By Deng Vanang
April 28, 2014 (SSNA) — President Salva Kiir Mayardit is the man on the war path. In a clear act of defiance he has indicated to form what he calls Government of National Unity, GONU in contravention to an IGAD purposed Interim Government, IG inclusive of all political parties, civil society and religious groups. A few weeks ago he climbed down from lean government of just 21 – member cabinet by increasing it with six more cabinet slots. This makes a total of 27 full cabinet Ministers minus the state ministers. It is widely rumored GONU which the President refers to as broad based cabinet shall net in all major political parties that matter.
Besides rebuffing IGAD, the embattled Head of State is as well defying possible United States sanctions courteously stalking the already malnourished baby state. United States in the recent past had warned of slapping sanctions on both government and rebel officials suspected of obstructing cessation of hostilities agreement, hampering activities of humanitarian agencies and those frustrating peace efforts in an Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Ever since both government and rebel officials suspicious of being target of purposed sanctions have been on tenterhook about when the crashing axe may clamp down on their heads.
It is against this background President Kiir is now engaged in a soap opera of hides and seeks games all in desperate attempt to shore up a regime in free fall and already under siege of possible prosecution for war crimes his insatiable greed for more money and power has caused. Nevertheless, he is at liberty to do so until he gets tired and stopped at some point since he can’t run all the times and forever. Then the grinding wheels of justice he tries to evade will surely catch up with him.
It is not his first time to form this broad based – government. From 2005 up to the declaration of independence his governments had been broad based with a few perennial rival parties condemned to opposition benches. But on 23rd July last year he grudgingly yielded to the public demand to form a lean government as he discarded his king size government previously citizens accused of consuming everything to the bare bones while leaving nothing to trickle down to ever salivating mouths of the expectant poor and downtrodden. The formation of lean government coupled with biting austerity when oil pipes went dry failed to end his public woes, but introduced a few more disasters instead. The following being; lean government remains bloated with an over sized sleepy civil service at the base and never changed the fate of the ordinary citizens. It has rather been a charm offensive waged by the beleaguered President to trick the public eagerly expectant of some social services windfall, critics opined. And what is thought could be surplus from the budget due to lean government offer has hardly come forth. With the paradox remains a stark reality since it is just in name and never lived up to the purpose for which it is formed.
This mother of all deceptions has instead begot peculiar criticisms from within. Victims of 23rd July cabinet onslaught including the former cutely Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar and now grey bearded guerilla leader of SPLM/A in opposition have accused President Kiir of using lean government as a cover to weed them out because of being critical of his dictatorial tendencies. While from the outside, the faceless and destitute are bad mouthing him and wondering when the promised goodies could come knocking on their doors. As they waited for the Godot, then suddenly the alleged 15th December debacle hankered down hot on the heels of a lean government formation. With some succumbed to fate while survivors are sent helter – skelter by the violent effects of the bloody contest between never relenting government and rebel forces. That became the hopeless end of the road for them.
Thus, the alleged attempted coup has turned into four month old civil war that has presented a reasonable excuse for the government to renege on its development pledges to the people. For the war normally disregards development as top priority with diversion of every single piaster to sustain a regime in mortal struggle to see another day break. But in this war money isn’t everything to win it. Biblical saying ’’ in the company of more advisers lies the safety for the king’’ may lend him some consolatory credence. From this extended new lease of consolation the President wants additional hands not only to ward off and possibly eliminate enemies, both seen and imagined, but also dip them in the pool of innocent blood so that they shall one day go down with him all the way to the treaded Hague. There is no scarcity of these much needed helping hands. Political opposition enslaved to irresistible allure of the dangled carrot shall be more than willing to serve this cruel purpose. These are the types he can fool all the times any way. Especially those he was busy chasing the other day in and day out in the heat of tropical sun up and down Jebel Kujur are today the corner stone readily available for use and disuse. It is not lost love rediscovered between predator and prey but their efforts to help him attain his evil schemes against recalcitrant foes.
In plotting to cobble undesirable GONU, the President effectively will cheat his way out of less than nine months old lean cabinet he offered to the war weary and hungry masses. Should a few complain, particularly the ones still crackle in his sagging pocket, His Excellency must tell them he has to live first for him to serve them. Tired of this usual, old trick, the wised up public can be rightly suspicious of yet another empty promise by the President in taking them for an endless donkey ride. If he failed to serve them during an oil boom of 2005 – 2011 in relative peace, what could make it possible for him in this series of high jumps from biting austerity to this critical period of an annihilative civil strife, they may argue?
