Nuer Myths and Illusions in the Political Spectrum in the Republic of South Sudan, and under what conditions is the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition is a failing Rebellion?
As I said, I have a Master Degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, I have never seen a weak rebellion like the SPLM/IO in comparison to most of the rebellions I study in my school years. When I was doing my master degree, I spent alot of times reading about civil wars, insurgencies, querrila warefares, and terrorism across the globe.
I would compare SPLM/IO to UNITA in Angola and the Timil Rebels in Sra Lanka. These two rebels were so weak that they were crash by their adversaries to the point that their chair_men were either killed or captured at the end. For instance, in the case of Angola, Dr. Simbi, the Chairman of the UNITA was eventually assassinated and the same for Timil Rebels in Sra Lanka.
I will not go into detail talking about how weak these rebels groups were because it is not the intention of this piece of writing. Instead, I will like to spend more time talking about the weakness of the SPLM/IO and particularly it’s leader, Dr. Riek Machar.
First, one of the reasons why SPLM_in_Opposition is a failing organization is because it lacks clear vision, objectives, cause, and strategic planning on how to fight the war. Vision is a positive out come of what one want to achieve in a period of time.
This can be in a short or a long period of time. What does SPLM/IO want to achieve? This question is not clear from the leader himself. If you ask Dr.Riek, what is his vision as the sole leader of SPLM/IO, he cannot and does not give a concrete answer.
One time, he was interviewed by Stephen Sucker, the BBC Hard Talk show who asked what he was Fighting for, Dr. Riek gave the follower answer that he was Fighting for ‘corruption.’ I was very annoyed after he gave that answer. I am going to ask all ‘ naath’ people. Are we fighting to stop corruption in South Sudan? Should we be fighting to stop corruption in South Sudan? Why should only Nuer people be the ones to sacrifice their mothers, sisters, and daughters to stop corruption in South Sudan?
It does not make sense at all to me and to many Nuer. If the war is limited to fighting corruption in South Sudan, then, those Nuer who remain in the government side cannot be blame as ‘Nuer Weew’ because people would then divide themselves along whether there is corruption or not. Those who think that there is corruption in South Sudan and think that it got be stop, would then be sympathetic to join SPLM/IO.
Therefore, there would be every tribe in the SPLM/IO and in the side of the government. However, this is not case. Although Dr.Riek thinks that he was fighting for corruption or think that he should be fighting for corruption, Wasakas do not see that way. The Wasakas see this war as a war between Nuer and them. Although the Wasakas do not say this in public or in principle, in practice they target the Nuer ethnic group or any tribes that sympathy with SPLM/IO. Thus, what is going on in South Sudan is a tribal warefare. It is tribal warefare because Wasakas target people based on their ethnic background.
That is the reality Dr. Riek need to take into account in his approach to the conflict in South Sudan. The conflict has a tribal tendecy, and will need a tribal solution.
Again, sometimes, the leadership in the
SPLM/IO coin the conflict as a result of the SPLM disintergration. This is also not logical. If this is SPLM war, why was genocide carried out against the Nuer in December, 2013? It is not true that the conflict in South Sudan was caused by the SPLM disintegration.
The Wasakas had already planned to marginalized the Nuer in the system and destroy their society. As a result of this plan against the Nuer people, grievances built up among the Nuer dating back to 2005. Nuer started questioning the Wasakas plan and there was already a resentment build even before 2013 across the globe. Nuer started saying that it was not acceptable to live under injustice system that marginalize the Nuer people.
Therefore, I would argue that even if the SPLM did not disintegrate or whether there was no corruption in South Sudan, the Nuer still would have fought against the Wasakas injustice system. It was just a matter of time. Therefore, whether Dr.Riek was chased out of Juba or not, there would still have been a conflict against the Wasakas injustice system by the Nuer people. This is a fact. Let us not pretend as if there was no problem in South Sudan before SPLM disintegrated.
The Nuer would have not gone too long living under the Wasakas injustice institutional system. The Nuer would have Rebelled whether Dr. Riek was with government or not. In fact, there were already some Nuer in the bush for instance, Mathew Puljang, who did not like the Wasakas government before 2013. That is a fact. Therefore, if one were to argue that if the Wasakas did not go on rampage in Juba killing Nuer people, no one would have gone after Dr.Riek. I disagree with that argument. Every Nuer was feeling resentment and grievance and were ready even before 2013 for any resistance against the Wasakas injustice system.
The problem, the Nuer were saying these things in public without planning. This allows the Wasakas to train Matiang Ayor in Pantit in Bhar_el_Ghazel. Thus, the conflict in South Sudan is not a SPLM war or war over corruption as Dr. Riek Machar claim.
In addition to why SPLM in Opposition is a very weak Rebellion, there is no clear objectives to achieve the vision and the cause of the war is not clear. A cause is a word that has the power to bring about a change. If you talk to many Nuer who support the SPLM/IO and ask them why they are fighting, they say that they are fighting because the Wasakas committed genocide on the Nuer people in Juba in 2013.
This is very shallow answer. This cannot be the reason at the world stage in order to be considered as legitimate Rebellion by those who might want to support the cause if the cause was clear. There has to be a political reason for the war which is clear to outsiders who might sympathesize with the cause by pledging political, financial, and military support.
But if one were to go to a foriegn country as a diplomatic person to lobby for guns and financial support, if one were to be ask why SPLM/IO is fighting, and say that because there were some Nuer genocided in Juba, no foriegn government can support that cause. It is very shallow and minor to foriegners and foriegn governments. This is the reason SPLM/IO has been side line in the region and internationally. The cause must be very political. For instance, SPLM/IO would made it clear that it is fighting to install a democratic government by destroying the current status quo through a regime change.
If SPLM/IO had called for a regime change from day one, the war would have already ended because SPLM/IO would have gotten support from countries who are not friends to the Wasakas government.
In addition to lack of clear vision, objectives, cause, mobolization strategy, training, search for diplomatic support, there are also no clear strategic planning on how to fight the war. This is because of lack of leadership qualities from Dr.Riek himself. Dr. Riek does not have the following leadership qualities, and that is why he fails all the times in managing human beings.
There are so many occasions that people can point too where Dr.Riek Machar did not demonstrate leadership qualities for instance, when he defected in 1991, during Kharoum Peace Agreement (KPA), when reunited with SPLM in 2002 going alone, division in Pagak, division in 2016, and now so many Nuer politician are always leaving him in numbers. Why? There must be something wrong with Dr.Riek Machar. As I said earlier that Dr. Riek Machar is not leader, he does not have the following leadership qualities;
Leadership qualities Dr.Riek Machar does not posses;
1. Dr. Riek Machar is not a public speaker
2. Organizational. He does not know how to organize human beings because he is not a political scientist. He is an engineer by education background. If he understands human beings, he would not be in the situation he is in today. He also does not understand party politics. If he had understood party politics which he does not, he would not have not tried in 2013 to forced himself into the SPLM. Once he fell out with the SPLM in 2013, he would have formed his political party and many people including the Wasakas would have joined his party. That is what I learned in political science. If one fell out with a political party, one would resign and join another party or form his her own party. That is what politics is. Dr. Riek Machar is to be blame for forcing himself into SPLM.
3. Dr. Riek Machar is not flexible. He spend more times in foriegn countries and does not go on the ground to connect with the people. You cannot fight a war and you spend most of your time sleeping in hotels in Sudan, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, and other countries. Also, people need to see you in military uniform to see that you are very serious. You cannot be in suit 24 hours. Which rebel leader in the world is in suit?
4. Dr.Riek Machar is not a good listener.
5. He does not understand people and
had no advisers
6. He is not tough.
7. He is not a risk taker.
8. He is not influential.
9. He is inspirational.
10. He is not courageous.
11. He is not an administrator.
12. He is not decision maker.
13. He is directive.
This lack of leadership qualities in Dr. Riek Machar is what is contributing to why he always fail in everything he does with examplesI said earlier.
Nuer Myths and Illusions contributing to why SPLM/IO is a failing Rebellion.
1. The Nuer people think that they are brave people and any support from outside is seen as sign of an embrassment. This is wrong perception.
2. God will come downvto save them from their problem. This is also wrong. No one will come to save the Nuer people. They will have to do it themselves.
3. Dr.Riek Machar is the only person who will save them.
4. The cause of the conflict was because the Wasakas killed Nuer in 2013.
5. Everything happening to them has been prophecized by Ngundeng.
6. The Nuer believe that the Wasakas are cowards by nature. This is not true. No one is coward by nature. This myth allows Nuer to ingnore the activities of the Wasakas. For instance, Mathiang Ayor were put under military training in Pantit in early 2011, and many Nuer ingnored that.
7. The Nuer believe within the SPLM/IO political arena that there must be representation by sub_tribes, clans, and sub_clans. That is how Gatwich Dual became Chief of Staffs of SPLA/IO. You cannot appoint people to key positions along the clan lines. People can be appointed based on their abilities and experience and not because someone comes from the majority.
8. There is a believe within the Nuer that there is a court where people Will be held accountable. This constraints their behaviors against the Wasakas. This is the reason why Dr.Riek Machar fear to go the International Criminal Course(ICC) to death. This is a myth. There is no court where people will be held accountable. Look the Wasakas, they committed genocide on our people and no one coming to hold them accountable. It is us who will hold the Wasakas accountable.
9. The Nuer think that is important to put the interest of South Sudan first. This is also a myth. Nuer should put their interest first. We should not care about a country where we do not benefit. The Wasakas are in charge of South Sudan, but they do not care about the country. The Wasakas are pursuing their own interests in the expense of other tribes. They are looting the country. Good luck.
By: Lago Gatjal Riaka
Former Red Army
Trained in Dima, Ethiopia (1991)