By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Lawyer, Kampala, Uganda,MAR/22/2017, SSN;
National building begins with ideological building. Without defining and identifying a proper ideology, the nation remains confused, corrupt and stranded. As defined, an ideology is a collection of beliefs held by an individual, group or society. It can also be described as a set of conscious and unconscious ideas which make up one’s beliefs, goals, expectations, and motivations.
In this regard, an ideology is a comprehensive normative vision that is followed by people, governments, or other groups that is considered the correct way by the majority of the population, as argued in several philosophical tendencies. Hence, as those of Karl Marx and Frederick Engel observed in their work, the ideology is set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of society such as the elite to be followed by all members of society.
In relation to politics, the ideology refers to the system of abstracted meaning applied to public matters, thus making it central to politics. Implicitly, in societies that distinguish between public and private life, every political or economic tendency entails ideology, whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.
In the Althusserian sense, Ideology is “the imaginary relation to the real conditions of existence.”
Where the nation does not have a clear ideology like South Sudan, the whole system becomes corrupt as there is no ideology that directs people on what to do, when to do it, where to do it, how to do it and why it should be done.
The role of leaders of a country run without ideology is not defined but it is geared at retaining power hence, all intellectual tendencies are corrupted when they consort with power. This is exactly what is happening in South Sudan today.
In South Sudan you get government and rebels fighting meaningless and aimless war. The people in the aimless war are viewed as objects. This is why women and girls are raped, young boys are recruited and leaders keep on buying guns with country’s resources even though people are facing dangerous hunger and starvation.
The recent report confirms the above statement that country resources are being used in purchasing weapons while people are starving in the country. Hence, the report pointed out that the government of South Sudan is spending its oil revenue on weapons, even as the country descends into a famine largely caused by Juba’s military operations, according to a confidential United Nations report.
Thus, the report by a panel of experts, whose findings were dismissed by South Sudan’s government, calls for an arms embargo on the country – a measure rejected by the Security Council during a vote in December 2016.
The report further pointed out that the experts found a “preponderance of evidence (that) shows continued procurement of weapons by the leadership in Juba” for the army, the security services, militias and other “associated forces.”
As stated in the above report, while hundreds of thousands (100,000) of people are facing starvation in various parts of South Sudan such as part of the former Unity State, the government of President Salva Kiir continued to make arms deals hence spending millions of dollars on arms.
The reason the government of South Sudan is seen as being inhuman which it is in reality is because it does not have the ideology. Where there is correct ideology for a country, the question is always, “What is a nation?” Such a question as this is always important because it guides the government in the nation building process.
When Dr. Garang was heading the Movement called SPLM/A, not like the one we have today, there was a clear ideology called the “New Sudan” built on clear ideology. Hence, New Sudan with its ideological leaning acted as a guide throughout the war from 1983 to 2005. It was the clear ideology of the Movement that made SPLM/A strong as there was a direction where people of Southern Sudan were going.
In addition, there was a law called the SPLM Manifesto of 1983 as revised in 2008, which made the liberated areas experience strong rule of law and strong army: the SPLA.
With the demise of Dr. Garang and the rise of General Kiir, South Sudan was buried alive as it was sacrificed on the altar of corruption. Therefore, the SPLA that used to be strong in the bush was weakened in towns, which made some of us long for those days when we were in the bush in which the rule of law use to exist and everybody felt at home.
In fact, the SPLM/A used to be strong in the bush because its leader, Dr. Garang, tried by all means to avoid being hated and despised at all costs by the rural people of Southern Sudan. As Niccolò Machiavelli in the Prince puts it, a leader (or a prince) may be criticized for a lack of virtue, but he will never be hated for it. However, a leader (Prince) will be hated if he takes the property or women of his subjects.
In other words, a leader must avoid robbing his subjects of their honor. The leader will be despised if he or she has a reputation for being fickle, frivolous, effeminate, cowardly, or irresolute.
Hence, if the leader is regarded highly by his subjects, he will be shielded from conspiracies and open attacks.
In South Sudan, the President has failed to control the situation due to the fact that he fears his officials whom he allows to rob citizens directly and indirectly of their resources. This is why the President has become unpopular because he allows the national resources to be unfairly shared through corruption.
All the above problems are facing South Sudan because of the lack of clear national ideology. As the Uganda President Yoweri Museveni observed over South Sudan in regard to lack of ideology recently, there is no national ideology on both sides of the rebels and the government as they are following what he termed as pseudo-ideology of sectarianism.
Museveni expressed the above view on South Sudan when he was meeting Xu Jinghu, the Chinese government Special Representative on African Affairs, at State House, Entebbe recently. He criticized the leadership of the different parties involved in the conflict saying the leadership is making the conflict a tribal affair.
He is quoted to have said, “The main problem in South Sudan is ideological. The groups there don’t have clear headed leaders to guide the people about their future. They push the pseudo-ideology of sectarianism of tribes and yet this is detrimental to the people’s well-being. The conflict cannot be resolved through force but by negotiations aimed at two things; first are elections. It is the medicine for sectarianism because in an election, no single tribe can marshal numbers to win.”
As seen above, the main problem of South Sudan is lack of ideology, which has left the country in a confused situation in which the rule of law has become an enemy to the state. People are being tortured directly and indirectly. People are being tortured indirectly as they are subjected to hunger and poverty because of grave corruption and they are being tortured directly by the National Security which is being used by the leadership to protect their interest not that of the nation.
The army has been allowed to be infiltrated by business people who are in form of generals and whose business is to corrupt everything and also oppress junior officers and other soldiers. Currently, no one cares for the family of the soldiers killed defending government or the nation.
To make the matters worse, the president and his group have turned the nation into personal enterprise in which they are using national resources for personal benefits and also to eliminate different South Sudanese who complain with the way the nation is being managed.
In summary, without ideology, no country and without ideology, no people, as people are exploited through corruption and daylight robbery promoted by confused state of affairs.
In order for South Sudan to come out from the current crises, there must be peace and then serious reforms in the army undertaken and the rule of law must be promoted and respected while strong ideology be adopted to guide the nation in its path to development where the justice, liberty and prosperity can be achieved by all South Sudanese.
NB//The author is human rights lawyer residing in Kampala Uganda, and can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org or +256783579256