Kiir’s rigid stand to form GONU than swallowing the prescribed dose also serves to provoke an IGAD regional bloc and international community of nations to go berserk as it is in complete defiance to their concerted efforts in restoring lost peace to the war torn country. Slapping IGAD mediators and allied global community concerned about the on-going brutal conflict in the face, Mr. President is making the noose even tighter around his ever thinning neck over depressing thoughts of losing towns in quick secessions to the rebels besides creeping sanctions that will not even allow some cabinet ministers to lift a leg and hop on to any plane out of the country lest they intercede for a pariah.
The amalgam of these enemies, rebels and sanctions, shall prove to be a hard nut to crack unless he keeps oil flowing against rebels’ hostile plans to shut down every single pipe line this rainy season. Even still, coming rains present yet another dangerous front against the government whose killing machines shall get stuck in the quagmire of sticky mud of Greater Upper Nile and Bhar el Ghazal regions. Should the rebels succeed in closing down this only source of revenue for eternity, too there will be no possible willing lender to lend to the regime on its back foot out. In a complete financial dry spell he cannot reload the murderous guns with ammunitions and neither can he stuff the hungry stomachs of Gelbeny militia with some craps of food. The latter will just do the natural thing of dropping the weapons of mass destruction as they give way. Then ‘’Gelbeny ‘’ become ‘’Geybeny.’’
The President is well aware of all the above mentioned unfriendly circumstances conspiring against him and his government which explains why the ensued blame game of losing strategic towns has cost numerous military and intelligence officers including long serving SPLA’s Chief of General staff, James Hoth Mai their jobs. This reshuffle in its entire abruptness incidentally makes the army and intelligence units the exclusive Dinka affairs. The present dilemma moreover has hitherto plunged him into a compromising frenzy of shuttle diplomacy that sees him shake hands with every devil that crosses his way. The blow by blow swoop has sent him clambering into state of confusion in which he is ironically trying to mix wheat with maize in a single bag all in belated attempt to bring sworn rivals under one roof. Be it Sudan and its rebel coalition, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda or Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo against Machar he swore never to see him back in Juba whether dead or alive.
He has so far reached out to good heavens by appointing Nigerian popular TV preacher in the holy name of T.B Joshua as his religious Affairs adviser South Sudan Vice President James Wani Igga dubbed the Prophet Ngundeng’s equivalent on the side of SPLM/A – in – Opposition. In bagging his Nigerian name sake Joshua, South Sudan Joshua has finally got the Prophet of light pitting against Prophets of doom he is fond of riling left and right.
Currently the President is on grueling drill to outfox rebels by introducing the long overdue social service reforms. Leading the charge in this political offensive is the national Minister of interior, Honorable Ayeny Aleu Ayeny and that of Electricity, dams and bridges, Honorable Jemah Nunu Kumba. Ayeny recently recalled the suspected killers of December incident back to the barracks. This gives a semblance of security to the scarred civilians and East African chapattis investors to return to bullet riddled city which is now visibly bustling with busy traffic and booming business. While Nunu has sworn in oath to reconnect the city rival dwellers with social amenities ranging from shedding light on the frightening dark corners to extending underground water pumps where citizens have known no safer drinking water for decades as the mother – nature is on hand in greening and cooling high temperature of the city with rain water. Although it is a good window dressing of sorts, it all seems too little a ploy too late since the possible rebels erotic advance unlike that of January he managed to ward off, the likely unilateral Ugandan troops withdrawal, barking sanctions, halt on oil flow and proximity of 2015 elections may just roll back the highly touted social service reforms about to unfold.
To be honest if Kiir ever cares to listen, his political survival hinges on lying flat low like an envelope. Not in aimless kicks, punches, and head buts in the air punctuated with noisy screams in desperate push to remain in existence. That is the civility of accepting the stark truth starring him in the face that rebels and the West are here to stay and much bigger than him to bow to his light weight tactics. He should just give in to the popular will and invincible forces governing the world that are at presence unfriendly to him. He shall never ever again snore in sleep as if nothing happened unless he calls it quits so that the likely sentence for heinous war crimes against humanity his government has been accused of perpetrating can be mitigated for a more lenient punishment. His close advisers need to let him know civilized world is easily melted away by soft power of the wicked crying for mercy than baseless contemptuous will power. Should such a trick of a mercy plea fail to placate the ever watchful and forward surging ICC judges, it is not all that hell and agony in The Hague. He has to join the former Liberian President Charles Taylor and Ivory coast President Laurence Gbagbo who look pretty fatter after all in The Hague cells than they were as a free men in their ex – Presidential Palaces.
Deng Vanang is a freelance Journalist and can be reached at: [email protected]