May 12, 2015 (SSNA) — “It is unfortunate that one of the well mannered and highly disciplined officers at the ministry of defence could not stand the test of pressure which is regretful.” General Kuol Manyang Juuk, the minister of defence of Republic of South Sudan declared. “I have always admired him” he continued, “for being one of the well mannered officers but one of the officers we have trained to the international standard. He holds a masters of Arts from Liverpool University.” This lamentation speaks for itself, but it is important to mention Mr Juuk got it totally wrong; Major Lasuba Lodoru Wongo did not attend Liverpool University. He did his masters degree at Manchester University.
The agony of losing Major Wongo is coursing through the system like electric current causing shock to President Kiir’s government. Kuol Manyang was not only shocked but his thinking got paralysed due to the disorientation caused by the departure of the impeccable officer.
In trying to explain away the rebellion of Major Wongo, Kuol makes an empty statement subtly trying to associate the clean officer with being weak. “It is unfortunate…………(Major wongo) ………could not stand the test of pressure.” This is a baseless accusation with no credibility in it whatsoever. To add to the already obscured comments Kuol is a well known chauvinist who parades his insensitivity to women openly. To understand his mindset just read, ‘SPLA vows to end rebellion in Greater Upper Nile region’ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article53180
Kuol’s derogatory announcement of Major Wongo’s rebellion reflects the larger picture of the constant taunts the Jieng throw at the Equatorians as ‘cowards’ , ‘slaves’, ‘colonised’ and so on. If people ever wanted to know where the average Jieng gets these abusive words from they should look no further than the minister and the ignominious Jieng Council of Elders. This is a self styled group of national thieves and criminals responsible for the rot in the country masquerading as respectable elders.
Although Mr Juuk has resorted to a sexist and abusive language he unknowingly reveals the system’s worries about the prowess of Major Wongo’s potential in ending the abusive system in Juba. Mr Juuk confesses, “(Major Wongo’s) rebellion could undermine economic activities with neighbouring countries of Uganda and the Democratic of Congo (DRC) if he takes advantage of his knowledge of the triangle region straddling Uganda to the south of Juba and the DRC to the south west. “ Please see, ‘S. Sudan army expresses concern over defections in W. Equatoria’ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article53835
These worries are not without foundation. First, Major Lodoru’s declaration has been well received sympathetically by the majority of South Sudanese. He has ably and competently identified the malaise of South Sudan and skilfully prescribed the right medicine. His group’s objective is captured in this excerpt from his, “Why REMNASA was formed” received on 2nd February 2015 and published by South Sudan Nation website.
“For this reason, REMNSA therefore having been deeply touched by the urgent need to salvage the country from complete disintegration has developed firm determination to unite and reconcile all the 64 nationalities of South Sudan in order to maintain the existence of the country everybody fought to liberate for prosperity of the people and posterity of the future generation.”
What Major Wongo offers here is hope and peaceful existence for all the people of South Sudan, unlike the myopic recipe shoved down the people’s throat by the Dinkocratic system in Juba. Who does not want to live in a secure and safe environment? Who does not want to see his/her family exist and develop in peace while knowing the future is assured? Who does not want to see their family and their children grow and develop socially, educationally and economically in happiness? Everybody of-course wants that but the SPLM does not offer it. What they have offered so far is theft of public funds, ethnic cleansings, rampant killings, tribalism etc.
So the future clearly lies in the Lodorus, the Sules, the Mullas the Paride Tabans, and many others. The people of South Sudan have a choice to make between evil and good, between totalitarian rule and democracy, between terror and secure respectable existence, between Jieng tribalism and a pluralistic order.
The SPLA as the minister of defence confesses will not be able to stop REMNASA from paralysing the country. The leadership of the SPLA is already damaged beyond repair by their poor behaviour. The top brass have turned themselves into super businessmen owning huge business partnerships. Their capital was creamed from stolen salaries of the foot soldiers and the massive unsupervised budget accorded to the defence establishment. Most of the generals have become physically shapeless due to over indulgence in eating. Their tummies protrude meters in front of them impacting on their mobility. These are people who can no longer afford to fight. Their only interest in life now is in protecting their loot. Even their existence in the army is towards that end. SPLA currently is comparable to Idi Amin’s army routed by Tanzania in 1979; Joseph Mobutu‘s army routed by Kabila in 1997 and the list continues. Once an army becomes corrupt and business minded they can no longer defend a country. No wonder, had UPDF of Yoweri Museveni not come to President Kiir’s rescue in December 2013, SPLA for certain would have crumbled and President Kiir and his Dootku Beny would have been history.
With the emerging patriotic rebellion in Equatoria it is just a matter of time before the SPLM/A and its Dinkocracy is cleared out from South Sudan once and for good. It must be noted that this rebellion can be traced to two crucial events.
First, and foremost, the pains of December 2013. The Equatorians are victims of President Kiir’s grave crime against humanity. The killings of the Nuer in the presence of the Equatorians have had a huge psychological impact on them emotionally and mentally. In addition to nursing this destructive pain, the Jieng audaciously threatened the very existence of Equatorians. Having witnessed the horror of the cleansing of the Nuer and listening to the threats on their well being convinced the majority of Equatorians that the only way to safety is to struggle for freedom. After all, they are being killed daily, their lands are being grabbed daily, their women and daughters are being raped daily so on and so forth. Please see, ‘The Jieng’s Vile Plan to Ethnically Cleanse Equatoria’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201407280866.html
Secondly, IGAD’s incompetence and lack of professionalism infuriated the Equatorians. The Equatorians as stakeholders found themselves excluded from having a say on the country’s affairs. Basically IGAD indirectly in a naive way was encouraging the Equatorians to rebel because the peace talks actually became the talks “of those holding arms” and not of stakeholders in general. IGAD was thus rewarding the men of violence and despising the men of peace.
IGAD’s conduct in the whole peace mediation at best is disgraceful and at worst is a downright promotion of violence in South Sudan. It is disgraceful at best because the whole foundation for the solutions to the conflict is built on the belief that if SPLM/A is reunited peace can return to South Sudan. This view and the narrative that follows it ignore the real cause of the problem which is tribalism and President Kiir’s cleansing of the Nuer in December 2013 to silence his critics and challengers in the rotten SPLM party. Furthermore it is not right that power is yet again to be concentrated in SPLM/A which has failed the country.
In mediating, IGAD behaved like an Ostrich. It hid its head in the sand expecting peace to magically appear. This is the stuff of a deranged mindset. Peace will not come to South Sudan out of a biased mediation process, spiced with self serving interests and a hypocritical approach to the conflict.
IGAD’s approach at worst is a promotion of violence in South Sudan because IGAD itself has taken sides in the conflict in support of President Kiir who de-legitimised himself by engaging in ethnic cleansing of South Sudanese citizens whom he has a duty to protect. This is in spite of the fact that President Kiir in breach of the interim constitution recruited his own tribal militia who he unleashed on the Nuer people and opponents of the regime.
