By Elhag Paul
December 12, 2011 (SSNA) — The west routinely lectures African countries about good governance, democracy, transparency and accountability. Consistently in these lectures, the tone of superiority is thinly veiled revealing the sad history of interaction between Africans and European in the yester centuries. Unless Africans pull up their socks and do something about it by regaining their own humanity and therefore development, interference in African countries affairs by the west will not stop and the Africans oppressed (like ourselves) by their own countrymen will continue to call for assistance from the west. And, the west will continue to use the tools (such as the UN, ICC and human rights instruments) available to it to beat Africans as they wish.
Though unpalatable, intervention in certain circumstance is desirable and welcome. Most people in the developing countries affected by poor governance welcome intervention in any form and shape as demonstrated by the ongoing Arab spring. Others of-course detest intervention on grounds of respect for sovereignty. Who is to blame them given the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan? But we must not forget that intervention in Africa to a certain extent has paid of. Take the example of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Had the international community not intervened these countries might still be embroiled in chaos. Now they are on the path of democracy with good governance. The negative mixed feelings towards intervention has something to do with the violence entailed and the ulterior motives of those intervening. Thus intervention is most cases fail because the west which is the main world power and intervener does it in its own interest as in Libya. The interest of the local people comes second if at all.
Most interventions also take place at a late stage when regimes have become a threat to peaceful co-existence between nations and the well being of their own nationals. At such a stage, the only means available become force. But values behind the theory of intervention as coined by the Italian/French thinker Mario Betatti should not only become applicable when things have gotten worse. I think that the world should move away from this kind of intervention. The international community need to exercise benign intervention at the earliest opportunities when signs of poor governance emerge as in the case of my nascent country facing disaster under SPLM. South Sudan is a good candidate for benign intervention and I call for it to take place now in the form of forcing the current government to dissolve itself and hold a general election. Given the shambles in Juba I have no any other option but to be humble and reiterate my call for international intervention in South Sudan in the form of political pressure for democracy to be fully implemented.
It is unthinkable that a country born in 21st century which should automatically espouse modern values of democracy, freedom of press and the like is straight away being ruled by unelected autocrats with 20 century values. The damage they are inflicting on the country is gradually pushing it into a conflict and this must be halted before it is too late. I believe that the international community has an obligation to play a part in preventing the looming conflict waiting to happen.
Why is a conflict looming? President Kiir and SPLM in short have badly mismanaged the country since 2005 and the mismanagement is getting worse by the day because the government blatantly lies to its people about democracy; condones tribalism; promotes corruption; neglects its duty to protect the people; does not provide services to the people and oppresses the masses.
The nascent state of South Sudan just coming out of Arab colonialism went to the UN General Assembly on 23 rd September 2011 crowing loudly about its intention to sing and dance democracy. It wanted to be different. It was on a road to disarm the west by being the first in Africa to value the rights of its citizen voluntarily. From an outside view, South Sudan seemed like a promising 21 st century story. Now that there is a voluntary democrat on the block, that must be a progress and a welcome story. Well and good. The least we expect from the west and the whole international community is to hold president Kiir to account. It is important that the west proves to the continent of Africa that they are serious about their much sung song of democracy to Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Aferwerki of Eritrea and others supposed culprits in the continent.
On the case of South Sudan which volunteered on its own accord without pressure or duress, an example should be made of it to prove the credentials of the west and the international community. Otherwise, the charge of hypocrisy that we Africans always label on the west would gain much currency. Africans are tired of being told lies time and again. Africans will be vindicated to regard the slogans of democracy as a mirage in reality of their experience but also a stick that the west happily wields to beat African leaders they do not like for whatever reasons as those mentioned.
Although SPLM makes a deafening noise by shouting loud that it is a democratic organisation, in reality, truth and practice it is worse than the regimes of Zimbabwe and Eritrea. For these countries at least do try to provide services and security to their general citizens apart from their political opponents. In the case of SPLM and South Sudan, no services, no security, no nothing capped with vile repression of intellectuals and journalists. The history of SPLM is littered with egregious human rights abuses which if investigated would no doubt see its leaders indicted by the ICC in The Hague. Stung by veracious criticism of its utter failures in all areas of governance, it has resorted to violence.
