Don’t waste time counting on SPLM for salvation

BY: Justin Ambago Ramba, UK, SEPT/10/2013, SSN;

After having enjoyed the brilliant article written by my fellow countryman, Duop Chak Wuol, the Editor-in-Chief of the South Sudan News Agency, under the heading “The SPLM and the Rise of Autocracy in South Sudan”, I felt obliged to write a bit of a critique for this wonderfully done job.

Thank you, Chief Duop Chak Wuol, for an article well written, indeed you left no stone unturned as you navigated your way through this tedious journey to analyse the past, the present and the future of South Sudan and its diverse people in what looks like a rendezvous with destiny. I must also commend you for the possible scenarios that you in a kind forecast for South Sudan under the title of “Possible Consequences.”

Although I concur with most of what came in your forecasts, I just think that some of the scenarios therein are already everyday realities on the ground, unless of course we want to say that our country was doing well prior to the July 23rd 2013 President Salva Kiir’s bloodless internal coup.

While I don’t claim to know it any better than my fellow compatriots, South Sudan is already awash with tribal politics and communities deeply divided on regional and tribal lines. Whether this could go on to encourage or incite ethnic or regional rebellions, deepen mistrust between communities in the already fragile society, and further destabilize the new nation, is a thing left for time to tell.

Secondly the ruling SPLM party has also since long lost its vital grounds and regional politics have in the latest political transaction ascended to become the country’s number one place for political refuge, started by President Kiir and the rest followed suite.

Again whether this is likely to cause any uprising against the ruling party, as you suggested is also left for the days to confirm.

No two sound minded South Sudanese can disagree on the fact that the new country’s so-called national parliamentarians have given in and are openly being influenced or guided by regional and tribal politics.

Those who are closely following the events as they unfold in Juba and the state capitals, are already familiar with the one single truth that National or party politics, in this case has completely been reduced to define only how politicians adjust themselves to appease the president as His Excellency bulldozes his self-centered reforms.

Thus the national priority has long shifted from finding solutions to the national questions, formerly presented as the SPLM party’s slogans in the 2010 general elections and again parroted on the day of Independence. Now everything has shifted to how to make an immortal king out of the incumbent SPLM chairman.

A clear case in point is how President Salva Kiir poured millions of dollars in the regional conferences held both in Juba for the Greater Equatoria and in Wau for the Greater Bahr Ghazal prior to the last cabinet shake-up, in spite of the deafening calls for the ruling party’s convention.

Obviously a nationally oriented SPLM has given way to the newly conceived regionally oriented SPLM. Although this may guarantee a safe hold on power for the incumbent chairman, its implications on the future of the party is a thing that will come back to haunt not very long from now.

Hear it from your opponents and not your friends, for even now as things stand, president Kiir has become more inclined to doing business with MPs as regional and tribal blocks. And if this is not cementing regionalism and tribalism at the expense of political party democracy, then what is it supposed to lead to?

Unfortunately the good talk about SPLM changing its current political attitude and departing with its autocratic tendencies remains largely inconceivable as it falls on deaf ears.

The question is when wasn’t this party led autocratically in its three decades’ life span? We can’t expect President Salva Kiir who is now everything in the country to take any suicidal step by opening up to some kind of an intra-SPLM democracy that will only see him out in the streets, the next day.

The democratization of the SPLM would have been possible immediately following the CPA in 2005. But it never happened because some people chose to handle the country’s top priorities as if they were running a family business, and not a state that they share with other ten million compatriots.

In short, talking of democratizing the SPLM party is a more hopeless project than selling ‘cow dung cakes’ in a cattle camp. It simply doesn’t make sense. And it won’t either make sense to the current leader who is yearning to stay in office forever!

The SPLM party you are referring to is now a one-man property. Whether the SPLM-led government is prepared to face the serious consequences that will arise from the new dispensation will largely depend on how much political potential is still left in it.

However I must say that the true point lies in the emergence of a new political party that can vigorously challenge the status quo.

As you put it in your article, and I quote: “A popular and possibly stronger political party will emerge, and the SPLM will eventually lose its hold on the political, economic, security and military spheres.”

Without the least doubt, the salvation of South Sudan lies in the emergence of this second more popular and stronger political party which will not only steal the show from this corruption riddled SPLM, but will also provide the much needed political and socio-economic redemption to this new nation.

However, in spite of the political environment being ripe for a second political organisation under which South Sudanese opposed to the status quo can rally, it is unfortunate that the different opposition groups are being held behind by equally personal greed at the level of their leaders who can’t see the woods for the trees.

It is my personal understanding that most if not all of the current South Sudanese opposition politicians, were at one time either members or supporters or sympathisers of this degenerating mother SPLM party. Nevertheless they left it when the party wasn’t any more what they thought it was or should be…….no vision, no mission, and no democracy.

This being the case, is it not now time that they all come together to realize a one party which is not like SPLM in its downsides?

