SPLM parties trade blames in post-budget politics
The national budget may have been passed smoothly last week Friday but its dramatic moments continue to elicit reactions, with SPLM-IG and its peace partner, SPLM-IO now trading blames over who holds the country’s interest at heart.
The aftermath of the ratification of the SSP2.1 trillion budget with the contested 400 per cent salary increment now threatens to inspire full-blown bare knuckle political showdown between the two leading parties as the country enters electioneering period.
It all began on Monday when the Government Spokesperson and Information, Communication, Technology, and Postal Services, Michael Makuei launched a scathing attack on the SPLM-IO lawmakers for walking out of Parliament during the sitting for debating the 2023-24 budget on Friday. Makuei termed SPLM-IO walk out a “propaganda” to create a narrative that the opposition outfit cares for the country more than their peace partners.
Makuei’s criticism, however, did not augur well with some SPLM-IO leaders, who accused him of missing the point and overlooking the separation of powers that define the government operations.
In a statement to The City Review, a Member of Parliament from Jur River, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Juma Deng, said the minister ought to consider that the two organs—executive and legislature— are operating differently with distinct functions “unless if the we are not following the right procedures”.
“When the executive organ had finalized with the budget, they forwarded it to the Legislature to have a final look and amendment on it because they are the people’s representatives,” he stated.
Makuei’ had asserted that the SPLM-IO members in the executive had shown no reservations over the budget at the Cabinet meeting, and therefore the lawmakers had hijacked the debate for a political stunt.
But according to Deng, the executive board may have agreed on the budget, but that does not mean that the Parliament has no authority to carry out their duties and obligations because the lawmaking arm is independent.
As a result, Deng accused Makuei of undermining the Parliament, which was established as a result of the Peace Agreement to end the country’s crisis.
“They should not be prevented from exercising their constitutional rights unless they intend to mislead the public,” he stated.
He defended the withdrawal of SPLM-IO members from Parliament, claiming that it was due to the rigidity of their counterparts from SPLM-IG, who had forcibly combined the roles of Executive and Legislature into a single entity, which undermined the roles of the Parliament.
“On the second session, all parties to the agreement agreed on a 600 per cent budget. Even the SPLM-IG changed its mind and forced its members in Parliament to vote only for the 400 per cent, which they shamelessly did,” he said.
He added, “Members of the SPLM-IO, on the other hand, marched out of the hall because we all knew that this budget would not assist our innocent citizens, civil servants, or military forces in going about their daily lives.”
On Tuesday, Makuei rebuked the SPLM-IO members of parliament for walking out saying the act was politically planned and not genuine for the people of South Sudan.
“The game being played and which led to the marching out of SPLM-IO is a clear game; they wanted to show the people that they are the only people who are caring for the citizens and all the rest do not mind about the people,” the minister said.
Contrary to what Mr Deng alleged, Makuei said that all parties, except the SPLM-IO, supported the 400 per cent salary increase in the short term and the 600 per cent increase in five months.
“The SSOA took and stand with the minister of finance; the OPP had stood with the ministry of finance [too]. The SPLM also stood with the ministry of finance; only the IO objected,” he expressed.