By James Okuk, PhD
November 27, 2015 (SSNA) — Friday 27th November 2015 had marked a very important step forward on the path of peace in the Republic of South Sudan despite lagging behind the schedules in the last wasted three months of pre-transition period. This good news had not happened out of a chance but determination by the Former Botswana President and prominent Veteran African personality, H.E. Festus Gontebanye Mogae.
His biography and profile alone tells in advance the wonders of peace dividends that could be expected in South Sudan soon. Gontebanye was born on 21th August 1939 at Serowe in the Central District of Botswana where he grow up and pursued his first formal education. Later he went to study economics at the universities of Oxford and Sussex in the United Kingdom.
After graduation in 1968 he started his public service career as an officer of planning in Botswana’s Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, in which he became Permanent Secretary from 1975 to 1976.
From 1976 to 1980 he served in Washington D.C as Alternate and Executive Director of International Monetary Fund for Anglophone Africa.
From 1980 to 1992 he became Governor of the Bank of Botswana, Permanent Secretary of the Office of Former Botswana President Quett Masire, Secretary to the Cabinet and Supervisor of Elections.
He became the Minister of Finance and Development Planning before he was appointed Vice-President of Botswana from 1992 to 1998.
Finally, Mr. Mogae became the President of Botswana on Democratic Party (BDP)’s ticket for two consecutive terms (from 1998 to 2008), after which he voluntarily retired to give his Vice President Lieutenant General Ian Khama a chance of alternative but continuous good leadership.
During his tenure, President Mogae enabled Botswana to demonstrate how a country with precious natural resources and agricultural opportunities (especially cattle keeping) can promote sustainable prosperity, preventive health, education, good governance and stability in a continent where too often mineral wealth – like diamond and oil – has become a source of curse.
President Mogae has received a number of honors such as Naledi Ya Botswana – Gaborone (2003); Grand Croix – Madagascar (2006) ; Officier de I’Order Nationale du – Mali (1977); Global Marketplace Award by the Corporate Council on Africa – Houston, USA (May 1999); Distinguished Achievement Award for AIDS Leadership in Southern Africa by the Medunsa Trust – Washington DC, USA (June 2000); the 2002 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference Weekend Chairman’s Award – Washington D.C., USA (September 2002); the Honorary Fellow – University College Oxford (2003); and the Knight Commander of the Most Courteous Order of the Kingdom of Lesotho (2004).
He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy on 20th March 2008 for his exemplary leadership that contributed to the making of Botswana a good model country for Africa.
He was chosen as the winner of the 2008 Mo Ibrahim Prize for African good leadership despite the criticism of Survival International based on the issue of his Republican Decree to evict the Bushmen from their ancestral land rights in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002. This was seen as disrespect for minorities even while pleasing the majority. The Bushmen filed a legal case in 2006 where Botswana High Court declared the eviction ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’. One of the judges regarded the Decree as starvation of Bushmen to death.
Along with former President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Mr. Mogae co-chaired a sustainable development symposium, hosted by the UONGOZI Institute in collaboration with Club de Madrid. He served as the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Change before the IGAD appointed him to become the Chairman of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) for peace in South Sudan.
Since the first time H.E. Mogae visited Juba and now after launching his office rights and duties officially, we could not stop admiring the sagacious courage and serving humility from this 76-years great African statesman. Despite the fact that the IGAD Head of States and Governments wanted him to wait longer for the start of the challenging peace mission, he defied all the honors and decided to land alone and quietly in Juba and Bor for warming up the beginning of implementation of the ARCISS process immediately as the people of South Sudan don’t deserve any further long wait in suffering.
When the GRSS tried to give a lame duck excuse that there is no money for implementation of the ARCISS and air tickets for repatriation of the FDs and SPLM-IO peace delegates, President Mogae intervened immediately to pay the money via IGAD Secretariat. He does not tolerate mediocrity. He understands it very well that peace is a strategy worth sacrificing for, especially for a young African country like South Sudan. Malicious tactics have no place in his world.
Because of this unique and extraordinary conviction, the JMEC’s Chairman won the confidence of the Trioka (United States, United Kingdom and Kingdom of Norway) who have now thrown their superpower weight of support behind him. The First impression about him is, indeed, becoming the right impression! The Trioka, in a press statement released timely on Thursday 26th November 2015, warned the SPLM political leaders to end the suffering inflicted on the population of South Sudan for the last past 23 months of the senseless war of leadership succession. According to their findings, “Each day, the fighting and abuses continue, an already grave humanitarian situation grows worse”, hence, they urge the warring parties to establish the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) immediately and recommit to the timeline of the ARCISS lest the peace process will unravel.