Since September this year, the chief of internal security in the president’s office, the self made Major General Akol Koor Kuc has been busy arresting, detaining and torturing citizens in ghost houses outside the law at will. Mr Kuc is operating contrary to the constitution of the RSS and article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states, “No one shall be subject to torture or to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Mr Kuc should know that he is by now a criminal suspect according to RSS law and international law due to what he has done to Ngor Garang, Dengdit Ayok and Dr James Okuk. The head of judiciary in RSS should carry out an enquiry on the activities of Mr Kuc and his officers straightaway because the law has been broken. The head of the judiciary has no option on this as he has a duty to uphold the law. Failure from his side to investigate can only prove to the world the totalitarian nature of president Kiir’s regime.
Slowly but surely the developing repression is building up an environment of fear among the people. South Sudanese erroneously thought that such environment was something of the past belonging to the Sudan. Reality is now kicking in, president Kiir and the SPLM is not any different from President Bashir and the NCP in the Sudan. The former usurped power on 9 th July 2011 fraudulently and installed itself as the government of the day. While the latter, came to power by military coup overthrowing a legitimately elected government of the Sudan in 1989. The similarity of both presidents and parties speak for itself. Both are wolves in sheep skin preying on their own citizens. While president Bashir is agonising over his indictment by The Hague, president Kiir is still free continuing to abuse the human rights of South Sudanese.
This emerging repressive environment in South Sudan is not in line with democratic norm that president Kiir talked about in New York. It is self evident that an environment of fear is not conducive for promotion of civic life, investment and development. Such atmosphere encourages people to rebel or rightly rise up against government as shown by the examples of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
President Kiir’s government, dominated by Dinka has lost the art of even handedness and it is abusing state power to promote crude Dinka ambitions. ‘The Dinka are the SPLM/A and the SPLM/A are the Dinka’ The two are the two faces of the same coin. This is a declaration of a document produced by a cabal of Dinka strategist in Ark Hotel in Kampala Uganda in 2009. Their motto is that ‘He who wins can not be in the wrong’ Unpacking this motto, tells us that because the Dinka dominate the SPLM/A and they believe that SPLM/A has won, therefore all the abuses that this movement perpetuated for the last 28 years can not be wrong. In a sense this motto has blinded them to realities. It also throws light to why the SPLM/A does not entertain the idea of truth and reconciliation commission in spite of the fact that South Sudan remains a deeply injured country.
President Kiir since coming to power to his credit has been trying to promote peace and harmony among the people. This is right, highly welcome and commendable. South Sudan after all its horrific past badly needs peace. Its traumatised people needs peace to deal with all the negative things that they have experienced and which is still going on around in their vicinity. The latest in this process is the sermon the president gave in Yei on 27 th November 2011. Here, I think that the president is expecting too much for nothing. He asks the people of South Sudan to be tolerant of abuse and not to react in return for the interest of peace in the country. While the president is right in advocating for peaceful co-existence, he appears to neglect the most important component of this notion which is that whoever offends must face justice or apologise to his victim and ask for forgiveness. In the president’s sermons he rarely puts the culprit/offender in the picture. He concentrates and piles pressure on the victims to forgive and maintain peace. In my view this is irresponsible and smacks of hypocrisy. In matters of offence and crime, justice must be seen to be done. It is only when this is practically demonstrable that peace and harmony prevails in the society. However, when one group is allowed to trash the rights of all others without them being held to account, no amount of calls for peace may yield fruits. I am not against peace. I am for peace but not a phoney peace.
In this light, the president needs to be honest. He needs to tackle Dinka tribalism head on to realise the peace that he is preaching for. This must start with him and his deputy addressing the way they make appointments in government. Then he needs to deal with the issue of Dinka occupation of other people’s land. The violence deployed by the occupiers in the whole process of occupation is not acceptable. The numerous Dinka occupations in Equatoria and elsewhere under the guise of IDP without any action from president Kiir cannot be seen as a promotion of peaceful co-existence. For example the total occupation of Madi land with the indigenous people rendered helpless in their own ancestral land is one of the most contemptuous insults in South Sudan by the Dinka to the host community.
