Date: 3rd March, 2018
Attention: Mr. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of South Sudan, Juba.
Dear Mr. President,
Ref: The perils of wicked Leadership
Last week, you travelled to the border town of Nimule, and the reason given was that you were going to visit the grave of your late wife, Achol Philip Nhial, which is a noble act and as a concerned father, you took your children along with you, to see the grave of their late mother. There is nothing wrong with that, as humans we must from time to time try to be in contact with the souls of our beloved ones who departed us. However, as your entourage sped along the only main artery pot-holed road connecting South Sudan to the world out there, guarded with hundreds of vehicles loaded with heavily armed bodyguards, you must have glanced at the scale of systemic destruction of homes and properties carried out in all the villages of Panyikwara, Moli Tokuro and Pageri, along the way, by your militia, the Mathian Anyoor. As their Commander-in-Chief, you gave them credit and praised them for work well done. However, as the personification of a leader of a people, it is gut-wrenching after all that you have done to the Acholi and the Madi people of Eastern Equatoria, especially, when you stoop too low in Nimule and ask them to return to their now-empty and looted homes.
While we respect your right to go see the grave of your late wife, who died of illness, you need to be reminded that millions of South Sudanese equally want to go to their homes to visit the graves of their loved ones, particularly those who were brutally murdered by your Mathian Anyoor militia henchmen, dubbed the unknown gunmen. Millions of widows and widowers and their children want to know what happened to their loved ones, and why they have been murdered, then show them where their bones are scattered, so that they too can go and give them a decent burial in graves at their villages.
Today in South Sudan, no woman is safe in your domain, as they have endured the most despicable behaviour of your militia men; these have been tortured and raped with impunity. Age is not a limit nor is gender. You are in power, and very often wrongly or rightly exercise that power when you issue endless decrees, each of which determines ones fate, but not in government; for to be in government entails the presence of all institutions of governance. You realised this yourself, when you visited Nimule, and saw the number of trucks, but it should not have been a surprise to you that the border post of Nimule, which once generated most of the government revenue is no more. Although some little money is still being generated but this goes into the pockets of your cronies. If there was a government, all of those thieves would be languishing in prison by now, but due to your desire for power at the expense of governance, none is held accountable. Instead, those who steal are promoted to senior positions.
The truth about your journey to Nimule has now become clear. It was a camouflage to beat the US arms embargo, and receive the more than 30 trucks of arms and ammunitions that were shipped via Kenya and Uganda to replenish the Mathian Anyoor. How then can you ask refugees to return to their homes when your insatiable desire for more war is unrelenting? How much blood of the innocent is enough for you to call it quits?
Last week, the US government gave your beleaguered administration USD148 million to try and avert a famine that is of biblical proportions.
This allocation is done in addition to the billions USD they have given to date. Yet you never made an effort to hide your utter dislike and anger for the US government and people, for imposing Arms Embargo against your government, and for asking the United Nations to do so. You are happy to spend millions of public money to import more arms and ammunitions instead of spending it to save the lives of those millions of people who are starving and dying of famine. You have continued to do that despite persistent warnings from the UN, non-governmental agencies and media outlets about imminent famine that is in the horizon.
Reports about famine were made the same week and month of your trip to Nimule, including articles that appeared in different online news media about impending hunger in South Sudan. For example, Mercy Corps of 7 Feb 2018 estimated 9,000 people in South Sudan could go without or lose access to food between now and April as a result of continuing conflict and massive displacement of people in the war-hit nation. The Guardian online news of 10 Jan 2018, the UK Edition has this to say, “An estimated 1.25 million people in South Sudan are on the brink of starvation, according to the latest food and security analysis update by the UN and South Sudan’s National Bureau of Statistics, released in November”. While VOA on Jan 24th 2018 reported, “the United Nations warned Wednesday that 1.5 million South Sudanese are on the brink of famine and 20,000 are already in famine conditions”. The Media cannot be wrong given that some of the data is coming from your own Commission for statistics. With all this in your full knowledge Mr President, you prefer to buy more weapons instead of food for the people. Is that what the people should regard as a responsible government that cares for its people?
The population of South Sudanese who received us in 2005, after 22 years of brutal war with the Arabs, were in better conditions than the ones wondering the streets of Juba and other towns in search of food that is not there, today. Whatever food that was there, particularly in Upper Nile and the Equatoria regions have been decimated by your militiamen as booty in lieu of their military service to you. And when the international community led by the US comes to provide food and security to the victims of your war, you call them names, accusing them of being “agents of regime change”. What a malady of leadership?
Any judicious leader would have thanked the US government, and indeed, the rest of the world, including the EU for their steady financial assistance to your people. The irony is that, you claim to be a leader of a country with the highest agricultural potential in East Africa, yet your people are dying in their millions of famine and starvation. Relief workers who delivered food to the hungry are either harassed or killed. To date a total of 95 UN and other NGOS aid workers have lost their lives in South Sudan. You deliberately deny food to the hungry, and gain satisfaction in their misery. Good leaders must show care to their subjects, Mr President, even in the Bible, for example, the book of Job 31:16-21 says, “If I have withheld anything that the poor desired, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless has not eaten of it, if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or the needy without covering, if his body has not blessed me, and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep.....”. Would you still call yourself a leader, a President of a people?
You recently decided to barter oil for USD 134,703,606 worth of military equipment through Tonga Company Limited and Cyproil Company Ltd as evidenced by the letter signed by your partner in crime, Gen. Taban Deng Gai. These lethal weapons being imported are for nothing more, other than to continue the killing spree, maim, torture and mutilate innocent lives. If you and your government truly wanted the US government and the rest of peace loving world to stay away from South Sudan, why would you not barter that oil for food, seeds and agricultural equipment; and start producing food to feed your hungry population instead of acquiring more arms for killing more innocent lives? Doing so would have made our people to think of you as a caring leader who is more concern about their welfare and livelihoods. However, you are failure to do that and, instead, engage in bartering oil for more lethal weapons ensures that you remain a total curse as long as you stick on to power that has proven more destructive to South Sudanese. That be the case, the people of South Sudan must unite in their collective anguish and, do everything in their capacity to free themselves from your archaic parochial kakistocracy.
Gen Lemi Logwonga Lomurö PhD (Can)
The Centre for citizen Interface in South Sudan (CISS).
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this piece are solely mine.