South Sudan: Who Is A Bad Leader?

Posted: December 18, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda



December 18, 2017 (SSB) — It has been a while since I wrote about the relationship between leadership and politics. To begin with, I must make general statement that all leaders are politicians but not all politicians are leaders. It is this fact that I am able to conclusion that leadership and politics are so interconnected or intertwined that any person who purports to have interest in politics but ignores the aspect of how leadership and politics relate is like being on a wild goose chase since he or she is not able to understand what makes a good leader.

The relationship between leadership and politics is that politics is used a ladder by the leader to climb to the realm of leadership. Therefore, one cannot talk of leadership without thinking about politics. However, the difference between politics and leadership is that politics is just a game played by leaders to push their agenda through while leadership is the truth behind politics that people voted for.

When a leader thinks that he will run the country solely on politics without the truth or law, he or she risks of being ceremoniously thrown out of the window of politics through which he or she came into power in the first place. This is why leadership and politics are subjects of interests to the lawyers and political scientists. Throughout history, politics and leadership are subjects deeply rooted in the thinking of humankind.

Victoria in her work entitled On Civil Power discusses the traditional Aristotelian division that identifies three virtuous forms of political rule, that is, monarchy, aristocracy and polity. These subjects run throughout historical political discourse and legal history.  In that regard, it should be noted that politics and leadership have their roots in norms and customs of different world societies. Thus, traditionally, and based on religious concept, leadership was either understood as monarchical power that was believed to have come from God though monarchs must also receive their authority or executive power from the community.

For the above reason, it is important to state that Civil Power as authority “is from the People” as understood in the West and in some societies in African traditional setting that we still have day or leadership was understood in form of council of elders that was considered as leadership by virtue of their age of its members and respect those members have in their communities they are hailed from. It goes without saying that the concept of leadership and politics and how the two relate is associated with the fact that they must exist for the good of the people. This is why the people respect leaders who serve them as a leader that does not protect people’s interests is considered as a public nuisance and an enemy of the people as well.

On the above point of the leadership being viewed as nonsense in people’s life, Victoria noted in her another work entitled On Law, dealing with leadership based on monarchy that “it remains true that if a king proves to be a tyrant in government the community can depose him, because even if the community has given away its authority it keeps its natural right to defend itself.” This statement has its backing from the French Revolution of 1789. In 1789, the French people who were tired of their tyrannical and oppressive King, Luis the XVI, took the law into their own hands, and by 1790s, the King with his wife was guillotined by the revolutionaries who believed that he and his wife were an enemies number one of the people of France and had to be punished with the highest and gravest punishment possible.

As the lesson can be learned in that French Revolution, in politics good leaders are rewarded with respect, praise and protection as they play good politics while bad leaders are always source of concern to their own communities: they are considered to be enemies of the people. This is because they have rebelled against the will of the people who elected them. In this regard, the people may choose to dispose such leaders and their governments if the administration of affairs entrusted to them takes upon itself to do things adversely or contrary to the interests of ordinary citizens. It follows from this discussion that where a leader (s) fails to listen to the people and if possible to correct wrongs in his or her government, then the people are justified to declare that they do not recognize such a leader which was the case in Egypt in 2011 and Zimbabwe in 2017.

 Hence, a bad leader can be publicly declared as an enemy of the people and by that virtue, the people may come out openly that they no longer recognize him or her as their leader and that his or her acts are null.  Therefore at that point, the war may inevitably ensue as were the case in Syria and Libya in 2011 unless a leader accepts the demand of the people to step down as was seen in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011.

Importantly, where a leader is considered by the people to be undesirable, it will be necessary for the people to create a defense plan, collect weapons, and impose contributions for war expenses as it was seen during the liberation war in Sudan by the SPLM/A against Khartoum, South Africa against Apartheid regime, Zimbabwe against White Minority Rule and Kenya against British rule.

The aim of the population who rise against a bad leader or a prince at that point is that they want such a leader or government to give them back their power or if he or she refuses then he or she must be killed as a public enemy as well as in the name of the right of defense, and in the name of the authority of the people, more legitimate and always superior than that of the tyrannical leader.

However, it must be pointed out that it is hard sometime to take the road mentioned above to unseat a leader for one reason. The reason is that bad leaders cannot easily be disposed as they use poverty and ignorance of the people as a tool against them and to consolidate their grip on power. They achieve this by using one section of the same political malnourished citizens to hold to power against the few enlightened members of the community that see bad things done by the leaders as it is the case in South Sudan currently. Nonetheless, there is a point where citizens may realize that they have power and it is their power which is that bad leader using to oppress them with. Once the said political malnourished citizens become aware of this particular fact, then, they can easily dethrone that leader or even kill him as was the case in Libya in 2011.

In actual sense, while many people still praise the former leader of Libya, Gadafi for being a good leader, the fact that the rebellion rose in Libya in 2011 proved otherwise that Gadafi was not a good leader as many Africans up to date still think with nostalgia. To make it clear, Gadafi was not a good leader in ordinary understanding but he was a good leader against the West on African Continent not internally.

It must be unequivocally be observed that Gadafi was one of the breed of corrupt African leaders who mismanaged the Libyan people and Libya and when Libyans complained against mismanagement he either used to put them in maximum security prison or killed them hence building social time bomb internally. It was 2011 that social time bomb exploded that sent him to the grave earlier than thought by many.

