Instead, Kiir’s government even impoverished the people further. That is, as a result of poor leadership, tiny privileged groups were accorded the opportunity to loot the resources at the expense of many who remain poor as monopoly of power continues to be the core business of GOSS.
Are we expecting the same leadership style that Kiir portrayed to the people during his past tenure? Giving all the powerful ministries to his Bahr el Ghazal people and other commissions, corruption spree, unfair distribution of southern dividends, lack of development, lack of provision of services to the grassroots communities, the spiraling violence, and countless other things will continue to be on rise.
I have chosen to use the above quote from the former Kenyan president mzee Daniel Arab Moi to symbolize our president’s last five years in office since taking over after the untimely demise of the chairman Dr. John Garang de Mabior in a helicopter crash. Indeed poor leadership can lead to poor living standards of the governed, especially if there is insecurity which makes it harder for locals to go about their business and activities, especially agricultural. The last five years is a living testimony as many Southern Sudanese were subjected to abject poverty from Kiir’s bad leadership.
Of course, his beneficiaries do not want anybody to point out truths about Kiir; and would always want to cover up for him as they are ready to do anything and at any cost, to make sure that people don’t talk openly or at least hold him accountable for the bad governance, squandering of public kitty, and going contrary to the SPLM objectives. And when one talks of all this, they either accuse you of being bought by Arabs, SPLM-DC supporter and a tribalist. Yet if you see what they do they are the ones who qualify to be called tribalists as their actions can show.
The SPLM was promising people of South Sudan beside others: peace, security and prosperity and these were kind of messages used by any candidate contesting on SPLM ticket at all levels. However, it remains to be seen how a government who failed miserably to provide security and stability, and deliver social services to its people could dare talk about bringing peace, security and prosperity even after five years of bad rule. The real question is: are the SPLM leaders really trustable?
The SPLM bad leaders have failed to put things into perspective and more importantly, failed the test of good governance. The elections have come to pass and what remains now is putting words into practice. All the SPLM candidates who won the election (including those who won without figures) must be seen working very hard to fulfill the promises or pledges made during the campaign and to see to it that they put the people of South Sudan at the centre of their activities. Failure to put this into consideration, the new government will be deemed defective.
At this junction, it’s worth noting that people’s expectations are realistic. They are anchored on basic things such as clean water, road networks, schools, health care centers, creating conducive environment for agriculture and most importantly, providing security.
But the biggest problem is that our president is not a man of his words as what he says today is not what he says tomorrow. In other words, what he says is not what he does. He likes preaching water but drinking alcohol and that he is not bothered at all! Mr Salva Kiir needs to be serious this time round if he wants to be taken seriously by the people he is leading or ruling. I should say then he should be consistent in his words and the way he puts his messages across to the Southerners. Otherwise, he will not be trustworthy and a reliable person because he shall be categorized as a chameleon leader and his reputation shall get damaged beyond repair.
We still don’t know how his new government is going to be like. Will it be drawn or dominated by his people from Bahr el Ghazal as usual who are appointed based on non-merits without know-who? Or will it be an inclusive one with equal representation reflecting the diversity of South Sudan ethnic groups? If Mr Kiir decides to maintain the current status quo by retaining those kingdom ministries like the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development, Ministry of SPLA Affairs, Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning, and so forth, then this shall fail any call for fight against corruption. The disease (social evil) called corruption shall continue to incurable for another five years. Perhaps Mr Kiir is fighting this with different message because he himself has an upper hand in it.
What values should guide the distribution of national dividends? The answer was not there in the last five years. But I think now we ought to instill the values of honesty, accountability, fairness and transparency as opposed to the assumed heroism in stealing from the public kitty without feeling any guilt; corruption with impunity. The SPLM leaders at all levels need to work extra hard and to exert a lot of efforts to put words into actions in order to regain the trust they lost when they went astray. First and foremost, Mr Kiir should spearhead reconciliation and forgiveness between the people. We need to address our internal problems and find lasting solutions to these problems otherwise the road leading to 2011 where we are supposed to exercise our rights as Southerners in a plebiscite, shall not be smooth. I pen off herein and leave the rest for you to complete!
Deng Riak Khoryoam lives in South Sudan, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org