BY: Joana Adams, RSS, AUG/27/2013, SSN;
It is high time the SPLM tore down the misleading slogan of “equality, justice, freedom and prosperity for all,” which litters our streets and invades our public spaces. Recent events in the country have demonstrated that the president is a dysfunctional and fundamentally wicked man who is gradually stripping away our human liberties and dignities.
Human beings are by nature autonomous, it is the ability to make autonomous decisions which differentiates man from animals. It is for this reason that we must vigorously defend and protect our hard won freedom and independence.
Over the last 8 years, Salva Kiir, the man whom southerners thought was a “good-guy” in contrast to his predecessor, late Dr. John Garang, has gradually transformed himself into a national monster. We gave him the chance, because each time Salva did something wrong, we never called “a spade a spade” but gave excuses on his behalf, just as we did during the liberation struggle when we never wanted to “rock the boat”.
This mentality continued as late as 2010 during the general elections, when we had the chance to scrutinise his credentials but didn’t. By the time of re-writing of the Transitional Constitution 2011, it was too late to challenge President Salva or hold him to account. The incumbent had already consolidated his grip on power and very few dared to oppose him.
The lawyers whom the country thought they could rely upon, to use their professional expertise and judgements to deliver for us a Constitution worthy of the name, failed the nation. They chose to appease Salva Kiir to protect their jobs and privileges and gave Salva Kiir a Constitution which made him above the emerging nation’s supreme law. And now the president is using it with vengeance.
What is alarming is that within a short space of two years, Salva Kiir has turned the country which our people won with their blood and sweat into a personal kingdom. Initially the people of South Sudan wanted preservation of the federal provisions in the Interim Constitution 2005; they also wanted a clear separation of powers— firstly, between the three organs of the state: i.e. the executive, the legislature and the judiciary at the national level; and secondly separation of powers between the federal government and state governments.
They got none. Even the sacred Bill of Rights for which southerners fought consecutive Khartoum regimes, sacrificed and died in their millions for is being routinely derogated.
Just to emphasize the point, President Kiir has further damaged our nascent state institutions by appointing his relatives to head our judiciary and the Bank of South Sudan. Why are we surprised when injustice is the order of the day and millions of public funds are being siphoned daily into external private accounts and fake companies?
It has finally come to light that the President actually writes directly to these appointee relatives instructing them what to do, thereby, directly interfering with established institutional mechanisms and procedures. By so doing, he is not only violating our Constitution but is fundamentally dismantling the very foundation of our nascent country and its fledgling democracy.
In the most unprecedented manner in the short history of modern South Sudan, the president turned monarch rules by decrees. Worst of all, in peace time, southerners are being killed daily by their own security forces under the careful watch of the President.
We may not like it but it is fair to say that there is blood in the hands of the incumbent president, Salva Kiir Mayardit.
In deed there is no other way to describe Kiir’s regime other than that it is a system ”rotten to the core”; a statement which made the eminent Professor Nyamlel Wako, the former deputy minister of foreign affairs to be swiftly dismissed. This Professor who like many others abandoned his relative comfort in the US and answered to the call of nation building is now being humiliated and literally being made to roam the streets of Juba.
If there was no tribalism, the Professor should have actually been the then minister of foreign affairs to be deputised by Nial Deng and not the other way round.
The painful contradiction here is that whereas Salva and his inner circle are barking that there are no qualified southerners to run our systems, or develop policies, he is following the footsteps of former African dictators who were essentially anti-educated people, and did their part in forcing exodus of educated nationals into distant and foreign countries.
Today we are sadly seeing the learned from amongst us being silenced, eliminated or forced into exile in neighbouring countries. Extermination of our educated people who should be helping to lay the foundation for our economy, industry, technology, education, medicine… etc. should one day be accounted for.
In a short period of time, the president has become addicted to abusing power and abusing his people. If we thought that Salva Kiir would lead us to freedom from the atrocities, oppression, marginalisation and dehumanisation by Khartoum, and into the celebrated promised-land for all, we were mistaken.