Plainly President Kiir is a criminal and should not be supported to remain in power. He cleansed Juba of the Nuer people in December 2013. Please see, ‘Timeline: formation of Mathiang Anyoor in South Sudan’ https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/timeline-formation-%E2%80%98mathiang-anyoor%E2%80%99-south-sudan and ‘Generals say Juba massacre was done by private militia, not SPLA’ https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/generals-say-juba-massacres-done-private-militia-not-spla
Once you have read these two pieces on Radio Tamazuj website, please proceed to watch ‘President Salva Kiir of South Sudan on BBC hard talk’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_-WncqcZ5o
Given the available evidence, the right place for President Kiir now is in the International Criminal Court to answer for his grave crimes against humanity. IGAD shamelessly in condoning impunity interferes with the release of the African Union report to the atrocities of December 2013. If this is not stalking the flames of war I do not know what it is. Please see, ‘IGAD on the Issue of Stakeholders’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201406060656.html
The man responsible for the trashing of President Kiir’s grave crimes against humanity is none other than his nemesis Dr Riek Machar. Right from the beginning he callously down played this serious crime by not calling it an ethnic cleansing of the Nuer. His reluctance allowed the IGAD to define the conflict from its own perspective dismissing the mass murder as the real cause of the conflict. What was disheartening was that on 22nd December 2013 a week into the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer, Riek in an interview with Al Jezeera naively announced to the world his wish to be the president of South Sudan. It seemed to him the killings of the Nuer did not matter at all. What was important for him was the presidency of South Sudan.
Here, Riek as usual has disappointed the people of South Sudan. In 1991 he correctly challenged Dr John Garang over the objective of the movement only to fall prey to President Omar Bashir of the Sudan. He was greatly deceived by Bashir to enter into an alliance of the devils without a clear strategy. They then set out to conquer South Sudan militarily. Within a period of less than one and half years the SPLM/A was ruthlessly beaten to a near total annihilation. The alliance with Bashir’s regime succeeded to capture the whole of South Sudan save Nimule.
Dr Garang sensing the demise of SPLM/A and triumph of Khartoum, he coiled his tail and literally begged the Equatorians to forgive the ills of the movement and return to save the country. Were it not for the late Eliaba Surur, Yaba Saverino Fouli, Rev. Kinga and the Equatorian leaders of the time who intervened and mobilised the Equatorians to re-join the fight, SPLM/A would have been history. When the Equatorians returned to the field they rolled back all the gains the unholy alliance of Bashir and Machar made. As expected the Jieng shamelessly claimed the victory as theirs pushing the Equatorians once again away from the centre of power.
The Equatorians have always been the saviours of South Sudan. Just prior to the independence of the Sudan in January 1956, the Equatorians rose up in Yambio, Juba and Torit igniting a war of resistance and secession against the Sudan. This initial war from 1955 to 1972 was fought to a large extent in Equatoria by Equatorians. They gave their all to realise South Sudan.
After signing the Addis Ababa agreement of 1972 granting South Sudan self rule, out of good will and in belief of South Sudan’s welfare, General Joseph Lagu took the highest patriotic act by handing political power to Mr Abel Alier while he remained in the army. Lagu then went out to train the next leaders of South Sudan. He identified John Garang and Salva Kiir among others and proceeded to train them. Here was an Equatorian working for the interest of the people and South Sudan. Unfortunately, Abel Alier instead of building the South, he embarked on fragmenting it tribally which led to Kokora.
Abel Alier’s right hand architects of tribal division and destruction unbelievably make the core of the current Jieng Council of Elders. Any wonder why the country is in chaos. These are the very people who created the environment that led to Kokora. Kokora simply was a reaction of Equatorians to Jieng abuse of power from mid 1970s to early 1980s just like now.
Again, in mid 1990s Equatorians saved SPLM as narrated above. Now, once more Equatoria is stepping in through REMNASA to rescue the country. This time round Equatoria needs to do a thorough clean job to ensure that proper institutions are set in place to ward off any abusers of power.
In the 60 years of South Sudan’s tragic existence – from 1955 to 2015, the Jieng have directly been responsible for 43 years of the chaos and disorder in the then region and now a country. This makes 72 percent of valuable time wasted. It is what can honestly be called a period of continuing darkness. The remaining 28 percent was lost to the oppression of the Arabs. Had South Sudan under the Jieng utilised this time productively South Sudan would perhaps be far ahead by now in all spheres.
Although the 72 percent of wasted time partly was also locked in the war of liberation, what needs to be recognised is the real failure of the Jieng to understand the real needs of South Sudan which is the forging of a united people under values that promote equality, justice and prosperity.
However, the humiliation and abuse Equatorians suffer, with the constant elimination of their leaders capped with constant taunts is bound to lead into a conflict. It is a no brainer to know that this kind of humiliation and subjugation of a once stout and proud people is eventually going to result in an ugly show down.
Here is where Major Wongo comes in. His rebellion is a reaction to 43 years of relentless humiliation. There is nothing the Dinkocratic system is going to do, that they have not already done. If it is killing, they are already doing it with style. If it is rape, they are already doing it to both women and men. If it is land grab, they are doing it. If it is marginalisation, they are doing it. If it is mass displacement of Equatorian communities, they are already doing it.
In such an environment though violence is undesirable and unacceptable, it is understandable why Major Wongo has taken up arms to resist and save the country from disintegration. The theory of Just War clearly endorses war when the victims have no recourse to peaceful solutions to their suffering and problems. In interest of self defence and saving the country Major Wongo can not be faulted. His situation is similar to Dr John Garang’s situation in 1983. If it was right for Garang and Salva Kiir to pick up arms against the oppressors in Khartoum then, it is equally right for Major Wongo to pick up arms against them the oppressors of today in Juba.
Knowledge accumulated from experiences from various conflict situations over the centuries tells us that abused persons are likely to become the future abusers or oppressed persons are likely to become the future oppressors. The evidence to this theory has been vindicated in post colonial states of Africa. South Sudan itself is the latest glaring indisputable case. Please see letter sent to President Salva Kiir by a group of pro South Sudan American activists. It proofs the point by saying: “This violence is shocking and has included rape, murder, theft, and destruction of property. We are particularly concerned about the evidence emerging of abuses by government forces in Jonglei. These terrible crimes occur because government forces believe they have the power to act with impunity. We joined you in your fight against these very abuses by the Khartoum regime for many years. We cannot turn a blind eye when yesterday’s victims become today’s perpetrators.” http://enoughproject.org/files/FriendsofSouthSudanLetter_July2013.pdf
Franz Fanon in his book, ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ beautifully sheds light on the pitfalls of violence. While he endorses it as a means of breaking the shackles of oppression he disagrees passionately with the supposed liberation fighters’ inability to break free from the ways of the ‘master’ which paradoxically is what they fought against. In a nutshell yesterday’s oppressed become tomorrow’s oppressor. What a curse? President Kiir and the SPLM/A are the living example of this curse articulated by Fanon.
The SPLM fought claiming it was liberating the oppressed people. Now see what they are doing and what is the difference between Bashir and Kiir. For instance, Bashir is intolerant of free speech and media and so is Kiir. The security services of Khartoum abuses the people in exactly the same manner the security of Juba does. In other words the break away from the Sudan has not provided the people of South Sudan with the true freedom they fought for. Thus there is need for the liberation to be finished.
It is only the conscious liberation movements such as the South West Africa People Organisation (SWAPO) of Namibia to some extent that can deliver to their people. Now, will Major Wongo and REMNASA be able to deliver on their promise. On balance of probability they are better suited to rescue the country especially given the fact that REMNASA’s declaration captures the real issues of South Sudan. Major Wongo comes across as a more clued up person on the issues of South Sudan.
There is no reason for a humble, well educated and disciplined army officer to break ranks unless he/she has come to a logical conclusion that things are at the tipping point. Indeed in South Sudan things have reached a tipping point. The only hope was in the IGAD peace talks. Unfortunately IGAD the mediator itself sexed out the stakeholders removing the vital required element for a real credible lasting solution. Unsurprisingly it has as a result of its naivety hit the buffers ending with a grand failure on its hands on 6th March 2015.
The survival of the country is in dire straits and an internal intervention is needed. Major Wongo has selflessly answered the call for the internal intervention and salvation of the country. His appearance on the national stage in many ways is comparable to that of Dr John Garang in 1983.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The author can be reached at [email protected].