Roles of Traditional Authority Leaders In National Dialogue

"I tend to slightly differ with those who might assume that unity in diversity could start from the upper echelons of a society...I mean unity in diversity should logically start from minute entity to a larger commonality. Let us not just pretend to be a union without caring for and by each other."

 
To Achieve South Sudan National Dialogue Goals, Fostering and Nurturing a Culture of Dialogue for Peaceful Coexistence in South Sudan.
November 22, 2017
 
By Acuil Malith Banggol
 
I cherish the declared goals of the South Sudan National Dialogue as came and perceived and means to include the following:
1. To end all forms of conflict in South Sudan: restitution, mutual recognition, rule of law, sustainable retirement support and sustainable DDR and adherence to article 37 of SSTC 2011…
2.To redefine and re-establish stronger unity in diversity: mutuality, collaborative existence, shared values, routinized consultative forum for listening and harmonization….
3.To strengthen social contract between citizen and the nation state: rights and dues and inclusivity….
4.To address issue of unity in diversity: articles 33, 35, 36(4) and 166(6)(c) of SSTC 2011 and federation as mandated under ACRISS 2015 V article 1.1 on Supremacy of Peoples of South Sudan and 1.2 to articulate federation and affirmative action on gender and cultural inclusivity….
5.To agree on mechanism of allocating and sharing national resources: Enforcement of article 36(4), article 37,article 166, 167, 168 and 179 of SSTC 2011 and adopting iSDG model for South Sudan….
6.To settle historical and current disputes amongst the communities: Community-to-Community….
7.  To set stage for an integrated and inclusive national development strategy and economic recovery: adopt iSDG Model for South Sudan..
8.  To agree on steps and measure to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections and post transition in 2018: Build on ongoing Trio-Leadership, Rotational leadership within the three Greater Regions built around the ongoing apportioning of powers among nationalities and communities in federal states, Cultural Affirmative Action and Twin Federal Model, Routinized Consultative Forums that include COTAL, Gender and Culture Inclusivity Affirmative Action….
9.To agree on speedier and sustainable resettlement return of Internally displaced peoples and refugees from diaspora to their homelands in South Sudan: iSDG, DDR, Sustainable Cash Grants Relief, Recovery and Resettlement System, Microfinance and Students Support Grant….
10.To further national healing, social cohesion, mutuality, peaceful coexistence and reconciliation: Traditional Arbitration, Restitution and Compensation and forgiveness….
 
Introductory Remarks
It is increasingly indicative that the roles of Traditional Authority shall be central in most efforts geared towards South Sudanese nationhood building, unity in diversity and peaceful coexistence. In their well perceived programs the Swiss Government and the Rift Valley Institute (RVI) seem to be moving towards the right direction. The South Sudan Customary Authority Project phase 3 by the Rift Valley Institute (RVI) is starting with firm footing.
 
On November 21, RVI skilfully organized a consultative engagement between Traditional Authorities and youth from University of Juba. The core question asked was: What is the future of customary authority in South Sudan? To answer this question discussion was focused on four sub questions, which are (a) involvement of TALs in government and politics. (b) Roles of TALs in satisfactorily solving possible clans and cross-cultural conflicts. (c) Adaptability of customary authorities to the ever and fast changing contexts in South Sudan and globalization. (d) Roles of customary authorities in demilitarization and restorative justice for peaceful coexistence.
 
Thanks to RVI consideration to have involved me amongst few lucky researchers to facilitate. I learned a lot. Above all my views were almost confirmed that TALs roles should include playing inspirational roles to enable all sectors of the society including the elites and political community to be responsive to rising desire of South Sudanese nationhood of cultural inclusivity, fair constitutionality, just and good governance.
 
I have always assumed that TALs could play a leading role in efforts of economic prosperity for all and by all. Contrary to the widely expressed fears that TALs have loss their grip on their societies, the youth who attended the consultative meeting expressed their respect to TALs despite the manipulative roles being exerted upon them by politicians and armed groups.
 
In unquestionable tone and with unanimous voice, representatives of TALs vividly asked for an inclusive all South Sudan cultural forum. In that such a forum should not only complementary the on-going South Sudan National Dialogue but a routinized consultative forums that should allow them to collaboratively take their natural transformational, judiciary and economic prosperity roles. It was clear that, with correct designs modernization through TALs is likely to be enhanced by the evolving social media.
 
