South Sudan’s Nationalist Leaders turned out to be Crocodile Liberators


Every era confronts its distinctive social and political dramas. From twentieth century until the beginning of twentieth-first century, the center stage has been frequently dominated by the struggle of the South Sudanese people, first for liberation from colonial rule and for development and for entry into the modern world.

When South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan’s Arab Muslim rule two-years ago, the euphoria that swept across the territory was infectious. It was best evinced by one of the nationalist leaders.

“We will achieve in a decade what it took other African countries a century,” he declared. “We will not rest content until we demolish miserable Khartoum structures and put in their places a veritable paradise.”

The nationalist leaders who won freedom for their landlocked country were hailed as heroes and allowed to continue in office without democratic process and deified. Currency bore Late John Garang’s portrait and statue was built to honor him.

Criticizing them became sacrilegious, and freedom and development promised by South Sudanese nationalist leaders transmogrified into a melodramatic nightmare. The nationalist leaders soon turned out to be crocodile liberators and quack revolutionaries.

After independence, true freedom never came to much of independent South Sudan. Now, for many people, the freedom and economic development promised them has become a starvation diet, unemployment and a gun to the head.

Thus, dissatisfaction and frustration have set in, and the fear of ending up in the hands of quack revolutionaries has been so high-lightened that some are abandoning their new nation and remaining in foreign countries which granted them refugee protection during the bloody civil war.

“I just cannot stay in South Sudan because it is not yet safe. If you go there, I am sure you will see some in uniform of soldiers running around with guns sticking out of their pockets, and I worry about my old parents I left behind,” said David Mawien.

Mawien returned to Canada recently from his native village of Alorwang in fragile Warrap state, where he spent a two-month holiday with parents and relatives. According to Mawien, citizens in the embattled new nation live in grinding poverty and cannot afford the high cost of electricity but what they want most is citizens’ security.

They also complain that the post-independence period is supposed to be the time of development, and yet their young nation has developed very little and is sliding backward. The outcome, general political instability and specific tribal and ethnic conflicts have made their contributions.

However, there is more to this explanation. South Sudan’s experience has outlined what some observers had already pointed out: diplomatic recognition and membership in the United Nations do not create a nation-state.

The southern state is only a hollow shell, lacking institutional structures which make a nation a viable and effective sociopolitical and economic enterprise.

In the absent of internal peace and functioning economy, some predict, it may never become a self-reliant nation-state. In order to achieve these fundamental elements, its economic and technical dependence on foreign powers has to be replaced by national activities, institutions of government have to be adopted or newly created, school systems have to be revamped and extended, and all these, plus a myriad of other tasks, have to be accomplished with relatively meagre resources.

Not surprisingly, the nation building is not an easy venture. It requires time to realize that nation building and institutions building are only empty exercises unless the attitudes and capacities of the people keep pace with other forms of development.

Mounting evidence suggests that it is impossible for a state to move into the global economic system if its people continue to live in an earlier era.

A modern nation needs participating citizens, men and women who take an active interest in public affairs and who exercise their rights and perform their duties as members of a community larger than that of the kinship network and the immediate geographic locality.

Modern institutions need individuals who can keep to fixed schedules, observe abstract rules, make judgement on the basis of objective evidence, and follow authorities legitimated not by traditional or religious sanctions but by technical competence.

The complex production tasks of the industrial order, which are the basis of modern social systems also make their demand.

Workers must be able to accept both an elaborate division of labor and the need to coordinate a large number of others in the work force. Rewards based on technical competence and objective standards of performance, strict hierarchies of authority responsive to the imperatives of machine production, the separation of product and producer, all are part of this milieu, and require particular personal properties of those who are to master its requirements.

Modern political and economic institutions alike make certain general demands on the people who work within them. They require a greater acceptance of personal mobility, occupational and geographic, a greater readiness to adopt to changes in one’s mode of working and living.

Indeed, a propensity to be an innovator, more tolerance of impersonality, of impartiality, and of differences which may characterize the diverse backgrounds of fellow employees in complex organizations.

Neither type of institution has much tolerance for passivity, but rather favors persistence effort and confidence optimism.

These and other related qualities are not readily forthcoming from South Sudan whose population is still rooted in traditional village agriculture, locked into near-feudal landholding patterns, dominated by self-serving nationalist leaders desperate to preserve their political power, dependent on inadequate public institutions and cut off from the benefit of modern science and technology as well as the stimulation of modern mass communication.

Fusion of the Political and Economic Power

On the South Sudanese contemporary scene, two striking phenomena are inescapable. The first is the towering importance and intrusion of politics into all spheres of human activity to the extend that politics and economics are inseparable.

Of particular significance is the fusion of the political and economic systems. Those who wield political power are invariably the same people who make decisions regarding the allocation of the resources: which development projects are built, where they are located, who get employed in those factories.

Therefore, the success or failure of a business venture very much depends on one’s political connections or whom you know in power.

