By Beny Gideon Mabor
October 1, 2013 - President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s recent visit to Rumbek, Lakes State dated 25 September, 2013 has drawn public attention from South Sudanese in general and citizens of Lakes State in particular both inside the country and abroad. Chief amongst causes of public anxiety about his long awaited visit are as follows: First, it is an extraordinary visit after four years of unjustified absence from this state despite attempt by the President to clear cloud of doubts at Rumbek Freedom Square. Many crises happened in Lakes State that possibly need physical presence of the President and did not sympathize to visit even for hours since 2010 end of general elections. In other words, ordinary citizens in Lakes State and elsewhere are clearly made to understand that President Mayardit was only and lastly seen in Lakes State in 2010 general elections to secure votes and has no more business after winning elections.
Second, the presidential visit came following an entire cabinet dissolution and restructuring of cabinet portfolios with new faces in place including Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology Mr. Bol Makueng Yuol and long severing Presidential Advisor on Legal Affairs Mr. Telar Ring Deng, all from Lakes State. Although the latter was presidential nominee for the Ministry of Justice, he was overwhelmingly rejected by Parliament for reasons best known to the August House and in particular ruling SPLM political circle.
However, President Kiir proves the contrary and reappointed Mr. Telar Ring as legal advisor, a position allegedly believed to have caused him more enemies than friends. In fact, the statement of the President at Rumbek Freedom Square about rejection of Telar Ring as Justice Minister to be linked to the political representatives from Lakes State is another paradox very difficult to understand. The innocent citizens of Lakes State did not know something very special about Telar Ring and the President, so that if rejected by parliament even with visible hands from Lakes State lawmakers, that he cannot appoint another competent person in the Ministry of Justice if the same was truly earmarked for Lakes State or otherwise. It is really mindboggling to date as the Ministry of Justice remained vacant since Telar Ring was singlehandedly rejected by August House.
The third public attention is that Rumbek, Lakes State was the place where the President Salva Kiir was declared to the nation as the leader by former SPLM leader and founding President of the then Southern Sudan Dr. John Garang de Mabior on 27 May 2005. He said “I and comrade Salva Kiir are the only survivors of the SPLM/A for 22 years and he did not change his mind. He said there is no any other person who has more qualifications than comrade Salva Kiir and therefore I declare him the leader and take care of him”. Dr. Garang must be very wise enough to declare him in Rumbek for many reasons including being the location where peace and reconciliation between late leader Dr. Garang and the incumbent President Salva kiir was achieved after sudden withdrawal of trust and confidence between the duos in charge of the revolutionary movement.
Last but not least, Lakes State is the geographical centre of the country and connected to all states. This is where most of the developmental projects would have been done especially economic related programs to boost wider growth of development with exemplary structures in the centre. Unfortunately, heavy financing projects are not provided under the state budget.
The SPLM-led government to shoulder responsibility of national developmental projects is seen turning its back to the States and in particular Lakes State which is reasonably believed to be SPLM stronghold. This is much evidenced at the Rumbek Freedom Square after long awaited presidential visit to Lakes State after four years. President Mayardit was expected to deliver promises for developmental projects that might have delayed with his government in Juba for four years, but in vain rather ending up threatening citizens of Lakes State to either accept caretaker Governor Maj-General Matur Chut or else leave Lakes State. The innocent citizens were bored to hear war of words by the President against his political opponents including attacking personality of the former Governor Eng. Chol Tong Mayay. It is very unfortunate and the visit was truly misplaced.
In conclusion, it was popular expectation that the President will promise delivery of basic services and at least one tangible infrastructural development to his stronghold constituency to win the hearts and minds of the people in order to vote for him gain comes 2015 as best candidate amongst the said political competitors. Surprisingly, President Mayardit went further and turned down the most equipped Rumbek Teaching Hospital which was donated and built with money and technical capacity of the friendly people Republic of China into a mere maternity hospital, something so bitter to swallow.
With sincerity and utmost good faith, one may not conclude with no hope at all, but decision is left to the people of Lakes state to comprehend and analyze benefits of presidential visit to Lakes State whether has succeeded in their favour or otherwise. Finally, President should not threaten his citizens as this may infer characters of dictatorship. Otherwise you can threaten citizens if it may serve any purpose but difficult to determine the destiny of their votes during election or else lose recognition in an attempt to hijack their interest.
Beny Gideon Mabor is an independent commentator on Governance and Human Rights and can be reached at email@example.com