On the other hand, the Troika commended H.E. Mogae for hosting the JMEC’s first meeting in Juba and moving ahead the boat of peace despite the stumbling blocks put on the way by the heartless war mongers who want to destroy the virgin country for their parochial selfish interests. The Troika countries have put it categorically that any faction of the SPLM that fails to participate fully in launching of the JMEC and work jointly with Chairman Festus G. Mogae, will be regarded as a promoter of further delays of ARCISS implementation for the wrong sake of continuation of war and suffering. The anti-peace elements will be made to pay bitterly for the consequence of their intransigence. It is only a matter of short time!
The Trioka countries have already asked President Salva Kiir Mayardit to reverse the EO#36/2015 of the 28 new states for South Sudan and are urging the SPLM-IO to not hold the ARCISS hostage as the JMEC’s Chairman will use his Veto Powers soon to defer it if Kiir doesn’t act quickly in the set time. There is no more time to waste neither is there time for jokes on the value of peace. After all the on-going senseless war has no justification because the Report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) had it that there was no coup attempt nor genocide that took place in Juba. The Hybrid Court shall give final verdicts for convicting the proven war criminals on individual bases.
Congratulations to H.E. Festus Gontebanye Mogae for his first day in office that demonstrated the beginning of Phase II of ARCISS Implementation. He is going to be our unforgettable hero because of his sacrifice to save South Sudan from abyss of war.
All the peace-loving people should rally behind his leadership for peace. He will be the main engine for directing the implementation of the ARCISS. Thanks be to God!
President Mogae has told the warring leaders that enough is enough for empty talking. He want to see to it that the money that was spent on IGAD-Plus mediated peace deal does not go to waste for nothing tangible. He will remind the leaders of South Sudan, especially the SPLM warring factions, to apologize unconditionally to the people as required in the Preamble of the ARCISS.
He will tell them to start preparation of the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity in accordance with the provisions of Chapter One.
He will urge them to put into action Chapter Two so that Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements become operational as Uganda gets appreciated for withdrawning its allied forces from the territory of South Sudan except in Western Equatoria. The mercenaries from Sudan shall be warned not to meddle in fueling violence and looting in the territory of South Sudan any more, otherwise, they will risk getting disarmed as provided in ARCISS.
As long as the leaders of the warring parties and TGoNU show humility and good faith, the JMEC’s Chairman will urge the donors to come to aid of South Sudan by helping it implement Chapter Three so that Humanitarian Assistance and Reconstruction could be made more possible. Along side with these, he will pressure South Sudanese leaders to start getting very serious and responsible on realizing Chapter Four on Resource, Economic and Financial Management Arrangements from the revenues that are already available in the country.
In order not to give future war criminals more incentives, President Mogae will push for implementation of Chapter Five so that Transitional Justice, Accountability, Reconciliation and Healing are served duly in time for both victims and perpetrators.
And because one of the major problems of South Sudan is the constitution that has given exaggerated absolute centralized powers to the President of the Republic, Chairman Mogae will encourage implementation of Chapter Six on Parameters of Permanent Constitution where the issue of federalism and taking towns to villages shall be properly deliberated and addressed on sufficient and well-advised consultative consensus.
After all these reminders, President Mogae will officially practice his Veto Powers in accordance with Chapter Seven of ARCISS and warn the leaders of South Sudan not to temper with the agreed Supremacy of ARCISS and Procedures for Amendments as stipulated in Chapter Eight.
H.E. Mogae will exhort the representatives of the signatory Parties (GRSS, SPLM-IO, FDs and Other Political Parties), Other Stakeholders, Adherents, Guarantors and Witnesses to honor their signatures and not conduct any unilateral dangerous subversive actions on the ARCISS, because this shall be risky for the survival of the sovereignty and dignity of the new country. From civilized soft landing, it might turn to a nasty crashing landing if the warring leaders don’t take it seriously to honor their commitment for sustainable peace in the country.
The Trioka, the frontline states and the entire African Union shall not allow South Sudan to become a second Syria. Thus, the SPLM warring leaders are hereby urged to respect this rare Great African Veteran because he is not going to give up on the blessings of peace in the coming three years and even beyond in South Sudan May he continues to have good health and long life of strength of wisdom and honest service of humanity in Africa.
The end is now around the corner for the political liars and war propagandists to be shamed and retired for good. It is high time for truth tellers and peace missionaries to unite and move the new country forward in a desirable environment of peace for prosperity. Viva South Sudan!
Dr. James Okuk is a lecturer of politics reachable at [email protected].