Phobia of Federalism in South Sudan

BY: Daniel Amum Odwel, SOUTH SUDAN, JUN/17/2014, SSN;

The fear of federalism may be an illusion due to egocentric mentality in some groups within South Sudanese societies which had enjoyed loin shares for long times, or may result from constructive ideal that it may lead to disintegration of the nation. For people who championed federalism may have convincing reasons or had vivid previous frustration experiences with central system that neglected their cost.

What is Federalism? Is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head? The term ‘’ federalism’’ is also used to describe a system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units such as states or provinces.

Federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/ state governments, creating what is often what is called s federation.

To be certain about federalism let’s try to observe other nations that have it:
In Europe, “Federalist” is sometimes used to describe those who favor a common federal government, with distributed power at regional, national and supranational levels. Most European federalists want this development to continue within the European Union. European federalism originated in post-war Europe; one of the more important initiatives was Winston Churchill’s speech in Zurich in 1946

United States Vs European Federalism:
In the United Stated, federalism originally referred to belief in a stronger central government. When the U.S. Constitution was being drafted, the Federalist Party supported a stronger central government, while ‘’Anti-Federalists’’ wanted a weaker central government. This is very different from the modern usage of “federalism” in Europe and the United States. The distinction stems from the fact that “federalism” is situated in the middle of the political spectrum between a confederacy and a unitary state.

The U.S. Constitution was written as a reaction to the Articles of Confederation, under which the United States was a loose confederation with a weak central government. Further, during the American Civil War members of the Confederate State of America, which seceded in favor of a weaker central government, but today the United States ‘’ Federalism’’ argued for a stronger central government, relative to a confederacy.

In contrast European “federalism” argues for a weaker central government, relative to a unitary state. In The modern American and as the power of the Federal government has increased, some people have perceived that this system has become much more unitary state than intended.

Indeed, most people politically advocating “federalism” in the United States argue in favor of limiting the powers of the federal government, especially the judiciary.

In general, two extremes of federalism can be distinguished: at one extreme, the strong federal state is almost completely unitary, with few powers reserved for local governments; while at the other extreme, the national government may be a federal state in name only, being a confederation in actuality.

Indian Federalism:
The Government of India known as the Union Government was established by the Constitution of India and is the governing authority of a federal union of 29 states and 7union territories.
The government of India is based on a tiered system, in which the Constitution of India delineates the subjects on which each tier of government has executive powers.

The Constitution originally provided for a two-tier system of government, the Union Government (also known as the Central Government), representing the Union of India, and the State governments. Later, a third tier was added in the form of Panchayets and Municipalities.

In the current arrangement, The Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution delimits the subjects of each level of governmental jurisdiction, dividing them into three lists:

A, Union List includes subjects of national importance such as defense of the country, foreign affairs, banking, communications and currency. The Union Government alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the Union List.
B, State List contains subjects of State and local importance such as police, trade, commerce, agriculture and irrigation. The State Governments alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the State List.
C, Concurrent List includes subjects of common interest to both the Union Government as well as the State Governments, such as education, forest, trade unions, marriage, adoption and succession. Both the Union as well as the State Governments can make laws on the subjects mentioned in this list. If their laws conflict with each other, the law made by the Union Government will prevail.

The Indian federalism is asymmetric federalism in which special provisions to certain state is granted and also aspect of Indian federalism is the system of President Rule in which the central government (through it appointed Governor) takes control of state’s administration for certain months when no party can form a government in the state or there is violent disturbance in the state.

People shouldn’t worry about federalism because each power will be well establish to avoid contradiction authority: The federal government has certain express powers which are called enumerated powers, and that powers should be spelled out clearly in the Constitution, including the right to levy taxes, declare war, and regulate interstate and foreign commerce.

In addition to that the federal government had implied power to pass any law “necessary and proper” for the execution of its express powers. Other powers need to be reserved to the people or states which can be called reserved powers. This means the states will be legally subject to the final dictates of the federal government.

Federalism in the Church:
This expression is found in ecclesiology the doctrine of the church and the good example is the Presbyterian Church governance that resembles parliamentary republicanism, a form of political federalism to a large extent. In Presbyterian denominations, the local church is ruled by elected elders, some of which are ministerial. Each church then sends representatives or commissioners to Presbyteries and further to a General Assembly. Each greater level of assembly has ruling authority over its constituent members.

In this governmental structure, each component has some level of sovereignty over itself. As in political federalism, in Presbyterian ecclesiology there is shared sovereignty.

Other ecclesiologist also has significant representational and federalist components, including the more anarchic congregational ecclesiology, and even in more hierarchical, Episcopal ecclesiology.

Some Christians argue that the earliest source of political federalism (or federalism in human institutions; in contrast to theological federalism) is the ecclesiastical federalism found in the Bible. They point to the structure of the early Christian Church as described in the New Testament.

This is particularly demonstrated in the Council of Jerusalem, described in Acts chapter 15, where the Apostles and Elders gathered together to govern the Church; the Apostles being representatives of the universal Church, and elders being of the local church. To this day, elements of federalism can be found in almost every Christian denomination, some more than others.

Division of Powers:
In a federation, the division of power between federal and regional governments is usually outlined in the constitution. It is in this way that the right to self-government of the component states is usually constitutionally entrenched. Component states often also possess their own constitutions which they may amend as they see fit, although in the event of conflict the federal constitution usually takes precedence.

In almost all federations the central government enjoys the powers of foreign policy and national defense. The constitutions of Germany and United States provide that all powers not specifically granted to the federal government are retained by the states.

The Constitution of some countries like Canada and India, on the other hand, state that powers not explicitly granted to the provincial governments are retained by the federal government. While the Australian Constitution allocates to the Federal government (the Commonwealth of Australia) the power to make laws about certain specified matters which were considered too difficult for the States to manage, so that the States retain all other areas of responsibility.

