A brief background on the root causes of the ongoing carnage in South Sudan

By Deng Gatluak Riam

February 10, 2014 (SSNA) — As a child growing up in that impoverished part of Africa called South Sudan, I have always dreamed of a liberated, cohesive and fast-developing country. The dream was inspired by our early patriotic leaders who helped nurtured a generation of freedom fighters (who subsequently dominated SPLM/A and other liberation movements). Yes, a country where all its citizens are equal and treated equally regardless of their tribal, religion or political affiliations, etc.

Indeed, that dream came true on 9 July 2011, and we were all (South Sudanese people) exalted when South Sudan’s name was added to the long list of sovereign and proud nations of the world.

That grand dream would have not been possible without the combined efforts of all South Sudanese political forces and civil society, within the former Sudan, South Sudanese students’ movements in the Sudan and abroad, and indeed, our gallant armed groups in former Sudan, Ethiopia and other East African countries.

All these groups were active participants in the war of liberation; they endured hardship and engaged the enemy (Sudan Government) at different intervals. Some made unpopular decisions or alliances to survive and live to fight another day; others were lucky to be embraced by governments (Ethiopia and Uganda or latter Former Zaire).

For the sake of cohesiveness and unity, their efforts and contributions as well as sacrifices should have been acknowledged and celebrated with SPLM/A’s noble contributions. Whenever we commemorate the independence of South Sudan, we should remember all the stakeholders from Lagu, Gai Tut to Dr. John and Mayardiit (the exterminator), who he clouded his legacy with heavy smoke of shame and corruption.

I’ve always been a strong believer in the promises, war propaganda and utterances of our various factions’ leaders, from the first movement [Any-nya 1] to Nairobi Declaration and subsequently, the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Their words were pinpointing to one goal, total INDEPENCE OF SOUTH SUDAN.

I’m under no illusion and very much aware no matter how our differences and approach to the conduct of the struggle, yet, we as people, stood strong to defend our existence, culture and our goal remained the same.

South Sudanese worldwide participated passionately in the conduct of the referendum from 9 – 15 January 2011, and decisively voted for separation. They collectively extinguished a fire that was first ignited in Torit and continued to burn in our hearts until the dream became a living reality on 9 July 2011.

People spoke and demonstrated beyond any uncertainty by the 98% vote for separation, that they are one people, one goal, eliminating any doubt that, there was a conflict of interest between those who were with the government and those who were with the rebels. One people one goal.

Unfortunately, the sweet reality before long turned into a horrible nightmare when SPLM with impunity hijacked the peoples’ struggle and the people’s cause and imposed itself as the only liberator, only active political party, reducing all the traditional political parties to mere spectators in a country in which they too, were instrumental in its liberation.

The deserved celebrity status accorded to our freedom fighters and particularly their commanders, elevated them to higher prominence (Garang, Kiir, Machar, Igga, Amum, Akhol, Alor, Agoot, Luk, Manyang and the list goes on and on with glittering characteristics and stories) as their names became synonymous with sacrifice, heroism and patriotism. Do they really deserve that status or some stories were exaggerated to dishonestly claim greatness???

Well, with greatness comes great expectation. Many people were shocked to discover that our freedom fighters were just mere mortal who are institutionalised by a long and strong culture of corruption practiced openly in all the so-called liberated areas.

When South Sudan independence was declared, the whole country erupted in euphoric celebration. I was keenly following the procedures on television, the feeling I had which, I am convinced shared by 98% South Sudanese at that time, was immeasurable. It was a great relieve to a long struggle of people who were humiliated and brutalised by their own government.

In that desperation, the people entrusted whatever little dignity left in them to the freedom fighters (SPLM) as the only hope for redemption. With their impeccable reputation and un-verifiable stories of heroism. We (the people) had expected the freedom fighters to deliver and totally change the impecunious nation to live happily ever after.

