June 26, 2013 (SSNA) — President Kiir with his pedantic tricks is at it again. This time he picks on those in the inner circle of the SPLM Oyee machine. Do not be carried away by the headline grabbing subject of corruption. This is just part of the trick. Keep your eyes wide open during this interesting period of power struggle in the SPLM.
On 18th June 2013 Sudan Tribune under the title, ‘South Sudan president suspends two ministers for corruption probe’ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46997 reported that president Kiir had suspended Ahmed Deng Alor, the minister for cabinet affairs and Kosti Manibe, the minister of finance for involvement in transfer of millions of dollars for personal benefit. In the same order the president further appointed Judge John Gatwech Lul, the head of the anti-corruption commission to investigate the allegation within 60 days with the view of bringing prosecution against the accused. A good section of the society already appears to approve of the president’s action. This is what is expected in any normal functioning government. However, I am afraid that some citizens may already have had their hopes raised for nothing. The reality could be different.
President Kiir is using the corruption vehicle to get at people he believes have abandoned supporting his leadership in the ongoing struggle between him, his deputy and Pagan Amum. So the suspension of the two ministers has more to do with their views in the current battle for leadership of the SPLM Oyee machine than corruption per se. President Kiir is trying to prepare the ground by weeding out all those who have either publicly withdrawn their allegiance to him or those who have remained silent without expressing their allegiance to him.
Why is the corruption vehicle a charade? SPLM Oyee itself is a product of corruption and it will not survive without exercise of corruption. Corruption runs deep in its veins and it is what keeps it alive. Please see, ‘Fudging the issue- President Kiir and corruption in RSS.’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201206250013.html We already know that Ahmed Deng Alor is a Don of corruption and there is nothing new about this latest accusation by the president. The vital thing for the public to note is that nothing will come out of this investigation and here the editorial of South Sudan Nation under the heading, ‘Latest mega-corruption: Is Kiir yet again a toothless bulldog?’ published on 19th June 2013 is spot on.
Judge John Gatwech Lul, is a sworn poodle of John Luke, the minister of Justice and president Kiir. He is a fixer of the regime. He runs the launderette of SPLM Oyee. Having been reduced from the prestigious position of a judge to an SPLM laundry man, his main task is washing of Oyee dirt and issuing clean bill of health to the criminals brought to his attention. For instance, recently the kith and kin of president Kiir hammered their way into the president’s office safe in J1 in Juba and helped themselves to millions of dollars of South Sudanese money. Instead of a proper investigation by the relevant organs, the president referred the matter to Judge Lul and as expected he bathed the thieves with legal detergents and cleared them on grounds that the evidence got contaminated.
Unlike Lul, his predecessor Dr Pauline Riek was a lady of integrity who could not allow her character to be tarnished by SPLM Oyee crimes. While she was leading the Anti-corruption commission she acted professionally and was committed to clean South Sudan of corruption but she was sabotaged and denied the necessary legislation to carry out her duties by none other than president Kiir himself. This remains a shame on South Sudanese. Her removal underscores the fact that the problem in South Sudan is not lack of educated people or professionals but rather it is the pugnacity of Dinkocracy.
Judge Lul in the current case will implement what has already been agreed between president Kiir and the minister of Justice John Luke which is that no SPLM Oyee member will be prosecuted for corruption. Actually the exoneration of the kith and kin of the president referred to above is the result of this policy. John Luke is on record that nobody will be prosecuted for corruption. Please see the following articles, ‘South Sudan: Don Salvatore Allegiance to the Code of Omerta in RSS’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201206100131.html?page=4 and ‘Sudan: Corruption Saga – the SPLM Five Big Guns or the Quintet Squirrels’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201202271279.html?page=2
Reacting to president Kiir’s suspension of the Ahmed Alor and Kosti Manibe; John Luke in ‘South Sudan says lifting immunity not automatic indictment of corruption’ http://wwws.udantribune.com/spip.php?article47040 subtly reiterates and re-invokes the SPLM Oyee policy of no prosecution for corruption.
Therefore, all those who are hoping for a critical and factual report of the investigation followed by prosecution of the duo in court may be raising their hopes to be dashed. John Luke erected a clear sign post as notice to the public last year when he said, “No Prosecution for Corruption in Republic of South Sudan”.
Now that we have explored the president’s action in light of the information and experiences available to us, let us move on to talk about the proposition of this paper which is that the president is using the corruption vehicle as a tool to weed out his opponents in the SPLM Oyee machine and to strengthen his position for the expected leadership contest.
In terms of the leadership contest, president Kiir is in a very awkward position. First, he has practically proved beyond doubt that he is ineffective, weak and a tribal leader. Under his watch South Sudan deteriorated to a failed state because he was focused on enriching the so called ‘born to rule’. Secondly, he knows that his colleagues in the Oyee machine have lost confidence in his leadership. Thirdly, he is a hostage to the semi illiterate and powerful group of tribalists led by people like Salva Mathok, the deputy minister of interior and Paul Malong, the governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazal. Fourthly and crucially he has tasted power and does not want to lose it. So if he is to remain in power he must secure re-election to the post of chairman of SPLM Oyee during the coming convention. This requires him to be brutal to knock heads. But knocking heads in an organisation of criminals can be a very dangerous business. It is this very reason that has forced president Kiir to be selective like a predator stalking a herd while looking for the weak and easy prey.
