Kiir’s Move Overdue

"...Riek has a good chance of becoming President of the republic someday; and it is therefore his duty to see that his diehard supporters do not resort to violence as means to forcing him back to power."

 By Jacob J Akol*

 (Gurtong Trust, 24th, July 2013)-Last evening, 23rd July 2013, President Salva Kiir Mayardit announced the sacking of his Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny and the SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amoum. In addition, he suspended all the national ministers, including their deputies and handed over, temporarily, administration of the ministries to Undersecretaries and announced his intention to reduce the oversized ministries to a comfortable18.

The sacking of both Riek Machar and Pagan Amoum is no surprise at all, given that both men have publicly challenged their boss, while remaining in office, for both the position of chairman for the ruling party the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Presidency of the republic comes elections in 2015.

However, to make their position stronger with the public, both Riek and Amoum should have resigned their official positions in both the party and government in protest against Kiir’s “poor” leadership of the party and government, of which they have been and still remained a party, while criticizing publicly the sitting president. It would be impossible for any government or party to function with such imbedded opposition. Now that both men have been axed, they can propagate, hopefully freely, for both the leadership of the SPLM and presidency in the 2015 elections. Kiir will be well advised not to curtail their democratic rights unduly; this means reigning in his overzealous advisers and security agents.

Much is being made, by foreign media in particular, of the fact that Pagan Amoum is and have been the chief negotiator with the government of Sudan and that his removal will not help the struggling relationship between Khartoum and Juba; but the fact is that such negotiations have not been getting anywhere anyway due to Khartoum’s intransigence and unfailing tendency to frustrate and eventually dishonour agreements. Not the fault of Amoum, of course, but much of his time had been spent in these negotiations instead of building the party for which he was Secretary General; no wonder the party is falling apart.

Much is also being made of instability if Riek Machar is dismissed. Such fears were expressed of (Sir) Charles Njonjo on his hay days in Kenya but he eventually ended up in the docks. On the other hand former Vice President Mwai Kibaki practically retired from politics during much of President Moi’s leadership but rebounded back to the leadership of Kenya and served two full terms as president. Riek already has a history of violent rebellion behind him, following his defection from SPLM in 1992, into which he returned after many years of destruction. But since then he has gained respect from South Sudanese due to his hard work and commitment to a peaceful and brighter South Sudan. So Riek has a good chance of becoming President of the republic someday; and it is therefore his duty to see that his diehard supporters do not resort to violence as means to forcing him back to power. Violence can only lead our country down the drain and we must all do our best to see that it does not happen.

As for the suspension or “sacking” of all the national ministers and their deputies, this in itself is not a surprise either. Ministries in Juba have hardly been functioning since May 3rd, 2012 when President Kiir publicly appealed to 75 current and former ministers to return up to $4 billion (figure disputed) of public money they have allegedly stashed away in foreign banks and real property. Anyone not guilty of such a practice was nevertheless guilty by association; therefore all the ministers in that government remained tainted and nothing less than full surgery would remove the corruption cancer.

So, what is Kiir to do next? Well, to begin with, a much smaller cabinet is to be formed. That in itself will eliminate most of the current ministers. And it is not a matter similar to that of the striking Kenyan teachers who, when threatened with dismissal declared, “fire us then rehire us at greater cost”. Ministers come and go. While some outstanding ministers may be reappointed, the idea that one is being a minister for life is sadly misconceived. There are many younger technically qualified South Sudanese, some who have been dispatched to foreign embassies and others who have never been considered at all, who can be brought back home to fill in those ministerial posts.


*Jacob J. Akol is editor of Gurtong Trust Website and Gurtong Focus monthly magazine

Posted in: Opinions
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24/07/2013, 2:19 PM
 - Posted by Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba
It may be too early, at least for me, to comment on the situation. Everything President Salva regarding the dissolution of the government was in order. I agree unreservedly with Jacob that it was completely overdue. The dismissal of the Vice President is constitutionally provided for and in this situation Dr. Riek Machar should not have waited to be dismissed. Once he decided to openly challenged his boss, he should have given in his resignation at least as the Vice President. In respect of Pagan Amum, there should have been a recourse to the SPLM institutions more specifically the Political Bureau or the National Liberation Council.
What next? is a million dollar question. But already the pointer is already drawn: 18 ministries and I believe some of the functions of the amalgated ministries should be transferred to the state level. For instance General Education, Health, Agriculture, etc. could be transferred to the states while at the national level Councils or Commissions could be established to deal with issues of policy, curriculum, examination, quality control and things of that nature. The Higher education Act 2012 already provides for the National Council for Higher Education as a policy making body. In South Africa for instance the NCHE is independent and deals with the universities and institutions of higher education. This is what we were toying with in Khartoum when I was Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Indeed there never used to be a Ministry of Higher Education. There is little to be said now but just wishing the president and the people of South Sudan success in the coming period.

P.A Nyaba.
25/07/2013, 10:53 PM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
Great piece, Jacob! It's the sanest most sensible thing I've read in what seems to be insane times. Thank you.
Awak
26/07/2013, 1:31 PM
 - Posted by Ajak Bul
'No one is stronger than all of us' although I'm a big fan of Kiir, I cannot get over the fact that he can dismiss everyone whenever he feel like "he own south sudan". Although non of Kiir decisions was a surprise to south Sudanese, the move is still clear indication of Kiir being above the law. He should have started with Vice President then reshuffle the cabinet or otherwise call early election, but not sacked everyone.
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