opinionBy John Bith Aliap
Adelaide South — Observatory Account of the SPLM Chapter's faulty election in Adelaide South Australia on the 27th January 2013: An Insider Version
"The social construction of nation comes from how people organize their thoughts, statements and actions to build their nation. Nation does not exist as a tangible object, rather it exists in our minds in ways that can inform our behavior, actions and statements", (Calhoun, 1997).
Opposite to the above quote seems to imply that if we don't change our thoughts, actions; tribally and individually-centered statements, the people of South Sudan won't be anywhere near the so-called nation building. Can we build a nation without accountability? The answer is definitely no becauseone of the key elements of building a nation, which also encompasses a good leadership, is that people concerned... [The citizens] should hold their leaders accountable for their work; and when I talk about holding people accountable in this respect, I mean this in the following ways: people should make sure that their leaders do the task they are responsible for, ensure that they hold them accountable for quality of their work and make them accountable for their behavior.
When it comes to persistent issue of SPLM Chapter in South Australia, the Chapter has in fact experienced a number of issues, especially in its organizational structure, lack of clarity and well developed philosophies, policies and programs. And yet, because of personality cult, tribal chauvinism and personal rule phenomenon introduced by Daniel Kou Ater, the former chairman of SPLM Chapter in South Australia, the SPLM Chapter has increasingly been marred by inter and intra party feuds mostly around issues of leadership, organizational structure and tribal interests.
However, as someone who lives in South Australia for many years, I'm entirely in a better position to providing you with an analytical and well grounded insight about how the SPLM chapter in South Australia has historically been managed, particularly during the rein of Daniel Kou Ater. I didn't want to waste my time writing this article, but the situation compels me to hold Daniel Kou Ater accountable for what he's done or to be precise, to make him face the wrath of accountability so that others, who might be yearning for leadership either now or in the future, are given an opportunity to learn. I don't have any personal problems with those whose names may appear in this article, but if there are any, they could be ideological, political or administrative in nature.
However, talks of Daniel Kou Ater have often been dominating most of social forums in South Australia, particularly in Adelaide. Why he serves as an interesting topic on many people's lips in Adelaide, especially starting from last week's SPLSM Chapter's election is nothing else, but this could easily be attributed to his poor leadership fashion and management. Just to go a little bit further, Daniel Kou Ater has indisputably made countless mistakes since elected couple of years ago as an SPLM chapter's chairperson, and it's worth to walk you through his long list of blunders.
The blunders of Daniel Kou Ater as the term clearly suggests could be seen in many domains. For example, in a highly publicized memorial service of Isaiah Abraham on the 19th of January 2013, organized by Bor community in South Australia, and largely attracted significant number of people in various Australian states and territories; the entrenched culture of tribalism and sectarian divide was highly exhibited at that time.
The demise of Isaiah Abraham as we originally know it has attracted a high level of criticisms locally, nationally and internationally. However, despite such condemnations from different domains, Daniel Kou Ater disagrees and suggests that the condemnations which come from non-Bor backgrounds are just pie in the sky; and it's worthy to put aside the newly founded nationalism, which involves being an SPLM leader. He surely discarded the post of SPLM leadership; and joined the podium of sectarianism and tribalism with those who weren't good in nothing else, apart from being good in unleashing tribally-based rhetoric against non-Bor...[specifically people who hail from Bar el Ghazal region] whom they squarely held responsible for Isaiah Abraham's tragic death.
This is entirely false. The following name and title of an article is a short-hand example that tells what's on the other side of the coin; and that Isaiah Abraham's death is a national tragedy and not a tribally-based issue as many people, for example Daniel Kou Ater and the rest would want it to be understood. John Bith Aliap, "Isaiah Abraham, You'll Hardly be Forgotten "published on December 7th 2012 at http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/editorials/isaiah-abraham-youll-hardly-be-forgotten. The author of the above mentioned article; and others who have whole heartedly denounced Isaiah Abraham's death come from diverse backgrounds, but felt concerned about Isaiah Abraham's tragedy because it's a national as well as an international issue which should not shamefully be located within the context of Borism.
