A Letter to Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Juba.
Date: January 25th, 2018
Dear Mr President,
Ref: It is time to step aside and give way, Mr President.
This is my first personal communication to you as the President of the Republic of South Sudan, since you ascended to power after demise of our founding leader, Dr John Garang de’ Mabior in 2005. I write to you as a comrade and full time combatant who was with you in the trenches of South Sudan, through the 22 years of struggle, fighting for a cause so dear to us, in our pursuit for Justice, Equality and Freedom for our people.
There is no ground to remind you of what you already know that since assuming power, the country has degenerated from one conflict to another; our people have not known peace, nor seen the development we all yearned for, now that we have an independent country. I want to bring to your attention that, on the day the leadership of the SPLM placed you on the driving seat, you inherited the vision and the mission of the SPLM, and you were to implement it to the latter and spirit as anticipated by late founding father of the SPLM, Dr John Garang de’Mabior Atem Aruai, after raising the flag of independence on July 9th 2011. Furthermore, you inherited a country that has the third largest proven oil reserve in Africa, the largest animal wealth in East Africa; the largest fish stock in the Nile Basin, not to mention the abundant minerals and Agricultural potentials that are the envy of many countries in the world. Regrettably, with you on the throne, the country has not gained a drip of that potential and will never ever do so, because unlike you, leaders who want to build their economies are worrisome of risks of war; as that undermines confidence of potential investors.
Under your tutelage, Mr President, a simple quarrel within the political party, that could have been managed by anybody who understands the implications of such conflicts, got out of your control, and became a full blown civil war in December 2013. What does it say about your capacity to lead a country made up of 64 ethnic groups? Although Dr. Riak Machar's uncontrollable greed for more power triggered the crises within the leadership, you failed as Chairman of SPLM and Commander-in-Chief of SPLA to show leadership at the most critical moment, when it mattered most. Blaming the crises on someone rather than accepting responsibilities only bought you a very limited time before your incapacity to lead this nation got sufficiently exposed.
Your style of governance can only be described as calamitous if not catastrophic. For in your war to defeat Dr. Riak Machar, you have tortured, maimed and brutally massacred Tens of thousands of innocent civilians. You displaced 1.8 million of our innocent people and sent them into forced refugee in the neighbouring countries including, humiliatingly the very Sudan from which South Sudan broke away after paying the highest price ever. As if that was not enough, you even had the audacity to regret the separation of South Sudan from our former oppressors if only to please them. Your tribal war caused the displacement of more than 2 million women, children and elders; you presided over a famine of biblical proportions for which you seem to gloat over. You imposed taxes on Humanitarian Aid agencies that have come to feed your people; you encourage your undisciplined militias to block Aid agencies from delivering much needed food to your fellow countrymen and women; you campaigned against the UNIMISS, without realising that they are in South Sudan because you failed to give your people the protection they need, a cardinal requirement of any leader.
When you rose to power, you presided over an economy that had a lot of potential but collapsed into obscurity as you watched. Instead of economic growth, it contracted by 2% in 2016 and continuing. Inflation is reeking at 300%, unemployment is in double digits and the National debt rose to 5.6% of GDP. Every day, the war is costing the economy close to 1 million USD. Now, civil servants go for months-on-end without pay. Many walk on foot to go to Office, to do nothing as there is nothing to be done. They must leave the office as early to go to hunt for food for their families. Abroad, our embassies are closing for failure to pay rent; staffs are equally not able to pay their own rent. As we speak now South Sudanese can only walk with their heads weighed down in shame.
These figures are not simple statistics Mr President; rather they represent souls of real victims who perished under your supervision. As President, you have never shown any duty of care, no concern for the loss of lives, no empathy nor remorse for the thousands of innocent people who died in the course of this preventable war.
Under your leadership the country has witnessed some of the worst cases of corruption ever recorded in the short history of South Sudan. Institutional tribalism and state capture has come to be accepted as the norm. It is a badge of honour for which you are proud of, but a disgrace to the majority of honest South Sudanese. This is evidenced in your own letter dated 3rd of May, 2012, to 75 current and former members of your government, including ministers, begging them to return the more than $4 billion US dollars they stole. Mr. President, thieves are supposed to be arrested, and tried in a court of law, but not to be begged to return their loot. A report by the Sentry project proved that all your ministers have stashed away billions of public money. That explains why to this day no single suspected minister has been arrested, for in doing so would expose all, including the top.
