Is frequent removal of governors in Lakes State a misguided policy?

By: John Bith Aliap, Australia

September 5, 2014 (SSNA) — There’s a say that says – “whoever digs a pit in the dark for his brother or sister – finds it difficult to avoid falling first into the same pits when surprised suddenly” Are the Lakes State’s politicians digging their own pits which they won’t avoid falling into in the future?

The above quote seems to go well with how the Lakes State’s politicians – particularly those based in Juba conduct their politics. Brother – enemy concept is what defines them. Hatred against each other is in their DNAs – and if this isn’t thrown away – it will continue to be their major source of impediment – especially in politics. The behaviours of Lakes State’s politicians have made the State – once regarded as an angel by many to become a death trap. Lakes State has been a scene of sectional conflicts – and   the politicians in question often think that outside intervention could always bring the needed solution to their man – made crisis.

In their thinking – the state’s leadership cannot handle the situation without external forces (presidency & national parliament) – and if these forces do nothing – the situation could go off rail. In most cases – the causes of conflict among political elites in Lakes State are countless – but Lakes State’s youth should amount series advocacy to educate those “good – for – nothing” politicians to learn how to solve their own issues without shopping around for help.   In my view – “unity” – not “disunity” could built a sense of responsibility in ourselves – and if the state’s politicians who are supposed to solve the problems affecting their people keep knocking on foreign doors for help as it’s currently the case in Juba – this implies that our political leadership cannot handle the situation in its own which to me is a blatant lie – but in an environment where gossiping – hatred – sectionalism – corruption – nepotism – greed and self interest among others become daily norms – could anyone expect peace – love and unity?  You may however have a differing answer to this question – but to me – it’s absolutely no.

In the wee hours of 26th August 2013 – a report entitled –“Lakes State caretaker governor voted out by the national parliament” – written by a self proclaimed journalist – Manyang Mayom – called on the president of the land – Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit to unseat the current caretaker governor of Lakes State Gen. Matur Chut Dhuol following allegations that the later failed to curb the violence in the state.  

Dhuol’s removal drive came to light after the disgruntle semi – politicians from Lakes State in Juba successfully lobbied the national parliament to move the motion of no – confidence vote – which authorises the president to look into the  insecurity issue in Lakes State with the view to get rid of governor.

Following these allegations cooked in the kitchen of Lakes State’s disgruntle politicians – the national parliament didn’t hesitate to unleash its anger on Gen. Matur Chut Dhuol for the reason [s] best known to them and their cronies. During the parliamentary debate – Jadhallah Augustino – Deputy Minister for Interior described Lakes State’s insecurity as a “cancer” – urging the lawmakers to approve Dhuol’s removal.

Mabuto Mamur Mete – Minister for National Security also joined the podium – dubbing insecurity in the state as a lack of unity within state’s leadership – noting that a culture of revenge has taken root as more unauthorised arms fell into the hands of pastoralist youth – resulting to breakdown of law and order – but to Matur Makuer Gol – the author of no –confidence motion according to the report – swiftly urged Kiir to issue presidential degree to remove Dhuol from state’s power. To him – Dhuol’s removal would be in the best interest of both state and national security – suggesting that in order to realise security stability in Lakes State – the change in the state’s leadership should be an option as called for by state’s citizens. 

Not only these folks – Dhieu Matuet – Chairman of Lakes State Caucus in the national parliament – further threw his tongue in high gear – telling his honourable mates to immediately approve Dhuol’s ousting so that a conducive atmosphere is created to solve all security – related issues in the state. Magok Rundial – Parliamentary Speaker accepted the motion – urging the president Salva Kiir Mayardit to issue a degree for Dhuol’s removal.

However – although insecurity is widespread across the country – the honourable members of parliament seem to be keeping their heads in the sand that frequent ousting of governors in Lakes State could improve security situation – but is this approach not a misguided policy?  This question is what now hangs on our lips – but three governors: John Lat – Daniel Awet Akot and Chol Tong Mayay have already been removed and security situation in the state hasn’t improved as expected.

People wonder as to what prevents these politicians from seeing the writing on the wall. The frequent removal of governors is unworkable – and those wanting to bring change in the state should explore other options.

The honourable members who ranted for Dhuol’s down fall should feel sorry for themselves because what they called for – “Dhuol’s removal” is worthless which shouldn’t worry anyone. How could they squarely fault Matur Chut Dhuol for insecurity which is not by definition his individual’s making?

If you closely look at the above statements – dripping out from honourables’ mouths – you could see that the honourables have one thing in common: Removal of caretaker governor if done – would improve security situation in Lakes State. Are the honourable members of parliament realistic in their call for governor’s removal?

These people should clearly be told that their frequent desire to have governors removed in Lakes State is a misguided policy – which can’t bring any realistic change in the state.  It’s rather sinking down the state.

The rampant insecurity in Lakes State isn’t Dhuol’s making as the honourable members of parliament would want us to believe. The nature of insecurity – insecurity dynamics and causes of insecurity in Lakes State shouldn’t rest on one individual’s neck as it’s currently the case in Dhuol’s context.