But no, it seems that for a good number of these so-called opposition figures, the SPLM aura and the culture of free for all, has succeeded to neutralize them. And instead of trying to oust the SPLM from leadership as most were made to expect, these guys are planning to keep SPLM in office while running under the table dealings with it.

If I were to head the cabinet affairs of an SPLM-led government, then you would understand what I mean!

The situation is not any different with those senior SPLM members who recently fell off with President Salva Kiir who is also the SPLM party chairman. None of the humiliated SPLM party officials is showing any signs of quitting to challenge the current leadership from outside the SPLM.

And under the sweeping re-structuring, any such a move from within will just be labelled as treason and no more.

President Salva Kiir had on more than one occasion gone ballistic and insulted his senior colleagues over the SSTV or in the Assembly Hall and all they did was to keep quiet. He again insulted their collective reasoning in the national legislative assembly by threatening to dissolve the parliament; no one amongst the SPLM rebels uttered a word.

Instead to everyone’s astonishment, the only visible protest came from an independent MP none but Dr. Richard K. Mulla.

What we are seeing here, I am afraid is a situation where many of our so-called politicians, are now cowed down only to consider issues that guarantee the safety of their daily bread, a thing many would not want to risk.

And this one, President Salva Kiir knows very well, just like the back of his hands. True leaders with guts are too few and worse still their actions are not coordinated, giving the dictator a wider space for manoeuvring.

As per the argument on the emergence of a new rebel movement that is far more powerful than any current or previous rebel groups, to surface at the current time, as you speculated, I think although it cannot be completely ruled out due to the fluidity of the existing political and socio-economic situations on the ground, but however should it happen, it will really be very unfortunate to say the least.

I can see your point when you said, and I quote: “In all successful societies, everyone must be willing to make sacrifices and the SPLM’s elites and citizens alike are not immune from these social responsibilities.”

I cannot agree with you more, albeit a peaceful and democratic transfer of power would have saved us all these.

Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Can be reached at:


  1. SS is in political turmoil and on the verge to slide into tribal zones. Our Mps have infringed their constitutional mandate that give them the right to monitor the activities of the executive and summon the president in case of serious violation of the nation’s supreme law, instead they agree on every move taken by kiir himself.
    kiir has become a real dictator in all aspects, despite his call of democracy he was preaching in the early days of CPA.
    his tendency of maintaining his power by using his tribesmen, army and money to dictate the situation will not make him succeed to retain that position, time will come to say enough is enough.
    he will leave by all means.

  2. Leader says:

    I don’t see any sense in advocating for the destruction/dissolution of the SPLM. In a democracy, multi-partyism is the main pillar. So there is no problem in the existence of the SPLM and many other political parties. For example, we have in S. Sudan opposition parties such as SANU, USSP, UDF, ANC, USAP, SPLM-DC and many others. Why don’t you advocate for unification of these political parties? There is no doubt, some current SPLM members out of dissatisfaction and/or greed for power will dessert SPLM and join other parties or form their own but SPLM, the original, will always remain. It is not logical for non-members to advocate for destruction of an entity they hold no stake in. It may only be out of fear, jealousy, envy or a combination thereof.

    • bolabokdit says:

      Politics in Southern Sudan country is very scary. Editor oriented people for war instead of democracy transformation process. Anyone with knowledge about South Sudan future can not think of fighting ourselves ever. It is good to civilize our discussion and make it not a thing that would cost Southerner’s lives. What I believed our young nation is in need of government services which are de-escalated or non-exist at all, but there is a way the improve the government or remove it altogether. Some of our leaders we delegated to lead us are dishonest and president is accounted for that. President’s reputation can be threatened by the bad action of officials around him and he has to reverse his choice of these officials. That dishonesty should not cause animosity among us. People who like South Sudan to stay united under umbrella of one government should not talk of violence.

  3. Mr. Ramba:

    Well written article as usual. There is no doubt that President Kiir is a tribalist, dictator, and a thief. South Sudan is belonging to Salva Kiir only. You see he threatened the parliament to approve Wani Igga for vice president position or dissolve the parliament. And he promoted the governor who failed in his state to defence minister position. Our country is now going from bad to worse.

    What comes to my mind is that Kiir wants South Sudan to be a part of Sudan again because the South Sudan forces in Renk moved backward, South Sudan forces in Unity State moved backward, South Sudan forces in Northern Bar-El-Gazel moved backward while the Sudan military move forward occupying their places, but our kiir is not saying anything about these issues rather than causing internal problems within the country. Kiir is in the process of reuniting South and Sudan. You see president Kiir is firing those military commanders and politicians who supported the separation of South Sudan from the North. On the other hand, Kiir is promoting the politicians and military commanders who were supporting unity. These are the signs of reunited Sudan.

    Whether you believe it or not, President Kiir is on the brink of reuniting South Sudan and Sudan if he cannot achieve his dictatorship and tribal vision.

  4. Malou Deng says:

    SPLM is the Alpha and the Omega in South Sudan and whoever thinks SPLM is something else is paying too much attention to the noise other than the signal!

