Slowly and gradually the new economic and fiscal policies are taking shape with the main target of making use of the good rainy season, push for production and exports to help close the big gap between what the country produces and what it consumes. But whatever the government could achieve will be wasted if it did not close the loopholes in its spending especially in unproductive areas.
A lot could and should be done in various areas. And recent decision decreed last week provides a good example. It has been announced that Dr. Nafie Ali Nafie has been relieved from his position as Secretary General of the Council of African Political Parties (CAPP) and the position will go to the new National Congress Party (NCP) chief Dr. Faisal Hassan Ibrahim.
It seems CAPP was created initially to give more emphasis to the African dimension of the country especially under NCP, which is accused of promoting more Sudan’s Islamic and Arabic aspects of its identity. Moreover, CAPP proved to be a suitable vehicle to help fight the ICC indictment against President Omar Al-Bashir, besides providing a chance to absorb the political energies of Dr. Nafie, who used to be the party’s strong man.
Appointing Dr. Faisal Ibrahim as the new CAPP boss seems to set the motion for making the position as an exofficio for whoever takes the role of NCP boss.
If that is the case it needs to be reconsidered for two main reasons: on the procedural side, CAPP is an organization for 32 political parties in 24 African countries and it is up to these parties to decide who will be chosen as secretary general. Though Sudan is hosting the headquarters of CAPP and probably provides most, if not all its budget, it should not treat this regional body as one of NCP departments. It has been an established practice in many regional and international organizations to give those who run the show a room to choose even if in the end the host country gets its way and have its man appointed.
But more important is the original concept of CAPP that goes back to the old era of the one party system that has been dominating the African political scene for quite long time. Over the years and out of political evolution and development the monopoly of the one party is breaking up making openings to other political parties that have led to growing and expanding multi-party elections that have succeeded in some countries in removing one party from power and replace it with a competitor. Even in Sudan and following the National Dialogue that ended up with forming a national unity government that includes other parties. The message is that the political space is no longer monopolized by one party.
And that is where there is a need to start severing the link between the state and party’s political activities. In this respect it worth making use of at least one significant previous experience.
During the early days of the Ingaz regime, when pan-Islamism banner was hoisted high, the strong man then Hassan El-Turabi established the Popular Arab and Islamic Congress as a vehicle bringing together all those opposing the existing Arab and Islamic order. During its three meetings between 1991-1995, the government quickly discovered that council became too hot of a potato to handle politically. It simply disbanded it to stop more deterioration in its diplomatic relations. Making a similar move on cutting the waste in spending is of paramount importance given the deterorating economic situation.
Distancing the government from CAPP makes two important economic and political points. If the government is serious about its economic push, tightening its belt in cutting the waste and that such exercise should start with CAPP and should not stop there. A long tradition of spending public money on political activities needs to stop. More important, NCP is trying to convince other political parties and the world community that it is genuine in pushing for a multi-party political exercise and that the ballot box will be the only barometer to determine who rules the country. Severing state sponsorship of CAPP activities is a step in the right direction that needs to be taken quickly to send the much needed message of severing the link between the party and the state.
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