Opinion: Issues regarding Roger Yoron Modi's arguments on governance
This piece is meant to be published on all the websites familiar to the South Sudanese readers and others as well. But I am not too sure that it would be released on Sudan Tribune. The reason is that Sudan Tribune seems to be selective about the articles that I send to its website. Over the years, I discovered that there's some censorship over there. I admit, they did publish a small number of my articles leaving the rest unpublished for no apparent reasons. But despite that, those articles found the way to be posted on other websites. A friend of mine, who is an excellent writer told me that he had given up on Sudan Tribune quite a while ago as it appears a particular line of thinking is unwelcomed on its website.
Of the four articles that I sent in the past three weeks, only one was published. I did post the one which is part of this debate (Federalism is not the cause of war) to Sudan Tribune 3 times. Twice before and once after Roger Alfred Yoron Modi posted his 13-points article. Now, how could Sudan Tribune publish the rebuttal of a material that it refused to release? Of course, it's Sudan Tribune's prerogative to publish or not to do so whichever article that reaches its end. But for the sake of its readers to get the whole picture, they need to access my article. Roger Alfred Yoron Modi's piece is only one side of the story. The readers are the judges in this case, and they would draw their conclusions based on what they read. Sudan Tribune is only allowing them to read the views of one side.
Although my article was published on radiotamazuj.com and southsudannation.com, it was a response to what I read on this website. Our journalist publishes an article every week or every few days. I am starting to believe that had radiotamazuj.com andsouthsudannation.com not publish my article, the 13-points response wouldn't be there because no one would have known about the existence of such an article except myself and Sudan Tribune. Thus I deserve an explanation as to why it was not published.
With the above aside, I find Roger Alfred Yoron Modi's arguments quite weak and often contradictory to his earlier assertions. Matching up his 13 points would not be enough to cover all lame arguments in both of his articles. One could unintentionally end up writing a booklet.
Any reasonable person who has read my previous article would conclude that it contains nothing personal whatsoever. I have been reading and posting articles on and off on Sudan Tribune for some years now. I know the majority of the writers who frequent the site. Our journalist featured on Sudan Tribune only recently. I just knew him through his writings in the last few weeks. Thus, there could be nothing personal between him and me. It's outrageous to say that what I wrote was a malicious attempt to harm his reputation. I even questioned the wisdom of bringing up his matters into an article about collusion and harmful actions against South Sudan peace process. It looks like our journalist belongs to the type of people who turn any challenge to their assertions into a personal vendetta. But the reason is now much clearer following his last article. It's two-fold. Firstly - he wants to show to the readers that there's no love lost between him and on the one hand the government of South Sudan, and on the other, the individuals posing a threat to his life whoever they may be. Secondly - It would also mitigate the apologetic tone towards the regime in Juba which is quite unmistakable in his articles. Regarding his reputation, the person that is posing a threat to it is none other than himself.
Our journalist asserts that federalism requires time for discussing its pros and cons and which type is suitable for South Sudan. Also, he wants the South Sudanese to be enlightened before its implementation. What we got in South Sudan is what the regime calls as a decentralised system of governance, but in reality, it's an autocratic ethnocentric system of governance. Some would argue that calling what we got in Juba as a system of governance is a promotion for the regime which is underserved because there's nothing of that sort there. The two questions that the journalist would fail to answer are the following:
- Did the SPLM party conduct broad-based consultations with the political parties regarding the decentralised system that it had implemented?
- Furthermore, did it organise enlightenment campaigns to explain what the decentralised system of governance is all about?
If the answer to both questions is yes, then where is the evidence? But if the answer is no, then why should federalism not be implemented in the same manner? And why should we wait until those two steps are fulfilled while enduring a failed system of governance which has been proven beyond reasonable doubt?
And closer to home, our neighbouring Ethiopia is a federal government while Nigeria in West Africa has been under the federal rule for decades. Some supporters of the regime are saying that these countries are loaded with numerous problems indicating that federalism is not a good system of governance. It's laughable to come up with such an assertion with the full knowledge that those countries are not failed states like South Sudan. Ethiopia has got the fastest growing economy in Africa despite not possessing oil reserves like South Sudan. While federalism had been implemented in American over two centuries ago and in Brazil over one century ago, with America achieving the status of a well-established superpower, and Brazil on the road to emerge as one, Does our journalist have anything apart from absurdity to challenge the above points?!
