opinionBy Justin Ambago Ramba
What had started as an internal power wrangling within South Sudan's ruling SPLM party, finally took a turn for an all-out settlement of old political scores and grudges between the newly disenfranchised members and a handful who until yesterday were seen as invincible.
As for the vast majority of the people of South Sudan, life in their towns, villages, cattle and IDPs camps remains as bad as it has ever been. Talk to them about the much loved government expression of "austerity measures", and they will tell you that, since God created South Sudan, the common people have lived all their lives under 'austerity measures'. Oil or no Oil, it has always been like that. "Austerity Forever", while the chief in the black hat goes around purchasing a piece of land for US$600m!
The true perception of the concept of justice by the former freedom fighters has long been under question. Maybe only of late that it has come all-out for the first time to publically disgrace them.
Notwithstanding the fact that the average South Sudanese is since long disgruntled by the appalling conditions of justice and the widespread lawlessness in the country, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) might have opened a new chapter.
And one can say that in its latest show of bravado, while vetting the newly appointed cabinet ministers, the NLA brought back to the people a mini victory to celebrate.
The NLA knew well that despite the overwhelming call by the general populace for a slim cabinet this time around, the president chose his time, occasion, faces and persons to mark this popular demand.
With the exception of a couple of new faces, president Kiir not only recycled most of the old faces, but in a rare move even went one step further to join hands with both the diehard Islamists and a couple of others from the "All season proof" political club of opportunists. Marvelous, isn't? This is inclusiveness for you!
Who doesn't know that there are no officially registered political parties in this sovereign country? Yet no one is bothered when the ruling SPLM party, itself without a legal certificate to operate, finds no embarrassment in hosting a new government in the name of multi-party democracy.
If we cannot still register our political parties two years past our declaration of independence from Khartoum, then we are politically stuck in the Old Sudan.
As if we are being nostalgia for the second class citizenry that we have lived with for a century or so, that the so-called ruling party, and the supposedly RSS's national army are still officially known by their 'Old Sudan's' nomenclatures - SPLM and SPLA respectively. Could it be that the mindset of the leadership has gone unduly frozen in time and space?
Before we are all taken away by the new found courage of the NLA and it performance at the very rare grilling secessions on citizen Telar Ring Deng, let's not be fooled into believing that president Kiir had no ulterior motives when he chose this infamous person for the portfolio of Justice.
Put president Kiir's choice of Telar and their relationship in the near past, alongside with the way that the duo (president Kiir & aide Telar) rapped up the infamous US $600m dollars deal of supposedly purchasing a piece of land in Juba, South Sudan and not in New York, London, or Tokyo you can look years back and imagine how many times these duo have been in such dirty businesses together!
What is obviously now, is that Telar Ring Deng we all know is no longer Justice Telar Ring Deng. This is very important for the records, as we don't want any more surprises.
However the whole grilling process was more of a set stage show, than any. For while they were grilling him, only a few of the new ministers have actually suffered any tension of having to wait in a queue for an interview of a life time.
Seemingly acquainted with the rules of the game and already been briefed beforehand of its main objectives, all the others maintained their cool. They knew it was just one of those government boondoggles, blown out of proportions.
Again it wasn't a surprise that what had started as a benign vetting process went on to unearth old hidden bush crimes and blunders committed by both the potential cabinet aspirant and some ex-powerful rebel commanders. It even went all the way to include persons very high in the incumbent SPLM hierarchy.
These were things otherwise put to rest following the 2005 peace agreement, but no. This curse called Telar, the one-time "Bush Judge" in his confusion, unfortunately took a misguided and miscalculated turn when he opted for experiences and key skills from the bush days. Unfortunately it turned out that his drawers were full of skeletons, and then it all came crumbling on him. What a poor jungle Judge!
Telar's very controversial appointment indeed offered the top SPLM leadership not only the optimum opportunity, but also the most conducive environment. They went for it and finally asserted to the entire world that although president Kiir took the anticipatory strike on his political opponents earlier on, he too isn't invincible.
