The recent call for a national dialogue by the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, is a welcome initiative. While those of us who've been following the trend of political issues in South Sudan will remain skeptical until tangible results are seen, it's always a responsible thing to welcome any initiative that insinuates peace and nonviolent way of solving our problems.
Since the president has set up similar committees in the past, it would be a good idea for the president to make sure that this initiative is broad-based and well-tasked to its logical conclusion.
One of the problems with Kiir's ND, however, is the exclusion of the IO as IO forces are causing inconveniences and suffering to civilians in the Equatorias. Since South Sudan is still at war, the president would benefit from the inclusion of Riek Machar's faction and all the fighting forces in South Sudan. We tend to complain that westerners want a regime change but when local initiatives are started, they tend to be politicized and geared towards face-saving instead of being used to actually solve the problem.
Dr. Riek Machar is part of the problem in South Sudan so he should always be included in any process leading to peace and togetherness. Since Riek Machar has a sizeable number of supporters, their inclusion in the ND, though hard, should be tried for the sake of the country. No one has ever said that peace was easy!
Instead of using ND as a political tool meant to show the world that 'we are doing something' as Joseph Mum Machar recently did at the United Nations, it would be wise of the president to actually use this initiative to end the war hard as that might seem. It's not only the government supporters who are expected to 'dialogue.' It's those who find it hard to come together that should be brought together through this ND.
South Sudanese are not only suffering, they also are tired of war. Whether these civilians support IO or they support IG, they are suffering and tired of war. This is why it'd be ill-advised to use this ND as a smokescreen to tell the world 'we are doing something.'
Since every government initiative since 2005 has never been followed in the way it was intended, the leadership in Juba should understand why people would be skeptical about ND. Good things have always been uttered but no good deeds have ever followed from the utterance of such good deeds.
In his independence speech on July 9, 2011, the president had this to say:
"Let all the citizens of this new nation be equal before the law and have equal access to opportunities and equal responsibilities to serve the motherland. We are all South Sudanese. We may be Zande, Kakwa, Nuer, Toposa, Dinka, Lotuko, Anyuak, Bari and Shiluk, but remember you are South Sudanese first!"
The president and his cabinet didn't respect such good words as the country is more tribalized than ever before. It's therefore crucial for the leadership to make sure that this ND doesn't become another failure for the history books.
"Transparency and accountability is pivotal. Official corruption has been one of our major challenges during the interim period. In order to develop our country, and deliver on the important goals of our National Development Plan, it is critical that we fight corruption with dedication, rigour, and commitment," the president had said.
Unfortunately, corruption remained rampant; transparency became a taboo and the National Development Plan was just another useless book initiative on the shelf.
For the president to be taken seriously, he has to produce results. Good words don't equal goods until the latter is realized. It's time for the president to prevent this ND from becoming another one for the garbage can.