The second is the peculiarity of the institution of government. Government, as it is known in Canada and the United States, does not exist in the world’s newest nation.

Leaving aside the democratic requirement that a government must be by the people and for the people, one expects at a minimum a government to be responsive to the needs of the people. Or at least, to perform some services for its citizens.

But even this most basic requirement for government is lacking in the new nation. Government as an entity is totally divorced from the people, perceived by the crocodile liberators running it as a vehicle not to serve but to fleece the citizens.

Dishonesty, thievery and peculation pervade the public sector. Public servants embezzle state funds and high ranking ministers are on take.

Early this month, a certain insider reported that all SPLM top officials have put up mansions, each costing hundreds of million of pounds; moreover, they often assign personal secretaries to do a serious shipping for them in Ugandan and Kenyan supper markets.

Public assets such as vehicles, buildings, businesses, machinery, and even food aid are sold out to party members, friends and closer relatives for peanuts.

Hundreds of million of pounds have been dumped in several foreign banks by the military wives and families of the government officials. But Mr. Kiir Mayaardit, a political head of crocodile liberators, is conveintly keeping quiet over it.

I collapsed into hysterical laughter a month ago when I read a headline in social media, claiming that Mr. Mayaardit has launched a war on corruption, because he knows that cronies are millionaires. Even power and money hungry politicians and illiterate military officers involved in financial scandals have never been prosecuted in court of the law.

He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured, says an Ethiopian Proverb. Yet for much of the post independence period, exposing a problem in South Sudan has always been impossible because of media censorship and continued suppression of dissent, and state of South Sudan Television.

Corrupt and incompetent federal and state officials corneal their embarrassing failures until the problems blow up in their faces and then it is too late to solve.

The government officials in South Sudan do not serve the citizens. The state has been reduced to a mafia-like bazaar, where anyone with an official designation can pillage at will.

In effect, it is the new southern state that has been hijacked by the crocodile liberators. They have monopolized both political and economic power to advance their own selfish interests, and not to develop their country’s economy.

Their overarching obsession is to amass personal wealth, gaudily displayed in automobiles and fabulous mansions. Helping the poor, promoting economic growth and improving the standard of living of the people is anathema to the ruling crocodile liberators.

Beyond this, political police are highway robbers and many of high court judges are crooks.

In normal, civilized society, the function of the military is to defend the territorial integrity of the nation and the people against external aggression. But this is not the case in South Sudan. The military is instead locked in combat with the very people it is supposed to defend.

In more than sense, armies in the country are a major cause for worry, and defence establishment takes the largest share of national resource allocation.

South Sudan is in the worst shape economically and socially. Poverty is rife because the ruling crocodile liberators have raped the national economy.

They have no knowledge of the art of government and will never bring the meaningful development in the country. They should be forced to return to White Nile, where they belong, not in the corridors of political power.

John Juac Deng, Sudanese journalist/ writer

1 Comment

  1. Issac Deng says:

    Dear John Juac Deng, this a well written article that exposes the current corrupt regime we have. You should ask the Citizen editor in Juba to publish this interesting piece right away for the larger audience.

    It is true our new country is deteriorating from bad to worse for the reason that the president security machinery continuous to torture journalists and anyone talking about top corruption committed by president appointed ministers who are turning our country into a milking cow. The current government has been riddled with massive corruption on a scale never seen before in the history of our struggle, constitution violation, economic mismanagement and political intolerance resulting in South Sudan falling three points just behind Somalia as a failed state.

    On corruption, a lot has been said about zero tolerance to corruption by president Kiir but nothing is done. According to estimate conservative figures by Dr. Luka Biong, South Sudan has squandered over $10 Billion USD in the past eight years, therefore if a new country does not develop during these oil boom of revolutionary government, how do we expect the “crocodile liberators” to fight poverty, corruption and insecurity during the self-imposed austerity rule where those in positions of privilege and power ensure that they capture their share of the national wealth through dubious means, and ready to smash down those who expose their ill-gotten wealth into submission?

    Today, South Sudan may appear peaceful but its relative peace is threatened by president Kiir’s unstable ever changing administration where corrupt ministers and military commanders have no respect for the rule of law. Think deep about the blink future of this country, it is now over eight years later, and there is no peace dividend felt by the people outside the government.

    I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that any transition to democracy under current corrupt leadership of president Kiir is not likely to be achieved soon. Our president has shown now the same deadly chronic symptoms of African leaders which is president for life disease. And that is why president Kiir is very furious and agitated when challenged to step down from the party chairmanship position by his other equal comrades in the SPLM party since he failed to lead the people and show the country a new positive direction. Without any shame his self imposed 100 days promises a year ago to build 100 schools, hospitals, roads and new airports has since been forgotten.

    The people of South of Sudan should peacefully vote president Kiir out of office in 2015. Say no to any empty promises, and yes to honest and focused leadership with new vision.

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