It is a historical fact that no citizens of South Sudan has ever voted their leaders in an election. The last time they did so in a national election was when they were Sudanese (2010).
For 8 years now, which could be equated to two presidential terms in some democratic countries like USA, the mandate of the president, governors, senators (Council of State) and members of parliaments both at the national and state levels have been extended through peace process, decrees or other means.
This seems to have not gone well with a section of Bari members in the diasporas and at home. In an open letter addressed to their Jubek State governor, Gen. Augustine Jadalla Wani, dated 15 August 2019, the concerned petitioners wrote, in a complaint about their land “being grabbed”, the following statement.
“Fifthly – We also note that you and the President are both unelected. The President who was never elected as President of South Sudan appointed you as Governor of Jubek State without an election. Thus, both of you don’t have the mandate of the people to take decisions on their behalf in matters related to land distribution.”
To those beneficiaries of the recent land allocations, the vigilantes warn,
“As for those who have started queuing to get their promised plots, we would say; not so fast. They shouldn’t rush into building what you gave or about to provide for them. The final say which belongs to the Bari people is far away.”
The group also cautioned the governor not to facilitate nepotism as he recently appointed the president’s nephew as deputy mayor of Juba in order to implement this lands grabbing project in the name of awarding plots to heroes/heroines and the martyrs, excluding such beneficiaries from the city’s host community.
In addition, the letter repeats the call for the relocation of the capital city to Ramciel as agreed in 2011.
Meanwhile, you may go through the complete petition here, which was extended to Aftaboss editors.
OPEN LETTER TO LT GEN AUGUSTINO JADALLA WANI, GOVERNOR OF JUBEK STATE,
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN.
We, the undersigned, would like to extend our sincere greetings to you and all the members of the State Government and Assembly. Indeed, we commend all the hard-working officials in the State Government who are doing whatever in their capacity to serve the people of Jubek State.
To begin with, we are a group of concerned citizens from all corners of Jubek State brought together by our collective concerns regarding the current events and developments in our State. As you are aware, the recent clashes between government troops and the opposition forces had led to the displacement of our communities and the worsening of the humanitarian situation in the affected parts of the State. It adds to the previous population displacements under similar circumstances. But now the people are very much worried following your recent decision to distribute land to SPLM/SPLA heroes, heroines, and martyrs. They wonder, where would that land come from if it’s not another move to take land from the local communities.
We want to express our grave concerns regarding your decision based on the following facts:
Firstly – As you very well know, the land issue has reached a crisis stage due to the expansion of Juba city area. The increase in city territory was necessary at the early stages of the establishment of the government of South Sudan to accommodate the massive influx of citizens from other parts of the country and foreigners as well. But that process was marred by corruption and exploitation. The top government officials and army Generals found it a means to dispossess the local community from their ancestral land through coercion and intimidation, which often occur at gunpoint. As a result, the Bari lost some of their villages that used to be part of Juba suburb. With that, they lost their farms, cattle (stolen by armed pastoralists), and other means of subsistence. The Kamiru village incident in early March 2012, is one of the examples of the injustices carried out against the local community.
The Bari community is the most welcoming and embracing of their fellow citizens and foreign nationals in the country. When the Dinka Bor were driven out of their homes by floods in the early sixties of the past century, we embraced them as fellow countrymen. Similarly, the Bari welcomed the Congolese refugees who escaped the war in their country during that decade. They never harassed or attacked these communities. Indeed they were exemplary in showing tolerance to diversity. But that friendly nature had been taken advantage of, and as a result, the Bari lost a significant amount of land to powerful government officials and high ranking SPLA/SSPDF officers. Furthermore, some of their properties were encroached upon by armed pastoralist. At present, there’s hardly any land left to be given without dispossessing the locals of what they inherited from their ancestors.
Secondly – Around the world, the remains of heroes, heroines and martyrs are usually returned to their communities and places of origin. If they don’t have homes there – then the government will allocate plots to be built for them, all in their cities, towns, or villages of origin. It’s a sort of pride for the local community to have their fallen sons and daughters final destination on earth within the community. In many cases, those homes would end up being transformed into museums in their memory by their respective communities.
