By Capt. Mabior Garang de Mabior
Public Service Announcement
The Failure of the SPLM and the Illusion of SPLM Reunification
Fellow South Sudanese, as the SPLM aristocracy continues to make political maneuvers to help them stay in power, it is important that our people remain vigilant in order to avoid a complete loss of their hard-won struggle for self-determination. It would be marvelous if the wounds inflicted on our people could be healed magically by the SPLM reunification. The problem with the reunification however, is that the SPLM reunification comes partly as a result of a misdiagnosis of the problem and partly as a tactic by the SPLM(IG) to isolate the SPLM/SPLA(IO). This is part of the regimes long term strategy, it is part of their futile attempts to continue usurping the people’s power. The catalyst to the current civil war, as we all know, was the failure of leadership in the SPLM. What has changed since December 6, 2013 that justifies this reunification that can convince the public their failures have been overcome? In order to have a more concrete understanding of this failure, it is paramount that we breakdown the genesis of this failure:
1. The genesis of the SPLM leadership failure can be traced back to the unfortunate manner in which the first Chairperson of the SPLM, Dr. John Garang de Mabior, met his end.
2. To this day, the leadership which emerged and formed the government after the demise of our first Chairman, has never made public the results of the investigation into the crash which killed him.
3. As if this was not the biggest conspiracy ever in the history of the struggle, the regime has been silencing any political figures who brings up the issue of the investigation. The most prominent example of this was the sacking of then state minister of interior and a member of the investigation team, Aleu Ayeny (2007), who suggested there was foul play.
4. This begs the question, why does the regime not want to make the results of the investigation public?
5. The failure of the SPLM started when the new leadership decided to abandon the vision, principles and objectives of the liberation struggle. The regime coined a term, “Garang Boys”, a derogatory term they used to describe those who wished to re-articulate the vision of “new Sudan” within the context of the new realities in which the movement found itself. This shows that the new SPLM leadership was a new system, it was not nyayo (Kiswahili for footsteps), as the regime would like the world to believe. It is a system that encourages corruption, graft and lack of accountability as their modus operandi. We have no evidence that Dr. John Garang was murdered; however, at the very least we must accept that a “posthumous coup” has taken place.
6. The failure started at the moment South Sudan became a state. The movement failed to appreciate the new realities it found itself in. During the liberation struggle, the movement was organized as a Politico military organization; the SPLM/SPLA, with the military wing being the dominant entity. At the moment of independence, the SPLA became the national army by default, excluding them from determining the political direction the movement should take.
7. The SPLM, which then became the ruling party, became charged with forming the new government and determining the future of the new state, to the exclusion of other political forces in the country.
8. The SPLM had historically been a docile entity that had been used during the war of liberation to accommodate aspiring politicians, who were more concerned with executive positions than with the war effort.
9. The fact that many National Congress Party (NCP) cadres joined the movement without political orientation, at the expense of trained political commissars, left the movement with no vision and no with no direction. The new Chairman could have retired the political commissars from the army, so as to allow them to form the SPLM national secretariat. The failure of the leadership to understand this dichotomy, left the movement open to being hijacked by the traditional elites, and the SPLM became merely a tool to get jobs in government.
10. The principles, vision and objectives of the movement should have determined the agenda of the new government and the government should have been formed by the Chairman in consultation with the SPLM national secretariat. Instead what we have today is a system of patronage, the criteria for serving in the government has become flattering the leader and politics has been militarized by the failure of the SPLA to be reorganized into a national army which is not beholden to any political party in the country.
11. The failure of the SPLM was put bare in 2008 with the tension which arose when there was an attempt to remove Dr. Riek Machar as Deputy Chairman and Pagan Amum as Secretary General of the SPLM during the second convention of the Movement.
12. The only reason disaster was averted was because South Sudan had not yet attained independence and everyone was aware of how this could jeopardize the lead up to the referendum on self-determination. The fact that the Deputy Commander in Chief of the SPLA, Gen. Paulino Matip, was not part of the conspiracy and opposed the idea also helped in the decision to maintain the “status quo”.
13. This was the first major attempt by the SPLM aristocracy to undermine Dr. Riek Machar and it would not be the last. From then on, the traditional elite that hijacked the people’s movement, have had no other agenda except undermining Dr. Riek Machar and excluding him from the politics of South Sudan. The SPLM aristocracy has put their personal hatred for Dr. Riek Machar above the national interest, destroying our country in the process.
14. The traditional elites have through their personal hatred of Dr. Riek Machar, turned him into a symbol of inter-communal violence in our country and a political mythology has been developed and used to arouse tribal sentiments in our people. This is all to cover up the failure of the SPLM, who are using the people’s love and respect of Dr. John Garang to appear as if they are the custodians of the legacy of his leadership – when they have in fact abandoned the vision. This has given them a free ride to loot our national resources without question.
15. The people of South Sudan should not be moved by the regime’s propaganda, which tries to portray Dr. Riek Machar as a mortal enemy of late Dr. John. I would like to remind the readers that by the time of Dr. John’s demise, it had been four years of consolidating the unity between the Nasir faction and the Torit faction. This unity was a major contributor to the success of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which brought independence.
16. On the other hand, it had barely been eleven months between the mutiny of President Salva Kiir (2004) and the demise of Dr. John Garang (2005). What happened after is history.
17. The failure of the SPLM is not something I am making up; it was declared by the members of the SPLM at the grassroots level. The SPLM Political Bureau (PB) dispatched its members to the states (2012) with the mission of thanking our people for the central role they played in the success of the liberation struggle. The members of the SPLM PB were instead met with the dissatisfaction of the people, who told them that the movement had “lost vision and direction” and had failed to deliver the promises of the liberation struggle.
18. A section of leaders of the SPLM PB who had been sacked also declared on December 6, 2013 that the movement had failed, giving the Chairman an ultimatum to embrace reforms.
19. Even the US Special Envoy, Donald Booth, (2014) stated: “this conflict is the product of a failure by those who helped to deliver South Sudan its independence, not least among them, the dominant political party that controls the government, the SPLM”, he went on to say: “the focus cannot only be on who occupies the Presidential Palace but on what needs to be done to put South Sudan on the path to peace and prosperity”.
20. The people of South Sudan should not be bamboozled by the rush of the SPLM aristocracy to unite their ranks, it is part of their tactics to isolate the SPLM (IO), which is a political force that threatens to rearrange the power relationships in our country, established since the days of the slave trade.
21. The state failure and the collapse of our economy are now beyond the scope of SPLM reunification, which is an exclusive process. We should instead be thinking of how to expand the agreement in order to bring on board other revolutionary forces in the country who have been left out by the negotiated settlement. The warring parties have negotiated an agreement which addresses the failure of state, as well as the reforms for which the SPLM leaders gave President Salva Kiir an ultimatum. The fact that the security arrangements have not yet been implemented and people are rushing for SPLM reunification, which is being imposed when it should be voluntary, is a clear indication that the traditional elite are colluding to undermine the reform agenda. There is no reform agenda for the nation contained in the SPLM reunification, only a return to the status quo, which is untenable. This is reminiscent of what journalist, Nhial Bol, once described when he stated: “the SPLM kills us when they break up and they loot our resources when they make up”.
The Struggle Continues!
Cpt. Mabior Garang de Mabior
22/02/2019 – 15:05 Hrs.