How Do South Sudanese people want to be governed? Lessons from Lived Experiences
Dr. Akim Ajieth Buny and Mr. Aleer Jacob Longar
The moment is propitious to take a hard look at how South Sudanese people want to be governed, a topic that has long been a matter of public and political debate in the country since 2005. Though a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-racial nation, South Sudan is governed by what on paper is decentralization though practically the system is centralized with political powers resting entirely at the national level more so with the president. This, for the most part, is centralization of political power at the national level where political elites use ethnicity as a political card for securing political power at all levels of government. Since becoming an autonomous region in 2005 and subsequently an independent state in 2011, the nation’s citizens have been yearning for a form of government that empowers the people to exercise political control, limits the power of the head of state, preventt dictatorship, corruption, and economic decline, provides for the separation of powers between governmental entities, and ensures the protection of natural rights and civil liberties. However, that political system has not yet been realized. This paper examines the current state of political system of governance in South Sudan through the lens of people’s lived, social, economic and political experiences and shares findings from conversations with key stakeholders from various sectors of society about their experiences and challenges in their work with the hope to enable citizens choose and decide what suited them in terms of the appropriate system of governance for South Sudan. It finds that the absence of good governance in South Sudan has been extremely damaging to the government’s corrective intervention role, particularly in the maintenance of peace and security, as well as promotion of economic growth and the creation of the wealth needed to confront poverty and improve human development. Overall, while some people at the grassroots were initially negative to departure from decentralization to federalism, most expressed support for an alternative form of governance in South Sudan, preferably a system that is politically and economically acceptable and technically and administratively viable.