Dr. Riek Machar’s Detention: Why South Africa returns to its dark moment?

By Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach*, USA, JUL/01/2017, SSN;

In June 1961, African National Congress (ANC), the current Republic of South Africa’s governing social democratic political party’s executive, considered Nelson Mandela’s suggestion on the use of violent tactics and agreed that those members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela’s campaign would not be stopped from doing so, and this led to the formation of “Umkhonto we Sizwe,” a violent force—and because of that group, Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years of imprisonment with hard labor.

From 1964 to 1982, Nelson Mandela was incarcerated at Robin Island Prison near Cape Town, and while in prison, his reputation grew for positive change in South Africa whilst he communicated with his supporters.

Like South African’s Apartheid Movement had done to Nelson Mandela, the current South Africa governing political party (ANC) is doing the same thing now to an innocent South Sudanese political leader, Dr. Riek Machar in South Africa.

There is a speculation that South Africa’s Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has a deal with the South Sudanese regime to retain South Sudanese’s opposition leader on an assumption that keeping him away from returning to his country will empower his political opponent to bring to an end the crisis in the country. (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-safrica-southsudan-exclusive-idUSKBN1421YZ).

It is a human rights violation to impede individual’s political and civil rights. In the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December, 1966, in accordance with Article 49 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights, considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms, ” (ICCPR, 1966).

It is an insult as well to deny someone his rights of travels, because of a monetary compensation. (https://africanspress.org/2017/05/24/breaking-news-2-millions-dollars-receives-by-south-africans-embassy-in-washington-to-keep-dr-riek-machar-in-south-africa/)

Dr. Riek Machar is an opposition leader with an overwhelming support in the country. It is a mistake for the South African governing party and the international community to think isolation as such would bring a lasting peace in the country.

Like Nelson Mandela, who believed all South Africans can live together regardless of their political, economic and ethnic differences, Dr. Riek Machar believes peace can be achieved in South Sudan if everyone does his or her part.

Dr. Riek Machar went to Juba, South Sudan Capitol in 2016 while his supporters and sympathizers did not trust his political opponent and believed he was risking his life for an unimplemented peace.

In spite of official denial by South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson of the claims of South African government’s taking bribes from President Kiir’s government, some revealing evidences suggested that South Sudanese’s opposition leader is being blocked from going back to his country on a ransom deal. (http://theinsider.ug/index.php/2017/04/29/south-sudan-pays-south-africa-450000-a-month-to-keep-dr-machar-silent-and-in-a-guarded-premise-in-pretoria/.)

Nelson Mandela would not be pleased if he has to rise up and see what have become of the new South African’s ANC. Mandela changed an organizational system of ANC when it divided people along racial lines and/or involved on different activities.

Mandela joined ANC in 1944 and engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies, and his actions got him in trouble, but he finally was able to manage the change he wanted.

When comparing and contrasting leadership competencies, Mandela was a unique human being. Like President George Washington, Mandela held office to practice good leadership, not to hold on to power or involve in bribery business.

Like Washington, Mandela chose to stay on the presidency for just two terms. Had Washington claimed to be a king, or refused democracy, US would be a different nation today.

After Mandela was released from the prison due to international pressure, including pressure from the United States, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life’s work.

He strove to attain the goals he and other leaders had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, the first national conference of the ANC, since the organization was banned in 1960, was held in South Africa and in 1994, and Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa.

What makes his example more important to me was his ability to encourage and motivate his followers throughout the world to work for freedom regardless of the situation he had found himself in.

For someone who almost died in jail to gain power and then freely give it back to his people is an extraordinary example for others to follow, and ANC governing party should not do away with Mandela’s core legacy by denying an important political icon in South Sudan his political freedom.

Whether it is true or not, blocking Dr. Riek Machar from traveling and participating in the political process in South Sudan due to the monetary means or whatever will delay the peace process and continue the suffering of the people of South Sudan. (http://theinsider.ug/index.php/2017/04/29/south-sudan-pays-south-africa-450000-a-month-to-keep-dr-machar-silent-and-in-a-guarded-premise-in-pretoria/)

Dr. Riek is the Mandela of South Sudan. He is the remaining hope people of South Sudan still have and believe through him South Sudan will come out of this man-made crisis and become the peaceful and developing nation in the region.

South Africa’s ANC governing party must free Dr. Riek Machar to join the peace process in South Sudan.

I believe South Africa will not solely live up into the lasting legacy of Pres. Nelson Mandela, but it will also continue to demonstrate the great leadership in the African continent for a possible replication.

Author lives and works in Nashville, TN (USA); email: pelkuoth@gmail.com


  1. Beek says:

    Good for him.

