Are the East African leaders taking advantage of South Sudanese by prolonging the civil war?

Photo: IGAD

By James Tot Mathiang

September 4, 2018 (SSNA) — While South Sudanese Citizens worry about the brutal civil war in the country, it has now been shown that they must also keep a watchful eye on those who have been given the responsibility to serve as mediators. Even though the president of South Sudan is maintaining his relationships with East African leaders, Uganda, Kenya, and Sudan are taking advantage of his vulnerable country by annexing the parts of South Sudan land to them owns. Why did the South Sudanese leaders fail to notice the East Africans interest behind the peace negotiation? The obvious explanation may be a power struggle or tribalism. Yet, the reason might be that the so-called leaders are too inexperienced and bigoted to look beyond their yard. Ever since the war began in South Sudan, East African countries are beneficiaries. From the time when the CPA was concluded, South Sudan has been a home to millions of East Africans who millions of them do businesses without proper documents. Therefore, this article will argue that South Sudanese leaders, especially those in the current government are incompetent and that young South Sudanese and intellectuals must unite and fight against toxic tribalism but work for the betterment of all.

“Free-for-all” immigration policy (corrupted immigration policy),

When the current situation in South Sudan, is examined and taken in a broader sense, one of the faults and the failure of Salva Kiir government, was a “free-for-all” immigration policy in the country. After the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is concluded and signed in 2005, in Nairobi, Kenya, the illegal immigration began in some East African countries because the current immigration policy in South Sudan is corrupted and a lot of unregulated immigrants are operating illegally in the country. Instead of resettling its citizens who have been refugees for more than 20 years, the government of South Sudan had started giving all the businesses to foreigners, while government officials embezzled billions of dollars of oil revenue and foreign aids. Because of “free for all” or corrupted immigration policy, millions of the East African people, including the prostitutes of Nairobi, Kenya, Kampala, Uganda and Addis Ababa Ethiopia, came to South Sudan and took over all the businesses. Ever since the Sudan government gave South Sudan, self-rule, the life of ordinary South Sudanese who live in big cities like Juba, Malakal, Bor, and Bentiu, has become harder because there were limited job opportunities and all the businesses including tea shops were run by the foreigners and they increase prices whenever they want. As a result of too many illegal immigrants in the country, commodity price increases, disease prevalence was beyond belief. Everything, including Food and clothing in the country, was increased in an astonished fashion. For instance, the hotels in Juba were becoming more expensive, almost close to hotel room price in Toronto, Canada, and New York, in the United States.

Inception of corruptions

Despite the ill behaviors shown by foreigners working in the country, the people of South Sudan were still hoping for a bright future after the decades of chaos. But following the independence, the number of foreigners who were doing businesses in South Sudan had begun to increase because of the South Sudan strong economy and currency value. By the time (2011-2012), $1 US Dollars was equivalent to 2.5 SSP (now $1 US is equal to 130.25 SSP). While the life has become too expensive for ordinary citizens, massive corruptions, nepotism and patronage politics began to skyrocket. Some seniors, former guerrilla fighters who want to become rich in a short period of time started to partner with foreign traders who operate illegally in the country. As a result, of that partnership, billions of dollars were smuggled out of the country through foreign businesses. Many scams involving national ministers, administrators and state government officials came to light. More specifically, President Salva Kiir Mayardit and many national ministers bought luxurious houses in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, UK, USA, Australia, and Canada. In the Sentry report by Enough Project (2016), Salva Kiir family, including his 7-year-old son was found to be one of the major shareholders of the big businesses in the country including oil and mining industries. Salva Kiir as the head of the state bought many houses in the countries like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Sudan. On top of that senior officials in the government have private residences in South Africa, Canada, USA, UK, and Australia. Consequently, the Transparency International report (2017), ranked South Sudan as the world’s second most corrupt country behind Somalia.

East African countries’ interest is prolonging the civil war,

Both the South Sudanese and international community examined the fact that the East African leaders are pushing the violence to go on so that they can enrich themselves with South Sudan oil revenue and golds. Somebody like Museveni has been an impediment to any kind of lasting peace in South Sudan because he persistently proposes things that would never bring peace to the country. The South Sudan current peace agreement that consists of 4 vice presidents is a Museveni’s copycat of DRC peace agreement between Kabila and former rebels that resulted in the loss of too many lives.

Although Salva Kiir regards Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta as partners in the war against oppositions, Yoweri Museveni is still doing his treacherous and cunning business in South Sudan. Even though Museveni has become a wild consumer, Salva Kiir still seeks military support from Uganda because he wants to be in power beyond 2022. That means the suffering of millions of people inside and outside the country is not president Kiir’s priority. First, Museveni was given an oil deal by the Juba government to keep Salva Kiir in power, but Museveni is now taking more than oil revenue. Recently, the observers found out that the gold mining in Kapoeta, South Sudan is partially owned and run by the Uganda government. As well, part of the land in Yei River has been annexed to Uganda by Museveni. Sadly, Kenya and Sudan are also taking some land from South Sudan’s border towns. Last, but not least, the Kenyan government has been busy jailing and illegally charging innocent South Sudanese despite the East African membership that was supposed to allow a free moment for all East African citizens. Instead of condemning the Kenyan government’s ill behavior toward the South Sudanese living in Kenya, Salva Kiir asked Uhuru Kenyatta to talk with President Donald Trump on his behalf.

Stop! Tribal Mindset “Us Vs. Them”

Since all the atrocities have already been committed, and the country and its resources are being sold out by the government of South Sudan, the citizens of South Sudan, regardless of the tribes, need to find a Lasting Solution to their internal problems and then deal with the external ones. As a matter of fact, it is now a time for South Sudanese intellectuals and youth to clearly and consciously think about their future, rather than tribal differences. If the South Sudanese want to change the course and live productively in this tribal or political bewilderment, they must understand what being a free person means in one’s own country. It is great and beautiful to have 64 tribes in South Sudan, but at the same time, the South Sudanese should put great emphasis on the idea that they are all South Sudanese regardless of their tribal or political affiliations. Everyone can agree that there has been a lot of atrocities committed, and division basis on tribes, but it is not too late for South Sudanese intellectuals and youth to repair those damages and live together once again. All in all, South Sudanese must stand together and take their country from the human dealers.

Mr. President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, I have three important questions for you:

  1. It is no longer a secret that your right-hand man Mr. Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is annexing some land in South Sudan, especially in the Yei River state. Besides, Kenya and Sudan are taking South Sudan land as well. What is your defense of this land claim?
  2. The civil war has been going for more than 5 years and there is no clear winner between you and the rebels. So, do you still think that you can still defeat the opposition forces?
  3. The government of Kenya has cracked down on South Sudanese living in Kenya, and you as the president did not release any statement regarding Kenyan’s bad behavior toward your citizen. Who do you think would intervene? And where is the East African membership that supposed to protect our citizens like it protects Kenyans living in South Sudan?

There is no doubt that the East African countries are taking advantage of the political crisis in South Sudan. If for instance, the people of South Sudan were more united like in 2010, the Uganda and Kenya would never attempt to annex the South Sudan land to their countries. Therefore, the South Sudanese citizens should leave their internal differences, and deal with external issues. On the other hand, the people of South Sudan should also ensure that the country is greater than personal or tribal interests. All in all, this writer is encouraging South Sudanese intellectuals and youth to get out of their comfort zone and make a positive change in the country.

The Author is a South Sudanese Canadian, who has written a lot of articles pertaining to South Sudan Civil-War. And you can reach the author at [email protected].

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