Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 13 February 2013

Federal system of government appropriate for South Sudan

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By Jacob K. Lupai

February 2013 - A federal system of government appropriate for South Sudan is a view that is hoped to increase understanding. There is already an expressed fear of a federal system of government for South Sudan as too fragmenting. The fear is that South Sudanese will be compartmentalized into tribal homelands with the resultant increase in insecurity. Another fear is that the economic cost of maintaining a federal system will be very high. However, a close observation of a federal system may show that the fear is paranoia or likely as a mask of a hidden agenda.

The fear of a federal system of government for South Sudan may be an anxiety of how people with vested interest will fare. It has hardly anything to do with the benefits of a federal system. People may be paranoid of a federal system probably because of perceived deprivation of power and privileges, and perceived insecurity. The fear is also that of being uprooted from where one calls home. What this fear does is to make people very rigid in their stand against any mention of a federal system. Flexibility is seen as subscribing to the fragmentation of South Sudan. This was precisely what the Sudanese Arabs did when the South demanded a federal system of government for sustainable national unity of the Sudan they rigidly refused.

The consequence of the rigidity of the Arabs was the unfortunate breakup of Sudan. Eritrea had also demanded a federal system for Ethiopia but the brutal imposition of a unitary system ultimately caused the breakup of Ethiopia with Eritrea becoming independent. Hopefully, South Sudanese will be much wiser. People do not need to invent the wheel and they do not need to copy and paste either. They only need to be creative and pragmatic in developing an original approach in addressing challenges.

Systems of government
There are various systems of government in the world. However, for simplicity concentration will be on two systems, unitary and federal. In a unitary system powers are vested in the central government which may operate unhindered by local governments. In theory, distribution of resources from rich to poor areas and from the haves and have-nots needs a powerful central government that a unitary system is seen to offer. However, in practice a unitary system is not that effective in addressing regional imbalances. There are also ethnic issues that a unitary system may fall short of addressing.

According to one author of a book, American Politics & Society, central governments have been criticized as insensitive and federalism cited as a compromise solution to the claims by increasing number of regions and ethnic minorities in a variety of countries for more autonomy. After all it was the centralized power of England that had prompted the revolt of its American colonies.

Regions of South Sudan
Until the introduction of Turkiya in Northern Sudan little was known about Southern Sudan in the way of documentation for its history. The southern provinces of Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile were organized, garrisoned and administered separately equivalent to colonies under the Turco-Egyptian Sudan (1821-85). In the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899-1955) the three southern provinces were also administered separately by governors answerable to the central government in the North. From 1956 to 1972 the North treated the southern provinces as colonies and administered them separately. However, the southern provinces shared one destiny as they had been sources of slaves to the North with the subsequent gross marginalisation.

Irrespective of provincial and ethnic lines the people of the three southern provinces pulled their human resources together to confront the evil of gross marginalization by the North. In recognition of their similar aspirations, in 1972 the North granted local autonomy to the three southern provinces which became known as the southern region. However, in 1983 the southern region was turned back to its original status of three provinces of Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile but instead of being called provinces was then called regions. So the regions of South Sudan should be Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile but not in any other way.

Unitary system
Views for a unitary system for South Sudan have been expressed strongly. In the enthusiasm for a unitary system bizarre proposals could be made. For example, one bizarre proposal was to reorganise regions in South Sudan as eastern, central and western. The proposal was made as an individual expressed opinion in an SPLM training workshop in Home and Away Business Centre in Juba.

The eastern region was proposed to comprise Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei and Upper Nile while the central region to consist of Central Equatoria, Lakes, Warrap, Unity and possibly Abyei. The western region was proposed to comprise Western Equatoria, Western and Northern Bahr el Ghazal. It was not clear how the reorganisation of the regions in South Sudan could promote unity if not to create the greatest confusion in the history of South Sudan.

Another proposal by an enthusiast of a unitary system was the centralization of employment from grade 9 to 1. This means the employment of graduates should only be the prerogative of the central government. This should be one of the serious disadvantages of an imposed unitary system. It could be problematic as tribalism and nepotism might encourage semi-literate, inexperienced and ignorant people employed and deployed to the frustration of effective service delivery in the regions. The outcome could be disunity instead. Further proposal was the centralization of education where boarding schools would be established and mixed intake received from all over South Sudan. In theory this sounds reasonable in promoting unity. In practice, however, it would be a mammoth task as corruption seems to be rampant.

