What Are the Alternatives to Salva Kiir

By Apioth Mayom Apioth

President Salva Kiir caught suprisingly staring on camera(photo: file)

President Salva Kiir caught suprisingly staring on camera(photo: file)

Dec 05, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —- By the looks of things, Kiir Mayardit has no intention of steering the nation into the daylight. He has been the leading figure in the South Sudanese politics for twelve unimpressive years. He has become “Mr. Let’s wait and see how this problem is going to take care of itself.” His loves of leadership has blinded his conscientious self. In ancient Africa, Kings, or chiefs wielded enormous power and with this juggernaut of power came novelty. In most cases, they were principally wealthy and gave away their wealth to the downtrodden populace. For this, Kiir Mayar is trying to emulate how the traditional leaders had an open door policy and being all ears to countless number of people all at one go. He just sits there on his presumed throne and families of all kinds come to demand whatever they long for their livelihoods. Even before his ascendancy to the upper echelon of the South Sudanese politics, his laid-back approach to everything cost many soldiers to lose their lives during our days in the bush. The first task of a leader is to be an initiator. The first to take the first step out. Salva Kiir sleeps on his duties. An influential leader cultivates trust. How does trust come about? He/she is a selfless being that goes out of her comfort zone to make sure the lives of all individuals are secure from harm. Once the people are secure from danger, then what comes next is trust and a willingness for the general populace to heed his call for commandeering. Trust is garnered through three hard-earned steps.

First, the character of the leader must be put under the microscopic lenses for all to scrutinize. Integrity reigns supreme here. He/she is accountable and must follow through on his/her promises. Up next is competence. Is the leader in question qualified to lead the institution that he/she is vying for? Last, but not the least, is authority. As things stand today, no one in his right mind would delegate any powers to Kiir Mayar so he can determine the fate of our nation. People began to lose trust in Kiir soon after he took over after the demise of Dr. John. Corruption became the name of the game. Insecurity was rampant and thus making everyone to fend for himself. Money was being carted away in boxes. For someone that is this inept and incapable of taking care of his duties; one may wonder how he survived the leadership upheaval under Dr. John. What did John Garang saw in him that made him stand out from the crowd? Salva Kiir is a quiet person by nature and by the same token, he hideously swallowed his true corrupt nature so he could feed that monstrous character once the power came his way. According to United Nations, some 2 million people are taking refuge in our neighboring countries. Another 2 million people are internally displaced. South Sudanese who first began the refugee life in 1987 have now spent thirty years in those makeshift camps. Thirty years more and they are in their sixties, still living the hard life of a refugee. These South Sudanese nationalities are not entitled to land rights, agricultural subsidies for farming, and low taxes in their host nations; they consistently live on the hand-outs from the United Nations where the daily meal is beans. What are the alternatives to our current quagmire?

South Sudan as a nation has not fully healed from the traumas we put ourselves through during the liberation era. From the early eighties to the early nineties, SPLA was holding the high ground in our struggle for justice;  major swathes of South Sudan was liberated with the exception of few major towns that comprised of Juba, Wau, and Malakal. After the splintering of SPLA/M into SPLA/M-Torit/Mainstream and SPLA/M-Nasir, respectively, we began to turn on ourselves and chaos started to confuse our national identity. Our adversaries in Khartoum began to buy our loyalties with the simple words of mouth. We began to switch sides to Khartoum, thinking that we can find greener pastures on that side yonder. No tribe was invincible to the manipulative machinations of Khartoum’s age-old doctrine of divide and conquer. Our leaders ranging from Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, Arok Thon Arok, Joseph Oduho, Riek Machar Teny, Lam Akol Ajawin and even to a certain extent, William Nyuon Bany all decided to abandon our major struggle for an unknown promise from those we were fighting against. We were stronger when we were one collective and united force, however, after the 1991’s splintering, Khartoum regime under Omar el Bashir started to push us back into a rabbit hole. Efforts were made to create a reconciliation project and the December of 2013 crisis has shown that the reconciliation efforts were ineffective at best.

Our best bet would be for the group of South Sudan Young Leaders Forum (SSYLM), which includes the likes of Peter Biar Ajak and Manasseh Mathiang to take over the mantle of leadership in the land. This group comprises of 70 bright young South Sudanese leaders who were drawn from all the tribes in the nation. South Sudan is a highly conservative nation; a year ago, Kenyan girls were harassed in Wau for wearing skinny jeans. Our older generation would easily dismiss the likes of SSYLM members as mere children and thus incapable of taking over the reins from Salva Kiir. What our people fail to grasp these days, is that our young and upcoming generation lives in two competitive cultures at the same time. They live in the Western culture of iPhone and popular culture, and traditional culture where they still pay the bride price for their betrothed brides.  They are the ones that are good at juggling modernity and the old way of life, whereas the older cohorts could easily be manipulated to succumb to old tribal cliches. The older generation wants to main the status quo and the old way of life, whereby an Azande traditional dance would be deemed inappropriate by Toposa people. The Toposa would see it as an impure custom, infringing on their pure cultured way of dance. The 34 years we have spent in the diaspora since after the eruption of second Sudanese civil war, have taught this young generation to be more tolerant of their differences. Some of them have lived their entire lives outside of South Sudan, coming only for a short family visit after the signing of the CPA.

In case the upper echelon of South Sudanese politics refuse to relinquish the leadership to SSYLM, then they can bequeath the reins to Pagan Amum. Why of all people Pagan Amum? Pagan Amum is neither a Dinka nor a Nuer. He is not an Equatorian indigene, too. After the eruption of the crisis in December of 2013, it has been the Dinka vs Equatorians vs Nuer ever since. Many would complain again of the Nuer dominance in the government if we relinquish the leadership to Taban Deng Gai or Riek Machar. The same would be the case if we hand it to James Wani Igga or Thomas Cirilo Swaka, or Joseph Bakosoro. Our situation is quite different from the one the Rwandans face after the 1994 genocide. Paul Kagame is a Tutsi and Rwanda has only two other tribes, namely of Hutu and Twa. The majority of the army that took down the Hutu-led government were collectively Tutsi by ethnicity. As one homogeneous ethnic group, the Tutsi easily understood each other and fought for justice as one collective unit. After Liberia plunged into two successive civil wars, they elected Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was regarded as a nontraditional leader, because she is a female. Mrs. Johnson defeated the former World Footballer of the Year, George Weah in the general elections and Liberia has been stable ever since. The Dinka, Nuer, and Azande are the three largest tribes of South Sudan. By choosing Pagan Amum, we would be choosing a nontraditional leader who would stitch together the scattered parts of our nation into a wholesome and cohesive unit. For our people to continue to turn on ourselves for trivial matters as the competition for leadership is truly unfathomable. We had it worse under successive Khartoum regimes and yet we haven’t learned a thing about how to live together as a nation. History has it that when a people went through a protracted suffering, they rise up from the ashes and used their tragic past to build better communal relations for their betterment.

Our people continue to flock to the SPLA-IO and National Salvation Front to continue to wage a non-victorious war against the inept regime of Salva Kiir. Why do we continue to lure our youth into the lion’s dent when we know better that Salva Kiir won’t budge one bit? Even though we are one of the poorest people on earth, we should just let our youth rot in the refugee camps in our neighboring countries so they could at least live half-decently on daily meals of beans. Oh! being a refugee is way better than being dead and all bones in the coffin.

Apioth M. Apioth is a concern South Sudanese. He can be reached for further comments at agutkeu@gmail.com

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