BY: Daniel Juol Nhomngek (Lawyer), Kampala, Uganda, SEPT/22/2017, SSN;
Since the vote for independence and ultimate secession from Sudan in July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan, a nation graciously gifted with an abundance of natural resources, like oil, water, gold…etc, has witnessed plenty of huge sufferings caused by the war.
The war is caused by struggle over resources. This is because the higher one is in power the closer he is to resources and control over these resources. Looking at the power and resources as the ultimate goal for leadership in South Sudan makes the conflict the most important conduct of the leaders and their supporters.
Apart from oil, other natural resources available in abundance are: Gold, diamonds, chromium, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, marble, and other various rare earth metals, which were discovered but quantified yet. Moreover, various rare earth metals that were discovered are not yet quantified to determine their values. However, prospects for diamonds, gold, chromite, copper, uranium, manganese and iron ore are optimistic. These minerals plus other natural resources make South Sudan and her citizens potentially rich.
For that reason, the conflict in South Sudan is not likely to end easily since those who need power will never give or compromise to let power go. This messy situation of South Sudan puts South Sudanese ordinary citizens at a tight corner.
In fact, the conflict is further being aggravated by the fact that some leaders in South Sudan have found it to be more beneficial than attaining peace. The clear evidence for the war being turned into lucrative business by our leaders is that the oil is now being controlled by some individuals in the heart of the government for their own benefits.
As the Sentry Report and other commentators on oil, war and business in South Sudan have been pointing it out, oil is now being supplied or hoarded by some of the top authorities in the country for their own benefits while sustaining the war at the expense of the ordinary citizens.
In the same way, rebels are not free either. For example, one the reasons which I believe to have contributed to the indefinite detention of Riek Machar in South Africa is due to the discovery that he went into oil Agreement with Ukraine and Russian businessmen.
This discovery was made after the July 2016 conflict when he ran and left some documents somewhere.
As a matter of fact, oil and conflict in South Sudan like in other countries have become synonymous. This shows that in South Sudan, there is likelihood that the war will not end unless the illegal business in gold and oil is ended or unless the politicians realize earlier enough that there is a need for compromise and also learn how to control their conflicts of interest that make them conduct illegal businesses in oil and gold while holding public offices.
The situation of conflict in South Sudan is further complicated by the fact that the illegal mining of gold in Eastern Equatoria has provided for the incentive to war among our top leaders.
Government officials are illegally mining gold in Kapoeta and other areas where gold is found in South Sudan. For instance, there is a clear evidence to show that some ministers in the government have big mining companies involved in gold mining in South Sudan.
The said companies are headed by foreign individuals but behind the curtain are big men and women of South Sudan.
Moreover, our citizens who are not well informed or due to poverty are selling hundreds of kilograms of gold to foreign business men and women in the same areas for just one bag of maize flour.
Hence, selling million of dollars with one hundred thousand Uganda shillings bag of maize flour while our authorities do not care for the misuse of this fundamental natural resource. This is because as long as they are also benefiting from this black business then everything is left To Whom It May Concern.
The whole scenario prevailing in South Sudan in regard to business in oil and gold can be properly described thus: the authorities have ganged up with foreigners to rob South Sudan and her people with precious resources.
Unless South Sudanese pay attention to this illegal business and if possible raise an alarm against this serious illegal action by the authorities, the war in South Sudan may continue deep into the future.
The fact is that natural resources if mismanaged as seen in many countries. Democratic Republic of Conflict (DRC) is a clear example, they are always a source of violent conflicts, deaths of the citizens in large numbers and enrichment of politicians amidst crisis.
In summary, as intimated above, politicians and foreigners in South Sudan are maintaining the war as a means of accessing resources to enrich themselves by selling oil and gold illegally which the war provides space to do so freely.
In short, some of the government officials in South Sudan are exploiting natural resources for their own benefits. Oil and gold mining companies are being controlled in the heart of the government for the exclusive benefits of the government officials. This provides incentive for war and maintenance of war in South Sudan.
The Author is a lawyer by profession; he graduated with honors in law from Makerere University, School of Law. He participated in various workshops and training in community mobilization in awareness of their constitutional rights in Uganda. He is the member of Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) and NETPIL (Network of Public Interest Lawyers) at Makerere University; he is currently doing research with NETPIL on private prosecution; he is trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); he participated in writing Street Law Handbook on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Uganda. He is practicing with Onyango and Company Advocates Bunga—Ggaba, Road Kampala He is currently staying in Kampala Uganda where he is undertaking bar course training. He can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org or +256784806333.