December 15, 2013 (JUBA) - Leading officials from South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) have expressed deep concerns and voiced "strong dissatisfaction" with the President Salva Kiir Mayardit manages the affairs of the world’s youngest nation and the ruling party.
Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, the widow of the SPLM’s former Chairman and co-founder, the late John Garang de Mabior, expressed disappointment with South Sudan’s system of governance and the lack of democracy in the country.
Nyandeng told journalists on Sunday that she was not planning to unseat President Kiir but admitted that she had considered contesting for Kiir’s chairmanship of the SPLM as a way of promoting democracy.
In July Kiir sacked his long-time deputy Riek Machar and suspended the SPLM’s secretary general Pagan Amum, as well as reshuffling his cabinet over the next month.
Since then the disenfranchised officials have become stronger in their criticism of the Kiir’s leadership and his "dictatorial tendencies".
However, Nyandeng denied that the rift in the rebel-movement-turned-ruling-party was a struggle for the presidency between herself, Machar and Amum.
"We were going to struggle for the seat of the SPLM, the chair of the SPLM and not the presidency as it is being circulated. This was what we were going to struggle and whoever will win, will be the chair", Nyandeng told journalists on Sunday.
On Friday the senior group of SPLM members led by Machar, Amum and Nyandeng pulled out from a meeting of party’s National Liberation Council (NLC), accusing Kiir of not acting in the spirit of dialogue.
Nyandeng said that it was her dream to contest to become the chairperson of the SPLM, adding that it was up to party members whether she would be chosen or not but was not automatic but subject to the judgment of the members.
SPLM members "will be the ones to say our chairman, the incumbent, [President Kiir] will continue to lead us." If she looses Nyandeng would shake hands and congratulate Kiir. "This is how democracy is done," she added.
"We talk of democracy and we don’t know what shape that animal is and we start to run away. There is no freedom of press. There is nothing in the South. Democracy is not allowed", she said.
South Sudan’s system does not allow primary contests like in the United State’s, according to Nyandeng.
"In America, they call it primary elections. But in the South, it is unique in our situation that if someone wants to be the president, you are not allowed to dream", she explained.
The senior official said she decide to attempt to become the chair of the SPLM because the country was not going in the right direction.
"If you count members or founding members of the SPLM, you will always find me in the first three. And if things are not going the way we were really waging our struggle, I will not keep quiet, because this country has taken the lives of our people since time memorial. Leaders of this nation, the leaders who were to build this country had perished for the struggle of this country."
The SPLM is the political wing of the SPLA, the rebel group that fought the Khartoum for over two decades, until a 2005 peace deal led to South Sudan’s independence from Sudan in 2011.
SPLM VISION DID NOT DIE WITH GARANG
Nyandeng, who is a presidential advisor on gender and human rights, wondered what happened to the leaders who she thought knew the cause of the liberation struggle which displaced an estimated four million people and resulted in over one million deaths.
"I asked myself is this really what we fought for, what we are doing today. As a victim who has lost the beloved person, I will say no. That is not what we fought for. Because our vision, the vision of the SPLM, we fought for justice, freedom, equality, prosperity and the democracy. This has been the vision of the SPLM since 1983 and it has never changed. We lost our leader but we have not the vision."
Nyandeng said that the SPLM’s strategic framework should have provided the raod map to transition from for war to peace by developing institutional infrastructure for better governance, as well as developing physical infrastructure. The document, she said, also advocated regenerating social capital, restoring peace and harmony, prioritising agriculture as the engine of economic growth and poverty eradication, transform SPLM into a peace-time political organization and transforming SPLA into a peace-time conventional army.
"And you are my witness, all these seven, which one have we done. Mother is a practical person not theoretical. If you want your children to eat today they must eat. You must make sure that the children eat. Now where is our money? What did we do with that money? We are a rich country. Now we are being categorised with poor nations. I don’t believe that and I don’t accept that we are poor. We are not. The problem is that we have not put our priorities right. This is our problem", Nyandeng said.
She questioned what the government has done with the $4.5 billion claimed to have been borrowed without the knowledge of the relevant institutions as well as the general public.
"As you know some of the people will say that ’but she is an advisor to the president on gender and human rights’. Yes I am, but I am really frustrated because nothing is moving. People are being killed here in Juba. There are a lot of problems in the states. About five or six states, there are problems, namely Jonglei, is well known for problems, Unity state, Lakes state, Eastern Equatoria and Western Equatoria? This problem has been going on starting with LRA, Joseph Konyi. This started before the CPA and after the CPA these problems have not stopped."
Nyandeng said she had kept quiet all this time because she thought things would improve because South Sudan was still new and trying to establish itself.
As a new nation, South Sudan "will always have ups and downs" she said but complained that "we have never corrected ourselves".
Nyandeng described herself as the country’s "mother" adding that she knows "exactly what is going on, what was going on before and what is going on now, I say this is enough. And enough is enough."
The senior leaders who have increasingly voiced their criticism of Kiir in recent weeks gave reconciliation between the SPLM leadership a chance, she said.
"We did not get [an] audience to see our chairman, but he took our silence as our weaknesses. And may be people, the population of South Sudan, may also say what happened with our leaders."
"There is not any country where you sack the whole cabinet and people keep quiet. And now the money of the oil of South Sudan, since May, we don’t know where is that money. Council of ministers has not been about the loans. Our Assembly has not been informed about the loans. And our public who are the caretakers of our government have not been informed about that money and that money was used for what and everybody is keeping quiet", she explained.
Alfred Lado Gore, a former environment minister said the crisis the country is witnessing within the ruling party is the manifestation of bankruptcy and lack of ideology to guide the nation.
"This current crisis is the clear manifestation of the bankruptcy we have got into. It is a clear indication that the one thing we are lacking in this country is the ideology”, explained Gore.