South Sudan National Security Services on the Verge of Collapse

By: Deng Mading Gatwech

March 13, 2014 (SSNA) — This document would shed light on how the South Sudan National Security came into being and operates under whose leadership. The challenges facing the service and how those challenges be confronted in a broad mindset. Is it a Dinkanised institution or well diverse inclusive of all 64 and above ethnic compositions.

Shortly before and after the South Sudan gave birth to the hard-won independence in 2011 where South Sudanese voted vehemently for the sovereign state, the think tanks with long outstanding performance in the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) tried to envision South Sudan with stable fast growing economy and sound democratic governance that would compete globally cum the giant world economic powers on a level playing field. The vision prompted the formation of the National Security Service for the South Sudan crafted from the disengaged members of NISS and those who are based in the South Sudan as members of Special Branch (SB). Ostensibly, democracy was thought to be the benchmark that would put its leadership on solid driving seat however much the road could be bumpy. The structure was expected to be well functioning with all the experience acquired from the Godfather, the Republic of Sudan and other world cum well verse with intelligence collection, gathering, and thorough analysis and proper disseminations. The rhetoric of forming competent Intelligence institution would soon be polluted with the political prostitution that dashed hope and aspiration of intellectual South Sudanese with none other than the de-facto Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, the president Kiir Mayardit never respected. Some of these think—tanks are now languishing behind bars charged with treasons allegedly to have taken part in the fabricated coup attempt, which the later denies.

Based on the experiences of the sisterly countries with the well-documented intelligence records and best practices, unitary formation of the National Security Service with one strong Director General was thought to be more effective and operational. This process came to standstill when the committee working on the Transitional Constitution came up with two distinct operational organs under the National Security Service namely Internal Security Bureau (ISB) and General Intelligence Bureau (GIB) with two Director Generals who are toothless whose works are coordinated by the Minister in the Office of the President who is nothing but a rubber stamp. These giant leaders in principles are supposed to be super power reporting directly to the chief consumer who is the president of the Republic of South Sudan. The original plan of forming one organ was made to fail by the interest groups allied to the president to paralyze the entire system of the government. It’s to be noted that government policies are entirely affected by the intelligence collection, gathering, analysis and dissemination to the relevant authorities.

In contrary, the informed decisions are made not upon the intelligence gathering from the National Security Service but kitchen cabinet from Northen Bahr El Ghazel in general and Warrap state whose main task are to confuse the president. The lack of clear direction of the policy appears to be the main straw that breaks the back of the camel. The group carry away the president from his line of operations since decisions are made base on who you know but not on technical know how. In most cases the president says this today and tomorrow will be different thing all together, a situation that create a lot of confusion within the intelligence community. This is a clear indication the president has lost the direction pitting two giant ethnic groups Dinkas vis-à-vis the Nuer. In the minds of many South Sudan liberation fighters president Salva Kiir was believed to be well versed with intelligence cycle not knowing that the teaching of the old schools obsoleted and left with nothing but ideology of infantry training in the 70s. From this perspective, one would come to conclude that decisions are made outside the parameter of the intelligence cycle i.e., family tied to the president affect the choice of trust and the president bent to believe the information gathered by his relative than the service in question.

It’s to be noted that president takes Dinka stance in making the decisions that affect the affairs of the state through close cronies and family members. In many occasions the presidential advisor on legal affairs Telar Ring and governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazel Paul Malong Awan just to mention a few play great role in influencing decision of the president, making the two Director Generals more defunct. Intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination are done earlier on by the few officers and men but decisions are made contrary to the actual analysis put on the table of the president for action. Coupled with absence of qualified manpower and limited resources, the delivery of the most needed services appears to have no effect. Another setback is that the service is packed with sons and daughters of well place personalities (the president, the governors, ministers and so and so forth) in the government for the protection of the regime rather than safeguarding the interest of the state, an art irrelevant in the contemporary intelligence world. Indeed, one posit question of food for thought “where are the sons and daughters of heroes and heroines perished in the course of liberation struggle for more than 50yrs or so”?  

The interference of the top generals from the greater Bahr El Ghazel region at large and in the hometown of the president has so much bearing in the performance of the intelligence operations and paralyzed the entire system to its knees. Moreover, the highest policy levels of government set in the broadest sense of intelligence priorities and policies. In some cases, the president of South Sudan gives specific orders, but illegal ones. Others may be more on the level of “do what you got to do”. Of course, in South Sudan, the law is merely what the dictator decrees. Another showcase in this analysis is the appointment of the cabinet ministers into the offices. The processes of vetting would have been done through the offices of the two Director Generals who would do thorough background checks for examples, their credentials, financial status of the candidates and who they are linked to in terms of subversive activities that may affect the affairs of the state. These procedures are done before the president pass the list of the candidates to the specialized committee in the parliament for screening and those who made it will be finally endorsed for appointment into the office. Pointing to the opposite direction the process in the Republic of South Sudan appears so vague to the extent the president with powers conferred upon Him under Article (.)(.) Transitional Constitution constituted the Devine Powers to Decree in and Decree out cabinet ministers. A good example is the removal of the democratically elect governors namely: Engineer Chol Tong, Lakes state governor and Taban Deng Gai, the governor of Unity state. This is the crime punishable by law the nascent nation has been battling for so long that appeared to have no cure and the only option left at hand when all avenues exhausted was nothing but army rebellion at most.

