By Elhag Paul
July 6, 2014 (SSNA) -- This thing called the SPLM is a curse to South Sudan. Built on contradictions in 1983, it frequently implodes violently and morphs into different SPLM factions. In doing so the off shoots hog the mother organisation’s name defensively but differentiates themselves with mini adjectives without any clear identity in terms of what they stand for.
Now the SPLM has given birth to four SPLM factions namely: SPLM Oyee, SPLM-in-Opposition, SPLM DC and SPLM G11. Previously, in early 1990s there were other two which have now died out. These were SPLM Nasir faction and SPLM United. At least the latter two had a clear vision of what they wanted for South Sudan which was self determination contrary to what Dr John Garang wanted. It is important to highlight here that the idea of self determination was neither the creation of Dr Riek Machar nor Dr Lam Akol. This was a vision laid down by the leaders of Anyanya One in early 1960s when both Riek and Lam were perhaps in primary school at the time.
So Dr Machar and Dr Akol picked up the idea and asserted the wish of the people of South Sudan against Dr John Garang’s clearly stated objective of a united Sudan. As for the four SPLM factions now combining both groups with their opposing ideologies, no one knows what they really stand for since South Sudan is now an independent country. The issues of secession and unity are largely irrelevant now. The crucial issue now facing South Sudan is how it can be managed for the well being of its citizens and the reality is that all these SPLM factions have no idea of what to do.
Now the SPLM and its off shoots are to all intent and purpose confused without any identity of what they stand for. This confusion reflects the minds of the so called leaders of these various SPLM groups. It manifests itself in the lack of clarity in these groups. They do not know why they maintain the name SPLM which does not rhyme with the name of the new country they have violently imposed themselves to chaotically lead. It also manifests the clouded mind of their leaders who can not see that they are confusing their organisation with the country, South Sudan. For instance, the flag of the SPLM/A has been imposed without consultation with the people of South Sudan as a national flag. By default, this imposition assumes everybody in South Sudan is an SPLM/A. This fusion of organisation and country creates a detrimental enmeshment in the country.
Another off shoot in the Sudan (the country north of South Sudan) calling itself SPLM North also uses this very flag in their country. The rebels there wear the SPLM flag on their uniforms which also is the flag of South Sudan posing potential risks for a mistaken identity that could flare up in a conflict between the two countries since the army of South Sudan wear similar uniforms. Another anomaly also lies in the fact that the army of South Sudan continues to be called SPLA. What is really going on here? Do these people not know that South Sudan is a different independent country and bigger than their party?
Until this confusion in SPLM/A and its mini groups is cleared out of South Sudan, our country will always remain unstable and confused. As South Sudanese descended into Addis Ababa for the dialogue, it was hoped that the participation of the stakeholders would be able to deal with these serious issues. Unfortunately, the symposium held in Addis Ababa at the beginning of June 2014 turned out to be a total farce. The reality was that the government in Juba violated the 9th May 2014 agreement. President Kiir’s security unconstitutionally denied the opposition travel to attend the meeting in Addis Ababa. Unbelievably, neither the IGAD, nor the African Union, nor the Troika intervened to correct the oppressive action. IGAD by not intervening ended up colluding with the government of South Sudan and in the process it violated the very agreement it helped to broker.
Had the talks been inclusive, the stakeholders would be able to speak on behalf of the oppressed people of South Sudan thereby injecting a varied perspective that might help in reaching a positive outcome for the country. As it is now the talks are actually between the SPLM factions while the real victims (the people) of this crisis are excluded.
SPLM G11 call themselves SPLM leaders. On which grounds are they leaders? President Kiir, the SPLM chairman stripped them from their positions in the SPLM party which means they no longer hold any positions of influence. This further means they have lost authority and influence in the party. How then can they insist to call themselves leaders? By which authority are they calling themselves leaders? It is about time they accepted their predicament which is that they are now ordinary members only like any other members.