At this particular moment in time, one can only say that the once giant SPLM party has chosen one of its own, none other than Telar Ring Deng as a figure to fight over. They did, and did it in style, venting out all their disingenuousness.
Before wrapping up everything, I just want to remind my fellow readers that it was this same NLA that shamelessly adopted the much manipulated Transitional Constitution 2011 (TC2011) while it now turns around to challenge the president. It's my sincere hope that they are not underestimating the several arsenals this especially tailored constitution (TC2011) puts at the disposal of president Kiir.
For if those MPs who are now vocal about a new era of change, are to succeed in their newly raised slogan of: "South Sudan parliament shall never be the same again", as it came in the press release signed by one of their outspoken members, Hon. Joseph Ngere Paciko, they must move swiftly in the coming few days to amend the TC2011 to reduce the too many powers it gives to the president.
The NLA and its 257 or so MPs must understand that unless they intend to fight till the end, by thoroughly weeding the executive, a thing only possible through solidarity, they are likely to end up either frustrating the electorates once more, or the big man as they categorically inch upon what he until now sees his sacred domain.
If they don't want to find themselves where the SPLM party's suspended Secretary General Comrade Pagan Amum is now - not to talk of the deputy chairman Dr. Riek Machar who not too long, was president Kiir's VP, they must quickly come to the understanding that what the people they represent want is one thing and what the TC2011 dictates is another.
As rightly stated by Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, and I quote: "Nothing in our Constitution TC2011 stipulates that a Minister or his deputy should be literate. For the MPs the condition is to be able to read and write; that is all. So, in theory an illiterate person may be appointed a Minister or Deputy Minister without violating the Constitution".
This if anything, it leaves a big window for Telar to come back, albeit in another post and another form - maybe a new chief for the directionless anticorruption commission. How does this sound? It may also be time we are prepared for the biggest disappointment under President Salva Kiir's leadership, when his cronies - General Paul Malong Awan and Major General Matur Chut Dhuol make surprise leaps into national positions in Juba.
In fact as Kiir readjusts himself for more blunders, his anticipated move towards a totalitarian regime can only be realized when he surrounds himself in both the SPLM party, and the State House by pseudo - intellectuals and politicians whose only qualifications are their "Yes Beny" status. These are nothing but blind loyalties and allegiances sealed by common interest for personal glorifications.
At the other end, we would all of course want to believe that the NLA has finally awoken from its deep, SPLM administered, "corruption anesthesia" to start a new political dawn for RSS. In this case it must be ready to impeach the president over the several constitutional violations already committed. Following this move, it must also proceed to scrap the controversial TC2011 and replace it with a genuine supreme law that can guide the new country towards democracy, rule of law, and respect to human rights.
And before we leave the NLA to celebrate its TKO on Telar, it is worth pointing out that for blocking Telar, it only got a [D] grade, which it is celebrating now in style. However given the current appalling political situation the country, the NLA must do more if it is to regain all the lost love and trust from the grassroots.
In other words, if this parliament wants an [A*] grade, then it better proceeds to grill president Kiir over the non-procedural approval, and release of the US$600m. The president himself has admitted authorizing his infamous ex-aide to write a letter to that effect, and that's unconstitutional, to start with. If this happens, let's all lie assured that everybody will true love for South Sudan will join in to celebrate the birth of a new democratic era.
Thanks again to God that Telar hasn't gone to become the minister of Justice. And in the search for an alternative, we mustn't forget that beforehand, South Sudan has had many ministers of Justice with perfectly well authenticated academic credentials. Unfortunately all came and went without leaving behind a single sense of having once served justices to our ever suffering masses.
To sum it up all... ... ... ... ever since the bush days, and till now as we continue to fight for our daily breed, we have fought and continue to do so in the shadow of justice. We are yet to witness the real justice, which has no tribe, no race, no religion, and no gender.