore, that if imperialist domination has the vital need to practise cultural oppression, national liberation is necessarily an act of culture.’

Therefore, one of the many challenges confronting African people in our current globalised world is to critically evaluate aspects of the seemingly hegemonic nature of Western culture that is positive and negative. By internalising the harmful aspects of Western culture we continue to be unconsciously perpetuating our own oppression.

Cabral also identifies the fact that ‘political leaders – even the most famous – may be culturally alienated.’ There are African leaders today who use the slogan of culture to oppress others who are gay or lesbian by upholding heterosexism as the cultural norm and defining what is culturally acceptable and unacceptable for African women to wear, whether that is trousers or mini skirts.


Basil Davidson, the great British historian referred to Cabral as not only the ‘inspirer’ of the PAIGC but ‘its leader, its relentless critic: a man of unforgettable moral resonance and strength of purpose’ whom he met in 1960. Deplorably today Africa’s leadership lacks men and women of the integrity of the generation of the era of Mandela and Cabral. In Cabral’s address entitled, ‘Our Party and the Struggle must be led by the best sons and daughters of our people’ there are a number of ethical and political principles he outlines that remain relevant to political parties and social movements in Africa today. Cabral is outspoken in denouncing party militants who ‘have sought comfort, to flee from responsibilities, an easier life, to begin enjoying themselves, thinking that they already have independence in their grasp.’ He continues with this frankness when he says: ‘And we must throw out those who do not understand, however much it hurts us.’ He urges each individual to be vigilant ‘for the struggle is a selective process; the struggle shows us to everyone, and shows who we are.’ Inevitably struggles for social and political justice soon separate the wheat from the chaff; the politically sincere from the politically insincere, the politically honest from the politically dishonest. That is why he states that: ‘struggle is daily action against ourselves and against the enemy.’ This enemy now manifests in Africa in the form of a petty bourgeoisie who are Eurocentric in their aspirations and support neoliberal economic policies whilst colluding with outside interests in order to fulfil their own narrow class interests and power base. Therefore, at this present juncture in Africa’s history, progressive forces must be aware that this particular class in Africa is as detrimental to the interests of the African poor as are the forces of ‘stealth imperialism’ operating in the form of the IMF, World Bank, AFRICOM and various multi-lateral aid agencies.

Cabral identifies patriarchcal attitudes embedded in the views of some male militants within the party who resist women taking up their responsibilities as a problem. To cite him at some length:

‘A particular instance was the occasional stubborn, silent resistance to the presence of women among the leadership. Some comrades do their utmost to prevent women taking charge, even when there are women who have more ability to lead than they do. Unhappily some of our women comrades have not been able to maintain the respect and the necessary dignity to protect their position as persons in authority. They were not able to escape certain temptations, or at least to shoulder certain responsibilities without complexes. But the men comrades, some, do not want to understand that liberty for our people means that women as well must play a part, and that the strength of our Party is worth more if women join in as well to lead with the men. Many folk say that Cabral has an obsession about giving women leadership positions as well. They say: ‘Let him do it, but we shall sabotage it afterwards.’ That comes from folk who have not yet understood anything. They can sabotage today, sabotage tomorrow, but one day it will catch up with them.’

Cabral also castigates those male PAIGC commissars who prefer a woman to become a mistress instead of him helping her to become a doctor, teacher or soldier using the authority of the party to satisfy not only his own stomach but his lust. Today, despite the progress some African countries have made in the political representation of women in national assemblies such as South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi with women claiming over 30% of parliamentary seats, in many African universities and schools young girls and women continue to be subjected to sexual harassment and sex for grades as the sugar daddy phenomenon exists. Men in positions of power abuse these positions for sexual gratification and the perceived status and ego derived from such sexual exploitation.

Cabral urges opportunists within the Party to be unmasked and emphasises collective leadership in opposition to ‘the tendency of some comrades [is] to monopolise leadership just for themselves.’

Today this destructive monopolisation of leadership continues. Post-colonial Africa has witnessed waves of civil wars e.g. Liberia, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, the DRC, the CAR and currently in South Sudan, to name a few. These wars were clearly not guided by ethical or ideological principles in the conduct nor goals of the war. Civilians were hacked to death in many of these countries and women raped. Today in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), and in South Sudan, deaths and atrocities of African people continue with impunity as these conflicts make victims of innocent civilians.

Political leaders such as former Vice President of South Sudan, Riek Machar, who was sacked by President Salva Kiir in July 2013 does not abide by the rules of the political game and has resorted to violence for political ends. The ongoing conflict in South Sudan is a political rivalry of male egos that has been played out in many African countries since independence and has tragically resorted to each side resorting to their phallic guns as a means of resolution of their political ambitions to rule. Machar and war leaders in the CAR and the DRC are bereft of any noble political and ethical ideals that motivated Cabral’s generation. Meanwhile, it is stunning to know that in a country that is just over two years newly born, two and a half billion dollars of oil money has been stolen by South Sudanese officials and ministers. What kind of ethics underlies the behaviour of such individuals who deprive their citizens of life in medicine, functioning roads and a future through education? How is it possible to morally justify the use of children as child soldiers in Africa’s various past and on-going wars?


Clearly the watchwords of many of Africa’s leaders have been antithetical to those Cabral advocated. It could be argued that idealism infused Cabral’s political thought. He was clear that certain principles were essential to political work such as: ‘explain to the population what is happening in the struggle, what the party is endeavouring to do at any given moment, and what the criminal intentions of the enemy may be.’

Cabral was a dialectician in that he was sensitive to the contradictory character of human existence; he strived within himself and encouraged others to become better human beings. Hence he urged:

‘Educate ourselves, educate other people, the population in general, to fight fear and ignorance, to eliminate little by little the subjugation to nature and natural forces which our economy has not yet mastered. Convince little by little, in particular the militants of the Party, that we shall end by conquering the fear of nature, and that man is the strongest force in nature. Demand from responsible Party members that they dedicate themselves seriously to study, that they interest themselves in the things and problems of our daily life and struggle in their fundamental and essential aspect, and not simply in their appearance … Learn from life, learn from our people, learn from books, learn from the experience of others. Never stop learning.’

Many of the general watchwords of Cabral reveal his deep commitment to ethics. For example, he tells PAIGC members: ‘We must constantly be more aware of the errors and mistakes we make so that we can correct our work and constantly do better in the service of our Party. The mistakes we make should not dishearten us, just as the victories we score should not make us forget our mistakes.’

He evokes Gramsci’s ‘pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will’ when he pronounces the following:

‘So in the light of favourable prospects for our struggle, we must study each problem thoroughly and find the best solution for it. Think in order to act and act in order to be able to think better. We must as always face the present and the future with optimism, but without losing sight of realities and particularly of the special difficulties of our struggle. We must always bear in mind and carry out the watchwords of our Party: hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.’


Cabral’s watchwords have a pertinence in our times for we must ‘know well our own strength and the enemy strength.’ Most important of all his watchwords and relevance for our times is the need for Africans to foster the principle and practice of criticism and self-criticism with integrity. In his own words:

‘Develop the spirit of criticism between militants and responsible workers. Give everyone at every level the opportunity to criticize, to give his opinion about the work and behaviour of the action of others. Accept criticism, wherever it comes from, as a contribution to improving the work of the Party, as a demonstration of active interest in the internal life of our organisation.’

The failure to destroy the colonially inherited institutions of the state is one of the principal failures of post-independent political parties, [38] but equally disastrous has been the failure to practice and nurture democratic values among multi-ethnic communities in the forging of a new and tolerant Africa. Consequently, during the post-colonial period and currently, this lack of democratic tolerance and inclusivity has given rise to many examples of ethnic cleansing, communal tensions, extremism in the form of Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, genocide and xenophobia in various parts of Africa.

Cabral’s intimate knowledge of Guinea through his work as an agronomist put him directly in touch with many of the country’s ethnic groups such as the Fulas, Balantes, Manjaco, Mandinga, Baiote, Beafada, Saracole, Mancanha, Bijago, Sosso. He believed that whilst there were economic, social and cultural differences among these diverse groups, they could unite around principles and interests. This belief led him to wage a struggle to unify the islands of Cape Verde with mainland Guinea. His belief in unity of his country was amplified to the rest of the continent in founding the Conference of Nationalist Organisations of Portuguese territories (CONCP) in 1961 which incorporated Angola and Mozambique. This organisation worked for the independence of all the former Portuguese colonial territories. His Pan-Africanist convictions are also revealed in his informal talk with over 120 African Americans in 1972 where he connects the struggles of people of African descent to those in Africa. Cabral’s honesty is evident here in the manner he answers the questions put to him by his audience. He also tells them that as they ‘become conscious of their responsibilities to the struggle in Africa’ it does not mean they all have to leave America and ‘go fight in Africa’. He says to his audience:

‘That is not being realistic in our opinion. History is a very strong chain. We have to accept the limits of history but not the limits imposed by the societies where we are living. There is a difference. We think that all you can do here is to develop your own conditions in the sense of progress, in the sense of history and in the sense of the total realization of your aspirations as human beings is a contribution to us. It is also a contribution for you to never forget that you are Africans.’

His brutal honesty is also seen in his interaction with the African Americans when he is asked about the role of women in the struggle for liberation. Cabral responds by pointing out the differences in Fula society in which a woman is considered to be like a piece of property; in Balante society where women are not owned and other matriarchcal societies. He points out that whilst the PAIGC has made great achievements, there remains much to be done. This is Cabral’s candid view on the question of the oppression of women:

‘We are very far from what we want to do, but this is not a problem that can be solved by Cabral signing a decree. It’s all part of the process of transformation, of change in the material conditions of the existence of our people, but also in the minds of the women, because sometimes the greatest difficulty is not only in the men but in the women too.’

In short, Cabral is correct in identifying that patriarchcal ideology has also been internalised by women who also resist change as many men may do and this gravely complicates overhauling the status quo of gender relations.


Cabral’s Pan-Africanism also had an internationalist dimension for he believed that racism ‘is not eternal in any latitude of the world. It is the result of historical and economic conditions. And we cannot answer racism with racism. It is not possible.’ In his ‘Message to the People of Portugal’ broadcast in 1969, he made clear that a distinction needed to be made between the people of Portugal and Portuguese colonialism. He called for fraternal cooperation with the people of Portugal. He appealed to them to oppose the slaughter of their own sons in a continued war; he thanked the Portuguese people who had recently participated in demonstrations against Portugal’s colonial wars. Cabral’s humanism towards prisoners of war is revealed when he states: ‘We consider that a prisoner-of-war deserves respect, because he is giving his life, whether or not the cause he is fighting for is just.’

In his address to African Americans he acknowledged the support from the countries making up the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) as well as moral, political, and material support from the Soviet Union and China.

In regards to aid, he was blunt in stating that: ‘we let each people give us the aid they can, and we never accept conditions with the aid.’ If Cabral had lived, it would have been interesting to see how he would have navigated the entanglement of conditionalities of donor countries and multi-lateral aid agencies which many African countries have failed to escape from in the last 50 years of so-called independence. In the late 1960s Cabral was uncompromising on aid and volunteers, for he said to Basil Davidson: ‘We want no volunteers… We shall turn them back if they present themselves. Foreign military advisers or commanders, or any other foreign personnel, are the last thing we shall accept. They would rob my people of their one chance of achieving a historical meaning of themselves: of reasserting their own history, of recapturing their own identity.’ Perhaps it is the case that among the army of Western and African development consultants in the various NGO outfits and personnel up and down the African continent, many also rob Africans of the chance of ‘reasserting their own history, of recapturing their own identity’ today?

Since the decade of the 1970s Africa has received billions of dollars of aid which has instead maintained client regimes of one kind or another in Africa with little regard to whether these regimes were providing a decent living for their citizens with the funds allegedly allocate to ‘aid’ these countries.

The issues of identity and dignity that Cabral wrote about are reflected in other struggles around the world apart from the African continent. In Brazil and Columbia, just to give two examples among many, struggles by indigenous people to remain on their land as logging and new highways and dams are built are destroying the livelihood of indigenous people. That land is intimately tied to a people’s identity and dignity was profoundly understood by Cabral. If he were alive today he would certainly identify with the struggle of the indigenous Awa, a group of nomadic hunter gathers who are threatened in Marahao state in Brazil by loggers encroaching on their land and the hundreds of African communities who have been dispossessed of their land through land deals to foreign investors by neo-colonial African governments.


The vast majority of African people continue to struggle on the continent despite the myth of an ‘Africa is rising’ narrative. African people continue to fight against GMOs, land deals, unfair mining practices and oil extraction that leaves ecological pillage and plunder in communities; against unfair working conditions; and for human rights. As Cabral poignantly pointed out in one of his oft repeated quotes:

‘Always remember that the people do not struggle for ideas, for things in the heads of individuals. The people struggle and accept the sacrifices demanded by the struggle, but in order to gain material advantages, to be able to live a better life in peace, to see their lives progress and to ensure their children’s future.’

The revolt in Guinea Bissau that turned into a revolution led by the PAIGC in 1956 was inextricably tied to the creation of new socio-economic structures. “Build the revolution as you fight” was both the slogan and concrete practice of the PAIGC. Consequently the mobilised masses of people of Guinea Bissau together with the PAIGC built alternative schools, clinics and engaged in economic programmes throughout the liberated areas as the beginnings of the new type of society they wished to live in.

In this Pambazuka special issue on Cabral, we have a number of articles that examine the impact of Cabral’s legacy on the Black Liberation Movement; revisit his ‘weapon of theory’; evaluate Cabral’s position on imperialism, neo-colonialism, Pan-Africanism, socialist revolution and cultural politics. They are by no means an exhaustive evaluation of Cabral’s political and social thought. However, they are a small contribution to the much needed celebration and reflection on his critical relevance for Africans today.

*Ama Biney (Dr) is a scholar-activist and Acting Editor-in-Chief of Pambazuka News.


Africa: a continent drenched in the blood of revolutionary heroes

Between 1961 and 1973, six African independence leaders were assassinated by their ex-colonial rulers, including Patrice Lumumba of Congo, who was killed 50 years ago today

Patrice Lumumba, prime minister of newly independent Congo, was the second of five leaders of independence movements in African countries to be assassinated in the 1960s by their former colonial masters, or their agents.

A sixth, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, was ousted in a western-backed coup in 1966, and a seventh, Amilcar Cabral, leader of the west African liberation movement against Portugal of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde or PAIGC) in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, was assassinated in 1973.

Lumumba’s death in 1961 followed on from that of the opposition leader of Cameroon, Felix Moumie, poisoned in 1960. Sylvanus Olympio, leader of Togo was killed in 1963. Mehdi Ben Barka, leader of the Moroccan opposition movement was kidnapped in France in 1965 and his body never found. Eduardo Mondlane, leader of Mozambique’s Frelimo, fighting for independence from the Portuguese, died from a parcel bomb in 1969.

The loss 50 years ago of this group of leaders, who all knew each other, and had a common political project based on national dignity, crippled each of their countries, and the African continent. The effects are still evident today.

Ben Barka and Cabral were revolutionary theoreticians – as significant as Frantz Fanon and Che Guevara. Their influence reverberated far beyond their own continent. At the 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Havana, organised by Ben Barka before his death, Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s closing speech referred to “one of the most lucid and brilliant leaders in Africa, Comrade Amílcar Cabral, who instilled in us tremendous confidence in the future and the success of his struggle for liberation.”

The Third World Movement, challenging the economic and political world dominance of the colonial powers, the US, and the neocolonial leaders favoured by the west, would have two short decades of ambition and optimism despite the long shadow of its great leaders’ deaths.

Today, it is impossible to touch down at the (far from modernised) airport of Lubumbashi in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo – in 1961 known as Elizabethville, in Congo (then renamed Zaire) – without a shiver of recollection of the haunting photograph taken of Lumumba there shortly before his assassination, and after beatings, torture and a long, long flight in custody across the vast country which had so loved him. This particular failure of the United Nations to protect one man and his two colleagues was every bit as significant as that in Srebrenica in 1995, when 8,000 men and boys were killed.

Lumumba’s own words, written to his wife just four months after the exhilaration of independence day in the capital Kinshasa are a reminder of who he was and why he meant so much to so many people then, and still does today.

“Dead, living, free, or in prison on the orders of the colonialists, it is not I who counts. It is the Congo, it is our people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage where we are regarded from the outside… History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that Brussels, Paris, Washington, or the United Nations will teach, but that which they will teach in the countries emancipated from colonialism and its puppets… a history of glory and dignity.”

Lumumba would not have been surprised that his successor, Joseph Mobuto was the US strategic ally in Africa for 30 years. Congo was too rich, too big, and too important for the west to lose control as they would have had Lumumba lived.

How ironic that Mobuto was succeeded by Laurent Desire Kabila, whose 10th anniversary of assassination, by his own guards, falls just one day before Lumumba’s? (There are conflicting reports as to the exact date of Kabila’s death, a good overview can be found here).

Kabila came to power in 1997 as the useful figurehead of the armies of Rwanda, Uganda, and Angola. He trailed some historical legitimacy from his involvement in one of the rebellions against Mobuto, inspired by Lumumba’s death. Che Guevara was then, in 1965, deep in his second-last catastrophic attempt to change the world, working then from his concept of Lumumba’s Congo.

When Kabila sprang from obscurity in 1997 as leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Che’s African diaries from eastern Congo had not yet been published, with the acid comment, “I know Kabila well enough not to have any illusions about him.”

In Kabila’s first chaotic weeks in power in 1997, the great Tanzanian leader, Julius Nyerere visited Kinshasa and addressed the new and unformed leadership. “There are no uncles any more for Congo, do not wait for them to come and help you – the country is yours and you must take the responsibility for it and for your people,” he said.

As one of those present told me: “They did not like Nyerere’s speech, they could not wait to use their new power to make allies with foreign businessmen and get rich themselves – just like the others.” But Lumumba’s ideas are still alive, and he himself had no illusions that the road to dignity for his people would be extremely long.

 The Application of Tribocratic Dispensation to the Hurting Stalemate of the South Sudanese’ Peace Talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

By PaanLuel Wël, Juba

In the life of every person there comes a point when he realizes that out of all the seemingly limitless possibilities of his youth he has in fact become one actuality. No longer is life a broad plain with forests and mountains beckoning all-around, but it becomes apparent that one’s journey across the meadows has indeed followed a regular path, that one can no longer go this way or that. The desire to reconcile an experience of freedom with a determined environment is the lament of poetry and the dilemma of philosophy.– Opening Sentence, Henry Kissinger’s Undergraduate Thesis, Harvard University, 1949.

Celebrating the Fruition of the CPA

Celebrating the Fruition of the CPA


March 6, 2015 (SSB) —  During the intra-SPLM/A reconciliation meeting in Rumbek, Lakes state, between Chairman John Garang and his deputy, Commander Salva Kiir Mayaardit following the 2004 Yei crisis, Garang told the gathering that the SPLM was entering a new era of democratic dispensation in which anyone dissatisfied with the way the party and/or the country would be governed will not have any excuse to resort to a military coup to make his or her point.

With his characteristic humor, Garang gave an example of Commander Riek Machar, saying that there would be “no need for coup d’état anymore, so for example my friend, Dr. Riek Machar, will not need to make a coup because he can form his own party if he is discontented with the SPLM.”[1]

Barely two years after the independence of the Republic of South Sudan, Riek Machar is back in the bush, accused of having instigated a failed military coup against the government of President Salva Kiir Mayaardit.

In his own words, according to Riek Machar, he is fighting for political reforms and democratic transformation in South Sudan, but according to the government, Riek Machar has eschewed democratic means in preference for a military force to remove a democratically and constitutionally elected government.

The government’s supporters insist that the government is legitimate and constitutional because the people of South Sudan gave it a resounding 98% of their votes, democratically electing it.

As explained in “Bullet or Ballot: Resolving the Burgeoning Conflict in South Sudan—Part One, Two and Three[2] and in “The Hurting Stalemate of South Sudan’s Peace Talks—Part One and Two[3], the conflict that erupted on December 15th, 2013, was triggered by a perilous power struggle within the ruling SPLM party.

At the commencement of the conflict, the government wanted nothing but the blood-dripping head of Riek Machar while the rebels, backed by the white army, were shouting, “Kiir must go”.

The civil war ensued with the repeated gain and loss of Bor, Bentiu, Malakal, and Nasir towns. The rebels’ momentum began to fizzle in mid 2014. Presently, the government controls all the major towns of South Sudan. Nonetheless, some of these cities are vulnerable to rebel attack.

The rebels can potentially retake Nasir and/or Bentiu and use them as their assembly points in preparation for the interim government. More likely, the rebels might use such strategic towns as their military bases throughout the interim period since they are campaigning for two separate but equal armies in Addis Ababa.

Whereas preliminary peace talks had began in earlier 2014, it was not until the stalemate on the military fronts that the warring factions began to appreciate the IGAD-led South Sudan peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The current military standoff has compelled the two warring parties to seek a political settlement of the crisis.

With the help of IGAD leaders, President Kiir and Riek Machar have, in principle, agreed to a power sharing deal under the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU), which would run for 30 months.

Nonetheless, the warring factions are yet to compromise on the leadership structure and the power sharing ratios for the interim government. Moreover, there is no agreement whatsoever on the thorny question of security arrangements (during the interim period) and integration of the rebel forces and their allied militias into the national army.

The rebels demand the position of the first vice president and separate armies during the 30-month interim period while the government rubbishes both ideas. Apparently, on the power-sharing ratio, both sides might grudgingly consent to the IGAD-proposed formula of 60% for the government, 30% for the rebels and 10% for other stakeholders such as the G-10 and other political parties.

In the third part of this article, I am going to apply the tribocratic dispensation to unravel the excruciating stalemate of the South Sudanese’ peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


In part one of this article, I have argued that the most coherent and effective method to achieve an equitable, fair and just system of governance in South Sudan in particular and Africa in general is to adopt and institutionalize tribocracy.

As revealed in part two of this article, under a tribocratic system, South Sudan would be divided by four major tribes, namely the Dinka who are about 38.18% of South Sudan’s national population; the Equatorian who are around 31.82%; the Nuer who are approximately 19.33% and the Minority Group who are roughly 10.65%.

In a fair and just system of governance in which representatives of a particular ethnic group hold a number of government posts proportionate to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group represents, the Dinka would take 38.18% of the national government, the Equatorian 31.82%, the Nuer 19.33% and the Minority Group 10.65%.

When this doctrine is applied to the political mindset of the South Sudanese people that habitual swings between “our” government versus “their” government, it portends a revolutionary impact. Were we to take the idea to its logical conclusion, it means that a tribocratic government is truly the government of the South Sudanese, by the South Sudanese and for the South Sudanese.

It is a government in which each and every ethnic community is fairly and justly represented. With each tribe holding a number of government positions proportionate to the percentage of the total population that the particular tribe in question represents, the government would be seen as “ours” by those to whom justice has been done by a tribocratic system that enshrines fair and equitable political representation across all ethnic groups comprising that particular country.

Under a tribocratic system, how would we contrive and apply a workable formula to the political gridlock in Addis Ababa?

Well, the first logical step is to realize that the rebellion is overwhelmingly Nuer while the Dinka occupy the state security apparatus. Secondly, the IGAD-led peace process is likely to shortchange the Equatorian and the Minority Group, both politically and militarily.

In the recent session concerning security arrangement during the forthcoming interim period, for example, the crescendo of heated debates that ensued between the two warring factions reached a level where each party was accusing the other of a “tribal tendency to control the army for narrow political interests.”[4]

In turn, Hon. Peter Bashir Bandi, a government deputy minister for foreign affairs who is an Equatorian, took sides and attacked the two warring parties, accusing “them of deliberate intent to make the army [a] monopoly of Nuer and Dinka.”[5]

Evidently, although the rebels would pretend to be fighting for freedom and democratic transformation—while the government would pretend to be protecting the legitimate and constitutional institutions—in South Sudan, it is crystal clear that this is far from the truth.

As pointed out by Hon. Bashir Bandi, the Dinka and the Nuer communities are taking the Equatorian and the Minority group for a ride in Addis Ababa. If this dangerous slight is not rectified in time, the Dinka and the Nuer could end up dominating both the political and the military posts of the transitional government.

Firstly, not only will this be grossly unjust to the underrepresented communities, but is likely to incentivize violent rebellion in the sense that one must rebel and kill in order to get his or her fair and just share of the national cake.

Secondly, there is no viable and effective formula to share the transitional government of national unity in a way that would allow each of the four political tribes its fair share of the national government. Under the current peace negotiations in Addis Ababa, the Nuer would still end up dominating the national army in the interim period just as before the December 15th conflict.

Given the ominous way Riek Machar bragged to the Americans in May 2013 that President Kiir should remember that 80% of the South Sudan national army is Nuer, another domination of the national army by one community in South Sudan would herald more trouble in the not-so distant future. It must be avoided by all means if peace and political stability are to reign, once more, in South Sudan.

Most importantly, any government of national unity that would result from the Addis Ababa peace talks would never be “our” government. The Equatorian and the Minority Group would trash it as a government of the “Dinka” and the “Nuer”.

Meanwhile, the Dinka and the Nuer will not perceive it as “their” government either; instead, they would be jostling for absolute control of the pillars of power, a dangerous game that could reignite the conflict.


First of all, for the Addis Ababa peace talks to be meaningful, they have to produce a fair and just government of the four tribes of South Sudan. Secondly, the fair and just government should be seen by all South Sudanese as “their” government, rather than a government of the Dinka, of the Nuer, of the Equatorian or of the Minority Group.

To put it differently, the proposed transitional government of national unity must be 38.18% Dinka, 31.82% Equatorian, 19.33% Nuer and 10.65% Minority Group, both politically and militarily.

What this means is that should the warring factions end up with the IGAD-proposed ratio of 60% for the government, 30% for the rebels and 10% for G-10, then out of the 60% share of the government, 38.18% of the 60% should be given to the Dinka, 31.82% of the 60% to the Equatorian, 19.33% of the 60% to the Nuer, and 10.65% of the 60% to the Minority Group.

In other word, from the 60% allocated to the government, the Dinka under President Salva Kiir would get 22.91%; the Equatorian under President Salva Kiir 19.09%, the Nuer under President Salva Kiir 11.60% and the Minority Group under President Salva Kiir 6.39% of the interim government.

Likewise, for the 30% share given to the rebels under Riek Machar, the Dinka would take 38.18% of the 30%, the Equatorian 31.82% of the 30%, the Nuer 19.33% of the 30%, and the Minority Group 10.65% of the 30%.

Thus, from the 30% allocated to the rebels, the Dinka allied to Riek Machar would be given 11.45%, the Equatorian allied to Riek Machar 9.55%, the Nuer allied to Riek Machar 5.80%, and the Minority Group allied to Riek Machar 3.20% of the transitional government.

The same logic applies to the 10% slated for the G-10. Of the 10%, 38.18% of it should go to the Dinka, 31.82% of it to the Equatorian, 19.33% of it to the Nuer, and 10.65% of it to the Minority Group.

This would translate to 3.82% of the Dinka with the G-10, 3.18% of the Equatorian with the G-10, 1.93% of the Nuer with the G-10, and 1.07% of the Minority Group with the G-10.

The resultant transitional government of national unity under tribocratic dispensation would be seen and taken as “our” government by all the communities of South Sudan because it would be a fair and just government in which every tribe is equitable represented at the “eating table”.

This is because the total share of the Dinka under President Kiir (22.91%) plus those allied to Riek Machar (11.45%) and those with the G-10 (3.82%) would simply add up to 38.18%, which is exactly the percentage share of the Dinka proportionate to the percentage of the total population of South Sudan.

The total share of the Equatorian under President Kiir (19.09%) plus those allied to Riek Machar (9.55%) and those with the G-10 (3.18%) would simply add up to 31.82%, which is exactly the percentage share of the Equatorian proportionate to the percentage of the total population of South Sudan.

The total share of the Nuer under President Kiir (11.60%) plus those allied to Riek Machar (5.80%) and those with the G-10 (1.93%) would simply add up to 19.33%, which is exactly the percentage share of the Nuer proportionate to the percentage of the total population of South Sudan.

The total share of the Minority Group under President Kiir (6.39%) plus those allied to Riek Machar (3.20%) and those with the G-10 (1.07%) would simply add up to 10.65%, which is exactly the percentage share of the Minority Group proportionate to the percentage of the total population of South Sudan.

The above application of the tribocratic dispensation to political sharing of power during the interim period is also relevant to the security arrangement during and after the interim period. In order to avoid the abuse of and fear for the national army, the interim armed forces should be divided up among the four tribes. 38.18% should be Dinka, 31.82% Equatorian, 19.33 Nuer and 10.65% Minority Group.

If the warring parties conclude that the formula for army integration would be 60% for the government, 40% for the rebels, then the Dinka soldiers under the government should have 38.18% of the 60%, which is 22.91% of the national army; Equatorian 31.82% of the 60%, which is 19.09%; Nuer 19.33% of the 60%, which is 11.60%, while the Minority Group get 10.65% of the 60%, which is 6.39%.

Similarly, for the 40% assigned to the rebels, 38.18% of the 40% would be given to the Dinka, which amount to 15.27% of the rebels’ army; 31.82% of the 40% to the Equatorian, which is 12.73%; 19.33% of the 40% to the Nuer, which translate to 7.73%, and 10.65% of the 40% to the Minority Group which is 4.26%.

If we add up the percentage of the Dinka soldiers under the government (22.91%) to those allied to the rebels (15.27%), it would sum up to 38.18% of the national army, which is exactly the percentage share of the Dinka proportionate to the percentage of the total population of South Sudan.

Equally, the sum total of the Equatorian soldiers in the interim national army would be 31.82%, the Nuer 19.33%, and the Minority Group 10.65%, all of which are exactly their percentage shares proportionate to the percentage of the total population of South Sudan.


Indeed, the application of a tribocratic dispensation to the hurting stalemate of the Addis Ababa peace talks would untangle the deadlock over power sharing ratios and security arrangements in the most logical and effective way possible.

However, the lingering question in the mind of the reader is: why would the warring factions—the government under President Kiir and the rebels under Riek Machar—embrace the tribocratic dispensation as the best way to solve the political deadlock and security impasse in Addis Ababa?

Let’s begin first with the armed rebel leader, Dr. Riek Machar: what is his main interest in the current conflict and what are his core challenges to achieving that particular goal?

Contrary to his public utterances that he is fighting for political reform and democratic transformation in South Sudan, Riek Machar’s short-term political interest is to get himself back into the government as the first vice president or prime minister of the Republic of South Sudan.

His long-term goal is to capitalize on his position within the interim government to endear himself to and gain more political support from all sections of the South Sudanese society in order to win the next presidential election at the end of the transitional government.

The main political challenge bedeviling Riek Machar, since the days of the 1991 Nasir Coup, is the tag of “Nuer leader”. The Nasir coup fell apart and Riek Machar had to surrender to Khartoum precisely because he failed to get political and military backing from other South Sudanese communities with the exception of the Nuer—his tribe.

In this current war, Riek Machar has only succeeded in mobilizing the Nuer nation. While there are some few Dinka and Equatorian and Minority Group within the rank and file of the rebel movement, the fact of the matter is that about 99.99% of the armed men fighting and dying on the rebel side are Nuer. More than 99% of the rebel leadership is Nuer, too.

Naturally, Riek Machar is a Nuer leader in charge of a Nuer movement fighting for the interest of the Nuer community in the Republic of South Sudan. Chances of a Nuer leader—riding on the wave of the white army and the Nuer political backing—actually winning the next presidential election are very slim, if not utterly impossible.

Therefore, the most logical favor that Riek Machar can do himself is to wean himself off the ideology of Nuerism. This is informed by the fact that if Riek Machar can’t take power by force when the Nuer, in his own bragging, were “80%” of the national army, then the military option is out of the question.

Given what happened on December 15th, it is inconceivable that there will ever be another day that the Nuer would be “80%” of the South Sudan national army.

Consequently, for Riek Machar, the only road leading to the presidency is the democratic means—of ballot rather than bullet. In highly tribalized nations like South Sudan, the size of the community of the aspiring leader does really matter.

Those from larger communities do have better prospects of winning the presidency relative to those from smaller ones.

Unlike his arch-rival President Kiir whose ethnic constituency constitutes about 40% of South Sudan national population, Riek Machar’s ethnic community amounts to around 20% of the national population.

Riek Machar, for that reason, needs more support from the Dinka, the Equatorian, and the Minority Group than Salva Kiir. That is to say, on the surface, Riek Machar has more reasons to embrace and advocate for the tribocratic dispensation as a power sharing mechanism in Addis Ababa than President Kiir.

Tribocracy will give Riek Machar a much-needed foothold within the political constituencies of the Dinka, the Equatorian and the Minority Group. Through tribocratic dispensation, Riek Machar can redeem himself—changing from being a Nuer leader leading a Nuer movement for Nuer interests to a South Sudanese leader leading the South Sudanese people for national interest.

His political base in the interim government would shift from its current predominantly Nuer army and Nuer political base to 38.18% Dinka, 31.82% Equatorian, 19.33% Nuer and 10.65% Minority Group. Once his core supporters are fairly distributed all over the Republic of South Sudan, Riek Machar will definitely have a better shot at the presidency than at any time in the living history of South Sudan.


How about President Salva Kiir: what is his overriding interest in the current conflict and what are his cores political and security challenges?

Contrary to his public declarations about the sanctity of a constitutional government, President Kiir short-term political interest is to lead the interim government while his long-term interest is to win the forthcoming presidential election at the end of the provisional period of 30 months.

However, his main challenge is how to prevent the Nuer from re-dominating both the government and the army in the forthcoming transitional government of national unity.

Before the dissolution of government in July 2013, the Nuer, who are around 19% of South Sudan national population, reportedly made up about 70% of the national army and were more than fairly represented in the government. The vice president was a Nuer, and so was the chief of general staffs, the minister for defense, and the minister for justice.

Of the three sectors of the South Sudanese national army, two were (and still are) headed by Nuer, and of the eight divisions of the national army, about half were occupied by Nuer. The number of Nuer ministers in the government was more than 19%, their proportionate percentage relative to the national population.

The main challenge confronting President Kiir now is twofold. Firstly, President Kiir will try to prevent the re-domination of the national army by the Nuer, a security scenario that the government believes contributed to the outbreak of the war in December 2013.

Secondly, with most of the top Nuer politicians still on the side of the government, it would be a dizzying dilemma for President Kiir to satisfy his Nuer allies without creating a precarious situation where the Nuer dominate the transitional government politically.

In addition, President Kiir’s political and security dilemma is complicated by the fact that while the rebels are predominantly Nuer, there are still many Nuer soldiers and senior politicians on the side of the government.

First and foremost, the number of Nuer politicians coming into the transitional government plus those already on the side of the government would obviously mean that the Nuer would get more than their fair share of the transitional government.

The application of tribocracy would enable President Kiir to kill two birds with one stone—scale down Nuer political representation in the interim government without appearing to have betrayed his Nuer allies who have stood steadfastly on his side.

Unlike the Dinka and Equatorian and Minority Group on the side of Riek Machar, President Kiir’s allies have mobilized sufficient political and military manpower in the current conflict. Hardly any member of the Dinka, Equatorian and Minority Group are fighting and dying on the side of the rebels while thousands of Nuer, Equatorian and the Minority Group are fighting and dying on the side of the government.

The best thing one can say about those Dinka, Equatorian and Minority Group members supporting Riek Machar is that they are simply camping in foreign capital cities while the Nuer are the only ones fighting and dying in the war against the government.

