South Sudan rebel leader Riek Macharextreme left and president Salva Kiir in hat signing peace agreement in Juba PPU Photo

Riek Machar extreme left and President Salva Kiir in hat signing peace agreement in Juba (File Image / PPU Photo)


I am writing this particular piece because I recognise that while propaganda is inevitable in conflict, the slanderous claims about General Thomas Cirrilo Swaka and NAS are so unfounded that it requires an appropriate response. The Juba regime has rendered our young country unliveable through its cruel and unjustified violence, as well as it’s mismanagement of the country. Therefore, this article is written with the commitment to truth, and truth for the sake of communicating clearly the reality of the nature of the slanderous claims against the NAS movement and its leader.

On Saturday 11th May 2024 I was browsing through the worldwide web and I accidentally came across an opinion authored by Pan Africa and published by South Sudan Global. Please see the article in this link. (https://southsudanglobal.com/3-reasons-why-genthomas-cirillo-swaka-must-give-up-rebellion-nc9icvcxzzcn4k9d). For those who find reading a problem, please see the video version in this link (https://www.bing.com/videos/riverview/relatedvideo?q=3+reasons+why+Gen.+Thomas+Cirillo+Swaka+must+give+up+rebellion&mid=DA02E70C06451FE9CA3EDA02E70C06451FE9CA3E&FORM=VIRE). The article captured my attention and I became very interested in it due to its mendacious contents. It is not only inaccurate, but very misleading. So, I decided to research the publisher and unbelievably it turned out to be an arm of South Sudan security service.

First of all, the problem with this article is not only the deliberate caricaturing of the leader of National Salvation Front (NAS) General Thomas Cirrillo Swaka, but the numerous errors in it. For example, the article is dated July 2, 2023 and its contents is talking about current events such as the Nairobi Peace Talks whose objective according to President William Ruto is, “Shepherding the final phase of the South Sudan Mediation Process.”

Before delving into the 3 reasons postulated by South Sudan Global, it is very important to clear the allegations that General Swaka defected “to the rebels’ alliance in 2017”. In 2017 there was no rebel alliance in South Sudan. Why any decent person would make up such an insinuation, it beggars’ belief. General Swaka did not defect, he honourably resigned from SSPDF and he gave credible reasons for his resignation. His letter of resignation was published by most of South Sudanese news papers including in social media. Please see (https://apnews.com/general-news-ace5891297ff4e60a232bd218a17b171).

South Sudan Global’s use of the word defection on General Swaka tells a bigger story. It is not a mistake, but actually it provides concrete evidence to what people in South Sudan have been talking about endlessly. It is about tribalism in the country. President Salva Kiir shamelessly has filled 90 percent of the civil service posts in the country with his tribemates, majority of whom are illiterates imported from cattle camps straight into government posts. Hence, the quality of the work churned out by South Sudan Global such as the article in question is representative of the quality of its stuff. What a pity? The ongoing collapse of South Sudan is mainly due to this vicious tribalism that President Kiir has instituted in the country. No wonder General Swaka correctly concluded in his resignation letter that President Kiir is unfit to rule a multitribal and diverse country.

In their article South Sudan Global additionally alleges that National Salvation Front, “has been accused of wanton killings of civilians along the Nimule – Juba road by Human Rights groups.” This is a blatant lie. If South Sudan Global believes that what they are writing is the truth: why does it not quote the Human Rights groups directly? What is preventing them from doing this simple but very important act to authentic their story? I leave this to the readers to judge for themselves.

Crucially, South Sudan Global needs to revisit the revelations of General Paul Malong Awan about road ambushes in South Sudan. When General Awan rebelled against the government in 2018, he disclosed the nefarious activities of the SSPDF military intelligence which included terror and killings of innocent civilians on the roads of South Sudan to tarnish the image of NAS.

Telling lies in order to tarnish the image of General Swaka won’t work. To conduct such a pedantic propaganda will not distract the focus of General Thomas Swaka from his commitment to continue the struggle to liberate the people of South Sudan. Neither will it save President Kiir’s regime. It is time that the tribalists in South Sudan look themselves in the mirror and come to terms with their destruction of the country. What they need to do is to acknowledge the harm they have caused to the country and desist from manufacturing lies in the hope it will allow them to continue to rule. The people of South Sudan are not stupid. They know who General Swaka is. Were it not for him and other gallant patriotic officers from the other tribes of South Sudan, President Kiir and his tribal cabal and hordes would not be ruling the country today.

South Sudan Global should remember the late 1990s when the alliance of Dr Riek Machar and General Omer Al Bashir literally defeated the SPLM/A. At the time, SPLM/A was pushed to Nimule without an outlet. SPLM/A was staring defeat in the face. It was this very General Swaka who they are trying to caricature and others as stated already who snatched victory from the jaws of the National Islamic Front.

President Kiir, and his tribes mates had already fled from the battle fields of South Sudan with Dr Garang, the commander in chief having crossed into Uganda making his way to Kenya possibly for exile. So, what is this South Sudan Global talking about. As usual these tribalists are ungrateful.

Now let us move on to South Sudan Global’s “three reasons why Gen. Thomas Cirillo Swaka must give up the rebellion and rejoin the government.”

