The Invisible Hand behind the Failed State

‘’How South Sudan socially mutated from Western favorite brain child during the war into a post – war’s spoiled one and eventual failed State at independence.’’

By Deng Vanang

March 29, 2014 (SSNA) — With the 2nd civil war entering its eight year homestretch between north and South, then plunked in the Self-inflicted defeat against the latter. The blow by blow military defeat attracted Western sympathy which molded one SPLM/A faction, the mainstream led by Dr. John Garang, into a kind of favorite brain child. The timely intervention rescued once strong and united Southern movement from the pale shadow of its former self, caused by the recapture of swath of territories it once won over and held sway from the successive Khartoum based – regimes. The Western intervention helped Garang group to get other splinter factions back on to the folds, effectively breathing a new lease of life in a miraculous rebirth that plucked it from a depressing position of defeat to that of victory and freedom at last. From then on, the rejuvenated movement embarked on a renewed pursuit of its just struggle for a nationhood that grew from Chinese proverbial humble steps into a great leap forward. The West’s invaluable contribution in bringing an elusive peace {CPA} to war ravaged people further dwarfed in its shadow any extra help generously extended by other world powers interested in the yet to be liberated country’s potential riches coupled with regional influence. And not only did the United States and its western European allies handsomely extend such overtures, but further ensured socio-economic dividends were available to make peace more fruitful as equally sustainable. It was the lightning response to the cry of tear jerking fellow Christian minority partly persecuted due to unwavering commitment to their faith.

Well-grounded as it was, the intervention became the vociferous rallying point around which religion and humanity assembled together the West and Africans with whom South Sudanese share common ancestry of race, heritage and geographical location. That Afro – western joint response went exceedingly beyond consolation for South Sudanese crying in wilderness for help since it significantly removed from their land Sudanese Arabs’ indomitable forces of occupation through military and humanitarian assistance.

However, behind this glamorous flipside of international solidarity for Southern Sudan, callously hides another that is today troubling the sovereignty of the newly born independent State. This ill-health troubling the new country is traced back to Western humanitarian relief aid delivered to its people with golden heart during the past civil war years. The malignancy was not in humanitarian emergency per se but an acute lack of governance structures, in transparency and accountability mechanisms, put in place just to ensure it reached the right people at the right time and place. This corrupt aid culture incidentally introduced first ever economic and social inequality into what was more of a communal Southern Sudanese society through Operation Lifeline Sudan {OLS}. The multi-national agency was tasked with creating safe corridors that cut through areas heavily contested by both government and rebels in order to airlift desperately needed relief aid to the pawns of war. Stretching far and between benefactors and beneficiaries was a long string of brokers and dealers trading in aid relief accompanied in a rather long winning journey with wades of hard cash in US Dollars. Both relief materials and liquid cash were destined to South Sudan grass roots communities, trapped in cross fires of bare-knuckle inter-factional rivals on the one hand and government on the other, through multifaceted community based – aid agencies micro – managed by long columns of senior guerilla field officers. Serving as conduits in this conglomerate of aid business, was a coterie of skilled local aid workers to sweet talk the brokers, the white heads of aid agencies, into coughing some goodies while the factiously warring guerrilla commanders lent them the ever shifting ground on which they could be dropped.

These quick impact programs’ community – based aid agencies, straddling heights and breadth of Southern Sudan, had their mission rashly spelled out. That is in constructing desperately needed makeshift structures which passed for basic primary health care and education facilities to respectively cater for the sick and school going children remotely located far and away from modern social amenities in the neighboring countries to which only South Sudanese of means, including the heads of these local aid agencies, had unimpeded access.