In sharp contrast, about 25% of the government forces could still be Nuer, fighting and dying mostly in and around Bentiu, Nasir, Malakal and Renk. What this mean is that without the application of tribocratic dispensation, the Nuer soldiers (the rebels plus those who elected to remain on the side of the government) could still be more than 70% of the national army during and after the interim period.

Discernibly, President Kiir and his camp would feel threaten by that reality given the alleged failed military coup launched by Riek Machar on 15 December 2013. President Kiir has every legitimate reason to worry about the re-domination of the national army by the Nuer not least because of the ethnic dimension in the present civil war.

Indeed, in May 2013, Riek Machar ominously hinted at the possibility of violence and reportedly boasted to Akshaya Kumar, a Sudan and South Sudan policy analyst with the Enough Project in Washington DC, USA, that President Kiir “should know that the army is 80 percent Nuer.”[6]

One of the security guarantees that the IGAD-led peace talks in Addis Ababa should sufficiently address is a scenario whereby political leaders like Salva Kiir and Riek Machar resort to using the national army to advance their political ambitions.

The best—and the fairest—security guarantee is to divide the national army among the four major tribes—38.18% to the Dinka, 31.82% to the Equatorian, 19.33% to the Nuer and 10.65% to the Minority Group. For President Kiir, this will solve the security quandary about the re-domination of the army by the Nuer.

And while the question of the white army, Mathiang Anyoor and Dot-ku-Bany, plus other ethnic-based militias, has been a deal-breaker in Addis Ababa, under tribocratic dispensation, the question would be about the maximum number of soldiers in the national army that South Sudan can economically maintain, which would then be smoothly carved up according to the tribocratic ratios.

The main concern would be that none of the four major tribes should be allowed to exceed their respective percentage share of the national population according to the official results of the May 2009 Sudan fifth population and housing census.

Most importantly for President Kiir, who has been touted by the rebels as a Dinka president of a Dinka dominated government protected by state security apparatus run by Dinka men, the application of tribocratic dispensation will free him from creeping “Dinkocracy” in the Republic of South Sudan.

In readiness for the next presidential election at the expiration of the transitional government of national unity, President Kiir will have a well-entrenched political base among the Dinka, the Equatorian, the Nuer and the Minority Group.

Combined with the trappings of the incumbency, tribocracy will enable President Kiir to stride ahead of his political contenders such as Riek Machar, Pagan Amum and Madam Rebecca Nyandeng in the next presidential race.


Through tribocratic dispensation, the South Sudan people can amicably and satisfactorily unravel the frustrating logjam of the South Sudanese peace talks in Addis Ababa. Because tribocracy works like a machine, everything is predictable, and everything is preordained.

Certainly, tribocracy is the most equitable way to allocate power in a power sharing transitional government because each representative of the Dinka, the Equatorian, the Nuer and the Minority Group would hold a number of interim government posts—political and military ones—proportionate to the percentage of the total population that each of these particular four tribes represents in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Naturally, this would be a free and fair system of power sharing. Justice would be done because each political camp would be allocated its fair and rightful share in the transitional government of national unity as predetermined by their population size. No political group would feel unjustly marginalized in the political, economic and security aspects of the interim government.

Political stability would ensue; peace and national development would flourish and the evils of the tribalized war that have been battering South Sudan would be greatly blunted.

Holistically speaking, each of the four tribes would represent its fair and just share of the national government, politically and militarily. Hence, the question of Dinka domination, the threat of Nuer rebellion, the resurgence of Equatorian neo-kokora-ism, and the marginalization of Minority Group would be resolved, once and for all.

Surely, an interim government in which the Dinka represent 38.18%, Equatorian 31.82%, Nuer 19.33% and the Minority Group 10.65%—both politically and militarily—is truly a transitional government of national unity.

PaanLuel Wël is the Managing Editor of PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB). He can be reached through his Facebook page, Twitter account or email:

[1] “The Minutes of the Historical 2004 SPLM Meeting in Rumbek” in “The Genius of Dr. John Garang” edited by PaanLuel Wël (2013).

[2] Bullet or Ballot: Resolving the Burgeoning Conflict in South Sudan—Part 1, 2 and 3, by PaanLuel Wël (2014)

[3] The Hurting Stalemate of the South Sudan’s Peace Talks—Part 1 and 2, by PaanLuel Wël (2015)

[4] Heated Debate over Security Arrangement in Addis Ababa, 1 March 2015, on website.

[5] Heated Debate over Security Arrangement in Addis Ababa, 1 March 2015, on website.

[6] Unmade in the USA: The Inside Story of a Foreign-Policy Failure, by Ty McCormick who is an associate editor at Foreign Policy magazine in the USA, (March 2015)

Power-Mapping of Ethnicity in the Republic South Sudan

By PaanLuel Wël, Juba

In the life of every person there comes a point when he realizes that out of all the seemingly limitless possibilities of his youth he has in fact become one actuality. No longer is life a broad plain with forests and mountains beckoning all-around, but it becomes apparent that one’s journey across the meadows has indeed followed a regular path, that one can no longer go this way or that. The desire to reconcile an experience of freedom with a determined environment is the lament of poetry and the dilemma of philosophy.– Opening Sentence, Henry Kissinger’s Undergraduate Thesis, Harvard University, 1949.

Celebrating the Fruition of the CPA

Celebrating the Fruition of the CPA


February 16, 2015 (SSB) — On 4 January 1934,[1] a young economist delivered a report to the US Congress that eight decades later still shapes the lives of everyone on this planet. His name was Simon Kuznets—a Belarusian-American Jew—and the report he delivered was entitled, “National Income, 1929-32”. Kuznets’ report is the foundation of how we judge the economic success of all countries in the world today, and is known as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP has defined and shaped our lives for the last 81 years.

For us to understand how the GDP came to dominate our lives, we must remember that Kuznets’ report was delivered at a moment of economic crisis. The US economy was plummeting into the Great Depression and the policy makers on Capitol Hill were struggling to respond to that crisis—struggling because they didn’t know what was going on. They didn’t have data and statistics on the US economy. Therefore, what Kuznets’ report gave them was reliable data on what the US economy was producing from 1929 to 1932. And armed with this information, policy makers at the US Congress were eventually able to find a way of out the Great Depression. And because Kuznets’ research and principle were found to be so useful, it quickly spread around the world and today every country produces its own GDP as a measurement of economic success.

Like the US at the height of the Great Depression, South Sudan (and much of the Sub-Saharan African region) is at a crossroad. It is in political turmoil. Democracy has failed. Economic development and social prosperity is a distant mirage. We live on a continent where the specter of civil strife haunts everyone from infancy to grave. The African race, marching to the drumbeat of self-destruction, has become an engine of misery and destitution unto itself. We need a better system of governance to manage our society: an inclusive and effective, fair and equitable system of governance based on the real sociopolitical and cultural context of real African people.

I believe we are living in a desperate era where we have nothing to lose by going back to our roots. We have tried alien religions such as Christianity and Islam and foreign political philosophies like democracy and socialism and communism. Nothing but sheer social depravity, political confusions and economic impoverishment have we gained from their full adoption and fervent espousal. By all the imaginable indexes of human social progress, the humble African graces the bottom of the human race.


In Part One of this article[2], I have defined tribocracy as a political system where representatives of a particular ethnic group hold a number of government posts proportionate to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group represents in order to promote and achieve fair and equitable political representation across all ethnic groups comprising that particular nation. In other words, tribocracy is a system of governance in which equality in political representation in the national government and/or at the state level is achieved through the principle of equitable and fair tribal representation.

If South Sudanese people can devise and institutionalize an inclusive system of governance, which, in word and practice, could be seen as fair, just and equitable for all the ethnic groups of South Sudan, then the fight against tribalism will be won and South Sudan will avoid the pitfalls of her fellow post-colonial African countries by becoming a successful, new, prosperous nation because a political system where representatives of a particular ethnic group hold a number of government posts proportionate to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group represents will promote and preserve peace and harmony among all the ethnic group of that nation.

In the second part of this article, I am going to use the blueprint of tribocracy to demonstrate, in a logical and effective way, how power-mapping of ethnicity in South Sudan can enable us to address the mortal threat of tribalism to our national existence. Hopefully, with more honest, constructive and reflective national discourse, we can put together a coherent leadership and unity framework to manage and achieve the proverbial “unity in diversity” across Africa.

Sadly, Africans have skirted around this issue of tribalism for decades, refusing to take the bull by the horns, but instead preferring to bury their head in the sand of complacency. Therefore, any argument about the elimination of tribalism in Africa, if it is to be honest and effective, must commence with tribocracy because nothing would make us more secure and stable than a fair and equitable sharing of power among different ethnic groups through a tribocratic system of governance.


According to the record of Hon. Isaiah Chol Aruai, the commissioner of the South Sudan’s National Bureau of Statistics and Census, the current population of the Republic of South Sudan, based on the May 2008 Sudan fifth population and housing census, stands at approximately 8.26 millions. In order to determine whether representatives of a particular ethnic group in South Sudan hold a number of governmental posts proportionate to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group represents, we must look at the available hard data for guidance.

But before scrutinizing the raw numbers per county, we must first clearly define some terminologies encompassing political forces prevailing in our republic. The first is political caucus—the dominant political force or group that inhabits that particular county, while the second one is political constituency—the sub-group of the dominant political force in that particular county. The third is Mukaji, an acronym for Murle, Kachipo and Jie, the ethnic communities that inhabit Greater Pibor area, currently known as the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) under the leadership of the renegade militia leader, David Yau-Yau of SSDM/A—Cobra Faction.

Secondly, the 2010 census was based on residency, not birth, and therefore does not reflect the exact numbers of political caucuses shown below. For example, Dinkas who were living abroad (USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand etc.) or in the neighboring countries (Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Khartoum etc.) or in cities (Juba, Malakal, Wau, Torit, Kapoeta) or in the various military barracks and displacement camps across South Sudan, were not counted and are consequently not reflected in the analysis of their respective political caucuses and constituencies. This picture is as true for the Nuers as it is for Equatorians and the Minority groups.

Lastly, there are few counties that are shared by more than one political caucus or constituent. The Rek Dinka (Wau-Makwei-Akech) and the Fertit/Luo communities, for instance, inhabit Jur-River County in Western Bahr el Ghazal state. In most counties, however, this is an exception rather than the rule.

Below is the comprehensive breakdown of the raw numbers by counties:

Table I: Raw Numbers per County

State County Political Caucus

Political Constituency

Population (2008 Census) National Percentage
Jonglei Twic East Dinka Boor Dinka 85,349 1.03%
Duk Dinka Boor Dinka 65,588 0.79%
Boor Dinka Boor Dinka 221,106 2.68%
Pigi Dinka Padaang Dinka 99,068 1.19%
Akobo Nuer Lou Nuer 136,210 1.65%
Ayod Nuer Phow Nuer 139,282 1.69%
Fangak Nuer Phow Nuer 110,130 1.33%
Nyirol Nuer Lou Nuer 108,674 1.32%
Pibor Minority Group Mukaji[3] 148,475 1.79%
Wuror Nuer Lou Nuer 178,519 2.16%
Pochalla Minority Group Anyuak 66,201 0.80%
Upper Nile Baliet Dinka Padaang Dinka 48,010 0.58%
Kodok/Fashoda Minority Group Shilluk 36,518 0.44%
Longochuk Nuer Jikany Nuer 63,166 0.76%
Nasir/Luakpiny Nuer Jikany Nuer 210,002 2.54%
Maban Minority Groups Buny 45,238 0.55%
Maiwut Nuer Jikany Nuer 79,462 0.96%
Malakal Minority Group Shilluk 126,483 1.53%
Manyo Minority Group Shilluk 38,010 0.46%
Melut Dinka Padaang Dinka 49,242 0.59%
Panyikang Minority Group Shilluk 45,427 0.55%
Renk Dinka Padaang Dinka 137,751 1.67%
Ulang Nuer Jikany Nuer 85,044 1.03%
Unity Abiemnhom Dinka Padaang Dinka 17,012 0.21%
Pariang Dinka Padaang Dinka 82,443 0.99%
Guit Nuer Liech Nuer 33,004 0.39%
Koch Nuer Liech Nuer 74,863 0.91%
Leer Nuer Liech Nuer 53,022 0.64%
Mayendit Nuer Liech Nuer 53,783 0.65%
Mayom Nuer Liech Nuer 120,715 1.46%
Panyijar Nuer Liech Nuer 50,723 0.61%
Rubkona Nuer Liech Nuer 100,236 1.21%
Lakes Awerial Dinka Agaar Dinka 47,041 0.57%
Cueibet Dinka Agaar Dinka 117,755 1.43%
Rumbek Center Dinka Agaar Dinka 153,550 1.86%
Rumbek East Dinka Agaar Dinka 122,832 1.49%
Rumbek North Dinka Agaar Dinka 43,410 0.53%
Yirol East Dinka Agaar Dinka 67,402 0.82%
Yirol West Dinka Agaar Dinka 103,190 1.25%
Wulu Minority Group Jur-Bhel 40,550 0.49%
Warrap Abyei Dinka Padaang Dinka 52,883 0.64%
Gogrial East Dinka Rek Dinka 103,283 1.25%
Gogrial West Dinka Rek Dinka 243,921 2.95%
Tonj East Dinka Rek Dinka 116,122 1.41%
Tonj North Dinka Rek Dinka- 165,222 2.00%
Tonj South Dinka Rek Dinka 86,592 1.05%
Twic Dinka Rek Dinka 204,905 2.48%
NBG[4] Aweil Center Dinka Rek Dinka 41,827 0.51%
Aweil East Dinka Rek Dinka 309,921 3.75%
Aweil North Dinka Rek Dinka 129,127 1.56%
Aweil South Dinka Rek Dinka 73,806 0.89%
Aweil West Dinka Rek Dinka 166,217 2.01%
WBG[5] Jur River[6] Minority Group Jur-Chol/Rek Dinka 127,771 1.55%
Raga Minority Group Jur-Chat, Fertit 54,340 0.66%
Wau Minority Group Fertit, Jur-Chol, 151,320 1.83%
WES[7] Ezo Equatorian Western Equatorians 80,861 0.98%
Ibba Equatorian Western Equatorians 41,869 0.51%
Maridi Equatorian Western Equatorians 82,461 0.99%
Mundri East Equatorian Western Equatorians 48,318 0.59%
Mundri West Equatorian Western Equatorians 33,975 0.41%
Mvolo Equatorian Western Equatorians 48,134 0.58%
Nagero Equatorian Western Equatorians 10,077 0.12%
Nzara Equatorian Western Equatorians 65,712 0.79%
Tambura Equatorian Western Equatorians 55,365 0.67%
Yambio Equatorian Western Equatorians 152,257 1.84%
CES[8] Juba Equatorian Central Equatorians 368,436 4.46%
Kajo-Keji Equatorian Central Equatorians 196,387 2.38%
Lainya Equatorian Central Equatorians 89,315 1.08%
Morobo Equatorian Central Equatorians 103,603 1.25%
Terekeka Equatorian Central Equatorians 144,373 1.75%
Yei Equatorian Central Equatorians 201,443 2.44%
EES[9] Budi Equatorian Eastern Equatorians 99,234 1.20%
Ikotos Equatorian Eastern Equatorians 84,649 1.03%
Kapoeta East Equatorian Eastern Equatorians 163,997 1.99%
Kapoeta North Equatorian Eastern Equatorians 103,084 1.25%
Kapoeta South Equatorian Eastern Equatorians 79,470 0.96%
Lopa Equatorian Eastern Equatorians 106,161 1.29%
Magwi Equatorian Eastern Equatorians 169,826 2.06%
Torit Equatorian Eastern Equatorians 99,740 1.21%

We can infer, from Table I, the approximate percentage proportion of each of the reported 64 ethnic communities of South Sudan. For example, the Taposa tribe is about 4.20% of South Sudan’s national population; Shilluk about 2.98%; Rek Dinka about 19.86%; Nuer about 19.33%; Anyuak about 0.80% while Boor Dinka about 4.50%. What this means is that if government positions were to be allocated base on the percentage proportion of each tribe of South Sudan, then the Taposa ethnic group would receive 4.20% of the national government in Juba; Shilluk about 2.98%; Rek Dinka about 19.86%; Nuer about 19.33%; Anyuak about 0.80% while Boor Dinka about 4.50%, to mention but just a few.

Each representative of these particular ethnic groups in South Sudan would hold a number of government posts proportionate to the percentage of the total population that each of these particular ethnic groups represent. Arguably, this would be a free and fair system of governance, and justice would be seen done because each ethnic group would be allocated nothing but its fair and rightful share in the national government as predetermined by their population size. In other words, no ethnic group would feel unjustly marginalized in the political, economic and social benefits accruable from being part and parcel of the national government. Political stability would ensue; peace and national development would flourish and the evil of tribalism that has been bedeviling Sub-Saharan African (SSA) region would be greatly blunted.

However, with about 64 ethnic groups in the Republic of South Sudan, it would be a daunting task to satisfy each and every tribe in the country with a seat at the national government. Therefore, taking ’64 tribe’ as the defining unit of tribocracy would render it impractical when it comes to actual implementation and governance. Although ethnicity is the strongest indicator of identity politics[10] in South Sudan, we must discard the concept of ‘64 tribes’ as the basis of power sharing in a tribocratic government because it is impractical and thus ineffective.


If ‘64 tribes’ cannot function as an effective and useful basis for determining a power sharing formula in South Sudan, then it would be tempting to consider regionalism. Table II shows raw numbers and the proportionate percentage share of each region relative to national population according to the 2010 census.

Table II: Raw Numbers per Region

Code Region Capital City Population (1983) Population (2008) National Percent (2010 Census)
01 Greater Upper Nile Malakal 1,657,576 2,908,756 35.21%
02 Greater Bahr el Ghazal Wau 2,265,510 2,722,987 32.96%
03 Greater Equatoria Juba 1,006,181 2,628,747 31.82%
  TOTAL   4,929,267 8,260,490 100%

There are three major regions in the Republic of South Sudan, namely the Greater Upper Nile region—comprising the three states of Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile—with about 2.91 million people; the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region, which is made up of the four states of Warrap, Lakes, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Western Bahr el Ghazal, with around 2.72 million people, and the Greater Equatoria region, composed of the three states of Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria and Western Equatoria, which house about 2.63 million inhabitants.

Thus, from the total population of 8.26 million citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, 35.21% of them reside in the Greater Upper Nile region; 32.96% in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region, while 31.82% live in the Greater Equatoria region. Tribocratically speaking, it means that in term of an equitable and fair political representation in the national government in Juba, the Greater Upper Nile region would get 35.21% share of the national government; the Greater Bahr el Ghazal would take home 32.96% share of the national government, while the Greater Equatoria region would pocket the remaining percentage of 31.82% of the national government.

Firstly, this would be free and fair, equitable sharing of the national cake. Justice would be done because each region has been allocated nothing but its fair and rightful share in the national government as predetermined by their proportionate population size. In other words, no region would feel unjustly marginalized in the political, economic and social benefits accruable from being part and parcel of the national government. Political stability would ensue; peace and national development would flourish and tribalism would be blunted.

Secondly, there is a perceptible association of regionalism with identity politics in South Sudan. During the regional government—the High Executive Council (HEC)—of Justice Abel Alier Kwai and Gen. Joseph Lagu Yang’a, regionalism was the game in town especially in the politics of Kokoraism championed by Gen. Joseph Lagu. Their self-defeating political tussling gave rise to the birth of the three greater regions of South Sudan—Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria, courtesy of President Gaafar Nimeiry.

Although regionalism was more pronounced in Equatoria than in Upper Nile or Bahr el Ghazal during the regional government of the 1980s, it later became handy to Commander Salva Kiir in 2002 when Riek Machar returned to the fold after his futile political adventures in Khartoum. When Riek Machar returned to the SPLM/A in 2002, the general understanding—dating back to the days of inter-factional peace talks in Nairobi, Kenya, mediated by Church leaders—was that Dr. John Garang would retain his position as chairman and C-in-C of the SPLM/A while Riek Machar would become his deputy.

Commander Salva Kiir, however, successfully argued that both Garang and Riek hail from the Greater Upper Nile region and cannot therefore be allowed to occupy the two topmost positions of the Movement. The deadlock was broken when Commander James Wani Igga volunteered his number-three position to accommodate Riek Machar for the sake of unity and reconciliation among South Sudanese and for the cause of the marginalized people of South Sudan.

In the ongoing IGAD-led South Sudan’s peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, regionalism has once more become a handy tool for Riek Machar to push for the position of the first vice president over and above the current occupant, James Wani Igga. Riek Machar and his supporters assert that Equatoria, represented by its three states and governors, is not one tribe and that the Greater Upper Nile region where Riek Machar hails from is greater than the Greater Equatoria region that is purportedly represented by James Wani Igga.

Thus, one can reasonably advocate that regionalism can act as a blue print for power sharing in South Sudan not only because of its historical roots but also because of the emotional cord it invokes among the people of the Greater Equatoria region. However, regionalism is less of a political force in the Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal regions. Although Riek Machar may claim to represent the Greater Upper Nile region in his quest to unseat James Wani Igga, the non-Nuer ethnic communities of the Greater Upper Nile region such as the Dinka, Shilluk, Murle, Anyuak, etc. would undoubtedly contest such political characterization.

Hence, although regionalism is the strongest indicator of identity politics in the Greater Equatoria region, it is much less conspicuous in both the Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal regions. Therefore, we must abandon regionalism as the basis of power sharing in a tribocratic government because it is contested and thus ineffective.


If either ‘64 tribes’ or regionalism cannot function as an effective and useful basis for determining a power sharing formula in South Sudan, then it would be tempting to consider state-ism. In Table III below, we can see the population size of each of the ten states of South Sudan plus their proportionate percentage share relative to the national population according to the 2010 census.

Table III: Raw Numbers per State

Code State Capital City Population (1983) Population (2008) National Percent (2008 Census)
01 Jonglei Bor 797,251 1,358,602 16.45%
02 Upper Nile Malakal 549,283 964,353 11.68%
03 Unity Bentiu 311,042 585,801 7.09%
04 Lakes Rumbek 504,468 695,730 8.43%
05 Warrap Kuajok 794,231 972,928 11.78%
06 Northern Bahr el Ghazal Aweil 746,358 720,898 8.73%
07 Western Bahr el Ghazal Wau 220,453 333,431 4.04%
08 Eastern Equatoria Torit 81,683 906,161 10.97%
09 Central Equatoria Juba 565,442 1,103,557 13.36%
10 Western Equatoria Yambio 359,056 619,029 7.50%
  TOTAL   4,929,267 8,260,490 100%

There are 10 states in the Republic of South Sudan (see Table III above). What this means is that if cabinet and other high profile government positions were to be allocated based on the percentage proportion of each state, then Jonglei state would get about 16.45% of the national government; Central Equatoria state about 13.36%; Warrap state about 11.78%; Upper Nile about 11.68%; Eastern Equatoria state about 10.97%; Northern Bahr el Ghazal about 8.73%; Lakes state about 8.43%; Western Equatoria state about 7.50%; Unity state about 7.09% and Western Bahr el Ghazal with about 4.04%.

This would be a free and fair system of governance, and justice would be done because each state would be allocated nothing but its fair and rightful share in the national government as predetermined by their population size. In other words, no state would feel unjustly marginalized in the political, economic and social benefits accruable from being part and parcel of the national government. Political stability would ensue; peace and national development would flourish and tribalism would be blunted.

Nonetheless, state-ism is not a viable basis for power sharing in South Sudan because hardly any section of the South Sudanese society readily identifies with their state as much as they do with ethnicity across the nation or regionalism among the Equatorians. Therefore, we must reject state-ism as the basis for power sharing in a tribocratic government because it is irrelevant and thus ineffective.


With ethnicity, regionalism and state-ism being no basis for an effective power sharing mechanism in South Sudan—either because they are impractical (ethnicity) or contested (regionalism) or irrelevant (state-ism)—there is an exigency to establish a new, effective and relevant basis to allocate and share power among our people. In my opinion, this should be what I called political caucus and constituency. A political caucus is the main dominant political group with the most influential political force in the country, while a political constituency is the sub-group of the main dominant political group with the most influential political force.

Therefore, in our case, political caucuses are the most influential political force in the Republic of South Sudan. On the one hand, there are four major political caucuses in South Sudan, namely the Dinka, the Equatorian, the Nuer and the Minority Group (see Table VI). On the other hand, there are about seventeen political constituencies (see Table V).

Table IV: Raw Numbers per County

Political Caucus Political Constituency Ethnic Group County Population 2008 Census National Percentage
Dinka Boor Dinka Twic Mabioordit Twic East 85,349 1.03%
Boor Dinka Boor Boor 221,106 2.68%
Boor Dinka Nyarweng, Hol, Duk 65,588 0.79%
Padaang Dinka Paweny, Rut, Thoi, Luach Pigi 99,068 1.19%
Padaang Dinka Aloor, Abiemnhom 17,012 0.21%
Padaang Dinka Panaruu Pariang 82,443 0.99%
Padaang Dinka Abiliang, Dongjol Renk 137,751 1.67%
Padaang Dinka Ageer, Nyiel, Melut 49,242 0.59%
Padaang Dinka Ngok-Lual Yak Baliet 48,010 0.58%
Padaang Dinka Ngok Abyei (Jook) Abyei 52,883 0.64%
Agaar Dinka Aliab Awerial 47,041 0.57%
Agaar Dinka Gok Cueibet 117,755 1.43%
Agaar Dinka Agaar (Kwei, Ruup) Rumbek Center 153,550 1.86%
Agaar Dinka Agaar (Aliamtooch) Rumbek East 122,832 1.49%
Agaar Dinka Agaar (Pakam) Rumbek North 43,410 0.53%
Agaar Dinka Ciec Yirol East 67,402 0.82%
Agaar Dinka Atuot Yirol West 103,190 1.25%
Rek Dinka Apuk-Giir Gogrial East 103,283 1.25%
Rek Dinka Awan-Chan, Awan-Mou, Aguok, Kuach Gogrial West 243,921 2.95%
Rek Dinka Thiik, Luach-Jang, Luach-Koth, Akook, Jal-Wou, Tonj East 116,122 1.41%
Rek Dinka Konggoor, Noi, Atok, Abiem, Abuok, Nyang, Leer, Awan-Parek, Lou-Ariik, Lou-Paher, Apuk-Padoch Tonj North 165,222 2.00%
Rek Dinka Yaar, Thony, Apuk-Jurwiir, Muok, Tonj South 86,592 1.05%
Rek Dinka Twic Mayaardit Twic 204,905 2.48%
Rek Dinka Malual-Giernyang Aweil Center 41,827 0.51%
Rek Dinka Abiem Aweil East 309,921 3.75%
Rek Dinka Malual-Giernyang Aweil North 129,127 1.56%
Rek Dinka Ajak, Buoncuai, Kongdeer, Aweil South 73,806 0.89%
Rek Dinka Malual-Giernyang Aweil West 166,217 2.01%
Equatorian Western Equatorians Zande Ezo 80,861 0.98%
Western Equatorians Zande Ibba 41,869 0.51%
Western Equatorians Moru, Avukaya, Mundu, Baka Maridi 82,461 0.99%
Western Equatorians Moru, Mundri East 48,318 0.59%
Western Equatorians Moru Mundri West 33,975 0.41%
Western Equatorians Jur-Bhel, Moru Mvolo 48,134 0.58%
Western Equatorians Zande, Balanda Nagero 10,077 0.12%
Western Equatorians Zande Nzara 65,712 0.79%
Western Equatorians Zande, Balanda Tambura 55,365 0.67%
Western Equatorians Zande Yambio 152,257 1.84%
Central Equatorians Bari, Nyangwara, Lokoya Juba 368,436 4.46%
Central Equatorians Kuku Kajo-Keji 196,387 2.38%
Central Equatorians Pajulu Lainya 89,315 1.08%
Central Equatorians Kakwa, Keliko Morobo 103,603 1.25%
Central Equatorians Mundari Terekeka 144,373 1.75%
Central Equatorians Kakwa, Pajulu, Avukaya, Yei 201,443 2.44%
Eastern Equatorians Buya, Didinga Budi 99,234 1.20%
Eastern Equatorians Lang’o, Logir, Dongotano Ikotos 84,649 1.03%
Eastern Equatorians Taposa, Nyangatom Kapoeta East 163,997 1.99%
Eastern Equatorians Taposa Kapoeta North 103,084 1.25%
Eastern Equatorians Taposa Kapoeta South 79,470 0.96%
Eastern Equatorians Lopit, Pari, Tenet Lopa 106,161 1.29%
Eastern Equatorians Madi, Acholi Magwi 169,826 2.06%
Eastern Equatorians Lotuho, Horiok Torit 99,740 1.21%


Lou Nuer Chieng-Dak Wuror 178,519 2.16%
Lou Nuer Gatbaal Nyirol 108,674 1.32%
Lou Nuer Moor Akobo 136,210 1.65%
Phow Nuer Gawaar Ayod 139,282 1.69%
Phow Nuer Laak, Thiang Fangak 110,130 1.33%
Jikany Nuer Gajaak (Chieng-Wau) Maiwut 79,462 0.96%
Jikany Nuer Gajaak (Thiang) Longochuk 63,166 0.76%
Jikany Nuer Gajook (Chieng-Lang) Ulang 85,044 1.03%
Jikany Nuer Gajook (Chieng-Nyilieth), Gaguang Nasir/Luakpiny 210,002 2.54%
Liech Nuer Bul Mayom 120,715 1.46%
Liech Nuer Jangei Koch 74,863 0.91%
Liech Nuer Dok Leer 53,022 0.64%
Liech Nuer Hak Mayendit 53,783 0.65%
Liech Nuer Western Jikany Guit 33,004 0.39%
Liech Nuer Nyuong Panyijar 50,723 0.61%
Liech Nuer Leek Rubkona 100,236 1.21%
Minority Group Shilluk Shilluk Kodok/Fashoda 36,518 0.44%
Shilluk Shilluk Malakal 126,483 1.53%
Shilluk Shilluk Manyo 38,010 0.46%
Shilluk Shilluk Panyikang 45,427 0.55%
Buny Buny Maban 45,238 0.55%
Mukaji Murle, Jie, Kachipo Pibor 148,475 1.79%
Anyuak Anyuak Pochalla 66,201 0.80%
Luo Jur-Bhel Wulu 40,550 0.49%
Luo Jur-Chol Jur River[11] 127,771 1.55%
Fertit Balanda, Jur-Chat Raga 54,340 0.66%
Fertit Balanda Wau 151,320 1.83%
TOTAL 8,260,490 100%

Table V: Raw Numbers per Political Constituency

Political Caucus Political Constituency Ethnic Group Population (2008) Political Caucus % National % (2008)
Dinka Rek Dinka Tonj Dinka, Aweil Dinka, Gogrial Dinka 1,640,943 52.02% 19.86%
Agaar Dinka Agaar, Aliab, Atuot, Ciec, Gok 655,180 20.76% 7.93%
Padaang Dinka Panaruu, Thoi, Ngok Abyei, Luach, Ageer, Paweny, Rut, Aloor, Nyiel, Ngok-Lual Yak, Abiliang, Dongjol, 486,409 15.41% 5.88%
Boor Dinka Bor, Hol, Nyarweng, Twic Mabioordit 372,043 11.79% 4.50%
Nuer Liech Nuer Leek, Nyuong, Dok, Bul, Hak, Jangei, Western Jikany 486,346 30.45% 5.87%
Jikany Nuer Gajaak, Gajook, Gaguong 437,674 27.41% 5.29%
Lou Nuer Moor, Chieng-Dak, Gatbaal 423,403 26.51% 5.13%
Phow Nuer Laak, Gawaar, Thiang 249,412 15.61% 3.02%
Equatorian Centralers Bari, Mundari, Kuku, Pajulu, Kakwa, Keliko, Nyangwara, Lokoya 1,103,557 41.98% 13.36%
Easterners Latuko, Buya, Taposa, Madi, Acholi, Lango, Didinga, Logir, Lopit, Pari, Tenet, Horiok, Nyangatom, Dongotano 906,161 34.47% 10.99%
Westerners Zande, Mundu, Moru, Balanda, Baka, Jur-Bhel, Avukaya 619,029 23.54% 7.48%
Minority Group Shilluk Shilluk 246,438 27.99% 2.98%
Mukaji Murle, Kachipo, Jie 148,475 16.86% 1.79%
Anyuak Anyuak 66,201 7.52% 0.80%
Maban Buny 45,238 5.14% 0.55%
Fertit Balanda, Jur-Chat 205,660 23.36% 2.49%
Luo Jur-Chol, Jur-Bhel 168,321 19.12% 2.04%
TOTAL     8,260,490 100% 100%


Table VI: Raw Numbers per Political Caucus

Code Political Caucus Political Constituency Population (2008) National Percent (2008 Census)
01 Dinka Boor, Agaar, Rek, Padaang 3,154,575 38.18%
02 Equatorian Easterners, Centralers, Westerners 2,628,747 31.82%
03 Nuer Lou, Jikany, Liech, Phow 1,596,835 19.33%
04 Minority Group Shilluk, Fertit, Mukaji, Buny, Anyuak, Luo 880,333 10.65%
  TOTAL   8,260,490 100%

Based on Table VI, I would argue that there are only four major tribes in South Sudan—Dinka, Equatorian, Nuer and Minority Group. The Dinka tribe is divided into four major political constituencies: Rek, Agaar, Boor and Padaang Dinkas. The Equatorian tribe is made up of the following political constituencies: Central, Eastern and Western Equatorians. The Nuer tribe consists of four major political constituencies, namely, the Lou, Jikany, Liech and Phow Nuers. The group of minority tribes is composed of the Shilluk, Fertit, Mukaji, Buny, Anyuak and the Luo.

Whereas a political caucus is a viable tool to share power horizontally among these four tribes of South Sudan, political constituent is an effective mechanism to allocate power vertically within those tribes. Using a political caucus as a defining unit of power sharing among the 64 tribes of South Sudan under a tribocratic dispensation, we can divine the approximate percentage proportion of each of the four political caucuses in South Sudan.

For example, the Dinka caucus is about 38.18% of South Sudan’s national population; the Equatorian caucus about 31.82%; the Nuer caucus about 19.33%, while the Minority Group is around 10.65%. What this means is that if government positions were to be allocated based on the percentage proportion of each political caucus of South Sudan, then the Dinka caucus would receive 38.18% of South Sudan’s national government in Juba; the Equatorian caucus about 31.82%; the Nuer caucus about 19.33%, and the Minority Group around 10.65%.

Again, using political constituency as a defining unit of power sharing within the four political caucuses under a tribocratic dispensation, we can divine the approximate percentage proportion of each of the seventeen political constituents in South Sudan. For example, within the Dinka caucus, the Rek Dinka would take about 52.02% of the 38.18% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 19.86% of the national government in Juba; the Agaar Dinka about 20.76% of the 38.18% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 7.93% of the national government in Juba; the Padaang Dinka about 15.41% of the 38.18% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 5.88% of the national government in Juba, and the Boor Dinka about 11.79% of the 38.18% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 4.50% of the national government in Juba.

Within the Equatorian caucus, the blue print of political constituency would guide us to arrive at the following conclusion: Western Equatorians would get roughly 23.54% of the 31.82% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 7.48% of the national government in Juba; Central Equatorians would get roughly 41.98% of the 31.82% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 13.36% of the national government in Juba, and Eastern Equatorians would get roughly 34.47% of the 31.82% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 10.99% of the national government in Juba.