  2. Abel Magok says:

    Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach,

    First I am curious to know your tittle whether you are a medical doctor or a PhD holder and if you are not a medical doctor, then it would be unfortunate and I can say you are the same type of Dr. Riek Machar.
    I don’t know whether you are deliberately denying the trust and choose to lie or your thinking and support blindly driven by tribal attitudes?.
    It is a big mistake to compare an icon of the African continent Nelson Mandela to a traitor named Dr. Riek Machar.
    Who told you that Riek is an opposition leader with an overwhelming support in the country? your man never been a leader in South Sudan, rather a traitor who make a mess never be forgotten, he splits the movement in 1991, ran to join government of Khartoum, and allowed himself be used by Al Bashir as militia fighting Southerners. He was forgiven and became a vice president in the country and couldn’t take advantage of the chance to show his leadership, he repeated his past mistakes thinking that Nuer were the majority in the army and can take power by tribal force.
    He never been a nationalist person and here was what he does. When he splits the movement in 1991, Dinka Padang who were then from Unity State choose to side and support him because Riek is the son of their State, instead he killed those who joined him just because they were Dinka, in addition to the mass killing of innocent civilians in Bor area.
    He attempted in Lakes State what he does in Bor but it was a big disappointment to him.
    I personally watched a video tape in the middle or the end of 1990s, Dr. Riek and first vice president then late General Al Zober visited Bahr El Ghazal region and they were addressing big crowd of Dinka in a place called Marial-Bai in Wau suburb. Dr.Riek was speaking in Dinka mixed with Arabic language trying to convince people to leave Garang and support him. The attitudes he exhibited in such event was attitudes of traitor not a leader.
    How many people died in Riek Machar actions whether Nuer or other ethnics starting from splitting the movement to massacre of Bor, an attempt to invade Lakes State plus events of 2013, for you to tell us that Dr. Riek is the Mandela of South Sudan, you should feel ashamed with such comparisons.
    I am asking you why is Riek Machar alone a leader since 1991, with such mistakes? no other Nuer has ability to govern South Sudan only Riek alones in all Nuer areas who can be a president? let him stay in South Africa to sacked and appoint people on the phone or the Internet.

  3. Yoane L. Yesua says:

    There is no any hope on both Dr.Dr. Riek Machar and S. Kiir these individuals must go they are all enemies of South Sudan

  4. BILL KUCH says:

    Riek Machar can never be Nelson Mandela like. He is not innocent either. And his supporters are not more than no nobody as you claimed. He is insane to be crowned South Sudanese leader. Remember, he was claiming having 75% of South Sudanese army and he proved never to be true. He fitted to be Nuer community leader where he finds people to mislead and no qualification to be South Sudan leader.

  5. Alex says:

    Dear Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach
    Riek Machar is detained because he is a very violent man. He does not listen for the call for ceasefire and negotiated political settlement. His greed for power has landed him to such untenable situations. The second reason you people in diaspora are the one pushing Machar to be detained because instead of encouraging Machar to seek for peaceful political settlement, you are contributing money monthly and send it to the rebellion and this makes Machar to be naughty. So Machar deserve to be locked up for peace to be able to come to South Sudan. Soon we will ask USA to persecute those who are involved in preaching hate speech or deport them to S. Sudan so that, they test the bitterness of a war. You are drinking and eating well and your children are schooling that is why you people do not have pity on the plight of our people. Instead you are encouraging fighting. The Job seekers among you the diaspora believe if Machar win , they will be able to get jobs. Instead of looking for jobs in America or Western world so that, you bring skills back home, you are becoming a problem.
    The next move is to target those who encourage hate speech to be isolated and face law because some of you can not differentiate between what is a freedom of speech and hate speeches. So you need to be taught the difference. We accept criticism freedom of media but now instead you are using the social media for separating liars and hate speeches.
    Machar has no place now in S. Sudanese politics unless , he renounce violence and accept the democratic principles of attending power. After some years do not be surprised to meet Machar in The Haag the Netherlands to answer criminal charges against war crime.

    Alex .

  6. False Millionnaire says:

    Dr Gatluak,
    If it’s truely à sincere conviction from your part that Dr Riek is the south sudanese,”Mandela”,it’s most irresponsable to ignore that the tribal ill conducts of the nuer masses among whom is u,from the events of 1991 to those of the 2013 to the present time,have spoiled that status maKing of him something more than just a blood thirsty fellow who represents nothing more than narrow nuer’s tribal interests.
    Even today u can never find an innocent jieng in compromised security conditions without giving in to a temptation to murder him in revenge of nuers lost in nuer/jieng conflicts.
    If the objectives of doing that are confined to those limits,it’s more than fine.But where on earth could u do that and still speak of national ambitions and of Washington and Mandela and then cut it short to stigmatize the images of the two universally recognized révolutionaries in asserting the small no body doctor named Riek Machar as their Equal?

  7. Dr. Gatluak,
    Riek Machar is not like Nelson Mandela in South Africa, because Riek Machar is a crime man in the Republic of South Sudan.

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