By Job Kiir Garang (Kiir-Agou), Canada
President Kiir and his former Vice President, Riek Machar, in their happy days
Beny Panluelwel, in response to your reply to my recent article entitled “cowboy: a political joke”, I must say kudos to you! I did have fun reading it and it indeed taught me a thing or two. First and foremost, it exemplifies how we can disagree and still maintain a high level of civil discourse that many in the bloglosphere lack these days. It was both humorous and analytical. Well done!
Having said that, I still have a few pointers to put across. Firstly, AND THIS I MUST SAY, it takes graceful hearts to throw one’s support behind people with baggage akin to that of Dr. Riek Machar. He is not perfect and I doubt if anyone out there is. Not even the late Dr. John Garang. I might have called him (Riek) “the ultimate messiah” to lead us out of the mess we are embroiled in at the moment but the bottom line is whoever is going to bring peace to South Sudan, be it Salva Kiir Mayaardit, Riek Machar or any other politician, is by my definition caricature the “ultimate Messiah”.
I know my labeling of Dr. Riek as such only leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many just because he took arms against the SPLA , then under the leadership of Dr. John Garang (may his soul rest in peace). If I had labeled Salva Kiir as the ultimate messiah, I am sure majority of my dinka colleagues would have been fine with it. Only a few with sound judgment would have taken the label with a pinch of salt. It makes me think that we are just anti-Nuer or more specifically anti-Riek not knowing that Nuer will always play an integral part in the South Sudan’s political arena.
That brings me to a quote in your response and it goes like this “First, one should establish whether or not Dr. Riek Machar had been an integral member of Salva Kiir’s government for the period that heralded the president as the very definition of what is wrong with South Sudan”. The answer is a “yes” because he was the vice president during that period. The insinuation, however, seems to be that Riek is somehow guilty by association. Riek is not entirely clean but I would be doing myself a great deal of disservice if I were to make that claim.
What is certain is that Both parties have been dragging their feet in the aftermath of the war that broke out in December last year. However, my score board heavily blames the president for all that has and still does go wrong in our country. First, Kiir’s administration has been obscenely totalitarian especially when it comes to dealing with those in his government. People have been sacked at will. Corruption is and continues to be grossly high and nothing is being done to curb it. The reaction has always been the same: sit back, do nothing and let nature runs its course.
With Kiir as the president, SPLA has been astonishingly dinkanized. However, looking at it again of late, the numbers are exponentially growing for the President’s subtribe. People who speak against the party are demonized and scorned. The scenario is a state of governance where power trickles down from the president to the very bottom of the leadership ladder.
With the president running the country with an iron fist, Riek Machar is not immune to the president’s bully tendencies. He is not shielded from the wrath of the cowboy. He and his counterparts paid the price for trying to make the political discourse more participatory. They were sacked like a bunch of low-level kitchen workers in Nyongora market, for example.
People are yapping too much about the 1991 atrocities engineered by Riek but they forget that in 2004 or thereabout, Kiir had defected but because of the power of communication (something the president seems to dislike bitterly), he was summoned in Rumbek by Dr. John Garang and the rest of the SPLA leadership and was convinced to stay. His inner demons got foiled. Had he gone ahead and fight the SPLA, I wonder what some of you would be talking about right now.
Deng Aloor was once quoted as saying that if they were corrupt (referring to himself and the rest of his cohorts that got booted out of the government), there would have been no CPA and of course South Sudan. They decided to stick with the SPLA leadership to the very birth of South Sudan. They worked tirelessly to ensure the achievement of that country and what does Kiir offer in return after assuming the leadership: a kick in their backside.
The cowboy style is undoubtedly a dictatorial. Just to add salt to injury, he fills his administration with politically bred opportunist from the Khartoum regime and the outcomes are there for everyone to see.
Your response Panluelwel can be summarized in two observation. First, Riek will never be a replacement for Salva Kiir Mayaardit. Second seems to be a reminder to me that if I continue to make a case against Salva Kiir, then I have to be aware that Dr. Riek Machar has been and I quote
“ ……Dr. Riek Machar has been the second most powerful person in the country for the last nine years, one with delegated presidential powers. It means that he is also synonymous with everything that is wrong with South Sudan. The promised dividends of independence have not materialized. There are no economic infrastructures in place, democracy is a sham and political instability is the norm. Corruption, nepotism, tribalism and maladministration are pervasive and systemic in the country”.
The argument against this premise is that every organization can only be ran smoothly if and only if everyone has a similar contributory goal. The CEO of any firm does not just come around and dissolves the organization and fire people if they are doing the right thing. He only does that when he or she feels that they are offering a derailing effect towards the company. But if the company continues to ail even in the absence of those that were considered dysfunctional then something might definitely be going wrong too with the leadership or the new workers.
Kiir definitely did not like what was being done by Riek and I assume too with the other 10 members of the famously coined “group of 11”. So he fired them and surprise, surprise, his country is heading ever faster down the drains. By inference, the president and his new workers are doing very little to improve what he thought was a worse South Sudan that needed fixing. If anything, he has made it a lot worse.
After his ill-fated entry into the country from South Africa, his erratic approach to things has ever since been mind-boggling. The country is now on the verge of a major disaster that all started with the coup claims that later slapped him hard in the face as nothing but utter fear mongering. This president is remaking the history of South Sudan. The outcomes do not seem to give any hopes. If anything, decades from now, people will be narrating an ugly history of South Sudan masterminded by Salva Kiir. His visit to South Africa, although it was meant for good reasons i.e burial of Nelson Mandela, was inappropriate.
A president like Kiir who seems to loath democracy and participatory politics should rather visit the likes Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, North Korea etc where leaders rule with an iron fist. South Africa exemplifies the very nature of what it means to have differences based on race or ethnicity and still have the will to sit down together, forgive one another and live side-by-side. Kiir was not willing to sit down with members in opposition and instead used his fear mongering tactics based on ill and baseless intelligence to drive the country into unnecessary war.
So in a conclusive remark, the president was and still is not doing well enough for the South Sudanese people. 9 years is a damned long time to see some progress in the provision of public amenities. What we are seeing, however, is gross underdevelopment. National resources are constantly mismanaged and only the few seem to benefit. Majority are living in abject poverty. The fat cats in Kiir’s administration are having millions worth of assets in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and many more dollars in banks overseas notably in the Americas, the UK and in the Swiss banks. Kiir should shoulder all the blames and stop trying to play the “guilt-by-association” card. He had and still does have 100% of the powers. Everyone else is voiceless.
Cowboy is and will always be a political joke. We need a new polity to get us forward and into the future; into a land where things get done. As a footnote if people are awarded for being a ruthless murderer and corrupt politician, Kiir should get quite a prize for it, thank to his blind politics, the country is now back in the dark ages. What a shame! Makuei Lueth, Ateny Wek and the rest of the Kiir gangs should just shut up if they want to spare themselves any bit of self decency.
If there is one decent place Kiir should be now, it is in the Netherlands in order to explain himself to the Jury at Hague. He deserves punishment. Tosha. My stand is unaltered. I would still prefer a south Sudan where dinka and Nuer look at one another as same people. We just have a fundamental disagreement as to who we feel will act on behalf of the people of South Sudan. Salva Kiir and his Ugandan cohorts are mainly targeting one tribe and that is Nuer. Their (nuer’s) retaliations have always been obvious and nasty and I would never want that to happen on our watch.
Kiir once said he would never raise arms against his own people but the contrary is now true. He has raised arms against the Nuer and that is just unacceptable. Malakal, Jonglei and Unity are his crime scenes. I will remain a Dinka son who speaks for what seems possible and of our grander good.