For the Nuer caucus, the Lou Nuer would receive approximately 26.51% of the 19.33% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 5.13% of the national government in Juba; the Jikany Nuer would receive approximately 27.41% of the 19.33% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 5.29% of the national government in Juba; the Liech Nuer would receive approximately 30.45% of the 19.33% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 5.87% of the national government in Juba, and the Phow Nuer would receive approximately 15.61% of the 19.33% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 3.02% of the national government in Juba.

Lastly, within the Minority Group caucus, the Shilluk would get about 27.99% of the 10.65% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 2.98% of the national government in Juba; the Mukaji would get about 16.86% of the 10.65% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 1.79% of the national government in Juba; the Fertit would get about 23.36% of the 10.65% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 2.49% of the national government in Juba; the Anyuak would get about 7.52% of the 10.65% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 0.80% of the national government in Juba; the Luo would get about 19.12% of the 10.65% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 2.04% of the national government in Juba, and the Buny of Maban would get about 5.14% of the 10.65% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 0.55% of the national government in Juba;

The same process can be applied and used to allocate and share power within each and every ethnic group of the political caucus of South Sudan. For example, within the Boor Dinka ethnic community, which is composed of Boor, Twic Mabioordit, Hol and Nyarweng communities, we can further infer that the Boor Dinka community would get about 59.34%[12] of the 11.79%[13] of the 38.18%[14] of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 2.68% of the national government in Juba; the Twic-Mabioordit Dinka community would get about 22.94% of the 11.79% of the 38.18% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 1.03% of the national government in Juba, and the Nyarweng and Hol communities of Duk county would get about 17.62% of the 11.79% of the 38.18% of South Sudan’s national government, which is around 0.79% of the national government in Juba.


What this mean is that each representative of the ‘64 tribes’ in South Sudan would hold a number of government posts proportionate to the percentage of the total population that each of these particular ethnic groups represents. Arguably, this would be a free and fair system of governance, and justice would be done because each ethnic group would be allocated nothing but its fair and rightful share in the national government as predetermined by their population size. In other words, none of the 64 ethnic groups would feel unjustly marginalized in the political, economic and social benefits accruable from being part and parcel of the national government. Political stability would ensue; peace and national development would flourish and the evil of tribalism that has been bedeviling Sub-Saharan African region would be greatly blunted.

Most importantly, the four categories of political caucuses are integral part of identity politics in the Republic of South Sudan. It is not unusual to hear people talking of ‘Dinka domination’ of the national government in Juba, of the chronic ‘Nuer rebellion’ year in year out, of the pervasive neo-Kokoraism mindset among the Equatorians, and of the utter marginalization of the minority groups in South Sudan, the consequence of which was the recent establishment of the Greater Pibor Area Administration to address the purported marginalization of the Murle ethnic community in the administration of Jonglei state.

With political caucus as the formula for power allocation and sharing in South Sudan, the problem of Dinka domination, of Nuer rebellion, of Kokoraism sugarcoated as federalism among the Equatorians, and of political and economic marginalization of minority communities can be addressed and solved. Although there is no particular political group that advocates for the interest of the minority groups in South Sudan, it is the case that most South Sudanese readily identify with the Dinka, Equatorian, and Nuer identity politics.

Thus, we can proclaim that tribocracy would act as a blue print for power sharing in South Sudan because, with the help of the political caucus and constituency mechanism, we could reasonably satisfy each and every tribe in the country with a seat at the national government. Tribocratic dispensation is therefore a viable—practical, relevant and effective—basis for power allocation and sharing among the citizens of South Sudan in particular and Africa in general.

PaanLuel Wël is the Managing Editor of PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB). He can be reached through his Facebook page, Twitter account or email:

[1] Michael Green’s TED Talk (2014), “What the Social Progress Index can reveal about your country.”

[2] PaanLuel Wël (2015), “The Principle of Tribocracy, Part One”.

[3] Mukaji is an acronym for Murle, Kachipo and Jie, the ethnic communities that inhabit Greater Pibor area, currently known as the Greater Pibor Administrative Area under the leadership of the renegade militia leader, David Yau-Yau

[4] NBG represents Northern Bahr el Ghazal state (Aweil)

[5] WBG represents Western Bahr el Ghazal state (Wau)

[6] Jur-River County in Western Bahr el Ghazal state is shared by the Rek Dinka (Wau-Makwei-Akech) and the Fertit/Luo communities.

[7] WES represents Western Equatoria state (Yambio)

[8] CES represents Central Equatoria state (Juba)

[9] EES represents Eastern Equatoria state (Torit)

[10] According to, identity politics is a political style that focuses on the issues relevant to various groups defined by a wide variety of shared characteristics, including, but not limited to, race, social class, religion, sex, gender, ethnicity, ideology, nationality, sexual orientation, gender expression, culture, currency, shared history, medical conditions, profession, and other of the many ways in which people differ from each other, and into which they may be classified or classify themselves.

[11] Jur-River County in Western Bahr el Ghazal state is shared by the Rek Dinka (Wau-Makwei-Akech) and the Fertit/Luo (Jurchol) communities. For the sake of this study, I am going to allocate 100% of the population to Jurchol, just to simplify my calculations and to elucidate my point of argument. Interested parties should go to the ground to ascertain the official numbers for each of the two communities for themselves.

[12] 59.43% is the proportionate percentage of the Boor Dinka community within the three counties of the Greater Boor Dinka community: Boor, Twic East and Duk County.

[13] 11.79% is the proportionate percentage of the Greater Boor Dinka community within the entire Dinka community: Rek, Agaar, Boor and Padaang Dinka

[14] 38.18% is the proportionate percentage of the Dinka political caucus in the Republic of South Sudan

The Essence of Tribocracy

By PaanLuel Wël, Juba, South Sudan

In the life of every person there comes a point when he realizes that out of all the seemingly limitless possibilities of his youth he has in fact become one actuality. No longer is life a broad plain with forests and mountains beckoning all-around, but it becomes apparent that one’s journey across the meadows has indeed followed a regular path, that one can no longer go this way or that. The desire to reconcile an experience of freedom with a determined environment is the lament of poetry and the dilemma of philosophy.– Opening Sentence, Henry Kissinger’s Undergraduate Thesis, Harvard University, 1949.

Celebrating the Fruition of the CPA

Celebrating the Fruition of the CPA


February 7, 2015 (SSB)  On Wednesday, 19 November 2014, Wau East communities from Western Bahr el Ghazal’s Jur River County filed an urgent complaint with Governor Rizik Zakaria Hassan over power-sharing aberrations. The community representatives, led by Chairman James Bak Nyiyuo and Secretary Abraham Urayo, met with the state governor “to put their case for equal presentation in the executive state government.”[1]

In their written statement presented to Governor Rizik Hassan on behalf of the Wau East community, the community representatives crisply stated that their “demand stemmed up from the grassroots of the community after we have seen the current presentation in the executive government in the state cabinet where only two positions were offered to whole Wau East communities by your government compared to the representation of other communities in which great differences are seen.”[2]

More importantly, the written statement also reiterated the Wau East communities’ continued support for Governor Rizik Hassan’s state government “as we voted you in through a fair, transparent and credible democratic elections”[3] during the 2010 general election. The meeting between the representatives of Wau East community and the state governor was considered “a success” chiefly because Governor Rizik Hassan had accepted to meet the community representatives as requested and duly promised to look into the communities’ demands as outlined in their letter to the governor. While applauding their initiative, the governor candidly explained to the community representatives “that the first appointments in his cabinet were based on their qualifications and personal background with the ruling party (SPLM) rather than on community interest.”[4]

Speaking to the press after their meeting with Governor Rizik Hassan, the secretary of the delegation, Abraham Urayo, declared: “Our meeting with the governor was very clear as a demand from our communities over [the] lack of equal representation in the state’s cabinet likewise to other communities within the state…The state governor has [assured] us that he will consider our list in case of any reshuffling in the cabinet.”[5]

The meeting was prompted by the Wau East communities’ grave “concerns that they will again be left out in the future when the governor names his next cabinet line-up.”[6] In essence, the Wau East communities are simply petitioning Governor Rizik Hassan to proffer them nothing but their fair share of the state government they had voted in through a fair, transparent and credible democratic election.

In their quest for justice and fairness, they are asking for transparency and credibility of the selection process just as it was the case during the election that saw Governor Rizik Hassan winning the gubernatorial post. The communities are puzzled about ending up with only two cabinet positions while other communities have more than their fair share of the state government. They want fair and just system—equal representation in the state government based on numerical strength.

Their cause is not so much love for their own community as it is a fight for justice, equality and transparency—the motto of the ruling SPLM party. Fulfilling the revolutionary vision of the historic SPLM movement is—in the befitting title of Jacob Jiel Akol’s book—the burden of our nation.[7]


On 23 July 2011, just on the eve of the unveiling of the first cabinet of an independent South Sudan, I had written an article, Tribocracy: The New Political Philosophy for the New Country[8], in which I had argued that for South Sudan to avoid the pitfalls of her fellow, post-colonial African countries and be successful, the new nation must fully embrace and constitutionally legalize tribocracy as a system of political representation at the state and national levels. My article, much as it has been my long-harbored view about the preferred system of governance in Sub-Saharan Africa, was partly triggered by President Salva Kiir’s announcement that his first government would “be formed based on qualifications of candidates and not on tribal representation.”[9]

My advocacy for tribocracy is not so much the love for tribalism as it is the desire to take the bull by its horns. We should stop burying our heads in the sand of complacency. Indeed, to assert that the evils of tribalism are the ruination of Sub-Saharan African countries would be to affirm the obvious. Tribalism is the denial, or unequal sharing, of political offices by and/or amongst various ethnic groups that make up the nation-state. It breeds an intoxicating environment in which no plausible policies could emerge to encourage and promote justice, fairness and equality in power sharing and allocation of national resources.

And because plump political posts do translate into goodies, tribalism has been, and will continue to be, the socioeconomic and political undoing of South Sudan just as it has been the downfall of much of the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. This is because politicians operating under tribalism have always manipulated and abused glaring shortcomings in democracy for their political endgames.

Democracy has thoroughly been abused in Africa. Procedural elections in many African countries have been used to legitimize—and perpetuate with impunity—corruption, bad leadership, and greediness for power, and to undermine any prospect of economic transformation and social prosperity. Without the prospect of democratization taking place due to the prevalence of tribalism, the entire region of Sub-Saharan Africa, for the last decades, has been left wallowing in abject poverty, illiteracy and political mediocrity. South Sudan too has no chance of ridding itself of tribalism by counting on democratization.

In a country without democracy but with with an embarrassing rate of illiteracy, the chances of economic development and political stability are literally beyond the realm of possibilities. Consequently, it is prudent that South Sudan should not trudge the very path to self-destruction that was taken by her counterparts in Sub-Saharan Africa. Pure liberal democracy, under the present conditions in South Sudan, is a mirage. Even in the West, it was a long arduous, never-straight, process. To expect South Sudan to democratize just within few years after independence is a frustrating exercise in sheer self-delusion.

Indeed, the horrendous spectacles of bad leadership, poor governance, rampant corruption and nepotism along with unabated accounts of inter-tribal conflicts and a chronic addiction to political rebellions as well as general malaise in socioeconomic development and political immaturity in Africa in general and in the present day South Sudan in particular, are merely symptoms of the underlying principal illness: tribalism.

In the 1960s, when most African countries were shaking off the heavy yoke of colonialism and embarking on self-rule, the then young inspiring leaders of African countries were greatly troubled by the illness of tribalism. Nonetheless, many hoped that, with democracy, liberal education and the promise of economic prosperity in hand, they would combat and defeat tribalism in its infancy, once and for all.

However, those promising tools they had pegged their hopes on to fight and eliminate tribalism—democracy, education and social prosperity—never saw the light of day. The poisonous thorns of tribalism choked them off in the womb as mere ideas. The rest is history as we can all see today in each and every country in the Sub-Saharan African region. That no single nation has succeeded in realizing her sociopolitical inspirations and harvesting the fruits of her independence is the plainest testimony to the resilience of tribalism in our societal psyche.

The way out of this political conundrum is to adopt and institutionalize tribocracy. The constitutionalization of tribocracy would herald the end of our current tribulations engendered by the evils of tribalism. Therefore, public appointments must be based on fair and equitable tribal representation, not on educational qualifications, political loyalty or liberation struggle credentials.


Whereas tribalism is “a form of government where representatives of a particular ethnic group hold a number of government posts disproportionately large to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group(s) represents and use them to advance the position of their particular ethnic group(s) to the detriment of others.”[10] Tribocracy, on the other hand, is a political system where representatives of a particular ethnic group hold a number of government posts proportionate to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group(s) represents in order to promote and achieve fair and equitable political representation across all ethnic groups comprising that particular nation.

In a tribal African nation such as South Sudan, the best qualification for political office is equitable tribal representation, not the so-called meritocracy. After all, educational qualification, work experience and relevant background are vague at best and misleading at worst, making meritocracy susceptible to political manipulations by some well-connected individuals from certain favored tribe(s). Such individuals from the favored tribe(s) perpetually end up with the lion share of the government in the name of “they are highly qualified” for the jobs.

Therefore, the officialization of tribalism is what I would refer to as tribocracy. It is a political system of governance in which equality in political representation in the national government and/or at the state level is achieved through the principle of equitable and fair tribal representation. As each and every tribe gets a small proportion of the national seats, the benefits accruable from those high portfolios will invariably trickle down to every tribe.

My main argument is that we should device an inclusive system of governance, which in word and practice must be seen as fair and equitable for all the ethnic groups of South Sudan. To think otherwise is to inadvertently sleepwalk into the same booby-trap that befell and doomed the young independent African countries of the 1960s. Instead of trying in vain to avoid tribalism, we should rather unflinchingly embrace it, adopt it and institutionalize it as our core political philosophy of governance. The legalization of tribocracy would herald the age of political fairness, tribal equality, societal harmony, long lasting peace and sustainable development.

My central point is that “tribalism is that little innocent girl we have all chosen to defile [only to] later turn around and call her a whore.”[11] Let’s strive to honor and cherish the little innocent girl. Negative ethnicity will only end in Africa when we have fully embraced and effectively institutionalized tribocracy into our own national constitution. The fight against tribalism will never be won until we have fully and comfortably embraced, honored and cherished tribocracy as the system of governance in South Sudan in particular, and Africa in general.

“Dawa ya moto ni moto”, say the Waswahili people. If tribalism is our predicament, then the solution to tribalism may well be tribalism itself. Tribalism is predominantly an African problem. Tribocracy is therefore an African solution to an African problem. This is the essence of tribocracy.

PaanLuel Wël is the Managing Editor of PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB). He can be reached through his Facebook page, Twitter account or email:

[1] Sudan Tribune, “Wau East communities file complaint with governor over power-sharing,” 19 November 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Jacob Jiel Akol (2006), “Burden of Nationality: A Story of Post Colonial Africa”.

[8] PaanLuel Wël (2011), “Tribocracy: The New Political Philosophy for the New Country”.

[9] Presidential Decree No.10/2011 for the Transformation and Reconstitution of the National Legislative Assembly of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011

[10] Badal Kariye (2010), “The Political Sociology of Security, Politics, Economics & Diplomacy: Quicker Academic Path for Good Governance”.

[11] Comment by a certain Karume, a Kenyan, on Maina Kiai’s article (2015), “To safeguard his legacy, Uhuru must write a different script on tribalism”.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are 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


Kenyan intellectuals have never been kind to foreigners of more superlative endowments and achievements.

In the early 1960s Ezekiel (Es’kia) Mphahlele came here and established Chemchemi Cultural Centre.

A leading Kenyan daily editor and a leading Kenyan editor for a foreign publishing house managed to frustrate him and send him packing.

The best artist from South Africa, Selvon Mvusi, with great ideas for the development of art died in West Africa where he had gone for a conference.

His office was broken open and all his papers confiscated by the head of department. Had they been presented to his family, perhaps they would have been donated to the university. Instead an individual grabbed them. And they disappeared. Used up selfishly.

John Ruganda, upon his return from Canada, with a PhD on how Francis Imbuga tells the truth laughingly, was thrown out of Kenya through the machinations, largely, of one Chris Wanjala.

The ground for the action was that he had no work permit to stage a play in Kenya. What was wrong with going to get him a work-permit so that he could train and employ Kenyan actors and actresses? So that he could help develop theatre in Kenya?

Sometime in 1973 or 1974, Okot p’Bitek and I used to be feted by the Goethe Institute, Paa ya Paa Art Gallery, the USIS, British Council, etc.


One day after we had read our poems and were drinking the whisky or Tusker with which Franz Nagel entertained us and our followers after work, four of our young Kenyan followers turned nationalistically nasty.

They demanded to know why we were so popular in the cultural circuit of Nairobi. Why should we Ugandans monopolise these houses?

Why were they (Kenyans) being shunned? Why don’t we go back to our country? Okot started driving to Kisumu that very night in his Jaguar. In reverse!

After I had installed Ngugi wa Thiong’o as the head of literature department and realising that my presence was an interference I left for Papua New Guinea and headed a literature department there.

Okot also left for Makerere where he was appointed professor of creative writing.

Of the four Kenyans who gave us our marching orders that night, there was Wanjala, Robert Angira Otieno, Aloo Ojuka, Atieno Odhiambo, and perhaps Robert William Ochieng. (If I got any name wrong, Wanjala can set the record right. He had barked the most that night.)


Whenever I pass through Nairobi and find that scholarly publications on literature are increasing in Kiswahili only, I ask myself were we foreigners sent back to our countries because mediocre Kenyan scholars in English literature wanted to perpetrate the literary barrenness?

I do not agree that there are no intellectuals in South Sudan. There is the lawyer, anthropologist, ethnologist and novelist Francis Mading Deng. There is the international jurist Abel Alier.

There is the young autobiographer Steven Wondu and up and coming economist Bure Yongo.

I defy anybody who says The Last Word, Meditations of Taban lo Liyong, Corps Lovers and Corps Haters, Words that Move a Mountain; Ballads of Underdevelopment, Carrying Knowledge up a Palm Tree, Homage to Onyame, an African God, Culture is Rutan, are not intellectually leading products from me in the field of essay-writing, post-modernist novel writing and poetry writing in the whole of Africa.

Meditations ranks among the world’s best 50 post-modernist novels. In the field of essay writing I would rank high, among the world’s first writers, mostly Americans, if any five best essays are rated in communication, persuasion and exploration of new ideas.

I have been modest too long among non-readers, non-experts on literature and writers of students’ guides for secondary schools who call themselves professors.

When Kenyan universities start to insist on published critical works as ground for appointment to associate professorships and professorships then we shall know that the universities have come of age.

But that will not happen when so-called professors gather their shillings from parallel students. Do they lie on top of them, parallel? Or sideways, parallelly?


As far as intellectual progress is concerned, I bet on Rwanda giving eastern Africa a lead. Banda Academy did produce exemplary Malawian intellectuals.

The leading economist among them is Prof Thandiwe Mkandawire, the economist who was like me, an African Scholarship Programme of American Universities – scholar, then an American MA and finally an American PhD.

Okot p’Biket is Okot p’Bitek. Taban lo Liyong is Taban lo Liyong. To say “Taban is not as deep as Okot p’Bitek” is no criticism. Has Ochieng read and understood my books?

A critic who is at the same time an intellectual would read them to find out what they are all about. If he still has time he would then read Okot p’Bitek’s books to find out what each is about.

If there is any reason, or need, for comparison or contrast then he could do that on the strength of the corpuses of the two authors.

When I find myself at the age of 77 showing directions about how the scholars should approach my writings to those I had associated within my first year in Nairobi University’s Institute of African Studies, and when I say I am frustrated, then younger scholars laugh at me and my frustrations, as if it is an individual thing, I know that our salvation is still far.


For Ngugi is neither read nor critiqued, Meja Mwangi is not read and assessed; David Mailu is just read; Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino was just read; Okello Oculli is not dismissed, Susan Kiguli is not read nor made a subject of weekend seminars; Tim Wangusa in not read; Imbuga is read as a secondary school textbook.

John Nagenda is not read, Peter Nazareth is not read, Elvania Zirimu is not read, Margaret Ogola is read as a textbook, and Marjorie Oludhe is read as a textbook.

I am only known as the loud mouth who claimed that East Africa is a literary desert!

The article in question is NEVER READ. The text is out of context. My books do not fit in the secondary school curriculum.

The university students are not brought up to the standard that would make them feel at home in the intellectual word that we share with Ayi Kwei Armah, Kwame Nkrumah, Mkandawire, especially about the nature of the western world, and the world.

I am bemoaning all the books that are not read. What texts do our MA and PhD students study so that they produce unpublishable books? I do not know what specialisations the lecturers have for appointments, and promotions.

In this regard, I may be excused if I say university appointment and promotion boards are barren of criteria for selecting the best teachers for Kenyan graduate students.


So, as an old “prefect” for scholarship, made so by my appointment by VC Arthur Porter in 1969, I am here again to say it is the universities that are maintaining low standards in Kenya (and Uganda, leave alone South Sudan).

Why not, for the next 10 years appoint professor of literature from America, Europe and a few West Africans?

If, like the elephant, I repeat the same stuff, it is because the old stuff keeps on presenting itself before me.

The profit motive, when publishers have fallen prey to profits that killed the Heinemann African Writers series, so that the books that sell the most were produced, those that were not ‘popular’ were discontinued, then be sure Taban’s works would not be republished.

I have asked a reputable East African publisher to reproduce The Last Word. After over 20 years, I have given up. I have brought from London Rex Collings Publishers a copy of Meditations of Taban lo Liyong, he has it by his bedside.

He has had it for more than six months.

Why don’t these our publishers, for every 10 titles that become school textbooks, publish one title to enhance intellectual development in East Africa?

Or why don’t authors and publishers jointly talk to the Ministry of Education to underwite classics to enhance intellectualism in Eastern Africa?


Finally, it may be asked, why am I insisting on making the literary intellectual breakthrough in Kenya?

The simple answer is: Because I invested much intellect in producing intellectual Kenyans, using my best seven years, 1968–1975.

And because, somewhere in my mind I suspect the breakthrough in intellectual self-sufficiency as far as East Africa is concerned will be made in Kenya.

When it is made in Kenya, Uganda will follow, Rwanda will follow, and South Sudan will follow!

At times, instead of behaving like the addressed audiences, the Kenyan hearers seem to think they are interlopers.

Sometimes other Eastern Africans instead of reading themselves into my writings, think I am addressing Ugandans, or Kenyans only; without disciple, I am reduced to throwing my arms in the air and saying those with ears, let then ear.

This article is a part of the response of an interview by Prof William Ochieng (Maseno University). Professor Peter Amuka also wrote a separate response. All the articles first appeared in Daily Nation.

An Open Letter to African Intellectuals

Posted: October 14, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël in Africa, Books, Philosophy

By Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire, Uganda

The tag, ‘intellectual’ in reference to Africa refers to a certain type: western educated and visible in western media, maybe published in the West and maybe teaching at a western university. Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire writes to this type of African Intellectual.

Kenyan writer and intellectual Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s ideas were (and still are) relevant to Kenya and Kenyans, so the post-colonial Kenyan establishment had to shut him up. Pro-African intellectualism not welcome here. Photo: EPA

Kenyan writer and intellectual Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s ideas were (and still are) relevant to Kenya and Kenyans, so the post-colonial Kenyan establishment had to shut him up. Pro-African intellectualism not welcome here. Photo: EPA

Dear contemporary African Intellectuals,

We find your names on lists published in western media, among the top African Public Intellectuals, sometimes among the lists of Global Thinkers. And we celebrate. ‘Our’ thinkers are shaping the world, we say. You appear in TIME’s lists of Influential People. You have theorised about important things. About the end of capitalist hegemony. About the failure of the African state. About the representations of Africanness. About the rise of Afro-capitalism. About many things your Western audiences find very captivating. And this is why they rank you highly alongside their own intellectuals. You are indeed one of their intellectuals as well.

What if Africa needs or desires a different intellectual from what the West needs? How do you become an intellectual for both societies without losing relevance in the other? These are questions I want you to think about. I am writing because I seek knowledge. I want to understand if, on the streets of Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and other African countries, you are still the intellectual you are in the West. Let us exclude the prophet is not appreciated in their own home alibi, because we know for sure that Africa, or Asia, or South America does not identify intellectuals for Europe or North America. It can’t be that this prophetisation of intellectuals applies only to Africa!

I will refer to Africa’s immediate post-colonial period to show what I mean by relevance of an intellectual to the African condition. Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Haunted out of Kenya because his theorising was ‘radicalising’ the Kenyan rural masses and pockets of the urban elite, where he was taking his plays that hit hard on the neo-colonial nature of post-colonial Kenya, he has since found refuge in the West. You see, Ngugi’s intellectualism was in the language the majority of his people understand. Gikuyu. And so he became so influential in his own homeland and too dangerous to Euro-American interests in Kenya, and thus had to be eliminated. The story of his imprisonment over his writing is known to you. The story of the novel he wrote on toilet paper in his prison cell is also known. The story of his liberation of the Literature Department at University of Nairobi from the hegemony of English Literature to the fresh shores of African Literature is also known to you. No one will deny that Ngugi was therefore a Kenyan intellectual in his prime. His ideas were not only relevant to Kenya and Kenyans but also influential. We know this because were they not influential enough, the post-colonial Kenyan establishment would not have shut him up by all means.

Cross the border into Uganda, where Ngugi studied, at Makerere University. His contemporary Okot P’Bitek also exemplifies the image of a relevant intellectual to their society. P’Bitek believed that theory does not only belong to the hollowed walls of universities and addled pages of newspapers and books. He was head of the extra-mural department of Makerere University, based in his home-town of Gulu, not the ivory tower at Makerere. Ideas live with people. While he was director of the Uganda National Theatre (the first African director of the institution), he took theatre out of the elitist urban Kampala to the people, through festivals in the countryside and the work of a travelling theatre troupe. He was also active in Kenya with travelling theatre companies, after running away from Idi Amin’s regime. As he wrote in his posthumously published collection of essays, Artist, the Ruler, “In an African society, art is life. It is not a performance. It is not necessarily a profession. It is life.” I would like to extend the argument to intellectualism. Ideas are life. They must be relevant. Lived. Or they are dead and non-existent.

I return to you, our esteemed contemporary African intellectuals. Where are your ideas in our life, us Africans living in Africa today? I understand that your theorising makes sense to those who praise you and list you among the most influential thinkers of our time. But do they make sense to us? Do they benefit us? Do we live by them? When you leave your busy lives in Western universities, your non-stop lecture schedules in all the world’s (read ‘developed’ world) capitals and retreat to Africa, where majority of the population still lives in rural areas and obviously does not consume Western media, do you feel that your intellectualism is relevant to the lives we lead? Do you feel that the Socrates, Adam Smith, Hegel, Marx, Kant, Keynes etc. that you are always citing is relevant to our lives?

Of course you know for sure that every society is based on certain philosophies, ideas and systems. Or else it would not be a society. Who or how do you think the ideas, philosophies and systems that inform our lives came to exist? Or are you still purveying the fiction that these philosophies are dead-dying? They are not, I can tell you. They are evolving and what they are becoming is not necessarily a replica of Euro-American life. There is such a thing as African contemporaneity that is not mimicry of European culture nor is it a re-imagination of an African past. If you refuse, come and I take you to Nyanja, the village of my birth and upbringing. Or do you think the okadas in Lagos or boda bodas in Kampala are mimicry of the West? Did our ancestors ride them? There is your hint. But you are the same advising African city managers to ban these things because in your Euro-American vision, they do not exist!

I will share something I learnt from a renowned African journalist, Charles Onyango Obbo. In Kampala, there is a big sewerage problem. Whenever it rains, or even when it does not, you find sewage freely flowing on the city streets. According to Charles Onyango Obbo, much of Kampala under colonial times was inhabited by Europeans and Asians, and so the infrastructure was to serve their needs. He says that these Europeans and Asians did not eat heavy organic food and so their waste was lighter. Africans on the other hand eat heavy organic food. The sewage pipes made for Kampala in colonial times were therefore light as the waste would not be heavy. Africans took over most of these houses that used to be inhabited by the Asians and Europeans on independence. The size of sewage pipes has not changed. Even new pipes bought are as small as they were then. Africans have not urbanised culturally. They still eat their heavy organic food. And the pipes are always bursting. Kampala is stuck with its sewerage flowing on the streets? Why? Because the post-colonial intellectuals have not decolonised their thinking. They think for Euro-America shadows. But Africa has not necessarily become a shadow of Europe. This is probably why in the West, Africa has intellectuals that speak to a reality the West knows. In Africa, these same intellectuals are leading to solutions that cause more problems. Like the flowing sewerage.

Most of you have been insistent on the need to ‘develop’ Africa. Some of you speak about this development in the economic sense, while some of you talk of social development. You are partly responsible for the cliché that Africa is bedevilled with ignorance, poverty and disease. Our esteemed African intellectuals, have you asked yourselves if this development you preach is necessary or even desirable for African populations? Have you re-thought what development actually means? You now talk of Globalisation! Dear fellow Africans, is Africa the centre of the globe in your globalisation vision? If Euro-America is the centre in this globalisation vision, is this then, not Westernisation? Isn’t this why Euro-America calls you African intellectuals? Is this not your utility to them? You centre the future on them and yet you are African by descent. You intellectualise for them. You are their intellectual but also African.

As I conclude, I would like to quote one of you, Andrew Mujuni Mwenda, Foreign Policy Top 100 Thinker, TED speaker etc., to whom I wrote in January 2014 about his obsession with Socrates and search for an irrelevant intellectual space in the Ugandan media (see my letter to him here). After a visit to Dubai, he literally swallowed much of his preaching about neo-liberalism and confessed:

” … what makes nations successful is the ability to find public policies and political institutions that their people understand. Part of the problem of Uganda (and Africa) is that we spend so much time reciting foreign ideologies chapter and verse but always fail to relate them to our realities. Thus while our problems are local and the demands to solve them are locally generated, the tendency is that when it comes to designing solutions, we retreated to theories drawn from textbooks.

These theories evolved in North America and Europe to explain a specific historical experience – how changing technology drove structural change and all this led to political struggles. These struggles were nourished by existing norms, values, traditions, and shared cultural understandings and therefore produced a specific institutional set-up. It is unlikely that one can cut and paste it on a society with different social dynamics and they work. Therefore, a major source of failure in Africa may be this mismatch between demands and solutions.” Read the whole column here.

By Aleu-Mabil, Malaysia

Is South Sudan already a federal state? Is the current call for federalism a pretext for confederation?

Is South Sudan already a federal state? Is the current call for federalism a pretext for confederation?

The issue of federalism for South Sudan, especially on social and print media, has recently sparked one of the hottest debates among South Sudanese, home and diaspora alike. Since its renewed call by the rebels (call them armed opposition), so much about it has been said by different writers and in fact repeatedly that this article would not have been needful had enough really been enough. But following an argument with a friend on federalism, who eventually convincingly gave up his understanding, he asked me to put, in writing, my view about it and how it has been misunderstood in South Sudan. Along this line, therefore, coupled with disturbing, misconceived arguments about federalism on social and news sites that I have always seen but resist my urge to join in, I finally thought that this writing, intended to be informal but true to the title, is a good idea worth blacking-on-white.

First of all, federalism is defined as a system of government in which sovereignty of an independent territory is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (such as states or provinces of the main territory). In other words, it is a system of governance based on democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between the national and provincial or state governments, resulting into a federation. Whereas federalism is synonymous with federation, confederation is morphologically a look-alike of federation but the two are, intrinsically, greatly contrastive. Confederation (also confederacy), on the other hand, is a union of political units (states or regions) for a common action in relation to other units and is usually created and governed based on a treaty  and, following its formation, a common constitution.

The marked functional difference between confederation and federation is that the former is quite a loose alliance between the constituent autonomous or semiautonomous units, has a weaker central authority and, depending on the treaty, each member unit may choose to break away from the confederation. The latter, whereas, has a stronger central authority and the constituent states/provinces cannot normally secede from main entity. Due to the large difference between the laws of the member units and those of the central authority in a confederation, citizens in a confederation do not enjoy equal rights as those in a federation do. USA is an example of a federation (with fifty states) while former Serbia and Montenegro was, till 2006, a confederation.

Straight-away and to casually begin with federalism is not bad for South Sudan especially if its basic meaning among South Sudanese is to be taken as same as it is internationally known. But bad is the way South Sudanese, judging from the recent utterances and debates, interpret it, the alleged or apparent motives behind its call, the stereotypes that have been attached to it and the circumstances surrounding its renewed call. Renewed call because, neither was it the first time leaders of SPLM (in its several variants; SPLM, SPLM-DC and SPLM-IO especially the last one that re-raised it) called for it nor was it the first time federalism was ever called for.

As it has recently become apparent, almost all those who talked in favour of federalism did say that “now is the time for federalism and or we (or the people of …) are for federalism” without elaborating on what system is currently in existence and its comparative down-sides or how and when “federalism now being called for” will really work any better for the humble people than whatever system was there before. As long as there is no clarity in these, confusion, whether or not intentional, is bound to submerge the call. But believe it or not, South Sudan is structurally and facially federal. The country already clearly has federalism in structure and administrative set-up but faintly constitution-wise. The country has states not just by names but with the main branches of government represented in them. They make their own state laws in their state legislative assemblies, characteristic of a federal system. In world records, the new country is classified, by governance type, as a presidential republic with federal system of governance.



On several records, however, there have been gross violations of the system if it were to be taken as in some countries. Demarcation of powers and share of proceeds from the national cake between the state and central governments, for example, are unclear and sometimes completely lacking. This is due to how the transitional constitution, the legal guarantor of the existence of state and central governments and of federalism, was designed in 2011. The lack of the word federalism itself in it is un-debatable but should not be the reason for the call if the practice of the system was clearly stipulated in the constitution and was really working.

As such those backing “federalism now being called for” should not have expressed this call as though federalism were something completely new and non-existent in South Sudan. Since we already have federalism but in a poor or unsatisfactory functional form, current calls should clearly be for a revitalization of the existing defunct federal system, for which we already have structures, some laws and experience with (negative or good). This can be done through amending the constitution to solve such already committed blunders as the undefined “event” or nature of the statement “in the event of a crisis that threatens national security and integrity” in the presidential power to removal an elected governor in article 101(r) of the Transitional Constitution.

The governance and political problems we now have are not because we do not have federalism but because the law that governs its practice was not appropriately put in place. On top people (the politicians, the leaders, the actors) are instead the problem. They are the same people who served, are now serving and or are now calling for it even if they did not practice it when they had a chance to and worse still are now not telling citizens correctly how to correct the loopholes so far seen in the less practical but structural federalism we currently have and which only needs to be reformed. This precision should be drawn and made understandable first of all.

However, the pro-federalism and anti-federalism alike are instead just confusing the masses about what really is federalism. What amuses me is how all the top politicians; the president, vice president, governors, rebel leaders are making it confusing and ridiculous. I was surprised when I read most of these people say federalism is what people of Southern Sudan needed before South Sudan was attained, even in 1947 Juba Conference. Some even went as far as forming committees to be sent to Upper Nile (interesting why Upper Nile alone of all the three regions) to engage with or campaign to people on federalism without recalling that most of the people there are in horrible conditions either on the run, in UN camps, hiding in the forest or holding guns in defence of their threatened lives. Why make a mountain out of a mole hill over federalism to that extent? If the suffering people in Upper Nile could be honoured with a visit, such should undoubtedly be for relief food, shelter items and how to bring back peace and normalcy to their area. But on the contrary and as though wisdom has been killed by air conditioned rooms and cars in Juba, Addis Ababa, name it, they are going for something that concerns the future not the current conditions.