A good number among them must also know that they were appointed by their tormentor President Kiir to the parliament and positions of influence against the wishes of the people. Most of them failed to win any seats in parliament during the general election of April 2010 in the Sudan. The best they can do is to form their own party under a different name. They should forget the madness of hogging ‘SPLM’ because apparently “it is a historical party that brought independence.” SPLM whether it brought independence or not is a party rotten to the core. Its name is tarnished beyond retrieval. The earlier they get this point the better for them and South Sudan.
As for their claim to being leaders – this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Leaders are people who care about the masses. They spearhead useful programmes of developments in society. Manage public resources prudently and frugally for the benefit of all. Do these so called “leaders” have any characteristics of leadership? Have any of them displayed such qualities? The evidence point to the contrary. For full understanding please see:
Tear down the SPLM http://allafrica.com/stories/201209030002.html
Power struggle in the SPLM http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/editorials/power-struggle-in-the-splm
Cattle camp” imperialism in RSS http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/editorials/cattle-camp-imperialism-in-rss
Corruption saga: The SPLM five big guns or quintet squirrels http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/articles/corruption-saga-the-splm-five-big-guns-or-the-quintet-squirrels
If and when you have read the articles referred to above, would you still take the claim of SPLM G11 of leadership seriously? Think about it and you be the judge.
Having been rescued by Dr Machar from the jaws of the shark, the SPLM G11 disgracefully kicked their saviour in the teeth. Opportunistically, they distanced themselves from him in the hope of grabbing power with the help of IGAD countries. This is another point that discredits IGAD as mediators in the South Sudan crisis. Please see, ‘Former detainees discuss South Sudan crisis with mediators ‘ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51021
Pagan Amum said, “As SPLM leaders, we are going to participate and engage first and foremost the two parties to stop this war and the conflict, so that we proceed with the negotiation to develop and agree on programmes to urge South Sudan into a transition to peace and democracy.”
Pagan goes on, “His team will fully participate with both parties in restoring peace and democracy in South Sudan as well as in shaping in every future of the country.” Was South Sudan in peace and democracy before this crisis? If so, does Pagan remember what he said in December 2013 prior to the implosion of the SPLM? Was Pagan not the very person who shouted loud that President Kiir was becoming a dictator and South Sudan a dictatorship? Memories seem short.
What future of South Sudan does Pagan and his group want to shape? Where is their Blue Print? Have they told the masses what they intend to do differently for the country than what they have been doing for the last nine years? Is the current mess not of their own collective making? And above all, how do they intend to shape the country? Under what ideology and programmes do they want to shape the country? Why did they not do so in the last 9 years?
Since coming out of their incarceration, have the SPLM G11 spoken about the suffering of the people? Have they spoken about their failures collectively in mismanaging the country? Have they spoken about SPLM’s massive neglect of the country since 2005? These people are not serious. They are only interested in their stomachs. They lie to the people and themselves with speeches like, “The G11 have decided not to side to either party arguing no role in the ongoing conflict.” Really?
These are not leaders. Leaders must have “the capacity to care because this is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” These are the words of Pablo Casals, the gifted musician. So far in the context of South Sudan such virtues are possessed by the silent leaders of South Sudan and in my view it is these leaders who can rescue the country. They may enable South Sudan to experience what it means to be governed appropriately and fairly based on the rule of law.
Presently, the shoddy transitional constitution of the Republic of South Sudan is a redundant document. It means nothing at all to the people of South Sudan. The president and the SPLM refer to it when it suits them. Otherwise, overall everything done in the country is based on the advice and recommendations of the Council of Jieng Elders.
SPLM regularly commits crimes against humanity with impunity. For example, the ethnic cleansing of the Uduk people of Upper Nile in late 1980s, the fratricide of the Nuer/Jieng of early 1990s, the massacres of the Didinga in late 1990s, the massacre of the Chollo from 2008 to the present, and the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer from mid December 2013 to the present. In all these horrendous cases there have never been any enquiries or accountability.