More so in many instances, there is an opposition between law enforcement and intelligence because the two entities are very different with different interests. Intelligence is oriented toward the future and seeks to inform policy-makers. It lives in an area of uncertainty where the truth may be uncertain. Because intelligence strives to protect its sources and methods, intelligence officials seek to stay out of the chain of evidence so they will not have to testify in court. By contrast, law enforcement’s business is the prosecution of cases, and if the law enforcement is to make, it must be prepared to reveal how it knows what it knows. However, the practicality of the odds intelligence organization experienced while working with the law enforcement agency brought into being the untold suffering of officers and men at the expenses of discharging their duties to the benefit of the public. This also goes back to how poorly the thin lines of operations between the security organs are drawn.

A clear indication of the existence of enormous challenges is the presence of different army group from other countries and Uganda in particular supportive of the Republic of South Sudan government in fighting the rebels explicitly a direct violation of sovereign state. UPDF of Uganda becomes the most mercenary employ by Salva Kiir government to exterminate Nuer ethnic group from South Sudan, which is an unachievable dream. The simple question one would put across is “What was Salva Kiir the president of South Sudan thinking when he allied himself with Yoweri K. Museveni the president of Uganda for nearly three months at the beginning of December 15, 2013 Juba incident? What did Salva Kiir know about Museveni intentions to turn on him, and when did he know it”? Museveni of Unganda is the wolf covered in sheep’s skin but would at anytime turn against his ally before the rebels get him off. The government turns deaf ears and blind eyes on the unprecedented challenges facing the young nation so as to amass enough resources for their selfish interests. Museveni is known for his mischievous involvement into the killing of DR. Congo president Laurent Kabila on January 16, 2001, the shot down of plane on April 6, 1994 carrying Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian presidient Cyprien Ntaryamira was the main catalyst for Rwanda genocide and the mysterious plane crash of Dr. John Garang de Mabior 21 days after being sworn in as the 1st vice president of the Republic of Sudan and the president of the government of Southern Sudan (GOSS). It’s apparent that Salva Kiir is on the top list of death row of Yoweri Museveni.

The intelligence organization of the Republic of South Sudan established to take aboard all 64 and above ethnic group on equal proportion but the equation tilted toward favoring Dinkas from the onset of the organ. The estimates suggest that 99 per cent of the top echelon of the two Bureaus is being controlled by the Dinkas, a game of dominant strategy. Such inclination motivated the Dinka officers and men to talk Dinka languages without shame in the office where officers and men from other ethnic groups are working together. The use of local dialect in the offices is a direct manifestation the organ belongs to one ethnic group the Dinkas—a process of Dinkanising. Soon after the December 15, 2013 Juba incident Nuer officers and men remained in Juba and those whom they recruited into the service became the soft target. If the government of Salva Kiir genuine enough to respect the diversity of South Sudan nation and International Bill of Human Rights according to UN Convention the intelligence community would have given full protection to the loyalists than annihilating them once and for all.

In conclusion, the Republic of South Sudan is emerging on the world stage at a time of great uncertainty, characterized by increasingly lethal threats to the safety of the people within its borders and beyond. Such an environment in which we obtained our statehood necessitates the transformation of our security and intelligence sectors so that we are able to detect the threats before imposing harm on our national interests. Nonetheless, South Sudan National Security Service appears to be the most dangerous organ ever ruled with impunity that force its citizens into exile. This is done through the long hand of Paul Malong Awan the governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazel nicknamed King Paul who is masterminded Juba massacre of Nuer ethnic origin. It is just a matter of time Kiir and Awan will go without doubt and by doing so life will go back to normal in all parts of South Sudan. A birth of new nation will be celebrated once more as all dictators who ruled the country by iron fist are gone before the celebration of the 3rd anniversary July 9, 2014. The current political upheaval of the Republic of South Sudan is the litmus test for service in question to revive at the critical time of collapse now than ever before and flak all criticisms directed towards its leadership.

Deng Mading Gatwech, a South Sudanese exiled in East Africa and researcher in the area of “Democracy and Good Governance, Local and International Politics and Strategic Security Studies”. He can be reached at [email protected].

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