By Elhag Paul
February 27, 2016 (SSNA) — The destruction of the fabric of Equatoria’s society by the Jieng through routine herding of cattle into established settlements to cause disruptions in life style followed by massive violence cannot under any circumstance be termed as an acceptable norm of social interaction. President Salva Kiir and the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) have failed squarely on issues of social and human management. Their plan to install themselves as elites in South Sudan already looks tattered. To get the point just access and watch this URL: ‘Independent South Sudan: A Failure of Leadership’ http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/independent-south-sudan-a-failure-of-leadership-121015
The recent problem in Lobonok (Vice President James Wani Igga’s home area) in southern Bari is not the first and it will not be the last. http://www.southsudannation.com/?s=lobonok The same intruders and aggressors have been doing it since 2005 throughout Equatoria. Nimule, Mundri etc stand out as examples. The aggressive cattle herders have consistently refused to behave and promote peaceful coexistence with the local people and their way of living. Wherever they go in Equatoria the Jieng wantonly aggress the locals with impunity with the government looking the other way pretending not to see.
Always there are no investigations to crimes committed by the heavily armed cattle herders (Jieng) with their victims’ grievances remaining unaddressed by the government. In the then Sudan, the government had a firm grip on law and order keeping the Jieng on check which made them to behave and respect law and order. However, with South Sudan becoming independent with the government in Juba fully dominated by the Jieng the problem has become unbearable. Reason: Simple! The Jieng “hijacked” the state of South Sudan and they armed the average Jieng while disarming all the Equatorian people creating a situation of huge power imbalance in their favour. Worse still, they have disabled the judiciary deliberately to be blind to non Jieng grievances.
The only tribes that have managed to defend themselves against the Jieng are the Murle and the Nuer to a certain extent simply because these tribes are equally armed. Were the Equatorians to be armed, the Jieng would not be traversing freely in Equatoria as there would be a cost to such aggressions. While the Jieng are still abusing state power, this problem is unlikely to go away without it being addressed adequately by the Equatorians. In absence of a properly functioning state as now in South Sudan there is need for Equatorians to find a way of how to survive the ongoing onslaught on their way of life.
The deliberate intrusion of the Jieng into Equatorian way of life with its painful disruptions of normal daily life appears to be a Jieng strategy to achieve their much trumpeted objective of “born to rule”. All the signs are that they want to achieve their objective in an atmosphere of chaos. Now if one surveys the landscape of Equatoria Jieng aggression stands out. This is even at this time when the country is supposed to be in peace. Certainly, for the average South Sudanese peace has not yet come. For those who would argue to the contrary, let them explain to us why are the United Nations Protection camps still swelling with people seeking protection. These innocent people live under constant fear due to being preyed on by the SPLA, the Jieng military machine. For example, in this week the SPLA attacked the civilians who have taken refuge in Malakal UN Protection Camp. Please see, ‘Mass killing at UN protection site in South Sudan’ https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/mass-killing-un-protection-site-s-sudan Let them also explain to us why South Sudanese are flocking to Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda as refugees seeking safety.
Internally, look at what is happening in Nimule, Mundri, Yambio, Wonduruba etc. Does this show prevalence of peace or a state of war? The Agreement for Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) is supposed to be the saviour, but this unfortunately is now questionable given the glaring violations of its provisions by the government. On the other hand the poor and ineffective leadership of Dr Riek Machar is not helping. The SPLM-IO has already committed serious blunders in the implementation process. Peter Lokarlo in his article, ‘Firm Foundation first and the roof later, Mr Mogae’ draws the attention of those concerned to the pitfalls ahead should they continue on this perilous path. http://www.southsudannation.com/firm-foundations-first-and-the-roof-later-mr-mogae/
Riek lackadaisically has given the government that created war with its own people and committed ethnic cleansing of its own people the upper hand in slicing the agreement apart. Depressingly, the government appears to be operating a violate-ARCISS-and-prevail strategy without any stiff opposition. If Riek wants a positive outcome, he needs to wake up from his political slumber and use the mechanisms in ARCISS to hold the president and his acolyte to account. He needs to involve the guarantors at this stage because things are not looking good. Otherwise this implementation process will be drawn out for a long period allowing President Kiir and the JCE to buy ruling time at the expense of the suffering of the people. There is a risk in this scenario. The longer the implementation process takes time the more likely the international community becomes fatigued leading to its slow withdrawal with possibility of South Sudanese returning into all out civil war. Agreements not implemented in time often breakdown at the end.
