Predicting the future of South Sudan under President Kiir and Gen. Taban Deng Gai

Posted: January 3, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Commentary, Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

Predicting the future of South Sudan under Taban Deng Gai and President Kiir and problems that lie ahead in some time to come

By Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda

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The swearing-in ceremony of Gen. Taban Deng Ghai as the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, photo by Maal Maker Thiong on July 26th, 2016, J-1, Juba

January 3, 2018 (SSB) — Perhaps, it may be important to begin this article with the quote from Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister and stateswoman who was once quoted to have stated that “ power does not corrupt men, fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power”. This is exactly what is going in South Sudan, which the subject of this article is.

I cannot say that those who are in power in South Sudan are fools but if they corrupt power as they are doing now then they fit to be described as such. This article, therefore, attempts to predict what will happen in some time to come in South Sudan if South Sudan continues to be run by both Taban Deng and President Kiir Mayardit.

In particular, the way Taban Deng is dealing with and relating to the president of South Sudan leaves much to be desired.  Taban’s dealing with the President now appears that he has interior motive and there is the likelihood that it will be too late before South Sudanese discover that Taban has already taken power.

Taban is going to take power in three or so years to come because he is now busy to apply the principles found in the Book entitled 48 laws of power. In that Book, Robert Greene and Joost Elffer discuss the principles one must follow if he or she is to get into power. Some of those principles are—first, Never outshine the master; second always make those above you comfortably superior; third when you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy…

Fourth, never put too much trust in friends, fifth, learn how to use enemies; sixth, conceal your intentions; seventh, always say less than necessary; eighth, make other people come to you—use bait if necessary; ninth, win through your actions, never through argument; tenth, learn to keep people dependent on you; eleventh, use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim; etc”.

The above principles are the ones Taban Deng is using in South Sudan in an attempt to get power. Taban is trying to make President Kiir as much comfortable superior as possible. This implies in practice Taban in practice has to be snobbish, sheepish and submissive in serving the president. In other words, Taban does not want to question anything or say anything that is contrary to his boss, the president’s views as he always pampers him with all kinds of words such as “my president”.

This is despite the fact that though Taban may know that things are not alright in South Sudan, he does not want to question anything or say anything that the president may not like because his mission is not to serve South Sudanese but to be closer to the president as much as possible with the hope that he will get power with time, which is shown by steps he took so far to come close to power.

The first step for Taban to power was (as the majority of South Sudanese know), was overthrowing Dr. Machar through crook means in 2016 hence throwing the country into further turmoil.  Therefore Dr. Riek was the first big causality of Taban’s quest for power even though many fundamentalists in the SPLM have not yet understood and what the target of Taban Deng Gai is.

The ultimate target of Taban is to become the president of South Sudan whether by fair or crook means. Hence, Taban is using all means available within his reach to get to power.

In fact, I have described SPLM supporters above as fundamentalists because they do not accommodate opposing views contrary to what they believe in and any person who holds contrary views is branded as a rebel. This provides cultural medium to the maneuvering techniques of Taban to power since he is an appropriate candidate for SPLM party that likes praises and flatters.

The above observation in relation to Taban does not take a person much time to make as any person who might have been keenly observing South Sudanese unfolding problems since 2013 to date would have discovered that Taban is at the centre of the entire crisis that befell the country. For instance, the study of the root causes of the present war pins Taban down as he is a major player in the outbreak of the war.

The actions of Taban has shown that he has been planning how to get to power and in order to do that he has to find a way of passing his superiors such as Dr. Riek Machar. Thus, the first plan for him was how to get resources. He put that plan into action by misappropriating resources that were intended to reconstruct the Unity State after the civil war between South and North of Sudan.

Taban corrupted oil money besides two percentages (2%) (That was intended to build area where oil is drilled from) during his governorship and it is that money he used later in 2013 to fund the present war before he joined the government in 2016. As the events have disclosed in the process, the intention of Taban of financing the war using the money he corrupted was not to fight for Dr. Riek but to instigate the war that would lead to Riek leaving the SPLM party to make a room for him as he considered Dr. Riek as an obstacle to him getting power.

This plan succeeded in 2016. This fulfils common view he holds that one of the people who deny him power is Riek, and if Riek were to get out of the way, he would become the president of South Sudan.

After having done away with Dr. Riek, Taban has been confirmed by the President of South Sudan as first Vice President while Dr. Riek Machar is wasting away under house arrest in South Africa. However, the beneficiary of Dr. Riek Machar and South Sudanese suffering is South African Government of which unconfirmed report points out that it is now receiving $ 450,000 monthly as a fee for keeping Dr. Riek under house arrest.

In fact, with Dr. Riek out of the political scene and Taban at the centre of power, his next move is to consolidate power and if possible to become the president of South Sudan sooner or later. There is a real fear that Taban is likely to get power in South Sudan as long as Kiir is still the President of South Sudan for the following reasons—

First of all, Taban uses money and because of that, he corrupts the system to get as much money as he can in order to use the money later to buy people to support him. For instance, since he was appointed a governor until 2013, the two percent (2%) of oil money that was supposed to be used for development in Unity State was never used for the development as it was intended. It was that money Taban used to finance the war since 2013 to 2015. Though he financed the war his intention was not to maintain the war in order to ensure he put Dr. Riek presidency but just to put Dr. Riek into deeper problems so that he has access to power easily which happened in 2016.