As I write, President Kiir and the SPLM are seriously planning to commit another pre-meditated ethnic cleansing. This time the targets are Equatorians because of their legitimate call for federalism. An extensive hit list reportedly signed by the president lists the governors of Equatoria, Equatorian party leaders, Equatorian officers of the various organised forces, Equatorian intellectuals and businessmen. At the moment the Chief of the Army, General Paul Malong Awan is busy deploying army units predominantly composed of President Kiir’s tribesmen to the three states of Equatoria in preparation for this evil culling plan.
Although this information is now in the public domain, some naive people in Equatoria (together with the sell-outs) minimise its seriousness. The recent publicity of this vile plan of ethnic cleansing may save the lives of the governors but people like Peter Sule remain highly vulnerable in Juba. The planned targeting of Equatorian leaders is a deliberate thing to decapitate the Equatorian body politic. It has a far reaching ramification in terms of the future identity of Equatoria, but also for South Sudan. The Equatorians must now seriously think about this very real threat to their own existence in South Sudan. They need to devise a plan to confront and respond to this threat appropriately. Those planning this criminal act should know that they will not get away with it and that they will be brought to book.
The troika and Human Rights Watch have already been alerted and should anything happen the responsibility lies squarely with President Kiir and the Council of Jieng Elders formulating and supervising these evil culling plans.
With the coming of peace in 2005 up to now South Sudan has been under the rule of predatory sharks. SPLM/A does not care about the country and the people. It does not believe in the common good but rather in advancement of its elite members only. If these so called leaders (including President Kiir and Riek) had “the capacity to care”, South Sudanese would not be dying like flies in their hands. They would have humanely managed the country with services adequately provided to the people in the pivotal sectors of health, education, housing, employment, and security. But what have South Sudanese got on their hands? Ethnic cleansing, entrenched tribalism, orgiastic corruption and continuous empty rhetoric.
The contest over the name SPLM/A irrational as it is, is itself a fight against Jieng tribalism as well as a fight for power. The multiple factions of SPLM in different forms and shapes hogging this name do so because they believe SPLM is the centre of unassailable power and also it is associated with the glory of liberation. They apparently want the timelessness of liberation and heroism associated with them.
The Jieng in their endeavour to wholly accumulate the glory of liberation have falsely convinced themselves that they own the SPLM. To them, since the formation of SPLM is attributed to Dr John Garang and Garang having hailed from Bor, SPLM to them is a Jieng property. Hence, the declaration of the Jieng in a document of meeting in Ark hotel in Kampala, Uganda in 2009 stating’ “‘The Dinka are the SPLM/A and the SPLM/A are the Dinka’ The two are the two faces of the same coin”. Their motto is that ‘He who wins can not be in the wrong’. www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/articles/benign-intervention-is-the-way-forward-for-republic-of-south-sudan
Now that SPLM is the centre of power associated with the liberation of South Sudan, according to them the Jieng are the liberators of South Sudan and the glory is theirs. This anomaly makes the Jieng to crow “We liberated you.” “We are born to rule” hurting the feeling of others. They commit heinous crimes with impunity freely as with the case of the Nuer in December 2013. Unfortunately, they appear to draw pleasure and satisfaction from this barbarity.
This of course is not true for the following reasons. First Dr John Garang did not form the SPLM. He simply is an appointee of the Ethiopians into the SPLM/A. Please see ‘Dr John Garang was an appointee of the Ethiopian to the SPLM’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/articles/dr-john-garang-was-an-appointee-of-the-ethiopians-to-the-splm , On this fact alone the Jieng claim to ownership of the name SPLM falters.