Since the inception of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) – Lakes State has been the flashpoint of inter – and – entra communal conflicts – starting from the era of John Lat – Daniel Awet Akot – Chol Tong and now Gen. Matur Chut Dhuol. People should know that insecurity in Lakes State isn’t a new thing. It’s been there as far as we know – and its main sources often stem out from political – economic and socio – cultural factors – and some of these factors could be beyond individual’s capacity.

The politicians in Juba should acknowledge what these men [John Lat – Daniel Awet Akot – Chol Tong & Matur Chut Dhuol] have done in Lakes State. Their work is laudable – and it’s their moral duty to give them their due credit – but call to remove the caretaker governor Matur Chut Dhuol – based on the alleged insecurity claims – doesn’t stand the test of honesty and transparency.

If insecurity could unseat the governors – then Kiir would end up dismissing all the governors of ten states.  However – what we know though in   Lakes State’s case is that – Juba which now serves as the shopping mall for power – is jam-packed with Lakes State’s politicians who know nothing else apart from worshiping their big tummies and cultivation of division and hatred among their own people.

Insecurity is everywhere in South Sudan and if anyone salivates for Dhuol’s remove because of insecurity – then that person would need to urgently see psychiatric doctors.

Death has now becomes people’s best friend in South Sudan and opponents of Dhuol’s administration should disclose to the public – the motives behind their unwarranted call for his down fall.

To waste no time – call for Dhuol’s ousting is politically motivated – and i would like to tell everyone that nobody will ever be good governor to people of Lakes State – particularly Agaar community. Whoever is coming to be the next governor – would face the same criticism from the same group – even if he/she is doing right things similar to what Matur Chut is doing as we speak in terms of security and development. Those who enjoy his removal would soon regret in the nearest future. His removal is not of his own – but it would affect the entire State in many ways.

Dhuol’s oppenents think that he’s an obstacle to peace in Lakes State – but the people of Lakes State don’t really know that they are problem to themselves. They’ve allowed themselves to become prisoners of their own attitudes. Matur Chut can go today –  but peace won’t prevail if people don’t change their attitudes of unforgiveness – revenge – gossiping – sectionalism – corruption and hatred among others – and see themselves as brothers and sisters from one boma, one county, one state and one country and work together in nation building to change their circumstances.

What these politicians do not know yet is that their frequent calls for governors’ removal are killing all hopes in the state – their hunt for governorship has been a source of failures in Lakes state and they’re now seen as people chasing the ghosts and they’ll soon realise that they’ve done a great mistake by assaulting people’s interest.

Matur Chut isn’t just a governor per see. He doubles as a commander of Lakes State’s security forces/governor. He’s an artery of Lakes state – particularly at this critical time when Riek Machar’s rebels are just at the corner in Unity State. 

Appointing someone with non – military background would be more catastrophic to the people of Lakes state. Removal of Matur Chut amounts to granting Machar’s rebels opportunity to destabilise the state. This shouldn’t happen because of few greedy individuals who are addicted to power.

Allowing these forks to grab state’s governorship post is more catastrophic than allowing caretaker governor Gen. Matur Chut Dhuol to cling onto power until security situation improves and election conducted.

There’s no any way Dhuol could relinquish state’s power to egocentric individuals who are acting against people’s interest. This won’t happen. The Juba –based politicians – who are now crying loud for Dhuol’s removal have a decade from now on to prove them that they really love the people of Lakes State.

Unfortunately, these forks are now doing more harms to show the people of Lakes State how much they hate them – by calling for the ousting of the governor which could potentially leave security vacum in the state already struggling to maintain law and order.

Matur Chut should remain governor of Lakes State for a while and whoever doesn’t want him in power should throw him/her self into the sea.

What we’re seeing is that – talks of governor’s removal in the few coming days will be thing of the past – but the Juba – based politicians – particularly those who hail from the Agaar community are yet to recover from their political cancer and excessive hatred against each other. They must first receive some sort of mutation – and when the process succeeds – this is where they might again think of state’s leadership. These politicians do not love people of Lakes State at large and their freedom.

I would love honourable members – now banging their chests that they’re capable to lead the Lakes State’s government amid insecurity to answer this question. If Matur Chut indeed steps down from the state’s power – who’ll replace him? You? God forbids!

I’m sure all of you would simultaneously be making your way  to that single post – and this is where the Lakes State’s problem lies. You’ve to accept that one person can lead at a time.

The trust of people of Lakes State is with Matur Chut Dhuol – and i don’t think that you can give your child’s milk to repentant thief to take it home!

Why you’re  so desperate to get governorship – while you’re already serving  in the national parliament is pretty simple: To loot with impunity!

But you’re however advised to think well and support Dhuol’s government if you’ve interest of Lakes State as your priority.

Matur Chut is an icon of hope to people of Lakes State and they’re all looking up to him to bring them that wanted liberty, security and quality of life which they’ve seen for so long.

