Dialogue with South Sudanese (part 3)

By Wani Tombe Lako

June 4, 2013 (SSNA) — My dear sisters and brothers, citizens of South Sudan; my political opinions, regarding the perilous times that we lived in, as a precursor to the referendum; were also informed by my extensive readings of political literature produced by the managers of the liberation movement and army (SPLM/A), of 1983-2005. Writings of SPLM/A leaders and fighters like the late Dr Garang; and the living Professor Dr Nyaba, represent words from the horses’ mouths as they were. On the other hand, many works, including that by Daly, M.W., and Sikainga, A.A., (eds.)(1993), Civil War in the Sudan;(PP142-154); say a lot about the viability of South Sudan as an independent sovereign nation.

The narratives of Professor Dr Nyaba, P.A., (1997), The Politics of Liberation in South Sudan, An Insider’s Story: (PP162-184); can send a chilling feeling through the intellectual mind of any honest South Sudanese, who wish well for his peoples. Reading the whole of this book, which is based on factual events, made me to feel that; a process of converting the whole South Sudan into a dangerous human spider web, with the leadership of the SPLM/A as the spider, trapping and eating any unwanted human prey was in the making.

Worse of all, my dear sisters and brothers, I have read and owned the book; Emma’s War; which is another primary documentation of factual events depicting the conducts and omissions of many of our purported leaders, and how they value human lives. Now then, having read all this literature, on the purported leaders of South Sudan, dead and alive, written in a language which I do understand rather well; how am I supposed to react, to the various claims, by these so-called leaders, to leading us in an independent South Sudan? 

Not only that; but, having reread, the famous Rumbek Minutes; to the point of almost committing them to memory; convinced me that, we as peoples of South Sudan, were heading towards our darkest political and territorial tunnels, which have never been seen before. I just want to tell you, my dear sisters and brothers that, my political opinions are not based on some fanatical political ideologies, reminiscence of students’ politics. No, my political opinions are based on factual political dataset, about my own peoples, my own purported leaders, and our own comprehensive sociological and anthropological paradigms in South Sudan, which are supposed to constitute the checks-and-balances to the governance of South Sudan.

I must draw your attention to the fact that, I am discussing with you, political events related to our political metamorphoses, as from, November, 2004; to December, 2011.  This was the period in which, I effectively wrote, and talked intensively on the politics of liberation and State formation, and the future of South Sudanese.

During this period, it was obvious to any discerning political and military observer of the SPLM/A internal politics that; the SPLM/A was tearing itself apart, and holding South Sudanese peoples hostages, to some vacuous and rhetorical claims of establishment of a new Sudan, within the framework of self-determination for South Sudan. This was the time when tragedy struck the peoples of South Sudan, through the untimely death of the late Dr Garang. This to me, was the political straw, that broke the camel’s  back, in terms of efficient, effective, and agile political rudder, for the tormented political ship; the SPLM/A.

I was asking myself; how could the SPLM/A, sacrifice millions of South Sudanese women and men, for a united new Sudan, according to the writings of the late Dr Garang; and at the same time, the SPLM/A signed the CPA, in which, the peoples of South Sudan are allowed to exercise the right of self-determination, including external self-determination; that is, the establishment of their own sovereign State? At this juncture, Dr Nyaba’s book kept bothering me a lot.

For example, the fact that, the hitherto unitary State of Sudan, and its agents, treated South Sudanese as a block, because of religious and cultural reasons, does not automatically result in South Sudan being categorised as being populated by a homogenous human population, sharing the same fundamental traits qualifying a people or peoples for the purposes of the right of external self-determination. The book by Dr Nyaba, and the book; Emma’s War kept defeating the definition of South Sudanese as peoples; for seamless and beneficial enjoyment, of true meaning of self-determination. What else could be done? I kept asking myself during all those years of debate.

I knew that, we were living through precarious political, social and security times, and we were also consciously and unconsciously, building political sofa chairs, complete with political time bombs, strapped onto them. Therefore, based on my critical analyses of our short modern political history from 1972 onwards, it became dangerously obvious to me that, it was extremely futile to pretend that, all was politically and security wise, fine in South Sudan.

It was for example obvious to me that, the missing link was not the right of external self-determination. This was not because I hate the peoples of South Sudan, rather, it was because, I love the peoples of South Sudan. My readings of the political literature by us; indicated to me that, the peoples of South Sudan, were, and are, not at all, at ease, with themselves, as peoples. Therefore, objective analyses, through the lenses and parameters of self-determination, as external self-determination, produced indicators that, South Sudan was inherently, and extremely dysfunctional. This was my honest political analyses of all variables during 2004-2011.

I was genuinely very much disturbed, but, all other political actors were over the moon with the theoretical concept of self-determination as external self-determination. I argued with those who could afford to listen to me that, there ought to be a sincere debate, among us South Sudanese, regarding the best system of governing South Sudan. I sincerely argued by then that, given the empirical human and other dataset on hand, there was no fundamental political difference, as to whether, South Sudan were to remain  within a united Sudan, or to separate and exist as a sovereign entity.

