BY: Mading Gum Mading, JUBA, NOV. 14/2012, SSN;
While attending the launching of Warrap, Unity, and Lakes States Youth for Peace, Reconciliation and Development (WULSYPRD) dated 11 November 2012 at Nyakuron, a long standing question popped up again. This time around, it is not from the Youth and ordinary citizens but from the prominent figures within our government. While interesting possible (expected) answers were given, figuring out most among of them logically arrived at a varied and contentious conclusion.
The first given enemy is AK-47, known for its omnipresence in the hands of ordinary citizens, is easily tipped to be the destabilizing factor in the new republic. However, a closer look at this enemy will give you a second opinion that a cycle of its lethality has to be traced which reverts back to the government.
In every country, the armed forces which are the law enforcement agents are practically part of the executive branch of the government. While the executive branch of the government is mandated to enforce the very laws made by the legislature, a failure to -or any other act contrary to this (e.g. armed forces sale of guns to civilians)- enforce them inevitably creates a state of anarchy.
Therefore, a resort by the ordinary men guided upon by those considerations which regulate the conduct of human affairs to self-defense through the acquisition of this firearm called AK-47 cannot be attributed to AK-47 per se. The good standard for determining whether the rifle’s omnipresence is the cause of rampant deaths in the country should be weighed against the circumstances aiding its use.
A South Sudanese living in his village or a cattle camp, is aware that his physical security and his belongings are protected by an able authority. Who believes and trusts a justice administration that would settle his disputes with another. Who knows and foresees that a breach of a certain conduct required by law would result in a penalty proportional to the act will follow, would not in essence bother to buy a gun.
He will not waste his precious asset to acquire AK-47 in the name of self-defense which is already provided and a soldier who illegally trades a rifle will be frustrated by the absence of a prospective buyer.
It will not be surprising that the ordinary civilians, aware that unlawful possession of a firearm is a crime, will be reporting those elements from the organized forces trying the activity in question. Therefore, the protection gap is responsible for omnipresence of firearms in the hands of ordinary citizens thus warranting their very usage by virtue of lawlessness itself.
The issue of bride wealth as one of the causes of cattle wrestling may not be ruled out in principle. However, the major cause of the insecurity in those areas in question as I mention in my first article is “the breakdown of law and order” coupled with inaccessibility in those areas by road. This is the central premise of the whole crisis.
It would be reasonable to say that one of the causes of corruption is the high demand of bride wealth given that few who could not raise cattle themselves tend to churn out a bloated budget for purchasing the cows for the purpose of marriage. Sources for such huge amount can’t pass unnoticed and a question forms in mind may – in rumors – be permissible. Perhaps if we talk about the prestige-based monopoly of the cattle in pastoralist’s life is reasonable under economic perspectives of the cattle.
There are many grounds to justify this mistaken perception of bride wealth as cause of conflicts however lowering the demand is acceptable on different grounds but I intend to focus on the law and order.
At the outset, our communities should not be taken absolutely as adapted to conflicts. My experience in those areas gave me a different view. They are peace loving communities, practically generous, law abiding citizens, and with innate sense of justice. With that said, I am going to deal with why the breakdown of law and order is the core problem.
First, every conference whether for peace and reconciliation or for formulation of customary laws always remains at the paper stage! The implementation of the resolutions is one central point endowed with failures every time a conference is made. This proves that a new approach is required. With chiefs becoming less powerful or influential – below Boma administrators – every law violation seems practically difficult to address.
The absence of capable police in those areas to apprehend the offenders is one major trigger of conflicts. The person whose right so violated and with no option left will take the law into his hand through revenge. This is the cycle.
Communal violence merges the two parties by merging into the wider community against other community. Since collective guilt and collective responsibilities are at play, making any person from the offending community is a target, and escalating the violence further.
At this level the customary courts, without police to suppress the violence are helpless. Even their decisions are occasionally non-complied with by many offenders. At this instant in the absence of regular police presence in the areas, it’s not to be expected law and order will prevail, that customary courts’ decisions will be respected, with limited or no knowledge at all in criminal cases; miscarriage of justice is likelihood.
It is to be pointed out that a fear of punishment is the only deterrence to commission of offences. While this is not only the case in the areas in question, it extends to all corridors of our country. The basic stage necessary for the rule of law in this country is the citizens’ compliance with the ordinary laws of the land. A model built on the law and order as a priority, an impartial justice administration that will apply the laws uniformly, and a penitentiary capable of keeping the law violators.
