By Elhag Paul
The vulnerable, new infant state of RSS is being exposed to the predatory Sudan by the negligent SPLM.
October 4, 2011 (SSNA) — Attaining statehood has never been easy. We had to pay dearly in the form of over half a century of war, loss of over 3 million lives, and lost years of social and economic development. In life, be it with human being, animals, or constructed entities, the instinct is always to preserve and protect the young. In human beings and animals this is manifested in the form of nurturing, provision of emotional and physical support wrapped up with fierce protection. With entities such as limited companies and states the trend is to avoid neglect, promote development by designing plans and programmes for development and defence.
In our case with RSS, none of the above is happening. Strangely RSS under SPLM leadership of Sergeant Salva Kiir Mayarditt has no clue of how to nurture our new born beautiful country. SPLM like an irresponsible, negligent drunken mother has abundant RSS to its fate exposing it to ruthless Khartoum in a number of ways:
First, SPLM has failed to ensure that the name of the infant is protected to avoid problems of identity. Given the fact that SPLM imposed the name of South Sudan on the new state without any formal consultation with its citizens, one would expect that it would also think seriously about its own name. The Name Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) was coined to address the Sudanese question in terms of the project of ‘New Sudan’. Now that this project is no more and a new reality has emerged, it is important that the SPLM accept this reality and make changes accordingly. Its name as it is now is irrelevant to the new state of South Sudan. There is no Sudan to liberate and hence the name has become redundant and meaningless. It has no bearing to South Sudan . The honourable thing that SPLM needs to do is to re-name itself to fit the South Sudan reality. It can not continue to bear a name with a sister organisation in the Sudan . This clearly will become a source of confusion which the Arabs soon or later will begin to exploit to launch an attack on us. South Sudan is an independent state and it has no interest to liberate the ‘Sudan’ as the name of the party suggests. Thus, there is need for a clean break between the Sudan and our infant state.
Allowing this situation to continue can only benefit the Arabs as they could claim that South Sudan is interfering in its internal affairs and it can easily use this obnoxious name (SPLM) and the history of the Sudan before the break up of the country on 09/07/2011 to justify its case. We must realise that the Sudan is deeply hurt by the secession of the South and would be ready to use any pretext to harm the infant state.
Secondly, the SPLM/A in the north uses the same name which makes sense for them in terms of the conflict between the Arabs and African tribes in that country. That is their problem and our new infant state should not be embroiled in unnecessary problems. Another serious issue is that of the flag of the new state. SPLM of its own accord donated this flag to the Republic of South Sudan. The controversy surrounding its design is a subject for another day. Under normal circumstances, the SPLM should desist from using this flag as a party flag as it has given it away. But what do we get? We find SPLM still using the flag as its official party flag conflating itself and the new state as one. In effect creating an amalgam, making it difficult to the masses to differentiate between the two. This unfortunate state of affairs is likely to confuse South Sudanese in that many might begin to think that being a South Sudanese is also being an SPLM. Similarly this same argument applies to SPLA. There is a strong case for the army of the Republic of South Sudan to cease using the name SPLA. It needs to be re-named as the army of South Sudan or any other suitable name reflecting its legitimate status as a defence force of an independent country. Our army can not continue to be confused with liberation forces in the Sudan which could create friction with the Sudan.
As if that is not enough, SPLM has allowed the use of the flag on the army uniforms. We find SPLA in both South Sudan and the Sudan using this flag on its uniform. In South Sudan it is OK as it is worn on legitimate army uniform of an independent country. In the Sudan it is not. SPLM/A North’s use of the flag of South Sudan on its uniform is illegal since it is a non state actor over there. Supposing that the Sudan government captures few SPLM/A north fighters in a battle field somewhere in the Sudan ; and then it goes to parade them in Khartoum to the international community with a claim that they captured invading troops from the Republic of South Sudan . What would Juba ’s answer be? How could it extricate itself from such evidence to the world? Can you see our folly and the confusion caused by SPLM’s indolent thinking? Can you see the vulnerable situation our infant state is being exposed to? Could one possibly say that our leaders in Juba are strategic and rational? What planet are these people living on? God save us!
I can understand SPLM’s feeling of commitment to the African people in the Sudan, but this requires careful thinking in the context of interest of Republic of South Sudan. This is serious politics of state management and state relationship governed by international laws.