I argued that, South Sudan, was and is still, populated by peoples who are not culturally, religiously, socially, tribally, ethnically, politically, economically, financially, and humanely united. For example, now, in South Sudan, there are linguistic and tribal armed militias groups, formed with the sole purposes of killing fellow South Sudanese, for political, cultural, economic, financial, ethnic, and tribal reasons. I argued that, we could not pretend to the international community that, South Sudan is homogenous, we run the certain and obvious risk of denying many human persons their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

I argued that, there are peoples in South Sudan, whose culture and ways of life do not feature prominently in political and cultural scene, and they are bound to suffer. For example, Nyaba (1997) has already alleged that, the main languages in the hitherto united Sudan are Arabic in the North Sudan, and Dinka in the South Sudan, although he qualified this outrageous assumption in terms of South Sudan; by referring to the inconsistency of the dataset, that, he intentionally and inadvertently used.

Therefore, this attitude was ubiquitously reflected in the political and military demeanours of the SPLM/A, towards other minor tribes in South Sudan. This my dear citizens of South Sudan, were the facts with which, I was dealing with while debating and writing on the best methodology of ruling the South Sudan for the best interests of all minor and major tribes and ethnic groups respectively. While I do acknowledge that,   secession as an expression of external self-determination, within the general right of self-determination is the ultimate wish of a subjugated populace, internal self-determination is also a fundamental tool for the democratisation of governance.

It ought to be mentioned also that, internal self-determination is also an effective remedial process, to ameliorate human sufferings, and institute democratic institutions to foster and nurture civil society and subsequent reduction and elimination of human rights violations in all their shapes and forms. My dear citizens of South Sudan, our situation was, and is, extremely very unique universally in that, we were, and are, the only case in modern international law, whereby, we were granted both internal and external rights of self-determination at once, based upon our own volition.

Critical analyses of the leadership of South Sudan during the interim period of the CPA, from 2005 to 2010, clearly indicated that, we had major structural and institutional internal problems within our own political, social, cultural, economic and financial formations. It was obvious that, the ruling SPLM/A lacked clear and constructive vision to lead the South Sudanese in such a fashion that, their positive socio-economic development can be nurtured and sustained, within a general framework of internal peace and security as among all the heterogeneous political, socio-cultural, ethnic and tribal groups therein.

This interim period was the political litmus test of our comprehensive abilities to manage our own affairs by ourselves. We were literally running South Sudan like an independent state. Our annual budgets were even bigger than some budgets of up and running sovereign countries in East, West and Central African regions of Africa. The world was watching us, and we were busy messing things up left and right. In this regard, we failed miserably and dangerously. This was the exact time when many local, national, regional and international watchers of the SPLM/A style of leadership noticed that, the peoples of South Sudan were in; for a messy, and indeterminate future, unless, there happens a divine intervention.

Everybody, from international community actors, to the central government in political Khartoum, even local populations in South Sudan were treating the SPLM/A leadership with kid gloves as it were. The SPLM/A rulers in political Juba were given a blank cheque-book of benefit of the doubt. All these communities of interests were arguing that, the SPLM/A have just come out from the bushes of South Sudan, and therefore, let them be given a chance to learn the political and other ropes of running a country.

However, the situation went from bad to worse, as we approached the end of the interim period, and the march towards the referendum started in earnest, as well as the final countdown for deciding the fate of the peoples of South Sudan. All of us; discerning South Sudanese, within and without the SPLM/A; panicked. The SPLM/A knew that it was not yet ready to lead an independent country. We outside the SPLM/A knew that, the SPLM/A was rummaging in national, regional and international dustbins, of political management, to salvage a methodology, for running an independent and sovereign South Sudan.  We outside the SPLM/A has nothing to offer; the CPA has already handcuffed us, and thrown the keys into the political oceans of uncertainties.

On the other hand, the peoples of South Sudan were already worked up to an emotional political frenzy, for an independent country, notwithstanding the fact that, those of us who knew the details, were frightened to death about the future of the peoples of South Sudan. My dear citizens of South Sudan, these were the political facts which I was dealing with as we were rushed in a murderous political speed; towards the referendum’s concrete barrier. South Sudan; as the political juggernaut, was already a runaway political monster, without breaks; and the SPLM/A, plus all the other political parties, including the South Sudanese in the National Congress Party (NCP), were not even prepared, for the responsibilities of running an independent State; in South Sudan.

In fact, 99% of South Sudanese, in the NCP; were already intentionally picking up quarrels, with their former North Sudanese bosses and colleagues, to please their new would-be bosses and colleagues, in the SPLM/A, as a prelude for the final jump overboard. They could not offer the advice that the peoples of South Sudan would have benefited from. At any rate, tribalism, and greed, has already, seen to it that, this group of South Sudanese, have nothing really to offer at this hour of need. Paradoxically; some of them were by this time, accusing the NCP of having marginalised them, after keeping them for over two decades, in Khartoum, as ministers and such like. That is nationalism for you, South Sudanese style.

