BY Johnson Makuac Makur
Lakes State is a place in deep chaos. The problems of Lakes State are just too many. Revenge killings, road ambushes and cattle raiding have become synonymous with daily life and the news of death is all around. But the worst about it all is that leadership is just as bad as the rogue criminals that are terrorizing the State.
From the first day the Governor of Lakes State, Matur Chut Dhuol declared himself “the Governor, the police, the commissioner, the law maker, and the chief,” it was imminent that we would come this far: a near total collapse.
Under the current Governor the insecurity in Lakes State has just kept deteriorating and the Governor continues to add fuel with his usual insults, abuses, rude unconstitutional orders…and so much more.
The Jieng National Council of Elders has been conducting long meetings in Juba in an effort to find solutions to Lakes’ problems. But what these elders and any other person need to know is that the Governor of Lakes State is one of the problems in the State.
If you count the problems of Lakes State then never forget to include the Governor.
The Lakes State representatives both in the National Legislature and the State Assembly concur altogether that the first thing that should be done about the situation of Lakes State is addressing the question of the State Leadership.
The civil society, chiefs, youths and women equally echo the same plea. This appeal has been made many months ago and it was seriously given a thrust by the resolution of the national assembly for the removal of the Governor.
The buck now stops with the President of the republic of South Sudan. The President should seriously consider acting now upon that resolution by putting into use one more time article 101 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan.
The President should note that he is not doing that for the National Assembly but for us the common people on ground in Lakes State. We have given many reasons all along why we want Matur sacked but still I can offer even more:–
First, the Caretaker has allowed himself to be in the mix of all crises of the State. His public statements and actions have appeared to incline to support some warring clans over others. That he is an Agaar whose relatives have disputes adds weight to suspicion that he is not all free of the state crisis.
Matur now stays dangling between clans and it is alleged that he is receiving bribes of cattle from clans so as not to be harsh with them. Is it why there have been no arrests of culprits? No one knows.
But generally, as stated by the National Minister of Defense in his address to the National Parliament, the Governor has lost the trust of the people. New wine, new glass!
To embark on the solutions to Lakes State problems, there first must be a new Governor who should start on a new slate. All the other things would then follow.
Secondly, under the current caretaker Governor the rule of law has fallen to its lowest point. Cases are never tried. Police is not free to do its work. Those jailed for murder cases are released under the orders of Commissioners and the governor himself.
Instead, it’s innocent people and relatives of the culprits paying so heavily. I attended a rule of law workshop in Rumbek and I was amazed this issue of Governor and commissioners’ interference was raised by Head of Prisons management, the Deputy Police Commissioner and a member of the High Court in the State.
In a case of Kok clashes, it is believed that one of the murderers who is at large up to today was first arrested but the Governor was convinced to let him out since he was an in-law to the Governor’s family. There are so many cases of this same nature. This led to people not handing over the crime suspects.
The third reason is that the Caretaker Governor has killed all the important institutions in the State. One of these is the State legislative Assembly. Matur makes his own laws out of the Assembly. Any initiative by the Assembly is frustrated and brought down by him.
In one of the instances, a committee for peace and reconciliation led by Hon. Malek Machut was frustrated to an extent that they were not allowed to meet chiefs. Instead, the Governor convened the spear masters to conduct rituals in Akonbuoi. The result was all out clashes across the whole Agaar and Gok within same week.
The fourth reason is all about the chiefs salaries. The payment of chiefs salaries was stopped from the moment the Caretaker Governor took office. This has slowed the commitment of chiefs and has equally wounded the cooperation between chiefs who are the custodians of the people and the government.
Chiefs’ salaries have always been contained in the budgets passed by the State Assembly under the Ministry of Local Government. Why they don’t get their money only Matur knows.
Fifth reason; the Caretaker Governor has sidelined the SPLM office in the state. Yet, this is the right office from which his policies are supposed to be scrutinized and improved to meet the public demands before they are implemented.
Leave alone a question of cooperation with SPLM; he instead leads one of his own. Those in the SPLM office who do not listen to him are told to stay in Rumbek at their own risk.
The sixth reason is that the character of Gen. Matur Chut as a Governor does not marry up with an identity of a solemn leader. He is applying very harsh laws that are not workable. He does not know that harsh laws make harsh people.
His Langcok prison was a failure. His Arms Control Law passed by the State Assembly was broken within one week by not any other person, but him.
He registered arms within one month, collected people’s money as registration fees for arms and within same month he collected the guns back and refused the people’s money.
Seventh, apart from the fact that the Governor is illiterate, he also possesses no single quality of leadership. He is not calm. He does not listen. He does not contemplate on issues. He does not analyze. He is simply too full of himself.
His nature of throwing insults cannot convince any Dinka community to accept his leadership. Dinka people are never led with an iron fist. To do that makes them even more aggressive and arrogant. What you need is simply the rule of law– fair and free for all. Period!
The eighth reason; the Caretaker Governor has not laid down any system of Governance at all since he took over the leadership of the State. He runs the State without any policy. In the modern day leadership, you cannot wake up each morning and be driven looking for what to do, rather you need to plan and design what you want to do and what direction you want the State to take.
The Caretaker Governor does not have any single security policy for Lakes State.
The ninth reason; the Caretaker Governor of Lakes State is a champion of corruption and nepotism. All the State institutions do not get their Capital and Operation Costs.
The two construction projects – the fence around Freedom Square and the Secretariat General – cannot be the reason millions are taken every month. Funds used for development must equate to what is being done. The money of the poor university students that were officially released for studies – 474 of them – is being taken every month.
The discontent has grown against the government as a result and cooperation became another victim within the institutions he leads.
The tenth reason is the 2015 General Elections. With elections said to be held in April next year, there will be a reason to fear that SPLM may be in serious shambles. President Salva Kiir has visited Rumbek two times this year.
If the President did not use the opportunity to smell the coffee and read the mood of the people of Lakes State, then he should order for the minutes of the two day meeting held in Nyakuron by Jieng National Council of Elders with Lakes communities.
Maybe that can be the last avenue from which the President might get the proper knowledge about what is happening in Lakes and all the justifications why Matur Chut should go.
It is true the President may pass elections without Lakes voters, but it will pain and kill pride in people like me that it is our State that leads the shame, simply something so small was not done: removing the Governor.
The President may not know the people of Lakes State very well, but he knows Matur Chut. He knows his stories in the army. He was one of the generals upon whom soldiers celebrated by shooting in the air when they heard that he was taken to the reserve list. Behold, this was going to be the burden of Lakes State people.
On several occasions the President acknowledged that “Matur Chut does not listen”. Yes, Matur Chut does not listen to anybody. Now the President should also listen and act fast by removing the Caretaker Governor.
If he heeds not to people’s call then we shall have the Caretaker Governor who does not listen, the President who does not listen and the people who will never listen. So, let’s listen!
Johnson Makuac Makur is a South Sudanese citizen. He works in Lakes State. He can be reached at email@example.com