If we fought the Arabs (for 55 years) for trying to steal our land, what makes the Dinka think that the people of South Sudan will accept their mini offensive and imperialistic projects in different parts of the country? What difference is there between the Dinka and the Arabs? Given this, are the Dinka not the new Arabs in South Sudan? The thing that threatens to push the country into chaos and anarchy is this misguided Dinka project of expansion as outlined in their document prepared in Ark Hotel in Kampala/Uganda.
This is a very dangerous thing that the Dinka should be well advised to discard now and be content with their ancestral land. The time has come for the silent peaceful Dinka to speak out about this Machiavellian plot against their brothers and sisters from other parts of the country. Ms Ayeng Jacqueline Ajak of Australia has already started this and others need to follow suit so that the non Dinka South Sudanese can see that this is only a thinking of deranged individuals and not the Dinka people as a whole. Ayeng unequivocally stated that, ‘Using CPA as a weapon behind domination of other people over their land is a crime against humanity. As a woman, I see no reason why our people are immigrating over such long distance to cause unrest among the Madi over their land after the CPA. CPA hasn’t given the right to any body to migrate and look for a new place for settlement. I am a woman, but still I am appealing to all the intellectuals of south Sudan to come forward to discuss the new influx of our people in Madi.’ Ayeng then proceeds to say to her people (Dinka), ‘Here is my question: why are we integrating in Equatoria since we have land larger than Equatoria itself?’
Ayeng sounded her alarm in 2008 in an article titled, ‘Let’s try to reform our people: A Dinka woman’s point of view on Madi land issue’ published by South Sudan Nation on 17 th February of that year. S ince then to now neither the Dinka have stopped flocking to Madi land imposing themselves as the masters, nor has president Kiir done anything to stop this blatant aggression, nor the South Sudan parliament. This inaction shows that the document prepared by the Dinka cabal in Kampala is being fully implemented. Otherwise there is no reason why GoSS is silent. The situation now is getting worse because divide and rule intrigues have been introduced into the game pitying the Madi against the Acholi while the instigators are gleefully watching waiting to establish themselves as owners of the new conquered land.
Rather than lecturing the victims of Dinka violence about peace, president Kiir needs first to condemn Dinka behaviour; Dinka policies of expansionism; order Dinka out of the occupied villages/districts in Equatoria and elsewhere in the country. Then and only then, should the president begin to preach peace and harmony in South Sudan. Common sense tells us that one can not expect peace from others when they themselves are aggressing others. What has happened to the biblical maxim that, ‘Do unto others as you would be done by.’ Because of this vicious tribalism which threatens to push our country into conflict, it is prudent that the international community should demand for dissolution of the government and holding of the first ever general election for the people of South Sudan to choose who should lead and govern them so that they can be accountable to the people.
Corruption in South Sudan is official. The recent report of the Auditor General Mr Seven Wondu lays the facts bare. The corruption in South Sudan is on another level, unprecedented in the history of the African continent. Within one year only (2005 to 2006) over 1.5 billion dollars was blown off by president Kiir and the SPLM/A in what resembles a large pack of hyenas devouring a helpless kill of a foal. Officials openly squander state funds and properties with impunity. Although the president promised to act, it is clear now that nothing is going to change. Had the president been serious, the Auditor General’s report would have been his main ground to bring some of the SPLM/A big fish to the frying pan to account as an example. There is no will to deal with corruption because it is the SPLM and its leaders who are the beneficiaries. Mr Michael Makuei, one of the most senior law officers in the land and a staunch supporter of SPLM had this to say about corruption in the Rumbek meeting of 2004: ‘I am saying that the leadership is not committed to fighting corruption.’
This sickening level of corruption has damagingly divided the people and set the country in an angry mood. The rebels in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states are very clear that one of the reasons they have taken up arms is due to the mega corruption practised by SPLM. As this destructive, corrosive and unacceptable behaviour is being tolerated by the ruling party contrary to the law, it only increases anger and fuels rebellion. So, it is in the interest of the international community to help the people of South Sudan in setting up a competent administration of the people that will address the mismanagement of the country and its resource. Providing this help will ensure that the rebellions in South Sudan come to an end without destabilising the region.