Matur Chut – to people of Lakes State is the best servant they have now on the ground – and this means that they don’t have any obligation to deny him serving them because of the corrupt political system people have been dancing with around. Dhuol is the only one who will continue to lead the people of Lakes State with good heart.

Those calling on him to relinquish the power should stop and leave the guy alone!  Matur Chut has shown to the people of Lakes State and South Sudanese at large that he’s a typical leader who can serve everyone equally regardless of where they come from and this can be seen in the followings:

First, during Machar’s Juba revolt, the rebelling forces – commanded by Tanganya – a Nuer warlord, penetrated Lakes State’s territory through Awerial County with intention to capture it and make it their launching pad to attack Juba and other surrounding areas. With looted items from Juba – the rebels ended up fleeing for their dear lives – leaving everything behind after Matur Chut mounted counter offensive against them when he temporarily relocated his office to war zones of Greater Yirol counties including: Yirol West – Awerial and Yirol East. 

Second, when his elder brother Paramount Chief – Aperer Chut Dhuol was assassinated by Maker Mabor’s son –   allegedly for his father’s death who was killed by Aperer’s son – a case that dates back in 2002 – Matur Chut didn’t speak the language of revenge – but he instead called for calm and restrained his own family and clansmen not to take the law into their own hands. He clearly told them that the assignation of his brother is an individual’s crime and authorities would do their best to apprehend the person who committed the crime.

Third, when his daughter – Along Matur Chut Dhuol inadvertently killed a pregnant woman – allegedly that a deceased woman had allowed her goats to roam her farm – Matur Chut saw the case as an individual crime and asked the law enforcement agencies to take charge and his daughter remains behind bars as i write this article. Is this not fairness? How do you define fairness and transparency in your own world?

Fourth, as insecurity tops the list of issues facing the people of Lakes State – Matur Chut has rolled out a massive disbarment campaign and 560 Kalashnikov rifles have already been collected in Rumbek East County and about 20 heavy machine guns have also been collected in Rumbek Centre. This step is laudable!

Fifth, unlike other governors who served before him – Matur Chut made a significant difference in term of development. He has constructed General Secretariat Office and renovated the old office – where the other three governors served in uncaringly. Don’t give up yet. He has also constructed fence around freedom square – and everybody including those who are now yarning for his down fall are harvesting its fruit – and this calls into question that – if this man could achieve enormously like this in a short period of time – what would he do to the people of Lakes State if he’s given more chance and support?  I sincerely urge Lakes State’s politicians to put their people above politics.

Matur Chut has set an example of good leadership beyond anybody’s doubt – and there’s no any other time than now for Lakes State’s politicians to roll back their sleeves and throw the needed support behind their state’s government. 

Lakes State’s insecurity requires everyone’s effort – and to reduce it – the state and national governments are instantly required to undertake the following measures:

I. The national government should reject the recent vote of no – confidence passed by the National Parliament against the caretaker governor Gen. Matur Chut Dhuol. This would allow him to complete his measure task of security provision.

II. The national government should immediately ask all the Lakes State’s members of parliament – currently serving in the national parliament in Juba – to go back to their respective electorates. This would give them opportunity to initiate peace building initiatives with people who elected them to the parliament. Their continual stay in Juba – while their people are butchering themselves is a measure contributing factor to the crisis raging in the state.

III. The national government should send in the national army to seal off the Unity State – Lakes State border and conduct a comprehensive disbarment campaign in all eight counties of Lakes State including state’s capital Rumbek – but this disbarment campaign must be locally driven that aspires voluntarism. It should not generate further insecurity through the use of force which the national army is accustomed to.

IV. State and the national governments to set up Independent Court – headed by professional judges drawn from other parts of South Sudan to speed up unresolved murder cases and bring to justice individuals responsible for those murders.

V. The national government under the Interior Ministry to review the state’s police – because Lakes State’s police in its current sharp is highly disorganised with elderly and women topping the list. This makes the force unable to respond to security challenges. Reviewing it – as well as providing the needed equipment such as radios and cars would make it a formidable force that can respond to security challenges when needed.

VI. The state’s government together with Lakes State’s members of parliament serving in the national parliament in Juba – church leaders and civil society organisations to conduct state – wide reconciliation. This needs to be done as urgently as possible to allow the feuding communities to embrace peace – love and unity and denounce the current entrenched culture of revenge killing and hatred.

But now with vote of no – confidence bill sitting on his desk – Kiir is caught between a hard rock and a hard place. If he removes the governor Gen. Matur Chut Dhuol to reinforce the behaviour of Juba – based politicians – “frequent removal of Lakes State’s governors” – many people in the State including this author would be angered by such decision – and if he dumps the vote of no – confidence bill into the rubbish bin –  he would then likely be in trouble with those greedy politicians – but i would advise Kiir that being at odd with few greedy politicians is more better than being in trouble with the entire state’s population.

John Bith Aliap holds two Bachelor degrees in Social Work & Social Planning. He can be reached at [email protected].

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