Contractors would be needed to transport and feed students. Given poor investment in infrastructures a unitary system which is likely to be distant from the people would hardly be efficient. Already the centralization of organized forces such as the police, prisons, wildlife and the fire brigade does not make a unitary system attractive. Over-representation of some ethnic groups in key positions and in deployment can be perceived as the promotion of marginalization of others hence disunity is instead promoted. This does not bode well for a unitary system. An imposed unitary system in a country as diverse as South Sudan is unlikely to cope well.

Federal system
It has been seen that South Sudan was administered as three separate provinces since the Turkiya and the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium rule. In modern times it was administered as one and then as three regions. The propagated concept that when there is a federal system in South Sudan then the people will be divided is too simplistic. First of all the people of South Sudan had fought against gross marginalization as people of one destiny although they were from different regions and tribes. Arguably a federal system unites people but an imposed unitary system disunites.

In a federal system the government is closer to people and understands local issues better in putting mechanisms in place for efficient and effective provision of services to the people. In contrast in a unitary system the preoccupation is how to dominate and marginalize those who are not of the same feather. It is to protect narrow interest precisely as did the Arabs before the breakup of the Sudan. A federal system is South Sudan will more likely reduce rampant tribalism, nepotism, corruption, insecurity and discrimination or marginalization for sustainable national unity. In addition it will accelerate development for the benefit of the vast majority of people who are mostly in the rural areas.

A federal system unites people in that diversities are recognized and respected. The executive, judiciary and the legislature will effectively address issues at the grassroots with no one is seen above the law. The notorious criminal land grabbers and their sympathizers will be consigned to the dustbin of history. Cattle rustling in the way it is experienced today will most likely be a thing of the past because of the local concentration to address the problem. Inter-regional trade is likely to flourish, promoting interaction among people thereby bringing them closer for sustainable unity. The fear that in a federal system people will be discouraged to interact because they are already divided is false. It should be understood clearly that a federal system is not compartmentalization of people into tribal homelands. It is rather the administrative division of power and wealth for the benefit of the people where no power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of the few.

To win over the best brains and skilled manpower to one’s region, the region must provide an attractive package. This means any South Sudanese can be employed and work in any region attracted by all the necessary benefits and incentives that go with the job. What should not happen is for the central government to impose the deployment of personnel on the regions. Only central government specialised personnel may be deployed in consultation with the regions. Ordinary people can choose where to live and work in the regions. After all any South Sudanese has the right to live and work anywhere in the country as a law abiding citizen.

Cost of maintaining federal system
The fear expressed of the high cost of maintaining a federal system is debatable. First of all the federal government has the ability to levy taxes. Also the regions will make contributions to the federal government. For example, a region that produces oil must provide, say, 20 per cent of the oil revenue to the federal government. This means the region keeps the remaining 80 per cent for its development and security. Any region that has no oil must find alternative sources of revenue and must provide the federal government with a percentage of the revenue. This arrangement is likely to make the regions in the federation self-reliant.

The federal government will only be a skeleton but not a duplication of the governments in the regions. This is because it is the regions that will carry the massive burden of development of South Sudan. The federal government is expected to act like a referee. In this case the federal system will not be more of a burden than a unitary system. After all the regions must have the power to levy taxes to generate their own revenues for development and security, and to deliver services to the people. In a federal system people are likely to be more united than in an oppressive unitary system.

The lukewarm reception of the concept of a federal system of government for South Sudan or outright rejection is not based on sound objective analysis but is subjective and tribally motivated. It is evidently the protection of narrow interest.

South Sudanese will never be divided by a federal system of government because in the first place they had liberated themselves from Arab colonialism as people of one destiny although they were from different regions and tribes. How on earth will a federal system managed by South Sudanese divide them? What is being propagated against a federal system is sadly a combination of insensitivity and a mask of ulterior motives.

In conclusion, South Sudanese will always remain as people of one destiny. This is because they are acutely aware of Arab’s designs to make South Sudan a failed state by all means. However, South Sudanese will ultimately be responsible for a designated failed status when they miserably fail to listen to the inner voice of reason for a better choice to be made between an oppressive unitary system and a federal system of equitable sharing of power and wealth for the common good of the country.

It can be observed that the decentralized system in South Sudan is in theory when in practice many aspects of governance are centralized with all the accompanying challenges.