So far the implementation of this agreement does not indicate South Sudan will see any meaningful reforms. The signs are that Riek and SPLM-IO are being conditioned to return to the fold with the tribal system returning to their ways of looting and misgovernance as usual. All the destruction done by the SPLM including the killing of tenth of thousands of innocent people and the massive displacement of people is going to be scarified for SPLM unity and return to business as usual. For those who have believed and thought Riek would be a saviour, they have another thing coming. Leopards do not change their skins.
SPLM’s unity means the repair of the Jieng broken down killing machine. It means South Sudanese are again empowering the Jieng to continue with their abuse of the state. If the other 62 tribes of South Sudan want to see peace in South Sudan they had better walk away from this monster called the SPLM. This horrible organisation only benefits the Jieng and their informers. It is of no benefit whatsoever to South Sudan. Leave it to the Jieng and join your fellow countrymen in the other parties to realise a democratic peaceful South Sudan. Contrary to what South Sudan Television Station preaches, the unity of SPLM is not a unity of South Sudanese people. It is the empowerment of the Jieng and it will not bring peace. It will bring more catastrophes with Jieng oppression.
So what does this mean to Equatoria in context of peaceful life? Will it stop the constant disruptions of life in Equatoria such as in Lobonok? Unfortunately not. The pattern of Jieng aggression in Equatoria since 2005 has been consistent with support of the government. For example, the Jieng invasion and occupation of Nimule and the irresponsible utterance of the former Minister of Interior Aleu Ayeny Aleu. The Jieng invasion of Mundri etc with the latest being Lobonok suggest the Jieng have a strategy to establish settlements in Equatoria to realise their objective of “born to rule” through promotion of chaos and instability.
It must be remembered that the Jieng are known for displacing peaceful communities deliberately to acquire land. For example, Tonj originally was a Bongo land. The Jieng encroached on it and wrestled it away from the Bongo people forcing most of them to relocate to Central African Republic. The Jieng themselves are victims of displacement. It is possible that they learnt this behaviour from the Arabs who displaced them forcefully from Shendi all the way to Khartoum in the Sudan to their present locations. Their latest experience is Abyei. The present area demarcated as Abyei is less than 20 percent of the original Abyei which includes Muglad and Meiram. This Arab land grab is done in day light with the so called “born to rule” being completely paralysed. Now they are transferring what has been done on them on the Equatorians.
Therefore, the disruption of normal life in Equatoria consistently and persistently appear to be designed to breakdown the social, economic and political structures of the various social groups to weaken them in order to allow the Jieng to settle and install themselves as the rulers. So the ongoing chaos is done to create a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Such feeling is part of a process of achieving subjugation of the people. Central to this feeling of helplessness and hopelessness is the absence of community leadership. With Equatorian leaders of all levels frequently being eliminated, people find themselves voiceless, demoralised and hopeless. In effect what the Jieng are doing is that they are normalising chaos in order to condition the people in Equatoria to accept the unacceptable as normal while at the same time constructing a new culture where they as holders of power are by default accommodated in their new conquests and colonies.
Crucially it must be noted that in all the chaos going on in Equatoria, the Jieng do not feel the negativity of all the horrible things they are doing to the Equatorians. To the contrary they feel good and they like it which motivates them to carry on. This is why President Kiir and the JCE do not see any need for a genuine reform and peaceful co-existence. It was not for nothing when both Dr John Garang and Mr Ambrose Riing Thiik (the chairman of the Jieng Council of Elders) in the Rumbek meeting of 2004 argued against any reforms in SPLM/A. Garang said, “Our imperfect structures have brought us (the Jieng) to the present day. Let us (the Jieng) not throw away these structures now, otherwise we will throw ourselves (Jieng) away.” Ambrose concurred reinforcing the point by saying, “I want to say that a lot has been done by a few. Most of the things done are imperfect, but they have served us (Jieng).” Note the structures being referred to here are the SPLM/A and the state of chaos in the country. If you are an Equatorian or a non Jieng, ask yourself as to why you should support these structures.
In a nut shell the real problem in South Sudan is the SPLM/A because it is the vehicle through which the Jieng drive their tribal agenda of land grab and supremacist ideas. Therefore, the logical thing to do if you are an Equatorian or a non Jieng is to quietly detach yourself from this Jieng machine of terror and join the other parties. If you do this, you will have played a big role in beginning your own emancipation, the emancipation of Equatoria and the emancipation of South Sudan.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected].