It is not a new beginning for the country, it is a fresh dawn for the Parliament as it is revitalized to be called Reconstituted-Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA) whereby the young people of South Sudan have been given a chance by many political parties and parties to RARCISS Accord to participate in the decision-making processes of this brand-new country;
My fellow new members of the R-TNLA, to those who longed to come here and those who might have been thrust here against their will due to political positions distribution by their parties or borrowed and/or robbed slots from other parties and the old members who were in this August House since 2005, it is true we have found ourselves here to play a vital role in what seems to be an unending transitional process of our country from violent past to nonviolent and peaceful now and tomorrow, from corruption to honesty and transparent accountability, from impunity to rule of law and constitutionalism, from instability to future stability in all aspects as in political stability, economic stability and more.
Today I have a message for you, rather for us;
The message is as simple as follows;
• It is not a secret that the resource laden Executive with its most powerful long hand has for time so long failed to cooperate with their governance counterparts, i.e., the Parliament and the Judiciary but interfered in the businesses of both arms of government, this newly Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly is different, it is an independent sphere of government that needs cooperation rather than interference, intimidation and exploitation.
To avoid such interferences from the powerful Executive, the Reconstituted Parliament must stand its ground with its all members united as a block to exert their effort into protection of the citizens from the powerful Executive by creating new and strengthening the existing checks and balances that are required to curtail the excesses of the most powerful Executive in South Sudan, and perhaps in the region. The parliament must do this by accepting and strongly supporting constitutionalism and tightly embrace the rule of law against impunity.
• It is not a secret that the previous parliaments have summoned Executive Members whose dockets have failed to deliver services to the citizens of this country, for instance, the human rights abuses, the death of many local human rights activists and members of civil society in Juba since 2012 to date, the impending insecurity all over the country, the lack of basic services in the education sector, etc.
This R-TNLA shall be in the forefront to fight the human rights abusers, gender-based violence perpetrators, child abusers in cooperation with the Judiciary in regard to promotion of constitutionalism and rule of law against the impunity that was and is developing into a common norm in the previous parliaments due to their choice of silence over these abuses.
• It is not a secret that the former parliaments were operating under the influences of regionalism, sectarianism, fragmentism, tribalism, tyranny of majority, and worst of all, cartels under the compromises of the powerful security apparatuses.
It is not going to work out to the advantage of the people we represent in this house, you might say, “I was not elected.” Yes, it’s true, we were not elected but the caricature of an elected member should be portrayed in our actions, debates, points of public discourse and the presentation of public views and perspectives as we wait for an opportune time to be elected by our people. For my fellow youth appointed into this R-TNLA, this is an opportunity to show the difference. We must distinguish ourselves by forming a Youth Caucus within the August House.
• It is not a secret that the previous parliaments have passed budgets for national projects that they did not monitor and evaluate. The projects that are left behind by the ever-changing Executive had failed to complete due to the unseriousness of the previous parliaments that failed to be an institutional memory for the national government projects. The frequent reshuffles have negatively affected the successful projects implementation by the Executive that leave offices for their successors. For instance, the Juba Teaching Hospital Expansion and Modernization project has stopped because of the change of the Executive Member who was implementing it.
This RTNLA should be an impacting factor to be the institutional memory for the dynamic executive body.
• It is not a secret that Political Parties Caucuses have been replaced with Bahr el Ghazal Caucus, Equatoria Caucus, Upper Nile Caucus and more fragmenting caucuses, even the sitting places for parliamentary gossips and vibes while taking tea at the North West side of the parliament, outside the building is partitioned into regional and tribal zones, the Nuer zones have plastic chairs for Akobo, Pagak, Nasir, Bentiu etc. while the Dinka zones have plastic chairs for Mading Bor, Mading Aweil, Rumbek, Gogrial, Yirol, Tonj, etc. and the various tribes of Equatoria have to sit in numerous zones like Mundri, Yambio, Torit, Juba etc. The minority are swallowed by the majority tribes in this partitioning of the sitting zones. The one-party tyranny of majority has played more of a destructive role rather than constructive one.
This kind of political menace is not the parliament’s making, it is the emulation of the most powerful Executive weaknesses, the Executive used to influence the former parliaments so much so that when the Executive’s failures are brought to the public attention by the parliament, the Executive would fragment the parliament; the fragmented groups of the parliament are either bribed, intimidated, exploited and/or even sidelined in their own rights to question or even impeach a member of the Executive whose actions are detrimental to the people they serve. This type of powerful Executive deceitful self-defense from the people’s representatives is self-defeating as it leads to the abhorrence of the government by its citizens. To correct this, the parliament should remain a united formidable force that protects the interests of the citizens from the most powerful Executive excesses. I believe, that the multipartyism and pluralism ushered in by RARCISS will try to break this disparaging single party politics in our nation.