With all these then, it becomes succinct that these people are dishonest about what they say and are at the same time confusing CONFEDERATION for FEDERALISM (or secretly pushing the former dubbed latter or have other agenda behind the call). To revisit the 1947 Juba conference that others have used as the first beginning of calls for federalism, what our chiefs and elites asked at that time from the British and the then Northern Sudanese was a Confederation not Federalism. A few quotes from the conference: Quote

  1. ” Chief Lapponya stated that the principle of unity could only be decided later when the Southerners were grown up, by which time they would be in a position to decide whether to join the North or go to the Belgian Congo or Uganda” Unquote.
  1. Quote Chief Cir Rehan[sic] replied that the Southerners should go on learning under their British Administrators and in due course they would acquire understanding. He could not see that at the present time, Northerners could understand the needs of Southerners” Unquote
  1. Quote Chief Buth[sic] Diu said that Northerners claim to have no desire to dominate the South, but this was not enough and there must be safeguards. There should be no settlement by Northerners on land in the South without permission. Secondly there must be no interference from the North in Local Government in the South” Unquote

These quotes show more than anything that what was asked for in the 1947 Juba conference was actually a confederation within which the then Southern Sudan would choose in the future to break away if things did not work out as the Southerners had actually suspected. If current calls do really intend federalism, then there is no need for restructuring of states, no need for regional based federalism but rather state based federalism (ten states as of now). But since some people think that and are actively seeking for region based federalism, this can be more deeply interpreted as a call for confederation codenamed federalism or as, some people have already charged, ways of garnering political support from the masses, ensuring a comeback in government in another form to basically continue with the same cults as before.

South Sudanese ordinary citizens should look more beyond such stereotypes as some regions are resource poorer or richer than others merely as ways of buying through a hidden agenda in the name of federalism. For facts, no region in South Sudan is poorer than the other. Each is unique and gifted in its own way. For example, in my region/state as well as the entire country, I am so well aware of the untapped natural mineral endowments we have that no stereotypes will set me blind on what matters to the whole of South Sudan. It is needless to mention all such known plus the unknown resources. If the current direct crooked, unscrupulous and deserving beneficiaries of the ongoing oil production do not know the localities or communities on whose land oil is now being pumped out from, how would they know other areas with discovered but untapped oil and other resources?  Only time will prove the drummers of such a campaign that is as worthless for all of us as South Sudanese as well as to the acceptance of the good word (federalism) that is now being portrayed as a bad one. Only the ignorant would be worried by their region being mislabelled as poor or who would celebrate their region labelling as richer than the rest and think that their regions/states/localities are solely theirs without all other South Sudanese.

Personally, federalism, as really it is but not that “federalism being called for”, is ideal for South Sudan, but not now, not even in the next two years or so and certainly not in the manner it is being pursued. It may be adopted just as applied in the USA, Germany or India and then modified to our setting. However, with the prevailing misconceptions about it and the current rate of corruption and weak institutions, that have already handicapped the blurry form of it that we have, it will not bring us free honey and milk neither good governance as we see in those countries but we could still remain as we now are or go the Nigerian way or even worse. Given the current circumstances, the senseless bloodbath and incessant untold human suffering, is it really the wise thing that we should so prioritize in such a way as some politicians have already formed committees to go to other regions for its campaign? This is clearly explains the doubts to the intention dubbed federalism. It would be better to be frank about that hidden, ugly agenda and get credited for honesty than pretend when the intentions are readable.

Thanks to Mabioor Garang Mabioor for he once said,

“I think we should be honest enough and admit that what we are really talking about in South Sudan is “confederation” and not “federation”…the level of trust needed for a federal system is lacking…not to say it is impossible…but confederation can be a transition to eventual federation…because it can be argued that we already have a federal system…a lot of successful federal systems started out as confederations…before they became federal systems”  7th June, 2014 Mabior Garang de Mabior Facebook Page.

That is a recommendable honesty. If there is anything I know Mabioor is best at, it is telling people where he stands. Just as in this case and in his support for Dr Riek Machar, the man his own father once cursed and labelled as a traitor and the same man who once butchered his uncles, cousins and grandparents and actually later accepted responsibility. It was mind-boggling how Mabioor went for his backing. But it is more of a noble virtue when a man stands clear and firm in his position, however wrong he may be considered, than when he always practices democracy even in situation where his democratic virtue lacks basis.   Those are his opinions though and he has the right to go for what he wishes. But his position on the system of governance that South Sudan should adopt is certainly wrong and irrelevant. Confederation, knowing its self-autonomous nature and how potentially it may create risks of disintegration, is NOT good for South Sudan whatsoever as there are no justifications for its call (or whenever there are, they are never fitting for solutions to our problems not even as mock solutions or last resorts). What South Sudan needs is not autonomy for its regions or states. All that is needed is equitable distribution and management of revenues from our resources, fair share of power for all our communities and above all a united, dignified South Sudan. These are by far possible without any need of confederation.

In the nutshell, federalism is good, we already have it but with weak state governments and we only need to rejuvenate it in our own way that suit us as South Sudanese rather than take it as Americans, Germans, etc have it. This has to be done through an all-inclusive constitutional review and amendment and if there are serious objections to it from the citizens, then it has to be voted for in a referendum as President Kiir Mayardid once said. The time now is not rife and right for discussing it as all energies should be dedicated to peacefully stopping the current ravaging conflict and suffering of our people. First things should be first. Where will it be implemented even if unanimously accepted now as the proponents want it if this conflict is not resolved first? We should be realistic enough to start the walk from the mountain foot to the top rather than vice versa.

In the peace talks the involved parties should focus their lenses on the interim national unity government and national reconciliation and subsequently federalism as mentioned above and in the timeline of 2 -3 years down the successful interim government. Prior to that time, public awareness on federalism will have to be disseminated for people to avoid such misunderstandings with federalism as has been seen so far and similar other wrong understandings such as Paloj is only for Ngook or Abyei is only for the nine Ngook chiefdoms, Kapoeta is only for Taposa, Rumbek is only for Agaar, Yambio is only for Zande, Turalei is only for Twij, Pibor is only for Murle or Kejokeji is only for Kuku, et cetra. Remember we have a number of our territories to bring back into our territorial integrity     and control while at the same time we have an acid test to pass before the world; ‘that we are capable of governing ourselves without disintegrating into tribes or whatever units as we now seem to transcend in just as our ill-wishers had forewarned’.

The writer can be reached at   





By Dr. Richard K. Mullah


South Sudan was formally declared a Republic on 9/7/2011 when it attained full statehood as a sovereign independent state amid jubilations of all South Sudanese and their friends. That was a great historic moment. It was the outcome of a referendum held in January the same year giving 99% of the votes in favour of ceassesion as opposed to continued unity with Northern Sudan.

Surprisingly hell struck, Juba the Capital, on 15/12/2013, barely two years after the birth of the new republic. Destructive fighting between the Dinka and Nuer (the two largest ethnic communities) ensued. It was a bloody moment and amidst the horror of the whole world. Brutal fighting claimed thousands of lives of South Sudanese and displacing many more others.

In this very short period of independence South Sudan has had checkered history of constitutional development. Dictatorship, corruption, tribalism and civil unrest has engulfed the country. Clearly the highly centralized Transitional Constitution of 2011 has broken down. The centre can no longer hold and things have fallen apart for President Salva Kiir.

Under the said Transitional Constitution South Sudan has been centrally controlled under a defacto one party system- The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). The too much talk of democracy and multi-partism is none other than rhetoric.
General Salva Kiir the President of the Republic is a very reluctant reformer and is adamant about any change for the better. He would rather fight to subdue anyone including the UN.

Thus opposition within the party became inevitable. Dr. Riek Machar the former Vice President who was unceremoniously dismissed in July 2013 was also forced to flee for his life to the bushes of Upper Nile. As we write Dr. Riek has staged a ferocious war of come back to reform the system.

Indeed the periods of decentralization (1972-1983 and 2005-2014) can be considered as failed attempts.The main problem has been constant interference and undermining of lower level governments by the respective Presidents. Those actions were first done by Numeiri in 1980, 1981 and 1983 when he continuously dissolved the Regional governments in South Sudan in order to achieve his objective of controlling and marginalizing the Southern Region. The Self-government Act 1972, (the then Constitution for the Southern Region) was abrogated, it broke down and the SPLM/SPLA war of 1983 was started.

President Kiir has followed the same footsteps of President Numeiri; he has never respected any constitution since he took power in 2005. He appointed the Ministers, members of the national legislature, civil servants, members of the organized forces and the judiciary and also dismissed elected Governors Etc; Until the Transitional constitution also broke down. Now another civil war has also started as from 15/12/2013

In fact the two leaders have never had the understanding, the political will and commitment to support decentralization/devolution and make it work.As we hear President Kiir and his delegation have adamantly insisted on having a decentralized government amidst wide spread cries for federalism in Equatoria, Upper Nile and parts of Baher El Ghazal which could amount to 80% of the population.

Skeptics of federalism have always argued unconvincingly that Equatoria would break away if the South Sudan were to be federated and that the Nuers of Upper Nile would refuse to share the proceeds of the oil with the rest of the country. There is absolutely no scintilla of evidence to prove those wild allegations. And, even if, that were the case, emergency powers under the constitution could be used against any balkanization.

The real problem has, however, been the greed of those in power wishing to recentralize more powers with the aim of looting the country and marginalizing the rest of the other communities. In other words, President Kiir and his group have become the “pigs” in George Orwell’s famous story of “the Animal farm”. There is therefore need to bring real life by introducing a suitable federal constitutional arrangement for the country if lasting peace were to prevail.

Many could still doubt that South Sudan may not hold together as a peaceful democracy but one would still argue that indeed the survival of the country as a democratic nation would depend on its adopting federalism.The Republic of South Sudan has an estimated area of 239,285 Square kilometers (excluding Abiyei) and a population of about 8.2 million according to the disputed 2008 population census. There are 64 ethnic groups with various cultures, speaking different languages and worshiping several religions including Christianity, Islam and atheism.

The Size of the country or geo-political entity also matters; as shown above, the Republic of South Sudan is a very large geographical entity and difficult to manage from the national Capital (Juba) or the ten current state capitals. There is great need to break down the sizes of the respective states from ten to about 22 (twenty two) along the former boundaries of the colonial districts or so to make them more manageable and reachable and also be symmetrical.

As stated elsewhere the populations and cultures available in the Republic of South Sudan need Political integration. We need to make the 64 ethnic communities in South Sudan to integrate, unite and live in harmony and this can be made possible through a system of federal governance. Federalism is also ideal for post conflict environment and building and accommodating diversities and; Managing conflicts of diversities can be achieved though a federal system of administration to avoid Dinka/ Nuer conflict as happened in December 2013 or Equatoria/Dinka conflict as was the case in 1983 during “KoKora”. Federalism enables smaller governments at the state and local government get closer to the people and become more responsive to their local needs.

In addition, Federalism provides for the promotion of good governance and popular participation in government in the sense that all levels of government can democratically elected which will offer opportunity for many people to participate in the management of their own affairs.In the case of the Republic of South Sudan, the experience of the Regional government in Southern Sudan from 1972 to 1983 has shown that this country could be successfully run on democratic basis if there was no interference from the top. There were several transparent, fair and free elections run in 1973, 1978 and 1983 leading to the establishment of democratic governments during those periods.

Furthermore the shared history of South Sudanese cannot be doubted as they fought together all the long wars of 17 years (1955-72) and 22 years (1983-2005) against the oppressive regimes in Khartoum culminating in the creation of an independent sovereign state of South Sudan voted through a referendum counted at 99% for succession of Southern Sudan from Northern Sudan.  Moreover, South Sudanese have a strong sense of identity, they are all Africans from 64 ethnic groups including the Dinka, Nuer, Zande, Bari, Shilluk, Lotuka, Moru etc.

However, the current set up of 10 (ten) states and 77 (seventy seven) counties is extremely imbalanced. Some states are very large such as Jongolei and Western Equatoria and some communities are marginalized like the Murle, Moro, Kechipo, and Anuak. Fertit etc. these weaknesses can be ironed out through a symmetrical federal system.
Since we are advocating for a federal Government and not a confederal Government, then the possibility of the central government becoming weaker than the regional or local identities are minimal.



What is federalism?

Legally, a Federal constitution is where the legislative and administrative authority of the National and State Governments are both subordinate to the Constitution, but co-ordinate to one another. In other words, the powers are divided in such a manner that the national government and the state government are each within a sphere co-ordinate and independent. They are mutually exclusive of one another and reciprocally limited in their fields of power. According to Riker (1964:5)

“the essential institutions of federalism are a government of the Federation and a set of governments for the member units, in which both kinds of governments rule over the same territory and people and each kind has the authority to make some decisions independently of the other”…

Federalism equals an ideology that combines shared rule with self-rule.

What is decentralization?

There is no standard definition for decentralization. However, it is generally understood that decentralization is the process by which functions and decision making authority are transferred from the national government to the sub-national government or from one sub-national government to yet a lower one, depending on the tiers of government established in a particular country. Thus there are various models of decentralization all over the world and in fact every country practices decentralization in one form or the other.

The various models of decentralisation:
There are several models of decentralization which include the following:

(i) Decentralization by deconcentration or by delegation.

Decentralization by deconcentration or by delegation is more or less the same model of decentralization with very slight difference in that deconcentration is a weaker model than that of delegation.

The two (deconcentration or delegation) are the process for the transfer of power or functions to local representatives of the Central Government. The concept is hierarchical in that the Central Government delegates authority for the discharge of specific functions to its staff that are located in the departments situated outside the Headquarters.

The powers do not involve decision making but only the execution of policies already laid down. They can be withdrawn at anytime at the will of the Central Government. The field offices thus implement decisions taken from above as they are, without altering or amending them; they being mere agents of those above.

It could be said that the Sudan was implementing this system of government from the condominium period in 1899 to the period of local autonomy for the Southern Sudan in 1972. During the condominium period decisions used to come from the Governor General in Khartoum to all the other Governors in the nine provinces in the Sudan. Even after independence in 1956, and up to 1972, decisions were being made by the President or Prime Minister in Khartoum for execution by the Governors or commissioners all over the country.


Decentralization by devolution accords the inferior government a semi-autonomous existence and status independent of the Central Government. The features of a devolved government are as follows:
(a) It is autonomous and has corporate status at law, with all the legal incidents flowing there form.
(b) It has budgetary capacity, often accompanied by its own sources of revenue.
(c) It has a wide range of functions to perform (usually contained in a list or schedule).
(d) It can appoint, recruit, train and discipline its own staff, or obtain them on secondment.
(e) It has a decision making body (appointed or elected).

Devolved governments often constitute local autonomous governments as was the case with the Regional Government of Southern Sudan (1972-1983) or quasi-Federal systems as was the case under the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan, 2005 (ICSS) as well as the Transitional Constitution of 2011. They were not complete federations because the central government used to have considerable control over their affairs of the lower levels of government and could intervene by making changes through dismissals, appointments and dissolutions.

What is confederation?

Decentralization can also be by way of confederation. Confederation is the union of independent states whereby the legislative and administrative authority of the Central Government is subordinate to that of the confederal states. The European Union is a typical example of a confederation.

We have never practiced a confederal system of administration so far. It might happen if the North and South would like to come together once again in some form of a loose union.

What is unitary government with decentralized system of administration?

One other type of decentralization is the unitary government with a devolved system of administration such as the one in Uganda. This model of decentralization is where the Central Government is legislatively supreme while the district governments for that matter are subordinate. There are only two levels of government here.

One could say that Uganda is a small country with weak economy and might be better suited for this system of government.

Why Federalism for South Sudan?

The case for federalism rests on several factors as argued before and including the following:
(i) democracy;
(ii) good governance (effectiveness, responsiveness, accountability);
(iii) conflict management (gives each group autonomy to promote its own interests and values, it avoids tyranny of the majority, and permits country wide majority to rule on common issues, with local majorities to rule on issues closer to own interest).
(iv) Federalism Promotes accommodation in divided societies. In the sense that Federalism as a political idea has become increasingly important as a way of peacefully reconciling unity and diversity within political systems.
(v) Diversity based on language, religion, ethnicity, nationality, culture and race (not gender, class, states, occupation etc.).
Unity can be grounded in diversity and diversity can give rise to unity; there is no necessary contradiction between unity and diversity.

There is need to build dynamic, efficient and modern state (e.g. India, USA). In such context, federal solutions have been an increasingly wide spread appeal because:
(a) they enable shared governance in a large political unit for certain common purposes; and
(b) They provide autonomous self-governance for the various diverse groups in smaller constituent units of government directly and democratically responsible for their own electorates.

What are the advantages of Federalism over decentralization?

Decentralized or federal governments have very many characteristics in common such two orders of government, written constitutions with allocation of powers, bicameral legislatures etc. however, the key important differences are as follows:
1. A Federation has a written constitution some parts of which cannot be amended by the Federal Government alone. Major amendments affecting the constituent units require substantial consent from them as well as from the Central government. Constitutions of decentralized government can easily be amended at the will of the central government. Thus the constitution can be very flexible and subject to abuse.
2. A federal constitution formally allocates legislative and fiscal powers to the two orders of government ensuring some genuine autonomy for each other. There is no genuine autonomy in decentralized government. The central government can interfere at any time in the affairs of the lower governments.
3. Usually some special arrangements, notably the Upper houses are found in federations for the representation of constituent units in key central institutions to provide for regional input in central decision making. The prevalence of such upper houses in federations is associated with the idea that both the population and the constituent units are part of what makes a federation and both dimensions need to be reflected in central institutions. Decentralized governments are not often characterized by having upper houses.
4. In a federation, there at least two orders of government, one for the whole country and the other for the regions or states. Each government has a direct electoral relationship with its citizens. A decentralized government can have only one level of government which is the only one related to the citizens.

Formation of Federations:

Some important combination of factors (or historical forces) leads to the adoption or creation of federations such as” pressure for political integration or regional autonomy”. However, the political leaders must choose what form of federation their country must form as a way of realizing and reconciling various goals. There are three possible forms:
(i) For U.S.A., Switzerland and Australia the pressure was for separate units to come together (that is to aggregate) which could also be referred to as political integration.
(ii) For Belgium, Germany, Nigeria and Spain the pressure was for previous unitary governments to become autonomous (through devolution of powers).
(iii) For Canada and India it was a combination of the two pressures (to aggregate and to devolve).
In the case of the Republic of South Sudan the pressure is from the various ethnic groups especially the minority groups to become autonomous e.g. the Murle, Anyuak, Kechipo, ie, Moru, wira and the Fertit of Baher El Ghazal.


The names of the lower levels of governments in the various Federations vary from one country to another and the numbers of the constituent units are not fixed. As shown below they vary from country to country depending n the local circumstances in that particular country.

Constituent units

The constituent units in federations bear different names all over the world:
(i) They are called “States” in Australia, Belau, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Macronasia, Nigeria, U.S.A. and Venezuela.
(ii) They are called “provinces” in Argentina, Canada, Pakistan and South Africa.
(iii) They are called “Cantons” in Switzerland.
(iv) They are called “Autonomous Communities” in Spain.
(v) They are called “regions, Communities” in Belgium.
(vi) They are called “Subjects” in Russia.
(vii) They are called “Island” in Comoros, St. Kitts and Nevis.
(viii) They are called “emirates” in United Arab Emirates.
(ix) They are called “Entities” in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Number of constituent units.

As stated earlier the number of constituent units also differs from one country to another. Some Examples are quoted below:
Country Number of units Population
India 28 1,028.6 Million
Ethiopia 9 67.3 million
Switzerland 26 9.0 million
Canada 4 30.0 million
U.S.A. 50 281.4 Million
Germany 16 82.4 million

Furthermore the sizes and populations of the various units in some federations are demonstrated below:
Size and wealth of constituent units.
Size Population
Largest are:
(i) Utter Pradesh
In India 166 million
(ii) Punjab in Pakistan 80 million
(iii)California in U.S.A. 34 million

Smallest are:
(i) Belau 200 inhabitants
(ii) Kosrue in Macronesia
(iii) Neviss in St. Kitts & Nevis 8,000 people
(iv) Appenzell in Switzerland 15,000 people.

Reasons for failure of federations:
Earlier federations have failed for several reasons which include:
1. Little experience of democracy.
2. Little history as shared country.
3. Weak sense of common identity.
4. Extreme imbalance of constituent units.
5. Fatally weak central governments i.e. regional or local identities were stronger than any larger national identity and were seen as inconsistent with or opposed to such an identity (e.g. Singapore leaving Malaysia


We have failed under both unitary and decentralized governments in Sudan or South Sudan. We are only left with two other forms of government to try which are federation and confederation. Our people including our leaders must choose one of the remaining two.

The nearest option should therefore be federation. As stated before we had experienced successful period of democracy during the Regional Government (1972-1983). We have long history of a shared country (Southern Sudan) and a sense of common identity (South Sudanese).

Failure is most unlikely under good leadership.

Hon. Dr. Richard K. Mulla
MP (independent)
National Legislative Assembly


Who is Honest among Voices Calling for Federal South Sudan?

By Mapuor Malual Manguen

The clamour to restructure governance system in South Sudan on federal basis seems to be gaining momentum as peace talks between rival South Sudanese groups resumed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In past few weeks, we have seen or heard politicians calling for new paradigm shift in governance system of the country where many claim federal republic is the best political approach to address questions of tribalism, corruption, mismanagement of proceeds from national resources and insecurity in South Sudan.

Apparently, among vocal voices calling for federalism in South Sudan are people of Equatoria region. The Governor of Central Equatoria state, Clement Wani Konga was quoted Thursday, 5 June, that “Equatoria stands for federalism and no one can sit on it”. Governor Konga made the remark at Nyakouron Cultural Centre, Juba in a meeting he called to brief the civil servants of Central Equatoria state about state government’s position in support of a federal system of governance during which thousands of civil servants attended.

The leader of biggest official opposition party, the Sudan peoples’ Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin also joined calls supporting a federal system for the new country. Dr. Akol argued that his party in the 2010 at an All Southern Sudanese Political Parties Conference circulated a paper on the preference of parliamentary federal system of governance in the country.

The current renewed debate on federalism came to light after the rebel group under the leadership of former vice president, Riek Machar, demanded at the Addis Ababa peace talks that South Sudan should be restructured based on a federal system in order to avoid the abuse of power and misuse of wealth by the centre. Machar wants breaking up of South Sudan into federal regions with greater autonomy but which will contribute taxes to the central government.

While addressing the country’s national parliament on Monday, the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit criticized the demand for a federal system by the rebel leader Riek Machar, saying this was a ploy to divide the “internal front” and that citizens be allowed to decide on the matter. The President was alluding to conduct of referendum where all South Sudanese electorates can decide themselves on whether or not the country should go for federalism.

Now that all major stakeholders are calling for federal establishment to rein in current madness in the country, the question is who is honest among voices calling for federal South Sudan? Critically speaking, the recent history of South Sudanese communities as citizens of this new republic is about tribalism, land grabbing, hatred, cattle rustling, corruption and the claim of tribe X dominating tribes A B C D and tribe Y is so and so. Moreover, any wrong doings done by Government officials are always blame on Dinka ethnic group where the President comes from. This is because people don’t see the ruling elite as SPLM party but as Dinka establishment. The essence of this situation is that the people of this country are so localized, segregating and would see everything on lenses of tribe. That is why a mere call for federalism is seen as fishy. The nationalism and patrioticism have been given up and replaced with regionalism and tribalism by many South Sudanese people. People consider every issue on tribal outlook.

For Equatorians, land grabbing and corruption are associated with people from Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile regions. Equatorians myopically see federal South Sudan as only option that will sub-guard their interests in national affairs because it would bolster their control of their lands and free them from corruption which is not their culture! This is a wild illusion though.

For Riek Machar and his group, federal South Sudan would minimize authoritarian powers of current centralized system. Moreover, people from Upper Nile region – oil producing region in the country – will apparently control oil proceeds and contribute peanut to central government. In theory, the oil region will call the shot on future use of oil money where South Sudan government relies on its 98 percent budget annually.

To the people of Bahr el Ghazal who are more reluctant about what their compatriots mean by demanding federalism at the moment, they see this federalism as conspiracy tool to target their region. Many see it as a ploy to create not federalism per se but confederation in the country in which the young nation might be balkanized further into minute autonomous states. And this shall be another story altogether already.

My take on federalism

Our problem in South Sudan is not about type of governance system; it is about weak institutions and lack of political will to develop and nurture those institutions we already have to a viable functioning level. Currently, South Sudan has a decentralized system of government run from the capital Juba and 10 states with limited powers. If there is political will, aspects of good governance such as rule of law, freedom of speech, fighting corruption, provision of basic services to people, provision of security name it can be achieved in a centralized system. Even if South Sudan adopts federalism today minus political will from our leaders, the new political dispensation shall yet again become a mirage and the country will definitely continue in the path of bleeding and on blame game as usual on tribe X, Y and Z.

The author is journalist, blogger and political commentator based in Juba. Reached at or


Proposed Federal system for future South Sudan: Let us serialize it–Part 1

By Sindani Sebit


Since the events of 15-16 December 2013 in Juba and subsequent outbreak of fighting in South Sudan, South Sudanese have been grappling with whether these sad events could be the blessing in disguise for envisioning the future of South Sudan in which all people live in peace and harmony, enjoying the fruits of a prosperous nation. The gruesome killings in Juba and the fierce fighting that has claimed thousands of lives, has alarmed the world and particularly IGAD and Troika countries that had worked tirelessly to bring about the independence of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011. Now there are staggering peace talks going on in Addis Ababa aimed at peacefully resolving the needless conflict in South Sudan. While the negotiators are fixed on cobbling an interim government, which could bring both sides of the conflict to share power, the opposition has proposed to first discuss the fundamental root causes of the problem in South Sudan and agree on how to deal with them and also agree on the future governance system for the country.

The governance system that has been proposed by the opposition is a federal system as opposed to the current perverse quasi-decentralized system in Juba. Although the call for federalism in South Sudan is being opposed by Kiir and his immediate supporters, the call is rapidly gaining support from many sectors of South Sudanese society including the governments of Central and Western Equatoria and people of Greater Upper Nile. Most South Sudanese in the Diaspora have already lined up behind the call for federalism in South Sudan.

As the call for federalism in South Sudan is becoming louder, wider and irresistible, there is urgent need to bring South Sudanese with speed to quickly and completely understand the federal system that is being advocated for. While Some South Sudanese have confused the current so-called decentralization system in South Sudan to Federalism, it must be stated on the onset that this comparison is either an attempt to lure South Sudanese to believing wrongly that they have a federal system or lack of understanding what really a federal system entails. This is simply because the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan has not only failed to name the system as federal system but actually concentrated the governance, economic and security function in the centre with the ten states being relegated to be subservient to the central government. At the central level, the central institutions such as the Parliament, Judiciary and security apparatus are subjugated under the presidency, making the president the sole dictator in the country. South Sudanese are all aware of the countless decrees issued by the president, including those used to dismiss elected governors and other constitutional post holders. This is not federalism but centralized system in disguise. In addition, while the states are supposed to be service delivery organs that should bring power and resources nearer or closer to the people, the central government continues to retain 80% of the resources for the lavish life styles of an emerging elite or embezzled by individuals, creating a small clique of “haves”, in Juba while majority of the people of South Sudan wallow in abject poverty. This is not the federalism that South Sudan needs. The Transitional Constitution of South Sudan has created a dictatorial monster who is wielding his constitutional powers to disregard the bill of rights in the constitution; thus committing grave human rights atrocities at will. These powers have made South Sudanese judiciary impotent, the parliament marooned and civil society powerless. The president has overstepped the constitution and went ahead to create his own parallel military force and security apparatus that has terrorized the citizenry in the country at will.

Therefore, the proposed federal system that is being advocated for by the majority of South Sudanese is the intended real federal system of governance that is implemented in many of the federated countries such as UK, USA, Canada, Germany, India, South Africa, etc. In this vein, the objective of serialization of the proposed federal system in South Sudan is to create awareness among South Sudanese and educate them on the basic principles of federalism and the implementation strategies so that South Sudanese can deliberate on the system on the same page and clearly understand whether such as system can solve the chronic problems which have bedeviled South Sudan. The fear of “doubting Thomas” and those who fear change must be allayed so that they can embrace this change without reservation.

South Sudan is a diverse country that is multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious. The country has varied geographical conditions and awash with various natural and human resources spread all over the states. The political landscape is darted with various beliefs and conceptions. Therefore, such a country needs a system that can recognize and accommodate all these level of diversities with the aim of uniting the people, while harnessing these diversities for their effective self governance and rapid development. The current system in South Sudan has completely failed to respond to the diversity in South Sudan; instead it tried to subjugate the people into a system dictated by the powers that be. This is what was and still continues to happen in Sudan. The deliberate refusal by the then ‘united’ Sudan to demands of South Sudanese for federalism in the 1947 Juba Conference, in 1955 Torit Conference and in the 1965 Khartoum Conference, created all the wars in Sudan that led to the disintegration of Sudan. There is also possibility that the remaining Sudan may further disintegrate if the government in Khartoum continues with its militaristic attitude against the rebels in Sudan.

Realizing the fact that centralization is not the answer to political and socioeconomic problems in diverse societies such as South Sudan, and indeed has created conducive atmosphere for a failed South Sudan state, a system that recognizes diversity as strength, while utilizing the values of diversity for national cohesion and socio-economic development, is crucial. As a result, the current disagreements in South Sudan serve as the best catalyst for South Sudanese to look back and admit that they should start now from different perspective, by accepting their unique differences and perceptions for building a strong future South Sudan. No governance system can do this other than federalism.

Therefore, this document intends to outline the following in regards to federal system proposed for South Sudan. The proposals illustrated here may not be exhaustive because, the authors do not claim to have the monopoly of all facts and strategies about federalism; after all, the system proposed must be adaptable, adopted to South Sudan context and attempts to solve all or nearly all the pricking problems in the country to the satisfaction of the majority of its people. The main points to look at here are:

  1. Definition of Federalism
  2. Advantages of a federal system
  3. Federal Government
  • Declaration of the country
  • Form of governance including the sovereignty of the country
  • Functions of the Federal Government
  • Federal Legislature, including its independence
  • Federal Executive, including the Attorney General’s Office
  • Judiciary, including the Federal and State Courts
  • Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. These include Federal Intelligence Service, Immigration and Custom Services (or Revenue Authority), drug enforcement and illegal trafficking services and special security service
  1. Federal states
  • Objectives, principles
  • Governing structures
  • Powers and functions of the state
  1. Commissions and independent offices

A)   Commissions

  • Federal Human Right and Equality Commission
  • Independent Elections/Electoral Commission
  • Public Service Commission
  • Parliamentary Service Commission
  • Judiciary Service Commission
  • Revenue allocation and distribution commission
  • Salary review and allocation commission

B)   Independent offices

  • Auditor General’s office
  • Controller of accounts office

The reform of the army will be tackle separately while the police, wildlife and other security agents will be mentioned in the roles assigned to the states. Therefore, this introduction will limit itself to the definition of federalism and its potential advantage to South Sudan. 

Definition of Federalism

From the Concise Encyclopedia, federalism is defined as, “political system that binds a group of states into a larger, non-centralized, superior state while allowing them to maintain their own political identities.” Does South Sudan have states to fit in this definition? Indeed South Sudan has states. A state is defined as “a territory considered as an organized political community under one government”. Since 1955 South Sudan has always been organized into Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazel and Equatoria. These three territories are now further divided and reorganized into 10 states. These ten states or more can be bound into a larger, non-centralized superior state, while allowing them to maintain their political identities. The essence of the states maintaining their political identity is crucial in the case of South Sudan, so that they can be able to forge their developmental agenda according to their priorities and resources available to each. Secondly, the ten states in South Sudan currently have their own political beliefs and perceptions that can be nurtured and propagated within the boundaries of the state, while the Federal Government concentrates on crucial matters that face the larger union.

However, successful federal systems must have common characteristics and principles. These include constitution or the basic law stipulating the distribution of powers; diffusion of power among the constituent elements, which should be substantially self-sustaining; and territorial divisions to ensure neutrality and equality in the representation of various groups and interests. Successful federal systems should also have a sense of common nationality and direct lines of communication between the citizens and all governments that serve them. As it stands now, South Sudan has no common characteristics and principles. What exists now in South Sudan is degraded into Dinka, Nuer and the common “tribe” in Equatoria called Equatorians. These are tribal characteristics that are not bound by common principles, but by tribal interests to rule and plunder the resources of the country. Lack of common principles has precipitated corruption, land grabbing, and lack of respect for individual property, as some of these actions are not considered as crimes by some of the communities in South Sudan.

Constitution that devolves powers to the people empowers the people and enables them to share in the governance of the country. This brings sense of belonging and ownership, equal participation and satisfaction. These contribute to the building and development of the country. In addition, the states must be empowered to raise their own financial resources from the resources in the states. This makes them independent and self sustaining. On the other hand, the federal government should also ensure that more resources go to the states instead of the current practice where the central government retains 80% of the resources making the states non-viable in terms of service delivery.

A successful nation should always instill to its citizens a sense of common nationality based on equality but not on perceived principles that other communities are more national than others or based on contribution to liberation as has been in the practice in South Sudan that some people arrogate themselves as liberators while others are liberated. Communication among citizens cannot be effective unless the government is taken close to them in form of devolved government. This is important because it accelerates rapid development and advancement. This will also ensure that any change made or proposed has been accepted or sanctioned by the people. These are, therefore, the ills that federal system has to address so that the independent states agree to federate with common principles and sense of common nationality.

Advantage federalism to the people of South Sudan

The federalism will contribute positively to the following:

  1. Recognizes all the national diversities while it strives for strengthening national unity based on common principles and equality
  2. Devolves powers to the people thus making them to participate and share in the planning and development of states. This creates a sense of common understanding, equal participation and ownership and makes the citizens responsible to their own affairs. The dispersal of power to the states and communities is generally a protection against tyranny. This leads to large extent thriving of pluralism.
  3. Helps to manage conflicts by permitting states and communities to pursue their own policies. This reduces the pressure that would have built up in the center like currently happening in South Sudan
  4. Improves efficiency as governing of the nation from the center creates inefficiency and ineffectiveness
  5. Enables citizens to decide on how they can be governed by ensuring that the citizens always have to sanction or be consulted on the decisions being taken by their leaders. This also removes from the leaders the dictatorial tendencies that they may have, as the people have the rights to remove or reprimand them
  6. Enables states to become independent and self-sustaining. They will determine and plan their development agenda according to their objectives, priorities and available resources
  7. Ensure that federal resources are effectively shared between the federal government and states according to the functions of the two levels of government, as stipulated in the constitution with 80% of the resources going to the states. This principle of resource sharing is intended to spur quick development of the states
  8. End the culture of categorization or profiling citizens according to tribe or contribution in the society
  9. By making the states self sustaining and ensuring that more resources are channeled to the state, creates conducive atmosphere for equal development instead of wasting resources in the federal capital
  10. Enables states not only to control their resources but also to use them for betterment or development of the state
  11. Ensure that the relationship between the citizenry is mutual based on equality and respect for one another
  12. By empowering the states to have their own security enforcement agencies and courts up to court of appeal will ensure that justice to be carried out in an atmosphere of complete understanding of cultural diversities and institution of justice and not favouritism, or merely on tribal inclination as the case is now in many parts of South Sudan. This will create understanding and harmony among the citizens and law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary
  13. By ensuring equal development in states, it will reduce internal migration, dispute over land grabbing, internal displacement and overconcentration in few urban or rural areas that have services

Disadvantages of federalism

As system federalism has its own drawback, though these may however not outweigh the significance and numerous benefits the system renders to the people. Some of the challenges associated with federalism include:

  1. It may allow special interest groups to protect their privileges. Some states may use state rights and laws to avoid federal regulations that guarantee civil rights such as free movement and settlement of people in the country. However, in such situations the federal law should supersede the state laws.
  2. It may frustrate national policy because of differences in priority setting. However, this has been taken care of by the revenue allocation commission which ensures that resources are effectively distributed and utilized according to the overall priority in the country
  3. It increases the cost of governance generally and can also cause uneven distribution of these costs. Some states may spend more than twice as much per capita as other states on certain priorities. This can also be dealt with by the salary review commission which ensures that the cost of government is within the overall income of the country.
  4. It creates disadvantages in the poorer states and communities. However, the task of Revenue Allocation Commission is to ensure that this should not happened by ensuring that national resources are distributed according population and level of development between the states and within the states.

