Dr Riek Machar having been forced out violently from the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) has no options left except to resist. But his resistance must be focused on new ground if he is to rally support from the whole country. To build such a support Dr Machar would need to thoroughly review his entire political experience to learn about his own personal strength and weaknesses. To be effective it helps to be aware of this fact. Dr Machar’s leadership has consistently generated divisions in organisations led by him within a very short period usually starting from about a year.
The time has come for Dr Machar to take a hard look at his leadership capability. He needs to address his weaknesses if he intends to eventually succeed in his political aspirations. It is not good for him to continue leading fractious organisations and committing trivial mistakes that costs tenth of thousands of lives. The cost is just not worth it. Therefore, it would be helpful if Dr Machar could receive professional support in leadership. Most political leaders around the world usually receive such support to improve their effectiveness and personal image. Investment in this area would not be a waste but a source of success.
Now a personal image is only a part of the whole. The other part is the political identity. This encompasses things like beliefs, values, ideology and so on which are very important. These are things that allow a leader to attract followership and support from the masses. The SPLM/A from its inception would not have garnered the support of people throughout the whole Sudan if it did not articulate the values and ideologies of equality, anti discriminations, multi-culture, multi-faith and so forth which enabled the unionist Dr John Garang to bask in as the would-be Messiah of the Sudan. With hindsight this would-have-been expected Messiah has been proven to be a false one.
It was unfortunate that the beautiful ideals Dr Garang sold to the Sudanese people were hollow. He did not in person live it. He did not follow the wise saying, ‘preach what you practice and practice what you preach’. The product of his leadership of the SPLM/A as we see it now is the proven evidence of his double standards and hypocrisy. The fruits of Dr Garang’s leadership are the entrenched tribalism, poisonous discriminations, kelptocracy and murderous SPLM/A regime in Juba.
Though Dr Garang’s approach made the SPLM/A a national movement fighting for the whole Sudan, the unionist ideology was not bought in south Sudan. Other powerful ideologies of secession and tribalism festered underneath to undermine the official objective of SPLM/A of creating a “New Sudan” due to strength in beliefs of identity. In the end the secessionists in south Sudan won while on the other hand the new country got hijacked by a tribal group, the Jieng Council of Elders, who had been working underground since 1970s.
So Dr Garang the highly praised thinker, suave political operator and an aspirational unifier ended up a total failure. He neither realised his united “New Sudan” nor achieved an equal, multi-cultural, multi-tribal, multi-faith independent South Sudan, a country he vowed not to see happening. Yet in the face of this glaring evidence the tribal regime wants to promote Dr Garang as the founder of South Sudan. The question is: how could a failed unionist and militarist politician who constructed a vicious tribal movement be a founding father of a country he did not want to exist?
Nobody can argue against the fact that SPLM/A has been a disaster for South Sudan. It has reduced South Sudanese to be seen as savages - the laughing stalk of the world. The comment made by the chairman of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission former President Festus Mogae sums the tragedy of South Sudan in few words: South Sudan is run by guns and not reason. Nobody can be motivated to dispute this fact except the beneficiaries of the regime in Juba.
Given the fact that the SPLM/A has been proven beyond doubt to be a criminal organisation led by idiotic blood thirsty people it is time that the resistance distances itself from this irreparably damaged brand (SPLM/A).
What this means is that there is urgency for the resistance to jettison the name SPLM-IO and rebrand itself to clearly identify itself with the right values and ideology on which the people of South Sudan can converge and coalesce to realise a total change. Without such a foundational change, the brand SPLM/A as usual ensnares political actors who disagree with it to constantly at best to return into the fold or at worst to end up being killed. This is something time and again that keep happening. The members of SPLM-IO got themselves ensnared and Dr Machar was lucky to escape with his life, but many of his fighters and innocent civilians ended up paying the ultimate price.
The new resistance created by the recent violence of the Juba regime (2nd July to 11th July 2016) should break with this culture of hogging the brand SPLM/A to free itself from being institutionally trapped to promote violence and Jieng tribalism indirectly. Brand SPLM/A is tarnished beyond repair. Its attributes consist of some of the worst values and ideologies practised by horrible political organisations like that of Nazi Germany. The Nazis believed in identity politics (White supremacy) and their method to achieve their objective was through practising extreme violence against others. Similarly, in South Sudan the Jieng Council of Elders believe that the Jieng are ‘born to rule’ which translates itself to the Jieng as being people of superior race. Unsurprising they have chosen the same method practised by the Nazi to achieve their objective in South Sudan. The recent examples are: the ethnic cleansing of December 2013 and the painful events of July 2016.
