The Hard Choice: Between Stability and Somalization in South Sudan

BY: Daniel Aderkueidit, SOUTH SUDAN, DEC/19/2012, SSN;

At the outset of this brief discourse, I would like to acknowledge the possibility of human error which I am not an exception, however the ability to correct errors is the central pillar even when it is hard to establish the falsity or veracity of any opinion and any view opposite to this will be highly welcomed. After considering a considerable evidence available prior to the Independence of South Sudan and the days of her nationhood, the nation is sliding down the path of demise and neither the reform from within the government nor the total change is likely to produce the desired results. This presents an uncertain future for the nation.

Cognizant of the government inability to exert maximum control over the whole country as evidenced by many rebellions, cattle rustling, inter-tribal conflicts, rampant corruption and unemployment demos by idleness of the youth, breakdown of law and order etc… coupled with the economic crisis created by the oil shutdown, it would be a gross understatement to say that the government is heading toward total collapse in a few days, year(s).

At the political parlance, a peaceful transfer of power, if imaginable at all, is a wishful thought and under the apparent circumstances, democracy will still remain on the public documents and the politicians’ empty rhetoric for sometime.

This makes it clear that guns in the hands of the powerful will still dictate political direction regardless of whether there is a vision for the nation or not.

Government by the people, for the people, is a nightmare for those yearning for New Sudan and the reality will be ‘totalitarian government’ as it is happening in Juba.

Since government criticism is a red line, those who could criticize in foreign-based media are fortunate by virtue of being outside South Sudan, unlike fellow compatriot, Isaiah Abraham, who became a victim of a regime he dearly helped to hoist.

A freedom rooted in dissent has no room in South Sudan. Since dissent is incompatible with their interest, survival becomes the first law of politics and their grip of power wanes no sooner, however, in the continuing political debate everywhere, it is the survival of the nation that is at stake.

It is not about individuals hanging unto power. It is about returning to ‘war of all against all.’ Whether you are with them or not is irrelevant, by virtue of your identity as South Sudanese will be enough to land you in that hell.

Rampant insecurity in the country is only a warning of things to come; what remains disturbing is whether there is a way out of this mess. A change of the regime may seem a better preference but if you look deeper there is a more similar evil to the current regime but the paradox of this is that neither the current regime nor the methodology of bringing change favours stability in South Sudan.

In particular, the tribal entities cramped together through corruption, nepotism, favoritism are likely to fracture into uncontrollable warlords accruing a Somalia-related case given the long existing mistrust between tribes.

What we can state with precision is that without a recognizable government in South Sudan, genocide is likelihood since the same disgruntled within the government will extend the political warfare to tribal conflicts.

The problem is not with the tribes per se, but the wealth ‘trickling down’ precept to tribal cronies through outright embezzlement which has already fueled the long existing tribal mistrust created before South Sudan independence. With that in mind it will be a more or less a chaotic state.

Consequently, advocating for the change within looks untenable. Perhaps, a more or less Somalia in midst of the River Nile is an outright possibility. But the problem with the change within is that, powerful oligarchs are unlikely to act outside interests of their own. Unless they act in what will favor the interest of all South Sudanese, there would possibly be no grim of hope.

For instance, politics is so polarized that each appears like he represents a particular tribe. I once heard a fellow compatriot goading and tarring the whole tribe with the same brush by pushing the setback of the government failure on that particular tribe. With that attitude, it makes it easy for propagandists to mislead any ethnic group to target others making South Sudan a land ruled by continual fear and violent death (Murle-Lou Nuer conflict).

Besides that, it is unforeseeable, as shown by the current laws, that laws will be equally applicable to the citizens. This has been the central premise of lawlessness in South Sudan because no one is willing to obey laws which others do not obey.

If militiamen can kill and afterward welcome without retribution, if a minister can embezzle money and rides freely in the government institutions, if members of the armed forces can kill, rape, loot properties, detain, torture, etc… when expected to maintain law and order, if armed men can raid thousands herd of cattle, kill and displace others and are called heroes, if people can be robbed, intimidated without protection from lawful authority, if citizens are without the services they need to survive, the country has already attained the title of anarchy.

What remains is a split within the regime to give way to ‘war of all against all.’ Cracks are already visible and the props which have been holding it together are crumbling as the engine runs out of fuel (oil).

Austerity measures represent the salt rubbed in the wounds of the corrupt and the parasites (dependents) are beginning to run wild in search of new pastures. This demonstrates why the crimes of theft and looting are on the rise in the city. If there is no any other intervention (oil flow) it will get worse when the national treasury runs dry.

But wait a minute, it sounds as if you are safe from this. There is a catch. If you don’t start working for the interest of all South Sudanese now, you will be a victim of ‘war of all against all.’

But if the leadership acts swiftly it may serve the situation which, perhaps, looks desirable but on a condition that something must be done to regain the confidence of the public. How they will regain this is difficult to answer, but will depend on how united they are, with the support of international community and regional bodies.

But the paradox of this is that, they regime is increasingly losing international support besides approaching how to win the public support and the regional governments are beginning to be concerned in the way South Sudan is being run.

On human rights issues and corruption, the government is confronted with either complying with the international standards of governance or face losing their support by identifying themselves as corrupt, master minders of gross human rights abuses.

However, they have already chosen the latter, leaving them in a diplomatic vacuum. Moreover the international community intervention may be quite against them. On the same notion, the regional countries’ rejection of South Sudan admission to the East African Community was the evidence of government incompetency domestically.

This is vividly shown by a Kenyan Public Opinion poll that revealed South Sudan as a no-man-go land by the highest margin. Hence, it will depend on the calculation they have according to their interests on what to support, between people and the unpopular regime.

Deducing from the above facts, the stability is attainable on implementing meaningful reforms in the government: this is rooted in the ruling party getting reformed by allowing more internal democracy; allowing leadership recruitment by people electing leaders of their choices as 2013 Congresses approach.

This is because the rule of law is linked to political society as it is meaningful to talk of rule of law in a society which exhibits features of democratically elected, responsible, responsive and a subsequent separation of powers to provide checks and balances. Administration of justice viewed outside this context ends up in totalitarian government.

Further, conducting National dialogue with all stakeholders including political parties, civil society organizations among many others in good faith and allowing a more transparent and honest expressions on nation building.

Moreover, the organized forces are too disorganized. Many cases of impunity are attributed to them including arms cycle, killing, raping, torturing, looting, armed robbery.. etc.

Without doing something now it is unimaginable how they will react to austerity measures and limited salary delays. It is a big challenge that anyone in government’s shoes can possibly think of one method to tackle.

The union of the thief and the poor is always rocked with many irreconcilable terms and this might be the case in demobilization since a few comrades became millionaires in an unbelievable time frame, they feel like being cheated.

…….to be continued next time.

The writer can be reached at aderkueidit@yahoo.com

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