Peter Adwok Nyaba
The IGAD mediation (2014 -2018) like the Round Table Conference on the problem of southern Sudan (1965) produced a dead rat in the name of Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCISS). Like the resolutions of the Round Table Conference, the parties did not implement ARCISS to its letter and spirit. President Salva Kiir exploiting the political cleavages within the SPLM/A (IO) engineered with the treacherous collaboration of Taban Deng Gai and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth the situation that returned the country to war after a short lull. The Obama administration through Secretary of State John Kerry cobbled the IGAD region into acquiescence to recognize as de facto Kiir – Taban coup against the SPLM/A (IO). President Festus Mogae, the JMEC Chair, choreographed the false reporting to IGAD, AU and UN Security Council that TGoNU was implementing the ARCISS at a time the security and humanitarian situation deteriorated in the country.
“Had the JMEC Chair been courageous and declared ARCISS dead immediately after the fighting erupted in J1, the situation could have been different and HLRF would have been unnecessary.”
Finally, in June 2017, President Festus Mogae admitted that fighting in J1 wounded ARCISS seriously and that it needed surgical intervention in the form of high-level revitalization forum (HLRF) to shift the timelines. 17 May 2018 marked the expiry of ARCISS and hence the legitimacy of Salva Kiir as president as well as all the institutions formed in accordance with ARCISS provisions. Had the JMEC Chair been courageous and declared ARCISS dead immediately after the fighting erupted in J1, the situation could have been different and HLRF would have been unnecessary.
In fact, the HLRF is a euphemism for new IGAD peace process necessitated by renewal of Salva Kiir’s legitimacy as president of South Sudan after 17 May 2018. This makes the conflict in South Sudan a kind of employment for retiring regional bureaucrat. It is routine work requiring no strategic action to save the millions of South Sudanese refugees, the internally displaced people, or the UN protected individuals in Juba, Wau, Bor, Bentiu, Malakal and host of smaller POCs in different parts of South Sudan. The HLRF agenda focuses on power sharing among the parties and superficial reform of the security sector [army, security and police]. News emanating from Addis Ababa speaks of no much progress made and that HLRF may run into trouble, and might produce nothing amicable to the parties.
The nature of the conflict in South Sudan
“These leaders forget that the real problem facing the people of South Sudan is poverty and ignorance. Power and its sharing within the parasitic class in Juba or in other states capital cannot address these deadly ailments.”
The current social, economic and political crises underpinning the civil war in South Sudan essentially represent a contradiction within the parasitic capitalist class that governed South Sudan since 2005. It is a contradiction that revolves around the control of the state and its economic resources and has evoked ethnic sensibilities consequent to low level of social awareness and political consciousness. This rendered it intractable and complex because the parties, some of them indeed personalities, feign the social, economic and political interests of the respective ethnic communities and, therefore, must be included in the complex formula of power sharing. These leaders forget that the real problem facing the people of South Sudan is poverty and ignorance. Power and its sharing within the parasitic class in Juba or in other states capital cannot address these deadly ailments. We have noted and recorded the difficult economic condition for the people of South Sudan, which the EO 36/2015 created. This bogus power sharing or broadcasting from a personified centre was mere deception of the masses.
The crises emanated from an omission the SPLM/SPLA leadership made during the war of national liberation. The ideological omission led to the evolution of a political military elite completely detached and alienated from the masses. The complete lack of correct understanding of the nature of the contradiction that underscored the war of national liberation explains why they failed to undertake the tasks for which the people sacrificed their lives in the war supporting the SPLA with everything it stood in need including human resources. This was in the hope that the SPLM/SPLA leaders would provide the social and economic development to transform their lives. This failure translated into deadly competition for power and wealth, which finally erupted into war between them as a class. This war has nothing to do with the masses of the people in Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria or Upper Nile sub regions. It is war between those inside and outside the government.
