By Riang Yer Zuor Nyak
January 17, 2015 (SSNA) — What started out as a preparation for the war in the later part of 2013 by unconstitutionally bringing Kuol Manyang from the Governorship of Jongulei State to the Ministry of the SPLA Affairs has now crystallized itself in a progressive process that has come to be seen as a tribal revolution against the Republic. Salva Kiir has now proven himself to be a man without nationalism. He is narrowly thinking on tribal lines. This is reflected by his political purges against non-Dinka members in his administration and appointments, to important government positions, of his tribesmen. Whatever the motives are, Salva is being too insensitive as the following analysis shows.
As the constitution makes it clear, the government of the Republic of South Sudan is divided into three branches: the legislative, executive and the judicial. Each of these branches is tasked to perform specific functions. While the legislative branch has the function of making laws, the executive branch executes or enforces the law. The judicial branch has the function of applying or interpreting the law.
The head of the Supreme Court is the head of the Judiciary of the Republic of South Sudan. Beginning from 2005, the judiciary was led by John Wuol Makec. In 2011, John Wuol Makec retired, and Salva’s choice in replacing him was the current Chief Justice, Chan Reech Madut. Both men are Salva’s tribesmen.
The Security Sector
In the security sector alone, he has successfully Dinkanized all the important positions (consciously or unconsciously). He started with Kuol Manyang as the Minister of the SPLA Affairs. Then, came Paul Malong as the General Chief of Staff. Within the Army, the other most important post is the Directorate of Military Intelligence which was once held by Mac Paul who was regarded by many South Sudanese as moderate. He replaced him with General Marial who was behind many criminal activities (when he was the head of the public security in the police services) against civilians in Juba, including an engineer who had a dispute with him over a plot of land. Salva had him released without explanation to the South Sudanese public. His reward for wracking havoc in the national capital is the appointment to such an important position, a ticket to commit more crimes.
In the National Security Services, three important positions are created. There is a Minister who is supposed to be coordinating security operations. Then below the Minister, there are two Directors-General—one for external and the other for internal. The Minister is left up there coordinating nothing. The External Security is given to a non-Dinka so that he can look away from the activities carried out internally. But, the internal one doing the dirtiest work is given to Akol Koor from Warrap.
Again in the security sector, the Minister for the Interior is Salva’s tribesman from Warrap. This is Aleu Ayieny Aleu. Within that Ministry, the head of the police—Inspector General—is General Pieng Deng Kuol from Salva’s tribe in Abyei (considered part of Warrap).
Economic and Finance Sector
In the economic and finance sector, the most important ones are the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and the Bank of South Sudan.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Mining is the most thoroughly ethnicized Ministry of all. The Minister, the Deputy Minister, the Undersecretary—not to talk of Directors-General and Advisors—are all from Salva’s tribe. He has appointed the President of NilePet from his tribe—not to even talk of the Vice-Presidents in the Oil Companies owned by the Government of South Sudan jointly with foreign companies. So, the whole oil business is a big mess. Salva is not ready for people outside of his tribe to know anything about the oil affairs.
The Bank of South Sudan is one of the two important institutions which have never been headed by any person outside of Salva’s tribe, the other one being the Supreme Court. The Bank was initially headed by Late Elijah Malok Aleng. For whatever reason, Salva did not feel comfortable with Aleng. He replaced him with the current Governor, Cornelius Koryom—again from his part of the country.
The last action that Salva has recently taken is the removal of Tisa Sabuni as the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning. In his usual manner, he removed the man without mentioning the reasons as to why the man suddenly became incompetent to run the Ministry. He simply removed him and made him an Advisor—his former position.
Former Minister Tisa Sabuni was promptly replaced with Deng Athorbei. Interestingly enough, Deng Athorbei was once the head of that Ministry. He was removed without any explanation as to why he was not fit to continue heading the Ministry. He is now appointed to head the same Ministry without explaining as to why he all of a sudden became a qualified individual to head that Ministry again that he once was unqualified to head. What has he now gained, in terms of qualification—that he did not have then?
On the basis of what Salva has been doing—appointing his tribesmen to the most important positions in his administration—the inference is that Deng’s number one recent qualification for the post is the fact that he comes from Salva’s tribe and the region. Other qualifications come second.
Does the Magok Rundial’s National Legislative Assembly have any constitutional obligation to question such removals and appointments?
Same Presidency Slams Machar’s Appointments as “Tribal”
The removal of Tisa Sabuni came a little after the same presidency had condemned the SPLM/A Chairman’s appointment of the military leadership of the Movement. Ateny Wek Ateny, in a statement to Radio Tamazuj on January 5, 2015, claimed that the appointments made by Dr. Riek Machar were on “tribal” basis.
In supporting his assertion, Ateny stated as follows: “When you look at the new reshuffle of the rebels, for instance General Dau Aturjong has been appointed as commander in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, while the chief of staff and his deputies are Nuer”.