The author can be reached at jklupai@googlemail.com



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  • 14 February 2013 08:27, by George Bol

    We need to liberate our border areas before talking a lot about federation. For me, there is nothing new in federal systems. It’s similar to what currently in S. Sudan.Please, taking loud after millions die in different parts of country at this time is unrealistic. It’s just a noise!

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    • 14 February 2013 10:59, by Junta

      George Bol
      The Author is right to argue on Federal system of government! why don’t you stop our cronies probably your tribe mate who are arguing in favour of unitary system? Is it because the Author is strongly opposed to your favourite(cynical Unitary system) systems cynically aimed at marginalising Equatorian that you raise your eyebrows?Stop NCP like hypocrisy Mr. George Bol.

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    • 15 February 2013 05:40, by Diversity

      The theory was that wealth would be shared around the country, instead of some states being richer and others poorer.
      Justlook at ’ts m :
      Federation combines that merits of unity with diversity. A federation is a compact between several States to establish a united State, in which the federating States do not lose their individuality, and their diversity and autonomy.

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  • 14 February 2013 11:13, by Eastern

    When Mr. Lupai brings up national issues for discussion, the usual names and alias known commenting in language akin to the Einglish language shy away. Mr. Lupai, continue to educate the South Sudanese; especially the trigger-happy lot. From the three propsed regions, the eastern region comprising Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei and Upper Nile states will become the cattle rustlling region of the world

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    • 14 February 2013 12:42, by LL Reuben

      Lupai,
      RoSS is a Federal Republic; detailed on why that isn’t what you think federalism can be? There is nothing wrong with debating issues that have negative impacts on the lives of South Sudanese, but there’re ensuing consequences for instigating issues with lesser negative impacts in case the issue is misinterpreted by the misinformed. We’ve issues with greater importance that need..

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      • 14 February 2013 12:44, by LL Reuben

        solving, our primary focus should be on those . Starvation, constant killing of each other, militia infestation, LRA incursion , Khartoum incursion and aggression; these problems have less to do with lack of federal system.

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  • 14 February 2013 11:56, by Majongdit

    This useless tribalist. What will you gain from the hatred of other South Sudanese tribes? Nothing! We are in Equatoria because the Government is seated there. Equatorians are half Ugandan, half Congoese, half Rwandese...just half, half, half. You own no land is S Sudan. The bones of the Dinka people are all over Equatoria.

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    • 14 February 2013 12:33, by Junta

      Idiot Majongthi
      Go to hell with your usual animalistic jealousy!Since creation of heaven and earth, our ancestors possess the great sweet equatoria and shall remain Equatorians and South Sudanese.what do you by branding equatorian half ugandan etc you will posses our land or gain the quality civility that equatorians have? Please your evolution is incomplete that is why you behave like your cattle

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    • 14 February 2013 14:30, by Jujukokiko

      This is unfortunate of you. I thought you must have been in class and read books, but the way you react here depicted clearly that you were in class reading the back of the books.
      And because you were busy reading the back of the books,you have nothing in mind about the history of South Sudan.
      To make matter worst for you, I doubt if you can analysis federalism the way Lupai has done.
      Good Day

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      • 14 February 2013 15:51, by Lotodo Awino Odug

        LUPAI IS THE BEST PERSON OF THE YEAR,THAT IS WHAT YOU NEED TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR KITCHEN CABINET WRITER AND MEDDLER.

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    • 15 February 2013 10:26, by jur_likang_a_ likan’g

      Majongdit, your piece in this medium shows how brainless you are. Go back to the history of the liberation of South Sudan. You will find that those half congolese, half ugandans and half rwandese taught you how to dress and fight Jallaba. If you want to be black Jallaba then the genuine freedom fighters will show you the art of war.

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  • 16 February 2013 05:02, by denng

    Lupai, i disagree with the way you analysed kokora in your other article. I agree that we should decentralize the government and we each reap what we sow e.g oil producing states should keep their money(i’m not from there btw). To keep it brief i think we should not be one country for so many reasons i don’t want to get into but it must be addressed one day.

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  • 16 February 2013 07:03, by Zionist

    Lupai
    In federalism, each state keeps its own resources, and since all states are not equally oil-rich, therefore, federalism will only deepen the gap between the rich and the poor, which will lead to more conflicts between those who have, and the others who have not, unless the wealth is shared equally

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