It is therefore hard to defeat a person like Taban in a country like South Sudan where poverty is high. The use of money and the weakness of the President make it likely that Taban will take power which will take the people of South Sudan by surprise.

Secondly, Taban has completely weakened the SPLM party as he is the real man behind the decision of the president of South Sudan to sack the members of the party and SPLA officers. Taban being a dealer, he has created a very strong network within the government as some of the ministers and advisors to the president are his friends. These ministers and advisors are the ones who hold the fate of all civil servants and army in South Sudan and whatever they have said is the law. Hence, whether the president likes it or not, whoever they have recommended to be removed or to be appointed can be removed or appointed as they wish.

It is in relation to the above we see General Malong and his associates being removed from power as a way of weakening Malong and by implication the president. This is because the approach of Taban in getting power is two-pronged: the first step is to weaken the government by smuggling in his right-hand people who serve his interest. The ultimate goal of Taban is to weaken the SPLM party that has been making it difficult for him to get power and instead to create the SPLM version that will work in his favour.

The plan of Taban is to isolate the president and other strong members of the SPLM so that he later does away with the president with ease. In actual sense, Taban is creating an SPLM party of dealers that will control the system, not the country and then later use the system funded with the oil money to silence all the critics. At that point, there will be no Dinka nor Nuer to support their leaders as it is the case now.

However, it is not that he will create a nation but he will create a super tribal body composed of different dealers from different tribes who will deal with their tribes either through fair or crook means hence weaken the spirit of tribalism as well as the spirit of nationalism. Though this analysis (how Taban may get power) may be correct, the president of South Sudan and his supporters will never understand it or agree with it because they don’t accommodate different opposing views as they don’t like opposition or someone who tells them the truth; hence, they will rather be with Taban Deng who flatters them than someone who tells the truth.

Thirdly, as a strategy of remaining the First Vice President, Taban will never accept peace with Riek Machar or rebels as long as their coming back to Juba affects his position. Since he has all money it takes the whole South Sudan to have it, Taban will use as much money as possible to ensure that peace does not come. It is because of the same reason the kidnapping of the members of the opposition is common in Kenya contrary to the international law. He might have bribed some elements in the Kenyan Government to help him achieve his unbridled desire for power by rooting the rebels out from Kenya.

Fourthly, Taban will never accept peace to prevail among civilians within South Sudan since some sort of peace will always be a threat to his position as citizens will be able to speak one voice and question his ability to be the First Vice President. This is why he has been accused of leaving his national position and gets involved in the issues of tribal land back home between his tribe and Ruweng people. And at the same time, he and his friends inside the state house will always tell the president that things are going on well on the ground in different part of the country thus the president stays in J1 while lives of the citizens keep on deteriorating all the times due to rampant insecurity. This strategy is to keep the president out of the reality and to keep citizens engaged in the tribal war to ensure that he gets power with ease.

Fifthly, one of the reasons Taban is pushing for the reunification of the SPLM party is to ensure that he is confirmed in the position of the first Vice President. With the affirmation in that position, he will at any time become the next leader after the president or in case anything happens to the President he automatically takes over. Fortunately, FDs have understood this ploy and therefore not ready to risk, which explains the collapse of reunification deals many times.

Sixthly and finally, Taban Deng Gai is likely to take over power unless there is external intervention to oust him. This is because the president will not be able to control him given the fact that President Kiir does not analyze the moment of a person as long as that person does not show opposition to him.

After taking over power, the following are the problems as discussed below— First of all, as soon as Taban takes over the power he will dismantle the SPLM part completely and move towards Khartoum by introducing the Arab style of governance. This is the system of governance where security apparatus protects the presidency, not citizens, where the president is above the laws of the country while he or she is being protected by strong personal security sweet coated with national security title, consequently, the country will be highly insecure as citizens will be acting as informant on each other. All these will be intended by Taban to build the power base for himself and his cohorts.

Secondly, Taban will run South Sudan like a king as he does not respect the law. His negative attitude towards the law was seen when Counsel Wani successfully challenged the decree of the president appointing ministers to East African Community Parliament. At that time reacting to the news that the East African Court of Justice had nullified the Presidential decree, he was quoted to have said that the action of Wani was an embarrassment to the country and to the president because to him the action of the president is not supposed to be challenged in law. This shows that Taban does not respect the law and if he becomes the president of South Sudan, the people will have to forget about the rule of law, which by implication means that corruption and bad governance, in general, will flourish under Taban Deng Gai.

Thirdly, disunity and unknown gunmen will be common in South Sudan. All these will result in South Sudanese rising against the President Taban and he will die like Gadafi or if not removed he will finally die in power leaving South Sudan in more crisis than now.

In summary, the above discussed predictions and problems will happen in South Sudan unless the citizens of South Sudan realize earlier that Taban is not a reformist but dealer that will use the state for his own benefits to their detriment and the only way to save South Sudan is not to allow him to become president of South Sudan.

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 juoldaniel2003@gmail.com 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 paanluel2011@gmail.com. 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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