One thing that many African people did not understand was the type of methods used by Gadafi to conceal his bad governance in Libya. Gadafi used the West as a scapegoat for his bad governance.  For instance, he used to lambast the West in New York during the UN General Assembly or during the African Union Submit for interfering in African politics yet in fact he had nothing to protect against the West but only dictatorship and oppression of the African citizens in Libya.

Unfortunately, majority of African people could not see that fact but instead believed in his rhetoric against the West until when the truth willed out when his own people took his life voluntarily. It is in this respect, I think Libya under Gadafi should not be remembered with pride because he mismanaged that country. Sadly, he governed Libya with iron fist hence putting the country in vegetative state which collapsed as soon as he left the power.  Therefore, Gadafi was not a good leader.

A good leader must all the times aim at building sustainable state that is able to stand by itself or on its own feet even if there is a vacuum of leadership as the case of Israel, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and SPLM immediately after the death of Garang and Tanzania. This was not done by Gadafi and which if South Sudanese are not careful, South Sudan is going the same way unless its foundation is based on people’s power. People’s power is feared by leaders who are bad.

In talking of bad leaders, I mean that these are leaders who aim at building power at the expenses of ordinary citizens. In that case, bad leaders even use the differences among the people as a means of maintaining power since unity among the citizens is a threat to the foundation of their power. This is clearly seen in South Sudan. The consequence of such a bad leadership is that a country will never stand alone based on the people as seen in the case of Russia. In other words, the State built on strong leadership is weaker than the State built on strong and independent citizenry.

It implies that any collapse of leadership in country built on strong leader even within the shortest time possible means a disaster to the country as it was experienced in Democratic Republic of Congo after Mobutu Sese Seko died on September 7, 1997. On the other hand, a good leader is someone who thinks of what will happen to the country after he has left the power hence building the state through building the people.  Hence, a good leader unlike the bad leader should not always survive on politics but he or she should only use politics to get power but use the truth to govern the people with after getting the power.

The good leader should be able to stick to the law so that citizens are able to get protection and have their grievances addressed through peaceful means or legal means. In addition, he or she should always be concerned with the welfare of his organized forces as was seen in the case of General Malong Awan when he was General Chief of Staff. At that time he could go to the frontline to visit the SPLA who were fighting against rebels.

A work the current president has never done since the war broke in 2013 though he saw President Obama and President Museveni doing it.  That means that when we talk of a good leader, he or she should not be a good person but he or she should a tough but fair or a just person. The good leader is not someone who creates dependency by making his or her citizens depending on him or her subjects but some who creates opportunities for his or her subjects to get what they want for themselves independence of their leader.

 The good leader is an effective leader whose presence is felt among the people and who inspire the citizens through his action by creating good governance. Anyadike, Nkechi. O; Emeh, Ikechukwu E.J University of Nigeria Nsukka, in the work entitled, Effective Leadership for Good Governance in Nigeria; Addressing the Interface, points out that the attainment of good governance is a function of effective leadership, especially “… that the attainment of organizational goals would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, if there were no specific individuals with the authority and responsibility to plan, organize, coordinate, lead and control activities. Therefore, the need for good leadership becomes unequivocal”. In actual sense, lack of effective leadership as pointed out above by Anyadike has thrown some countries into indefinite crises as seen in the case of South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

On the subject of effective leadership, OECD points out that leadership is an important and crucial variable that leads to enhanced management capacity, as well as organizational performance. OECD further notes that a leadership focus also plays an integrating role among various Human Resource Management components including recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management, public service ethics, and succession planning.

In relation to the above discussion, it must be concluded that lack of effective or good leadership is manifested by the following features (as were discussed in Seminar on Public Sector Leadership Capacity Development for Good Governance in Africa: The Role of Public Sector Leadership in Fostering Socio-Economic and Political Development in Africa by Dr. TAG ELSIR MAHGOUB ALI State Minister of Labor and Administrative reform, Sudan Kampala, Uganda, 27 – 30 January 2004):  Internal and external conflicts that have resulted in devastation of infrastructure; low economic performance due to poor macro-economic management; unbridled lust for power and the growth of unscrupulous careerists; Inter-group cleavages that hampered real growth and development; Fragile institutions hobbled by tradition tribalism and nepotism that resulted in reduced efficiency and poor functioning organizations; Growing poverty and deprivation and abysmal ignorance; Poor governance systems giving way to a mismanagement crisis of increasing dimensions, due to lack of transparency and accountability; Weakened trust in government as an institution; Poor service delivery, and increasing endemic diseases; Lack of creativity and innovation and aggressive pursuit of excellence.

The above features of bad governance are caused by the ineffective leadership since bad leaders have one thing in common. They have neither compassion nor transparency in their work. Bad leaders are full of selfishness and wickedness; which is why they saw themselves as rulers of their people, not their leaders contrary to the view that leaders are supposed to use their political powers to serve their people with vision, kindness, accountability, responsibility and transparency.

The Author is a lawyer by profession; he graduated with honors in law from Makerere University, School of Law. He participated in various workshops and training in community law and community mobilization in awareness of their constitutional rights in Uganda. He is the member of Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) and NETPIL (Network of Public Interest Lawyers) at Makerere University; he is currently doing research with NETPIL on private prosecution; he is trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); he participated in writing Street Law Handbook on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Uganda. He can be reached through or +256784806333.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from, plus a concise biography of yourself.

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