Where every component state of a federation possesses the same powers, we are said to find ‘symmetric federalism’. Asymmetric federalism exists where states are granted different powers, or some possess greater autonomy than others do. This is often done in recognition of the existence of a distinct culture in a particular region or regions.

It is common that during the historical evolution of a federation there is a gradual movement of power from the component states to the centre, as the federal government acquires additional powers, sometimes to deal with unforeseen circumstances. The acquisition of new powers by a federal government may occur through formal constitutional amendment or simply through a broadening of the interpretation of a government’s existing constitutional powers given by the courts.

Usually, a federation is formed at two levels: the central government and the regions (states, provinces, territories), but for Brazil constitution of 1988 had included the municipalities as autonomous political entities making the federation tripartite, encompassing the Union, the States, and the municipalities.

Each state is divided into municipalities (municípios) with their own legislative council (câmara de vereadores) and a mayor (prefeito), which is partly autonomous from both Federal and State Government. Each municipality has a “little constitution”, called “organic law” (lei orgânica). Indeed, this ‘’free municipality’’ is established by the federal government and cannot be revoked by the states’ constitutions.

Moreover, the federal constitution determines which powers and competencies belong exclusively to the municipalities and not to the constituent states. However, municipalities do not have an elected legislative assembly.

The Tenth Amendment to the United State Constitution reserves all powers that are not delegated to the Federal Government to the States and to the people.

Organs of Government:
The structures of most federal governments incorporate mechanisms to protect the rights of component states. One method, known as ‘intrastate federalism’, is to directly represent the governments of component states in federal political institutions. Where a federation has a bicameral legislature the upper house is often used to represent the component states while the Lower house represents the people of the nation as a whole. A federal upper house may be based on a special scheme of apportionment, as is the case in the Senates of the United States and Australia, where each state is represented by an equal number of senators irrespective of the size of its population.

Alternatively, or in addition to this practice, the members of an upper house may be indirectly elected by the government or legislature of the component states. The lower house of a federal legislature is usually directly elected, with apportionment in proportion to population, although states may sometimes still be guaranteed a certain minimum number of seats.

Federations often have special procedures for amendment of the federal constitution. As well as reflecting the federal structure of the state this may guarantee that the self-governing status of the component states cannot be abolished without their consent. An amendment to the constitution of the United States must be ratified by three-quarters of either the state legislatures, or of constitutional conventions specially elected in each of the states, before it can come into effect.

In referendums to amend the constitutions of Australia and Switzerland it is required that a proposal be endorsed not just by an overall majority of the electorate in the nation as a whole, but also by separate majorities in each of a majority of the states or cantons. In Australia, this latter requirement is known as a double majority.

Some federal constitutions also provide that certain constitutional amendments cannot occur without the unanimous consent of all states or of a particular state. The US constitution provides that no state may be deprived of equal representation in the senate without its consent. In Australia, if a proposed amendment will specifically impact one or more states, then it must be endorsed in the referendum held in each of those states. Any amendment to the Canadian constitution that would modify the role of the monarchy would require unanimous consent of the provinces.

The German Basic Law provides that no amendment is admissible at all that would abolish the federal system.

Having put forward all these different perspective of federalism in different nations, South Sudan had full right to formulate it own federal system suitable to it environment.
Federal system is kind of decentralization of government to give room to citizens in their geographical area rights to become self-reliance, self-governing, self-supportive and self- propagating to their own being.

Federalism will ensure development and progression in all sectors and will reduce political rivalry at national level and will minimize widespread corruption which is uncontrollable. Every corrupted elite within the state will not have chance to mount to national leadership because he or she will be disqualified by his own people. In other words, this will encourages any person who wishes to aspire for high position at national level to toil hard at state level to ensure his/her dreams.

Personally I cannot be fully certain that federalism can resembles God kingdom whereby justice, equality, freedom and love are it characters, because human beings is selfish by nature that may lead to dictatorship tendency and especially when the rules and regulations that govern the state are not being follow, closely monitor and evaluated.

You may argued that the South Sudan Government is decentralized government since its inception, you may be right to some extent but fallacious to great level because the central government control everything even at state level, how comes Governor of state is removed by the president of nation or how comes could the President maintained unwanted Governor in the state.

What is the work of parliamentarians in the state, how comes the governor of state could implement what is not constitution like appointment of Mayor, I think the legislative assembly seems to be toothless or ignorant about their responsibilities stipulated in constitution of state. The Mayor supposed to be elected by the people and not appointed by the Governor of the state. Those questions should be answered by people who fear federalism.

1 Comment

  1. Daniel Akau says:

    Dear Amum,
    Thanks for your article, especially when you bring Christian element in the Federalism as a system of governance to be encouraged in South Sudan. The problem we have as citizens of this country is that most of us even including our leaders in power are not Christian at all. Yes, many go to pray including some of our leaders but they do not really believe in God. If they were to believe in God, what is happening in our country today should have not happened. If our leaders really believed that God created all South Sudanese and other human beings and humanity in itself is sacred and must be revered, then the type of genocide that has taken place in our country by our brothers and sisters, some of whom are claiming to be good Chrisitans, would have not happened. I am even suggesting that our Bishops from Catholic and Protestant Churches in South Sudan should stop our leaders from coming to Church and talk nonsense while they themselves are tainted with blood of our brothers and sisters. I may sound here naive but the truth is that if we are truly confessing that we believe in God, then respect for human dignity and care for this dignity of human being must be put into practice. The presence anarchy and killings in our country are external signs of the rottenness of our hearts and unbelief in God. May God intervene in this country by bringing to the people the righteous and faithful leaders in South Sudan. Amen!

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