By Charles Kisanga
March 23, 2009 — On the 20th February 2009, I published an article titled “Salary Crisis Looms in South Sudan”, whereby I detailed the issues of lack of money being suffered by Kiir’s government which had been brought about as result of falling oil revues plus mismanagement and corruption whereby billions of funds for South Sudan has disappeared in thin air after being diverted and eaten by the corrupt elements of Kiir’s corrupt rule.
Many people might have not taken my analysis seriously enough until now, but events in the last month have proved otherwise. Salary delays and lack of salary payments have seen threats of strike action everywhere in South Sudan and as a result Salva Kiir tried to cool temperatures by giving some money (or call it stipends) to the more threatening cases in South Sudan. By March 2009, the Governors’ forum was even threatening to let it be their people to decided rather then them; the reply on the issue of lack of salary payments in their states and then it would be GoSS President Kiir then to reply directly to the people’ s grievances in the states. Fearing more troubling unrest in all the South Sudan states Salva Kiir let some money be dispatched to pay workers in the states at least for the month of January 2009, but not everybody was getting paid fully and there is a lot of anger still brewing in the states.
The SPLA units, because many of them are far from headquarters in Juba, have been neglected in many payments until now. I’m informed that many soldiers are just given stipends where people have to queue to get it and it is sometimes less then the salary they are supposed to get. A lot of the SPLA money is being eaten by so called lost boys officers from Kiir tribe many of whom came back from the USA and Australia to take up senior military jobs at the SPLA headquarter in Juba. Together with well known corrupt leaders of the SPLA they are the bosses who run SPLA now and eat money as they wish. The rest of the SPLA soldiers and those who fought and suffered in the liberation war but never got exposed to the Western world are forgotten and left to manage with meagre payments. One senior officer told me many of the SPLA soldiers from other tribes are all underdogs in SPLA Army and their positions are in-effective. Any junior officer from Kiir tribal clique gets more power over those with big titles from other tribes because they have direct access straight to the commander in chief and they can tell others that they are in charge of this and that without dispute since no one else have that tribal link. Since January SPLA soldiers who are around Juba and other important areas had been paid at least one month wages while those who are far away in far flung areas and unimportant areas had been forgotten or sometimes their Senior commanders many of whom are all from Kiir’s tribe come to Juba and take the money and head to Kampala or Kenya with it to despot it in their private accounts leaving the soldiers at the mercy of nature. As such the disabled SPLA soldiers arrears build up to seven months now for the disabled ones even at a time when SPLA had a budget of $1bllion last year. The disabled soldiers and others are the marginalised one as much as it was during the liberation struggle. So it is no surprise that after suffering and going through all these the disabled soldiers had to resort to mutiny in order to be heard. Hence they staged a mutiny in Yei and Nimule and blocking road transport from Uganda to Juba from Wednesday 18th March to Friday 20th March 2009.
The areas of Equatoria from around Tambura through Yambio to Yei, Nimule and most of Eastern Equatoria formed the corridor of SPLA power base and headquarters during the last decade of the SPLM/A Liberation struggle and it is here that the bulk of the disabled soldiers had stayed since the end of the war and return of the peace since 2005. Hence it is not surprising to see them rise up to face the injustice imposed on them by the corrupt SPLA elements connected with the regime in Juba. These soldiers are from all the areas and should not be seen in the context of Equatoria. They are already joined by all of their colleagues from all the tribes of South Sudan and they like nothing short of their salaries.
Besides the case of disabled SPLA soldiers other fighting were taking place all over South Sudan. In Jonglei up to a thousand South Sudanese have died in the past month in interactional fighting between Lou-Nuer and Murle. The number of the dead overwhelms any human reasoning and puts scorn on Kiir’s claim that his appointment of Major Gen. Kuol Mayanga was going to solve the problem of inter-factional and tribal fighting in Jonglei. It is inconceivable that 1000 South Sudanese can die in ethnic fighting in a month and Kiir is not bothered at all and the man is jus busy helping his tribal and corrupt SPLM elements to continue to loot whatever remains of the coffers of South Sudan. Yes he went to Yei because the soldiers can easily drive to Juba and cause mayhem in a matter of days rather then weeks, but what about the 1000 dead in Pibor county just a few days ago?.
Also on the 24th and 25th February 2009, respectively fighting in Malakal resulted in around 60 deaths and more than 100 people wounded. Malakal was then looted to the skeleton and even Upper Nile University was not spared. In Lakes state and other states of former Bahr el Ghazal daily ethnic fighting and cattle rustling means dozens or sometimes hundreds are killed each month. The same things are happening in most of Equatoria and in West Equatoria we have problem of LRA atrocities which only the local defence forces are now able to respond to after organising defence groups to defend their villages. SPLA soldiers in WES mostly say they cannot fight Kiir proxy war as they are hardly paid their salaries. Hence people are going backwards in South Sudan and not forwards.
