By Gai James Kai
September 5, 2014 (SSNA) -- The criminalization of politics by our lawmakers has reached menacing proportions. Both MPs at the National Legislative Assembly and those at State Assembly have a healthy number of members with serious criminal charges against them. Unfortunately, we have a constitutional court which has nothing, absolutely nothing to safeguard the interest of common man. Instead of finding fault with the judgments of the Supreme Court, Mps should come together and thank the jurists for trying to cleanse politics. Heavens are unlikely to fall if criminals are shown the door by the would-be lawmakers, and in their place, men of probity are selected. Anytime is the right time to do what is right!
When it comes to official bungalows our Mps, the country’s lawmakers, are merrily breaking the laws and making unauthorized constructions while the Constitutional Court is happy twiddling its fingers, waiting to take action only after the house are “vacated.”
At research application filled by Anti- corruption bureau with public works department revealed a list of at least 150 Members of Parliament – Mps, top political leaders and even official SPLM headquarters willfully disobeying the laws and creating unauthorized structures within the National Legislative Assembly, that will, in all likelihood, never see the official sledgehammer. Interestingly, some of the unlawful structures date back to 2011. These unauthorized constructions include temporary and permanent “official’s rooms, extra office spaces, toilets and portable cabins.
But not just top political leaders at National level, the list also details unauthorized construction in the state offices of SPLM party. Even the House Speaker’s residences in Juba and Bentiu are all part of this illustrious list. Recently, some Mps from South Sudan’s Lake state unlawfully engaged themselves in this “oldies’ act” and are all “guilty” of defying the law and creating unauthorized structures to accommodate their flunkies.
Not to be left behind are personalities from the ruling SPLM – Juba with party president, Salva Kiir’s legal advisor’s name figuring on the list and the speaker of National Legislative Assembly, Hon. Magok Rundial add to the pack. Beside these two top lawmakers who opted to be the most top lawbreakers, the disgraced Vice President, James Wani built rooms or modified his bungalows without the mandatory clearance from the city council (Juba). What a shame!
In response to a specific query on the action taken by the would-be lawmakers, the incompetent court of law seems to have developed cold feet. While Juba’s normal citizens routinely witness civic bodies swinging the sledgehammer on any encroachment or unauthorized construction, the law seems to bend conveniently when it comes to the law-makers. The court says that it will move into action only after the bungalows have been “vacated.”
With the National Legislative Assembly members and SPLM – Juba’s leaders unlikely to “vacate” the bungalows, it looks like the Mps will continue to be beyond its jurisdiction for years, if not decades.
South Sudanese Mps receives an indulgence. Everybody else, you are second-class citizens, unless you are part of NLA or part of Salva Kiir. Otherwise, you have to obey our laws like mere mortals and you must do what the Mps dictates. This mean that National Legislative Assembly has lost its moral authority to object to the other ways the Salva Kiir’s administration is ignoring or skirting our laws.
After all, the president can tell the lawmakers that now you are part of the gang. By asking for an exemption and getting it, you have been initiated. That is why street gangs have newbies pull the trigger on a drive-by shooting. Once an Mp broken the law in front of witness, he or she can’t squeal on the gang because now they are just as guilty.
Worse still, statistics show that an Mp with a criminal record is nearly twice more likely than one with a clean record to win a seat at the big table. These criminals are even sought out by the desperate SPLM party, for their nefarious attributes, given the fact that the alleged criminals have the sources and power to buy or intimidate voters – and rivals – as well as the fig leaf of responsibility associated with their name brand backers.
So peculiar that you become a member of your State Legislative Assembly or a member of Nation Legislative Assembly for five year, but your criminal cases go on for 20 years. Without question, their act ran afoul of the spirit of the justice system and parliamentary democracy. In a word, they behave like a petty criminal suspect who has no qualms of conscience.
Like every criminal suspect, the national assemblymen are entitled to the presumption of innocence before proven guilty; but they are too brazen-faced to realize that all they did to evade the dragnet has brought them shame only. They went all-out to take advantage of all the legal loopholes, not to mention their privilege of immunity from arrest while the National Assembly is in session. To the last minute, they refused to comply with summons to appear before the judge to come in for a review for the issuance of arrest warrants.
All the corruption cases show that the lawmakers have allegedly become the lobbyists of the vocational college, the interest group, or companies. If they are found guilty of the charges, they only prove that they are greedy politicians bent on making money by resorting to illegal means. Everyone can clearly distinguish being a lawmaker from being a lobbyist. Such a legislator may end up being a lawbreaker.
The conventional wisdom is that, South Sudan has good, even great laws, but that the problem is in the implementation, which is done either badly or not at all! The country so say the conditional and eternal optimists would otherwise be an earthly paradise via legislation. But anyone who has been following the decision of the Supreme Court should have a reason enough to question the validity of that claim. In its most recent rulings, the Court was practically warning the citizenry to scrutinize every major piece of legislation ground out by the Legislative Assembly`s lawmaking mill – they are likely to be Constitutionally flawed.
The bottom line is that, given both its record of crafting – and that word is used loosely – flawed laws whose key provisions the Supreme Court has been striking down with near-regularity, its interest in, among others, revising the Constitutional provisions of Transitional Constitution – 2011 on term limits so that these criminals (Mps at National Legislative Assembly) can keep their hands away from the public.
The Constitution is, quite simply, too important document to leave in the grubby hands of this country’s alleged “lawmakers,” who are actually among its first lawbreakers.