Culture of corruption and the SPLM leadership

For self-enrichment and personal gratification, two competing groups within the leadership promoted the culture of corruption openly throughout the liberated areas:

1. Full-time Commanders, affectionately known as CDR (now turned Generals) were busy accumulating cattles, women, and war loots as well as engaging in numerous dodgy deals (including selling of ammunition and weapons to civilians).

2. Part-time Commanders who used to frequent hotels in Addis Abba, Nairobi etc (now turned politicians) affectionately addressed comrades, were also engaged in swindling of movement’s resources and other donations from friendly countries and business people.

Government of South Sudan

President Kiir did not disappoint us at all, even though, without any party room consultations, he formed a government that is marked for death and indeed, reflective of institutionalised culture of corruption and nepotism. All his comrades were swiftly awarded senior positions to fast-track service delivery and developmental projects of the GOSS (Government of self service), and that is where the categorization of the people and the downfall of the mighty SPLM started.

When all their names appeared in the first government of South Sudan, we all heave a sigh of relieve, with this caliber of talent most assumed “a government of the people and for the people”.

That pride was short lived when South Sudan appear on the list of The 18 Most Corrupt Countries In The World. http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-most-corrupt-countries-in-the-world-2013-12

SPLM vs. South Sudanese

The ascension of SPLM to power and its subsequent monopoly of the entire political and social landscape changed the mechanisms of peaceful co-existence between one people. For the first time in the history of South Sudan, the immortalisation of one political party (SPLM) became the business of the government and the membership of SPLM the only sought-after ticket to employment, richness or security.

Confirmed vs. Unconfirmed

SPLA combatants were deliberately categorised as “confirmed” and “unconfirmed. All non-SPLA (including other armed groups) combatants were categorised as unconfirmed, others were absorbed and latter made redundant. The so-called SPLA mainstream members were confirmed and retained their ranks or were even promoted to higher ranks.

Liberators vs. Liberated

All the South Sudanese who joined the movement (SPLM/A) for a reason or other were anointed as liberators, a title that allows them to embezzle, mock, rape, seize land and humiliate fellow citizen whom they claimed to have liberated. This analogy created a massive schism in the whole society and completely destroyed any rapprochements between our peace-loving people.

Land grabbing

The practice of land acquisition through illegal and criminal means by the SPLM political elites angered and alienated many followers and reduced the indomitable SPLM political elites reputation to mere real estate brokers. Massive lands were grabbed in other parts of South Sudan a well.

Nepotism and tribalism

SPLM is a party wrecked by division and personality cult, to survive you must demonstrate your loyalty and veneration to the leadership to attain senior positions. Dinkarisation of government institutions is a policy of dominance perpetuated by Dinka political elites.

Elimination of opposition

SPLM policies reject and dislike all forms of opposition, suggestion to party ideologues are considered treason and punishable by death. The word reform does not exist in the party’s ideologues deliberations. Any cries by the SPLM Politburo members are always intended for political manoeuvrings and always falls on deaf ears, there are no democrats in the SPLM. 

Fabrication and lies

The SPLM political and military machine perfected the theories of fabrication and lies:

The movement was established on lies. The policies of the SPLM successive government were all lies.

Mr Kiir himself is a lie; only God knows why he’s always trying to conceal his tribal marks, maybe he’s considering claiming his “Bagarah” tribal heritage.

Lam Akol connection

I’ve known Dr. Akhol through acquaintances; he is a man of wisdom and conspiracies.

Dr. Akhol is a divider and instigator by nature; he perfected the art of conspiracy theories and positioned himself as a “victim of circumstances”. He initiated 1991 revolution and instigated the so-called Dinka massacre of Bor to finish off his political competitor Dr. Machar. Now, he and his entourage are busy to eliminate his last political hurdle, Mr. Amum and General, Oyay.

The only person, who could read his grand political conspiracies and treacherous activities, is Dr. John Garang who is now gone.  God have mercy on us.

Truth hurts but liberating!

The author lives in Australia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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