In conclusion, South Sudan has never had the chance except now to look back and overhaul its autocratic constitution so as to introduce governance system that will not only accelerate development, but that will create united democratic South Sudan based on mutual agreement, citizen participation, state resource control and self-sustenance and respect for one another and for national resources and private property. Part 2 of this series will focus on the proposed federal structures that include the Legislature, Executive and Federal Judiciary. Keep reading and also send in your suggestions. All are welcome but please we need positive criticisms not reactions arising from frustrations.

Sindani Sebit


Federalism: Three conditions for a Viable federalism in South Sudan

By David Aoloch Bion

Federal system of governance is one of the systems of governance practice around the world. The good example is the United States. The US is the democratic federation.

Recently, in South Sudan, something tragic happened on the December 15, 2013. Some people called it a “coup’’, some people called it a “force out of Juba Proper of some individuals”. Whatever the version of the tragedy is not the matter here. This double meaning event of December 15 has ended up with call for federal system of governance in the country as part of solution to wider problem.

There is no problem or danger of South Sudan becomes the federal state. Federal system of governance like any type of governance has it blessings and curses.

One blessing of federalism is the catalyst for development because every state will take fullest responsibility for her own affairs

One curse of federalism is, it will be used as bonanza for tribalism and regionalism. For example, people from one tribe or region must not or may not move and settle in another tribe land or state. Some 2 to 3 years ago, one pastoralist community from Jonglei State was forcefully repatriated from Western Equatoria State, because, either their cows were destroying the crops or the cattle keepers themselves were thieves, stealing the honey in the wooden cylinders on the boughs of trees or they were just unwanted or unwelcomed because they were from another state

Federalism is good type of governance as many South Sudanese are calling for it. Greater Equatoria called for Federalism 2 or 3 years ago. Now, the Rebels from Greater Upper Nile are calling for Federalism too. It is only the Greater Bahr el Ghazal that never speaks for Federalism. If the Government calls a referendum now, federalism will win.

We should make a difference between the pure federalism and the tribal federalism. Pure federalism is an engine for development, where a state shall not wait for decision to construct a road from town A to town B from Central Government in Juba. Tribal federalism is petrol for segregation, where a tribe or region blessed with resources will stay as island from the rest. For example, Toposa tribe or Kapoeta County, which is blessed with gold, will close her border, not to allow the Pari tribe who has no gold to come and work in the gold mine. When they are asked “why they don’t allow other people to come work in the goldmine?’’ They replied “who have no land? After all, the Government is taxing us highly. We are contributing too much money to national government. Don’t disturb us.”

Thus, how do we eliminate tribal federalism and embrace pure federalism? We can embrace pure federalism by allowing 3 conditions. These 3 conditions will be enshrined in the constitution

1      National Resource, there must be national resources, the resources in the country must be defined properly, those that can be owned by the National Government and those that can be owned by state government. Some resources like oil should be national resource, because of two reasons A. Oil spill, this can’t be managed by the state if there is oil spill. B. Oil is drilled by International companies and if a state a contract them. It will infringe the national sovereignty

2      Two political parties, there must be only two political parties in country, if South Sudan establishes federalism. She must have two political parties like the USA, US has two political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

3      Citizenship after 5 years. Every South Sudanese national who stay in a given state for period of 5 years becomes the citizen of that state. He/she can contest for a political position there, be an MP at state or national levels.

These 3 conditions should be a pre conditions for pure federalism but if we want tribal federalism, let skip them altogether.




Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term “federalism” is also used to describe a system of government in which sovereign is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (such as states or provinces). Federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments, creating what is often called a federation.

For matters not directly dealt with in the constitution, the federal government retains residual powers; however, conflict between the two levels of government, relating to which level has legislative jurisdiction over various matters, can been a longstanding and evolving issue. Areas of contest include legislation with respect to regulation of the economy, taxation, and natural resources. In other word it is a political movement to weaken the central government

Federalism philosophy
The meaning of federalism, as a political movement, and of what constitutes a ‘federalist’, varies with country and historical context, in the United States and Australia advocacy for the formation of strong central government. Similarly, in European Union politics, federalists mostly seek greater EU integration.

Federalism in the United States is the evolving relationship between state governments and the federal government of the United States. American government has evolved from a system of dual federalism to one of associative federalism. USA is the best country which had successful achieved state federalism because of her community policies in which people look at themselves as members of community rather than on clans and tribal bases. With much attention focused on democracy and freedom to live and work anywhere in any state of USA

Kenya has a national problem because of associating politics with regions and many other forms of administrative ladder such as provinces in those years and currently on counties, judging individual and politicians based on their regional origin had been a fundamental core of political stillness in Kenya

Federalism is being practiced in Nigeria in form of states, but due to religious, culturally differences and thirst for highest system of federalism the nation came to realize divisions on regional and geographically locations in form of Southern and Northern Nigeria which is currently the cause of political crisis in the country.

South Sudan
in South Sudan, the country is divided into 10 states which is suppose to an equivalent to that of USA on administrative level, though the former form of federalism inherited from Old Sudan exist. in a recent years regional conferences were held spearheaded by Equatoria, calling for regionalism with cool eyes on states federal system which I look at as disastrous because it will put South Sudan into three different zonal sphere of livings resulting to notions of Islanders with politically, socially and economically eagle eying on regions than at state and national levels.

An overview of its economic, social and political impacts

Economically: With Regional federalism a region will benefit directly from their area available resources with only certain percentage to the national government; this system will give much of the clustered resources to the area where the resources are found, and on the other side of the coin a poor locality without resources must to struggle to survive on the little they have hence creating a national economic gap on locality developments leading to poor economic relationship among the citizens resulting to economic hatred and national economic imbalances therefore, creating rooms for national economic stagnation.

Socially: Favoring regional federalism will boost Communal and geographically love and socialization over the national love and cohesiveness, individuals will be more compress to their social backgrounds hence opening more space for regional/state socialization over national patriotism; with federalism in place much loyalty will be given to the immediate government than to the national government, this might create social arrays like what is happening in Nigeria and Somalia

Politically: Federalism if coined into regionalism will create opportunism of national policy: Here the country does not have a single policy on issues; instead, it has many regional and states policies, which often leads to confusion  and lack of accountability: The overlap of the boundaries among national and state governments makes it tricky to assign blame for failed policies. Politic become regional rather than a national one by creating more political spaces based on regional favoritism where politicians from a region will be congested on regional political band wagon of political prostitution. As per our example, one of the three regions of Upper Nile, Bhar el Ghazal and Equatoria will create political courtship with one of the other two regions making one region politically deserted, isolated and vulnerable in term of national representation. This opportunistic planning and quick-dash courtship will dump a lump of citizenship, pool of unity and patriotism into the deepest pit of confusion and hatred


Trapping a mouse while still in the hole, will not only makes the trapper and the trap foolish and useless but will prove to the mouse the weaknesses of its enemy, currently as a nation we had problems of Abyei, Panthou,Elim Triangles, Moyo and many internationally borders which are not settle with the neighbors and dividing the country into smaller mini-countries will not only be an advantage to those eying some parts of South Sudan but a step to be regretted by everyone.

For better understanding of federalism one has to critically define what is mean by state governments in South Sudan before demanding for another federal system unless the word federal is wrongly defined, politely and humbly what we need at our level as South Sudanese is constitutional consideration of the existing state otherwise if you still doubt that we had federalism system in South Sudan than don’t be surprised one day if your wife ask you for her own FEDERALISM



Federal system: Let us serialize it Part 2

Proposed Federal system for future South Sudan: Let us serialize it

 Part 2

By Sindani Sebit

The second part of these series will mainly focus on the state and legislation at federal level. This includes the declaration of the country, sovereignty of South Sudan, the federal structures that form the government of the Federal Republic of South Sudan. This means that the Federal government is composed of the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary and the independent Commissions and offices. These are independent of each other. This part also includes the form of Federal Government. Two proposals are made here which include the Presidential and Parliamentary systems of governance. The basic idea is to enable the people of South Sudan examine the advantages and disadvantages of each system because they have to decide on which one to choose with a full knowledge of what they are choosing. The last part of the article looks at the function or the role of the Federal Government as opposed to the role of the state governments which shall be described in later parts of this serialization and the legislature at the federal level. Two houses of parliament are proposed. These include the Federal Assembly which will mainly be responsible for Federal legislation and the Senate that will be tasked with oversight role on the state and local authorities. It is hoped that this serialization will enable everyone understand the system being proposed and feed us back with constructive suggestions.

Declaration of the country

South Sudan shall be a federal state that shall be a multi-party democratic state consisting of at least 17 autonomous states. In order to get the 17 states, it is proposed that the following current states will be divided into 2 states. They are; Upper Nile, Jonglei, Eastern Equatoria, Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Lakes. Bentui, Northern Bahr el ghazal and Warrap states will remain as they are now. The proposed division of the 7 states is based on size of the state and populations involved. The aim is to create manageable, viable and self sustaining entities.

South Sudan will have both Federal and state governments. These two levels of government shall be distinct and interdependent but mutually related. They will conduct their mutual relations on the basis of consultation and cooperation.

Sovereignty of South Sudan

Power in the Federal Republic of South Sudan belongs to the people. The people exercise this power either directly in referendum or through their democratically elected representatives. The People delegate their powers to state organs such as:

  • Parliament which includes Federal Assembly and Senate and State assemblies
  • Federal Executive and executive structures including state executive
  • Judiciary and independent tribunals

Therefore, the Government of federal Republic of South Sudan shall be composed of the following three organs of the government. They are:

  1. The executive.  This will be headed by the President or Prime Minister (whichever form of government the people will agree on)
  2. The Parliament headed by the speaker of the Parliament
  3. The Judiciary to be headed by the Chief Justice

The three organs of government shall be independent of one another and act as checks and balances on each other. The independence of these organs shall be enshrined in the constitution and guaranteed by tenure of office and separate funding as shall be described below.

See below the graphic representation of the Federal and state governments. In addition, there are independent commissions. They are not subjected to the executive, parliament or judiciary though they may serve some of these organs such as the parliamentary service commission and judicial services commissions. These two commissions are actually meant to strengthen the independence of both the parliament and the Judiciary as will be seen later in sections dealing with independent commissions.

In the graph, you will also notice clear lines of responsibility. For instance, the Parliament and Judiciary are not responsive to the executive and for that matter the President or Prime Minister. The Parliament will be headed by the speakers of both houses of Parliament and the Judiciary will be headed by the Chief Justice. The only legal advisor to the executive will be the Attorney General. Therefore, the Attorney General shall be a member of the cabinet but not the speakers of the two houses of parliament and the Chief justice.

Proposed Federal Government structures for South Sudan

Federal Level              Federal Government 

Executive                                Legislature                             Judiciary                Independent Coms and Offices


Cabinet                                                      F. Parliament                       F. Supreme Court                                H. Right Com.

P. Serv Com.

President (Or                       F. Senate                                 F. Court of Appeal                               Parl. Serv. Com.

Prime Minister)

Jud. Serv. Com


Re. Alloc. Com.

  1. G Office

Sal. Rev. Com

OfF. Chief Persecutor                                                                                                                                   Ind. Elec. Com

Aud. General


Cont. Accounts

State Level

State Government

Executive                                Legislature                             Judiciary

Governor                                S. Parliament                       High Court

Ministers                                                                                      Magistrates

County Administration                   County Councils                                   County Courts

Payam Administration                    Payam councils                                    Paramount Chiefs

Boma Administration                      Boma committees           Local Chiefs

Form of Federal government

The form of the Federal government shall either be Presidential or parliamentary system. This proposal is made for the stakeholders in South Sudan to decide because the two systems are different and have their advantages and disadvantages.

Presidential Federal system

In this system of governance the president is the head of government. The president is directly elected by the people. The advantages of the presidential system are:

  • People participate in “electing” their president directly
  • There is likelihood that there will be checks and balances because the executive is independent of the parliament and Judiciary particularly when the president has no majority in parliament
  • The president is the icon of the country and has the powers to veto any resolution of parliament when he/she deems it not to be in the interest of the country
  • Stability is guaranteed in the presidential system as the president has fixed term in office

The presidential system is however bedeviled by its setbacks. These include:

  • In tribalized country like South Sudan, tribal tyranny of numbers can always ensure that large tribes or collusion of large tribes can propagate or dominate the presidency because they will always vote for their own tribal candidate. In fact the American constitution recognized this fact right from the beginning. This is precisely why the president of America, which is the only federal state with presidential system, is elected by Electoral College. Each state is allocated a number of Electoral College and if a candidate gets simple majority in each state he/she takes all the number of the Electoral College in that state. This has worked against the tyranny of numbers.
  • The exercise of Veto powers by the president can always work against the aspiration of the people because the president can always veto a resolution not on the interest of the people but on the interest of his/her party
  • The presidential system is always expensive because the people have to elect the president and parliamentarians while in the parliamentary system it is only the parliamentarians that have to be elected
  • The President usually does not regularly come to the parliament to account for his/her decisions thus making the president to act at liberty without any regard to the feeling of parliament
  • In the presidential system, it is rather difficult to change the president easily making some of them become dictators as the case is now in South Sudan
  • The presidential system tends to focus electoral campaigns on personalities rather than platforms and programs because the focus is on one person (candidate) and not the party.

Parliamentary system

In a parliamentary system, the party with the highest number of MPs or commends a collusion with the highest number of MPs in the assembly shall be the governing party. Therefore the Government is headed by a Prime Minister elected by federal Assembly among the party with highest number of MPs or collusion with highest number of MPs. Instead a Ceremonial President shall be elected by consensus by the members of both houses of the federal parliament. The role of such President will be to preside over public occasions such as opening of the parliament, commemoration of martyrs and independence days and receiving and bidding byes to ambassadors.

The main advantages of the parliamentary system are:

  • It eliminates the concept and practice of tyranny of numbers because the people will not elect the Prime Minister directly but the members of Parliament who elect the Prime Minister. This means if any person wants to become a Prime Minister he/she should have a party that enjoys country wide support.
  • Parliamentary systems are much more efficient, accountable, and less prone to corruption and the quality of the leader is better. This is because the prime Minister is regularly subjected to parliamentary sessions where the Prime Minister and the entire cabinet is called to account for their decisions. This keeps them on their toes and ensures that it is harder for them to do things in secrete or under the table. In addition, usually parties choose their best leaders as party leaders increasing the chance that the country gets the best leader
  • Parliamentary system allows the leader to be easily removed once he/she looses parliamentary majority compared to presidential system that the country has to undergo the arduous path of impeachment which rarely succeeds
  • In parliamentary system, there is fusion between the executive and the legislature. This eliminates political gridlock and allows the people’s representative to engage the executive directly in debates
  • The basis of checks and balances in parliamentary system is the shadow cabinet feature which oversees and scrutinize government activities and this makes the government competitive and transparent

However, the parliamentary system has also its short comings and these include the following:

  • The government can be unstable because of changes in MP loyalties or collusion parties disagreeing among themselves leading to call for vote of no confidence on the Prime Minister. However, this can always be mitigated with succession close in the constitution which ensures that the party of the Prime Minister is always called upon to select another candidate to complete the term of the ruling party
  • Lack of effective parliamentary oversight because the Prime Minister controls parliament and this may lead to laxity from the part of the government
  • Democratic participation of the people in directly electing their president is undermined and this may alienate the people from participating directly in the governance

Functions of the Federal government

The federal government proposed in South Sudan should only exercise delegated powers. These include:

  • Foreign policy, foreign affairs and international trade
  • Army and National security
  • Customs and tariffs
  • Mineral resources and petroleum
  • Value Added Taxes
  • Monetary, Currencies and coinage
  • Measures and weights
  • Transport including Airways, railways and communications at federal level, road traffic, construction of national road trunks, pipelines, navigation, civil aviation, space travel and
  • Federal policies on health, education, agriculture, veterinary, tourism, energy and public investment
  • Immigration and citizenship
  • Relation between religion and federal state
  • Federal language
  • Courts at level of Federal supreme court and federal court of appeal
  • Federal economic policy
  • Federal statistics and election
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Labour standards
  • Federal public works
  • Disaster management


The Federal Republic of South Sudan shall establish two houses of Parliament namely the Federal Assembly and federal Senate. These two houses of Parliament will form their respective functions in accordance with the constitution that will be developed and enacted. Basically the role of Parliament is generally:

  • Legislative authority of the country is derived from the people and vested in parliament at all levels
  • It must manifest the diversity of the nation
  • Represent the will of the people and exercises their sovereignty
  • It considers and amends the constitution. However, some amendments many require referendum
  • Protects the constitution and promotes democracy
  • Sole body for making laws

Role of the federal Assembly

The Federal assembly which will be the highest legislative organ in the federation shall:

  1. Be made up of elected representatives from defined constituencies and special groups. The constituencies should not be based on counties but population. Each constituent should have 50,000 to 100,000 people. Number of constituencies should not be more than 210. The speaker of the Federal assembly is an ex officio.
  2. Deliberates and resolves issues of concern to the people
  3. Enacts legislation on the following:
  • Allocation of national revenue between the national government and state governments at a ratio of 20:80 in favour of the states
  • Appropriation of funds and expenditures
  • Carry out oversight over the national revenue and its expenditure
  • Oversees the conduct of the executive
  • Approves declaration of war and extension of state of emergency in a country

Role of federal Senate

This will be the second tier of the Federal Government. It will be charged with responsibilities over the federal states and local authorities and shall perform the following:

  1. Made up of elected representatives from federal states. Each federal state elects 3 representatives and representative from special group within the federal state to the federal senate regardless of the population of the state. The speaker of the federal senate is an ex officio
  2. Represents the federal states and protect their interest
  3. Debate and approve the bills concerning the federal states
  4. Act as oversight to the federal state officers and local authorities
  5. Ensures that federal state officers are recruited and removed in accordance to a specified article in the constitution

General Guidelines (Important summary but not exclusive)

The general guidelines here are mainly focused on membership of both houses, procedures for election, affirmative action for the parliament, exercise of parliamentary powers, privileges and immunities and the role of the parliamentary service commission. The exercise of parliamentary power and privileges is to ensure the independence of Parliament and while the establishment of the Parliamentary Service Commission is to ensure that the parliament is able to government itself and regulate its function according to act of parliament without interference from the executive.

  1. Qualification of Candidates
  2. Federal Assembly and federal :
  • University degree
  • Nominated by parties for elections
  • Independent candidates must be supported by 2,000 supporters for the Federal Assembly and 1,000 supporters in cases of federal senate during presentation of their papers to the electoral commission.
  1. Elections to both houses must be conducted under an independent electoral commission

The role of the electoral commission shall be discussed under the independent commissions

  1. Terms of both houses
  • Specified in constitution; Suggestion 5 years
  • The parliamentary calendar must be independent. This means dates for opening and closure of parliament are predetermined and inserted in the constitution. Therefore, the President or the Prime Minister will not prorogue a parliament at his/her will
  • Sitting of both houses can only be extended from these dates under state of war and should not be more than 6 months
  1. Promotion of representation of marginalized groups.
  • Federal Assembly shall enact law to ensure promotion of rights of such groups such as:
  • Women
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Youth
  • Ethnic and other minorities
  • Marginalized communities
  1. Vacation of office of Member of the Federal Assembly or federal senate
  • Among others, member being absent from 6 sittings without written permission from the speaker
  • Member resigns from his/her political party
  • Member joining another party
  1. Recall
  • The electorate should have the powers to recall a member of any of the two houses before the end of her/his term
  • Conditions and procedure for the recall should be stipulated in the constitution
  1. Determination of question of membership in either house. This should be done by high court in case of:
  • Validity of election
  • Vacancy in the seat of the member of any of the houses
  1. Party leaders. Both houses should have:
  • Leader of Majority who should come from the party with the highest number of members in the house
  • Minority leader who should come from the party with second highest number of members in the house
  1. Exercise of Powers
  • The Federal Assembly exercises powers through bills that are assented to by the President or Prime Minister
  • The Federal Assembly exercise bills that are related to the federal government, the federal Senate exercise bills that relate to oversight over the federal states while the federal state assemblies exercise bills related to state issues in accordance with separation of functions of the government organs
  1. Powers, privileges and immunities 
  • Parliament (Federal and State) is independent of the executive and judiciary
  • Must exercise freedom of speech
  • Conducts business in open with participation of the public and media
  • Petition of parliament by any citizen or group of citizens must be allowed; parliament must pass a law regarding the public engagement
  1. Parliamentary service commission
  • Set up with specific number of people
  • Responsibility is to:
  • Provide services and facilities to parliament
  • Set up offices and supervise them
  • Prepare budget for the parliament; parliament must have its own budget
  • Promote parliamentary democracy
  • Work for the welfare of the members
  1. Other thing to be mentioned and enshrined in the constitution is conduct of business in the parliament which includes quorum, language, voting, committees of the house, standing orders, location and sitting of the parliament and offices of the parliament


As previously stated, the aim of these series to enable South Sudanese read, discuss and crucially understand the form of governance that the SPLM in opposition is proposing so that the form of government that they believe will create permanent peace and prosperity in the country in agreed upon and established. The country needs progress and peaceful co-existence.

Sindani Sebit

Nairobi; Kenya


Decentralisation Not Same As Federalism

By Nyadol Nyuon

 Part 1: Decentralisation as outlined in the Transitional Constitution does not equate to a federal system of governance for the Republic of South Sudan.

Introduction This article follows a long line of pieces on federalism in South Sudan. Some argue that the debate is unnecessary because South Sudan already has a form of a federalism enshrined in the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (2011) (the Constitution). Others do not want a federalism at all, arguing that it is not the suitable mechanism to address the current challenges. They protest that federalism – ethnic as seen in Ethiopia or otherwise –will worsen the situation by deepening the divide on current socio-economic and political issues along tribal lines. This article explores wether South Sudan has a federal system guaranteed under the current constitutional design. I concluded that unless the discussion on federalism is concerned with ‘form rather than substance”, the current system of governance, which is  termed ‘a ‘decentralised system’ does not satisfy the basic requirements characterising a federal system.

To claim a federal system, the ten states must exist as political realities – not mere geographical entities with administrations.  Political realities can only be realised when a state has the powers to exercise executive and legislative powers exclusive of the national government.

Separation of state and national powers is the overarching feature in a federal system. Under the current constitutional setting, the separation of powers is a ‘mere puff”, particularly in light of the exercise of certain Presidential powers.

  1. Distinguishing a decentralised multi-level system of governance from a federal system of governance.

There is no doubt that the Constitution is at the heart of a decentralised system of governance. The preamble starkly states that: “the people of South Sudan commit to establishing a decentralized democratic multi –party system of governance”. Article 1 (4) provides that South Sudan is governed on the basis of a decentralised democratic system elaborated in Articles 47, 48 and 49 – which outline levels of government in the decentralised system.

The most solemn oath – the oath of the Office of the President – which is a constitutional contract by an elected president to the people of South Sudan: commits the President to “… consolidate the democratic decentralized system of government” (Article 99).  It is difficult to find such a commitment to any concept that permeates the entire Constitution. But, despite all these, can this decentralisation be considered as a form of federation? The claim is difficult to sustain once the Constitution is examined in its entirety and in light of the President’s conduct since the declaration of South Sudan’s independence.

A country can have decentralised multi-level governments and yet not be a federation.  Almost all countries have multiple levels of government. The existence of multiple levels of government generally results in the spread of power away from the centre to local branches of governments – itself a form decentralisation. You can therefore have a decentralised multi-level system of governance and yet not be a federation.

What distinguishes a federal system from other forms of decentralised multi-level governance are the constitutional guarantees of its ‘federal’ character (Hueglin and Fenna 2006).  If one accepts this basic assumption, then we must look to the Constitution to determine whether there are constitutional guarantees displaying the nature akin to a ‘federal character’.

First, when interpreting legal documents, one starts with the words of that document. There is no mention of federalism or Federal system of governance in the Constitution.

However, could the drafters of the Constitution have had in mind a federal constitution nonetheless? If so, why did they incessantly keep mentioning the words “decentralised system of governance’ throughout the Constitution? This question is particularly relevant because federalism, even in the context of South Sudan history, the concept of a federal system of governance is not a newly discovered one or even a new debate.

It is clear therefore that the drafters made a choice. The question is whether it is a choice that should be taken to signify an intention against a federal system of governance in favour of “a decentralised system of governance”; both as meaning different things.

Considering the importance of this matter, it is difficult to be persuaded that the drafters overlooked it, or it was simply an error.

However, after several readings of the Constitution, I cannot escape the feeling that the drafters wanted to serve two masters, the people and the king.

These omissions of the words federalism or a federal system of governance are also important when you read the constitutions of other federal Countries. Those constitutions either make a direct reference in the title of the Constitution or within its texts, that the country is a federation. For example, the Constitution of Nigeria is titled “Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999); the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1994); the Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil amongst others.

On the other hand, Australia does not make it obvious in the title of the constitution but reference to the federal nature of the Constitution is made apparent in the text, see section 1.

Where direct reference is not made at all in the title of the text of the particular constitution, it tends to be a country with a long history of separate self- governing territories, which come together to form a union. In such cases, the reference to federation or federalism is unnecessary because it forms the working hypothesis or the very basis on which the union is founded.

In conclusion, to suggest that the absence of the word federation is not significant assumes that South Sudan is a federation by default or by error or oversight of the drafters.  That is an unusual argument indeed, particularly when one is dealing with, not just any other legal document, but the supreme law of the land – the constitution.

III.        Separation of Powers in South Sudan

A central feature of federalism is the separation of powers between central and state governments in such a way that each of them cannot encroach upon the power of another. In South Sudan, that distribution of powers should be between the National government in Juba and the ten state authorities.

The distribution of powers is between the legislative and the executive branches of these governments at the national and state level. To maintain the balance between the central authority and state, ‘the method of distribution of powers must be reduced to some definite and tangible form, not alterable by the central authority at will” (Zimmermann and Finlay 2011). It is at this point where one experiences significant difficulties on whether under Article 101 (r), one can support the argument that South Sudan has federation in a practical sense.

Despite the constitutional commitment to decentralisation, article 101(r) seems to undermine or at least is inconsistent with the presumed intention of the drafters. Article 101 (r) provides that the President shall …remove a state governor and/ or dissolve a state Legislative Assembly in the event of a crisis that threatens national security and territorial integrity. It is important to pay attention to this article to appreciate the scope of the power. Under the article, the president can do three things: remove an elected governor; dissolve a state parliament; and remove a governor as well as dissolve the parliament at the same time.

To reiterate, separation of powers is an overarching feature in a federal system. To found a truly federal system, the ten states of South Sudan must exist as political realities – not mere geographical entities.

Political reality can only be realised when a state has the powers to exercise executive and legislative powers exclusive of the national government.  Exclusive jurisdiction would mean that each level of government cannot encroach upon the power of the other.

Article 101 (r) has the effect of fundamentally interfering with the very existence of the institutions of governorship and state legislatures such as to leave their integrity to serve their constitutional purpose questionable. This is because the existence of the executive and legislative branches of the state can easily be altered by the national government without justification being given.

Without the continued existence of the State – in the manner discussed, it is pointless to talk of decentralisation, since all powers are effectively with the central government, specifically in the Presidency.

It is, however, plausible to argue that article 101 (r) does not deal with the separation of powers between the national government and the state government and as such presents no difficulties for federalism. It is true that the separations of powers between the separate levels of government are in fact dealt with in schedules A- C of the Transitional Constitution. Therefore, it can be concluded that 101(r) does not directly touch upon the question of separation of powers, it affect the continual existence of the organ (Office of the Governor and State Legislative assembly) vested with the powers.

Viewed this way 101 (r) does not technically affect the delineation or the exclusive powers granted under schedule B and therefore the Constitution arguably provide for a federal-like system of governance.

One can argue alternatively the above distinction is not only one without effect but also one that can lead us to accepting a superficial conclusion. Practically, 101 (r) affects the exercise of state exclusive powers by interference with state organ independence or separation from the national government. This means that instead of exercising the exclusive powers to serve the interest of the state population as envisioned in the constitution, states end up exercising powers as preferred by the national authority which has the powers of dissolving them or firing the governors or do both. Such an outcome defeats or significantly dilutes the basis for the separation of powers between the national government and state governments.

This analysis is not, in my judgement, far from the reality, examining the manner in which states Governors have been removed from office. As a result of 101 (r) encroachment, the fundamental characteristic of a federal system, of separation of powers in a manner which is not alterable by the central authority, is hard to defend in the context of South Sudan’s Constitution.

Finally, on my reading, though the states are given exclusive powers, these powers are significantly narrowed by a reading of schedule A and C. Firstly, it is noticeable or at least conceivable that, there is significant overlap between all the three different delegations of powers. Secondly, where a conflict arises because of a contradiction between the provision of a national law and state law on the matter of shared powers, the national law is to prevail to the extent of the contradiction. This means at the end states are left with very little.


This article aimed to explore wether South Sudan has a federal system guaranteed under the current constitutional design. I posit that the current constitutional design, although providing for a decentralised system, does not go far enough to guarantee a federal system of governance.

Whatever the drafters of the Constitution meant by the ‘decentralised system of government’, they did not appear to have meant a federal system. If respect is to be given to the fact that the Constitution is a legal document, we must confine ourselves to what is permissible upon a reading of the constitution itself.

We cannot, constitutionally speaking, adopt a construction, which has the effect of unconstitutionally amending the Constitution. To go as far as some suggest, is indeed to amend the constitution. It is to unconstitutionally amend the Constitution not only by the additional words which don’t appear anywhere in its text, but importing a concept that fundamentally changes the way our nation should be governed.

Considering the state of our country, there are concerns that the federalism debate is not only unnecessary but distractions. I disagree. We have reached a stage where we cannot conceivably go back to the status quo, yet in which the future is still unclear. It is for that reason that I think the debate is not only necessary but essential. It has regenerated interests on the question of how we should be governed, and no matter which side you are on, this is an important question that demands our attention, and the best of our efforts in attempting to answer it.


South Sudan: Part (Two) Federalism and Prisoner’s Dilemma

By: Jack Lino Wuor Abeyi

(Gurtong Edited/Published)-The irony is that federalism is being championed by elites from regions which could fair equally badly with those they accuse of fear if it is to be implemented. Why did the call not come from communities living in either Unity or Upper Nile states?

Take the case of the Dinka communities in the Melut Basin (around oil blocs 3 and 7) in Upper Nile state as an example. It sits on the largest discovered oil reserves in Africa (newly revised figures estimate the presence of at least 10 billion barrels of crude oil under the basin). In the meantime, development remained an elusive dream in the basin, which took more than its fair share of suffering under Al- Bashir’s aerial bombardments during the war.

Even today, those communities are facing the environmental consequences of chemical toxins from the oil production. The poisonous materials leak into water sources and destroy their livestock, farms, land and lives.

Why aren’t they champions of federalism and request half of the oil produced in their backyards?  Do they not want to see the streets of their cities illuminated and filled with expensive vehicles, take their children overseas for medical treatment like most corrupt politicians do? Did they grow accustomed to live of misery and dispossession?  I am sure the opposite is true.

The most successful and practical form of federalism, which South Sudan could learn from, is that of the United States of America. Each U.S. state benefits from the federal system but manages its internal affairs separately.

Take the case of the highly prosperous state of Florida as an example. The state has managed to benefit from its tropical weather and attracts millions of retirees into large suburbs and secluded resorts.

It also encourages tourism and direct foreign investment by not imposing state taxes on business conducted within its borders. As a result, Florida’s annual budget is one the largest in the union.

On the contrary, to the west of Florida, lie the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. They comprise a region which has historically been the stronghold for slavery and white supremacy.

It is therefore not a surprise to see them attracting few investors, which translates into modest annual budgets compared to that of Florida or New York. They are also major recipients of federal aid and therein are found the unhealthiest and the poorest population in the union.

In the future, the Federal Republic of South Sudan will have many states which will prosper while others will trail behind. The economic prerequisites for federalism in any environment include the presence of a reasonable educated population and economic equality among various regions of the federal system.

There’s also a need of a reliable infrastructure for effective communication and transportation to insure efficient transportation of goods and services across the federation.

South Sudan sadly lacks any of those factors for a healthy federal system. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to say that the major factor, which will decide the shape of any federal arrangement in South Sudan, will be an agreement on the amount of money each state must contribute to the federal treasury. What form of federalism can be set up if citizens from Upper Nile and Unity states refuse to subsidize the budgets of the remaining eight states?

It will be a hotly contested issue and a time when current enthusiasts to the proposal will scratch their heads wondering what they have pulled themselves into.

The solution was easy in the U.S model: the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government permission to collect Federal Income Tax from every legally working individual in all fifty states. In other words, the U.S. has a tax-based economy.

On the contrary, South Sudan has a resource-based economy with inefficient tax collection mechanisms.  In fact, over 98 percent of our national revenue is received from crude oil produced within two states: Unity and Upper Nile.

There are no significant taxes that can be collected from various states now and in the near future even if best tax collection methods are introduced; for the following reason: there’s no middle class to generate business projects and drive consumer activities.

Further more, most businesses in various states are concentrated in the informal sector of the economy, which are hard to be taxed. These include local merchants who rely on selling simple goods to families of government employees and the law enforcement agents.

Citizen in the ten states are faced with a problem of low purchasing power since their little budgets is often delayed in Juba. These are certainly not hospitable conditions for federalism now or in the near future.

Furthermore, if federalism is formed with an agreement to subsidize sizable portion of individual states budgets from the federal treasury, as it’s currently being practiced, then the same states might abandon the goals of generating development activities within their border and grow a habit of dependency on federal funds.

More, precisely, states will remain vulnerable to decisions by federal politicians in Juba while their citizens remain impoverished. The truth is that no single state will be able to stand on its own feet and fund its own budget without large subsidies from the central government.

Not even the two oil producing states of Upper Nile and Unite as their Capitals lay in ruin and their population scrapping by at various U.N camps.

Practical implementation of a federal system, without first insuring national reconciliation and nursing social ethos might exacerbate ethnic strives in the area of service delivery. Individual states will begin to keep accurate population census and genealogical records of their citizens, as they will be the basis for service delivery.

Oil producing states stand the chance of quickly affording the construction of modern healthcare and educational facilities, hire the best physicians, build better roads and provide better security to its citizens.

How will these wealthy states treat citizens from poorer states when they come knocking on their door, requesting medical treatment or education for their children?