Little did we know that our very own “liberators” in the form of Salva Kiir Mayardit, the boy from Warrap, would waste no time in turning our hard-won independence into a play-ground for testing his man-hood.
Salva Kiir can now remove elected governors at will. He has removed an elected VP his running mate during the 2010 general elections without observing the Transitional Constitution 2011, which requires him to secure 2/3 parliamentary majority should he desire to remove the former Vice-President.
I am not a supporter of Riek Machar, not yet, but this was unconstitutional and the truth must be said. Only people who have sold their souls and lost their consciences can celebrate when our Constitution is being violated.
True to the point, as people were still reeling from the political tsunami unleashed by sacking his entire cabinet and removing the elected VP, the newly emboldened President wasted no time in trimming the horns of Cde Pagan Amum, the Secretary General of the SPLM.
Salva Kiir has now clearly demonstrated that he is the absolute ruler in South Sudan. He sees himself as immune from the safeguards of modern democracies; does not contemplate any SPLM party rebellion or impeachment by his parliament.
If you are still not convinced, look at the arrogance and disrespect he treated elected MP’s. Instead of lobbying the MP’s in a civilised manner to support his nominee, Wani Igga, for the post of VP, without provocation, he lost his temper and threatened to “dissolve the parliament and make the lawmakers roam in the streets”, (Sudan Tribune 24th August 2013.
“The President came in with bad mood and introduced to us Cde James Wani Igga for his nomination as the new Vice President. Then he started to threaten us with dissolutions and dismissals. After he finished with his threats nobody spoke and the meeting ended like that. We will now sit today as parliament to see what to do”. What could they do? Within hours, the Parliament capitulated and like a spoilt child, Kiir got his way.
But Kiir needs to be reminded that he has no right to treat elected MP’s contemptuously just to boost his crumbling ego. By so doing he is not just disrespecting individual MP’s, governors, elected VP, and the list continues, he is disrespecting the will of the people of South Sudan.
If Kiir doesn’t respect our Constitution, he doesn’t respect our Institutional structures and mechanisms and clearly doesn’t respect our elected representatives, what gives him the right to rule over us?
The people have given him so much, not that he deserves it, not any more in my opinion, but what has he given back in return, in this social contract between the ruled and the rulers?
If he was frustrated because the Parliament rejected his nominee, infamous Telar Ring, in any game or competition, there are winners and losers.
Kiir is not only intolerant to criticisms but doesn’t expect to be challenged by colleagues in government. In short he is a very bad looser. In modern democracies, we need leaders who are emotionally balanced and can honourably accept defeats.
As we position ourselves for the upcoming elections, we now need to dissect the attributes of not just Kiir the man but also Kiir the father and Kiir the husband. If a president can charge at his MP’s and SPLM Parliamentary caucuses at that, what example is he showing to our army as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and what example is he showing to the country at large?
Some people might be stuck in the past but whether we like it or not we live in the 21st century and it is high time we start scrutinising not just the academic credentials of our prospective leaders but also their characters and the manner they present and conduct themselves in public. After all these people once elected will represent us at home and abroad, and this should concern us.
To prevent repeat of situations where some African despots in not too distant a past, showered bullets on colleagues in cabinet meetings, we need to weed out the emotionally unstable candidates in the public interest.
Kiir, Equatoria and Cde Wani Igga
We also live in an era where models of good governance to include participatory, inclusive and representative democracies – democracies that take into account the different political variables or diversities in a country; democracies that do not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, religion or gender.
South Sudan is essentially a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. In Kiir’s latest cabinet, there is a gross under-representation of Equatoria which got only 3 out of 19 or 20 cabinet portfolios. I stand to be corrected but one ethnic group has 10 or 11 members while most of the 60 or so tribes that are unrepresented in the national government look on.
This situation is replicated in the security services, the judiciary and in the diplomatic services. Eastern Equatoria state has no ministerial representation apart from Obuto Mamur who sits in the presidency.