The so-called Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) has been up and running since General Taban Deng Gai, the First Vice President (FVP) defected from the SPLM IO to the side of the government. Confusingly, we do have another TGoNU with 5 Vice Presidents in the making in Khartoum right now. Perhaps it's the first time in contemporary history that 5 Vice Presidents ever existed. Despite being in power for two years and through the expiry of ARCSS 3 days ago, nothing tangible was achieved in the way of producing the prescribed Constitutional Amendments according to ARCSS. Mediocrity is the only thing that materialised from the work of the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC). President Festus Mogae did admit the glaring facts a year or so ago. I quote the following from what Dr Riek Machar wrote to Mogae on 13/01/2017 - " As for now, we have come to conclude that the NCAC has reached a deadlock to produce a final draft of the new Transitional Constitution. It's time for JEMC to act."
Article 13.1 in chapter 1, Pre-Transitional period and NCAC reads "upon signing this agreement, the IGAD-led mediation in consultation with the parties and stakeholders shall initiate the formation of a representative National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) with the mandate to complete the task necessary to prepare for the transition period and form the TGoNU."
Article 13.2 elaborates further - "To draft a constitutional amendment bill within twenty-one (21) days upon signing this agreement. The bill shall incorporate this agreement into the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (TCRSS 2011). In the event of any contradictions, the provision of the agreement shall prevail."
The TCRSS 2011 does not recognise ARCSS because it was not in existence when the Constitution was written in 2011. Therefore, a new TCRSS 2018 needs to be put in place before the formation of the TGoNU. Roger Alfred Yoron Modi's contention that the constitutional amendments and implementation of federalism should be deferred until peace prevails in the country have no iota of reasoning in it. Does he want the new TGoNU to function without a Constitution while the parties are negotiating one?! Oh! Or he wants the opposition to go to Juba to work under the Current TCRSS 2011 (amended 2015) which the government intends to amend anyway to incorporate the 32 new States?!
The Constitutional and legal basis for the implementation of federalism in the transition is embedded in chapter 1, article 13.1 in the account mentioned above. What our journalist is trying hard to get through is a mixture of misinformation and misrepresentation. These are delaying tactics with the regime hoping to prevent the occurrence of the inevitable. They would not work.
Roger Alfred Yoron Modi wrote - "The opposition parties, including NAS, have frequently talked about the devolution of powers and resources to the States but failed short of enumerating the specific powers and an approximate amount of resources they want to be devolved to the States."
These are not honest arguments but are inserted into the debate as hurdles for buying time to craft ways of derailing the whole process. Federalism is not rocket sciences or an untested system of governance. It's the most prosperous on planet earth. Its modalities and the powers/resources to be devolved to the States are not secrets. The information is available in the public domain and accessible to everyone. It's incredible that our journalist should waste his time on such ridiculous arguments.
One aspect of devolution of powers which could have an immediate and significant impact on the lives of the ordinary people is putting the police service under the jurisdiction of States. The locals would carry the responsibility of policing their communities with re-enforcements from other communities if need be. It would certainly put an end to the phenomenon of the unknown gunmen.
He continued to write - "Practically, in addition to lack of democracy in the country, the major problem and source of under influence on the exercise of states powers has been Article 101 (r) of the transitional constitution as it empowers the President to remove a State Governor and/or dissolve a State Legislative Assembly in the event of a crisis in the state that threatens national security and territorial integrity."
Here our journalist has unknowingly contradicted himself. He acknowledges the lack of democracy in the country and the fact that the President wields the power of removing elected State Governors. Does he not see that he agrees with the oppositions on those two points? It makes his earlier assertion that the opposition did not enumerate the specific powers and the approximate amount of resources to be devolved meaningless.
Further, he writes - "In essence, the president gets blames for the underperformance of those appointed governors which he could have avoided if it were the people who elect their Governors and the right thing to do is to accept certain presidential powers reduced".
Whom does our journalist think bears the blame for the shortcomings of the appointed Governors? He has to know that the buck stops at the President's desk. On 23/05/2009 South Korean President, Roh Moo-Hyun committed suicide by jumping off a cliff taking full responsibility for the economic downturn in his country. Well, in South Sudan, despite the mayhem he brought upon his homeland, President Kiir asks what incentive would he get by relinquishing power?! It's up to the readers to see the stark contrast. But the whole thing is the apologetic theme towards the President and the regime in full display.