It would be wrong, therefore, to categorize the present war as Dinka – Nuer war represented respectively by Salva Kiir and Riek Machar; or to describe it as Dinka war against the other nationalities in South Sudan. That characterization is also wrong because it is based on false and incorrect analysis of its elements, and the lack of knowledge of the socio-economic situation in the country. Looking at the political landscape then, what could bring together President Salva Kiir (Dinka) vice President James Wani Igga (Bari), Rt. Hon. Manasseh Magog Rundial (Nuer) Speaker of SSLA, Rt. Hon. Joseph Bol Chan (Shilluk) Speaker Council of States, Justice Chan Riech, Chief Justice of South Sudan, Dr. Martin Elia Lomoro, the Minister of cabinet Affairs, Mr. Kornelios Koryom (Dinka) Governor Banks of South Sudan and Gen. James Hoth Mai (Nuer) SPLA Chief of General Staff to represent the state on the one side of the war and Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon (Nuer) Chairman and Commander in Chief, Gen. Alfred Lado-Gore (Bari), deputy Chairman, Dr. Dhieu Mathok Wol (Dinka) Secretary General, Dr. Richard K Mulla (Moro), Hon. Henry D. Odwar (Langi), Mabior Garang Mabior (Dinka), Manasseh Zindo (Azande), Lumumba K Aping (Dinka), Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba (Shilluk representing the rebellion on the other side of the war, if not their class affiliation? These are factions of the bourgeois petit representing the two sides in this contradiction. They introduced the ethnic dimension deceptively to render easy mobilization for war. That explains the involvement of the dotku beny, mathiang anyoor and the Nuer white army.
“These are factions of the bourgeois petit representing the two sides in this contradiction. They introduced the ethnic dimension deceptively to render easy mobilization for war.”
The opposition groups in the HLRF focus their attention on rejecting President Salva Kiir as a person while accepting to maintain the system albeit with superficial reforms – of course, this confirms that they are one class; it is a war within the same class. Nothing, therefore, prevents an agreement between them except the greed and lack of concern for the suffering people of South Sudan. The government delegation comes in large numbers to Addis Ababa leaving behind civil servants and the army whose salaries they have not paid for several month because of the bankruptcy occasioned by war yet they would mind the perpetuation so long as they receive their rewards. This makes the HLRF a public relations exercise that raises false hopes in the people of South Sudan. The resolution to the crises afflicting South Sudan situates in radical transformation of the system. It is high time the elements of the petit bourgeois opposed to the oppressive and exploitative regime mobilized, organized and united themselves with the masses of our people to create the condition for radical transformation of the system.
The National democratic revolution
South Sudan and its people are living through the stage of national democratic revolution (NDR) in their socio-economic and political development and engineering the state and society. In this historical epoch, the democratic social and political forces struggle to consolidate the independence of the country and then entrench the people’s sovereignty over all means of production as well as socio-economic and political processes in the state and in society. A corollary of this is to develop and free the national productive forces (labour, natural resources including land) from all kinds of foreign interference and control. This means in practice translating the principles of freedom, justice, fraternity and prosperity onto the objective reality of our people. They sacrificed and struggled for these social ideals in the war for national liberation.
South Sudan imbues with enormous natural resource potentials in agriculture (crops, livestock, fisheries, forestry products) mineral resources (gold, zinc, copper, chrome, line stone, etc.), oil and energy sources and resources (water, solar, wind, hydrothermal and biogenic) and above all human resources. Nevertheless, it ranks one of the poorest countries in the world. Its socio-economic development indices are in the negative. Over the last twelve years its received more than US$50 billion in oil and other non-oil revenues. There is nothing substantial in terms of national infrastructural asset to show for this money. The only tarmac road in the country is between Juba and Nimule at the Ugandan borders; USAID funded this project. The President of the republic charters foreign aircraft for his foreign trips. This demonstrates that the parasitic capitalist class, in collaboration with the regional and international comprador capitalist, is only interested in extraction, looting and stashing in foreign lands the country’s financial and economic resources.
“The civil war is only its outwards manifestation, which IGAD, [Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan] countries with respective deep national security and economic interests in South Sudan, is not only incapable, but also in servicing their national interests are unwilling to resolve the war.”
This is the fundamental problem of South Sudan. The civil war is only its outwards manifestation, which IGAD, [Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan] countries with respective deep national security and economic interests in South Sudan, is not only incapable, but also in servicing their national interests are unwilling to resolve the war. It, therefore, dawns on the patriotic sons and daughters of South Sudan to stand up to save South Sudan from itself and its neighbours. The relations with our neighbours reminisces an episode in Malakal in 1976 when to two hippos took their fight out of the Nile river and continued to charge at themselves ferociously oblivious of the humans who quickly turned them into food. The sons of South Sudan I referred to includes President Salva Kiir Mayardit who still has the capacity to stop the war to enable peace to rein in order to enable the people to return homes and recreate their lives in harmony. It will also enable a sober and sombre political discourse to take place between the different sections of our society. The armed opposition have the duty to ceasefire and let political discourse take its turn.
The armed struggle in its correct ideological context can become an effective antitoxin to many of our social and economic ills. However, when conducted outside its ideological context produces warlordism – leaders interested in their personal incentives not the masses of the people. As one of the tools of the NDR, the SPLM/SPLA mismanaged the armed struggle to turn it into the antithesis of liberation. Now it has become a commodity in the political market place of rebellion. It only serves and services the interest of the leader not the interests of the people because it is undertaken outside its political content of transforming the lives of the masses. Social and economic transformation occurs concurrently with people’s awareness and consciousness through conscientisation in the context of reflection and action. In the absence of this process of conscientisation or its subversion by promoting militarism to produce an uncritical mass of followers, how would this transformation take place? This has been my experience in the armed opposition since 2014 and have concluded that real change can only come about because of raising the social awareness and political consciousness of the people. Thus, the appropriate tools for NDR now are cerebral and political rather than muscular and military. The people of South Sudan desire peace to enable them stimulate their intellectual capacities to grasp their reality and chart means to transform that reality.
“the SPLM/SPLA mismanaged the armed struggle to turn it into the antithesis of liberation. Now it has become a commodity in the political market place of rebellion.It only serves and services the interest of the leader not the interests of the people because it is undertaken outside its political content of transforming the lives of the masses”
The struggle for social change involves the peasants and cattle herders, salaried workers, civil servants, women, youth and the soldiers all in their different formations working towards a common goal. In fact, I would say that the people of South Sudan missed this form of organization and political activities. This is because the struggle for independence started in an armed insurrection in 1955 and that froze the political struggle along with the social and political awareness of the people. Many South Sudanese as a result grew up as political illiterates.
“the appropriate tools for NDR now are cerebral and political rather than muscular and military.”
The IGAD sponsored HLRF on the conflict in South Sudan may or may not produce amicable results for the opposition. It would be the height of naivety to contemplate that IGAD, AU or UN can impose solutions on President Salva Kiir. South Sudan is a sovereign state and we are aware how international relations operate. I believe it was wrong to have staked the resolution of the crisis on power sharing, which implied absorption into the system when you add the issue of SPLM reunification. The armed opposition should have stacked the resolution of the crisis on the complete and radical transformation of the system. That would suggest that it built strong political and combat capable military organizations, which would undertake protracted struggle to transform life where it operated in the rural South Sudan. Since this did not occur, the remaining option is absorption into the system. Whatever happens in the next few weeks whether or not there will be an agreement the truth remains that the fundamental contradictions underpinning the current socio-economic and political crisis will continue to stare in the face of the people of South Sudan. Social contradictions do not dissolve; they are resolved.
Professor Peter Adwok Nyaba was the Minister of Higher Education in the Republic of South Sudan and a ranking member of the SPLA-IO