By Akoon Maker Maluach
January 8, 2013 - Advocates of world peace, women and men of South Sudan, I take this time to enlighten you on the consequences of conflict that engulfed our nation over the last couple of weeks and the possible way forward.
But before I go into details, I would like on behalf of the South Sudanese people, thank the many countries and agencies who have called to offer their genuine assistance materially and politically during these bad times.
After a careful observation of South Sudanese conflict on the ground, I wish to list all we have and are experiencing as follows:
The conflict has damaged more than one thousand South Sudanese lives. It is continuing to fill our communities with psychologically incapacitated soldiers, wounded, child soldiers, widows and orphans who need rehabilitation to make them work and live in the society.
The conflict has driven nearly 4000 people out of their villages which prevent them from their daily doings for living such as running business, cattle keeping and cultivation. They knew they must move out of their towns and villages or else they will be killed .Such movement of refugees known as internally displaced persons to concentration camps where they find insufficient food, water, education and medicine leaves us deeply dependent on dubious foreign aid. It is worth alerting my people that aid is positively associated with conflict.
Findley in his book entitled “The Localised Geography of Foreign Aid” links foreign aid to conflict as follows: “(1) Aid can increase the prize for capturing the capital, which motivates the onset of rebellion or affects ongoing conflict dynamics, and (2) aid is similar to other resources that trigger rent seeking behaviour to ensure the survival of the rebellion once a war has begun.” I was fully convinced when I looked at how conflict started in the capital, Juba and how it is prevailing. Further, the greater circulation of money coming from humanitarian aid and the presence of Non-Governmental Organisation has caused a great devaluation with dangerous consequences for the majority of the population.
The conflict will (if it has already not) spiral into tribal conflicts, causing constant break up of tribal links which keeps our nation together. These tribal sentiments may cause tribal hates which find it hard to find the way of reconciliation.
The conflict has caused close down of some institutions of learning such as primary schools, secondary schools and universities preventing students from pursing their studies. This in turn increases the prevailing adult illiteracy which makes it impossible to create new intellectual and skilled group of managers in the future to get closer to most of developed African countries and to the western world.
The conflict has already led to shut down of some of the oil fields in some other parts of unity state due to insecurity which is an absolute detriment to our economy that depends entirely on the oil revenues. Moreover, such insecurity may scare away investors across the country which will continue to hamper economics development
The conflict will prevent South Sudan from investing the necessary funds or energies in fighting against poverty and underdevelopment so long as the current conflict continues to draw men and skills and money.
South Sudan’s destiny in my view, according to lessons learned above, lay with intensive de-escalation of the conflict and closer peaceful settlement. Therefore, I would like to suggest the following things that our leaders should do to bring a halt to this devastating conflict.
Firstly, both sides should declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create conducive atmosphere for a successful negotiation. This will involve measures to prevent other battlegrounds all over the country.
Secondly, we must realistically accept the fact Riak and the forces loyal to him have a significant support in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei States and must thereby be engaged cautiously during negotiation and also will be one of the key actors in the south Sudanese government. Many will find it unpopular but I agree with Martin Luther King who once said “Conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides”.
Thirdly, from the negotiation, the government must clearly understand the cause of these people; know the assessment and perception of ourselves. And from this understanding experience, we may indeed see our areas of improvement, and if we are capable, we may learn, grow and restructure our approach to most of the problems.
Fourthly, the leaders must radically formulate and implement polices to cut off foreign aid entirely. Lastly, both leaders must quickly move from a self-interests society to people-interests society where competition to deliver services to people takes precedence over competition for individual political power. They must open their eyes wide enough to see the importance of the life of people they wish to lead over the political power.
As citizens of South Sudan, we must call on our leaders to bring to people a permanent and a just peace based on justice, liberty and prosperity for all. We call on them because the initiative in this war is theirs and the initiative to stop it must be theirs. For example many people including myself, would argue that it is possible to preserve the accommodative atmosphere both of them achieved between the signing of CPA and just before the incident if Salva and Riak each respected the other’s interests.
It is with deep disappointment for us to fail to realise that brothers and sisters who constantly fight each other and thus subject each other to high misery and degradation do also cause total destruction to the family they all belong. Today, not only have we shown our inability to understand ourselves and our problems as a family but also demonstrated our inability to solve our own problems. I agree with Roger Ridell who argues that the greater the inability of those suffering and in poverty to address their own core needs, the greater the need for external assistance. I accept with lament that unless we develop and maintain a belief in ourselves and our own abilities; a self-reliance belief of not expecting others to do all things for us, we may find ourselves calling for humanitarian aid and organising peace negotiating team for the next generation.
We must forge national reconciliation and allegiance that spawns sustainable peace. We must work to achieve forgiveness and love between families, between tribes, and between religious groups. From this collective love will arouse national brotherhood that does not ideologically tie our country to certain tribe, race or religion but that view it with realism of it being a multicultural, multi-ethnic and secular South Sudan. This national allegiance will wipe away loyalty to individuals such as two groups deemed to be either loyal to Salva or Riak that has been popularised in the media since the incident.
Akoon Maker Maluach is both an Australian and a South Sudanese citizen who graduated with a Combined Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering with Honours and Bachelor of Economics degrees from the Australian National University. His previous work experience includes; a Printed Circuit Board designer at CEA Technologies, a company that design and develop radar for military and civil applications and a soldier in the Australian Army. He resides in Juba and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org