(James Okuk, PhD – Gurtong) - “It was regrettably a wishful naivety to have thought that the tainted history of abortive governments
and oppositions of the Sudan would absolve ‘independent’ South Sudan from inheriting the DNA of bad governance".."There is no time to waste. We must either unite now or perish” – Nyerere.
Lessons for South Sudan and IGAD-Led HLRF
“The polis exists to assure the good life” – Aristotle. “For however strong a ruler may be, he will always have need of the good will of the inhabitants if he wishes to remain in power” – Machiavelli. “It is not by the concentration of powers, but by their distribution, that good government is effected” – Thomas Jefferson. “There is no time to waste. We must either unite now or perish” – Julius Nyerere.
I - WHAT SHOULD BE AT STAKE FOR SOUTH SUDAN IN THE HLRF?
All the above quoted political wisdom should serve as reminders for finalizing the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) without further delays. The conscience of stakeholders of the de facto Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU)—whose term of office ended in April 2018—and the loosed opposition groups should get awakened so as to reach an urgent conclusion of a peaceful settlement that must end the filthy civil war in South Sudan.
Also the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) should rethink its institutional bottleneck to become a trustworthy peace mediator with commendable achievement of the desired goal. The hierarchical decision-making organs of the IGAD (i.e., Assembly of Heads of State and Government that determines the policies and guidelines; Council of Ministers that approves the work programs and budget of the Secretariat; and Committee of Ambassadors that influence the Heads of State and Government, the Ministers and officials of the Secretariat, etc…) have often undermined the work of HLRF mediation experts, especially on issues of good governance and credibility of leadership of the awaited post-war South Sudan.
At the end of the game all the stakeholders (nationals and foreigners alike) should get tough lessons from evolution of political history of South Sudan so as to avoid dangerous blunders of unending crises. They must know that absence of good life, deflated people’s will, concentrated power and decayed national unity usually put BIG QUESTION MARKS on the essence of existence of modern democratic state in globalized era of universal human rights.
It was regrettably a wishful naivety to have thought that the tainted history of abortive governments and oppositions of the Sudan would absolve ‘independent’ South Sudan from inheriting the DNA of bad governance, dooming insecurity, confused economy and recurrent humanitarian catastrophe. The deceptive economic boom from oil revenues in the SPLM/A-controlled government in Juba (not clear for any confidence whether it is free-market capitalism, protected regulatory socialism or ‘mixed’ economy) has been infected by Dutch Disease with behavior of milking public coffers unaccountably.
As the reality of SPLM/A’s government and opposition has now gotten known by hard way of trial-and-error, it is high time the search for lasting peace is informed by roots and links of the evolved political past of South Sudan. Such acknowledgement is necessary, precisely when the territorial geography of the new country on the globe has not shifted to the Atlantic or the Indian Oceans, or even to the Red and the Mediterranean Seas.
The historical facts and actors about South Sudan must be gleaned and screened honestly from illusionary propagandist fictions. SWOT Analyses must be applied rigorously to identify internal and external Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of the existing dysfunctional institutions and those leading them with defective attitudes.
Also SMART Principles must be invoked to ensure adherence to Specificity, Measurability, Achievability, Realisticity and Timeliness of IGAD-mediated negotiations without fear or favor of anti-peace or anti-transformation proponents. Empirical descriptive evidence and logical premises must be used rigorously to arrive at sound prescriptive conclusions on resolving the daunting problems of leadership, security reforms, humanitarian assistance, sustainable economy, transitional justice and democratization of power in South Sudan.
What do you call the rivaling political leaders who act without vision for a mission and behave strangely as if there will not be a future to cherish for themselves or their heirs?
With its commendable emancipatory past, should the SPLM/A be allowed to continue disgracing the present and discrediting the future of South Sudan for posterity?
Is there a pride in the nauseating political disgusts about the renowned SPLM/A freedom fighters who sacrificed dearly to see South Sudan liberated from the injustices of old Sudan, but find themselves escaping the country for exile to live in diaspora as stateless individuals?
What honor is left there in the citizens who overwhelmingly voted for the independence of South Sudan but to get displaced internally to camps that are expensively guarded by foreign forces or seek refuge abroad in environmentally tough habitats of neighboring countries?
What do you call a government in a contemporary world whose 3rd secretary diplomat in headquarters of ministry of foreign affairs receive only a delayed monthly salary of 10 dollars?
What do you call a government in the era of universal human rights whose primary teachers are provisionally paid by foreign humanitarian donors (40 dollars a month) to keep them in schools for the sake of basic education rights of poor children, while the ministry of finance drags to pay in time the salaries of those teachers (equivalent to 5 dollars per a month)?
What do you call a naturally resource-rich country in the era of Millennium Sustainable Goals when 90% of its population live beyond the threshold of poverty line due to man-made crises?
As the war situation stands, it will not be sustainable to temporarily bandage a government or opposition on fear mongering of ‘if we don’t (do) this we will collapse and perish’. Such demise is the determined destiny of any irresponsible government or opposition that blocks the needed drastic change of bad status quo to new normal.
No amount of propaganda or intransigence can triumph because when political pendulum has swung to the extremes of frustrating fragile peddling, nothing but final collapse would get queued in the sequence of events.
The cross of the very authoritarian cult that the exiled and rebellious SPLM/A leaders had established in South Sudan when they were on grip of power, is what is haunting them mercilessly to the core now. The SPLM/A was supposed to be archived in libraries after the independence of South Sudan in 2011 because there was no Sudan to be liberated any longer in the new state. Only memorial celebrations of that formidable liberation movement in Africa would have remained upheld yearly every 16th May.
However, the real anguish about the embattled South Sudan is the possibility of its breaking up into tiny fragilities that would make it difficult for rescuing the savable from political ruins. The fragmented status quo usually leads to undesirable uncertainties (e.g., reckless adoption of unsustainable political governance mechanisms, crooked security approaches, anarchical political economies and unending humanitarian catastrophes) with disturbing threats to the dignity of international peace and security. That is why South Sudan shouldn’t be allowed to sink deeper into abyss because the repercussions of ‘failed African solution’ shall not smell good for the region after what was witnessed in Somalia.
The nauseating war situation of South Sudan is akin to John T. Rourke’s diagnosis in his Books “International Politics on the World Stage” (1st – 8th editions), Daron Acemoglu’s & James Robinson’s depictions in their Book “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” and Peter H. Schuck’s accounts in his Book “Why Government Fails So Often”. According to these critical writers, governments that mess up themselves with senseless conflicts and extractive corruption become predominantly characterized by:
1) Dynamics of arrogant and self-serving power ambitions greedy actors with no real sense of responsibility for state/nation building;
2) Little institutional engineering hampered by unsustainable bureaucratic deforms;
3) Poor performance due to incompetence lack prudence on political economy;
4) Recurrent abhorring violence exacerbated by rotten social fabrics;
5) Riveting dramatic events with politically-motivated complex tragedies; and
6) Dramatic collapse though sometimes hopeful ending that leaves everyone dumfounded by the turns and twists of new emerging realities.
The unending senseless wars drain the desired assurances in governments, oppositions, political parties, civil societies, interest groups and the entire people of a country. In such situation the international standards and humanitarian law become the first casualties (e.g.,violence pursued and promoted not as last resort for a just cause; war declared and managed without legitimate authority; war conducted disproportionally for senseless aggression rather than self-defense; war fought without discrimination of non-combatants; and war continued without intention to restore the disturbed security and peace in the shortest time possible).
General Omar Bradley, the former Joint Chief of Staff of U.S.A Army, would not hesitate (as he did at the testimony to the Senate Committee in 1951 about extending Korean War into Red China) to call what is happening in South Sudan as “the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy”. The Dutch Father of International Law and the author of ‘On the Law of War and Peace (1625)’, Hugo Grotius, would also get irritated if the HLRF ends without compelling the negotiating parties to sing an equitable peace deal.
As nothing stands strategically designed for pursuing the undignified path of ‘real politics by other means’ but political survival through war, the sustainability of running South Sudan for longer in war would get squeezed into parochial irrational arena of unsophisticated luck or believe in superstitions. The history is full of refreshing hints of fate of governments and opposition groups that had defied the sense of preservation of human dignity.
II - GLIMPSES FROM TURKO-EGYPTIAN & ANGLO-EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENTS (1821 – 1956)
The governments that founded and ruled Sudan (including Southern Sudan) in the past were modeled after the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years of religious wars of monarchies in Europe. That Treaty upheld the sanctity of equality of sovereign European states based on respect for conciliatory secular approach to politics among the super powers who operate according to unified understanding for colonizing the less powerful nations that were regarded as not yet rational, scientific, moral and theistic for full humanity.
The history of Turkish-based Ottoman Empire (founded in 15th Century and collapsed in 20th Century when its territories were divided up in 1922 for trusteeship by strategic victors behind the League of Nations), is an important epistemological archive worth revisiting nowadays. That Empire was the founder of Sudan (land of the blacks) by default in 1821 via its commander, the Albanian-born Muhammad Ali Pasha (1769 – 1849). The objectives was to extract valuable resources and capture black slaves to be used for consolidation and expansion the colonial regime to new territories.
Muhammad Ali’s grandson, ‘the magnificent’ Khedive Ismail Ibrahim Pasha (1830 – 1895) tried to improve the tainted image of his government among ‘the virgin tribes’ of Southern Sudan. He appointed European adventurers to govern this slaves hunting zone (e.g., Samuel White Baker, Charles George Gordon and Eduard Schnitzler) to help him with reforms and “abolition of slavery” in accordance with Anglo-Egyptian Slave Trade Convention (1877) and the Congo Act (1885):
1) Freedom of navigation and trade for all nations in the region forming the basins of the Congo and Niger without allowing a total hegemony of Britain or Portugal;
2) Recognition of African boundaries as international borders demarcated by the dominant colonial powers who have endorsed the partition understanding via the Congo Act;
3) Future appropriation of territory on the African coast had to be conducted by the dominant colonial powers via notification in advance to the signatories of any territorial acquisition; and
4) Joint measures for suppression of slavery and slave trade within the colonial territories.
Also the history of British Empire (founded in 16th Century and expanded extensively between 17th and 20th Centuries to be known as the vast territory where the sun doesn’t go setting, though it diminished from 1950s and disappeared in 1997 after handing over Hong Kong to its rightful Chinese owners), is connected with the making of South Sudan though Lord Cromer (1841 – 1917) discredited it perceptively as a useless large tract that was difficult and costly to administer for any meaningful colonial interest.
The Anglo-Egyptian colonial governments used the divide-and-rule tactics to subdue the local people of the Sudan but disadvantaging Southern Sudan through special policies of ‘Military Patrols’ to enforce colonial law and order, Closed District Ordinance (1921), Passports and Permits Ordinance (1922), Trade Permit Order (1928), Rejaf Languages Conference (1928)—six local vernaculars (Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Bari and Latuko and Zande) were recommended as medium for Southern education without prejudice to English or other European languages, ‘Building of Self-contained Tribal Units’ based on customary system, and banning mingling or intermarriages between Southerners and Northerners.
The post-World War I (1914 – 1918) and politics of the League of Nations; the invasion of Eritrea by Italy in 1935 with attempts to conquer parts of Sudan adjacent to Ethiopia; the World War II (1939 – 1945) and politics of the United Nations; the move by penultimate King Farouk I of Egypt to declare himself the Monarch of both Egypt and Sudan; and the pressure of Northern General Graduate Congress (formed in 1936) on the Anglo-Egyptian colonial Government to revoke its Southern Sudan policy and involve Sudanese in government, led to formation of Northern Sudan Advisory Council and enactment of Local Councils Ordinances in 1943 though with ‘safeguards’ by the British to uniqueness of the South. But the post-World War II (1939 – 1945) and politics of the United Nations shifted the paradigm where the British resorted to policy of empowering Southern Sudan educationally and economically to enable them stand strongly and competitively on their own as Negroid African, either as attached to the North, annexed to East Africa, or distributed between North and East Africa.
The U.K’s Labour Minister, Ernest Bevin, and the Egyptian Prime Minister Ismail Sedky Pasha signed a Protocol in 1946 on self-government and referendum for the Sudanese to decide on their annexation to Egypt or staying independent after nullification of Condominium Agreement (1899) and the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty (1936) prior to the exit of colonial officials from Sudan.
The Condominium Civil Secretary, James W. Robertson, wanted the South to remain attached to the North and the Middle East rather than East Africa. He and the Machiavellian Northern Sudanese Judge, Mohamed Saleh Shingeiti, organized the Sudan Administration Conference in Khartoum (1946) with special focus on ‘Sudanization’ of public service. The Conference recommended for conduct of Juba Conference in 1947 to bring Southern participants (civil servants, local chiefs, religious leaders and British officials) on board by persuading them to get closer to central government in Khartoum in returns for equal treatment in job remuneration, promotion, privileges, transfers and education.
Unfortunately the London-Cairo-Khartoum geopolitics undermined the original mood and promised of the Juba Conference. London preferred appeasing Khartoum to strike a blow on Cairo and its push for unity of the Nile Valley. The 13-Man Committee that drafted the Self-government Statute (chaired by Justice Stanley Baker in 1951 and with MP Buth Diu as the only member from the South but who boycotted with disappointment when his call for federalism was rejected) was affected by the diplomatic wrangling and confusing legalistic interpretations of the Agreement between The Egyptian Government and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island Concerning Self-government and Self-determination for the Sudan (1953.)
With approval by the British authorities, the Northern politicians (patronized by Pro-Egypt Khatimya Islamists under Ali al-Mirghni and Pro-Britain Ansars Islamists under Abdel Rahman al-Mahdi) spat on the face of Southerners by denying them representation in the negotiations of Anglo-Egyptian exit from the Sudan. They despised the South as apolitical to be consulted because it didn’t have a single political party and would not deserve to sit equally with their masters to discuss government affairs. The Egyptian Information Minister Saleh Salim, serving under the Junta of Mohamed Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, frequented his visits to Southern Sudan to promote unity of the Nile Valley.
It didn’t take longer before the workers in Nzara and Yambio went on riots, Torit armed forces went on mutiny, and wider unrest ensuing in Southern Sudan by1955. Khartoum blamed “the Southern Problem” on British policies of isolating the South from North with widened gap of mistrust, underdevelopment and backwardness of Southerners, disrespect of Northern traders and elites towards Southerners, false assumptions that Egyptians and British will intervene in favour of the South, miscommunication and maladministration by government officials, and rumour mongering by the opposition against Ismail al-Azhari’s interim government.
In a nutshell, the respective governments of the Great Ottoman Empire and the Greatest British Empire, including their extension into Sudan via assistance of de facto governments in Egypt, had to collapse mainly for these reasons: 1) conducting themselves above the fundamental universal human rights, and 2) pursuing globalization without moral conscience or human face. Regrettably, their political DNA is still haunting South Sudan nowadays (e.g., family dynasties with use of religions for political appearance of support and solidarity, proliferation of militias for government security against opposition, capitalist free market economy, anti-federalism, spree of corruption, maladministration, insensitivity to plight of local population, recycling of arrogant politicians in government, and intransigence on military might and other repressive demeanors against the colonized people).
An Act of Faith: Humanitarian Financing and Zakat (3-3)
Three Trajectories Facing South SudanNext >