BY: Mayak Deng Aruei
The tears shed and suffering experienced by those who have lost loved ones in South Sudan brutal civil war will be a curse on all the actors. Each morning comes with bad news, highway killings and disappearances credited to the Juba’s unknown gunmen.
The leaders who are supposed to be custodians of the nation are not living up to people’s will and expectations. Their thirst for overarching powers doesn’t yield to the call by people who have known nothing but deaths and hunger throughout their existence.
The population so dependent on what they hear from leaders verbally have their hopes subsidized, and the joy supposedly associated with independent South Sudan disappeared before delivery. Taking issues by the hierarchy of importance, South Sudan security situation must be addressed before anything else can be resolved.
The political elites and their bloodsucking cohorts are directly responsible for the current crisis. With the situation so volatile as entailed by the records, not even the strongest men/women in the country can stop the little known gangs from wrecking the nation apart.
It’s never too late for the citizens to reach to the bottom of South Sudan’s fundamental governance problems. The callousness and political cult that instigate fighting among different ethnic groups in South Sudan must be dealt away with.
To begin with, this article is about the madmen of South Sudan. Who are they, by the way? The madmen in the context of South Sudan present political anarchy are those politicians and warlords who have had a joint venture, and on the rampage of killing everyone who disagrees with them.
If anyone has to ask some of the Dinka/Jieng’s Army officers & youths who joined the death squad on behalf of the SPLM-IO, and why they chose such political path, their answer would not be different from those who had taken up arms against South Sudan’s government in the recent years.
Obviously, it would be presented as a call to reform the corrupt and decayed system of governance in the country. And from the perspective of bystanders(South Sudan political commentators), it’s a quick move to rise to the top without merits.
As I write this piece, key Jieng’s youth leaders have relinquished their allegiances to the SPLM-IO, and are either returning to South Sudan or continuing to reside in East Africa according to unannounced amnesty offered to them by the Government of South Sudan.
Just a day ago, an eloquent colleague online pointed out that some Dinka/Jieng’s youths who left for the bush empty handed are returning home empty handed. What a scar on their names?
On the other hand, if an outsider has to ask the Oil suckers why they labeled their own as being Rebels, threatened their lives and forced them to choose SPLM-IO as an alternative, they would be like… the whole thing was very confusing, but we just need them back badly.
Give us a break, madmen, you have destroyed South Sudan, and have shamed our independence.
More than a decade since South Sudan gained self-governce, different armed groups have operated in the countryside, killing, looting and raiding livestock. And there is more to what emerged after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA).
As a matter of records, South Sudan’s current governance problems dated back to those days when the Region was governed in Khartoum, and when Southerners believed/claimed to have no freedom to realize living side by side as one people.
In the olden days, successive Khartoum based regimes used “divide and rule”, the very method that worked best to the advantage of the people in the north (rest of the former Sudan). The elites, both northerners and southerners to some extent, exploited ethnic differences and ignited the fire that kept Southerners in a constant fight for many decades.
When the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army emerged in 1983, the political fault lines shifted, and those who once considered themselves pro-Arabs became enemies of the State(Sudan). It was rather a well calculated drastic change that crippled the nation’s economy and displaced millions within the first five years of the war.
There were steep resistances by Southern Sudanese politicians who relocated themselves to northern Sudan, chasing town life. Despite that, the momentum was so huge that other marginalized Sudanese joined the guerrilla warfare.
It was something never seen by the Sudanese Establishment, and majority never thought that a Southern political & military front would ever force Sudanese government to make sense of some of the proposals put forth by the SPLM/A in negotiations that never materialized.
With all of that being an eye opener, proxy war strategy which made Southerners to fight themselves along ethnic lines continued to tear apart their social fabric wherever they lived around the world. Knowing where we all came from can help us deal with future governance challenges of our new country.
Following through with series of events before South Sudan’s independence, tribal conflicts were usually apolitical, fierce fight over resources(pastures & waters). While war raged in the South(1983-2005), power struggle among the officers of the Movement led to internal fighting, and Khartoum gave hands to those who chose to fight the SPLM/A in the South.
In the heart of what was northern Sudan, three fronts(Nuba Mountain, Southern Blue and Eastern Sudan) stayed intact with the SPLM/A Mainstream and helped the Movement to survive until major breakthrough was reached in 2002.
The same Allies who fought alongside South Sudanese in the war of liberation, and who are now known as members of the SPLM-N helped the current Government of South Sudan from being overwhelmed by SPLM-IO fighters in northern South Sudan(2013-2015). Localized wars are hard to win, and defeating armed rebellion has proven to be the hardest thing since guerrilla fighters usually have nothing to lose.
In practice, there are things that don’t come to surface when nations are in peace and doing well economically, but do become exposed in times of war. It serves great importance to point fingers at paranoids who are used to fighting wars on behalf of their masters.
Chunks of the back and forth wrangling in the country would have been settled peacefully if leaders were not too busy off-shoring public money. In every level of the South Sudanese society, grudges built up and matured into actual war.
