By Margaret Akulia, Canada
“We will continue the struggle until we release South Sudan and establish the rule of law. You know African leaders. You know they are the most bankrupt. You know they don't understand abstract issues which have to be translated into reality. They are either uneducated or people who do not care. They just want to perpetuate their own interests. So their countries continue to be underdeveloped even after so many years. The countries are stagnated and there is nothing good about their leadership. What they are doing is fundamentally wrong. It is morally wrong”.
April 7, 2014 (SSNA) -- Those were the words of Lieutenant General Ladu Gore in response to a number of specific questions I asked him after reaching him by phone in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where the IGAD mediated peace talks between the government of South Sudan under the leadership of Salvatore Kiir Mayardit and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM/SPLA) in Opposition had become deadlocked on March 3, 2014 while the ordinary people of South Sudan continued to suffer the most abhorrent forms of human rights violations! I was delighted to learn that Lieutenant General Ladu Gore was now involved in the peace talks because the people of South Sudan couldn’t have a more democratic member of the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition to fight for their rights. I had reached out to Lieutenant General Ladu Gore because I knew his tenacity to fight for ordinary people.
Anyone who went to our Alma Mater the National University of Lesotho in Southern Africa during and immediately following Lieutenant General Ladu Gore’s time there as a young university student heard about the “firebrand” makwerekwere who fought for “the people's” rights. During his time at the university, Lieutenant General Ladu Gore took on the abusive Basotho National Party Youth League and prevailed over the contemptuous young bullies! Makwerekwere is a Sotho slang for foreigners and members of the ruling Basotho National Party Youth League had state sanctioned power to bully and terrorize everyone in the country of Lesotho but Ladu Gore would have none of that. His tenacity to fight the roguery that existed at our Alma Mater is the same tenacity he brings to the current fight to the death to rescue South Sudan from crooks.
“So we are insisting that there should be an interim government to set up all the democratic institutions in order to ensure that next time, the elections will not be rigged. We must have a fundamentally important constitution that will guarantee the future of the country.”
Those were the “Trump Cards” I wanted to hear because they were decisive. They would determine if South Sudan becomes a model for the rest of Africa, another perverted so-called democratic African country or a fiasco. They would also determine if the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition are fighting Salvatore Kiir Mayardit and his cronies for actual democracy or deceiving the people of South Sudan and the world for purposes of installing themselves in power and continuing the abuse their “Liberation Party” cooperatively meted on many of their members and other South Sudanese until their shameful infighting became very public. In other words, the people of South Sudan need reassurance that the current outlaws won't be replaced by another set from amongst the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition! During my phone conversations with Lieutenant General Ladu Gore, the sadness in his voice for the battered ordinary people of South Sudan was apparent.
It was the same emotion he conveyed during his campaign for the governorship of Central Equatoria State titled “Fundamental Change” which connotes a total overhaul of “systems” that perpetuate the monocracy that is to blame for pitting South Sudanese against each other instead of celebrating their cultural and tribal diversities. Lieutenant General Ladu Gore’s campaign for the governorship of Central Equatoria State dubbed “Fundamental Change” occurred in 2010, as the people of South Sudan contemplated seceding from Sudan. However, the issues he sought to redress persist to this day because the current government is not a government of the people, by the people, for the people. That time, Lieutenant General Ladu Gore captivated the people of Central Equatoria State with his election manifesto that promised vital change in South Sudan. He had a “larger than life” vision for Central Equatoria and South Sudan at the time and that vision remains unshaken despite the current carnage and disruption to the building of a great nation!
“I want to make life better. And that is the change everyone needs and deserves" Lieutenant General Ladu Gore offered during one of his campaigns while specifically promising a better quality of life, security, the rule of law, freedom from nepotism, good governance, unity of the people, employment, economic development, social services, housing and infrastructure, rural development, agriculture and food security, empowerment of women and achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs).
I have no doubt in my mind that the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition will prevail over Salvatore Kiir Mayardit and his cronies but their actions in relation to Lieutenant General Ladu Gore’s conviction to install an interim government tasked with setting up rock-solid democratic institutions and an equally rock-solid constitution to guarantee the future of South Sudan will be the definitive test that determines whether they are in this fight to the death to save South Sudan or to perpetuate their own interests! A democracy is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Consequently, if the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition is indeed fighting for democracy, they should consent to “the people” constituting an interim government of their designation without interference. In other words, the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition is at a crossroads and its members have the power to save South Sudan and prevent it from total collapse in a ludicrous and humiliating way.
They can align their actions with the sophistication of Lieutenant General Ladu Gore who backs “the people” in constituting an interim government of their choice or they can emasculate the democracy they are currently “showing off” to the world in their infighting by bullying and murdering their way into becoming that interim government by force! By backing the people of South Sudan in their wish for an interim government of their determination, the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition will be doing an unprecedented and heroic thing in Africa. They will be setting themselves apart from Salvatore Kiir Mayardit and his cronies and the contemptible “Banana Republics” that have devastated Africa since so-called independence from colonial powers. Otherwise, members of the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition will automatically become contemptible cons despised by the people of South Sudan and the world. Furthermore, their current uprising will be confirmed as the fraud disparagers thought it was all along. They will have blood on their hands and it will be their fault if South Sudan descends into anarchy and/or collapses as an otherwise great sovereign nation.
Lieutenant General Ladu Gore’s vision dubbed “Fundamental Change” is precisely what is now needed in South Sudan and the point of the interim government that is being proposed by “the people” and supported by Lieutenant General Ladu Gore himself is to establish the rule of law, erect proper democratic institutions and sculpt a solid constitution that protects all South Sudanese including members of the SPLM/SPLA in Government and in Opposition. With a solid constitution, democracy will be guaranteed and South Sudanese interested in running for elected office including the SPLM/SPLA in Government and in Opposition can stand for elections without being bullied and rigged out of elected positions the same way Lieutenant General Ladu Gore was rigged out of the elected position of Governor of Central Equatoria by Salvatore Kiir Mayardit and his cronies. Moreover such a constitution will guarantee the future of the country and proper democracy as Lieutenant General Ladu Gore himself avows. Without rock-solid democratic institutions and an equally rock-solid constitution “owned” by all South Sudanese, there will be no end to South Sudan’s deadly game of “Russian Roulette!” Instituting an interim government with highly skilled individuals is the only solution for averting total collapse. It will ensure that South Sudan rises from the genocidal ashes, becomes a prototype for the rest of Africa and puts Africa’s “Banana Republics” to shame!
For the sake of South Sudan, the country the SPLM/SPLA “birthed” into existence, I hope that its members understand and agree that an interim government with highly skilled individuals is what is needed for their “baby” to morph into a beautiful “butterfly” with 64 beautiful colours signifying the beautiful tribes of South Sudan instead of it remaining an ugly, crippled and crawling “caterpillar” because of injuries inflicted by the very SPLM/SPLA that should be nurturing it. I also hope that instead of fighting the suffering people of South Sudan, the SPLM/SPLA in Government and in Opposition colligate with them and support their wishes for an interim government so that they can be hailed as heroes instead of villains. An interim government of “the people’s” fortitude will definitely pave the way for all parties including a “clean” and “repaired” SPLM/SPLA to run for democratic elections because individuals being proposed for the interim government are very learned and principled citizens of South Sudan. It is a formidable task to build a country from scratch and/or lug it from the gutters that is why an interim government with highly skilled and learned individuals is paramount. Needless to say, there are also advantages to building a country's foundations from scratch because “the people” guided by the highly skilled and learned individuals being proposed for an interim government can sculpt a constitution any way South Sudanese choose.
Who says that South Sudan cannot be a federation of 3 states, 10 states or 64 states united by a common love for South Sudan if that is what “the people” choose? Who says that South Sudan cannot have 3, 10, 64 leaders and a rotating Presidency if it will avert bloodshed and guarantee sustainable peace? The people of South Sudan have been violated enough! They need to be protected from louts purporting to fight for democracy and then morphing into despicable outlaws too. It is for this reason that I felt the need to hear Lieutenant General Ladu Gore's vision for South Sudan and prescription for the ongoing bloodbath in South Sudan from him directly and he didn’t disappoint me. It is for the same reason that I am challenging the rest of the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition to emulate Lieutenant General Ladu Gore's conviction, love of democracy, love for the ordinary people of South Sudan and contempt for abuse. The suffering people of South Sudan need the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that they are in this fight to the death for actual democracy and not just to perpetuate their own interests!
“We are now in the heat of the struggle. It has not been easy but you know the ordeal I had two months ago in which I had to walk from Juba to Bentiu – a distance of 600 kilometers. At my age if I can walk that incredible distance, what is it that can defeat me? I had to do that. If I had not done that, I would not be talking to you. Salva Kiir would have lynched me. In fact that was the whole reason behind launching the genocide so that all those he perceived as critics or opponents would disappear”.
Lieutenant General Ladu Gore was referring to the 27 days it took him to walk from Juba to Bentiu starting on December 16, 2013, a day after the bloodbath that ensued following the so-called coup. Bentiu was where a large contingent of the SPLA in Opposition was located and Lieutenant General Ladu Gore went there to regroup.
I think he realizes that you are a very strong candidate. He knows that you are a formidable opponent, I interjected, laughing hard as I recalled and jested about the stories I heard about Lieutenant General Ladu Gore at our Alma Mater, the National University of Lesotho. The determined Ladu Gore had sent the abusive Basotho National Party Youth League terrorizing people on the university campus running to their “godfather” Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan with their tails between their legs!
“Yeah. Very well. Hmmm. Very well. He knows that well”, Lieutenant General Ladu Gore had replied before continuing.
“That is why he wants to get rid of us. You know. Some of us. But we will not allow that to happen” he stressed.
Lieutenant General Ladu Gore is definitely on the side of “the people” and for him this fight to the death to rescue South Sudan is not about grabbing power. It is about changing people's lives for the better. He is a citizen of the world and he could easily have retreated to a pleasant opulent life in a peaceful country but he chose to brave the farinaceous wilderness of South Sudan so that South Sudanese could first attain independence and then enjoy the civil liberties relished by the South Sudan Diaspora in developing countries including the Troika countries (United States of America, Norway and the United Kingdom). He is choosing to continue suffering with the people of South Sudan until they are free from the rule of terror. This self-sacrificial attitude speaks volumes about Lieutenant General Ladu Gore’s character. Without a doubt, he cares very deeply about the people of South Sudan and the rest of Africa and he is determined to win rights for them by force if he has to. It is my hope that every member of the SPLM/SPLA in Government and in Opposition will reflect very deeply about what is happening in South Sudan and emerge from that reflection as a cheerleader supporting an interim government with highly skilled individuals instead of “forcing” their own “collective” on “the people”. That way, South Sudan can morph from the current ugly, crippled and crawling “caterpillar” into a beautifully coloured butterfly comprising of all the 64 beautiful tribes of South Sudan.
I strongly believe that Lieutenant General Ladu Gore’s prescription for sustainable peace and fundamental change in South Sudan is the solution for South Sudan provided that all the members of the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition also rally behind it. There is ample evidence to show that Salvatore Kiir and his cronies have arrested South Sudan's development. They seem to be satisfied with the mediocrity of a very ugly “caterpillar” but their lack of vision doesn't mean that South Sudan should stay that way. There are myriads of South Sudanese like Lieutenant General Ladu Gore who can be trusted to facilitate fundamental change in South Sudan because they care very deeply about people in general but the people of South Sudan in particular. The country has a lot of visionaries inside the country and in the Diaspora. It has advocates for “the people” and very skilled individuals to steer the country into the beautiful African paradise and success story it is meant to be. The only requisite condition is the interim government being proposed. Lieutenant General Ladu Gore supports an interim government of National Unity and so should the other members of the SPLM/SPLA in Government and in Opposition. That is the only way they will reassure “the people” that they are not a bunch of wolves in sheep's skins pretending to fight for democracy.
In an article titled “Machar says differences with Kiir not a power struggle” Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon alluded to championing democracy as well.
"For me and us, the question is not who leads the country, but on the contrary, how do we lead our nation? This is what made me run up against solid-wall opposition from Salva Kiir”, Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon is said to have declared. In the same article, he is also said to have accused Salvatore Kiir of “"tragically hijacking" the whole nation, its wealth, the army and the ruling party (SPLM)” while stressing that “the people of South Sudan were the owners of the land and its wealth, thus they deserved constitutional order, the rule of law as well as free and fair elections”.
This is why Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon and the rest of the members of the SPLM/SPLA in Government and in Opposition need to “walk the talk” and not just “talk the walk!” The IGAD mediated peace talks between the government of South Sudan under the leadership of Salvatore Kiir Mayardit and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM/SPLA) in Opposition resumed on March 25, 2014 but they became gridlocked again. However, if the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition rallies behind an interim government of the people, by the people, for the people and the people of South Sudan present a unified front in that regard, IGAD may not be needed after all.
Information about Lieutenant General Ladu Gore's “Fundamental Change” campaign is located at http://www.theniles.org/articles/?id=211#sthash.rC5KXCel.dpuf
The article titled “Machar says differences with Kiir not a power struggle” is located at http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50552
Margaret Akulia is co-author of the sequel Idi Amin: Hero or Villain? His son Jaffar Amin and other people speak. She brings to the South Sudan dialogue a multidisciplinary professional background including but not limited to “grassroots activism”.
Additional information at https://travellinglearningcircles.com/Save_South_Sudan.html