BY: BOL PHILLIP, JUBA, MAR/05/2014, 2014, SSN;
Democracy, as a political ideology, has its own set of prerequisites that are necessary for establishing and maintaining democratic norms and principles in any society.
These prerequisites for democracy are such simple things as the rule of law, the constitution, literate and politically aware constituencies, registered political parties, strong government institutions and the middle class, which is always the backbone of any democracy – just to mention but a few.
In the context of South Sudan, which is totally lacking the most basic ingredients of democracy, let alone the abundance of renegade generals who only know how to give and receive orders and wage wars as military leaders.
The realization of democracy will continue to remain elusive in South Sudan for some time until the most basic prerequisites for democracy are first and foremost met and established in the new nation, regardless of who is the president.
As I have said before, there are no short-cuts in any democracy. As such, rebellions and military coups will not only take us off the democratic path, but actually exacerbate the whole political, social and economic situation in the country, which is totally unnecessary and uncalled for at the moment.
It is obvious and indisputable, even to the most undiscerning mind, that the government of South Sudan (GoSS), along with the SPLM party, have enormously failed as a government in terms of the delivery of basic services to the citizens of this great nation.
However, that does not justify any acts of rebellion, insurgency or a bloody revolution in the name of democracy in our new nation state, especially when the general elections are just around the corner next year in 2015.
As such, any kind of desirable political reforms and leadership change in South Sudan, now or in the future, must only come through peaceful and nonviolent transfer of power, period.
In fact, military coups, ethnic rebellions and bloody revolutions are nothing but the exact opposites of democracy, which is the last thing we need in South Sudan right now given the state of our national affairs in the current sensitive political dispensation of our time, especially in the post-conflict era.
Further, as we are all cognizant of the political culture in South Sudan, which is highly characterized by nepotism, tribalism, corruption and incompetence, it is needless to say that the ruling SPLM party in South Sudan has failed, both collectively and individually in terms of its members, to deliver the most basic services to our citizens – both in the rural and urban centers.
Hence, it is acceptable and understandable at the moment for anybody in South Sudan to ask or demand for a new political leadership in the country.
Personally, I totally agree with any South Sudanese who would like to see good governance and the immediate delivery of basic services to all the people of South Sudan, both in rural and urban centers; a simple demand that, if it is not met, will also lead to another simple demand for a new political leadership.
Having said that, however, I must also add that I totally disagree with anybody who believes that power transfer or power consolidation can be achieved through the use of political violence and any other means – military or otherwise – that have the potential to destroy our beloved new nation within two short years of its hard won independence.
In short, we must put the national interest of our nation above and beyond our narrow and selfish personal interest, as we move forward as a nation to forge a new beginning and a better future that is promising and inclusive of everybody, regardless of our tribes, region, religion, gender and political orientation.
Furthermore, as human beings have learned, since time immemorial, that “putting the cart before the horse”, so to speak, does not work in practical terms, it follows here that anybody who demands for democracy without the provision of the basic requirements (prerequisites) of democracy is basically naïve, ignorant and unrealistic in both practical and political terms.
According to the old wise adage, “Rome was not built in a day”; and therefore the question begs itself: what makes ordinary South Sudanese citizens, along with our immature politicians, think that South Sudan can build its democracy within two short years of its hard won independence?
Once again, we have to remember the key words in talking about democracy: it is a very slow, long and complex process that requires time, patience, education, cooperation and determination from us as a people and political leaders. So what is all this fuss about and the rush for?
In light of all of these facts and trends mentioned above, do we need democracy and freedom of speech right now or do we really need, first and foremost, the delivery of the most basic services in our cities and rural areas?
In our political discourse in South Sudan, I personally think that focus and priority should be given to issues related to health, education and the basic socio-economic infrastructure of our country.
In other words, let us laser focus on building good and strong schools, colleges, universities, clinics, hospitals, government institutions and tarmac roads that connect our urban centers with our rural areas, including our inner cities, such that the movement of people and transit goods is made safe, smooth and possible.
Yes, “a human being is a political animal” by nature, and hence, “a government is a necessary evil without which communities cannot co-exist and live in peace”, according to the ancient Greek philosophers.
But to a naked, starved and a dying man or woman, the most urgent and desirable thing is food, clothes and a shelter (a house) where he or she can take refuge.
The last thing that will ever come to his or her mind is democracy and freedom of speech.
If we were to talk to any man or woman or even a child who was hiding in the bushes in and around Bor, Bentiu and Malakal over the last few weeks during the time of the raging battles in those towns, they will definitely tell us that the most important thing right now is peace, security, food and clean drinking water.
We will never hear any of them mentioning the word democracy or freedom of speech, which are the very same two words that have caused their immense sufferings in South Sudan so far.
To be precise, a few greedy and reckless South Sudanese politicians decided that it is high time for change in political leadership of this new nation – by hook or by crook – without any consideration for the consequences of their words and actions.
And now, ten thousand people are already dead and one million people have already become internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees once again in this senseless ethnic violence because of their narrow, selfish and personal political aspirations.
We definitely need a paradigm shift in terms of how we do politics as usual in South Sudan, which is always characterized by ruthless violence and wanton destruction of properties and towns.
In conclusion, our politicians need to learn to conduct politics in a civilized, peaceful and nonviolent way in South Sudan, such that their words and actions do not undermine the national security and sovereignty of our beloved South Sudan, as well as the unity of our diverse people.
As political leaders and people of South Sudan, we need to renounce militarization of politics and condemn the use of political violence in our political discourse for the greater benefit of our people and nation – both in the short and long term.
National elections are due next year in 2015, so why can’t we just wait for that patiently and peacefully?
God Bless South Sudan!
A concerned South Sudanese citizen
Juba, CE, Republic of South Sudan