Hence every where in the South Sudan the same things are happening daily and depicting the signs of one of the failed governments in the Africa reaching the proportion of Zimbabwe. What difference do we have any way with Zimbabwe since we can’t even count those who continue to die from related ill-health ( hospitals are so poor that admission there means death) and via insecurity? Well if over a thousand died of cholera in Zimbabwe but we have the case in South Sudan where over a 1000 people are killed through inter-factional fighting instead of by cholera and yet the Government of Kiir cannot address the underlying issue because GoSS thrives on tribalism and corruption and they like it when people fight tribal wars. We have government which is bankrupt beyond words and cannot get any money from other sources except wait on Khartoum to give whatever they can afford. On the other hand we have all neighbouring countries such a Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia a and even far away flung Eritrea coming into South Sudan to cash on the corrupt regime’s poor administration. Foreign Businesses rakes in millions of dollars within a few weeks without ever getting to pay really taxes due to the corrupt nature of the Government in Juba and the businessmen can easily do by paying bogus taxes and bribery fees to few officials and then are able to get away with anything such as siphoning away millions of dollars to their home countries. So every months Khartoum sends up to $100 million a month which soon find its way to Uganda and other countries through foreign business and corrupt GoSS officials, leaving South Sudan deprived of currency and its banks dry. The Kiir’s system of Self Service government and inefficiency can also be seen via GoSS officials lavish lifestyles with all food items and expensive goods imported from Kenya and Uganda without introducing any self-reliance to get their population to produce even basic food items such as vegetables and preferring instead for everything to come from Uganda while Uganda takes back all the huge profits unchallenged because in GoSS everybody is for himself/herself to make money. The culture of excessive greedy introduced by Kiir to South Sudan may be going to hurt the area for generations to come. The talk in South Sudan nowadays among some common people is that: “ who is going to cultivate for others while everybody in GoSS is eating oil money”, and hence the oil money given by Khartoum in fulfilment of the CPA has also introduced the culture of dependency on money from North and goods from other African countries which is very destructive for an emerging country whereby people should have been working hard to develop their natural and agricultural resources as well as investing in our human labour and talents to induce rapid growth..
The failure of Kiir GoSS administration and the bad governance accompanying it is now being depicted by the previous enumerated catalogue of problems being suffered by the people of South Sudan from ethnic fighting, to inter-factional fighting, to foreign LRA rebel atrocities to hunger where officials and SPLA are not receiving any pay dues, then to cattle rustling: in fact the catalogue of failures are endless. In a democratic country where voters and people have a right to have a say in the government of the day running the country and affecting their lives, Kiir should have been forced out of office long time ago. But this is South Sudan with a lot of tribal vested interests and the people have yet to learn that those who run the government are answerable to them but people are beginning to catch-up as can be seen by the mutiny action of disabled SPLA soldiers who were also joined by many others form the regular SPLA
On Thursday 19th March 2009 GoSS President Salva Kiir paid brief visit to Yei to speak to the leaders of striking soldiers and persuade them to end their action and promising them immediate salary payments of at least tow months. The next day Lt Gen Kiir was also trying to assemble together other SPLA units from Juba to go and quell the rebellion by disabled soldiers should they not call off their action and accept his offer of two salary payments plus some dry ratios.. The plan of Kiir was first to try convince the disabled soldiers that if they receive some dry ratios now plus two months pay then the rest of four months will follow soon and they can stop their protest But suppose they were not to stop their action and continue to block road and demand all arrears then Kiir was trying to put together other units ready to send to Yei and the boarder towns in order to quell the mutiny by force because the dispute meant Juba was already under siege with soldiers blocking all supply routes from Uganda there was no more fresh food supply and prices were already shooting up beyond the reach of many. The forces which was supposed to be assembled in Juba ran into problems quickly because many soldiers refused to go and face their colleagues in showdown and others complained they themselves had not been paid for four months and how will they go to quell a rebellion by others who had not been paid for seven months? Luckily for Kiir he can survive another day as the mutiny soldiers have disappeared to hand their families some of their cash for shopping and the bags of grain received to their families to allow them to afford some food for the coming days. Hence Kiir can survive another day before another serious action comes along to finish off his tribal and corrupt regime in South Sudan not to mention that many other soldiers remain unpaid still and he can rest assured that more mutiny will be coming since its is easy to get your salary paid when you take up a gun. A government forced into such as humiliating position like Kiir got from mutiny soldiers should have resigned already but we can excuse Salva Kiir as he has no clue about the right procedures of a government accountable to the people.
Events in South Sudan in the past few weeks can easily mark the beginning of the end game for Kiir’s corrupt administration in Juba and I call upon all peace loving South Sudanese to work for change and take the failures of Kiir administration very seriously .There is no government any where in the world where 1000 people get killed in a spate of two weeks and the President does nothing and he is allowed to continue with impunity and then the next thing again comes along where munity soldiers take over the roads because they have not been paid for months and still the government is not forced to resign. Any one of the catalogue of failures and morale decadence faced by Lt Salva Kiir corrupt government is enough to bring down any democratic government and even a dictatorship cannot last that long because the next time the problems comes back they will have more severity and more and more people will continue to die and suffer. The situation in South Sudan today cannot be called peace when many live with insecurity, mutinies for salary, tribal clash clashes and so on. We need a change where all these misrule features will be replaced by a government accountable to the people and based on equality, justice, freedom and inclusiveness for all. It is up to the South Sudanese people to exercise their democratic rights and express their need for change. SPLM Patriot is ready to lead change so that an SPLM patriotic government is formed whereby we shall do away with tribalism and corruption and a return to rule of law where every citizen will have respect for one another and peace dividend can come to all.
Eng. Kisanga is former SPLM NLC member and leader of SPLM Patriotic organisation which is fighting for change in SPLM/A direction. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +44-770899 8373