  5. MIDIIT says:

    thank you very much gentleman Ramba for the nice article, you plus Duop Wuol, Peter Aduok and Weirial Gatyiel are the true warriors for the righteousnes in the internet, i like your direct attack on the incompetent Kiir who has never gone to school accept the ugandan grammer he got from his boy friend Museveni

  6. kikisik says:

    Dr. Ramba,
    thank you very much for you excellent analysis. To my brother Bentiu Ramaran, if kiir thinks that one day the people of South Sudan will dream of reuniting with jalaba- He is Demn wrong! The people of South Sudan have spoken loud and clear when over 97% voted for independence in January 2011.
    But sometimes you could be right because the closeness in relation between Kiir and Bashir these days is making one to wonder what it is! If you read Sudan tribune September 9, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – quote” A South Sudanese official acknowledging that some Juba officials in the previous cabinet acted as impediments to developing relations with Khartoum” it went on and quote “There were parties in the government of South [Sudan] that hindered the evolution of the relationship between the north and south in the past,” the spokesman for the Embassy of South Sudan Deng Gabriel said in an interview with the pro-government Ashorooq TV on Sunday” this statement coming from the top South Sudan diplomat was a shock to me. It makes one wonder where South Sudan is heading? I know the relation between South Sudan and Sudan is not a bad thing- but it shouldn’t reach to the extent of exposing our secrets.

  7. Leader says:

    Bentiu Raan
    I am sorry to respond to a person of your calibre, but I want to advise you to be objective in your comment. Don’t let tribal emotion and sentiments overtake the whole of yourself.

    Kuol Manyang is not a failed leader. He is one of the main pillars of this country. Without his contribution during the war and upto this time, perhaps we shall not have been where we are today. The people of Jonglei know he was not a failed leader because the problem of Murle raiding and child abduction has been there long before his appointment. He brought peace between Nuer and Dinka of Jonglei because before his appointment there used to be raiding and counter-raiding between them but now people move and trade freely among each other areas which was not the case before.

    The problem of Yau Yau rebels is beyond the powers of state govt because they are a movement supported by Khartoum to destabilize S. Sudan. I know you hate him because he seems not to endorse Riek Machar chairmanship of SPLM. That is understandable, because those of you who are obsessed with the belief that Riek is the best leader ever born in this world hate to death anybody who holds different views.

    • AW Joseph says:

      You called Kuol Manyang the main pillar of this country because he was the same Kuol Manyang who allegedly bashed and tortured the then Bishop of Torit, his Holiness Emeritus Paride Taban in Torit in 1990. Please give us a break if there is no any South Sudanese leader worthy of praise.


      • Madut Acuil says:

        Dear Editor
        How did the name Jebel Dinka come about in Juba? The Equatorian you claimed to have been butchered were the ones who betrayed Dinka to the enemy to be caught and taken under the mountain to be slaughtered by the enemy. They could be in Torit, Kapoeta, Maridi or Juba doing the same thing. The other one was; they tip off the enemy to ambushed the SPLA and kill them mercilessly! We should know the different between patriots and traitors! I was a soldier in the 1990s; I saw it first hand. Now everyone seems to be demanding the national cake equally; when very few suffered severely during the liberation. If we going to bring the past to present; then there will be no room to coexist peacefully!


  8. kamba says:

    I am looking forward to different leadership come 2015. Of coz not Kiir again.

  9. Gatkuoth Lok says:

    I think it is good article, though superficial to some extent.

  10. Mankien town says:

    The question is are those opposition parties allowed do their work by splm? they just call themselves opposition party even when they are not working.

    • Dr JAC Ramba says:

      Dear Mankien Town

      To begin with, you need to know that there are no legally functioning political parties in the new country of South Sudan. Per the South Sudan Political Parties Act 2012, all the previously existing political parties, including the SPLM are all deemed illegal, unless they hold their conventions and then register afresh with the new authorities since that Act was signed by the President into law in March 2012.

      What is now on the ground is that no political party {including SPLM] are doing any political work .Even this so-called SPLM party is now in limbo and has since stopped functioning as a legal organisation per the Laws of RSS. You need to be aware of all these tiny details before you throw yourself into territories that you hardly understand.

      How dare you ask whether SPLM is allowing opposition parties to work, when the SPLM leadership itself is in a disarray? Wake up my countryman, party politics has long been frozen in RSS………..even SPLM is non functional as we discuss!

  11. koang Peter says:

    Dear, Dr. Ramba
    i was not directly asking about what was put in the article, but a certain piece of item reply by Leader.
    i know your article was so good nice, interested, but my opinion was just to say the opposition parties are not doing opposite work in the government.
    while they call them self opposition, for instance when president signed huge amount of money such $600 millions to national security all opposition does say any thing about this crime including so called MPs.
    south Sudan is the most weakest system in the world, president Kirr is Just swimming alone in the public money/ fund, no one asks him or opposes him in those crimes committed .

    Mankien Town.

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