The following excerpt is worth noting as it shows how an erroneous understanding by an individual could be disseminated to a large number of people. Roger Alfred Yoron Modi wrote - " On this, the author suggests that an affirmative action making a substantial rise in the allocation of national revenue to the lower level of government (States) be provided for in the agreement since merely mentioning (devolution of more resources) as is in the current preamble of the Khartoum Governance agreement is not enough and is possible to manipulate."
Affirmative Action is defined as a policy in which an individual's colour, sex, religion or national origin are taken into account to increase opportunities provided to an underrepresented part of society. It does not apply to what the journalist is alluding to. It's known as Reservation in India, Positive Action in the UK, and Employment Equity in Canada and South Africa.
Another version of its definition is - The policy of promoting the education and employment of members of groups that are known to have previously suffered from discrimination. It has been rendered illegal in the UK as it does not treat races equally. Devolution of resources to the states cannot be done through Affirmative Action. Our journalist needs to do some research to grasp the real meaning of Affirmative Action.
He mentioned the National Salvation Front (NAS) 9 times and its leader, Lt. General Thomas Cirillo Swaka 9 times as well in his previous article. The South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) featured twice while the People's Democratic Movement (PDM) appeared once. The disproportionate number points to the fact that ulterior motives rather than honest journalism drive the author. He exhibited partiality no matter how hard he tries to deny. The following two excerpts are the giveaway of the real colours of our journalist:
1. "Some parties do not want federalism to be achieved through the provisions of the ARCSS as they see such a process shall give credit to Dr Machar who led the major opposition Movement that brought ARCSS in 2015 and President Kiir who also signed ARCSS with federalism included."
I would leave the above to the reader's judgement. No one would believe including his supporters that President Kiir could ever be a pro-federalism leader. As for Machar, his anti-federalism stance is well documented.
2. "It's clear that some politicians who have picked up a personal rivalry with Kiir and Machar have never been serious about the search for genuine peace in the country and they continue to influence others to reject any agreement that does not further their selfish interest in favour of war".
But who is responsible for starting the war in the first place? Roger Alfred Yoron Modi seems to suggest that the two are not responsible for the war. Is it not the same President Kiir who signed ARCSS with reservations and abrogated the agreement afterwards by initially creating the 28 new States which subsequently was increased to 32 States?! Did Ateny Wek Ateny, the Presidential Spokesman, not state that the former Chief of Staff of the SPLA, General Paul Malong was given 5 million US Dollars to kill Dr Riek Machar during the J1 shooting in July 2016 but failed to accomplish the job?! These are apparent distortions and outright misrepresentation of the facts.
Here is what Roger Alfred Yoron Modi said about himself - "But as a journalist, I am obliged to present facts to the public and the common man". People would find it very hard to believe what he said. His writings do not reflect what he claims and appear consistently critical of the opposition and apologetic towards the government. I did enumerate some brave and honest journalists in my unpublished article on Sudan Tribune. Those patriots paid the ultimate prices while performing their duties. They are the martyrs in the war started by President Kiir.
I don't know much about Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, but it's common knowledge that the regime has a lot of cash since it uses the oil revenues not for services delivery for the people or development of the country but for buying modern weaponry to execute the war and to garner support whether national or international. We have seen reports of millions of US Dollars flowing to a neighbouring country to help a favourite candidate or candidates in elections. Also, we read the joint letter of President Kiir and Dr Riek Machar that was published in the New York Times in 2016, where both stressed the need to drop accountability. It was reported that millions of US Dollars were paid to a private firm to lobby and promote the image of the government there.
On the national level, lots of cash have been used to bribe many individuals to support the government policies. We have heard of teams that have been dispatched abroad to collect information about dissidents or if possible make them disappear, and at the same time try to influence the diaspora through propaganda or the use of cash. People have now realised that the government has infiltrated the media and many pens have been bought or coerced. But these phenomena are not confined to South Sudan alone - they are the familiar companions of any struggle for freedom and justice.
Roger Alfred Yoron Modi needs to know that the truth cannot be argued away by distortion of the facts or be hidden forever. It conforms to the laws of nature. As matter can neither be destroyed nor created, so is the truth.
The author can be reached at email@example.com
The views expressed in ‘opinion’ articles published by Radio Tamazuj are solely those of the writer. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author, not Radio Tamazuj.