Why a Consultative Forum for All 72 Nationalities/Cultures
 Ajuong (2017) cautiously warned that: “…While tribalism cannot in itself form the basis of modern social organization, its reality and hold over African people cannot be denied. Acknowledging and providing this reality with a democratic form, however limited, that meets the demands of peace and collective prosperity in our times seems more sensible than denying its reality in the face of the numerous problems, from civil wars to [tribal] patronage today...”
 
As an effective mechanism and a relevant consultative forum, the proposed TALs Consultative Forum shall ensure attaining the objectives of National Dialogue especially the need for lifelong collective efforts to “… redefine and re-establish stronger unity in diversity: mutuality, collaborative existence, shared values, routinized consultative forum for listening and harmonization …”
 
Originally maintains the significance of consulting with all parties and communities, Francis (2017:16) prioritize wider and specific consultation. I may add my view and say that it could be too risky to ignore possible misconception; misinterpretation and prejudice by elites by solely rely on the reports by the grassroots consultation by team as planned, assumed to reflect the objective reality of views of the communities.
 
It is healthier to help TALs to have their forums to guarantee that communities have been effectively consulted and have direct statement by their TALs.
Explicitly Francis (2017:6) expects “… achieving the National Dialogue goals requires reinforcing and strengthening traditional authorities whose abilities to contribute to the maintenance of law and order and to security and stability of the country at the grassroots level has long been tested…). 
 
Apply and comply with strict principles of justice for all, identity and inclusivity:
(1) constituent representation in accordance with population size in respect to democratic rights and (2) cultural identity and inclusivity so that all tongues and voices are expressed and listened to within the values of mutuality and respect to all cultures and values.
 
To sustainably achieve these noble goals and hope to have operational inclusive, just and good governance through the now declared federation. Any successful system of federation should recognize the Traditional Communal Federal Systems (TCFS) that exist now in form of in rural homelands each considered here as a TCFS –wut in Dinka, Ringara in Azande, Jur in Bari, Cheng in Nuer, Kal in Chollo and Dhok Hot in Acholi just to mention but a few. Each TCFS is perceived within distinct cultural existence identified with a living language and social, political and economic pattern and vales.
 
In South Sudan each TCFS is administratively viewed and recognized as a distinct prototype noticeable in thousands of Bomas. In some communities it could engulf a county or more like among the Anyuak in Akobo and Boma States where it is popularly known as chiefdoms. In Chollo and Azande Nationalities many Bomas and counties are not recognized as a Federal State under Kingdom.
 
I tend to slightly differ with those who might assume that unity in diversity could start from the upper echelons of a society. I am convinced that self actualization and interdependency should be founded upon mutuality that hold every unit accountable and responsible to promote commonality starting from oneself, the family, relatives and beyond to community.
 
I mean unity in diversity should logically start from minute entity to a larger commonality. Let us not just pretend to be a union without caring for and by each other. All the minute units are expected to collectively and collaboratively engage in process of mutuality. Hence the logic should be that there must be no chance for egoistic selfishness.
 
I riterate that it could be utopian to think of collectiveness without caring for minute units of oneself committed for all. In that in an inclusive just and prosperous South Sudan it is necessary to guarantee an individual safety within a perception of attained safety when an entity could equally care for the totality and vice versa.
The National Dialogue Steering committee has excelled in the ratios envisioned allocation of delegates by constituency at Greater County Dialogue Forum (GCDF/grassroots level):
ü  Women                                                                                    25%
ü  Youth                                                                          25%
ü  Political Parties (MPs/Counsellor                                  12%
ü  Traditional Authority Leaders (COTAL)               05%
ü  Organized Forces                                                          05%
ü  Business Community                                                    05%
ü  Farmers and Pastoralists                                                           05%
ü  Teachers                                                                      05%
ü  Faith Based Organizations                                            05%
ü  Community Based Organizations                                  06%
ü  Persons with Special Needs                                           02%
 
While the above table is reflective of a commonality where Traditional Authority Leaders are allocate 5% there is a need to consider a Traditional Authority Leaders led process. This may incorporate youth, women and other sectors of our South Sudanese society.
 
However, to maximize the outcome and to consolidate on National Dialogue Goals with a desire to ensure implementation of these noble goals, there is need of only Traditional Authority Leaders consultative forum at national level and down during the implementation.
 
These views were strongly expressed in the recent one-day consultative forum that was organized by Rift Valley International in Juba on November 21, 2017. Detailed report is expected.  
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