• It is not a secret that the powerful Executive has used the former parliaments as a rubber stamp to conceal theft of public resources and other forms of corruption and the parliament strongly and successfully aided this by choosing silence over revealing to the public how much resources availed to the public coffer by the oil production, oil sale and revenue collected from other taxes. This is a public secret that the previous parliaments connivance with the powerful Executive has created a lot of grey areas in the national projects for instance, the road to Bahr el Ghazal under the Shangdong Hi-Speed saga and many other financial scandals. The former parliaments played the role of an executive arm of government in an open secrecy to impoverish their own people by either intentional omission and commission of egregious financial sagas.
It is in my intuition that this R-TNLA will be a different one, a house brought together by many parties that have a common good of the people of the Republic in their hearts rather than the common good of the few individuals that call themselves leaders of the people that they don’t know, for, you cannot know someone that you do not serve and you cannot serve someone that you do not know.
• It is not a secret that this country is run by the International NGOs, UN Bodies, other International Agencies on behalf of the Government of the “Sovereign” Republic of South Sudan, for instance the provision of basic health services to the citizens; the WHO runs the health programmes, from experience, the previous Executive and parliaments have abdicated the sovereign power to provide pharmaceuticals to the country to Donors and International Aid. The government surrendered the sovereignty of the country to their developmental partners and starts complaining of the partners being listened to more by the citizens; the dog always respects the feeder, why not South Sudanese people to do the same to the UN Agencies and NGOs?
Our own institutions are well established but no funding from the resources of the country and if the meagre funds are there, the institutions are used as tools to loot the resources rather than delivering services to the people we represent in different spheres of government.
This R-TNLA should devise means to gradually give this bad routine of institutionalized corruption a break. The Humanitarian Agencies and the UN Agencies should be imbedded into the relevant government institutions rather than working as parallel institutions competing with the government they assume to partner with and build capacity. For this to happen, corruption must be curtailed.
The dependency syndrome that we carried over from the wars time where the humanitarian agencies through humane donors acting as the government should be gradually shed off by this parliament by cooperating with the Executive Arm of Government to provide these basic services provided by the UN and Humanitarian Bodies to our people to at least lift the diminishing dignity of our people who have suffered in a dignified manner for decades. I have faith that this parliament with cooperation with the other arms of government shall redirect the country to the right track to gain independence in both proclaiming the words of independence and physically dramatizing the deeds of an independent entity.
• It is not a secret that South Sudanese workers have been economically exploited in the private sector, the oil sector, the tourism and hospitality industry, the economic generating activities have been occupied by untaxed, corruptly permitted unskilled foreign and East African Community States’ citizens workforce. The loud silence of the previous parliaments was deafening as the country faces fledgling economic crisis since 2012 Austerity Measures that were unilaterally proclaimed by the powerful Executive without consultation with the Parliament.
This R-TNLA should redirect the South Sudanese workforce of young people to be productive by trying to promote taking up menial jobs by the South Sudanese, this could be successfully implemented with the cooperation with the Executive Branch to initiate laws of creating jobs for the young people graduating in the universities every year. There are neighbouring countries that are economically stable without natural resources because their governments direct their citizens towards hard work. It is a strong human resource that makes a strong nation, to paraphrase Dr. John Garang’s statement of fact.
• It is not a secret that the soul of patriotism stepped out of our national body: the “South Sudanese-ness Soul” has gone for a trip, the immoral corruptible body seeks more corruption against the values that hold us on virtuous morality cord, tribalism is the sword that cuts the strong cord of our unity into many pieces; it is not a secret that the powerful Executive has waged unnecessary wars without the former parliaments’ knowledge and nobody questions the powerful Executive for so doing. This is not a secret as well; we have sliced each other for the vultures’ feed.
This reconstituted parliament should be the turning point towards the path to political stability, thus economic stability would fall in line.
I strongly believe that it is from this August House that justice, accountability, transparency, forgiveness, reconciliation, peaceful coexistence by living side by side with each other, care for each other, and above all love for each other will begin and spread out from here to the people we assume to represent. It is this house that will return the soul of patriotism that stepped out of the body of the Republic of South Sudan.
With these few unveilings, I would like to once again congratulate all the members appointed into the R-TNLA by various parties to the agreement.
Hon. Bol Joseph Agau (NDM)