It's also worthy to provide you with important tips about his recent frequently sustained visits to South Sudan, while concurrently holding chairmanship of the SPLM Chapter's office. However, although tourists and political leaders are distinctively diverse and serve differing roles, in terms of responsibilities and other commitments, Daniel Kou Ater, now the former SPLM Chapter's Chairperson in South Australia has constantly been traveling like a career tourist between South Sudan and Australia since he assumed the SPLM chapter's office in the last few years. As a result, many South Sudanese including; the author of this article, whom his party commands; where left in the darkness to fetch their own answers as to where the party chairman has gone.
But, don't worry about his long absence in the office, it's a gone case. Let me precisely narrate how he [Daniel Kou Ater] has been erratically misbehaving in the past months, despite being a chairman of the people's party in South Australia. Honestly, since he returned from South Sudan last year, Daniel Kou Ater has dramatically failed to organize an extraordinary meeting where he'd explain where he's been, but he rather joined archaic and local community-based anarchist groups, which hold talibanic ideologies and mind sets that do not show any signs of community or national progress. Surprisingly, the aims of these groups are very clear; to totally dismantle the current existing communities. I'll provide you with a detailed background of these groups in my next article. Don't stress yourself about them now.
Back to the game, Mr. Daniel Kou Ater seems to be socially a good person, but his contact with the above mentioned renegade groups or in other words, communities' black sheeps, had watered down his SPLM leadership to an extent where he considers himself as a Bor rather than a political figure who should serve all South Sudanese equally regardless of their backgrounds.
Don't get surprise yet my dear readers; let me take you to other side of the river! On the 20th of January 2013, he [Daniel Kou Ater] the Chairman of the SPLM Chapter in South Australia, sent out covert invitation letters to some state representatives, but some states notably Lakes state didn't qualify Mr. Daniel Kou Ater's perquisites or categories of invitation. The question that hangs on everybody's lips at the moment is; why would the SPLM Chairman invites some states and leaves out rest of states? I don't know if you hold a differing answer(s), but I think such action could deeply be traced to his long-held ethno-centrism and tribal bigotry that largely influenced his previous administration before he left; and it may continue to influence his future leadership if given any.
The death of Isaiah Abraham is a great loss to his family, but in Adelaide South Australia where tribalism is on the full gear, this death has currently become the punching bag of tribal bigotry. Most of these tribal bigots including; the former Chairman, Mr. Daniel Kou Ater used nonsensical and vituperative rhetoric, incessant demagoguery, tribal incitements and other cheap stratagems to blame Kiir's government for Isaiah Abraham's death. The Chairmanproudly beats his chest and shamelessly declared that he was only speaking within the context of Borism and not the Chairman of SPLM Chapter in South Australia.
The common question we can ask ourselves when we come across issues like this is that; what's the future of the Republic South Sudan if those who claim to be educated are still locked in the cage of tribalism? However, one couldn't miss to see how tribalism is eating up our national fabrics which are supposed to hold us together. I suggest that action is needed to avert tribalism in South Sudan, but the pattern of oversimplifying national issues like Isaiah Abraham's death to tribe is pervasive and long-standing.
Let me transport you back to our main issue of ill-fated election. However, those who managed to attend this nearly-hidden meeting held false impression in their minds that the meeting will highly be attended; and according to these people, it would be a good idea to grab a space before it's fully occupied, given South Sudanese' population in South Australia. This impression turned out to be something else. The hall in which the election was conducted in speaks volume. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics, [ABS], South Australia is one of the leading states in Australia that hosts 5000 South Sudanese. However, as clearly shown by this statistics, what factors can we than blame for such a poor attendant in this long-anticipated election? The answer to this question is very simple. Many communities were not informed, thus resulting to low turnouts.
Surprising, when I entered into the hall, I felt offended by the low level of attendant. The sitting arrangements had seemingly predicted the outcomes of the meeting. The hall was very quiet. Some people fixed their eyes on the wall and roof tops; while others folded their arms and crossed their legs. Although the number of participants was extremely poor, probably less than 30 people, these numbers were slightly boosted by onlookers and church goers as the election was done on Sunday in a church's hall, but surprisingly the church goers and onlookers were not eligible to take part in the election.
