opinionBy Deng Bior Deng
There is a euphoria these days that the President of South Sudan is shaking up the SPLA by relieving many senior officers; there is also an anticipation that he may shake up his cabinet in what is expected to be a derive to form a smaller Government than what he now has.
Commentators are saying that this is a Centralization of power which they are jubilant about. Some commentators are jubilant that it may reduce corruption and boost economy; but one is skeptical about what may be in the President mind and I feel reserved to give an opinion. It is my reservation about this new Presidential initiative that I want to address here for public opinion sake.
Centralization and Decentralization is a Constitutional system of Government, and has nothing to do with executive decision making process in the Government whose authority is derived from the constitution- whatever this constitution is defined.
The constitution of South Sudan is already a centralized constitution where the President derives his powers to relieve ministers including elected Governors and/or appoint members of parliament and even dissolve an elected parliament. This is the contradiction in this constitution whose description does not even make sense of what constitutional centralism is presumed to be, hence qualifying it as a dictatorship or totalitarianism. The President is still to be blamed for using Constitutional Centralism out of its context where there is nothing as dismissing Constitutionally Elected Executives with exception of himself.
It is too little too late and even ridiculous that this centralization of executive or military command authority in the hand of the President will reduce corruption both in the executive and the Army; because, if the corruption that was already done is not legally addressed, there will be no justification to practice law against the new Executives or new military commanders should they also be corrupted. Anyway, let us hope that this new Presidential initiative will have the already delayed and denied justice in the law application implemented.
Will Centralization boost the economy by the President to unilaterally direct economic growth! I don't understand this economics where the President will out rule his cabinet to grow economy; can the President really work out of the vacuum of his Federal Ministers or his State Governments and boost economic growth? We need a federal constitution that will enhance power and wealth sharing between the states and the Federal Government. But this is not what we are even talking about here! We are actually talking about the President taking every administrative and executive powers of the whole national set up; I cannot imagine how this really works, save that the economists understand it better than me.
The SPLM-DC had all the time been urging the need for a lean Government; thanks to the President for heeding to our call at last. This initiative will of course require what it takes to implement it, including the amendment of the current constitution, shortening the term of the incumbent Government and form a care taker Government that will conduct elections for a new Government as early as possible. If the President makes such a decision and go for re-election, he may surely win this election; we in the SPLM-DC shall not regret as long as these elections shall be free and transparent. But if the intention of reducing the size of the Government and the Army is a political intrigue, then the purpose of a lean Government will only be a matter of running the show reminiscent of the 2010 All South Sudan Political Parties agreement which was eventually put to a dust bin; I have reservation, here is why:
FIRST- Most of the present Ministers are commissioned officers in the SPLA; if they are relieved of their jobs, they will still remain as retired Military Generals on reserve while receiving their salaries like their retired colleagues in the Army.
SECOND- This is a time when a country is on the verge of War, there is no retirement of experienced Army Generals but the already retired (reserves) are recalled to resume their duties instead.
THIRD- We need to be made sure that the retirement of these Generals shall be equated with the retirement of the Army divisions they were commanding so that we call it a reduction of the size of the Army.
FOURTH- Even the alleged corruption of the Generals was, if true, within their budget payroll and had not to be a reason for lack of development which was a result of the 4billion dollars in the pockets of the incumbents in the SPLM Government.
In conclusion, the president may be cooking an axe; but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride!