Igga warns against dangers of centralised power

Igga warns against dangers of centralised power
Dr James Wani Igga, Vice President for Economic Cluster (photo credit: Kitab Unango/The City Review)

The Vice President for Economic Cluster, Dr James Wani Igga, has warned against centralised power, saying it could prove to be very “dangerous”.

He said a decentralized system of governance can help in strengthening democracy both at the national and state levels, which works in favour of rural development.

He was speaking during the launch of the fifth governors’ forum in Juba on Monday.

The event is organised by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme.

Dr Igga emphasised the importance of having a collaborative system at the national, state and local levels, adding that decentralisation does not only deal with administrative values but also civic dimensions.

He claims that it broadens citizens’ opportunities to participate in public affairs and encourages them to make use of their liberties.

 “It is necessary to underline the fact that less centralised decisions would make national public institutions more effective and make local governments and civil societies more competent in managing their affairs,” Dr Igga said.

Dr Igga added that there have been limited resources generated by the states due to limited local taxing powers, weak institutions.

He said there is unsystematic decision-making stemming from a lack of capacity, mechanisms of accountability, and an inadequate mechanism of accountability between officers and elected representatives.

“It is important that once our state parliaments start operating, we have to give them back their powers as stipulated in the law,” he stressed.

The First Vice President, Dr Riek Machar, added that the functioning of the state assemblies is crucial in the implementation of the revitalised peace agreement at the local government level.

He said the devaluation of power depends on the incorporation of the peace agreement into the constitutions of the various states.

Dr Machar said the incorporation of the agreement into the state constitution was very necessary so that the governors could claim back their powers of appointing state officials from the president.

Call for change

Dr Machar urged the governors and the chief administrators to use the provisions of the revitalised peace agreement to harmonise their views while deliberating on the role of the states in implementing the peace agreement to forge ways for peace and development in South Sudan.

“The spectrum has changed from the previous governors’ forum and it would be challenging, the views might not be the same, but since you have a guiding document which is your framework during this transition and that is the agreement,” Dr Machar stressed.

“Our views should be harmonised so this is important to underline and I hope you will keep to that,” he added.

Dr Machar reiterated that the state assemblies are important in governance, saying it was not only the national transitional legislature that is most needed in the implementation of the peace agreement.

“I hope after this governors’ forum, the governors will go and inaugurate their state assemblies. They will help you and there are many functions they will do in making the peace agreement move forward smoothly, ” he emphasised.

“We want to transit from a centralised state to a decentralised state or federal state. However, for us to do this, we must incorporate the agreement into the transitional constitution,’’ he said.

Machar emphasised that in order for the governors to regain their powers, they needed copies of constitutional amendment acts 6 and 7, which, once completed, would give the states their powers.

“The reason why the president appoints up to the commissioners was that we did not have one complete task. [But] once these are completed, the president would have to give back that power to the states because we have another step to take to match from a decentralised system to federal system,” Dr Machar explained.

The Speaker of the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA), Jemma Nunu Kumba, said this year’s governors’ forum provides a unique opportunity for the governors to identify and highlight gaps that they find difficult as they embark in the absence of the state’s legislative assemblies.

“I believe that this is the way to highlight even further the importance of parliament in the states. This will also enhance cooperation and understanding between the executive and the legislature at state levels as we continue to implement the peace agreement,” Nunu said.

She urged the executive branches of government, both at the state and national levels, to work with the legislature to fulfil their oversight responsibilities.

“It is the prerogative of the national legislature or its competent sections to summon anyone in national, state and local level of government to appear before it to shed light on pertinent issues of concern, State parliament is similarly mandated to,” said Nunu.