South Sudan Africa News Liberty




Public Service Announcement 

The Fake National Dialogue and Why the Land Belongs to The People 

Fellow South Sudanese! 

As we continue to wage the struggle to find a just and honorable peace in our country, we must continually study the situation so as to be scientific in our approach to solving the problems that beset our nascent Republic. The National Dialogue Steering Committee in a regional meeting in Wau issued a resolution that stated that “the land should belong to the government”, and another endorsing the controversial “32 States”. This is another provocation by an unpopular regime determined to not only maintain the status quo but also further dispossess our civil population. The regime has perfected the policies of divide and rule used by subsequent oppressive governments since colonial times. The traditional elite in our country, who are themselves detribalized, are using tribalism politically in order to divide our people. The people of South Sudan not only share common cultural values; we share a common history of oppression and a common history of struggle against oppression. Our people should not be confused today because the oppressors look like us. The intelligentsia in our country is divided, with some wanting to maintain the status quo and with others using their reasoning faculties in the service of national liberation. The following is a small contribution to the national conversation to help understand why land belongs to the people and how the traditional elite, who have inherited the system of oppression, are using this latest gimmick by the National Dialogue Steering Committee to scuttle the peace process, in so doing forestalling the liberation of our people. 

Beloved Countrymen/women! 

  1. The first thing our people should understand is that the Republic of South Sudan is a failed state and that this is not just the “propaganda of rebels”, this is a fact. Since the inclusion of the Republic of South Sudan in the Fragile States Index in 2013, we have been number one. 

  1. This is not a state of affairs the traditional elite are embarrassed about since they are beneficiaries of the status quo. We should be mindful of this fact when we hear some of our leaders talking about maintaining it. 

  1. The recent resolution passed in Wau by the National Dialogue Steering Committee recommending the regime to decree that “the land belongs to the government”, their endorsement of the controversial “32 States” and other resolutions, are another tactic in the regime’s strategy to intensify inter-communal violence, as they survive through war. 

  1. The various nationalities which constitute the Republic of South Sudan share common cultural values and (negative) tribalism is not one of them. There were no boundaries which divided our people in pre-colonial times and the kind of hatred we see today was abhorred by our people. The genesis of this hatred can be traced back to colonialism and the introduction of boundaries. This was initially done by the colonial administration as a measure to curb inter-communal violence; however, it intensified inter-communal violence. For the government to continue the policy of introducing boundaries without consulting the people betrays their true nature as oppressors and not liberators. 

  1. The traditional elites in our country are taking advantage of the negative effects of colonialism and slavery to further divide our civil population and keep them under their domination. They are not liberators as they purport to be. The independence of our Country was achieved through the collective efforts of our entire civil population; the legacy of our hard-won freedom is not the preserve of a few individuals. Furthermore, the current government is not an SPLM government as they present themselves. The SPLM - the party of the liberation struggle - has been hijacked by the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), which has now been rebranded as the National Dialogue Steering Committee. Instead of nucleating as a ruling class with the capacity to put the national interest above their personal grudges and establish a viable state, the traditional elites are busy settling scores from the liberation war. The SPLM has become a shell of its former self. It has become an oppressor of our people when we should have healed our people from centuries of trauma that have made suffering a tradition and virtue in our society 

  1. Our traditional elites, in failing to nucleate as a ruling class in whom “South Sudanese-ness” has been engendered, have failed to establish a functional state. The first Republic has failed miserably and the only hope for our people is a second Republic, not established by an entitled aristocracy of a single party, but through a genuine and inclusive National Constitutional Convention. Not through a sham “national dialogue” controlled by an oppressive regime. 

  1. The history of our people as second-class citizens in the old Sudan and the tragedies of colonialism and slavery before that means that our people have never lived in a modern nation-state in the “Westphalian Sovereignty” sense. The only experience our people have of government administration is as an oppressor who dispossesses them. We have never experienced a government of the people, by the people and so our people are naturally suspicious of government and of those associated with it. 

  1. While it is true that in a modern nation-state the land should be held in trust by the government for the greater good of the society, it also follows that the people must be able to trust that government. 

  1. Unfortunately, this trust is not there and the various nationalities who reside within the territorial boundary called South Sudan have not fully surrendered their sovereignty to the new state due to this mistrust. With land being the primary resource of our people, any underhanded attempts to dispossess them of it, will surely end in chaos. 

