Editorial Analysis MAY/12/2013, SSN;
Whilst the combined stature of Equatorias’ trio of Governors Bakasoro, Wani and Lobong can’t certainly match that of world-famous South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, these governors and their Equatoria SPLM members who recently held the Extraordinary Equatoria Conference in Juba should learn some lesson from the Nobel laureate. Tutu has unequivocally announced that he’d no longer cast his vote for the Mandela-founded ANC because of “corruption, violence and inequality.”
Archbishop Tutu further explained that “the ANC was good at leading us in the struggle to be free from oppression, but it doesn’t seem to me now that a freedom fighting unit can easily make a transition to becoming a political party or leading a nation.”
Just as equally relevant to our own predicament, Dr. Lual Deng, a man so close to late Dr. John Garang himself, in his newest book, “The Power of Creative Reasoning: the ideas and vision of John Garang,” explicitly wrote that, “Salva Kiir’s responsibility was to take the people to the promised land, but the development of the promised land is a different mission that requires a different leader, and we expect a divine intervention in this regard.”
Dr. Lual Deng blatantly concluded, “it’s therefore imperative for Joshua (Salva Kiir) to give way to a developmental leader of the promised land, that’s the Republic of South Sudan.”
Verily, the South Sudan, but particularly Equatoria, is at a critical juncture especially with the impending so-called leadership crisis now evolving among those SPLM top members who, if the truth be told, all of them don’t really deserve the top position they are keenly aspiring for, especially with their horrendous leadership over the past eight years.
Historically, since Equatoria Region back then in 1983 precipitated the Kokora (Redivision) of South Sudan that saw the expulsion of the Nilotic Dinka and Nuer and Shilluks to their particular ‘home states’ and the evolution of the SPLM/A war which Equatorians rightly construed as reaction to Kokora, there has never been any genuine trust or closeness between the Equatorians and the others.
Governor Clement Wani Konga of Central Equatoria steadfastly fought on the side of enemy Arabs, preventing the SPLA from ever capturing Juba till the end of the war when he along with other militia leaders like Paulino Matip finally reconciled with the SPLA in 2005.
On the other hand, Western Equatoria Governor Bakosoro was forcefully ejected from the SPLM party during the last gubernatorial election but was later pardoned and readmitted back in the SPLM, inarguably losing his so-called independent stature which had hitherto garnered him the massive popularity to win the governorship against the party-supported candidate.
First, judging from each of the governors speeches, one visibly discerns signs of fear among these governors as they all started their speeches by addressing the president (Kiir) whose ghost wasn’t even anywhere in the hall, as if their speeches were scripted for them to placate Kiir and the party, but more embarrassingly, their singular message was a strong warning to anyone trying to usurp the powers from President Kiir.
Secondly, the predicated contest expected between president Kiir, Machar and others, for the Chairmanship of the SPLM party and the eventuality of multiple candidates contesting in the national presidential election, is a democratic right of any member of the party and it shouldn’t be sanctioned by any body for that matter.
Lastly, Equatoria today is not a homogeneous society in spite of being at peace with itself, and moreover, each of its three states has its own particularity and parochial interest, especially their closeness to and acceptability by the ruling SPLM under President Kiir.
Significantly, these Equatoria governors and their SPLM ministers and officials are equally complicit in the systemic corruption, bad governance and insecurity so prevalent in each state which only amply mirrors and amplifies what is going on in the government of president Kiir itself.
Corruption in each of the Equatoria states obviously emanates from the top to the bottom, so, which governor really can boldly stand up and sincerely and publicly declare his financial assets or vow that he is absolutely clean? Which Equatoria state governor or official can publicly vow that he hasn’t abused his office for personal gain or that of his family members?
For instance, while Wani Konga publicly laments about land grabbing mostly of the Bari land around Juba, how clean and free is he and his family, or his local ministers and officials on this land grabbing? Just recently he publicly provided Vice president Machar a big chunk of Mundari land, ominously openly up inevitable a land grabbing appetite for more Mundari land.
Eastern Equatoria under governor Louis Lobong today is shamefully experiencing famine and government-sanctioned murder of its own citizens ostensibly condemned as cattle thieves. Where is the so-called smartness of these Equatorians if they thought they were homo sapiens one stage higher than the Dinka or the Nuer?
Practically, each one of the Equatoria governors worriedly expressed their apprehension on the impending war that would take place in Equatoria between the Dinka of Kiir and the Nuer of Machar and the impact of such eventuality would only definitely exacerbate the already fragile situation in the region.
How naive, hypocritical and irresponsible of these Equatoria SPLM leaders gathered in that cosy conference hall to needlessly worry about being the “grass that suffers when two elephants fight,” as if they are constrained by some invisible power not to avert or ameliorate the severity of their predicament?
Wake up, men and ladies of Equatoria, you’re now in dirty game of politics and politicking, and as they say, there is no permanent friend or enemy in politics, and the presumption of neutrality is not an option.
You are either with one or the other, especially since your collective decision has been already made easier — since ‘Greater’ Equatoria has shamefully capitulated and accepted to be hostages and second-class citizens — so, it’s either standing with Machar or Kiir, period.
Unsurprisingly, Governor Clement Wani Konga narrated multiple failures committed and commissioned obviously by the current Kiir misrule and failed government, which of course incriminates also Machar, so, like the humble Archbishop Tutu, who has supported the ANC all his life without ever betraying the cause of liberation waged by Mandela, Equatorians have the other alternative of not supporting either person.
If really those Equatorian SPLM supporters seated on those posh chairs are genuinely concerned about the future of South Sudan Nation and if they are collectively pained by the relentless suffering and depravity endured by the common people as a result of the immoral rule by Kiir-Machar, they, like Tutu again, should reject to vote for the same criminalized party, the SPLM.
Furthermore, to quote Dr. Lual Deng again, who has been a staunch SPLM/A adherent, “there is absence of a visionary leadership which has led to sclerotic management of the SPLM bureaucracy.”
Just within one year after independence, the country has been declared a failed state, the people of South Sudan, who should have been fortuitously blessed with abundance of natural resources, the situation has continuously deteriorated, thanks to the myopic and dysfunctional leadership of the SPLM under Kiir and Machar.
Indefensibly, the behaviour of the leadership these Equatorian leaders purportedly support has engendered international shame like the $4 billion dollar theft which has remained unresolvable because the third top SPLM person, the Equatorian Speaker, Wani Iga, conspired in disabling the national legislative assembly from doing anything.
It’s time these Equatorian leadership in the SPLM seriously acknowledged that there is palpable and irrefutable evidence that there is a leadership vacuum at the top level of the government and the party itself. Those close to Dr. John Garang might still recall his repeated quotation that ‘the fish rots from head down,’ a fact that the brave Professor Wako reiterated so adamantly to President Kiir recently.
Finally, if all Equatorians, together, are seriously concerned and perturbed by the unpredictable crisis looming ahead, they all either quit the SPLM and form their own party to contest in the leadership, or otherwise, the lesser evil would be to collectively align with the next alternative to Kiir and hopefully anticipate to reap some dividends for their support of the next leader of the country.
Better still, like Archbishop Tutu, they don’t vote for the SPLM again. Why not, you are free at last, you are no longer stooges, the choice is in your own hands. Why be the grass being trodden upon, why not be the hunter and shoot down both elephants…… politically speaking, that is…….