Thirdly, on 10 th July 2011, only a day after the independence of the new country, Sergeant Salva Kiir Mayardit summoned all the South Sudan opposition parties to a meeting at his J1 palace in Juba. That meeting was supposed to start at 11.00 a.m. but it turned out to be a battle of wills between the president and his deputy. In addition, the South Sudanese parties found themselves mingling with the leaders of Sudan opposition parties: Dr Hassan Turabi, Mr Sadiq El Mahadi, Mr Nugud, Dr El Ajab, Mr Malik Agar, Dr Mansur Khalid, Mr Yasir Arman and so on. This took over 6 hours because the president was nowhere to be found and his deputy was running around like a headless chicken trying to locate him. From time to time he would come to the conference room and try to re-assure the audience that the president was on the way. This lengthy farce was such a shame. Nevertheless, the symbolism displayed in the president’s palace defied all logic. In absence of the president and his deputy, Mr Malik Agar assumed the chair and he comfortably sat on it with members of the Sudan parties occasionally coming over to consult with him. The images that Malik’s behaviour around the high chair transmitted was to say the least very disturbing in a sense that it was telling the world subliminally that Malik wealds power in Juba as well as Damazin. This again is another SPLM blurring of boundaries that puts our new country in peril. Eventually when the president came and apologised for his marshal lateness, the meeting proceeded to give the floor to all the leaders of the Sudan opposition parties. As usual, all of them without exception called for porous borders and this sadly was endorsed by our leadership. According to president Kiir, he has no problem with the nomadic tribes along the border of South Sudan and the Sudan moving freely across the border. It is clear from this that there will be no control and that they could do as they wish. We South Sudanese are aware that the state is not Sergeant Kiir’s property to freely decide on its fate without consultation with us the people. The South Sudanese parties were literally deliberately denied the floor, and the meeting was brought to an end. What was surprising was that a meeting of South Sudanese opposition parties was hijacked to appease the Sudan opposition parties at a heavy cost.
The outcome of the meeting itself was detrimental to the interest of the Republic of South Sudan. One of the characteristic of sovereignty is the control of borders. We, who have wondered around the world as refugees during our struggle experienced practically how the countries we settled in strictly control their borders to ring fence their sovereignty. How on earth could we allow our own border to be a ‘soft border’ in the language of the Arabs as accepted by Kiir? This is not surprising because Kiir views our borders in terms of cattle grazing rather than through the concept of territory in relation to sovereignty. It is worth noting that failure to control borders effectively diminish sovereignty and constitute a characteristic of a failed state. If what Kiir has done is not gross negligence, then I do not know what it is.
Further to this, there was a problem with the return journey of these Arab political parties to Khartoum. The lateness of the president caused them to miss their flight, as a result GOSS took the responsibility to accommodate them for more days and to charter a flight for them at the expense of South Sudanese tax payer. If you talk about abuse of resource and mismanagement in Juba, you got it.
Fourthly, the issue of governance in South Sudan. On 6 th May 2011, a conference in Oslo discussed a report about governance in our country and the outcome was not only alarming but very disturbing. GOSS’ representatives accredited to Oslo and London who attended this meeting tried to gloss over the pooh, but it did not work. The stench was all over. Basically, RSS was declared a failed state in the making.
One of the cardinal duties of a state is to provide security for its nationals. This is usually operationalised by protection of individuals through state instruments and organs. Since the coming of CPA into force in 2005, SPLM has failed to provide security to South Sudanese throughout the country. The rampant internecine fratricide in Lakes state, Warrap state, Unity state, Upper Nile state and Jonglei have gone without discernable efforts from GOSS to stamp it out to ensure citizens are well protected. Add to this, the ruthless cattle rustling and the senseless rebellion by the numerous self promoted, unqualified, warlords who believe that they have a God given right to rule because they know how to fire an AKM 47 rifle. Where GOSS tried to intervene, it was always too late and without any strategy. As a result, it ends up being part of the problem by engaging in human rights abuses. Bear in mind that human rights abuse is a trade mark of SPLM/A drummed into them in their training camps in Itang in Ethiopia and the like. The recent melancholic behaviour of SPLA in Mayom in Unity state speaks for itself. Therefore, SPLM as usual without any programme wallows around and jumps to blame everything except itself. SPLM which as expected has no programme for self sufficiency has now plunged our country into famine. The painful image emerging from Warrap and Shambe of people dying of hunger when billions of dollars are being mismanaged in their names is deplorable. One can only wonder how much difference these funds could have made in the lives of our people. Shamefully, this is happening in the back yard of the president’s home. With such things going on, what hope is there for South Sudan under the leadership of sergeant Kiir and SPLM?
In order for a country to run smoothly and fairly, it is imperative that a reasonable constitution is put in place. Unfortunately in our case we have a constitution that promotes Dinka hegemony. Even with the presence of this uncalled for constitution; there is no respect for law and order. Dinka kill citizens freely at will with impunity. In Juba today, people disappear daily and no questions are asked. What would we expect when the police themselves are Dinka serving narrow Dinka interest? Let us not forget that the killing of equatorians has been going on since 1983 with impunity. The murder of equatorian police officers in Western Equatoria; the murder of an equatorian doctor in Yei and many others have waned out from memory. Nothing was done about these heinous crimes. Simply put, the life of an equatoria has no value in RSS!