First, the statement that the Chief of Staff and his deputies are Nuer without elaborating is misleading. Yes, the Chief of Staff is a Nuer, Major General Simon Gatwech Duel—the most senior of all the SPLM/A military commanders on the field. His Deputies include Major General Peter Gatdet Yak for Operations (Nuer), General Gat-hoth Gatkuoth Hothnyang for Logistics (Nuer), Major General Elias Lino Jada Kulang for Administration (Equatorian), Major General Dau Aturjong for Training (Dinka), and General Martin Terento Kenyi for Morale and Political Orientation (Equatorian).
Looking at the above paragraph, one can clearly see that Ateny’s statement was misleading, as there are several positions of deputies held by non-Nuer elements of our society. It shows either lack of attention to details on the part of Ateny, or that the man is averse to telling the truth. He might be thinking of South Sudanese as so simple that they can be fed with information without them independently knowing the truth.
Yes, it is true that General Dau is the commander in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state in addition to his position as Deputy Chief. And so are Generals Simon Gatwech Duel, Peter Gatdet Yak, Gat-hoth Gatkuoth, and Martin Kenyi in their respective states. If being appointed as commander in a state is a discriminatory act, then all the SPLM/A Generals, including the Chief of Staff himself have been discriminated against. So, why would it be particularly disappointing for Ateny to see that General Dau occupies such a position when his other colleagues are doing the same?
Second, Ateny has shown a rather interesting behavior in his condemnation of the appointments made by Dr. Riek Machar. It is interesting because it betrays the man and the mentality set by his boss. He stated: “Martin Kenyi and another person from Equatoria were appointed as deputies to the chief of staff although they were not more senior than General Dau Aturjong in the SPLA forces”.
First and foremost, the statement contradicts the first statement that the “…chief of staff and his deputies are Nuer”. In this second statement, he is clear that “Martin Kenyi and another person from Equatoria were appointed deputies to the chief of staff…” By another person from Equatoria, he meant Major General Elias Lino Jada Kulang. Therefore, the claim that the chief of staff and his deputies are Nuer is without a basis. He either mis-spoke, or he intentionally twisted the facts to suit his desire.
This leads to the second part of the second statement. It is about Major General Dau Aturjong. Ateny must be following the activities of the leadership of the SPLM/A with a particular attention to what those whom he thinks of as his tribesmen can get, in terms of positions. Is he trying to look after their welfare, or is he trying to find something negative so that he can talk them out of the SPLM/A as not belonging to? This is a tribal mentality that can only explain the tribally motivated purges that Salva has been on for a very long time. He needs to know these people better than he thinks he knows of them.
Without looking carefully at the information available to him so as to put himself in a better position to criticize, Ateny appears to be against the appointment of the two men from Equatoria, especially when he failed to see General Dau’s name. Why would he care whether or not General Dau is promoted above Generals Kenyi and Kulang? He has forgotten that General Dau is a full General in the SPLM/A, and does not need Ateny to advocate for him. Ateny failed to advocate for him (Gen. Dau) when he was in Salva’s government. Why would he do that now when he (Ateny) has no influence on the leadership of the Movement? After all, General Dau Aturjong Nyuol is not out there in the bush looking for a job. He is there doing his part in the liberation of his country from tyranny.
So, the above two statements were made by Ateny, attacking Dr. Riek Machar’s appointments to the SPLM/A’s military structure as “tribal”. Can this, really, be a legitimate attack from a presidency that has tribal records such as the ones analyzed above? They think that they are cheating the people of South Sudan. But, this is self cheating. South Sudanese are way smarter than that.
Salva Kiir is definitely working towards something, the completion of which is near. Most of the times, many a people think that he does not know what he is doing. But, if one looks at the trend that he has been consistently taken, one can conclude that he surely knows what he is doing. The question is whether or not what he does and knows is in the best interest of the country. Is it, also, in the best interest of the type of the tribe that he thinks he is working towards creating?
One cannot think of himself as a national leader when one embarks on political purging of people who do not hail from his tribe and replace them with those from his tribe. Placing the whole security of the country in the hands of his tribesmen is a sign that he does not trust South Sudanese from other tribes. It also gives an indication that Salva has an agendum that he only trusts his tribesmen to fully execute.
In case some execution goes wrong and legal actions have to be taken against him or his men, he has his tribesman sitting at the helm of the highest court in the land to make sure that he gets away with crimes. That is his insurance policy against any legal attacks in the future.
It would also be reasonable for any South Sudanese to conclude that Salva has placed his tribesmen in charge of the economic sector of the government so as to facilitate and cover up financial thefts. This way, corruption will have to go on unabated.
Whatever Salva is doing is against South Sudan as a country. He is taking tribalism to an extreme level. In a country that he has badly divided on tribal lines, he should at least be sensitive when it comes to the balance of power. Removal of Tisa came at the wrong time. He thinks of it as a chance for furthering domination.
But, dominating a government is never a sign that a tribe dominates a country. It is only a sign that the person running the government, as the Chief Executive Officer making appointments, is tribal. He can go any time and his doings can swiftly be undone, with a stroke of a pen, by the person replacing him.
If this last point is the case, then why waste time dividing the country on tribal lines when he cannot sustain it forever? He must, definitely, be stopped before completing what he has, so far, embarked on doing—the insensitive tribal revolution against the country.
The author is a South Sudanese. He can be reached at [email protected].