  1. The wording of this resolution betrays the intention of the National Dialogue Steering Committee. Their assertion that “land should belong to the government” is wrong. The land can never belong to the government; it can only be held in trust. It is not only the wording of the resolution that is problematic, but its timing is as well. The people of South Sudan have been displaced by the crisis and the majority of our people are living in refugee camps and internally displaced camps. It would be nothing short of theft for the regime to consider this resolution now. It makes it seem like the regime deliberately caused insecurity so that they could inherit the land after displacing the people. It makes it appear like an attempt by an unpopular regime to legalize land grabbing, with the intention of arousing (negative) tribal sentiments in our people.  

  1. The land debate can only be tackled collectively under the direction of a genuine, democratic and pro-people government. The National Dialogue Steering Committee should instead encourage the regime to fast-track the implementation of the Agreement so that our people are repatriated before they talk about expropriating their land.  

  1. We must understand that our struggle to find peace in our country is inextricably linked to the establishment of a viable state, and the establishment of a viable state ends the power of the traditional elite and their way of life, returning the reins of power to the people. 

  1. In essence, the Republic of South Sudan is yet to be constituted; our constitution is just a piece of paper. As we have mentioned above, the various nationalities have not surrendered their individual sovereignty to the new state. For the government to talk of expropriating the land at this time and of maintaining the controversial “32 States”, is not only ill-timed, but it is also bad politics. This would have been an issue best addressed through a National Constitutional Convention in which the various stakeholders in our Republic could address the nationality question and define what South Sudan is without fear. This is the only way we can begin building trust so that with time, we can eventually have a situation where the people can trust the government enough to hold their ancestral lands in trust. The Agreement has provisions through which all this can be achieved. 

  1. The peace process is the only hope for our people and despite it being a compromise with the regime, it is the least costly way we can get out of the quagmire we are in and move towards a second Republic of peace and prosperity for our people. It is only through the implementation of the Agreement that we can build our people’s trust in government. 

  1. The Agreement also has provisions that address the humanitarian crisis. It has provisions to fix the economy and establish institutions, it has provisions to end the insecurity in the country and it has provisions for the establishment of a constitution for the first time in our history. It is in the best interest of our people to rally behind this Agreement as the least costly way to bring about the fundamental change in our country. Our people should put pressure on the regime to uphold its end of the bargain, and not fall for these trickeries. 

  1. The regime is desperate to maintain the status quo and they are running out of tricks with which to deceive our people. They have succeeded in portraying the SPLM/SPLA(IO) as the obstacle to peace in our country when the opposite is true. 

  1. Apart from the blatant dishonesty of the President on his tour, like the lie that “there is no development because he has been lied to by his Ministers”, or that “he was not aware of the refugee crisis”, this latest gimmick is by far the most malicious; and it is a powder keg. We should not be misled by this theatrics; the regime knows exactly what it is doing. 

  1. We should understand that Ministers don’t control the Central Bank and they have no access to the oil revenues, only the President does. Furthermore, the President knows about the refugee crisis. He is an absentee President who is cocooned in Juba and only travels abroad, and knows little about our country’s poor infrastructure. This is proven by his recent interview in which he blamed the crisis and the resulting displacement on Facebook. Does the President also not know that civil servants have not been paid for more than six months- including the army that defends his system? 

  1. This latest gimmick by the regime is only intended to further divide our people since the 1991 narrative is running out of steam. It was through politicizing the events of 1991 in particular- and inter-communal violence in general- that the regime has been able to keep the revolutionary forces in our country divided. And we all know that in the history of struggle, a divided opposition has never defeated the incumbent. 

  1. These leaders who promote this kind of tribalism don’t have the capacity to muster support from our grassroots at a national level and so by politicizing tribalism, they guarantee popularity which they then use on the national level, creating a broken country in the process. 


The National Dialogue Steering Committee is not a body that truly represents the people of South Sudan, it is just a rebranding of the JCE. The JCE does not represent the Jieng as a cultural group. The Jieng civil population in their cattle camps and villages share the suffering of our people. The JCE has usurped the legacy of the SPLM, the party of the liberation struggle and are masquerading as liberators. We should not allow our people to be divided by a traditional elite who don’t have our best interest at heart. These resolutions by the National Dialogue Steering Committee are so ridiculous that they are unwittingly talking about federalism and land grabbing in the same breath- what our people call fetish kalam (provocation). 

A Luta Continua! 

Cpt. Mabior Garang de Mabior 

Mobile Office 

03/03/3019 – 2019 – 13:20 Hrs.

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