Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 24 February 2020

South Sudan’s Unity State needs a female governor

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By Dak Buoth Riek-Gaak

The courageous decision to reverse 32 states was a good sign that has not only marked the returned to the Rule of Law in South Sudan but it has also sent an encouraging message for many to come up with ideas to be forwarded to the Presidency on the way forward for our fragile country. In other words, it is a motivating factor. Now we can begins to converse with the hope that our ideas will be listened and implemented without hesitation.

The war that we are trying to end has gone deep into our bone marrow. Sometimes you finds yourself fighting on the bed with invisible foes. The effects of this civil war are visible for everyone to see on our ugly faces. Many South Sudanese had lost their love ones and other valuable resources that they toiled for over the years. Hence, we need ample time to come into terms with this horrible reality. It will take a while for us to heal and be happy with each other.

Luckily, everything has got the beginning and the end. I’m certain that this chaotic situation will be arrested once and for all. But arresting this sad situation will not happen in cold blood, we must strive to end it with workable ideas that have been tried and tested before. Perhaps, we are at the last phase of ending this crisis through this Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) formed on 22nd February 2020.

In an attempt to end this civil war, we need to deploy all round approach for us to exit this stage of war. In other words, we need holistic approach in finding lasting peace to achieve sustainable development. Having stated that, let us try what we are not used to as a country.

Many South Sudanese agreed on some common factors of war. Tribalism, corruption and lack of equal representation in governance are some of the major factors that drive us into this devastating civil war.

Believe it or not, these factors of war were first seen in the oil-rich Unity state. We had witnessed corruption that was never seen elsewhere in the Republic of South Sudan. We all know that Unity State was allocated 5% of oil revenue by virtue of the fact that it is where the oil is being fetched for international markets in Europe and Asia. But because of runaway corruption nothing can be shown today in terms of development. As we speak, Unity State is a plain land. You can hardly find something standing before the war engulfed it. The Oil money were used for self-enrichment and other criminal deals such as war.

The Dinka minority of Unity State often talk of being sidelined from the lucrative jobs due to tribalism, and no one has deny this. Their reason for seeking to have an independent state called Ruweng Administrative Area was partly due to this.

KOCH AND PANYIJIAR COUNTIES

Besides, marginalization of certain counties like Panyijiar and Koch is evidence due to lack of equal representation by the past state regimes. In Payijiar County for example, no sign of modern structures can be found there today. Even basic needs like health care and telecommunication network are absent. Today nobody can pick a phone to call his friend or relative in Panyijiar County. As at now, the residents there are still in darkness because they have been denied their constitutional rights to electricity and telecommunication network et cetera. The lack of telecommunication network is one thing that has made Payinjiar to be the number one among the marginalized counties in Unity States.

WOMEN AND POLITICS

In our society, another group that has been marginalized by the past state administrations is women group. This group comprised of our sisters, mothers and wives. As we all know, they are the most hard-working and peace loving members of our society. They have always kept themselves away from elective politics due to the violent nature of our politics in South Sudan. For instance, in the 2010 general election, Madam Angelina Teny, first wife to the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar vied for gubernatorial seat as an Independent candidate against the incumbent governor, and now Vice President Taban Deng Gai.

It is widely believe that she won but her votes were stolen in broad day light and people moved on. I had many colleagues who worked in that election exercise, and they told me point blank that Angelina won. Nevertheless, they were intimidated and threatened by the armed forces that if they don’t announced her male opponent they will die. And because they fear death they announced her opponent as a winner. Considering the fact that we have weak or no judicial mechanism to address this emotive issues, they abandoned it completely.

The question I have always asked myself is: how can 2015 election be expected to take place smoothly when the 2010 election crisis was not address? It was the 2010 election winners whose votes were stolen that are haunting us leading to the crisis ahead of 2015 postponed election.

You can imagine, if women like Angelina can have their votes stolen in the open, what do you think can happened to wives of ordinary men who decided to vie? Obviously, they will think of being lynched by hired goons and hooligans.

These are some of the reasons why women are left for men to be select or appoint into positions of decision making. However, whenever the male governors wanted to select female representatives, they appoint only the less competence ones whom they can remote and remove at whim.

The competence females with integrity have never been appointed into senior state administrative posts. When are we going to give our women a chance to serve us in public offices? I think the time has come for our women to serve us in the positions of leadership.

ATTROCITIES

Unity state was the center of all wars in South Sudan. Number of atrocities have been committed there during the 2013 and 2016 wars. All deadly weapons and guns that were bought to fight the war were tried and tested in Unity State.

Combatants under instructions from their respective commanders when as far as castrating non-combatants in the areas where their rivals were born. In 2018, renowned Human Rights Organization, Amnesty International released a report entitled ‘‘anything that was breathing was killed’’, killings in Mayiandit and Leer.

I was present at the launch of this report in Nairobi at my capacity as Unity State community chairperson. On seeing this report, I was shocked and almost fall in tears. I asked them many questions that day. The painful part of it is that, these people who are doing these weird things are the Nuer themselves. It is because the past Unity State regimes have planted hatred among the blood related people of Unity State through ‘‘divide and rule tactics.’’ Moreover, the creation of 32 states in 2015 had made the situation worse than ever before. It seems to have confirmed and perpetuated a perception among Unity State residents that they are the divided and different people who should fight each other with no mercy.

FEMALE GOVERNOR

In view of the foregoing, if we want the residents of Unity state to benefit from the dividends of unity government formed yesterday, we must think outside the box, meaning we should do things differently this time. Your decision to reverse the 32 states was described as bold and brilliant. In brief, just select a competence woman to be the governor of our divided Unity State, and you shall have made another bold decision in a row. When you do that, many aggrieved elements will not have an opportunity to wage a cold war or sabotage the activities of the state.

For example if you, President Kiir make a mistake of bringing Dr. Nguen Munytuil back as Governor god forbid, this truce will not hold. In case you have soft spot for Bul Nuer of Mayom for one reason or another, than try by all means to appoint woman from them. If you do that the war will be thing of the past. This is in case you happened to be the one appointing the new Governor of Unity State. And if it is you, Dr Riek Machar, please do the same, appoint a woman governor for sake of peace in our State.

MARGARET MATHIANG DEANG

I will not be doing you good if I don’t suggest a competence woman suitable for Unity State governorship. It is not my intention to give you blanket narrative devoid of substance. I think Hon. Margaret Mathiang Deang is competence, thus suitable for the governorship of our disunited Unity State.

I have not consulted her but I know she won’t turn the appointment down, for doing so will amount to disrespect for both of you and the ordinary citizens that she was educated to serves from the onset, something which she cannot think of. Margaret Mathiang should be a familiar name to both of you. I guessed you know her better than I do, because she worked under your leadership.

At the national level, I heard she served as undersecretary in a certain ministry. And I also heard that she is member of the defunct South Sudan constitutional review commission. By suggesting her I don’t mean she is more competence than other Unity State women. There must be other great women outside there that I don’t know. What I know is that she has more advantages than other women for now.

MARGARET’S ADVANTAGES

In my view, Margerat’s number one advantage is her close proximity with the people of two marginalized counties of Panyijiar and Koch. She is from Koch County, the host of Liech Tree and she is married in Panyijiar County.

Legally, she fall under Panyijiar County but her original roots from Koch are never cut. Now combined this advantage with her quality education, only few can match these qualifications. As matter fact, Panyijiar and Koch counties are not just marginalized but they never produced a governor of Unity State before.

If you President Kiir and SPLM-IO leader, Dr Riek Machar knows the importance of fairness and equal representation, than you must make sure the new Unity State Governor comes from either Panyijiar or Koch counties this time around.

Both of you will be unfair and unrealistic to say the least if you pick the next governor from other five counties that have had governor before, and chances are high that you may loss the truth and confident that we had for you permanently. More so, the history will judge very harshly.

To put it frankly and plainly, if you pick a governor outside these two counties, than you will be taken as people who have declared a war on us for no good reason, and you will not like it. In the SPLM-IO, Dr. Riek had appointed his Unity State Governors from Rubkona County. Gen. Ruai Kuol and Gen. Tor Tungwar hails from Leek Nuer from Rubkona County. On the other hand, President Kiir has appointed three governors from Leer, Mayiandit and Mayom counties. Dr Nguen Munytuil hails from Bul Nuer of Mayom County, Gov. Taker Riek is from Leer county and Gen. Thiey Yar from Mayiandit county.

Also, the First Unity State Governor, now vice president hails from Guit County. Only the sons and daughters from Koch and Panyijiar counties are yet to be given an opportunity to serve our State residents.

If you go ahead to appoint new governor outside these two areas you will set a very bad precedent for us. You are now supposed to bring the new governor from one of these two counties. Luckily, Hon. Margaret will represent these two counties.

The second advantage that both of you will acknowledge and appreciate is that, she work under your regime before, so you can go along with her well.

The third advantage is that she is peace and Human rights Activist, something which I like the most. Considering that Unity State residents had faces brutalities, we need someone who has the knowledge and abilities to advocate for justice and reparation that we desire.

Fourth, politically she is fit, her spouse was your former immediate minister of road and transport before 2016 crisis. Also, her Dad was with SPLM-IO from the beginning of war in 2013. As you can see each one of you have something to pick from her. In addition, Margaret was peace Activist who struggled for this Revitalized Agreement to be reached in September 2018. Thus, he deserves to benefit from this peace accord like Madam Rebecca Garang who was sworn in yesterday as ones of the four vice presidents.

Before joining politics, her Dad was former Presbyterian Church moderator. Hence she must have inculcated Christian values of peace and unity. These values can even enable her to minimize rampant corruption in the state level.

Fifth, she is a master degree holder from reputable institution of higher learning. If you appoint her, chances are that she will deliver. As we are aware, the vast majority of IDPs who are suffering the most are women and children, so they want a women Governor who will understand their needs very fast. What better qualifications or explanations will you need apart from these? This is just an advice, and like we say in English, ‘‘let people advised you but don’t allow them to decide for you.’’. You can still pick another female governor for unity state governorship. The very annoying thing that I don’t expect from you is to refuse to appoint a Female Governor and at the same time failed to pick the governor from these two marginalized counties that I mentioned above.

If you fail to appoint a female governor this time around, I will be tempted to think that both of you are still thinking of war and not peace and reconciliation. This is because a male governor will certainly be looking for ways to settle some political scores which may result to unnecessary combat or clash in this fragile state. To me, appointing a female governor in the person of Margaret Mathiang will be a clarion call for a break from war. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once observed “If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”

The Writer is the chairman of Liech Community Association in Kenya, the views expressed here are his own. He can be reached for comments via eligodakb@yahoo.com



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