Mishandling of such potential issues could cause ethnic tensions and mass relocation of entire communities from certain states to others. Minority ethnic groups within one state might feel discriminated by more dominant ones.  States will guard their borders with the viciousness of a lioness protecting her cubs; cattle rustling might cause intra-state wars since they will be settled by state law enforcement agencies and not mere cattle owners. States will grow more homogenous and the final picture will be a nation divided across ethnic lines.

The second possible challenge, which will arise from implementing federalism, before first fighting corruption, will affect the area of foreign investment. At least two possible problems might arise here. The first one concerns the visitor visa policies for investors entering the nation. This is an area where the current government deserves much credit for protecting the nation’s resources and economy by preventing bogus investors from entering the country.

However, in a federal system, there will be two ways to rush for development. Individual states, now realizing that they must stand on their own feet, will crisscross the world in search for investors.

In the meantime, thousands of investors will flood the nation to choose a suitable state for investment. The federal government will struggle to prevent shady investors from conducting maladroit dealings with state officials or risk seeing the country descent into chaos.

The second and more serious investment challenge might come from the quality of investors individual states will attract or find themselves tricked into signing shady deals with.

Additionally, state officials, now operating without fear of federal officials watching their backs, might practice corruption with impunity. The natural wealth of the states might be at the mercy of thieves and bogus investors. State citizens will only have to blame their own state officials.

The idea of federalism might have enchanted many citizens to see it as a viable solution to the problem of governance in the south Sudan; but it’s not the best. Its timing, as stated above has added fuel to the fire of confusion in a society washed in ignorance.

Federalism is now being interpreted as a new code for tribalism. It’s hardly an issue citizens can coalesce around if they become aware of its challenges in the current political period.

Those who expect it to deliver the positive outcomes it promises might be expecting too much. It will be like giving a car key to five year-old children and expect them to drive themselves to school and come back safely.

Before the nation embarks on a serious debate on the issue, there is a need to promote solidarity, reconciliation, and a sense of nationalism.  Quite simply, federalism without nationalism is another tragedy in the making.

(*Read Part 1 also posted on the blog).

Jack Lino Wuor Abeyi is a researcher in Political Science and Sociology. A graduate of Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.A. He can be reached at


Federalism: The Difference Between Riek And Equatoria

“Dr Riek Machar’s call for federalism is at best deceptive and at worst a betrayal of the genuine Equatoria’s call for federalism.”

 By Jacob K. Lupai

Federal states have been in existence for the last two hundred years. Although there was no explicit mention of federation, it was in the Juba Conference 1947 that South Sudanese first voiced their fears of domination and marginalization by Northern Sudanese. In the Conference Southerners basically wanted safeguards that they would not be mistreated by Northerners. It can, therefore, be seen that indirectly Southerners were already calling for a federal system of government that would have guaranteed them equality with their Northern counterparts and also sustainable national unity.

As Southerners were not well informed and sophisticated enough like the Northern conferees, they were easily manipulated to go along with the concept of one united Sudan without concrete guarantees. They took what Northerners said by word of mouth in the Conference as a guarantee. This is because in the Conference Northerners stressed that they had no intention to dominate the South. However, what the Northerners had stressed turned out to be a white lie or deception. It was to take the South two bitter and devastating liberation wars to get rid of Northern domination and marginalization.

Eight years later from the Juba Conference 1947 Southern members of parliament in Sudan put forward a condition for supporting the motion for independence from British colonial rule. They proposed a federal system of government for Sudan to safeguard the interest of the South. The Northern deceptive response was that the proposal for a federal system would be considered after independence of Sudan. After independence and under no obligation Northerners rejected the federal system for Sudan without any convincing explanation. To add salt to injury Northerners instead drafted a constitution fit for an Arab Islamic State. The Southern call for a federal system of government for Sudan was unceremoniously outlawed. Nevertheless, the Southern response was nothing but an armed struggle for freedom.

The point that is being made here is that the call for a federal system of government in South Sudan is not unique. In 1955 the Southern call for a federal system was to make the unity of Sudan attractive as the basis of sustainable national unity. Unfortunately the dominant Black Arabs of Sudan were arrogant, insensitive and extremely stubborn to their Black African cousins in the South. The Arabs were only to regret when Sudan ultimately disintegrated into North and South with colorful and magnificent celebrations in the South as that was where most of the resources the Arabs had exploited were found.

Federalism in South Sudan

Equatoria, of the three regions of South Sudan, was the first in 2011 to pass a resolution in a conference that: A democratic federal system of governance should be adopted for the Republic of South Sudan, therefore the establishment of the new country as the Federal Republic of South Sudan.

The motive for the call of a federal system of government in South Sudan is not very difficult to comprehend. It is to promote justice where none is above the law in contrast to selective justice, it is for sustainable national unity in contrast to ethno-centricism and it is to promote prosperity for all in contrast to absolute poor service delivery. The call for a federal system of government in South Sudan should be seen as a national agenda instead of being narrowly perceived as an Equatorian plot to segregate others. Federalism is for the benefit of all in South Sudan.

The essence of a federal system is its responsiveness to diversities and in defusing simmering tensions that may tear a country apart. The loud call for a federal system of government may co-relate to people’s experience of absolute poor service delivery. Things may therefore be different when a federal system is adopted.

Riek Machar’s call for federalism

Dr Riek Machar was the second most powerful man as the Vice President until July 2013 in the Government of the Republic of South Sudan. In December 2013 Dr Riek Machar declared openly that he was in rebellion against what he described as dictatorial tendencies of the President. In his rebellion Dr Riek Machar wanted support. Knowing very well that the call for a federal system was popular in Equatoria he wasted no time to make the call for federalism the top item on the agenda of the rebellion.

Dr Riek Machar must have calculated that by crafting federalism onto the agenda of his rebellion he would get automatic and total support from Equatoria. This, however, seems to have created a problem as Equatoria is now perceived sympathetic to the rebellion. A critical analysis is therefore needed of the extent to which Dr Riek Machar’s call for federalism is the same as that of Equatoria. This is in order to allay fears that may cause unnecessary panic and also for people not to get confused.

To begin with Dr Riek Machar’s call for federalism is at best deceptive and at worst a betrayal of the genuine Equatoria’s call for federalism.

People must recall that as the Vice President Dr Riek Machar at first supported federalism when the majority of members from Equatoria in the National Legislative Assembly in July 2011 endorsed federalism just before the day of independence. However, at the last hour Dr Riek Machar rejected the very federalism for which he is now calling. People must take it with some caution as to why Dr Riek Machar is now turning around to claim to be the champion of federalism while he was comfortable in rejecting it.

The difference

The difference between Dr Riek Machar’s call for a federal system and that of Equatoria is crystal clear. The Equatoria’s call for a federal system is genuine while that of Dr Riek Machar is a ploy for support from Equatoria. Dr Riek Machar is unreliable and so it is doubtful that he will ever implement a federal system in South Sudan. Did he not let down the people of Equatoria during the crucial vote for either federalism or decentralization in the eve of independence? It is clear that the difference is that Dr Riek Machar sees federalism as a sure way to the presidency while Equatoria sees federalism as a national agenda that does not need the use of force to impose it on the people of South Sudan. Federalism is a revolutionary agenda for the acceleration of socio-economic development for high standards of living in South Sudan.

In the communiqué that followed the Equatoria Conference 2011 it was affirmed that: “Mindful of the suffering of the people of Equatoria in the past decades, we will no longer accept Equatoria land to be used as a battle ground for any senseless bloodshed”. This confirms that Equatoria has nothing to do with the rebellion. Equatoria is peaceful and development oriented. It will therefore not welcome to its soil such a rebellion that has caused untold destruction and mayhem in the country.

Conclusion: It is hoped that there won’t be any confusion again between federalism called for by Dr Riek Machar and that called for by Equatoria. Equatoria had called for federalism before the rebellion. The vision was that federalism would not be imposed but rather would be accepted or adopted through consensus. This means people will need to be educated and convinced through open discussions and debates. People’s fears about federalism must be allayed and federalism must be thoroughly illustrated with examples from around the world. Putting a redline to discussion on federalism is not helpful because people may be forced to discuss it behind closed doors which may be much more dangerous than discussing it openly for people to gain confidence.

In principle it seems many people in South Sudan have no problem with federalism. One prominent revolutionary and architect of the armed struggle that brought independence said in a function that “federalism is not bad but proposed at the wrong time”. The implication is that South Sudanese support federalism but their fears must first be addressed and the time for adoption should be right.

When should the time be right is the question. The issue of rebellion and federalism could be addressed concurrently where the states should be involved as important stakeholders. Muzzling free thinking is not helpful in our search for a lasting solution to the problems of South Sudan.

In conclusion, no one appears to be against federalism but the fear seems to be the unseen devil in details of federalism which, therefore, needs our collective effort to reduce the fear for the common good of all.


Proposed Fed System Part 3

Proposed Federal system for future South Sudan: Let us serialize it

 Part 3

By Sindani Sebit

Part 3 of these series focuses basically on the Federal structures under the Federal President (Prime Minister). These structures include the cabinet, defense and Federal law enforcement agencies. From the graphic illustration below, you will notice that the Parliament and the Judiciary is not included here because these two constitutional institutions are independent of the President (Prime Minister).

The basic idea is to enable the people of South Sudan critically understand the separation of powers at Federal level and devolution of powers to the state. It is apparent that the organized forces such as the police, wild life, internal security services, fire brigade or any form of organized forces are not part of the Federal government and thus do not constitute a part of the federal law enforcement but are rather under the state governments.

In this article the plan to reorganize the defense will not be discussed suffice to say the number of the army with be reduced to not more that 80,000 (infantry, air force and navy) while the restructuring will take into account qualification of the soldiers, age, sex and equality and equity within the federal Republic of South Sudan. This restructuring will be done by independent experts including foreigners who have experience in army restructuring. Therefore the areas that will be discussed here are the functions of the executive including the President (Prime Minister), the cabinet in general and the roles of the federal law enforcement services. The individual ministerial portfolios will also not be discussed because the intention of the article is not to specify which ministries will be established and how many but the number should be between 18 to 24 ministries. The purpose of this article is to enable everyone understand the functions of the president and the institution under the presidency and feed back with constructive suggestions.

 Structures under the Federal President/Prime Minister


The executive authority of the Federal Government of South Sudan is derived from the people. This must be exercised in accordance to the constitution based on the principle of service to the people and to foster their wellbeing. The Executive shall consist of the President (Prime minister), deputy President (Prime minister) and the cabinet. The composition of the executive should reflect the regional and ethnic diversity of the people of South Sudan. This means equality and equity must be the principle on which the president should appoint the cabinet. This balance is crucial in order to create unity and avoid marginalization of some ethnic groups. Certainly not all the 64 tribes of South Sudan will be in the cabinet but attempts must be made to ensure that there is no domination by one or two tribes or regions. On the other hand equity must be observed so that disadvantaged groups such as women, the disable and other marginalized groups cannot be ignored when the government is being formed.

President (Prime Minister)

Authority of the President (Prime Minister)

The President (Prime Minster) shall be the head of State and government and commander in chief for the defense forces. These include the infantry, air force, the navy and the federal law enforcement services that include federal intelligence service (FIS), Immigration and Custom Service (ICS), Drug Enforcement and Illegal Trafficking service (DEIT) and Special Security Service (SSS). The President (Prime Minister) shall also be the chairman of the federal security council which should comprise of the President (Prime Minister), his/her deputy, the heads of the defense forces, the head of the federal intelligence service, the federal foreign minister, secretary to the cabinet and the governor of the state that hosts the federal capital. The President (Prime Minister) will exercise authority of the federal government with assistance of the deputy President (Prime minister) and the cabinet.

Role of the President (Prime minister)

The role of the President (Prime Minister) is to respect, uphold and guard the federal constitution. He/she must exercise powers vested on him/her by the constitution. He/she shall not rule by decrees but only through the articles of the constitution. The President (Prime Minister) though will enjoy the immunity of office, shall not be above the law. He/she shall promote and enhance the unity of the Federal republic of South Sudan, ensures that diversity of the people and ethnic communities are respected. He/she must protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and rule of law as enshrined in the constitution. It must be emphasized here that respect for South Sudan diversity within united South Sudan will work to enhance mutual understanding and trust among the various tribes of South Sudan and will enrich the various South Sudan cultural beliefs and practices. This will further strengthen unity and harmony among the citizenry of South Sudan.

Functions of the President (Prime minister)

Constitutionally the Federal President (Prime Minster) shall perform the following functions:

  • Address the opening  of parliament and specific sittings of the parliament
  • Report annually to the nation by submitting to parliament the extent of implementation of government program and progress achieved.
  • Nominate and with approval of the federal parliament appoint or dismiss:

ü  Cabinet ministers

ü  Attorney General

ü  Permanent secretaries

ü  High commissioners, ambassadors, diplomatic and consular representatives

  • Chair cabinet, direct and coordinate the functions of the federal ministers and government departments
  • Declare state of emergency and with approval of parliament declare war. The President (Prime Minster) under no circumstance should declare war without approval of the federal Assembly.
  • Promote and enhance the unity of the nation, ensure that diversity of the people and ethnic communities are respected, human rights and fundamental freedoms and rules of law are protected
  • President (Prime minister) has no constitutional powers to remove from office any elected members of government at all levels of administration. These include

ü  MPs

ü  Governors

ü  County commissioners

ü  County counselors

The purpose here is to deny the president (Prime Minister) any powers that he/she can use to remove peoples’ elected representatives and to respect the devolution of powers to the states. This will enable the peoples’ representatives and heads of Federal states to work without undue fear of being unconstitutionally removed from office by the President (Prime Minister).

Qualification of the President

In case where the country opts for federal President, in order for anybody to be elected as Federal President he/she must be:

  • Citizen of South Sudan
  • At least must have been a government of a federal state or a senator before standing for the election of president.
  • At least 35 years of age
  • Graduate from any recognized university

Qualification of the Prime Minister

If the country opts for Prime Minister as the head of government like in UK, Indian and many federal states, the candidate for this post should be:

  • Citizen of South Sudan
  • Leader of the party with highest number of MPs in Parliament or highest number of MPs of collusion parties in parliament
  • Has been elected as a member of parliament by his party or collusion
  • At least 35 years of age
  • Graduate from any recognized university

Election of the President

The Federal President shall be elected directly by the people by universal suffrage in an election organized by the Federal Electoral Commission as stipulated in the constitution while for Prime Minister; he/she shall be elected by parliament from the party or collusion of parties with the highest number of MPs.

Vacancy in the President (Prime Minster) office

When the president dies or becomes incapacitated, his/her deputy will take over until new elections are called in accordance with the constitutional provisions pertaining to elections. However, in case of Prime Minister; if he/she dies or becomes incapacitated while in office, his/her party or collusion can nominate another member of parliament from his/her party or collusion to be elected acting Prime Minister until new elections are conducted according to election calendar as stipulated in the constitution. In case the party or the collusion of the Prime Minister looses majority or confidence vote, new national election shall be called as stipulated in the constitution.

Deputy President (Prime Minister)

He must be the principal assistant. He/she will perform the functions assigned by the President (Prime minister)and acts as President (Prime minister) during the absence of the President (Prime Minister).

Federal Cabinet

The federal cabinet shall consist of the President (Prime Minister), his/her deputy, the Attorney General and not less than 18 and not more than 24 ministers. The Federal President (Prime Minister) will nominate all proposed cabinet ministers, present them for vetting and approval by the Federal Parliament before they appointed ministers. Likewise, cabinet ministers shall only be dismissed by the President (Prime Minister) after due approval by the Federal Parliament. This is to avoid nepotism, incompetence and unqualified people being appointed as ministers. It will also weed out people who might have been corrupt or tribalistic in their previous duties. Cabinet ministers should be selected from qualified civil servants and not members of parliament so that parliament has no conflict of interest in approving the cabinet.

Conversely the Federal Parliament may propose a motion requiring the President (Prime minister) to dismiss a cabinet member only on the following grounds:

  • Gross violation of the provision of the constitution or any other law
  • Serious reasons for believing that the said member has committed a crime under federal or international law.

In such situations, the President (Prime Minister) is required to oblige. However, clear procedures for such request by parliament, shall be stipulated in the constitution.

Although cabinet ministers are accountable to the President (Prime minister), they must attend to any summons by the committee of the parliament so as to enlighten the parliament about their activities and also to be accountable for their actions. Performance contract do usually improve performance and accountability and therefore all cabinet ministers shall be required to sign performance contract at beginning of their term of office. These contracts shall be reviewed at end of every year to determine if the concern minister has fulfilled his/her obligations. Failure to do so will trigger parliamentary process to remove the minister.

Attorney general

The attorney General is a member of cabinet. He is not a part of the Judiciary. Attorney is the principal legal adviser to the Federal government. He/she represents the Federal Government in court or any other legal or criminal proceedings. He/she can be a friend of court in any proceedings where the Federal government is not a party. His/her role is to promote, protect and uphold the rule of law and defend the public interest. He can also be assigned any function by the President (Prime Minister).

The Attorney General shall be nominated by the President (Prime Minister) and with approval of parliament appointed to office. The process of approval by parliament should be done transparently and rigorously to avoid tribalism, nepotism and favouritism. He/she should have qualification equivalent to Federal Chief Justice and should serve for 5 years but can be reappointed if necessary.

Director of persecution

In order to have independent and impartial persecution system, an independent office of persecutor shall be created. This office shall have right to tenure of office for 5 years and renewable for the same period. The occupant of the office shall be nominated by the President who will seek for approval of parliament before his/her appointment. The qualification of the persecutorshould be at the level of Judge of the Federal Court of Appeal. The persecutor shall have powers to direct the commissioner of police to investigate any information or allegation of criminal conduct and will exercise powers of persecution. In so doing he/she may institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court; take over and continue any criminal proceedings started in any courtand can discontinue, at any stage before judgment is delivered, any criminal proceedings.

The persecutor shall not require the consent of any person or authority for commencement of criminal proceedings. He/she shall not be under the direction of any person or authority but should have regard for public interest, the interest of administration of justice and avoid abuse of the legal process.

The South Sudan Federal Law Enforcement Agency

The Federally operated agencies are essential to enforce various types of laws in the South Sudan that cannot be devolved to the states. These services usually cut across the states and in most cases cannot be managed at state level. These are services that cannot be assigned to organized forces under the state. The services that will be implemented by the federal Law Enforcement Agencies include:

  1. Protecting, preventing, countering, and investigating terrorism;
  2. Illicit drug trafficking;
  3. Transnational and multi-jurisdictional crime;
  4. Organized people smuggling, human trafficking and slavery;
  5. Serious fraud against the Nation;
  6. High-tech crime involving information technology and communications;
  7. Peacekeeping and capacity building; and
  8. Money laundering;

The Federal Law Enforcement Agency is divided into four (4) federal law enforcement organs namely:

Federal Intelligence Service (FIS)

The Federal Intelligence Service is a highly secretive federal law enforcement organ whose mission is to collect and evaluate foreign intelligence in an effort to protect the security of Federal Republic of South Sudan. It may also be involved in covert activities in other countries at the discretion of the President (Prime Minister) of the Federal Republic of South Sudan. It will be responsible in combating international terrorism. Therefore it will frequently work with other countries to accomplish this effort.

Immigration and Customs Services (ICS)

ICS shall be charged with enforcing laws involving border control, customs, trade and immigration. It constitutes the Federal police force that enforces illegal immigration activities throughout the Federal Republic of South Sudan and investigates import and export illegal goods and materials.

Drug Enforcement and Illegal Trafficking (DEIT)

DEIT shall be charged with the responsibility of investigating and enforcing laws related to illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives as well as the theft and the unlawful sale and distribution of alcohol and tobacco. It is also responsible for enforcing laws relating to controlled substances like marijuana, cocaine and heroin. It will work with other state and county organized forces as well as with foreign governments to reduce the trafficking of illegal drugs.

Special Security Service (SSS)

The Special Service Service’s primary function is to protect the President (Prime Minister) of the Federal Republic of South Sudan and his/her immediate family as well as the Vice-President and other high ranking government officials who might face security threats. It will also be tasked with protecting Federal Courts and Judges. It will deal squarely with counterfeiting of currency, money laundering, internet (Cyber) security and threat, fraud, and credit card fraud. In addition, it will serve as covert law enforcement on Federal Republic of South Sudan aircrafts and other high value targets in the country.

In conclusion, compared to the current system of governance in South Sudan, the federal system proposed here curtails the dictatorial powers of the President, affirms the independence of the Parliament and Judiciary and boasted the oversight role of Parliament over the executive. The President will have no powers to appoint his cronies or tribal bigots to office without approval from Parliament. This system will indeed counter the rampant corruption, tribalism, nepotism and favouritism in South Sudan. It will also frustrate the efforts of any President (Prime Minister) from becoming a dictator.

Sindani Sebit

Nairobi; Kenya

Benefits and Drawbacks of Federalism in a Broader and Practical Perspective in South Sudan!

By Johnny M. Mabor

According to, Federalism is a system of government in which a written constitution divides power between a central government and regional or sub-divisional governments. Both types of government act directly upon the people through their officials and laws. Both types of government are supreme within their proper sphere of authority. Both have to consent (agree) to any changes to the constitution.

In America the term “federal government” is usually understood to refer exclusively to the national government based in Washington. This, however, is not an accurate interpretation of the term as it excludes the role played by other aspects of government concerned with the federalist structure.

Federalism can be seen as a compromise between the extreme concentration of power and a loose confederation of independent states for governing a variety of people usually in a large expanse of territory. Federalism has the virtue of retaining local pride, traditions and power, while allowing a central government that can handle common problems. The basic principle of American federalism is fixed in the Tenth Amendment (ratified in 1791) to the Constitution which states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” There are certainly a number of strict regulations to be follow by the state government. For example, the states must observe the Constitution of the United States of America and they must obey valid laws of the federal government made under the Constitution so the same could apply here if we adopt federalism and it is not really what you lots out there thing. Of course there are positives and negatives of every Jack as usual and let me put through some benefits and drawbacks of this system.
Federalism if simply put shall be a practical way of combining (through representing institutions), the benefits of unity and diversity. It is the distribution of ‘power’ to local government units or the 10 states of South Sudan that is normally highly consolidated in a national government (in the republic form of government).
That would mean bringing the government nearer to people, literally and symbolically, so the burden of development, and basic services in the society will be delegated to the local government units, hence theoretically, making the governance easier, much accessible to the local people, and development would reach the farthest provinces of the country. Political stability can be achieve by removing the national government from some contention issue areas and as well as encouraging pluralism in a sense that it expand government on national, state and local levels, giving people more access to leaders and opportunities to get involved in their government. Optimum utilization of resources because of the division of work between the central and the regional governments for example, the central government can concentrate more on international affairs and defense of the country, while the provincial government can cater to the local needs.
Federalism however prevents the creation of a national policy. For example the United States does not have a single policy on issues: instead it has fifty-one policies which often lead to confusion and in that regard, South Sudan will have 10 policies and you can bet you money or even your life that it will only bring more confusion than the current republic system. Lack of accountability shall arise because of an overlap of the boundaries among national and state governments subsequently becoming tricky to assign blame for fail policies.
The most ardent South Sudanese citizen knows that ignorance within our community is a vice and that will not help in adopting federalism either, most South Sudanese are illiterate and completely do not know anything about federalism and even the few educated ones still knows little about their state and local governments and that was evidenced in the turn out in the previous state and local elections which was relatively low, less than 25 percent. Citizens consequently often ignore state and local governments even though these governments have a lot of power to affects people’s lives.
If we adopt federalism, then let us embrace ourselves for a variation in state laws concerning such matters as the age at which one can drive a car and must attend school as well as differences in penalties of law breaking from state to state and there shall be complexity of the South Sudan legal system, having both national and state courts and each state having not only its own laws and courts but also its own constitution.
Even tax system will be complex i.e. Income tax (federal and state); state property taxes; local sales taxes etc will bring a lot of agitation and besides the regional diversity (the Bahr el-Ghazal, Equatorial, Upper Nile) will only worsened the tribal conflict. G. Pascal Zachary in his book titled “the diversity advantage” under the content; what works in the sub-Saharan Africa and what doesn’t, gave a study by the International Crises Group which identifies a set of problems with Ethiopia’s effort to politicize ethnicity and use federalist structures to apportion political benefits among definable ethnic groups. ICG insists these arrangements are making ethnic grievances grow, rather than recede, and the think tank may be correct; it is not just going to work in South Sudan considering our ethnic diversity.
Corruption is imminent or could get worse with the federal system of government that comes at a cost; it’s therefore acute to note that it is very expensive as more people are elected to office, both at the state and central than necessary. Thus, at this point I am able to say that only rich countries can afford it. And as we advocates for federalism with all our lungs out, a wise citizen should be cautious of the fact that federalism pitches state against state through unnecessary competition between different regions and as a matter of fact you are not going to rule out rebellion by a state government against the national government too. You certainly don’t need to be a student or a professor to notice that federalism leads to uneven distribution of wealth and promote state inequalities. e.g. Natural resources, industries, employment opportunities differ from state to state. Hence, earnings and wealth are unevenly distributed. Rich states offer more opportunities and benefits to its citizens that the poor states. Thus, the gap between rich and poor states widens. Anyway all in all “We definitely got a better “script” in federalism, but the question is who will be the “actors”? Will they be using the same “artistic craft” that they has employed while functioning in a republic form of government? If the actors and performances would be exactly the same, I’d say federalism wouldn’t make much difference. It would just be a waste of time, money and energy”
By: John Mading Mabor
Public Policy Analyst
Deputy Chairperson of the Public Relation Society of South Sudan (PRS)
I can be reached on: Email:


 Proposed Federal system for future South Sudan: Let us serialize it–Part 4

By Sindani Sebit,

The Part 4 of these series focuses essentially on the proposed judicial system in a Federal Republic of South Sudan. It outlines the basic aim of the judicial system, its composition and independence, the structures at the Federal and Federal State levels of the country; and the role of the Judicial Services Commission promoting the independence of the judiciary, facilitating the accountability and transparency of the entire judicial system. The independence of the judicial system is crucial and paramount if the country is to uphold and protect the rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens, ensure accountability, justice, equality and equity for all people regardless of colour, creed, tribe, ethnicity, religion and sex.

Therefore the aim of the judicial system is therefore to ensure that nobody is above the law and everybody is accountable for his/her actions according to the Federal Constitution and also to promote fair judgment, equal treatment before the law and protect all rights of the citizens regardless of their standing in the society.

The purpose of this article is therefore to provide the people of South Sudan with the basic knowledge of the kind of judicial system that will protect them under a federal system of governance as opposed to the current subjected judicial system in South Sudan. It is hoped that constructive feedback and suggestions will be generated.


Fair judicial system is important for any citizen of a country to enjoy his/her liberties and rights. Judicial system that is independent and based on transparency and accountability guarantees equality and equity, it promotes harmony, unity and togetherness because nobody will be considered to be above the low. It creates and ensures confidence among the citizenry because of the grounded belief that they are protected, their property is protected and that none of them will be subjugated, oppressed and denied his/her right to live, enjoy, marry, acquire and own property.

Therefore, the authority of the Judiciary in a Federal Republic of South Sudan shall emanate from the people and shall be vested in and exercised by courts and tribunals as stipulated by the Federal Constitution. The courts and tribunals should be grounded by the fact that justice shall be done to all regardless of status of a person concern and justice shall not be delayed. Courts shall endeavour to promote alternative forms of dispute resolution such as reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms and shall ensure that justice shall be administered without regard to procedural technicalities and that purpose and principles of the constitution are protected and promoted. On the other hand, the courts shall ensure traditional dispute resolution mechanisms shall not be used to contravene any bill of rights, promote acts that are contrary to justice or morality and not result in outcomes that are repugnant to justice and morality and that the traditional dispute resolution mechanisms shall not be inconsistent to the constitution or written law of the country.

Independency of Judiciary

The Judiciary in Federal Republic of South Sudan will not be subjected to any authority other than the constitution and law of the Republic. It cannot be subject to control or direction of any person or authority and the office of the Judge of the Federal Superior court shall not be abolished as long as there is subordinate office holder. All judge salaries and benefits shall be charged to a consolidated fund and members of Judiciary shall not be subjected to any action or suit resulting from anything done or omitted in good faith in the lawful performance of a judicial function. This is meant to guarantee the independence of the judiciary. It means that the judiciary shall be independent of the executive and parliament. It will have its budget and tenure of office.

Composition of Judiciary

The judiciary proposed here will include judges of Federal Supreme Court, Federal Court of Appeal, Federal State High Court Judges, Magistrates, Other judicial officers and Staff of the judiciary. The offices of the judiciary shall comprise the Chief justice as the Head of the judiciary, the Deputy Chief justice as Deputy Head to the judiciary, Chief registrar as Chief Administrator of and accounting officer to the judiciary and the Judicial Service Commission. The role and functions of the Judicial Service Commission will be outlined later in this article.

Structure of the Courts

The courts in the federal Republic of South Sudan shall be structured as follows: 1) Superior courts. The superior courts include the Federal Supreme Court, Federal court of Appeal and state high courts. 2) Subordinate courts that include the magistrate courts and court martial courts. The courts will be distributed according to the two levels of administration. Therefore at the Federal level, the following courts shall be established:

  1. Federal Supreme Court
  2. Federal Court of Appeal
  3. Any other court prescribed by the Federal constitution such as commerce and trade laws, employment and labour laws at Federal level.

Meanwhile the following courts shall be established at State level of governance:

  1. High Court
  2. Magistrate court
  3. Martial courts
  4. Any other courts that are prescribed by state constitution such as commercial courts, employment and labour laws, environmental and land laws, etc

Federal Supreme Court

The Federal Supreme Court shall be the highest Federal court in the country and shall be headed by the Chief Justice deputized by the Deputy Chief Justice. Its composition will include 5 judges as will be determined by the Federal Constitution. This court is charged with appellate jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from:

  1. Court of appeal
  2. Any other court or any matter of public importance or interest

Federal Court of Appeal

This is the second highest court in the country and shall comprise of 18 judges as prescribed by the Federal Constitution. The constitution shall ensure that one judge is appointed to the court from each of the proposed 18 Federal states. If the number of Federal States is more or less than 18, the number of judges should also be varied to ensure that each state is represented by one judge in this court. This is to create equal representation and guarantee fair administration of justice in the country.

The court shall be headed by the President of Federal Court of Appeal elected by its members in their first sitting. The principal role of this court is to hear and determine cases from:

  1. Referred from State High courts
  2. Questions arising from interpretation of Federal constitution including electoral cases
  3. Cases arising from interstate conflicts
  4. Any other court or tribunal prescribed by act of Federal parliament

State Courts

The state courts include the high courts, magistrate courts, chiefs’ courts and any other form of traditional courts.

High Court

This court consists of number of judges as prescribed by the state constitution. It shall be headed by Principal Judge elected by its members in its first sitting. Its fundamental functions shall be to hear and determine:

  1. Unlimited jurisdictions in criminal or civil matters
  2. Issues related to the bill of rights and fundamental freedoms
  3. Appeals from decisions from tribunals and magistrate courts
  4. Questions arising from interpretation of state constitution
  5. Whether any law is consistent with or in contravention of the state constitution

Magistrate Courts

The state parliament shall enact legislation conferring jurisdiction, functions and powers on these courts

Appointment of Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justices and all judges

The posts of Chief justice, his/her Deputy and Judges of the State High Courts are constitutional posts and therefore subject to approval by the Federal Parliament in case of the Chief Justice and his Deputy and Federal State parliament in case of Judges of the State High courts. Thus the Chief Justice and his/her Deputy shall be recommended to the President/Prime Minister by the Judicial Service Commission, approved by the Federal Parliament and then appointed by the President/Prime Minister. No person shall be appointed by the president to these posts without the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission and approval of the Federal Parliament. Any person appointed without following this due process shall be deemed to have been appointed unconstitutionally and therefore shall not be permitted to assume these offices.

Similarly the same procedure shall be followed in the appointment of Judges of the Federal State High Courts with the exception that the candidates will be recommended to the State Governor by the State Branch of the Judicial Service Commission and will be approved by the State Parliament before appointment by the State Governors. In this case the Federal President/Prime Minister has no powers to appoint any Federal State High Court Judge. Any attempt to do so shall be deemed unconstitutional and such appointee shall not be permitted to assume the office of judge in that state. This is to protect against corruption, nepotism, favouritism, equality and equal opportunity.

Therefore any person who intends to be appointed to any position in the judiciary shall present an application to the Judicial Service Commission either at federal or state levels depending on the position and the Judicial Service Commission shall ensure competitiveness and transparency in processing the application in accordance to the rules and regulations of employment as stipulated in the Judicial Service Commission act.

Qualification of the judges

In case of Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judges of Federal Supreme Court, the candidate must have a degree from recognized university, has high moral character, integrity and impartiality and has experience of at least 10-15 years as member of superior court judge or distinguished academia, judicial officer or such experience in other relevant legal field. This is to ensure competency, integrity and respect.

For Judges of Federal court of appeal, the candidate should have at least a degree from recognized university, experience of at least 7-10 years as member of superior court judge or distinguished academia, judicial officer or such experience in other relevant legal field while for Judges of High court, the candidate should have at least a degree from recognized university and has experience of at least 7-10 years as member of superior court judge or distinguished academia, judicial officer or such experience in other relevant legal field.

Tenure of office of the Chief Justice and other Judges

In order to ensure that the Chief Justice and other Judges have confidence in their work and not to be intimidated by the powers that be, these judicial officers shall have tenure of offices which shall be prescribed by law according to retirement age or maximum tenure period of 10 years.

Removal judicial officers from Office

Judicial Officers may be removed from the office only on the grounds of:

  1. Inability to perform the functions due to mental or physical injury
  2. Breach of a code of conduct
  3. Bankruptcy
  4. Incompetence
  5. Gross misconduct

The process of removal of judge shall be initiated by the Judicial Service Commission in accordance with rules and procedures prescribed in the act of Judicial Services Commission. This is intended to protect the judicial officers from undue interference by the executive and to ensure they perform their work independently without any pressure from anybody.

Judicial Service Commission (JSC)

This body shall be established so as to ensure the independence ofjudiciary system. The functions of JSC shall be to:

  1. Promote and facilitate the independence and accountability of the judiciary
  2. Ensure efficient, effective and transparent administration of justices
  3. Recommend to the President/Prime minister persons to be appointed as judges
  4. Review and make recommendations on the condition of service for:
  • Judges and judicial officers
  • Staff of the judiciary
  1. Investigate and remove or dismiss registrars, magistrates and other judicial officers and staff
  2. Ensure there is continuous education for judges and judicial officers
  3. Advise the Federal and state governments on improvement of efficiency of the administration of justice

The JSC shall be guided in its work by competitive and transparent process of appointment of judiciary, equality, fairness, justice and promotion of gender equity. The JSC shall be composed of the following officers:

  1. Chief Justice as the chairperson of the JSC
  2. One federal supreme court judge elected by supreme court judges
  3. One Federal court of appeal judge elected by the judges of federal court of appeal
  4. One high court judge and one magistrate, elected by members of association of judges and magistrates
  5. Attorney general
  6. Two advocates elected by the professional association
  7. One representative nominated by the public service commission
  8. Chief registrar of the judiciary; as secretary to the JSC
  9. Three public representative appointed by the prime minister subject to approval by the Federal Parliament
  10. Out of the 13 members at 30% must women

The varied composition here is aimed at creating fair representation, pulling together varied opinions, democratic participation and ensuring accountability and transparency. Tenure of the members JSC should be 5 years except for the Attorney General and Chief of Staff.