Ahmed Alor and Kosti Manibe happen to be the weakest quarry in the herd to start the game with. To send a strong message to the SPLM Oyee membership to tow the line, president Kiir has decided to sacrifice the duo. Ahmed Alor is sacrificial because he is a foreigner and the overwhelming majority of South Sudanese know that and they would not go out to the streets to protect him. After all, Ahmed’s opportunism disgusts a lot of people. All his life in the then Sudan he did not want to associate with South Sudanese. All his friends were Arabs and he did not want to identify with the South Sudanese cause. In 1983 as a staunch Arabist and unionist he saw an opening in Dr John Garang’s ideology of New Sudan to become somebody. He grabbed the opportunity and became a close friend of the late. During that period he manipulated the late and enriched himself. When Dr Garang died, he quickly jumped ship abandoning his group of Garang boys and attached himself to president Kiir; again he further enriched himself obscenely. Now sensing that president Kiir is about to lose, he has began to reposition himself for another leap to place of power. It seems president Kiir has noticed and hence his present predicament.
Although Ahmed Alor has support in the Abyei boys like Luka Biong, Gen. Pieng Deng, Dr Francis Deng and so on, this would not pose any threat on its own to president Kiir. This obviously is a huge draw back for Abyei. Ahmed Alor since Garang days has been the pivotal character distorting South Sudan politics. The power that Ahmed wields in the SPLM Oyee machine via manipulation should not be underestimated especially in absence of ideology and a coherent policy in the party. Ahmed is the one person responsible for the invisibility of the minister of foreign affairs and the forceful assertion of Abyeians as citizen of South Sudan contrary to the provision of the CPA of 2005.
With Ahmed’s fall from grace, it now remains to be seen whether this will result in shift in the unarticulated foreign policy of South Sudan. It is worth remembering that South Sudan lost Panthou to the Sudan due to the machinations of the Abyei boys led by Ahmed and the negligence of Dr Riek Machar.
Unlike Ahmed Alor, Kosti Manibe’s citizenship is unquestionable. He hails from an area deep inside South Sudan. An area that has produced patriots throughout the struggle for secession of South Sudan. Kosti is not only a member of the SPLM Oyee but a committed loyal member whose character has all along been immaculate. He is well educated, well mannered and very calm. Kosti is a force for stability and good but unfortunately a self constructed victim of his very self. Kosti is very disadvantaged. He has no local support as proved by the general election of 2010. He also has no followers in the SPLA as he is not a military person coupled with the oppression of Equatoria has made him to be disposable. Kosti may have been chosen by president Kiir to make example of because he may not have revealed his political preference and allegiance as to who should be the next leader of South Sudan. Kosti is reported to be notorious for silence and keeping things to himself and this may not have earned him friends among the Warrap cartel.
The dragging of the duo into the mud is also a serious warning to the other contenders. Pagan has made his ambitions clear and it appears he may not be in good book of president Kiir. Pagan being in the same predicament like Kosti without local support from the Chollo people may soon find himself in difficulties. In the general election of 2010 he failed to win a seat in his home area. However, he has advantage over Kosti as he appears to have some support in the SPLA and among the Bor people because he is a ‘Garang boy’. Although this support puts him in a better position, there is no guarantee that he will not be dragged into the mud.
While president Kiir plays this roulette he has seriously compromised his own position and the welfare of the SPLM Oyee machine itself. His advisors seem to be short sighted and they may have miscalculated badly. This game which is supposed to strength president Kiir’s position ironically may be the very one that speeds the demise of his regime. President Kiir enjoys the presidency because of the combined support of his tribe and their control of the SPLM Oyee machine. By targeting Ahmed Alor and Kosti Manibe, he has automatically lost the support of the Abyei group and the Equatoria SPLM Oyee members. The Abyei group due to marriage alliance may now shift their allegiance to Pagan Amum or even Dr Riek Machar in a trade off possibly for influence on foreign policy in South Sudan. So what is emerging is the disintegration of the unity of greater Jieng which also means the loosening of their grip on power.
In effect, president Kiir’s opponents will now be the potential beneficiaries of his short sighted action. Instead of strengthening his position, he has opened up himself to unnecessary attack weakening his authority and support base. Ahmed Alor and Kosti Manibe are members of the SPLM national liberation council, the highest organ of the SPLM Oyee machine. As far as it is known there is no mechanism in the organisation which will halt them from participating in the debate on the leadership question. So, Ahmed and Kosti will have their day of revenge when things come to the NLC especially on the dispute over the voting system that decides the leadership of SPLM Oyee.
This drama should be a lesson to all those from the smaller tribes in the SPLM Oyee machine that they have no future in this organisation. This is an organisation that serves one particular ethnic group. It uses members of the other ethnic groups as fodder for its growth and enrichment of the ‘born to rule’. If you swim with them, do not be surprised when they push you away from the deep clear water into the mud.
In all, president Kiir with his pedantic tricks is now stoking the disintegration of the SPLM Oyee. This is good news for the country. He should be encouraged to carry on. We say well done to him and his advisors. The disgruntled abused groups now have to carefully calculate on who to support for leadership in South Sudan because they have no future in it. Wisdom dictates that Equatoria should pick up the mantle and challenge for the position of leadership to rescue the country from total collapse.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected]