BY: Isaiah Abraham, SSN; Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny, a columnist with the Citizen Newspaper, Juba, wrote a spirited piece challenging Mr. Mabior Garang Mabior, the son of the founding father of this nation about the later expression of dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. Mr. Ateny called Mr. Garang junior names including that of a ‘prodigal’ son. He fumed and argued until he gets to why this author couldn’t take it anymore.
I have just picked three enigmatic lines from his article written on Citizen Newspaper dated September 4th 2012, Vol. 7, Issue No. 234. One line reads thus: “Garang boys still control everything…”.
Before we argue much as to why such a statement is terrible and uncalled for, allow me to briefly rehearse key words from Alan Boswell of the McClatchy Newspaper publicized interview with Garang junior. Mr. Garang Junior was reported to have said that the government is doing little on corruption drive/ fight and that the current leadership has abandoned the path charted forward by his father.
He was also quoted to have sought the need for intervention or a change through the people and not through the army. Lastly Mr. Garang quizzed and squared Mr. Kiir’s security against him, and for the death of a Kenyan worker on a bus related to Mama Rebecca Nyandeng, the mother of Mabior Garang Mabior.
As natural as everything else, opinions are subject to different interpretations; each of us will slice part of Garang’s argument differently. Some might not agree with his alleged statements, but others will go extra mile personal or political. To this group they will think that it will be too much from the mouth of a young man whose father and Kiir are somewhat one and the same thing. The two in fact are joined at the hip; the two started the journey together and are respected by many. I don’t know whether my colleague Ateny Wek was right to jump to such an aggressive position.
Ateny falls in the category of the people who sees Garang and Kiir differently. To Ateng, Garang isn’t Kiir and the opposite is true. I agree. In fact the majority of Kiir home boys are pushing hard to anoint Kiir anywhere at the expense of Garang, but Mr. Kiir has kept away from such a school, at least publicly. That is another argument another day, but the extension of that argument has spilled over to this topic, and I shall reference it as we go along.
Anyway, we still have a long way to go given our patronage tendencies and allegiance that must not be wished away overnight. The strings are being pulled and normally it goes that way until at a certain time when the chicken comes home to roast.
To this author it will be callous for anyone to disrepute either; both are important leaders of our time. Kiir himself can’t accept that his colleague be treated that way, and I gave him the credit for not poking his neck anywhere to claim superiority over his brother John Garang.
Garang and Kiir are birds of the same feathers; they come a long way together and are still even together; I must repeat myself. It is the death that has separated the two leaders. I don’t think it is fair for the young man from Aweil to try to go between the two. Thus the two shared failures and successes of the SPLM. If SPLM is rotten under Kiir, the excuse shouldn’t be roundly shouldered by him, but he also has a role to play to correct whatever Garang didn’t do well.
Garang boys vs Kiir boys
Now let’s look briefly the sentence above, “Garang boys are still controlling everything”, especially the word ‘still’. To me Mr. Ateny wasn’t sure why ‘Garang boys’ are allowed to continue to ‘control’ things at Kiir’s time. To him, the ‘boy’s reign should have been gone with the late leader. That is his opinion and I don’t have to argue much, but I now doubt his girth about anything. I will fear now his judgment and reasoning, the very person I thought he won’t be subjective.
Many Dinka are like that! They are horrible when it comes to us vs them.
But also the two words: ‘Garang boys’ has a connotation. Mr. Ateny carefully used these two words consciously and hence my contention. His choice of these words didn’t just come out while he was writing his pejorative piece, the man had earlier consulted his conscience and concluded that for him to raise the bar, he must dredge something up to settle a score against people whom he sees as anti-Kiir.
Remember we have been hearing these maundering statements every now and then, specifically during Kiir ascension to power; it was from people who are interested in separating Kiir from Garang. Please Ateny, there were/are Garang boys vs Kiir boys, Kiir himself was one the boys under Garang. But Kiir and whoever else are leaders on their own right, and we must respect them, and not to insult them.
“SPLM rooted in the way it was designed”
I find the second enigmatic statement from Ateny so offensive; It partly reads like this: “ the culture of the SPLM rooted in the way it was designed. If Mabior sees the failure of the SPLM led government, which is systemic with its fluctuating political culture from communist to capitalist”
The composition of this passage was wrong, the intent was also wrong as does the phrasing. If the culture of the SPLM was faulty, then what does that got to do with Mabior reminding you and me about them?
You one moment attempt to say failure and just try to push to someone else, yet in another split second you put a blanket on the face of Mabior. If there are failures from that time to date, because of that ‘design,’ who has stopped Kiir from correcting the wrong ‘design’? How about changing ideology from communist to capitalism, what relevance are we attaching into our affairs at the moment?
If Mr. Ateny intention was to charge Garang of having erected a wrong foundation, then his attempt to exonerate Kiir is off the mark. Corruption, mismanagement and lack of vision aren’t ideological, but methodological or means under poor governance.
Therefore, it is just unfair to try to gag Garang junior because he is the son of Dr. John Garang. Mr. Mabior openness is good for us all; this is self criticism and shouldn’t be thrown out of the window. After all he is a South Sudanese like everyone else in this land, and has every right to express himself. If he says things aren’t going people’s way, who is this Ateny to say that they are?
Majority of our people are dissatisfied, save for a few around the corridors of power. What will he say about Kiir hands in glove in tackling of corrupt practices in his government? Is that not a concern? I think it is so! To me there is a huge concern and a weakness from the top man in our land. He must do things differently to prove to many his worth being there.
People might conclude that by being indifferent and indecisive perhaps he’s is one of the corrupt people in the land.
Second, Mr. Garang has voiced what we all know; this isn’t secret anymore. There is total leadership deficit and this must be corrected next year during party Convention. There are manageable crisis such as insecurity in some parts of the country, and then food insecurity, lack of infrastructures or services as well as the diplomatic dirt for not being proactive and visional. The list however goes on.
The so-called post outstanding differences between the Sudan and South Sudan are by products of our failure to appreciate situations before they actually occur. The government acts haphazardly and impromptu and not on a laid out one, two and three strategic plans. No guidance, no supervision and no evaluation, and thereby no nothing. That is exactly what Mr. Garang Junior lamented about.
We must not bury our heads in fear because the security people will torture us, people of this land are to be free from ineptitude and poor guidance from Kiir camp.
Garang was an undisputed leader
Ateny, if Garang was alive we won’t have been at this state, I must say this with certitude! That man was gifted, he knew what step to take, why to take and what it would take to take it. Of course he wasn’t god, but his developmental agenda fits our fertile grounds. May be you don’t know him, and only heard from FORUM instigative and negative onslaught against him in London.
Of course we know the turncoats that are becoming hard cores and inner circles of the system currently in Juba. Time is coming when you will be accounted for the mess you have done against the people of this country. South Sudan can’t be led like that and someone can’t step up to hush anyone.
Garang junior wasn’t whistleblower but truth teller — change is inevitable
The third enigmatic statement from Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny on his dying line goes like this: “the prodigal son of the former leader is a whistleblower for something yet designed to come”. Mr. Ateny, Mr. Mabior wasn’t a whistleblower about any impending coup d’etat or anything similar to that school.
Look, no one will remove President Kiir through any violent means. He is an elected leader and our people are law abiding ones. The army you see are disciplined; they were brought up by reasonable man. Kiir will be president until election time in 2015, be assured of that. But take this from this little author; Mr. Kiir will not be the president of this republic beyond 2015. I will tell you why.
The man has lost his base, and has since resigned to that situation. He still holds on the skeleton anyway, but the reality is that the SPLM, which should have been his very base, is infiltrated and not anymore standing united the way we came in-2005. The true cadres of the party have no courage to market Kiir the same way they did it few years ago. They aren’t closer to where the national matters are discussed. Some people have already found their way, and are running the show.
But to be exact, the trouble started when Kiir formed his first cabinet after election in 2010. The party should have been on the fore front to nominate who should be the Minister, Deputy Minister, Undersecretary and so on. Mr. Kiir sat in his villa house in Juba and called his two men (Machar and Wani) and the trio divided the seats among their cronies from their respective three regions.
This has alienated so many able people. You see, the party regionalized its own regional slots and not the executive. Executive is about specialists, a group of people with specific and technical knowhow.
The Magayas, the Agnes of the NCP and the Bettys and the likes shouldn’t have been in the Cabinet in the first place. Their political backgrounds are murkier and darker than one could imagine.
Can anyone dream of appointing turncoats, straight to the heart of the system, as if SPLM has no men/women from the bush who could run the government? If we had managed then to run the movement for many years without anything and under difficult challenges circumstances, how about now when we have everything in place to manage things?
Gen. Obote could have been the right man in Interior not the Magaya if the position was reserved for the Equatorians.
Return Awut to the Council of Ministers
I seize this opportunity to request His Excellency the President to return Ms Awut Deng Achuil to the Cabinet. Madame Awut is an achiever and shouldn’t be left in the cool. His problem was busybodies in the Council of Ministers who were denied ghost names in payrolls. She a fighter, has a character and not corrupt. Please sir, make use of this lady talent; don’t listen to lies, overturn her resignation letter and reappoint her in another production ministry such as Commerce.
Kiir consultation is limited
Kiir had no time consulting his party secretariat on serious national decisions. Yes once the president is elected he ceases becoming partisan, but policies are always generated by the party. The party initiates and forms any part of his move. Our President casually connects with his party and that shouldn’t be the case. He made all his big decision around Council of Ministers and in his house.
Take for example the shut down of the oil production; the decision was made elsewhere or by a few without careful study about its economic repercussions. Literally experts weren’t consulted and here we are in an economic quagmire, whom do we blame? Of course the Chief Executive who felt short of making use of his base.
People thought there are plans after that, but to date they are in distant future or in pipe dream/nowhere. The President and his small kitchen cabinet emotionally made so many decisions on behalf of everyone else, even that of a party. Though the decision to shut down oil production has become a blessing in disguise, it wasn’t carefully thought out.
Dr. Garang won’t have reached this stage if he was there, and that is exactly what the young Garang was trying to say.
Kiir will not be re-elected again
Mr. Ateny must be reminded that Kiir re-election bid will be a daunting task. If it happens it will be with a price. In essence the party will divide into pieces. Some people are quiet now because time hasn’t yet come, but once that time arrives, you will hear power struggle issue come up everywhere; that is if Kiir insists of running again for another term.
If he cares for the party will have to give others the chance. The SPLM Chairman is walking under tight rope, very exposed and must be left to retire. Dr. Machar is angling and will not wait longer until 2020. Then he will be 68 years, an age bracket not suitable for this generation. I love him!
However these days there is a charge by Central Equatoria City Council against him that he has grabbed large chunk of land around Juba town.
If proven true then that is bad precedent for the top man to do just that. Another concern is his laissez faire type of leadership. I’m not sure whether South Sudan is ripe enough for that kind of a style. To me they will finish themselves off one by one, and there comes a failed state.
This is a Third world country, someone will have to lead using carrots, brooms and sticks at times to guide and correct. Dr. Machar if elected must be asked to abandon his federation project. It is too earlier to go federal; some governments can declare their independence in parliament or put difficult bumps for anyone to check their activities.
Unity and the Promised Land
I hear elsewhere that Mr. Ateny erroneously beat a confidence chord that Mr. Kiir will be elected president for few more years, because he has united the people of South Sudan and had actually brought about independence of the country. He even called ‘father of the nation’. Well, Ateny shouldn’t be carried out. We all know his achievement and everyone is proud of him being there. Everyone appreciates our leader patience and humility in the face of problems, but you are overstated things for undue credit. Kiir is the first president of the Republic of South Sudan period, nothing will erase this accolade for anytime to come, but to call him ‘father of the nation’ is wild claim, naivety, and disparagingly insulting. I will leave it that way!
Unity of South Sudan is faulty
Mr. Ateny, we are not yet united, we are not near there; instead we are closer to polarization. In which way did he unite the people of this republic? His unity with militiamen in 2006 and in between was bound to happen regardless and irrespective of who/what approach he uses; they had no choice after the CPA was signed. What we now see as unity is faulty, it is on sand and likely to crumble anytime. Mr. Mabior didn’t mention it, but this is my generalization about Kiir’s poor records.
True, sharing of national cake is one of the elements that brings about unity, but that is ephemeral in substance and in nature. Representation is materialist, unrealistic and can’t bring the real unity. That arrangement isn’t sustainable and lasts for a short period of time. The unity we truly yearn for therefore is the very one that would be in our minds.
Today we have a government with all faces in it, but still we didn’t reach the unity of our people. The question is why? Unity goes beyond inclusiveness, it has to be in our behavior towards one another. Someone does it in Rwanda and in few centuries to come, the issue of Tutsi vs Hutu will be history.
If we are united we won’t have people running away from one another-federation quest or people crying for autonomous. We would have been comfortable with who comes to power, provided that he/she delivers.
I still hope that time will come when we shall a Juba Commissioner from Murle, or a Toposa becoming a governor in Upper Nile State. I long for a situation where our people shall embrace one another and not in lens of tribes, classes or groups. Kiir didn’t do enough there, and will leave it that way.
On the journey to the Promised Land, no single person can brag about having brought us freedom. Even Garang with all his extraordinary efforts couldn’t say he had singlehanded freed this country. But also under the CPA foundation it was possible for anyone to bring people out of the bondage.
That agreement was too grounded on rocks. Kiir had even failed to use it properly. He has been reclusive and never stayed longer in the presidency in Khartoum. He shied from making himself heard. The today issues such as the Disputed Areas or the problem in two areas of South Korfofan and Blue Nile would have been heard. People were surprised when Panthou became a disputed land.
Mr. Ateny must not make mistake that Mabior family is jealous about Kiir’s presidency. Dr. John Garang’s family is hardworking and are working for their self-reliance. Mama Rebecca is a tough lady; they are building their own lives like everyone else and this is encouraging.
The young Garang moreover has been careful, quiet and his timing is right. If he isn’t talking who will voice the concern of the people of this republic? We must be tolerant and allow constructive criticism.
This author is an SPLM member and has no reason not to say things the way they are. I love this party, I love my president and our big brother John Garang de Mabior, and many more who participated in the struggle of the people of South Sudan.
The SPLM is dying and unless the Chairman listens to voices of Garang Junior and others, he will kiss the ground in shame. The best way to go is to take serious the recommendations by the Committees he had formed, then peacefully give way to others to try it. No third option.
Isaiah Abraham lives in Juba; he’s on Isaiah_abraham@yahoo.co.uk JUBA
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author(s) and do not represent those of the website.