There are many things that cause insecurity ranging from hunger to all sorts of crimes. In our country it is the SPLM as an undemocratic organisation that generates insecurity. Its cultures, values and treatment of the general public creates unhappiness and anger which will soon or later, like in the case of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya etc, be the very force that sets South Sudan alight. In April 2010, the SPLM antagonised a sizeable population of the country by rigging itself into power. Not concerned by this serious provocation of the public, they totally neglected these mini rebellions leaving citizens to suffer in those areas. President Kiir and SPLM have never bothered assuaging the pain of the public by providing the basic services. Recently, their corruption involving the grain saga has exposed the people of Warrap, Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states to famine. Tenth of thousands perished without the administration showing any concern for the lost lives. In the same states, internecine wars between the various tribes have been taking place, some over cattle rustling, others over score settling and so on. The worst part was when the government army tried to intervene they ended up committing atrocities as in Mayom.
Generally the security of towns in South Sudan is poor. Here let us take the example of Juba only. In a report by Julius N. Uma of Sudan Tribune on 30/11/2011 Mr Tongun Ladu Kwajok, the MP for Juba county was reported to have summoned 3 senior ministers to the parliament over insecurity. According to Tongun at least 6 persons a day are killed in the town. So in a year Juba town alone loses 2190 persons (365 days x 6 persons a day = 2190 persons). Mr Aleu Aleu, another MP believes that the figures of killings is actually much higher. This is a huge number of losses especially when the social costs are factored in. The worst thing is that this huge loss of human life is unaccounted for. It is believed that the insecurity in this crime infested town is fuelled by members of the organised forces who are not being paid their salaries. The inference from this allegation suggests it is the members of the organised forces who are responsible for the violence in Juba. It must be remembered that the culture of lawlessness and killings is an SPLM/A culture. Now it appears they have imported it into the towns from the bush. It is unbelievable that GoSS after 6 years has not established a system for efficient payment of its employees on time as per their contract. It is inexcusable that with all the oil money coming in GoSS is unable to pay its employees. President Kiir’s administration in the last 6 years has failed to put in place mechanisms to address this sector. The police are mostly illiterate people recruited freshly from villages of the rulers.
Their officers are self made and self promoted who have no clue about law and order. They are there because they come from the ruling tribe. This gross negligence underscores the fact that this unelected government is unfit to continue to govern. It has lost any shred of legitimacy accorded to it.
With regards to service, contrary to Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10th December 1948, president Kiir’s government has failed to provide the necessary basic services to the people of South Sudan. Had the aid agencies not been in the country it is questionable whether any sort of service would actual exist. This gross failure resulting from blatant negligence and corruption can not be allowed to continue without the people of South Sudan having their say. Therefore, the international community has a duty to intervene to protect the people of South Sudan by leaning on president Kiir to dissolve his government and call for a general election.
Noam Chomsky, the renowned American philosopher and linguist in his book titled, ‘Failed States’ published by Penguin in UK in 2007, identifies corruption, tribalism, insecurity, failure of government to provide service and rebellions as the characteristics of a failed state. As described above, South Sudan currently meets this criterion.
Since the Republic of South Sudan is currently under section 7 of the United Nations Security Council, it is only right that the international community should intervene now benignly to stop the spiralling rebellions and the worsening security situation resulting from misrule of SPLM in the country. The benefits of such benign intervention include:
1) Huge saving for the United Nations as the need for maintaining a sizeable peace keeping force in the country may be diminished.
2) Promotion of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law
3) Solving the problem of the growing rebellion in South Sudan and thus improving peace in the region
4) Addressing corruption through the will of the people
5) Elimination of poor governance
6) Improved image of the UN and the international community
7) Halting South Sudan from becoming a failed state
Obviously the benefit of forcing a legitimate change in South Sudan now outweighs the benefits of SPLM continuation in power until 2015. SPLM has no mandate to govern from the South Sudanese people. It fraudulently assumed power on 9 th July 2011. Allowing it to remain in power until 2015 as if it was democratically elected in the face of the massive corruption, tribalism, mismanagement and failure to provide service is but a recipe for anarchy and disaster in waiting. The international community must lean on President Kiir to dissolve his government to enable a government of national unity to be formed followed by a general election. This is probably the only viable and peaceful way forward for the situation in South Sudan. Otherwise, soon South Sudan will be certified a failed state with massive implication for the region.
The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan; he can be reached at [email protected]