Now the country knows that the Four billion was just a tip of the iceberg. The reality is that since 2005, South Sudan generated more than 21 billion US dollars as revenue from oil only. This figure excludes much of the funds that came in as grants and loans from various governments. The United States alone has spent more than 11 billion in South Sudan, alas, much of this money found its way into the pockets of your cronies, with not a single development project to show as an accomplishment in the thirteen years (13) of your leadership.
You have torn the social fibre that bonded the 64 ethnic tribes that make up the “people” of South Sudan. Instead, you choose to lead through a tribal kakistocracy1, which has led to victimization of our innocent Dinka brothers and sisters. Today, the country is more divided along tribal lines than was the case before independence. You openly discriminate against other tribes and favour a particular group against the rest of South Sudanese. I don't have to give you statistics to prove my argument; check your decrees to get the facts.
As if to add insult to injury after the 2013 debacle, you encouraged the proliferation of private militia groups in the name of national defence and national security. These include all but not limited to the following groups: the Mathiang Anyor, Dut Khuu Bany, and Galweng, all of whom wreaked havoc on the unsuspecting populations in South Sudan. The victims are suffering in silence as they anguish in the swamps of Upper Nile, trekked the bushes of Equatoria and the plains of Bahr El Gazal, often on little or no food at all, because your soldiers have ransacked their villages; pillaged everything and burnt their houses down. Moreover, the militia ran amok and rape girls as young as 3 years and as old women as 85 years. What a tragedy Mr. President! Is it not time to admit that your leadership has destroyed all the basic moral values we hold dear, to respect our children and our elderly?
You shun democracy, and often prefer to rule by decrees. In your mind set, the law is under you as you flout the Interim constitution. Examples are bound: the creation of illegal 32 states; dismissal and lush appointments of Governors as and when it suited you. You prefer the media sings praises of you; and those that don't, you punish them in the only way you know best. The list of victims of this game is long. It includes comrades like the late Isaiah Abraham, Pow James Roath, Boutros Martin, Peter Julius Moi and many more.
No, Mr President, you need to be honest to yourself. It is time to reconsider your contributions to this country. You have allowed enough destruction of the very people for whom you sacrificed, since Anyanya one to the 21 years of war that culminated into the independence of South Sudan. Having said all this, I wish to conclude by presenting my honest opinion to you, Mr President, that everything in life has a beginning and an end. You and your former first vice president have done your part, let others try.
The purpose of this letter therefore, Mr President, is to demand that you and your former First vice president Dr. Riek Machar, both step aside and give way to a new interim government of national unity. Both of you have not lived up to expectations of the people of South Sudan. Indeed, you have turned out to be more of a liability than a solution to the current problem of insecurity, displacement and hunger. The people of South Sudan do not warrant all this suffering. Indeed, they deserve prosperity, peace, security and development, especially after enduring slavery for over 100 years in the hands of their traditional enemies. If we have been silent over all these issues for such an extended period of time, it is not because we did not know what is at stake, rather we thought you needed time and opportunity to learn and transform. But we were wrong; the reality has been to the contrary. ‘An old dog cannot be taught new tricks’. That you cannot and will never ever learn to transform is an open knowledge. This reality has been acknowledged, including by the US Ambassador to the United Nations, who has labelled you as “unfit partner” to work with. You have not only become ‘unfit’ to rule2 the new Republic of South Sudan; rather, you have become a liability to South Sudanese. No leader of a sovereign nation in the World has ever been described by another country as “unfit partner” to work with. This tells you that you have become ‘too deformed to be reformed’3. You and Dr Riek Machar both have one option left for you: Leave now and give way to a transitional government of national unity that shall be charged with the responsibility to organize new elections.
If you believe that you are popular in the eyes of South Sudanese, Mr President, go to organize your political parties and wait to contest in the next elections to seek a new mandate from the people. I rest my case.
Disclaimer: All the views expressed are solely mine.
Centre for Citizen Interface in South Sudan (CISS).
1 A Kakistocracy is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified or most unscrupulous citizens. The word was coined as early as the 17th century. It was later put to use by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829.
2 See a statement by Ambassador Nikki Haley, the US permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered at the UN Security Council on January 24th, 2018.
3 A phrase coined by Dr John Garang de’ Mabior, Founding Leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPM) and Sudan peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) in various of His speeches during 22 years of liberation war in Sudan.