In conclusion, the aim of setting up such elaborate judicial system is to bring justice and equality to the country. It is to protect the civil rights and freedoms through independent judicial system and ensure equal participation in the decision process of administration of justice. In addition, the system must be judged to be transparent, accountable and responsive to the people. Furthermore, this is a deliberate attempt to remove corruption, nepotism, favouritism and preference that can work against the desire to have just system in South Sudan. Finally it is a deliberate course to ensure that the judicial system cannot not be subjugated, interfered with and made to be an instrument of oppression, subjugation and denial of fundamental freedoms and rights.

Article 5 of these series will focus mainly on the sources of financial resources for both the Federal Government and Federal states and how the federal resources can be distributed between the federal government and states. It will further illustrate how state resources can be distributed within the states. It will also outline the role of the body that will be responsible for financial resources distribution at the three levels of government.



By Gatmai Buom Ruot

There are roughly 25 federal countries in the world today which together represent 40% of the world’s population. They include some of the largest and most complex democracies such as India; united states; Germany; Brazil and Mexico. Their systems of government while it can be complex have made them amongst many countries the most prosperous countries in the world with high standard of government services.

Historically most federations were results of previously separate entities; the American thirteen colonies; the Swiss cantons coming together to form a federal government. The entities would keep some powers to themselves but others were pooled with central government of new country.

More recently; previously unitary countries such as Spain; Belgium and South African have adopted federal structure as a way of maintaining common central government for some purposes while empowering regional governments for other purposes.

In many diverse societies; federalism permits a recognition both of this diversity and of common interests and identity at the same time.

Among the federated countries include the following;
1. Australia
2. Brazil
3. Canada
4. Ethiopia
5. Germany
6. India
7. Mexico
8. Pakistan
9. Nigeria
10. United states of America
11. United Arabs Emirates
12. Spain
13. Venezuela
14. South Africa
15. St Kitts and Nevis
17. Malaysia
18. Bosnia and Herzegovina
19. Comoros
20. Belgium
21. Austria
22. Argentina
23. Switzerland
24. Nepal
25. Russia

Countries in transition to federalism are:
1. Iraq
2. Sudan
3. South Sudan.

Federalism is the best system of government that south Sudan should adopt given that it recognizes the diversity of the societies and it effectiveness in service delivery and other forms of administration.

Am for Federal Democratic Republic of South Sudan.
(FDRSS) what about you????????

The author, Gatmai Buom Ruot, is a concern South Sudanese residing in Kenya. He can be reached at


Federalism sufficiently not confederacy.

By Deng Turuk Liem

There are handful promulgating arguments against and for a proposed federal system as impressive tool for restructuring South Sudan, amongst South Sudanese citizens. Many people especially from greater Bhar El Gazal, as matter of facts, have even gone far in demonstrating their grievances against federalism by asking what seems to be serious question to them, as if the federalism is going to be fully implemented, will the remains of our martyrs who died all over South Sudan during liberation struggle be collected and delivered back to where they were belonged?

On other hand, greater Bhar El Gazal youth’s forum convened in Warrap State on the 3rd of June 2014 and published by Gurtong site, decried its intention against federal system coined lack of developments, insecurity and tribalism as fundamental reasons behind their decision. Their resolution, however, eloquently demonstrated that forming federal state at the backdrop of tribal conflicts, where tension between states and tribes is still at high level and the insecurity where arms rebellion becomes a habit is not a great idea to begin with as it will promote tribalism and all ills come with it. This forum unknowingly or knowingly instead was, therefore, declared its supports for devolution governance system as good system to start with and that it will pave a way for us to a peaceful federal system in our maturity time.

Devolution is defined as act or process by which a central government gives or delegates power, property, etc. to local groups or governments. It sounds great, but if they took a look at it very closely with insight and tremendous senses of understandings, they would understand that, it is what we have in hands currently. As per my understanding, it is a status quo. It is not a new political solution to use for diagnosing current political predicaments. It is, notwithstanding, a failed old political instrument that cannot be reused any longer in diagnosing our current deteriorated political situation.

In our current system of government, albeit, everything that we do in our states, counties, payoms and bomas, is what our central government in Juba delegates or mandates us to do. All revenues throughout the country, include the two percent of oil shares allocate to oil producing states, are collectively taken to Juba first and later reallocated back to states, counties, payoms and bomas by central government with specific mandates attached to for states and local governments to execute. This system did not work and will never work or give us any easy path to nation-building. If this is the case, we all must be hungry with devolution system of government and reject it big time because it is what had failed us and dauntingly promoted tribalism, nepotism, corruption and unintermitted arm conflicts.

My simple response to the opponents of federalism who call it a quit is that, Sirs, federalism sufficiently not confederacy. It is not a divided independence nations with different national constitutions as you are allegedly put it. In this case, you might, however, confuse it (federalism) with confederalism where different countries from region form confederal government merely to defense the interests of that particular region. In confederacy, each country has it owns national constitution, army, currency, judicial, and etc. The relevant examples of confederal governments available on top of my mind are AU, EU, IGAD and Arab League among others.

In contrast, unlike devolution, federalism renders full constitutional rights, but not delegations of powers to state or local governments, as in case of devolution. It is, however, a system that constitutionally enhances full decentralization of a democratic government where state governments have an independent constitution and mutual responsibility to make it owns decisions, renders services to its own designated population, and creates development programs in its own realms without any interference from federal government. The national government has stakes only on those programs which it provides funding for. In liberal federalism states such as the United States of others, each state has rights to repudiate any national government programs which carry heavily mandates and restrictions.

It is a system where a national security businesses such as national defense, foreign affairs, interior, federal judicial, include Supreme Court and other important national installations which states cannot handle to manage, are run by and/or permanently remain in hand of national government, that means one country with fully decentralized government system. For your vivid information, the army of Federal Republic of South Sudan will not be separated, hence, they will live, deploy and fight together under one commander-in-chief in any conflict that needs their participations as brothers and sisters in one national army. But, not as private recruited Doot Koch Beny militias who created havoc in Capital Juba in name of fabricated coup d’état and terrorized population based on tribal grounds.For these reasons, we do not have any validated reason deems fit to collect the remains of our martyrs and delivered them back to where they were belonged since we will remain having one national government with one national army.

I personally believe that, federalism is what will earnestly spare us and our diversity as nation. Without it coherently implementations, the army conflicts will never cease in South Sudan as the power struggles over centralized national resources will never halt. It is a system that will indiscriminately obligate all South Sudanese citizens staying and participating in developing of their home states, counties, payoms and bomas, rather than to run away from home and reside in Capital Juba without a portfolio simply because Juba designated a place where national resources are strictly held.

The majority of those innocent Nuer who lost their lives in Capital Juba in the aftermath of December 15, 2013 event, were jobless who had nothing to do in their home states to rely on for living. Then, they went to Juba looking for jobs because Juba was only a designated place for them to go and got employments, be it a production or profession.

James Wani Igga, the current vice president of Republic of South Sudan, on the other hand, unpleasantly urged Equatoria people in their consultative forum convened in Juba last week not to support a proposed federalism idea by rebels, even though he has been constantly an utmost supporter of this great idea, simply because it is a stolen thing from them, the Equatoria people by Dr. Riek Machar. He was even gone in depth by mentioning that, it was stolen from us here in Nyakuron Cultural Center by Dr. Riek Machar. He (James Wani) referred to Equatoria conference that took place back in 2011 shortly after South Sudan became independence sovereignty state and it was event where they came up with federalism idea as it should be utmost system to governing South Sudan. James Wani Igga joined by his boss Salva Kiir Mayardit by elaborating that, federalism idea is not Dr. Riek Machar proposal. It is a proposal that South Sudanese had demanded since Juba convention and went on.

Based on my personal understanding, and I share it too with other commentators is that, the arguments could not be about who proposed it at the onset, but it could be about, if it is a good proposal to be implemented. If this is the case, the second argument should be about which of two or more form of federal systems is best for us?The two important form of federal systems are parliamentarian and presidential.

  1. Parliamentarian federal system: It is a system that is run by prime minister as a leader of parliament and when citizens go for elections they are elected parliament along with chosen candidates by parties for prime minister Position. Whichever party wins supermajority of vote in parliament possesses Prime Minister Position and that party must be deemed a ruling party for that particular term of that government. If no party wins supermajority, therefore, the unity government should be formed through bilateral agreements until next elections cycle surfaced, and that the party with small margin victory takes the Prime Minster position and the ministries department heads could be appointed subsequently, according to how many seats each party possesses in parliament.

In the absence of Kingdom (King or Queen), the parliament shall appoint president who mandates is to step in to dissolve parliament should it needs or deems fit through certain conditions and criteria inscribed in national federal permanent constitution to follow in case of national political crisis or failure to governance the country like what had happened to General Salva Kiir government, meanwhile the judicial remains attaining its own independence to interpret laws in need of justices or given checks and balances.

  1. Presidential federal system: It is a system where citizens are directly elected president and parliament. The president afterward is mandated to appoint judicial branch of government officials or judges, and totally he or she has no any capacity or power to intervene with parliament business as an independence elected representatives of the people rather than to engage collectively with them in national discourses. In this system, all branches of government attain their own independence to give checks and balances to each others.

In this system, like parliamentarian system, each designated state attains their independence with their state constitutions, wholly or partially, not interfering with national constitution. Should there is any allegedly interferences with federal law, the federal judge would intervene with scrutiny and declared such a violation of federal law unconstitutional. It is system that all citizens will pay federal as well as state government taxations. In case of South Sudan, where resources may be held by state governments, therefore, each state can contribute equal shares to federal government.

Lastly, Mr. Wani Igga and them (Federal system opponents or critics) would have known that any proposal always hails from one smart person in society and that it may be pushing for implementation by others with utmost convictions and dedications, if it needs be. Claiming that, it was not originally Dr. Riek Machar’s proposal; therefore, we must not support it until the dead come back to live, is unsubstantiated arguments. Hence, it lacks elucidative. It will not take us anywhere as people and the nation. It has never been the case in the whole world because of that, Mr. Salva Kiir and Wani Igga should mind their own businesses and leave South Sudanese alone in this quest for federal system. We are for federalism and we will never back down from its quest until we achieve it.

Mr. Wani Igga must understand that Equatora will not do it alone without the participation of Upper Nile. Given invigorate supports to Salva Kiir and Bhar El Gazalians elites to implement their dauntingly marginalization programs at the expense of South Sudanese attributed to the killings of Nuer innocent civilians, is unwise and disproportionate.

Mr. Salva Kiir, you had unpleasantly mentioned that, you could not force it (federalism) on us, the people of South Sudan, but people would decide it themselves. Absolutely Mr. Salva Kiir, we, the people have never attempted to force you to do it for us through your unwanted presidential decrees as you allegedly put it. We are tired of being ruled by excessive presidential decrees. You have excess the edges of executive orders. However, we, the people of South Sudan are the ones who demanded it (federalism) ourselves and we will implement it ourselves. We do not need you to do it for us. I think I make it abundantly clear to you Mr. Salva Kiir and that you clearly understand it now better than before.

Most importantly, I therefore not recognize you as either my or South Sudan president because you had lost the legitimacy to be president after you systematically massacred my people on tribal grounds for political reasons. And those in fact were your national constituencies who were elected you in 2010 elections before you untimely sent them to their new homes in heaven in 2013.


United Regions of South Sudan (Federal System)

 Federalism Base on Geographical and Regional System: a peaceful solution to the conflict in South Sudan

By Rev Bafel Paul Gak Deng

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan was signed on January 9, 2005 in Nairobi Kenya, between Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) and the government of Sudan. This accord was witnessed by renounced international personalities as well as Colin Powel, the former Secretary of State for the United State of America. In April 11, 2010 a national election was held in Sudan following the terms of the agreement in which the president, the vice president, state governors, members of the national legislative assembly, members of the State Legislative assemblies, and Counties assemblies were elected.

On January 9, 2011, a referendum was held in Southern Sudan to determine if the South would want to separate from the North and constitute an independent Country. The People of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for the separation of South Sudan from the North to become an Independent country on its own rights. South Sudan then became independence on July 9, 2011. With the independence of the South prayers and hopes, the people of South Sudan were for the grace of the Lord to be bestowed on this young nation and for peace to reign on South Sudan and Sudan as well. Unfortunately, this young country in Africa went back to war again on December 15, 2013. The fighting that erupted on December in the capital of South Sudan, Juba, started as a political conflict within the ruling SPLM party. This conflict quickly transformed into an ethnic conflict with people being killed along ethnic line. The conflict soon engulfed the national army splitting the army into two factions, the faction supporting the current president of South Sudan, Mr. Salva Kiir and the faction supporting his former vice, Dr. Riek Machar. The conflict that started with disagreement between leaders of the ruling party soon spread to the states with devastating consequences inthe three states that are located in the Greater Upper Nile region. Today, it is estimated that about 1.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes and 90,000 are currently sheltering in UN bases and compounds across the country and 100,000 are displace to the neighboring countries and 86,000 are hiding for safety in the bushes of South Sudan.

Peaceful solution to the conflict in South Sudan

(United Regions of South Sudan)

The Republic of South Sudan needs a new system of local governance and administration which should be put into place immediately. This new system should be based on a Presidential, Federal Republic, and Representative Democracy ideals, similar to the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. The United Arab Emirates is governed by a federal supreme council made up of the seven emirates of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, fujarah, Shajiah, Dubai, Ras-elkhimah, and Umm-Alqaiwain. All responsibilities not granted to the national government are reserved to the emirates or States. A percentage of oil revenues from each emirate are allocated to the UAE central budget. The capital is Abu Dhabi. In 1962, Abu Dhabi became the first of the emirates to begin exporting oil. The first president of the emirates focused on the development of the emirates and directed oil revenue into healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Today’s, emirates oil services ranked seven largest in the world along with the seventeen largest natural gas reserves. Emirates has a developed high income economy which enjoys a sizable annual trade surplus and ranks as the world’s nineteenth highest in term of GPD per capita (nominal). Its most populous city of Dubai has emerged as global city and a business gateway for the Middle East and Africa.

South Sudan is home to many tribes (63) and wide variety of ethnic and language groups that speak different languages or dialects. The only system that will bring the people of South Sudan together and rebuild the truth which has been destroyed by the ongoing ethnic war is the federation of independent regions of the United Regions of South Sudan with 3 administration units:

  • National Government.
  • State Government.
  • Local Government.

United Regions of South Sudan (URSS) consist of three greater regions: Greater Equatoria, Greater Upper Nile, and Greater Bahar Elgzal. Each region is composed of states. Below is a URSS mapping of states within the three greater regions:

  • StatesforGreaterEquatoria region:
    1. Eastern Equatoria State.
    2. Central Equatoria State.
    3. Western Equatoria State.
  • States for Greater Upper Nile region:
  1. Jonglei State.
  2. Upper Nile State.
  3. Unity State.
  • States for Greater Bahar Elgzal region:
  1. Western Bahar Elgzal State.
  2. Warrap State.
  3. Lake State.
  4. Northern Bahar Elgzal State.

The national arm forces in each region should be combined together and create an equal atmosphere. No soldier should be judged by their ethnicity or by tribe because we are all from the same country and have same color of skin and culture connection. Moreover, each region should recruit 50,000 soldiers and train, and educate them equally. Additionally, the states forces in each region should also be trained and educated equally (police, prions, wildlife, fire brigade, etc.). Both national and station force should be educated to respect the law and the URSS constitution.

We need to share and develop these suggestions and make them useful for the new nation, the United Regions of South Sudan. We want to deliver to our beloved citizens the services that they need in term of hospitals, schools, water sanitation, roads, and agriculture. We want to see our children playing sports competing with other countries and our women enjoy their freedom in social activities. We want to see the three regions of South Sudan living in unity and cooperating with one another. We want to see our churches praise the Lord and the Muslim brothers enjoy the same privilege in unity and love in the United Region of South Sudan.

Finally, we are here by passing our condolence to all people including me, who may have lost a love one that died during the ongoing war. God bless their souls and rest in peace.


Not Yet Federalism for South Sudan

By Deng Lueth Yuang

The Fallacy of South Sudan’s Quest for ‘good’ Governance Structure:

  1. Encouragement and promotion of tribal hatred
  2. Rise in intertribal and interregional conflicts
  3. Secessionist tendencies
  4. Entrenchment of big government and bureaucracy

Decentralization: States – counties- payams – bomas

  1. Rise of high level poverty; further marginalization of the minorities
  2. Sugar-coating and applying ‘cosmetic surgery’ to internal real causes of south Sudan problems
  3. ‘Ulterior motives’ to fight alleged Dinka domination and obsession with leadership ‘Born-to-rule’ mentality
  4. South Sudan still facing so many problems that need collective leadership
  5. South Sudan is already a federal state though the name ‘Federal Republic’ is not initialized – need to clip presidential powers and define the way state and other local governments should deliver to the common people
  6. Confederation-like federation is a disaster for ALL South Sudanese interests

Yes, we are all South Sudanese. But we have different mothers and fathers, and above all we come from different tribes. 64 to be exact for now. We have lived in the southern region of the Sudan under the regime of Anglo-Egyptian and Khartoum Arab’s elites for centuries as one people with one origin – our Africanness. We have seen it all during the day, during the night and time of happiness and time of sadness. But today we are separate human beings, just because we have realized we are different people with different tribes, aspirations, loyalties, understanding of power and sharing of resources.

Let me come to this beast – Federalism. If it is the ONLY solution we are striving to, then we are not seriously addressing the issues affecting us. We are just treating the symptoms of the ‘disease’ ailing South Sudan. We are sugar-coating the real menace devouring our people in our country. The real enemy is not the governance structure to correct our deep seated problems. Federalism is a short cut way for a don’t carer tired of perennial situation to solve our many problems. Before South Sudan waged the war for secession and independence, we lived under the northern regime, and we were governed by people who were not related to us. We also lived in our villages under our traditional rulers be they chiefs, kings or elders. Did any one of us complain of misrule or domination by other tribes? Absolutely, no. We accepted to serve the master.

Let’s not imagine ‘the federalism we want’ is a good thing from the meaning of the word “go” just by looking at the countries which have adopted it. Federalism is different like the way different countries interpret ‘democracy’ in their respective countries.   It is based on the immediate and long term needs and circumstances of the given population. However, my observation tells me that the proponents of federalism are looking for ‘federalism in its pure form – strong constitutional mandates to the states, and other lower levels of government.’ I do concur it is a good form of government better than none as many south Sudanese opinators have alluded to. They have indicated benefits outweigh the costs. Yes, it is true every form of governance structure has pros and cons. Let’s not be deluded that “federalism is democracy per se” while decentralization is a mockery to will of the people. The fact still remains that decentralization constitutes federalism while federalism is not ONLY decentralization. That is why many other South Sudanese argue that we already practise federalism. Again, let’s not imagine that once we get federal governance, we are more likely to be peaceful, prosperous, development conscious, and tribally insensitive to make South Sudan a successful state.

Please, let’s think over these questions below and have logical answers before I dissect the fallacy of South Sudan quest for federalism:

  1. Which form of federalism does South Sudan need – centralized vs decentralized; pure vs mixed/hybrid; Western or African?
  2. If federalism is causing jitters among certain people and communities, why don’t we improve the existing decentralised unitary structure?
  3. Why not, one state with more resources and powers devolved to the lower level units?
  4. The most important: Why are we not introducing proportional representation democracy within federalism at all levels of government?
  5. Why not, we amend the constitution to claw back the powers of the imperial president, if he is the problem?
  6. Why are we not getting rid of these old recycled leaders who every time put us at loggerhead with one another?
  7. Why are we rushing for something untested on our land, South Sudan?
  8. Is it justifiable, because of power and resources control?
  9. Why are we so obsessed with short term solutions to our chronic problems?
  10. Can it be a vicious cycle that the states demanded federalism; counties, payams, bomas and individuals will, in the future, also demand federalism?

Let me relive you through present day role models of federal governance. I will pick two at least from each continent to show how federalism in its pure form we S. Sudanese crave is a fallacy.

In North America, Canada and US are the two biggest federal democracies. If you look at the history of their coming into being, you will understand that ‘pure’ federalism comes with costs. In Canada, Quebec province has been an agitating kid looking for secession. There has also been numerous regionalism issues especially the Prairie Provinces or the western region where I currently live. The US also have had the same problems in the past where the southern states had tendencies to secede from the United States and form their own country. There have also been jurisdictional issues.

In Africa, we have seen Nigeria and South Africa exhibiting some of the symptoms of hurried federations. Nigeria is facing an internal strife between the two regions – the north and the south. Call it ‘clash of the civilizations’ between the forces of Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalists and the pro-western southern government.  South Africa is a hell for its own people. A wide gap has been created by their ‘somehow federation’ they instituted. The country is nursing social stratification between the rich who are mainly the elite blacks, Asians and whites, and the poor majority who are black Africans. Our neighbour hosting our peace, Ethiopia claims to be a federation but it is undemocratic and the regions have no powers or privileges whatsoever to challenge the national government.

In Europe, federalism has given some regions more powers than the others. UK , for example, favours England and Wales as the most powerful entities in the UK federation. Seccessional tendencies are seen in Scotland which will vote for self-independence this September. Northern Ireland is another dangling kid kicking for survival in the English Union. Spain Basque, Catalan and are few examples.

In the Middle East or arab world, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is autocratic, militaristic, undemocratic and monarchic. If you go to UAE, they are undemocratic, monarchic and autocratic.

In the South America, Argentina and Venezuela are two countries facing political and economic upheavals because of federalism. Argentina has become too big to manage. A lot of bureaucracy going on and hence very costly to manage. Venezuela is a federal state with no freedom for her own people.

In Asia, India is a big democracy on paper but the fruits of its federal structure has not helped more than 1.6 billion people where more than four-fifth live on less than dollar a day. It has not removed the caste system, bourgeoisie or few capital owners, and the kleptocratic leadership from running the affairs of the nation.   Pakistan, another federacy, is in a state of quagmire. Al-Qaida, Taliban and Islamism are actively engaging the Pakistan government and recruiting home ground jihadists.

Those are a few highlights to shed light into the issues awaiting us ahead if we rush to force federalism as a better alternative to our current issues. Our current issues are not tribes but individuals; are not regions but leaders; are not power and resources but services and accountability; is not Dinkocracy but tribal mindsets or myths about tribe called Dinka; are not the presidential decrees but the nocuous constitution; is not the SPLA we know, but the bunches and scraps of warlords and militias; is not the rebellious murderer but presidential amnesty; are not the youths but the seniles; are not the innocent citizens but the money/power hungry men rebelling day in, day out, and the list goes on. The real long-lasting solution is finding solutions to all of these problems.

In Conclusion, we all need federalism but the timing is not right. It starts within our own families that we have rights, powers and privileges to ‘have and own things, do those things your own way and do them by your own.’ That is the essence of federacy.  But if we rush it, it will be an exercise in futility, a ticking time bomb and a harsh lesson to learn, that America or Europe is not Africa. We have to be ‘federal’ in our own locality.



By John Clement Kuc Acol, Senior Lawyer, South Sudan.

There are three major types of governments in place in the world today. The most prevalent is unitary system. In a unitary system, power is held at the national level, with little power being held in political subdivision such as provinces, counties, parishes, and towns.

Confederation system is a union of equal states, with some power being held at national level, generally, it has been found that conflicting interests lead to the break-down of confederation.

Federalism, the word federal originated from a Latin word call (fedeou) which means agreement or contract. In politics it is a system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and regional entities or provinces or states in this system there are powers which are exclusively belong to federal government which it exercise all over the country for example, National Defense, Currency, Foreign Relations, Nationality, Passport and Immigration and the are powers belong to the states to exercise them at their states territorial for example health, education, roads within the state, construction and building and so on.

Country choose federalism for mainly two reasons.The diverse: when a country has many people with different races or cultures and background their co-existence become necessary under federal government and also the size of the country can be an other reason for a country to federal system of government specially when a country become to big to governed from the central.

Advantages of Federalism

Proponents argue that federalism does the following

  • Foster state loyalties: Many people feel close ties to their home stall and federalism maintains that connection by giving power to the states.
  • Practices pragmatism: Running a country with a big size with such a diverse population (USA, Nigeria, SouthSudan Canada) is mush cashier to do if power is given to local official, likewise, state and local officials are closer to the problems of their areas, so it makes sense for them to choose policies to solve those problems.
  • Creates laboratories of democracy: State governments can experiment with policies, and other states or federal government can learn from their success and failures.
  • Leads to political stability: By removing the national government from some contentious issues areas and this can lead to stability.
  • Encourage Pluralism: Federal system expand government on national, state and local levels, giving people more access to leadership and opportunities to get involved in their government.
  • Ensures the separation of powers and prevent tyranny. Even if one person or group took control of all three branches of the federal government, federalism ensures that state governments would still function independently, federalism therefore fulfills the framers vision of governmental structure that ensure liberty.
  • Reconciles a desire for overall unity with a desire for regional autonomy federalism is the bridge that can keep a country not to fall apart.


South Sudanese: Debate about Federalism and Not federalism.

By Maluona Deng

Many South Sudanese are debating whether to have federalism or not. The point shouldn’t  be we should have federalism, we need to define what kind of federalism are we trying to bring  and  what is federalism even, what are the  Cons and pros of the  federalism that we trying to bring ?  what are the Functions of  this  Federalism?

Where does confusion comes from in this argument of federalism. Isn’t South Sudan already a federalist country? If not why  do we have governor and state representative?  Many South Sudanese do not actually  know that South Sudan is already a federalist country the same to  federalist system that is being practice in the USA, Australia, Canada, Germany, India, and Switzerland.

Federalism is define as Political system that allows states united under a central government to maintain a measure of independence whose functions are: to provide a court system to resolve conflicts, to provide diplomats who maintain relationships with other countries and regulate trade and travel with those countries; to provide a public health service that prevents disease and researches cancer, HIV, and other health issues; to provide printed currency, regulate the economy, regulate banks, mint coins, and prevent counterfeit money; to maintain national parks, historic monuments, civil war battlefields, and unique wildlife areas; to manage the forest land to balance the needs of the timber industry with our need for natural areas and recreation; to help Veterans who return from service with medical care, jobs, and other needs; to regulate and promote education at all levels to improve our people; to fight crime by creating organizations like the FBI and DEA to investigate, prevent, and capture criminals. Finally, to provide for the defense of our country in war by maintaining a navy, air force, army, marines, and coast guard services.

The above mentioned, I believe are the functions of Federalism and this is also where South Sudan Federalist system have big question  how its functions and to whom is the government working for?  This are the question because above function of the federalism are not being carried out  in the country.

Pros and Cons of federalism
Federalism makes people to close ties to their home state, and its giving power to the states.  In federalist states, powers are given to local officials. Likewise, state and local officials are closer to the problems of their areas, so it makes sense for them to choose policies to solve those problems.  State governments can experiment with policies, and other states (and the federal government) can learn from their successes and failures. Federalism leads to political stability by removing the national government from some contentious issue areas, federalism allow the government to achieve and maintain stability.

Its also  federalism encourages pluralism: Federal systems expand government on national, state, and local levels, giving people more access to leaders and opportunities to get involved in their government. Finally the best side of federalism is that it ensures the separation of power and prevents tyranny which a big question in South Sudan politics now.  This is because in federalist system even if one people or groups took control of the three branches of the government, legislative; Executive, and judicial. Branch, federalism ensures the state government would still function independently.

Federalism also has its disadvantages like any other system of the government around the word. Federalism prevents the creation of national policy, and its leads to lack of accountability this is because of the overlap of the boundaries among national and state government it tricky to assign blame for failed policies.

Importance of Citizens voice in a federalist system
In a federalist  state,  citizens voices is very important because they can questions an elected office  if he or she is  corrupted, practicing nepotism, not fulfilling  their duties. And I believe this is where our leaders are  afraid. If  we have a well-function federal government  then they will be subjected to the law, rules and functions of the state in a federalism system.  The question about federalism is bad or we do not have federalism in our country is baseless and  we shouldn’t  even have this debate because we already the system the  country but not well-functioned system.

Our leaders are afraid of  and  they don’t want this  because if we have a well-functioned federalist system then  they will be to be questions, and to be held accountable to their misdeeds.  Our leaders are afraid of check and balance, I believe the question is not whether federalism is bad or not.

The questions  the  have in their mind is how will we be judge in a well-functioned federalist government?  I believe this  is the question because  in federalist state citizen have power to  vote out the elected office  but it South Sudan  the president appoint  and fired  government.  This is does not  work in federalist  state except South Sudan.

I believe we already have federalist government  but its functions are  in questions. Federalism  cannot and will  be achieved  by bullet  but  ballot. People dreaming  that they  will bring federalism  by the use of bullet are waiting their time and resources. Especially  human resources, which is very vital in federalist state. why are debating in what you already have?


Hon. Both Diu’s legacy hijacked

By Peter Gai Manyuon,

The idea of “Federalism” in South Sudan does not emanate from the SPLM-in Opposition nor does it stem from Equatorians (as claimed)but it was first proposed long time ago by some prominent South Sudanese politicians who were by then in parliament in Khartoum. These politicians got fed up with the system in Khartoum and proposed that they needed federal states (they wanted to govern and manage their people and resources by themselves). Their call for federal states was never accepted by Khartoum. This subsequently resulted to Hon. Both Diu saying “refuse it but we will rebel against this to have our own autonomy”

Though it is popularly wanted by the people of South Sudan, however, the SPLM-in Opposition and Equatorians should not use it as their hard-earned agenda without acknowledging the producer, Hon. Both Diu. This is a real plagiarism (stealing of Gatdiu’s patents).

Honorable Both Diu was also the one who advocated for self-determination of the people of South Sudan. Dr Machar and Dr Lam Akol also advocated for it after realizing the goodness of self-determination, likewise to Federalism but they were not the ones behind the program to adopt the system. Absolutely people like Dr Machar and Dr Akol should be appreciated because they vigorously continued the flight for self-determination and implemented it through advocacy but for the case of Federalism; all appreciations should go to Hon. Both Diu even though he is not alive. There is no short cut in the history; this is the time of documenting what is real because we don’t want others to take other people’s initiatives.

Most of the South Sudanese globally and in South Sudan as well have misinterpreted the concept for Federalism. Most people have taken it as personal/tribal agenda which I think might not be the case. To the way I have viewed the issue, it is something very unique that just needs good advocacy and more enlightenment in order for the illiterate people to understand the pros and cons of the federalism in South Sudanese context. Unless otherwise those who don’t accept federalism can be called anti-peace and development because they have not seen what has taken back the people of South Sudan to square one.

Hence, Federalism is a political philosophy in which a group of members are bound together with a governing representative head. The term federalism is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units like states or provinces. Federalism is a system in which the power to govern is shared between national and central state governments, creating what is often called a federation. Proponents are often called federalists.

Moreover, the perception of some individual persons about Federalism is something that needs good advocacy so that those who have not understood the concept should learn more other than opposing it without good convincing the people of South Sudan.

Well, Federalism has various advantages for the country like South Sudan where social diseases like tribalism, corruption and nepotism and arbitrary arrests and killings are the only objectives and visions of Kiir Mayardit’s government in Juba.

However, I ran an article last year, May 2013 on my Column titled “Educating the nation” with Juba Monitor Newspaper in South Sudan about Federalism. After some time, order came from the highest authority to suspend my column for some weeks because the Managing Editor was intimidated. Many people gave me calls, others were appreciating the article but others were threatening me with arrests and disappearance. But now, what is happening? Everyone is talking about it (federalism) everywhere in South Sudan

First of all federalism creates and fosters patriotism and loyalty to the state. Many Americans feel close to their home states. They feel loved and owned by their state authorities. Federalism maintains the close relationships between the federal states and the people by giving power to the least important people in the grassroots.

Practices pragmatism; running a country the size of the United States, with such a diverse population, is much easier to do if power is given to local officials. Likewise, state and local officials are closer to the problems of their areas, so it makes sense for them to choose policies to solve those problems. Why not South Sudanese to adopt this system of governance?

Federalism creates laboratories of democracy. This means that state governments can experiment on other federal countries’ policies and can learn from their successes and failures. Many politicians specifically in Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) are always advocating for democratic reforms in the country, why not implementing this system when peace come to South Sudan?

In other hand, it also leads to political stability, by removing the national government from some contentious issue areas, federalism allowed the early United States government to achieve and maintain stability, if there is Federal system introduced in South Sudan in due time, South Sudan will be the stable nation globally.

Encourages pluralism , Federal system expand government on national, state, and local levels, giving people more access to leaders and opportunities to get involved in their government.

It as well ensures the separation of powers and prevents tyranny, Even if one person or group take control of all three branches of the federal government, federalism ensures that state governments would still function independently. Federalism, therefore, fulfills the framers’ vision of a governmental structure that ensures liberty.


In any system globally there are pros and cons and for federalism it prevents the creation of a national policy. The United States of America does not have a single policy on issues. Instead, it has fifty-one policies, which often leads to confusion.

Secondly, it leads to a lack of accountability;the overlap of the boundaries among national and state governments makes it tricky to assign blame for failed policies.

And lastly, it creates citizen ignorance. Critics argue that federalism cannot function well due to ignorance and in South Sudan there is too much ignorance.

The way forward

If South Sudan is at peace, then federalism can peacefully be introduced without it being misinterpreted by people, but because there is too much mess in the country right now, people are ethnically divided and this has led to poor discussions over the matter. I would like to urge the two parties to come to common understanding and thereafter federalism will come automatically.

Each and every South Sudanese knows that federalism is what most of the South Sudanese communities are advocating for but rectification of the current crisis is very important before anything. I had experienced in this discussion about federalism, in 2011, 2012 and 2013, I was among the civil society groups that moved to all the ten states of the Republic of South Sudan, and what the Civil Society Resource Team on the Constitution got on the ground was the call for federalism. So, it is something liked by the majority in South Sudan.

Out of ten states, only one state refused the idea of federalism. People of Equatoria and the SPLM-in Opposition should not put it in their heads that they are the ones who first started advocating for federalism. If anyone wants, I can also forward to him/her what the civil society gathered for the last three years.


The Government of South Sudan under Kiir Mayardit and the Sudan People Liberation Movement in Opposition under Dr Machar should come up with the solutions to address the ongoing crisis rather than talking on something that will be resolved by the people of South Sudan as a whole afterwards. Introducing a new system of governance needs consensus and good enlightenment so that citizens get informed properly. The call for federalism is for all South Sudanese but for those who are not informed or who have not carried out any research claimed to have been the ones behind federal system of governance advocacy. Why didn’t you ask Civil Society Resource Team on the Constitution to tell you more about the work they carried out?

In conclusion, the federalism agenda was a system proposed long time ago when Sudanese were still one and it was accepted by then, therefore what is remaining is coming for the peace first and thereafter, the system will be adopted quickly. How can we introduce the system when people are still in the mess? Who will understand it? Will people not take it as divide and rule policy? Let us be realistic when we’re talking about something obvious. Talking about reforms within the SPLM as a party and the Nuer massacre that was carry out in Juba last year 2013 December , is what people should talk about in Addis-Ababa right now and the world at large. All South Sudanese are for Federalism based on the Constitutional dialogues which were carried out by South Sudanese Civil Society Organizations under the umbrella of Resource Team on the Constitutional making process.


Understanding Federalism: Through April 21, 1997 Khartoum Peace Agreement (KPA)

By Deng Elijah.