Firstly, South Sudan Global argues that National Salvation Front does not have a national outlook. It continues, Thomas Cirillo’s rebellion has never been waged outside Equatoria. Other regions, like Bhar el Ghazal and the Upper Nile, do not have any pockets of resistance. In fact, most NAS military recruits mainly come from Equatoria. This tells us that the rebellion has flopped and that the government has succeeded in quarantining Gen. Thomas Cirillo Swaka and his army in Equatoria. Thus, it is prudent for him to rejoin the government and obtain political relevance like his fellow militia, the former rebel warlord, Gen. Johnson Olony.

Obviously, the tribal regime through its arm, South Sudan Global wants by all means to discourage General Swaka from the national duty to liberate the people of South Sudan. They would be happy were General Swaka not to be in the field leading the struggle and so they try to use psychological tricks to discourage people from supporting the struggle against their barbaric, and unjust system.

NAS presently in South Sudan is the only national movement. A quick glance at its structure proves beyond doubts its national character. The leadership consists of South Sudanese of various tribes. Unlike NAS, the tribal regime of President Kiir almost entirely consists of Jieng people. The entire security sector, the banking sector, overwhelming majority of the ministers, the economic sector, the entire public service and the list goes on, are dominated by one tribe: the president’s tribe. To cap it, the regime’s outlet called South Sudan Global seems to have forgotten about what President Kiir did to the Nuer in 2013 and 2016.

It is unbelievable that the tribal South Sudan Global has the audacity to falsely accuse the patriots and nationalist of tribalism.

South Sudan Global in its second point argues that there has been mass defection of senior NAS leaders to the revitalised government. This, it continues, takes away much-needed leadership skills and morale, which General Swaka desperately needs to defeat the revitalised government. Another problem, it goes on, is that the defectors will sign a peace agreement with the government and they will enjoy the largesse, while General Swaka is left wallowing in the political wilderness.

However, the defection referred to here is not the first, this is the third defection and like the previous two, it has not done any damage to the organisation or the leadership of NAS. This is for the simple fact that the defectees and the defection is the work of the regime’s counter insurgency. NAS was all along aware of the personalities involved. NAS monitored them closely and it ensured that the organisation was well protected. As I write now, the people of South Sudan have dismissed this staged defection. NAS is stronger and wiser than before because it is constantly learning from the work of the regime’s counter insurgency. Therefore, this recent defection is nothing to crow about. The best description for it is “a storm in a tea cup”. There are no problems of loss of skilled leadership or morale as alleged.

Whether the defectors sign a peace in the Kenyan Talks or not is not a big deal. After all, the defectors are agents of the regime. What else can be expected from people like these who are the regime’s employees?

South Sudan Global in its crude propaganda insinuates that General Swaka would be “left wallowing in the political wilderness” if he does not become part of the sham Kenyan Talks. This is not only disrespectful, but actually insulting. General Swaka is unlike other South Sudanese political actors. He did not resort to the struggle for personal gain, were this to be the reason, he would not have resigned from the army because he was one of a tiny minority of non-Jieng to hold a senior position in South Sudan’s military apparatus. Therefore, if General Swaka aspired for political leadership for personal gain, he could have remained in Juba pursuing his progression like most of his colleagues.

The difference is that General Swaka true to his profession remained loyal to South Sudan based on the oath he took and so he wholeheartedly decided to honour that oath. Thus, at the time of South Sudan’s need, he responded with dignity and he answered the call to rescue the country. For those who think that General Swaka can be bought, they need to think again. He did not sell out before and will not sell out now. South Sudan is not for sale. The liberation of the South Sudanese people is not for sale, therefore, the struggle will continue until the root causes of the conflict are both addressed and resolved, bringing about genuine peace in South Sudan.

The third point raised by South Sudan Global relates to the problem of election at the end of this year. Respectfully, no one asked for advice from South Sudan Global. I would like to reiterate, holding elections without addressing the root causes of the conflict is unhelpful for the country, it will only lead into further violence. If the regime truly wants peace, it must accept the Round Table conference consisting of all the stake holders in South Sudan. This Round Table conference must be in a neutral location, where the representatives of the South Sudanese people are able to freely discuss the root causes of the problems in the country. Without this, there will never be peace in South Sudan.

The sham elections being prepared in absence of a conducive environment will be rigged by the tribalist in power because they control the entire security sector and the people of South Sudan can do nothing about it. The regional countries being beneficiaries will recognise the rigged results with the international community remaining silent which may well be construed as acceptance of the results. We have seen examples of this in Uganda and Kenya recently. Elections without an overhaul of the system is not the way to go, but the Round Table is.

The desperate claims of the regime’s media outlets about General Swaka indicates the dire situation in the country today. It is important for everybody to bear in mind that the Juba regime is on its last legs, as the regime is now weak, the economy is collapsing, famine is imminent and hunger has started to turn this regime’s supporters into enemies, please look into university protests by Jieng students in South Sudan. Lastly, the regime’s cash cow of oil is now shutting down, with civil service staff going unpaid for months.

Therefore, I would encourage the Juba regime to spend its energy and time finding dynamic and competent thinkers, instead of writing lies about General Swaka and NAS, as the Juba regime is bankrupt of ideas, woefully bereft of thinkers, with a slim to no chance of generating new ideas to buy time. We all know the regime’s support base is crumbling, which is generating anxiety and soul-destroying fear in the leaders of the Juba regime. Is it any wonder this slowly unfolding disaster has pushed the regime’s media outlet to spread lies without shame, to be honest, I do not blame them, what else can they do?

Truth hurts but it is also liberating.

Elhag Paul

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