So the values and ideologies associated with brand SPLM/A are outright incompatible with democratic ideals. Since Dr Machar has consistently said he wants to see democracy implemented in South Sudan the omen is on him to distance himself and his organisation from the monstrosity called SPLM/A. Setting foot on this track would be the first step towards freedom from the shackles of a hopeless criminal organisation that has taken away everything from the South Sudanese people. The resistance should remind the regime of Aleksandr Solzyhnetsin’s wise advice to rulers. This great thinker and author warns rulers that they only have power over people so long as they do not take everything away from them. But when they the rulers have robbed a man of everything, he is no longer in their power – he is free again.
The regime in Juba has robbed the people of South Sudan of everything, you name it: life, land, livelihood itself, peace, honour, resources and so on. What is there left for the people? Nothing! Materially the overwhelming majority of South Sudanese have nothing. Emotionally and inwardly the regime has dehumanised them, but there is something important that replace these losses and it is the regaining of true freedom. This freedom will be the Achilles Heels of the SPLM/A regime.
What has been discussed so far concerns Dr Machar’s personality and the issue of values and ideologies. He has since graduating from Bradford University with PhD associated himself with the values of SPLM/A that have now worldwide made him to be labelled as a failure.
With President Salva Kiir’s carefully staged violence intended to wipe out Dr Machar and his group, it is important that he seizes this opportunity and moment to exhibit beyond doubt his democratic credentials.
In short, ARCISS, the agreement Dr Machar signed which brought him to Juba meant something for him. He tried to stick to its terms and his activities in Juba showed beyond doubt that Dr Machar truly did not want war any more. His speeches in churches and rallies around Juba were marked with calls for reconciliation, forgiveness and unity. What more could he have done? What more could the people asked of him? That the people of South Sudan in that short period chose Dr Machar over President Kiir can not be disputed. The numerous endless warm visits by chiefs and elders of most of the tribes of South Sudan to his house at Korok hill evidences the wish of the South Sudanese people. It is possible that the strong endorsement of the majority tribes of South Sudan of Dr Machar might have rattled President Kiir and the regime forcing them to plan to his assassination.
The warming of the people of South Sudan to Dr Machar is not necessarily because of any attractive policies. For anybody who carefully follows South Sudan politics, the probable reason can be found in the behaviour of the Jieng people. The regime has allowed the Jieng people to antagonise all the tribes in the country and without any outlet the resistance of Dr Machar became a light at the end of the tunnel. It is the hope for something better. Even with all Dr Machar’s weaknesses he is seen by the people as the better option. This I suppose is the headache of President Kiir and the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE).
With the huge support of the people of South Sudan Dr Machar now has the opportunity to restrategise and consolidate his power base both politically and militarily. He should build a broad alliance of all the tribes of South Sudan by holding a national conference to decide what the South Sudanese wish to do to save the country followed by a credible election of a new resistance leadership. Such an act will put to rest some of the skeletons in his cupboard and will also bestow upon the new leadership body legitimacy to act in the interest of the South Sudanese people.
In ‘Confronting the Policy of Land Grab in South Sudan’ it is pointed out that a lesson can be learnt from how the world dealt with Nazi Germany. A comparison of the SPLM-IG was done with the Nazi and the similarity fits well (http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/index.php/2016/05/15/confronting-policy-land-grab-south-sudan/). The new resistance leadership will need to look at such cases in order to draw the right policy to deal with the regime in Juba. Otherwise, South Sudan faces the prospect of real disintegration.
Remember, President Slobodan Milosevic of former Yugoslavia in 1990s pursued identity politics enforced by gun which led to the disintegration of his once great country into Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo leaving Serbia to stand alone. President Kiir’s regime like Milosevic’s also practices identity politics which has thrown the country into serious problems. The new resistance leadership is advised to examine the case of the alliance in the Second World War against Nazi Germany to make a wise decision to rescue the country, otherwise the alternatives are ugly.
President Kiir intentionally triggered the current crisis by gallantly violating the peace agreement. His plan to assassinate Dr Machar should sound the death knell for his regime.
[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
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