The Republic of South Sudan is made up of three provinces or regions , which comprise of Greater Equatoria, Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile. The three regions are divided into ten states: (1) Greater Equatoria — Central Equatoria,  Easter Equatoria and Western Equatoria states; (2) Greater Bahr el Ghazal — Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Lake states and;  (3). Greater Upper Nile — Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and subsequently the transitional constitution of South Sudan enacted a decentralized system of governance. According to the 2011 transition constitution, the government of South Sudan should decentralizes powers into three levels:

“a) the national level, which will exercise authority in respect of the people and the states; (b) the state level of government, which shall exercise authority within a state, and render public services through the level closest to the people; and (c) local government level within the state, which shall be the closest level to the people.” The 2011 transitional constitution.

Decentralization (or decentralisation) is loosely defined as the process of redistributing or dispersing functions, powers, people or things away from a central location or authority. Although decentralization is well researched and practiced, as a form of governance, there is no specific definition or understanding. The meaning of the term varies, depending on the context of its practice.

Although decentralized federalism is practiced in more than 40 countries, South Sudan is struggling to define and formalize the system. While some elites believe that the country practices unitary system, other believe it has decentralized systems.

To complicate the matter further, some elites are tackling a relatively complex system known as confederation. According to Oxford Dictionary, ” a confederation, also known as confederacy or league, is a union of political units for common action in relation to other units.” Confederation is, in most cases, created by treaty to deal with critical issues such as defence, foreign affairs and common currency, leaving a centralized government to monitor and provide for the members. While confederation provides for cessation, with stricter rules, it can be formulated into federation.

Despite the difficulties involved in understanding federalism or decentralized federation, Sudanese and South Sudanese agreed to adopt the following federal system during the 1997 Khartoum Peace Agreement(KPA).

Continue reading ….



The following powers shall be exercised by the Federal institutions:-

  1. Foreign Affairs.
  2. Armed Forces and Defense Affairs.
  3. Maritime Shipping and Navigation.
  4. Currency, Coinage and Bills of Exchange.
  5. Federal Budget and Federal Planning.
  6. External Communications, External and Inter-State Postal and Telecommunication services, Civil Aviation and the operation and maintenance of International Airports.
  1. Judiciary
  2. Federal Rail Ways and Inter-State Highways.
  3. Weights, measures and determination of time.
  4. National Census.
  5. Fishing and Fisheries in and beyond territorial waters.
  6. Mining.
  7. Inter-State Waterways.
  8. Federal Election Commission.
  9. Customs.
  10. External Trade.
  11. International Boundary and Inter-State Boundary Disputes.
  12. Meteorological Services.
  13. National Security.
  14. Federal Legislation:
  15. On matters within Federal Powers.
  16. On matters common to the States.
  17. Audit General.
  18. Education Planning.
  19. Attorney General and Advocacy.
  20. National Electricity Network.
  21. Federal Taxation.
  22. Passports, Immigration, Nationality and Aliens Affairs.
  23. Epidemic Control.
  24. Emergency Jurisdiction.


  1. State Security, Public order and good governance.
  2. Wildlife, tourism, Hotels, Inn, …etc.
  3. Land use and conservation without prejudice to the Federal Policies.
  4. Local Government.
  5. State Taxes.
  6. Agriculture, forestry and Fisheries including the establishment of Training Institutions in these fields.
  7. Promotion of Languages, Cultures, Folklore, Arts, etc.
  8. State Radio, TV, Newspapers and Printing Press.
  9. Quarrying
  10. Roads, Water Supply, Hydroelectric Power.
  11. Irrigation and embankment, pastures and their development.
  12. Animal Health, Animal Husbandry and Animal Wealth.
  13. Libraries and Museums.
  14. Industrial and commercial development.
  15. Missionaries activities, Charities and Endowments.
  16. Specialized Hospitals and Clinics.
  17. Establishment of Banks in accordance with Central Bank Policies.
  18. State Public Audit.
  19. State Electricity Network.
  20. State Attorney General.
  21. State Legislation.
  1. In matters within State Powers.
  2. Complementary to Federal laws in matters peculiar to the State.
  3. Customary laws.
  1. State economic development and Planning in accordance with Federal Planning.
  2. Recruitment of Specialized technical expertise in various fields of development.
  3. Health care and establishment of all types of medical institutions for treatment and training of qualified medical personnel.
  4. Registration of Birth and Death, and Marriages.
  5. Statistics.
  6. Scientific Research and Development.
  7. Administration of Meteorological Services.
  8. Education Management, Planning and Training up to the University level within the framework of the National planning.


  1. The State shall exercise the residual powers without prejudice to the powers allocated to the Federal authorities.
  2. The Federal authorities shall exercise the residual powers without infringing on powers allocated to the States.
  3. In case of dispute over the residual powers between the State and Federal authority, the dispute shall be referred to the Federal (Supreme) Court.


  1. The Federal Government shall lay down a comprehensive economic and social plan to develop the country in general and to bridge the gap between the various States in particular, so that within a definite period, a parity in provision of basic needs such as security, employment, water, food, education, health and housing could be reached.

2. In order to consolidate the economic policies:-

  1. The economy in the [South] Sudan shall be based on free market forces.
  2. The Federal Bank of the [South] Sudan shall be responsible for regulating internal and external value of the [South] Sudanese currency.
  3. There shall be an independent Stock exchange Bureau for selling and floating shares, bonds and premiums of companies and currency regulation to enhance free market economy.
  4. There shall be established development projects to promote and maintain peace and stability among the people of the [South] Sudan.

1. Major Federal development projects and big mining and oil projects shall be considered as national wealth and be managed on national basis provided that:-

  1. The Federal Government shall observe to allocate an equitable percentage of the Returns to be fixed by the Revenue Allocation Commission to the State where the project is located (see annex 3).
  2. Ensure participation of the States in the management of such projects.
  3. Ensure recruitment and training of citizens of the State in order to participate in such projects.
  4. Any other fringe benefits.
  1. Revenue Allocation Commission shall be established to recommend revenue sharing formula for the whole country. The Coordinating Council shall be represented.
  2. The Federal Government shall observe the following for the purpose of distribution of national revenue among the States and for site selection of major development projects: –
  3. Giving priority to the less developed States according to their state of underdevelopment.
  4. Economic feasibility of projects and their efficient functioning.
  5. Effect of the project in the realisation of self-sufficiency in the basic needs of the country.
  6. A balance relationship between development and density of population and environment.
  7. Establishment of special fund to take care of crash development programmes and maintenance of peace.
  8. In the field of rehabilitation of the war affected areas, the following shall be observed: –
  1. The Federal Government and the Coordinating Council shall work to attract loans and aid from the sisterly and friendly countries and international benevolent organizations to rehabilitate the economic projects which ceased to function or were damaged because of the war affected areas and resettlement of returnees and displaced persons.
  2. The Federal Government and the Coordinating Council shall launch a plan and joint international appeal for the reconstruction, rehabilitation, repatriation and development of the Southern States and other war affected areas.
  3. The Coordinating Council shall also establish a relief, resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction commission to manage and administer the resources acquired for the above purposes.

1. The sources of revenue of the Southern States shall consist of the following:-

  1. State taxes and generated revenue.
  2. Fees, excise duties and licenses.
  3. Revenue from commercial, industrial and agricultural projects based in Southern States.
  4. Funds from the Federal treasury for established services in the States until such a time when they become self-reliant.
  5. Any development assistance and donations from foreign sources.
  6. Revenue allocation from the Federal Government for socio-economic development.
  7. State share of Federal taxes levied on Federal projects and services functioning within the Southern States [The ten states].
  8. Business profit taxes.
  9. Corporate taxes on factories and agricultural enterprises in the State, other than Federal ones, established in Southern States.
  10. Property taxes.
  11. The share of fees on licenses for mineral oil explorations (see annex 3).
  12. Profits accruing from the Customs, Airports Services, Roads, Postal and Telecommunication Services and River Transport in Southern States shall be allocated to the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Repatriation Commission.
  1. The State Government shall prepare a budget to meet the expenditure on services, administration and development of the State to be submitted to the State Legislative Organ for approval.
  2. No project adversely affecting the people, ecology and natural environment of State may be implemented without consulting the State Concerned.
  3. The Federal Government and the Coordinating Council shall encourage and promote foreign investment and procurement of development assistance for the Southern States and shall encourage establishment of branches of public sector institutions, development corporations and specialized banks.
  4. The Coordinating Council shall prepare a development budget for Southern States and to submit the same to the President.

Signed by:

For the Government of Sudan:

LT General El Zuber Mohammed Saleh, Vice President

For the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF)

and South Sudan Independence Movement/Army (SSIM/A):

Cdr. Dr. Riek Machar Teny D., Chairman & C-in-C (SSIM/A)

For the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM/A)

Cdr. Karubino Kawanyn Bol

Chairman C

C-in-C (SPLM/A)

For South Sudan Independents Group (SSIG)

Cdr. Kawac Makwei

Chairman C-in-C (SSIG)

For Equatoria Defese Force (DF)

Dr. Thiopholus Ochang Loti

Chairman C-in-C (EDF)

For Union of Sudanese African Parties (U.S.A.P)

Mr. Samuel Aru Bol

Chairman (U.S.A.P)

For Bor Group

Arok Thon Arok



Proposed Federal system for future South Sudan: Let us serialize it (part 5)

By Sindani Sebit

Part 5 of these series focuses mainly on the sources of financial resources for both the Federal Government and Federal states and how the federal resources can be distributed between the federal government and states. It will further illustrate how state resources can be distributed within the states. It will also outline the role of the body that will be responsible for financial resources distribution at the three levels of government.

Before discussing the sources of revenue for both the Federal and State Governments, it important to point out here that South Sudan is endowed with vast resources that if managed well, would spur rapid economic development in the country and perhaps transform the country into a middle class country within 15 to 20 years. With a population of nearly 10 million and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 1,858 in 2011, there is no reason why the economic transformation in South Sudan cannot supersede its neighbours because South Sudan has the highest GDP compared to all countries in the East African Region. It should also be mentioned here that the GDP referred to above is calculated based mainly on oil income that accounts for 98% of the production in South Sudan. However, South Sudan has other resources that could increase rapidly the GDP if these resources were exploited.

These resources include copper, gold, diamonds, uranium, chromium, manganese, iron ore, zinc, mica, silver, tungsten and hydropower. In addition one would also need to mention some of the potential economic areas, namely agriculture, forestry, fishery, trade and commerce which could have vastly contributed to boast the economy of the country. Sadly enough these resources are yet to be exploited.

In addition to failure to exploit all the potential of South Sudan, rampant corruption and poor resource distribution by the regime in Juba has, severely stagnated the economic development of the country. This is due to concentration of resources in the hands of the central government, poor planning by the central government, incompetent leadership, weak governance institutions at the center, lack of separation of powers between the executive, parliament and judiciary so as to ensure accountability, transparency and prudent planning and implementation. Therefore, as the situation exists now in South Sudan, most of the country resources are used rightly or wrongly in Juba and its environs while the so called states have been neglected. Judging from the 2014 budget of 17.3 billion SSP whereby a total of 14.098 billion (81.5%) (6.590 billion, to repay doubtable debts, 4.130 billion for central employees and soldiers and 3.130 billion for security) was allotted to the central Government, no kind of imaginable development or services can been rendered at state level.

Therefore, the proposed federal System for South Sudan is a deliberate effort to correct the gross failures created by the current constitution and form of government that exists now. This can only be done by establishing independent governing institutions at all three levels of federal government. These are aimed at guaranteeing accountability, transparency and prudent planning and resource management. Secondly, by establishing mechanisms that can distribute resources equitably and equally, to all the federal states as per the population sizes. The objective here is to ensure that these resources reach the intended populations and guarantee that the resources are used for the intended purposes.

In relation to a country, resource is defined as “the means available for economic and political development such as minerals, labour force and armaments” (Free dictionary) or “a country collective means of supporting itself or becoming wealthier as represented by its reserves of minerals, land and other natural assets” (Oxford dictionary) or “is a source or supply from which benefit is produced. Typically resources are materials, energy, services, staff, knowledge, or other assets that are transformed to produce benefit and in the process may be consumed or made unavailable” (Free encyclopedia). Therefore in a federal system, the right to collect revenue from resources must also be divided according to the levels of government namely Federal resources and state resources.

1.Federal resources

The federal government resources will include among others that may be regulated by federal law:

a)Natural resources such as mineral and petroleum
c)  Immigration
d)Federal courts (federal Supreme Court and Federal Court of Appeal)
e)Value Added Tax (VAT)
f)  Assets such as airports, railways, weight and bridges
g)Services such as Federal employees, investments

Therefore, the Federal Government will collect revenue from mineral resources, immigration, customs, courts (Federal courts), VAT, federal investments, income taxes on federal employees, service taxes on airports, railways and weight and bridges. The revenue collected by the Federal government shall all go to the national consolidated fund. The funds collected by the Federal government are for whole nation and the federal government is not entitled to use it until it is distributed between the federal government and the states. The distribution of this fund shall be done by the Revenue Allocation and Distribution Commission. This is an independent commission which is set up under a constitutional provision purposely to ensure that national resources are collected and distributed between the Federal Government and the federal states according to a formula defined by the constitution which should be 30% for the Federal Government and 70% for the Federal States. This ratio is purposely established because Federal States are the service delivery organs in the country and so they must be provided with enough resources to effectively and efficiently deliver services according to the needs of the states. This is meant to offset the current system in Juba where the regions are designated to deliver services to the people yet they helplessly depend on the central government on what is given to them as grants. As usual these grants have always being less than 10% of the national income. As a result the regional governments have failed to deliver services to the people.

2.Federal state resources

The federal state government resources will include among others that may be regulated by state law:

b)Games and parks

Therefore, the federal states revenue sources will include land and housing rates, market taxes, licenses, agriculture, court fees, game and game parks, tourism and recreation services including parking fee and income taxes from state employees and residents. Others are vehicle registration fee, service taxes such for water, sewerage and electricity, road tolls and import and export taxes. However, interstate taxes such not be levied. The states will also get resources from royalties, federal contribution and loans from local banks.

3.Distribution of federal resource between the Federal Government and states

In sharing the national resources at whatever level, the principle of public finance is underpinned by the fact that there shall be openness and accountability, including public participation in financial matters. The public finance system shall promote an equitable society, and in particular that the burden of taxation shall be shared fairly and revenue raised nationally shall be shared according to the federal constitutional provision of 30% to 70% in favour of the federal states and that distribution of resources at state level is equitable. Expenditure shall promote the equitable development of the country, including making special provision for marginalized groups and areas in addition to ensuring that the burdens and benefits of the use of resources and public borrowing shall be shared equitably between present and future generations. The principle shall also guarantee that public money shall be used in a prudent and responsible way. Financial management shall be responsible and fiscal reporting shall be clear.

However, while sharing the federal resources, the following additional criteria should be taken into consideration:

a)The national interest and obligations shall be a priority particularly such as in a state of war and national calamities. This means the Revenue Allocation and Distribution Commission must ensure that resources are made available to the Federal Government to meet these challenges before distributing the federal resources according to the formula set out in the constitution. In such situation, the federal government is required to come out with concrete budget proposals that shall be reviewed by the commission to ensure that they meet legitimate needs that are in the interest of the nation. Thereafter the commission with present such request to the Federal Parliament for debate and approval. Once approved these funds shall be credited to the emergency fund account created for this purpose.

b)      The need to ensure that State governments are able to perform the functions allocated to them

In order to ensure that the annual federal resources are shared between the federal government and the state governments according to the stipulated formula, this money shall be calculated on the basis of the most recent audited accounts of revenue received and approved by the federal Parliament.

4.Distribution of 70% of the federal resources among the states

The distribution of federal resources among the states shall be shared according to population size in each state. This is to ensure equity in distribution of resources among the states and guarantee that every citizen in each state gets its correct share of the national resources and services. This means that states with large populations will get more money than those with low population. This is because high population density means there is greater need for more services such as health, education and road infrastructure. Demand for housing, water and electricity increases with increasing population in addition to other social demands such as recreation, sporting and urbanization. Therefore once the 70% of the Federal funds is credited to state allocation account, the Revenue Allocation and Distribution Commission shall calculate the amount to be allocated to each state according to the population of the state. This shall be done independent of the state governments so as to avoid undue pressure exerted on the commission by the state governors. The population of the state shall be calculated according to the latest census taking into consideration the country’s average annual population growth rate.

5.Distribution of state resources to the counties

The state resources that shall be distributed among the counties of each state shall include funds received from the federal government and the funds collected by the state. All these constitute the state revenue. While distributing these funds, the Revenue Allocation and Distribution Commission should first consider the state government budget which should not exceed 30% of the total state revenue. This must be the budget approved by the state parliament. Having allocated the amount to the state government, the rest of the funds (70% of the total) shall be distributed among the counties based on the following criteria

a)The fiscal capacity and efficiency of county authorities to absolve the funds;
b)Developmental and other needs of counties are ensured
c)Economic disparities within and among counties and the need to remedy them is considered seriously
d)Affirmative action in respect of disadvantaged areas and groups is upheld

Revenue Allocation and Distribution Commission

This commission shall be established through a constitutional Act like other independent commissionsestablished under this Act.This means members of the commissions are:

  • Subject only to the Federal constitution and law
  • Independent and not subject to direction or control by any person or authority

The Commission members shall be nominated and appointed by the President/Prime minister subject to approval by the federal parliament. It shall be composed of:

  • Four persons who are not members of parliament nominated by various political parties represented in the federal Parliament according to their strength
  • Permanent Secretary in the ministry of finance
  • Two persons nominated by the Public Service Commission. These should not be members or employees of the commission
  • One person nominated by the Judicial Service Commission who is not a member or employee of the commission

Person nominated to be appointed to this commission shall have extensive professional experience in financial and economic affairs or should be a qualified lawyer in case of the representative of the judicial service commission

The commission shall be charged with the following responsibilities

1.Ensure that the revenue raised by the federal government is shared according to the constitutional stipulated sharing formula of 70% revenue going to the states and 30% remaining with the federal government

2.Make recommendations concerning basis for the equitable sharing of state revenue to the counties

3.Make recommendations on the matters concerning financing of, and financial management by state governments

4.While formulating the recommendations, the commission should seek to consider the following:

  • National interest
  • Public debt and other national obligations
  • Ensure that state governments are able to:
a)Perform their functions
b)Development needs
c)  Economic disparities within the counties in each state
d)Affirmative action in regard to the disadvantaged areas and groups within the states
  • Population density of each state
  • Desirability of the county and predictable allocations of revenue
  • Need for flexibility in responding to emergencies
  • When appropriate define and enhance the revenue services of the federal and state governments
  • Encourage fiscal responsibility

5.Determine, publish and regularly review a policy in which it sets out criteria for disadvantaged or marginalized area within states

6.Submit recommendations to the senate, federal parliament, federal executive, state assemblies and state executive

In conclusion, the proposed federal system intends to deliberately establish a robust and independent revenue allocation and distribution mechanism that first aims at fighting corruption and money laundering at any level of the federal government. The objective is to ensure that national resources are distributed equitably and transparently between the federal government and states and among the states. The second objective is to curtail or obstruct the federal Government from garrisoning funds in the Federal capital instead of ensuring that states have resources for development and service delivery. The third objective is to ensure that all federal states get equal chance for rapid and equal development. This means all South Sudanese will have access to basic services regardless of where they live or settle. The overall intention is to avoid the current constitutional loopholes that have resulted in amassing all the national resources in the hand of the central government giving no chance to the regions to access resources and foster development. Currently the regions are totally dependent on Juba government for their existence but the federal system aims to put the states in-charge of their own affairs and promote equal development and growth.

Due to the fact that many South Sudanese have misunderstood Federalism as a system aimed at sending other South Sudanese away from Equatoria or other parts of the country though is absolutely far from it, part 6 of these series shall focus on the rights of individuals and citizens in the proposed Federal Republic of South Sudan. The aim of serializing this system is to enable South Sudanese fully understand what is being proposed. We try here and there to compare the proposed system with the current one so as to see the advantaged and disadvantages.

The author can be reached at





By Reng’o Gyyw Reng’o, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

South Sudanese, we already have a federal system in a form of a state headed an elected governor, elected state parliament, state cabinet/Council of Ministers, Constitution, flag, commissions and state parastatals, Police, counties, and capacity to generate revenues locally. What else do we want?

However, It must be mentioned in the National Constitution as a federal system, not the so-called decentralization. That is where the problem is. The government of the day is making citizens and oppositions suspicious for nothing when already we have a federal system.

However, let me ask , what type and form of federalism are we talking about? Ethnic? Territorial? Revenue-based?, Nigerian type? Tanzania type? Ethiopian type? American type? Indian type? South African type? Which one, do we want? Federal systems are not the same and can never be the same, because of other variances and factors.

It is the South Sudan government which is ignorant of the subject!

Federal system in South Sudan can NEVER be a problem. It is the type of leaders like Salva Kiir, Telar Riing Deng and the likes that are, and will always be the problem. Ethiopians are happy under a most extreme federalism, that is unique not only in Africa but also throughout the whole world,– that is an ethnic-based federalism with the right to secession.

I appreciate the late Meles Zenawi, rulingparty, the EPRDF and the Ethiopian people for their choice and consensus for crafting that type to suit their identity. But we can not adopt this type of federalism in South Sudan. That is Ethiopian. We need a South Sudanese type.

Ambiguity and euphemism aside, we need clarity of concepts, ideas and slogans from all parties. Be careful, I am seeing an aspect of confederation being camouflaged by some people under the call for a federal system. If it is not a call for a confederation, how will we describe the new federal system being advocated for today?

Denying to call the current system a federal system is my major problem. It is a complete federal system in all forms and descriptions. However, putting it in the Transitional Constitution as a decentralized system is what puzzled many people.

We have a history of a federal system as our historical identity. Following the Juba Conference of 1947, when the debate fell for Sudan’s unity, we did call for a federal system. This was violently dishonoured. We founded a Federal Party in 1957 led by Father Saturnino Lohure and his colleagues. When the Federal system campaigns was almost SUCCEEDING, the Arabs organized a military coup under Ibrahim Abboud and foiled it.

It is when well known hitherto that William Deng Nhial, a prominent South Sudanese Politician laid down his life in 1968 advocating for a federalism or self-determination for the South within the united Sudan.

Under Joseph Lagu, SSLM/A and the Addis Ababa Agreement, despite having limitations, South Sudan was granted an autonomy putting the whole Sudan into a Tanzanian type of a federal system with the Island of Zanzibar.

Under the SPLM/A, one of the central objectives of the SPLM/A stipulated in its Manifesto, was the creation of a federal system for the whole Sudan. John Garang was even extreme in calling for a federal armies in his 1972 “Negotiation Guidelines” to Joseph Lagu, his Anya Nya Movement Leader.

That was consummated in the CPA in 2005. The CPA created a Confederation between the GoNU and GOSS. It also created a federal system in South Sudan. How it turned to be a decentralization in the Transitional Constitution is the caused of the contemporary debate.

The “new permanent constitution” of South Sudan must just acknowledge what we have as a federal system and that will be enough to lay the debate to rest. Other minor details can be worked out gradually by both National and state parliaments.

Our leaders must wake up from indolence and political slumbering.


Federalism in South Sudan: Risks and Potential Benefits

By Joseph de Tuombuk, USA

The ongoing insurrection against an elected government in Juba has exacted an immeasurable toll on the people of South Sudan. The economic cost of the war are easy to understand: lost revenue, diversion of meager resources from productive activities to destructive enterprise; farmers driven from producing food to receiving food aid; lost lives and the list is endless.

However, what is hard to measure is where South Sudan would have been five years from now had this inexplicable conflict been averted through political dialogue. Faced with the horrifying consequences of war, our leaders are realizing that it is incumbent upon them to solve this problem in ways that will create conditions for lasting national cohesion and the shedding of our skin deep tribal allegiances. Our leaders should seek all possible ways to address the root causes of the conflict so that the current and many generations to come can enjoy the fruit of this effort.

South Sudan is not unique in its quick and tragic descend into armed conflict. When leaders fail to study the internal dynamics of their nations, it is easy to undertake a policy that unwittingly creates a bigger problem than it was designed to solve. Our leaders, either by ignorance or lack of grasp of our rather fragile and uneasy tribal accommodation, failed to prepare ground for future singular national identity.

It turned out that the only thing that united us was our collective distrust of jallaba. Our forefathers went to the 1947 Juba Conference acutely aware that they were in a weaker position to compete with well-educated and politically savvy northern elite. They made a simple demand: let South enjoy its autonomy and determine its political relations with North through a federal arrangement.

The demand for federal arrangement was motivated by fear of northern hegemony, or to put it in another way, we feared that the Arab would dominate politics, trample over our religious rights, and simply spread the policy of Arabization that the British had managed to curtail by governing southern provinces as a separate entity. Today, this historical legacy still permeates the every aspect of debate over federal arrangement. Can we design a purely federal system of government that achieves the following: a) rigorously promote a single national identity? B) Aggressively protect the right of minority tribes and accommodate their political inclusion? C) Could there be safeguards against a quick and nasty degeneration into regionalized politics?

When our political parties (more like the SPLM really) enacted the transitional national constitution (TNC), there was an opportunity to explore federal arrangement. Every legislator faced this opportunity cost. Those leaders currently clamoring for federal arrangement could have promoted this idea at the time, but they favored a strong central government with weak state governments. They believed at the time that it was not in the nation’s interest to divide the country into regionalized states, where some states are over 90% Dinka (Lakes, Warrap) and others well over 80% equatorial tribes (WES, EES, CES). To some extent, these fears were justified. Creating a poorly designed federal arrangement would have polarized our already fragile tribally-based politics.

The compromise was a strong central government with some semi-federal 10 states that would deal with its uniquely local issues. In theory, each state elects its government, including governors. However, the reality has been that central government has intervened in removing governors through an expansive interpretation of ‘national security needs’ clause of TNC. This created a situation where the governors were an extension of central authorities rather than accountable to their state institutions. Governors began to look like they served at the pleasure of central government rather than the local electorate. The state governments not only had to deal with constant fear of uninvited central government’s intervention; they also had no real source of funds other than transfers from the central government. These transfers were used to some extent to exert control over the affairs of states. The agreed upon relationship between states and the central government was no longer working as envisioned, thereby causing leaders to resuscitate the federal debate.

Given these inherent weaknesses in our current quasi-federal arrangement, it becomes imperative to revisit the issue of purely federal system of government that would allow our people to have more say in how they are governed and realignment of accountability. Instead of states being more answerable to the central authorities, they should be attuned to the needs of the electorate. With a rigorous and enforceable design, a purely federal system of government will allow the central government to focus exclusively on projects of national significance such as national highway and railway system, establishment of national and state universities, national security from external threats and to some extent internal spoilers, and many other functions that each individual state would find exceedingly difficult to achieve on its own.

While there are many benefits associated with a well-designed federal arrangement, there are potential risks. One is that such an arrangement would amplify our tribal differences and could create a situation where politics is defined as a contest among tribes rather than political parties. It would create a sense of distrust for central government policies that might be viewed as favoring particular states with strong federal presence by virtue of their numerical advantage such as the Dinka and Nuer. In other words, Upper Nile and Jonglei migh dominate federal government while Equatoria might be disenfranchised.

There might also be issues with an uneven economic development or resource sharing. Currently we have two states accounting for huge percentage of national revenues: Unity and Upper Nile and potentially Jonglei. These are the oil states. Other states are endowed with rich agricultural lands and stable security environment that they could feed the other states where insecurity hampers productive activities. If the oil states argue that they should not subsidize budgets in non-oil producing states, we could have a situation where this issue could polarize politics and contribute to weakening of a strong national identity.

As with anything in life, our desire for a federal arrangement could be beneficial but is not without risks. How we manage the risks is key to whether we can build a strong and vibrant federal South Sudan, or dig ourselves into more trouble than we bargained for. The key to managing risk is understanding what motivates those pushing for federalism. What are their real intentions? Do they really care about a strong national identity that trumps tribal scars, or are have they truly realized that our current quasi-federal arrangement is not working and therefore the need to redesign a system of government in South Sudan.

We could potentially design a flawed system that creates perennial instability in our country and that could be exploited by opportunistic leaders for their selfish political gains. Riek Machar, the leader of an armed insurrection, has already smelled the opportunity to enlist pro-federal Equatorians by pushing the federal debate into the current negotiations. It is not the first time this issue has been debated and Riek should not claim a credit. However, Riek’s motives are highly suspicious as he seems to pounce on the reluctance on part of Kiir’s administration to embrace federalism.

These are the risk we must guard against in our drive to establish a system of government that addresses our diverse population while forging a strong national identity. Notwithstanding these risk, we should not shy away from federalism simply because it can lead to more divisions among our people. We should work set up one that does its best to withstand any ill intention by parochial political leaders. By embracing federal system of government, the government could potentially take off the negotiating table an issue that is a powerful recruiting tool for Riek and band of insurgents. After all, agreeing on the issue of federalism is the easy part; setting up one that works best is the real hard work.

*The author is a South Sudanese residing in the United States. He can be reached at All views represented are those of the author and not this website.


Bhar El Gazal Youth Oppose Federalism, Support Devolution

Bhar El Gazal youth opposed federal and call devolution system of government.

   The greater BHAR EL GAZAL CONCERN YOUTH meeting on 3rd in Panthou (one of the remotes part of Warrap) with all the Youth from different area of the regions to discuss the ongoing political development in the country, The Objective is to gather views from different Youth group in remotes areas;

We have finally resolved the followings:

  1. Peace process

1.1  This forum believe that the genie of the current problem  is taking more wider direction and other  interests getting involved on the peace process to target and eliminated particular groups/ regions and  Tribe based on the proposed interim constitution. this forum strongly warned and call for end of such tendencies to be linked to peace process

1.2  This forum believe that people of South Sudan must be united and live in peace and harmony as we all work for development  the youngest poor nation on the earth

  1. Federalism

2.1   After having studied the political and economic and social impact of federalism system of government ; we have resolved that

2.2  We cannot form a federal state at the backdrop of tribal conflicts, where tension between states and tribes is still at high level. the insecurity in the country where arms rebellion is becoming a habit

2.3  We cannot form federal state of governance in poorest country in the world with no industries, infrastructures and its economic dependent on revenues collected at the state borders; a situation that shall make some closed-borders states more at risk/Advantages than the others. This negatively major issues that can even provoke fights even at a larger scale

2.4  The federal government cannot control insecurity and across border conflicts as well as cattle ridding, the aspect of creating a civil defense will increased tension among the states.

2.5  This forum believe that the federalism that was fought for under the leadership of Dr. John was a federalism of new Sudan under a united Republic of Sudan

2.6  This forum may believe that federalism may be a good option but implementing now at interim period may lead to a possible rebellion by several bodies

2.7  The forum believe that federalism has failed in Africa and has been the key factors affecting federal states in Africa (Nigeria, Ethiopia)

2.8  This forum believe the current call for federal system is designed to delimited particular regions or Tribes from power rather that used of democratic process

2.9  The forum warns the federalists not to used rebellion as ways and mean to achieve a mechanism designed to target a particular region and tribe.

  1. Devolution

3.1  This forum call for unitary state with devolution of powers to states and local government

3.2  This forum after having studied the pure interest of South Sudanese and considered a numbers of issues have come out with has resolved

  1. CALL FOR DEVOLUTION SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT UNDER A UNITARY STATE as a get way for federal state after the maturity of south Sudan.
  2. The devolution system at unitary state shall created and pave ways to federalism.
  3. The devolution system shall equally divide the national revenues at equal bases
  4. The devolution government shall invest powers to state and local government
  5. This forum strongly believe that it is important for a central government to control security organs such as national police, National army, and other security organs



Peter Mayen wën Majongdit

Sectary of the forum and

 Chairperson of Warrap Youth Intellectual forum 


Central Equatoria governor: ‘We stand for federalism’

Governor of Central Equatoria State Clement Wani Konga declared before a gathering of thousands of Equatorians yesterday strong support for a federal system in South Sudan, saying that this demand would not be changed.
He said the people of Central Equatoria state are for a federal system and that has been their call since the founding of the government.

Federalism is a system of government in which state or regional governments hold their own exclusive powers, which the national government cannot interfere with.

South Sudan’s national government currently has wide-ranging powers over state governments including the ability to appoint and remove officials, direct spending and revenue-collection, and set nationwide policies in fields such as education, healthcare and policing.

The call for a federal system that would devolve powers from the current national government comes ahead of the planned opening of fresh political talks in Addis Ababa that aim for a roadmap for peace-making and for formation of an interim government that would oversee a constitutional process and prepare for elections.

Governor Clement Wani on Wednesday addressed a gathering of over 3,000 civil servants of Central Equatoria State at the Nyakuron Cultural Center before, including ministers and other top-level officials. The aim was to brief them on the current stand of the state government towards peace and their involvement in the peace process in Addis Ababa.

He stressed that they would not back down in the demand for federalism, which he described as the will of the people: “We can talk and dialogue, but ours we stand for a federal system and our call will not change, because we have requested it by talking and not by the gun.”

But he also said some people have misinformed President Salva Kiir with reports about their call for a federal system in South Sudan, stressing that their position does not mean support to the armed opposition, which also has been demanding for a federal system.

He noted also that it does not mean that under a federal system other people from other states will not come to Central Equatorian land.

“If there is federalism it doesn’t mean people from Torit will not come to Juba, and from Western Equatoria and the same will Jonglei state – unless you are a troublemaker, [in that case] we will not allow him,” Konga said.

Governor Konga said they have formed committees, two from each of the three states of the Equatoria region, to help in the peace process in Addis Ababa. Konga said the committee has submitted their request to IGAD mediators among other international bodies to be involved.

Konga said if Equatorians are not involved in the peace process, there will be nothing called reconciliation or peace in South Sudan.

The governor further disclosed that a delegation of Equatorians will be sent to Upper Nile state to dialogue with people there. Though this was likely a reference to the opposition, he stressed that this does not indicate a shift in political allegiance.

“It should not look that if people dialogue with the people of Malakal that will means that I – Konga – am following Riek Machar. No, I am not going after Riek Machar.”

‘South Sudan is not for Salva Kiir, not for me, not for Riek’

The Governor of Central Equatoria State ­­further elaborated on what he saw as the past failure of South Sudanese people to support South Sudan as a nation but rather to be loyal to particular politicians.

“South Sudanese do not know that they have a country, people only know a few individuals, like Salva Kiir, Riek Machar and James Wani Igga – that’s all. There is no love for our county that is why a lot of our people died and many left just because of South Sudan”, Konga said.

The governor pointed that some people are ‘selfish,’ saying that the war would not have happened if not for the selfishness of some people.

“No, South Sudan is not for Salva Kiir, not for me – Clement – not even for Riek Machar. South Sudan is for all South Sudanese people

Quote from Dr. John Garang

Posted: April 5, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël in History, Philosophy, Speeches

“States are made to serve people; governments are established to protect the citizens of a state against external enemies and internal wrongdoers. It is on these grounds that people surrender their right and power to self-defense to the government of the state in which they live. But when the whole machinery of the State, and the powers of the Government, are turned against a whole group of the society on the grounds of racial, tribal or religious prejudices, then the victims have the right to take back the powers they have surrendered, and to defend themselves. The basis of statehood, and of unity, can only be general acceptance by the participants if justice, equality, egalitarianism, freedom and social development are the practices of governments, and not only being beamed out as mere texts enshrined in constitutions. Surely, when more than twelve million people have become convinced that they are rejected in a country in which they live, and that there is no longer any basis for unity between them and other groups of people, then unity has already ceased to exist. You cannot kill thousands of people, and keep killing more, in the name of unity. There is no unity between the dead and those who killed them; and, worse still, there is no unity in slavery and domination.”

From the Speeches of Dr. John Garang (Omer Shurkian)

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