Such aid sleaze, to say the least, resultantly created sizable pot-bellied pioneer millionaires in these lords of poverty surfeiting in a sea of malnourished population. Apart from artificial pregnancies it created in these lords, the endemic sleaze offered them undue leverage and towering social status over and above their less to do but down to earth colleagues and peers. The humanitarian aid conspicuously left unsupervised, also juxtaposed far – reaching disparity in wealth creation that consequently hit the very bottom of communal Southern Sudanese fabric, forging a repulsive class system which left the sanctity of holy matrimonies  unspared as it lodged a sharp strain in the heart of heavenly ordained relationships between men and women of the cloth on the pulpit while unabatedly worked to multiply and redraw profound political discrepancies at the battlefields that unfairly manufactured winners and losers.

Spoiled child

In its social evolution from favorite brain child into spoiled one joyously rocked up and down on the West’s tender laps, the SPLM/A impeccably remained the chosen blue eyed – boy among rivaling siblings before mutating into the failed state as the government it is today courtesy of Western policy of sparing the rod while spoiling the child. As it divided and ruled, the West failed to unite and embrace all South Sudanese armed factions and political groupings behind a single purpose in the journey towards common destiny which could have helped them work together and develop a political system not engrained in current ethnic, corrupt and mediocritic administrative inefficiencies. On top of this double standard, deployment of less qualified human resources by SPLM/A scallywags in areas beyond their professional capabilities marred even further the notion of highly trumpeted Western good governance. All the same, the West’s introduction of development aid in place of humanitarian one could not have however delivered the required result different from its past carefree policy of offering humanitarian relief aid without necessary recourse to checks and balances. With similar business as usual attitude continuing to deny the target beneficiaries through none accessible social services despite the United States’ offer to South Sudan of about six hundred million Dollars in bilateral aid annually. 

As considerable amounts got diverted to wrong causes of building towers of Babel on earth while funding newly acquired luxurious Holly wood lifestyle in contrast to that of ragtag war years via accommodation in five star hotels locally and in aimless globe-trotting tours, much bigger chunk is spirited away to procure exorbitant automobiles in most popular head turning V8s and Hammers. The rest of the money sneaked back to where it usually comes, in what superb economists usually refer to as capital flight, encouraged by recipient government corrupt senior officials and hugely enumerated Western aid workers offered to give humanitarian aid a tumultuous send – off by their home governments.

Failed state

Although the West put much needed focus on safeguarding CPA in order to safely secure independence from the north for South Sudanese, it miserably failed to create a necessary balancing act and foresee the future its biased actions would bring forth, especially in ignoring the glaring governance eyesores that over time turned out to destroy the baby state. In building South Sudan to a level of single party state under the SPLM dictatorial rule, the Western democracies sheepishly turned a blind eye to creating the alternative opposition political parties so as to rein in its favorite’s most unbearable excesses on the poor and down trodden. This conspiracy reached its climax in mid – term 2010 most shambolic general elections in which the West helped SPLM in rig – looting them in the South, a vice that consequently plunged the two states of Jonglei and Upper Nile into unprecedented bloody electoral fallout in South Sudan history. Similar under hand dealing implicitly allowed NCP to do the same in the north in rigging gubernatorial elections. As South Kordufan State’s Abdel Aziz Adam Al-Hilu contested his choreographed defeat tooth and nail, his Southern Blue Nile State’s colleague Malik Agar belatedly to no avail pended off a reverse of controversial victory by NCP.

Until recently the West quite continuously and mischievously looked the other way as the hazards of personalized and ethnicized state institutions, ignored civic elections, bungled democratic reforms within and outside the ruling SPLM, rampant human rights abuses and poor press freedom continued to impair beyond repair both national unity and economic development of the new nation. These are in addition to two unpopular legal processes courtesy of transitional and permanent constitution – makings which systematically got bulldozed down the throats of the democratically fragile country. All the graphically described abominations have been orchestrated on the glaring watch of the ‘’failed state lobby’’ under stewardship of Ted Denya, the former White house luminary on African affairs with John Prendergast and Gayle Smith of Enough Project the United States and allied European governments contracted as agents that unsuccessfully promoted irreparably tattered and blood stained SPLM’s image, both locally and abroad.

Deng Vanang is a freelance journalist and can be reached at:[email protected].

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