The door was quickly closed after we entered into the hall, a move which seemed to suggest that the election wasn't for everybody. In other words, it wasn't meant to be like "McDonald Restaurant" where everybody should come and go without being prevented. The election was only meant for few important and trusted individuals. Inside the election hall however, our peace and comfort was only disturbed by frequent door knocks seemingly mounted by late comers.
Mr. Chairman Daniel Kou might have seen the dreadful frustration in people's eyes in the hall. Hence, he quickly called upon a pastor, who seemed to have a clue of what was going to happen in the meeting. The pastor hurriedly provided us with spiritual services before the ill-fated election could proceed. He made it absolutely clear. "You're only given two hours to use this hall, anything more than that will not be accepted", the pastor narrated. The time constraint which the pastor repeated many times in his talk made everybody in the hall as if they're being attacked by a swarm of bees.
But the worst part of this election was yet to come; and don't give up yet about Mr. Chairman's blunders. Daniel Kou Ater made a gigantic mistake when he tasked Mr. Deng Lual, a prominent tribalist, envious and gossiper-known in most of South Sudanese communities in South Australia; and perhaps in other South Sudanese communities in inter-states to oversee the electoral processes. I stand tall to provide you with an in-depth analysis of this person if he wishes to proceed through this direction.
However, his main task was to oversee candidates' nomination process, but the man who delusionally presents himself like the former Nigerian president Olusengun Abasanjo, who's often seen in public spheres with his usual African dress trademark, didn't show any sense of ethics. However, before he could complete hearing the electoral process instructions from the outgoing Chairman, Daniel Kou Ater, he sooner rather later started intimidating and humiliating some representatives representing other states, through repugnant questions and anti-social behavior.
Given his limited educational background, he seemed to have no clue that ethics and ethical principles extend to all spheres of human activity in which the election he was tasked to oversee was not an exception. I'm urging the so-called Deng Lual that ethics serve to identify good not bad as he might have thought, desirable not undesirable or acceptable not unacceptable conduct and provide reasons, principles and guidelines on how people who are given public responsibility[like the responsibility you were accorded with to oversee the election] should handle the public affairs.
In terms of electoral modalities, it was decided that parliamentary system of government could be used - where Chairman of the SPLM Chapter could be elected by states and regional representative. However, there were only three contesting candidates. The candidates come from states and three regional representatives. In all thirteen representatives, four did not take part in the election, only five people voted for three candidates in which the first winner got only three votes, second winner with two votes and the last candidate with non. Is this anywhere near election? Of course not, it was a joke and not an election.
However, when the results were announced, this time by the cowboy-hated man who presents himself like president Salva Kiir, the elected chairman who has a little and if not non history of education hurriedly rushed next to the table where the outgoing Chairman, Mr. Daniel Kou Ater and his Secretary General David Jok where setting. The newly-elected Chairman, George Aguer [I'm unknowingly making him popular on the media] showed no sense of patience, when he grabbed the office's documents before the announcement of who actually won the election could even be completed. However, the accidental election of this defunct man, who's nothing less, but a learned swimmer in the world of politics has pushed the SPLM Chapter in South Australia into the grave-yard.
Thus, it's a duty of every South Sudanese residing in South Australia to mobilize themselves and take back their robbed party's leadership. However, even if Aguer sets up the SPLM Chapter's office as he foolishly thinks, without the final say of the marginalized states, notably Lakes State regarding the objection levied against his fake victory, his declared government shall still be considered illegitimate; and if such government attempts to lay it hands on states' affairs, these affairs could be considered illegitimate too. As we need it to be, a legitimate SPLM Chapter is supposed to be recognized by all South Sudanese states in South Australia, but a government that lacks legitimacy should not involves itself in running states' affairs because this shall be contradictory to democratic transformation principle enshrined in the SPLM constitution.
The question that begs answers here is how to bring the missing elements of legitimacy so that South Sudanese in South Australia can elect an SPLM chairperson who represents people with legitimate conviction and not a leader who pretends to represent people; while he only represents himself and the cronies. This fact victory has now been officially declared null; and all South Sudanese in South Australia, particularly in Adelaide should immediately start preparing themselves for a reasonable election.
The author is a South Sudanese citizen