These were also times, when many SPLM/A senior members were threatening to leave, or actually left the SPLM/A, and the South Sudan, in profound despair and disenchantment, with the visionless leadership they were experiencing in political Juba. Therefore, if these were the feelings of those South Sudanese in the SPLM/A, and who were in the centre of political game, in South Sudan, how do you expect the ordinary peoples of South Sudan to feel? How do you expect those other discerning South Sudanese to feel, and especially those discerning South Sudanese who always wanted the best for their downtrodden peoples in rural and semi urban South Sudan?

During this time, political Juba has adopted a new methodology of running the South Sudan, and the SPLM as a political party has also adopted a style of playing its role within the remit of the government of national unity (GoNU) in Khartoum. In the South Sudan, political Juba has decided to hang all its failures, as regards the lack of implementation of the CPA, on a political rope, tied to the political back of its partner, that is, political Khartoum. Therefore, according to political Juba, all heavenly and earthly difficulties that the peoples of South Sudan were facing had their origins in political Khartoum; including even the looting of billions of dollars and such like, by ourselves in Juba, and elsewhere, in South Sudan.

It was obvious that, this entrenched culture of lack of ownership of responsibilities in South Sudan has lead to the entrenchment of blame culture, where the hitherto unitary Sudanese State and its agents (or Arabs in the north), and colonial legacy in the past, are always blamed for the ubiquitous and absolute socio-economic and cultural underdevelopment, of South Sudan, as well as the contemporaneous and conspicuous comprehensive violations, of all known human rights and freedoms, of the human persons in South Sudan.

Overwhelmed with homemade and executed hurts, the peoples of South Sudan were subconsciously synthesised, to fallaciously believe that, external self-determination was the panacea for the ills that have befallen their land for such a long time. This was notwithstanding the fact that, the most dramatic and excruciating tragedies took place during the period of internal self-determination, managed and controlled by us ourselves, between 2005 to 2010.

So therefore, the SPLM/A failed to rule the South Sudan beneficially during this internal self-determination period, that is; during the interim period, in CPA parlance. In fact, they went head, and cajoled, and pleaded with the peoples of South Sudan; to give them the chance, for ruling the South Sudan, within the remit of external self-determination; or, independent South Sudan. This was a gamble, which carried with it, all attendant local, national, regional international, human, political, security, economic, socio-cultural, and financial implications. This was a frightening period for some of us discerning South Sudanese. It was akin to witnessing, a disoriented father, complaining of hunger, to his eight years old daughter, and expecting the poor child to feed him food.

It was obvious to an objective bystander that, the climax of primordial and parochial politics in South Sudan, have indeed converted the whole of South Sudan, into a dangerous and vicious human spider web, with the leadership of the SPLM/A as the spider, trapping and eating any unwanted prey that falls into this web, the web whose main goal was (is) the holding of South Sudanese hostages, to some vacuous, and rhetorical claims of establishment of New South Sudan; and the interrogation of which claims lead to political shouts of treason against those doing the interrogation in South Sudan and beyond.

I strongly argued and reiterate in my various public debates and writings that, in accordance with all the political and other factual evidences on hand, we were in danger of placing ourselves; in the exclusive political, social, cultural, security, economic and financial custodies of the SPLM/A; within the remit of an independent sovereign South Sudan. I strongly and clearly demonstrated the comprehensive inabilities of the SPLM/A, in running a sovereign South Sudan.  

I argued that, there was a ubiquitous absence of variables, of this benign and inclusive New South Sudan. Instead, I argued that, there was a ubiquitously presence of comprehensive variables, for the disintegration of the old South Sudan, into nothingness, should the SPLM/A continue in the same fashion of ruling the peoples of South Sudan, as they did, during the internal self-determination period, in the next phase, of the external self-determination.  My dear citizens of South Sudan, many of you have now vindicated me, and proven me right in many of your own writings and political comments. 

I strongly argued that, during that era of internal self-determination in South Sudan, it was painfully discernible that, many a people of South Sudan, were labouring under the weight of fallacious presumption that, their elites represent the paragon of human and political moralities. Therefore; these elites were (are) incorruptible. I also strongly argued that, the realities of those (these) sagas of human tragedies, and merciless manipulation of human sufferings, for personal and groups’ political and material gains, were (are) in the open in South Sudan.

I went on that, and I still honestly think that, the innocent peoples of South Sudan, were (are), constipated with malicious and misleading personal and tribal shenanigans, masquerading as political visions, saturated in liberation zeal, as well as doctrine of self-determination. I also argued, and shall continue to argue that, the South Sudanese elites in South Sudan, were (are) deeply submerged in political sadomasochism, so that, the lives of ordinary South Sudanese are rendered worthless. You have also proven me right on this count my dear citizens of South Sudan. See you in (4).

The author is Professor of Social and Rural Development and Lecturer in Laws. He be contacted at [email protected]

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