opinionBy Ayuen Panchol
For democracy, the real democracy-d-e-m-o-c-r-a-c-y-not just the written, sung or spoken democracy that frequently flies out of our politicians' mouths, to be realized, enjoyed, seen, smelled, tasted, felt, drunk or even eaten by all the people of the Republic of South Sudan, including the mute, deaf, amputees, blind and the one-eyed, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement's top leaders must be incited against each other.
A seed of discord must be sown amongst them now and quickly. Confuse them; Make them poke out each other's eyes! Let a rain of political teargas canisters rain on their Headquarters at Juba's Thongpiny area. With watery and itchy eyes, let them grasp for fresh air. Like what little boys do in preparation for a fight, make them roll up their pants and sleeves to break each other's jaw politically.
In a plain language, our educated uncles and aunts describe Democracy as a regime where the rule is determined by the people. A democratic government is a government for the People by the People and of the people, meaning that the people run the government and the government is made to protect the people. Now be sincere to yourself and your country, does South Sudan fit in the above description? Is the government democratic?
On this planet earth, every child is born into some screwed up group and it is up to him or her to fight his or her way out of it or remain loyal, depending on the mindset and level of intellectuality, both natural and academic or even the borrowed brains, he or she attained during his or her transition from childhood to adulthood. With my father being a member of SPLM/A Battalion 105 aka Ashara-kamsa or Koriom, and my mother pregnant with me during the civil war in the late eighties, I was automatically born into the SPLM. That means I am an SPLM by birth. And since none of the opposition parties has what it takes to win my admiration, and as a good citizen, I have only two things to do and they are, one, to remain in the SPLM and two, to fight it from within. And here goes my bullet.
Let me begin with the word that I loathe the most - sycophancy, a word beautifully tattooed on many faces in the country. You need an extra eye to see the tattoo though. A sycophant is a servile self-seeker who attempts to win favor by flattering influential people. That's it. The ruling SPLM party is a sycophant-fortified city. Back in the day, in the bush, sycophancy was a necessity. It was an air, a ticket for survival. This was because the movement's leadership was debatably tyrannical, militaristic, and vampiric. It had no time to play with dissidents. It was zero-tolerant to criticism. Those who dared object to any decision made by the Late John Garang and seconded by his loyalists were frowned at and frog-marched to frog-ponds for punitive drowning. Some rot in dungeons. On the battle grounds, hardliners were 'shot in the back of their heads' after they compulsorily led their respective infantries to frontlines. You can put that together.
The SPLM members who are actually the liberators, the ruling elite or even the gods of life are suffering from two diseases, chronic ones: highly exaggerated sycophancy and empty loyalness. The two diseases are viral and hereditary and they are the root cause of the irresoluteness in the government, the very reason it is weak-kneed. Being loyal is not bad. But the saddest part of it is that SPLM loyalists got addicted to their role until they transformed into sycophants.
Inarguably, the country is in the pocket of a cultish group of the much-hyped influential figures, namely: Salva Kiir, Riek Machar, Wani Igga, Pagan Amum, Kuol Manyang, Rebecca Nyandeng, Hoth Mai, Gier Chuang plus some underpublicized souls, most of whom are wealthy businesspeople. They are all SPLM. What they agree on is final, regardless of its potential impact on the common man. What they do, or fail to do, unveils their real faces.
It indicates the exactitude of their unspoken intentions - to rid the country of the poor, which make up to 70 percent of the total population. That's why they hardly criticize each other publicly. They are all indebted to each other. Since I woke up from the teenage coma a couple of years ago, I have never heard or read any of them engaging each other in a decent disagreement over any national issue in the media.
The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan which was brought to existence by some of the clique's learned members prohibits them from dealing in any profit-making projects, a trashy provision they seemingly smilingly dust off their shoulders. It decrees that:
"The President, Vice President, Presidential Advisors, Ministers, and Deputy Ministers of the National Government, Governors, state Advisors, state Ministers, and other constitutional office holders shall, during their tenure of office, neither practice any private profession, transact commercial business, nor receive remuneration or accept employment of any kind from any source other than the National Government or a state government as the case may be."
Who amongst the senior civil servants is not running a commercial business, in or outside the country or both? The person who made that a law wasn't foolish. He knew what it is like to mix civil service with personal business programs. When you're a businessman, honesty flies out through the roof. You become vulnerable to cheating. Pillage becomes your hobby.
In February this year, a dubious written order exempting Vivacell, the largest mobile telephony company, from paying taxes for a period of about ten years got leaked:
"....the licensor hereby ensures to the licensee that the license is granted tax exemptions for a period of ten years at least, such tax exemption include custom duties, income taxes, sale taxes, etc. or any other taxes which may be imposed in the near future such as Value Added Taxes and the Licensor undertakes to indemnify the license in full in that respect. As such, the excise tax is not applicable on Vivacell."
Why would the government free such an income generating company from taxes? Who owns Vivacell anyway? Is he an ordinary businessman or a senior government official, a South Sudanese or a foreign national?
On Wednesday, the Finance minister, after being fried, roasted and tossed around by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee over misappropriated millions of dollars he disbursed to some company, rightfully snitched on His Excellency:
"Yes, the money was disbursed, no contract agreement, the disbursement was based on the strength of the letter of H.E the President,"
Very freaking unbelievable!! Did the President actually sign that paper himself or someone forged his signature? Or did someone lure the old man into such a self-degrading act?
In November 2008, a Lebanese paper carried a story about high-profiled SPLA generals on a visit to Beirut. The Generals, who are currently holding ministerial positions in the government, went to check out the progress of their 25 companies that they had created some years back. Beirut Business Weekly quoted a Lebanese official as saying:
"This significant visit will definitely help bring the two trading partners businessmen closer and also help strengthen the trading ties between Lebanese Businessmen and SPLA generals... Lebanese foreign trade with SPLA reached US 11.085 million in 2006 to 2007. There are 25 SPLA companies operating in Beirut and are registered with the Chamber."
Are those companies public or private? Ain't Lebanon the pit latrine where the SPLA soldiers' salaries were intentionally dumped into, forcing the freedom fighters to become herbivorous, mango and grass eaters?
If SPLM wasn't a group of freemasons, who among them would need a degree in rocket sciences in order to see the deliberate violations of the law by his or her colleagues? If the SPLM wasn't an acephalous organization of hardcore official criminals whose members find pleasure in crimes they do without fear of rebuke and severe punishment, who among them would hesitate to condemn the crimes committed by his colleagues; crimes that crippled and continue to cripple the young nation and its citizens?
Unless an internal democratic war erupts within my beloved party, the SPLM, never shall the country get democratic. I don't have an idea what would cause such a war but I am very hopeful that it will happen. If it does break out, each influential official with presidential aspirations will civilly walk away and form his or her own political party with a manifesto, aimed at attracting all South Sudanese, despite tribal marks, height, weight, belly-size and et cetera.