Deep down the villages in South Sudan, the actions of madmen are seen through crooked officers who often take sides in local conflicts. The tribal elements seen in South Sudan’s many fights aren’t necessarily the launching pads for all the conflicts in the country.
For example, former Lakes and Warrap states scored high in Jieng killing themselves. It was just a matter of time, and the whole situation was expected to explode. Foreign organizations and Journalists based in South Sudan all these years described events as catastrophic, but authorities didn’t take serious notes.
Now come the big bomb, a rift between President of the Republic and his former Vice President whom he sacked after trying to challenge him in a ruling Party democratic exercise. The rhetoric right after December 6, 2013 were very alarming, yet people chose to be muted until mass-killing became the new reality in South Sudan’s major towns(Juba, Akoba, Bortown, Bentiu and Malakal).
Just to stamp on the historical account of the events leading to the independence of South Sudan, quite a number of incidents showed that running the new nation would be hell of a job for those who never had a real government.
Khartoum never had interest in training responsible leaders, and its actions have backfired on them in Dar Fur, Kordofan and Blue Nile states. In 2006, an extension of the Popular Defense Forces resulted into a lethal fight in the garrison town of Malakal.
The long time militias of “divide and rule”, allied to Sudanese government in Khartoum, and commanded by Gen. Gabriel Gatwech Chan(Tangynyang), and Gen. Mohamed Chol felt left out in the central command, and staged a door to door gun-battle.
That conflict should have been an eye opener for authorities in the South, but they failed to take serious notes despite the fight being an entrenchment by the untamed militias to join the organized forces without some kinds of power-sharing.
In the same Region of the Sudan, now South Sudan, junior officers in the SPLA formed their thoughts, flocked to the bushes and started fighting the Government of Southern Sudan in Juba.
The political rivalry among different groups in South Sudan is a syndrome in its own right, and blame had always been on Khartoum. Slowly by slowly, a blame game between largest tribes (Dinka and Nuer) in South Sudan started to gain popularity, and military confrontations ensued.
But with SPLA not being national enough, soldiers turned guns on their closest colleagues in the Army. The skirmishes of the political flip-flopping have left deep marks on all South Sudanese, and Representatives of different ethnic groups in South Sudan, and at different levels of the governments should take blame for failing the country.
As the world watches South Sudan disintegrating and descending into bitter political pieces, the ethnic intolerance shown by politicians holding higher positions in both the Government & the opposing sides is very troubling.
When madmen are termed as being corrupt, organized criminals and so forth, they want to reach for guns or hire a Hit-man to kill the person who talk sense. Duh, they cannot win the fight until they are disengaged from repetitive nature of their deeds. There shouldn’t be any illusion about the current state of affairs in South Sudan because suffering has always been the work of madmen.
Lastly, the recently announced “National Dialogue” as being discussed across the board is rather a new thing given unsettled legitimate leader of the SPLM-IO. I’m afraid that those who termed the new political Machine as “National Monologue” are describing the would-be national reconciliation as a one-sided.
The first few signs of the promised dialogue are troubling, and that has been the nature of things in South Sudan for quite too long. No doubt, the Dialogue include prominent and veteran politicians who have served South Sudanese on different fronts, but it is a little too sketchy for anyone to envision success of such mechanism.
Already, concerned citizens and opposition parties have voiced their fears, and saw nothing tangible coming from the so-called “National Dialogue.”
On its face, it is an assurance to supporters of the Government that power isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. The President has doubled-down on many agendas. Lack of genuine interest in resolving the conflict is a serious challenge, and must be dealt with before lost hopes can be resuscitated.
Had top leadership of South Sudan’s Government and the Rebels put the interest of the nation first, this senseless conflict which has consumed much of our resources, would have ended on January 24, 2014.
The arrival of Advance Team in Juba after the August 2015 Peace Accord (ARCSS) was promising, but skepticism turned into shoddy hope, and faded away when fighting erupted again around the Presidential Palace (J1).
In making the concluding remarks, South Sudan’s ongoing political and military turmoil can be traced back to many things that have gone wrong over the years, and those in charge of the nation’s affairs have failed numerous times to address them appropriately.
With so many mixtures of what make South Sudanese fight themselves, ethnicity need not be ignored when dealing with the country’s central issues. The warlords who come from all tribes in South Sudan are the madmen, and South Sudan is at their mercy.
Unless citizens look after their lives and properties, these energetic ruthless killers plus aged egomaniacs, Council of Elders from all tribes must be scrutinized and sidelined from making decisions on behalf of those who seem to give them everything they want.
As we move into 2017, we should all be thinking about proper ways for fixing the mess in the country. The huge vacuum left by security apparatuses failing to discharge their functions and uphold their responsibilities accordingly has brought the nation to where it is today.
It is important that solutions be availed to solve the complex issues that keep setting South Sudan ablaze.
The Author here is Mayak Deng Aruei, he holds undergraduate degrees, a graduate degree, and currently a Doctoral student in Organizational Leadership & Organizational Development, and can be reached at Kongor.firstname.lastname@example.org