BY: Mapuor Malual Manguen, JUBA, RSS, APR/06/2013, SSN;
In modern Africa, revolutionary parties have managed to stay on to power for decades. This followed transition from colonial government to the self-rule governance of native Africa leaders who ascended to power through liberation or counter-liberation struggles. Tanzania’s Cham Cha Maphenduzzi (CCM), South Africa’s Africa National Congress (ANC), Uganda’s National Resistance Movement (NRM), and the Kenya Africa National Union (KANU) etc… are a few liberation parties that managed to cling on to power for decades as post-colonial or counter-liberation regimes.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which started its movement as revolutionary in 1980s, became a liberation and independence party for the Republic of South Sudan. Ever since 2011, it remains politically pervasive and as the ruling party in the nascent state.
However, can it cling to power for long as other liberation and revolutionary parties did in Africa? Apparently, the SPLM chances of slipping into the dustbin of political oblivion are quite high.
SPLM, unlike other revolutionary parties mentioned above, faces a serious ideological problem. As I mentioned in the introduction above, the party started with a revolutionary manifesto that was mainly to unseat the traditional oppressive government systems in Sudan, which marginalized the peripheries and changed power into the hands of Arab Islamists and political elite since independence in 1956.
SPLM wanted to change this trend by establishing democratic, free secular Sudanese society where people would be equal irrespective of religion, location, tribe and culture. But it failed to achieve this comprehensive vision.
Nevertheless, the SPLM achieved one of its main objectives, the self determination for the people of Southern Sudan that was realized on July 9, 2011. This resulted into the existence of SPLM in the two countries: SPLM-North in Sudan and SPLM of South Sudan.
Ever since then, it is not clear now which direction the SPLM ruling party in South Sudan is following. Moreover, there is no clear vision and manifesto in which SPLM should adhere to in its day-to-day activities as a ruling party.
The second challenge for SPLM is the infighting between its luminaries. There is a silent power struggle in the party pitting the chairperson and President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit with his deputies, vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny and the National Assembly Speaker, Mr. James Wani Igga; SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum Okiech and Madam Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, the widow of late hero and founder of SPLM.
This power struggle is not new in SPLM; it caused the breakaway and subsequent formation of SPLM-DC in 2009 by former Sudan Foreign Minister, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin.
Because of this infighting, the ordinary members of SPLM seem to give their loyalty not to the party but to their individual heavy weights in the top brass. With the party’s national convention slated for next May 2013, the SPLM faces a daunting task of addressing this power struggle through fair, healthy and democratic manner that the party claims to have subscribed to.
If otherwise, the party might yet again break up into more micro-parties.
Thirdly, the growing ethnic division in the country is another problem. Despite the fact that all communities and regions mirror themselves in the top brass of the party, some sections still see the SPLM as a Dinka dominated party.
In fact, there are some tribal affiliated parties in this country, which sugarcoated themselves with national agenda. When such parties mushroom in the country, they are likely to marshal a strong coalition that would wrest power from the SPLM. The case study of such politics is the Republic of Kenya where coalition of over twenty political parties unseated the independence party, KANU, which ruled the country with iron fist for about forty years.
The post independence woes facing the government are likely to affect the SPLM party too. Since it is the ruling party, people of South Sudan do point their finger on SPLM for failing to deliver on some of key governance issues.
The SPLM run-government has failed to rein in some of its corrupt officials serving in the government; there is a runaway tit for tat cattle rustlings going on between pastoralist communities in the country; and lack of infrastructure development in the war affected young nation. All this could be blame on SPLM and its led-government.
Generally, the upcoming elections in 2015 will be a referendum for the SPLM party.
However, the SPLM still holds considerable opportunity to rebrand its agenda that South Sudanese can easily embrace. The Achievements that this party has delivered to people of this country can never be underestimated either. Among them is the secession of South Sudan, the SPLM firm stand on the protection of South Sudan’s sovereignty which neighboring Sudan would always want to usurp power away in an arrogant manner and of course, the delivery of some basic services to citizens.
But, since it always a nature of human beings to ignore yesterday’s in favor of today’s, the SPLM should not sit back hoping that it enjoys the liberation legacy just like other African movements and that it would push its agenda easily anytime.
This would be political naivety if not the gravest mistake in the dot.com world we enjoy today.
The author is journalist based in Juba. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org