Could you imagine Warrap, Lakes or Jonglei states having no ministerial position in the federal cabinet? Hell would break loose!
And yet in his political machinations, Kiir is trying to woo the people of Equatoria whom he has marginalised and oppressed for 8 years by a simple vice-presidential post for Wani Igga. This is cheap politics.
If Kiir didn’t fall out with his former VP and SPLM guru Pagan Amum, he would never have remembered that the seat of his government is in the land of Equatoria. This is not the time to support the man who is allowing our people to be killed day and night in Juba and elsewhere in South Sudan.
Let us remember that history always repeats itself: once a dictator, always a dictator.
If we make the mistake to throw in our lot with Salva in less than a year after the election in 2015, we will be crying foul again. Let us be clear about one thing, Salva doesn’t want the people of Equatoria but only wants their votes come 2015.
If we support Salva then we must forever hold our peace when he moves in his tanks or brings in mercenaries to clear our land of people in not too distant a future.
Going back to the Wani Igga issue, the question one could ask is, what is that Wani can do as a Vice President which he couldn’t do as Speaker of the national parliament? Which position is more powerful in the eyes of Wani Igga?
Is Wani interested in personal glorification, and being called a good boy or as a good parliamentarian he should have been first and foremost interested in representing and protecting his constituents?
His very constituents are being butchered daily and he has not been able to offer them justice. After raising the expectation of the latest victims in his constituency by summoning the security ministers to account, he has abandoned them yet again.
Was Wani’s sudden appointment a sabotage to ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous double murders are left at large?
If Wani was more interested serving his people, then he should have remained in the Assembly to exercise the Constitutional mandate to hold the executive to account and especially to impeach the President over the many violations of our Constitution.
If however what he wants is being a yes man and to entertain the increasingly paranoid president with his famous song: baba ja…..blah blah blah, baba ja blah blah (my father has come….) then indeed being a deputy is what he deserves.
It must be said, moving from the third most powerful position in the country to the second most powerful position is not bad at all, it is a personal best for a man from humble beginnings. Good luck to comrade Wani.
No one would have taken Wani’s claim to contest for presidency in 2015 seriously and it is good that he has now declared otherwise. Wani Igga, it must be stated, is an individual who may represent the SPLM but does not represent Equatoria.
It is also important to read between the lines about Kiir’s malicious intention to divide the Southern people according to tribes or regions. There should be no ill feelings from our allies over the case of Wani.
It will be an over statement to assume that just because Wani Igga accepted the vice –presidency, reportedly rejected by Nuer nominees allegedly in solidarity with their dismissed kinsman, Riek Machar.
Wani’s acceptance of the rejected offer doesn’t automatically mean that Equatorians now all support Salva Kiir. That would be a gross overstatement. Equatorians are not just worth a vice-presidential position.
Infact accepting what has been rejected by others means that Wani was not the first or trusted choice of the President. This alone speaks volumes, but it is best to leave the matter to rest.
Not yet Uhuru
What we now need to focus on is to ensure that Salva Kiir is punished for his irresponsible leadership of our country over the last 8 years. Over the last 8 years, the SPLM government he presided over, did not only fail to deliver peace dividends in the forms of services, security and general development.
The SPLM government under the careful watch of the security officer turned president, has introduced new vices in our society. It will be fair to say that more people have died in the hands of the SPLM government than they did in the hands of jallaba at least in some quarters.
Places that didn’t know violence before are today routinely being rocked by senseless killings as if there is no government in the land. Speculations that these atrocities were being committed by security agents fell on deaf ears.
Kiir may come from a generation in South Sudan who believed that when you come from a so-called majority tribe then you are immune to safe guards of modern democracy.
In the theory of number politics, as long as you are from a majority tribe, you will always win, so unlike in Western democracies, you have no incentives to govern well.