Equatorians who justly win cases in court find themselves pursued by the system like a rabbit being zoomed at by a hawk. The case of Josephine Lagu speaks for itself. Although she won the case twice at the court of appeal level which legally should have been the end of the story, the Dinka shamelessly twisted the law to convict her. The innocent lady has been victimised for trying to put up decent workable structures in the ministry of education to stop theft and wastage of resource, but what transpired clearly shows that SPLM members in GOSS did not want structures. We already know that since the inception of SPLM in 1983, there have never been any structures governing its operations. There is abundant evidence to this point in the minutes of Rumbek meeting of 29/11/2004. If what happened can happen to an Under Secretary of a ministry, what chance has the ordinary citizen got in this system? What country are we trying to build when the overwhelming number of influential positions are dominated by one ethnic group? Many of these people neither have the qualifications nor the experience to hold these influential offices. They are there simply because they are Dinka. Naom Chomsky, the American intellectual whose magnificent work on states behaviour made him an authority in the subject; argues that the absence of justice, fairness and accountability is a classic characteristic of a failed state. How can it (South Sudan) be saved, while sergeant Kiir who has no idea or skills in governance hides behind dishing out decrees like the bountiful lady dishing out sweets to children in a park.
Good governance requires that we have a good constitution. Good public service and development of good civil servants. The promotion of good humane and caring values. Zero tolerance to tribalism, creating disciplined and accountable security forces, proper accountability according to the law, which includes annual auditing of government business and a good functioning independent and impartial judiciary. It also requires respect for human rights, and care for the vulnerable, as well as an accountable government chosen by people through ballots and not by appointments of self made generals. Good governance also requires control of finance, but as long as the only criteria to be met is to come from the Dinka tribe, there is no chance for RSS to develop along these values, and our state will but surely degenerate into a total failed state.
Fifthly, the issue of the economy: the Dinka have occupied all the border towns in Equatoria simply because they want to loot any income that would be coming to RSS. They have appointed themselves to the strategic positions in these towns and now what they are doing is basically milking the system with impunity. As if this is not enough, they also terrorise the local population at will with the help of the police and SPLM/A. GOSS under SPLM guidance knowingly pays blind eye because Dinka are born to rule or should I say misrule. How can RSS function if it is being deprived of revenue through blatant roguery and thuggery? This is the tiny picture, when you turn to the ministries; just forget what is going on there to save yourself from developing a heart attack. The Atorbie’s, the Kiir’s, The Alor’s and what have you are living it large. Thanks to Dinka culture that taught them to appropriate and enjoy what is not theirs so long as they have the power. Again, Naom Chomsky would strongly argue that such a system is definitely destined to fail.
All this said, what is the solution then to save RSS during this puerperality? The ball now falls on the parliament in Juba. Although SPLM controls this organ, it is the responsibility of the honourable members of the house to assume their duty to protect the new country and holding the SPLM party to account. Here I volunteer some suggestions:
1) South Sudanese both in and out of the country should put enough pressure on their MPs and the government to address the negligence towards our new country and its citizen.
2) A crystal clear separation of SPLM as a party from the Republic of South Sudan as a state of the people of South Sudan. South Sudan is larger than any of us, whether it be individual, political party or a corporation. Our state needs a clear legal identity embedded in a democratic constitution to protect itself not only from other nations, but also from opportunistic and hostile individual citizens, political parties, commercial businesses and so on.
3) SPLM must desist from using the flag of South Sudan since it has donated it to the Republic of South Sudan.
4) SPLM to create for itself a new flag which must of necessity be different from the flag of South Sudan.
5) SPLM to advice and request its sister organisation in the Sudan, the SPLM-North to stop using the flag of South Sudan on the uniform of its revolutionary fighters
6) South Sudan is a state and must have an independent and professional armed forces to protect itself and the South Sudanese regardless of their race, tribe, religion, creed and sex. As South Sudan has opted to employ the members of SPLA in its entirety, the name SPLA is to be scrapped. Henceforth, the army of South Sudan needs a new name to portray its neutrality, professionalism and allegiance to the state of South Sudan. The name SPLA reduces the stature of the army of South Sudan to that of a military wing of a political party which is unacceptable.
7) SPLM to dismantle SPLA as its military wing. No political party should have an armed wing in an independent democratic state. Period.
8) South Sudan to create a department of border force to strictly enforce immigration and police our borders. We can not afford to have our sovereignty watered down by senseless policy like ‘Soft borders’ or ‘free movement of nomads across the borders’ proposed by president Kiir on 10/07/2011 at J1.
The Author lives in South Sudan; he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org