Secondly, although the Jieng through Dr Garang dominated the organisation, many South Sudanese from other tribes played a very crucial role in SPLM’s success. For example, in mid 1990s SPLM/A was practically defeated by the Arabs. The forces of President Omar Bashir captured most of South Sudan from the SPLM with it (the SPLM) pushed to the extreme periphery in Nimule. If it was not for the Equatorians, SPLM/A would have been smashed by the Arabs and there would not have been an independent South Sudan now.
From this alone, the independence of South Sudan without argument is an outcome of contribution of all the tribes of South Sudan and the Diaspora. So the puerile nonsense of “We liberated you” the Jieng brag about is at best garbage and at worst utterance of lunatics.
But the foregoing should make South Sudanese question the basis of SPLM’s power. This is important to know if the people are to liberate themselves from this monstrous organisation. SPLM is not the true centre of power in South Sudan. The real power lies with the people of South Sudan. If only the people can grasp this crucial point and its psychological dynamics, SPLM could easily be discarded. The people just need to withdraw allegiance and membership and the SPLM would be nothing. The power they crow about would evaporate in an instance.
So the intimidation that President Kiir metes out to the supporters of federalism is sustained by the Equatorian allegiance and membership to the SPLM which indirectly gives the Jieng power. The irony is Equatorians are fighting themselves. They empower SPLM and the Jieng and then they fight what the SPLM and the Jieng impose on them. This is madness. Just quit the SPLM and begin to organise to build a new centre of power to realise your objectives and interests. Any South Sudanese who wants federalism should quit the SPLM today. Dr Riek Machar’s maintenance of the SPLM name psychologically gives credence to SPLM Oyee granting it higher status which feeds the psychological image of Jieng being invincible. This is turn makes President Kiir to feel unbeatable and thus make irrational demands. For example, admonishing Equatorians not to talk about Federalism.
Thomas Schilling in his book, ‘The strategy of conflict’ tells us that when certain parties adopt an irrational position and fiercely guard it, it is because they have a reason. Often when this is seen from their perspective it makes sense in that it actually serves their intrinsic interest. So, the hogging of SPLM’s name irrational as it is for the country, it actually perpetuates and massively promotes the interest of the Jieng. This is why President Kiir preferred to plunge the country into chaos than to transfer power to Dr Riek Machar which to him would by default mean ceding power to the Nuer. Thus if President Kiir were to change the name SPLM the only people who stand to lose are the Jieng. So, all the other SPLM groups follow this logic. At the heart of this hogging of the name SPLM lies a false glory and an imagined fixed absolute power in SPLM. Every one of them wants this supposed power.
This believe in the invincibility of the SPLM has nurtured a culture of abuse and impunity over the years with the members becoming disempowered to the influence and working of the organisation itself. For example the unfortunate events of mid December 2013 mostly affected the SPLM (the organisation and the members), yet the victims like Dr Machar still fights tooth and nail to identify himself with an organisation that decimated his own identity. Do you see the pathology griping the SPLM and its members? After what has happened, why should anybody desperately want to associate with such a dysfunctional organisation? Dr Machar now is in a better position to ditch the name SPLM because South Sudanese joining him are doing so on principle of ousting the murderous regime of President Kiir and not because of the glory of SPLM. Further Dr Machar would help the Nuer to heal psychologically faster by ostracising the organisation responsible for their ethnic cleansing. If Machar did that he would eventually emerge clean from the cyclical mess of SPLM with a new organisation formed by him lifting his stature and image.
SPLM is so dysfunctional an organisation that it is no longer good for anybody and the country. When an organisation has an entrenched destructive culture that can not be influenced by its members for better, the best thing to do is either to overhaul it or to dismantle it and form a brand new one with a new name. This is what the SPLM members need to do if the destructive culture of SPLM is to be gotten rid of.
Therefore to remove the confusion in South Sudan politics, and for the members of SPLM to liberate themselves from their mental enslavement to an organisation that only benefits a section of one ethnic group and allows this group to abuse the others, they need to throw their membership away and find something else.
[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at