Only and then when peace and stability is ensured can we talk of development, prosperity, liberty.
Since we are good beginners and poor finishers, all the proposed conferences, national dialogue, amnesty for all the militias are hardly likely to produce any desired results. Golden events crowned with precious words are not practically good remedy. “Peace is a process and it must materialize in action. Words must be followed with deeds. Not talk the talk but action the action,” Hilde Johnson, the Special representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations.
The second enemy of South Sudan as majority would agree is believed to be “ourselves”. But in which part of us is the enemy residing? Can we believe that our mere tribal identity supersedes our national identity as South Sudanese? Does our diversity in broader sense fragment us along ethnic lines?
These questions are many but take a deep thought to reflect whether each is a predicament in our effort of nation building. Before we go further, remember that during the war of liberation, CPA and its subsequent independence our differences were political and are still political. The differences that divide us further are not rooted in mere tribal affiliation but the blend of divide and rule politics and economic hand outs that are solely responsible for the hindrance in realization that our diversity is our strength.
Sometimes one can wonder whether South Sudan government is a coalition of tribes. Tribal representation seems like a good cry these days to get a ministerial post, a political tool, of course, to get through at the expense of inculcating the national vision in the minds of the ordinary, tribal fellows.
A glance at the SPLM practical activities within will not leave you without heartache. A heartache that is enough to make you weep for this Country, heartache that demonstrates that gap of political ideology, a gap firmly incorporated in power distributions, a gap filled by corruption, nepotism, tribalism, and regionalism. Everything is perceived at the regional (if not tribal) and individual interest and whoever appears opposed to this deeply entrenched mentality is a bad apple. This too extends outside South Sudan and every activity intended to bring unity occasionally ends in disagreement.
As Mr. Vice President too acknowledged at the Nyakuron gathering, the internet war wagers are active participants on the other level besides the inter-tribal warriors on the ground; this demonstrates that our country stands on the foundation of incoherence.
However, I too can surmise that the enemy is within us; the crisis that threatens us, the force that could topple the very nascent nation, that could make us a failed state, which could accrue the Somalization of South Sudan, is within ourselves. Neither Sudan nor rifles. It is within the character of our culture; where the values which restrains the inner vices and develop inner virtues are eroding.
The streams of empty rhetoric have quenched any substantive discussion of truths and important issues but have fed the disillusioned populace with vacuous ideas of South Sudan independence which will never bring progress.
With lulls of independence, starting a nation building seems like a kind of sham. “Like men with sore eyes; they find the light painful, while darkness, which permits them to see nothing, is restful and agreeable” Dio Chrysostom, A.D. 40-120, 11th Discourse.
The Deputy Interior Minister too has his own observation when he visits one of the nightclubs in Juba. “The future of this generation is hanging somewhere … they will perish.” I guess they will perish from nothing other than HIV/AIDS as an amalgam of alcohol and sex is indispensable.
“Implementation” of the plans, laws, and national policies is our enemy. Our enemy is talk-talk-talk and no ACTION!
However all these don’t leave me without convictions. I believe since we know the enemy, “we can” bring it down. Of course it is not going to be an easy process.
We, however, don’t need to be spurred on by the promise of ministerial posts or rich booty in the end to start fighting this enemy, we unswervingly need to begin where we are in our huts, school rooms, playgrounds, academic theaters, professional associations, tribal, regional, states, youth unions and associations. That is one stage; a stage free from any external influence – a conscious from within us – we are all in it together.
That we are South Sudanese not SPLM, DC, ANC, our tribal entities, etc… but our tribes should be the source of our unity, the beauty of this country.
Revive the very norm that shuns injustice, discrimination of the fellow South Sudanese, corruption, tribalism, sectarianism, and embrace the moral virtues which are the sources of loyalty, bravery, piety, obedience to the just laws, and the undoing love for our country.
What the youth of Warrap, Unity and Lakes States have initiated requires all our efforts as citizens of this country to help sensitize our communities or tribes, about the importance of peaceful co-existence, reconciliation, peace and development.
A process of “mindset transformation” in the midst of this chaotic country is now a necessity if we want to enjoy the fruits of independence that we lost 2.5 million lives for.
The Writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org/ +211914115375