It’s, therefore, more appropriate for the heroes, heroines, and martyrs to be awarded pieces of land in their respective States. Juba should not exclusively have the honour of having the homes of all the esteemed and distinguished people in South Sudan. Each State should have the honour of having the homes of its heroes, heroines, and martyrs.
But if it’s a case of giving them pieces of land in the capital, then Juba is not the right place. As you may recall, the community has consistently demanded the relocation of the capital of South Sudan from Juba to anywhere else in the country. Our great community leader, late Dr Philip Tongun, said it clearly over the SSTV – “Juba has always been the seat of the capital of South Sudan. The Bari people should not be the only community to have the privilege of housing the capital. It’s time for other communities to have that privilege”.
The Bari community remained steadfast behind its demand for the capital to be moved out of Juba. A resolution was passed on 04/02/2011, in a meeting of the Council of Ministers chaired by President Kiir, to relocate the capital from Juba to Ramchiel. The Bari community position hasn’t changed regarding this matter. Hence, the heroes, heroines, and martyrs should be allocated plots in Ramchiel, which is the new capital of South Sudan.
Thirdly – There’s an issue about the criteria you adopted for allocation of the plots. Why is it confined to the SPLA/SSPDF heroes, heroines, and martyrs families while excluding the families of the Anyanya heroes, heroines and martyrs? Furthermore, why did you omit our martyrs in1992 who were your colleagues in rebellion but couldn’t make it to the SPLA lines? We all know what happened to them as they were brutally massacred by the Khartoum regime of deposed President Omar Al Bashir.
The community has no amnesia regarding SPLA atrocities and their sons who were made to disappear through the collaboration between the regime and a neighbouring government? The case of our brave leaders; Justice Peter Abdul Rahman Sule and General Elias Lino Jada is not and shall not be forgotten. The Bari community sees your decision as another attempt to grab their land but this time through the back door. The scheme seems to be geared towards facilitating Bariland acquisition by members of the President’s ethnic group, clan and family. The fact that you appointed the President’s nephew illegally as Deputy Mayor of Juba speaks volumes about the plot.
Fourthly- We are well aware of our rights that are enshrined in the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 ( TCSS 2011 amended 2015). It stipulates that the land belongs to the communities. Decisions by the President, the Governor or any other authority to allocate land without consent from the relevant population; would necessarily go against the Constitution. Such undertakings are thus deemed illegal and non-binding. We will regard them as nothing but land grabbing.
Fifthly – We also note that you and the President are both unelected. The President who was never elected as President of South Sudan appointed you as Governor of Jubek State without an election. Thus, both of you don’t have the mandate of the people to take decisions on their behalf in matters related to land distribution. It’s only the Bari community that has got the right of dealing with issues related to their God-given land.
Your move could be likened to giving something that you don’t own to a third party without the consent of the owner. Of course, in the current circumstances in our country where there’s no law and order or freedom of speech, your decision could materialise. The Bari community can’t stop you or the President right now. But we do know there’s time for everything. Neither President Kiir nor yourself will live to eternity. But the Bari community would be there long after both of you have gone.
We are appealing to you as a Bari beloved son and one of our renowned heroes to rethink this unpopular undertaking. We want you to think about your legacy which until now remains immaculate and unscathed. Think of the damage that could be inflicted on your celebrated name by such a move. You need to abandon this decision, which has angered the overwhelming majority of the Bari people.
As for those who have started queuing to get their promised plots, we would say; not so fast. They shouldn’t rush into building what you gave or about to provide for them. The final say which belongs to the Bari people is far away. Otherwise, they would be constructing their houses not on rocks but on moving sands. The Bari community will never recognise any plots acquired without its consent.
We remain hopeful that you would heed our advice and rescind what you had intended to do. We stand ready to work with you and render our help in any endeavour set for the betterment of the lives of our people.
Thank you and may God bless you.
Signed: Concerned citizens of Jubek State
1. Dr Lako Jada Kwajok UK
2. Baba Wani Sudan
3. Alfred Lado Egyptf
4. Edward Loro USA
5. Swaka Lo Mariah
6. David Wani Uganda
7. Jada Lo Lako
8. Dr Wani Rondyang
9. Jildo Gore UK