Kiir has destroyed our institutions; he has destroyed our beloved federal constitution; he is destroying even the SPLM party. Quite astonishingly he is disabling our assemblies rendering them in effective. The good news is that this time there is no boat to rock, therefore we must stop Kiir and get things right come the next elections.
The war of liberation was fought by all communities in the territory called South Sudan not just Kiir alone. From the war archives of south Sudan we still need to see those battles Kiir led and won to justify elevating himself to the position of a hereditary monarch.
What we know is that he was a malleable follower who never had the courage to articulate his views on critical matters. At least late Dr. John Garang might not have won any battles but he did fight the war of ideas rather successfully.
These individuals and communities Kiir is oppressing and suppressing today have all sacrificed through blood and sweat for the freedom that we attained in July, 2011 which we are supposed to be enjoying today.
With good governance, there is enough land and natural resources for every South Sudanese now and in the future. We do not need to fight over land because every community in South Sudan has their ancestral land which government has no right to confiscate.
We do not need to fight over who should lead us because we have democratic processes to determine that, and it must be emphasized that the Constitution guarantees every southerner the right to compete for the highest office in the land.
National leadership is not for Dinka or Nuer alone. Every southerner from any community can aspire to become the president of this country if he/she has the ability and ambition to lead. It is not a crime to aspire for leadership position in your country specially that presumably no one is now a second class citizen in their own country.
Therefore it stands to reason that we should stop demonising those aspiring to contest for President, whether they are Lam Akol or Riek Machar or anybody else for that matter.
But we need to be careful about our choice of leaders. We need leaders who though not necessarily PhD holders but must have sufficient education to comprehend and appreciate the complexities of today’s world and should be able to function autonomously in advanced technological era without always relying on advice of tribal mafia to the detriment of the nation.
We need leaders who can think with their heads and hearts and who can empathize with or feel the suffering of their people.
We need leaders who will promote equal opportunities for all and not practice indiscriminate tribalism or nepotism.
We do not want leaders who routinely allow or encourage guns to be turned against their citizens instead of using them to protect us and our borders.
We reject leaders who divide communities for political advantages or to square off old scores, whether this happened in 1991 or not.
If the history of the liberation war was clean I am sure the meticulous Dr. John Garang would have insisted on a whole set of Protocols on forgiveness and reconciliation. He didn’t which means no one was clean in the theatre of war. And this must include the late doctor, Salva Kiir, his former VP and other commanders.
History should not be remembered just to target individuals we do not like or wish are dead. The last 8 years has provided us with enough data to discern who is a good leader and who is not. This is what we should now focus on and not some tribally coated witch–hunting.
To conclude on this piece, Kiir has allowed atrocities to grow unabated in our land. He continues to violate even the Transitional Constitution 2011, which he imposed on us against our will.
Kiir is the champion of unprecedented institutional tribalism, not to mention kleptocracy with impunity. Under Kiirs leadership South Sudan has gained the reputation of a failed state and is also officially one of the corrupt countries on the continent.
He is on record for creating the fastest police state the continent has ever witnessed. This man is destroying the very foundation upon which our nation should be built, what further evidence do we want?
The gallant peoples of South Sudan fought wars with oppressors and colonisers spanning over a hundred years, starting with the Turco-Egyptians, then the Anglo Egyptians and finally the Northern Arabs. They had little or no education education and little weapons but fought with spears and arrows against machine guns but did not capitulate.
It is often said that no one can oppress you without your consent; even battered housewives have the choice to walk away.
It is now our responsibility as autonomous thinking human beings to stop Salva Kiir from damaging our country further and from destroying our dreams and expectations of a free, democratic, and prosperous country for all to enjoy not just a select few.
We owe it to ourselves, our children and grand children and the future generations at large. We owe it to the many who are aggrieved and denied justice. It is our responsibility to leave South Sudan a better place than we had found it not worse.
So that the dear sacrifices we have all made in blood, tears and sweat shall not go in vain. Because as Odinga Oginga, would have put it, for many people in South Sudan today, it is not yet Uhuru.