Will the SPLM stay in power for the next decades?

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 mapuormalual@yahoo.com


  1. anok maketh says:

    Is SPLM likely to lose power soon? absolutely yes, unless they go back to their roots which many sacrified for, the question is how soon will it be? Well, the year 2012 was marked by allegations of imminent coup attempts against Kiir’s government, the accusation which had never been proven otherwise. However, the consequences apparently led to the recent sacking of almost 200 SPLA top officials, organised killing of Isaiah Abraham at the year’s end & Nuba student leader Mr. Kashumba on March 2nd. Many might say that SPLM AS A PARTY is not a problem but the driver of this huge ship, really, what did PARTY MEMBERS DO ABOUT IT?, that is what every citizen is waiting to hear as an outcome of this upcoming convention or else the whole country is going to fall apart if Kiir does not step down & let the fresh blood SPLM run in 2015 national election.

  2. Issac Deng says:

    Mapuor Malual Manguen,
    I appreciate your article and wholeheartedly agreed with your claim of the failed Kiir leadership being the main reason of power struggle within the SPLM party. Following the tragic death of Dr. John Garang the South Sudan has been dysfunctional. The SPLM under the Chairmanship of Kiir is becoming a party of do-nothing staffed by corrupt loyalists and comrades who have no interest of party or country. We can no longer afford to ignore the desperate political situation in the country and expect the same failed captain to safe South Sudan from the sinking ship. Else, we are part of the problem if we reelect Kiir in the next round of election.

    Leaders come and go and so do our president. By 2015, Kiir would have served 10 years, and to avoid joining world’s dictators list of shame, he should retire and preserve his legacy. He is a true hero who has done his part and we must thank him for doing his best during the 2005-2011 CPA transitional periods that led to the successful resounding 98.5% referendum results and eventually to the birth of a newest country in Africa.

    However, following post-independence era, we continue to witness greediness and mistreatment treatment of South Sudanese people by their own comrades in struggle, for example, harassment of local journalists, assassination of Isaiah Ding Abraham Chan Awuol and fear of unknown for those who speak their minds.

    On other hand, Kiir himself failed to define his own grand development agenda for the people and this new country. The only beneficiaries are the senior SPLM party members who are becoming increasingly corrupted and feeding their intestines big time first while forgetting about the poor south Sudanese people they lead during the revolution period. That is why I hate seeing some Dinka or Equatoria hating each other because we the majority poor people on both sides have nothing to do with corrupt senior SPLM officials who are looting our oil money.

    The SPLM leadership continued to encourage rampant corruption starting from the office of the president where the alleged $6 million dollars disappeared just two weeks ago to the skewed employment that discriminate against the qualified educated South Sudanese youth with no relatives in this government. In addition to that scary list is the lack of internal democracy within the SPLM party caused by the lack of transparency to hold corrupt senior members for wrong doing or incompetency.

    Finally, we all need to unite our people in the same way Dr. John Garang was able to bring Nuba people, marginalized people of Eastern Sudan and Southern Blue Nile to join our struggle cause and the same with Nelson Mandela and his loyal ANC followers who were able to bring the Whites and Black together to oppose oppression in any form and misrule in South Africa after the collapse of apartheid regime.

    • Tongun Loloyuong says:

      Isaac Deng, kindly this is a national forum where we openly discuss our grievances as South Sudanese in order to find ways to create a nation called South Sudan. This is not a platform to settle intratribal scores between Dinka Bahr Al-Ghazal and Dinka Bor. If that is the case, please take it to the bush.
      In your opinion what would Garang single-handedly have done? Was he some kind of a messiah that we did not know of? Please tell us. Otherwise, let’s not waste our time. The issue is much more complex than it appears. Do you know that with the powers bestowed on Salvatore Kiir Myardith per the RSS transitional constitution he’s the most powerful man on earth even more powerful than President Obama?
      Have you then ever considered asking yourself why is this Dinka man raised up in all the Dinka prestige of valor and courage, been in the bush since he was 17 years old and wields such an excessive power seemed powerless to rescue the Republic from going down the drain?
      The logical answer in my opinion is that the very people who gave him the excessive power are the same corrupt people who have sabotaged him.
      Salva’s hands are tight, and one day we will come to know the truth! And so if Salva must rule us again, first he must free himself from the bondage he finds himself in!

  3. kikisik says:

    Bro. Mapour Excellent piece!
    No more time, the game is over. If SPLM cannot reform in 8 years, do you think 2 years will be enough?

  4. anok maketh says:

    Kiir likes this current situation in the country because it distracts people’s attention to his failed leadership & therefore, makes it impossible to citizens to speak clearly for the betterment of the county. Kiir is the only one alive from the movement founders & South Sudanese respect him & wanted him to live longer as the symbol of our liberation struggle. However, Kiir doesn’t see it that way, talking like a child/irresponsibly which even fuels hatred among citizens.
    All these unconstitutional decrees, unilateral distribution of national resources, etc. this man seemed to be thinking that he’s the most lucky man in the world to remain alive & he now owns the country. Really? I think Salva has a lot of rethinking to do in order to save his legacy if there is any legacy left untarnished. seeking re-election is a really really bad idea for him.

    • Dear Anok Maketh:

      I don’t know if you are a female or male. As far as my knowledge goes, Anok is a name given to a female in the Muonyjang of Bhar El Ghazal but a male name in Dinka Bor and part of Dinka Agar. So who are you my dear? Anyhow, I profoundly appreciate your inputs in the argument about the leadership and political system in Our Country.
      Please know that President Kiir Mayardit is a very patient, quiet and soft-hearted man. I’m certain that he may not on his own will seek re-election in 2015, however he might be persuaded by his Cousins and loyalists to contest in the election and this will be unwise for him. Perhaps, his Cousins and loyalists may want him to retain the leadership so that they can continue to plunder and squander our national resources and wealth. Those thieves are not there for the interest and legacy of president Kiir nor the interest of the people of South Sudan. They are there to loot our national resources for their own interest and the interest of their own children. Therefore I agreed with you that President Kiir must go or be voted out with those thieves in 2015. Take care brother or sister.

  5. Anok Maketh says:

    Hi, Lukudu,
    I appreciate your acknowledement, Thanks God, we have alot of concerned citizens like yourself & others. No one hates Kiir as an individual, but the way he is running the country. There is an English says that say, “a man worth more to die for something rather than living for nothing.” this man clearly living for nothing & the worst thing he doesn’t know it, very delusional indeed.

  6. Ajiel pachala says:

    Yes, it is going to lose power or votes from all the youth are who jobless, children and women, orphans, disabled, because we lost hope on this party of nephotism, corruption and tribalism, cattle raiding.and foreigners taking our jobs and occupying our land through our big fishes in south sudan.
    Was that the reasons we fought the war? why did we fight the war? to let foreigners come and take our rights of citizenship? that is sad. intimidation of our own people by our leaders. God bless us and save your people from the hands of foreigners and investors.

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