A FAILED STATE: IS IT A TRUE DESCRIPTION OF LAKES STATE?
By Daniel Juol Nhomngek
July 23-2014 (Nyamilepedia) — In this article, I will explain why I consider Lakes State to be a failed States in South Sudan. In Lakes for instance, people have completely lost trust in the government as Lakes State authorities have turned state into scavenges’ ground for wealth, which further turns the condition of employment akin to that of slavery and forced labor. When greed, illiteracy and bad governance converge at a certain point, the whole country can be thrown into hell on earth. Competing interests will overrule commonsense and good judgment from authorities who instead will abuse. Authorities that lead the nation with the desire to fulfill their personal interest will always cause downfall of the nation. Nation is created by the people and it is in the interest of the people to be served by leaders that they put in charge of that nation. Where such leaders become liabilities to the people then they are supposed to be discarded from power and then thrown into the dustbin of history.
The former president of Libya is a good example of such leaders who are thrown into dustbin of history. Former President of Libya has now been forgotten and if people ever remember him, he is always remembered on the side of bad governance which in many cases bring with it bitter memories created by his style of leadership. Leadership which uses ignorance of the people to its advantage is a type of leadership that must be forgotten in history. The foregoing description exactly fits Lakes State. The leadership in Lakes State is using people of Lakes State as its own slaves. The leadership in Lakes has turned the whole State into personal assets and hold citizens in captivity, servitude, forced labour, slavery and slave trade. It should however be understood that when we talk of slave trade and slavery in this context, we are not talking about it in a conventionally way as it is understood. Slave trade and slavery in this context should be understood in the sense that when citizens are coerced into accepting unlawful and unbearable conditions which impair the enjoyment of their human rights just for one person to reap the benefits out of the suffering, then such a situation can constitute a modern slavery and slave trade. Looking at the definition of slavery as I have given in the above paragraph, it can easily be concluded that the government of Lakes State has subjected its citizens to slavery, servitude and slave trade because people of Lakes State no longer enjoy their economic freedom, human rights and personal liberties.
The Lakes State government has robbed its own citizens of all their rights, specifically, the right to property, life and health. It is very disappointing to see people being treated like commodities because the government’s interest in Lakes State is to ensure that people pay as much money as they can. Hence, losing a traditional role of the government; the traditional role of the government is to protect citizens from violation of their rights while making all attempts to improve their welfare. In Lakes State, the reverse is true.
People are the ones being forced to improve the welfare of the leaders and the government. Therefore, the question becomes: who is supposed to serve who? Leaders to serve citizens or citizens to be served by the leaders? In fact, citizens or people are supposed to be served by leaders, however, in Lakes State leadership is so much materialistic to the extent that it does not see anything good in the citizens but only seeing citizens as source of income to leadership hence making all efforts to deplete little energy that people have for their own benefits. As a result, citizens of Lakes State are forced to work in dismal terms and conditions, which are akin to slavery. In actual sense, what the world needs to clearly understand is that Lakes State government does not have any preference for its citizens. Instead, it is making all desperate attempts to make money out of the people from nowhere, hence turning citizens into slaves within their country.
Lakes State citizens are citizens of South Sudan and must not be treated like slaves in their own country just to satisfy interest of the few cliques in the SPLM Government in Lakes State. Those few cliques in the SPLM government in Lakes State appear to use the SPLM government to achieve a certain mission and ambition. The way leadership is ruthlessly seeking for wealth in Lakes State explains the mission I have mentioned above. The mission is to become stingy rich and in order to become rich as such; they must exploit citizens as much as they can. Such a method of acquiring wealth through ends justifies the means is very dangerous because people suffer eternally from poverty as leaders struggle to build personal wealth and empire through practicing forced labor on citizens, hence, exploiting them to the maximum. The government of Lakes State exploits citizens because it has lost morals. Some of its officials do not have any feeling for the poor children, orphans and war disabled. The lack of feelings for the poor and disabled is counter liberation principles and counterproductive to the SPLM vision of taking towns to people.
The way women, children, war victims, disabled and cattle keepers are suffering today in Lakes State indicates that Lakes State government has lost vision of nation building, and instead, it has become a state run on principles of self-help. This begs another question which is relevant to this discussion: Are the people of Lakes State sacrificial lambs sacrificed for the president to please power hungry generals who do not feel ashamed even when they have failed to manage the state? The above question reminds me the debate of whether South Sudan is a failed nation or not. the issue in this article is whether the description given on a failed state suit in the scenario of Lakes State. The ways things are in Lakes State may explain that Lakes State is a failed state. A failed state according to Wikipedia is a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government.
Furthermore, according to the Fund for Peace, which is often used to characterize a failed state with the following characteristics: loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein; erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions; inability to provide public services; inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community Many of the characteristics of a failed State as listed in the above paragraph such as loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein; erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions; inability to provide public services all fit in description of Lakes State. In Lakes State, there is no rule of law, killings are order of the day, authority has lost legitimacy and respect of the people, no respect for human values, and cattle raid is rampant. Despite, the existence of all these ugly situations the major concerns of leadership is how to accumulate wealth yet the president does not take an action to save the people of Lakes State.
The reason why the President does not want to take an action in order to save people of Lakes State is that he has already formed a prejudice that people of Lakes State are not good and therefore he has sold them for the benefits of his generals. The people of Lakes State are sold alive as slaves for the president to maintain his loyal friends in power in order to control any other rebellion in Lakes caused by the current leaders if they are removed. Such an attitude should be of a great concern to all South Sudanese. It is a bad sign for South Sudan if all people removed from their posts in the government always rebel against the government then there is great problem in South Sudan. The root of the suffering of the people of Lakes State is in the fear of the president to lose his generals who may rebel against the president if he removes them. Hence, leaving citizens of Lakes State in bad governance, abject poverty, lawless, unceasing killings and permanent and legalized thief carried out in daylight by some of the Lakes State authorities. As I have already mentioned above, some of the Lakes State authorities are morally corrupted, insensitive, inconsiderate and unpatriotic.
They only know how to grab resources of citizens in order to build personal mansions and wealth. It is unthinkable! In fact, the way Lakes State authorities are seeking for wealth. It is amoral in itself. It is unthinkable and unbecoming of Lakes State authorities to legalize theft and corruption. It is sad and heart breaking to see government chosen by the people instead becoming anti-people. How can a normal Government rob its citizens of their national wealth just to build a skyscraper and personal tombs in a place like Lakes State? In fact, in Lakes State, the governor has built a personal skyscraper and tombs in his home village, which has cost the state millions of dollars while citizens, especially the poor, widows, orphans and disabled soldiers are wallowing in miasmas of the sea of abject poverty. Is it logical? It is absolute wrong. The whole blame goes back to the President who adamantly refuses all appeal to remove the governor and come up with the correct solution of Lakes State. Correct solution of Lakes State is neither force nor democracy but there is a need to restore rule of law and justice that has been eroded in Lakes. The president has completely failed the people of Lakes State. Can he claim any credit from good deeds he has done to Lakes State? Of course not.
Building hospitals or roads is not what people of Lakes State want. Who will use such facilities if the people in Lakes State exterminate each?. What people of Lakes need are law and order, protection of personal property, life and human dignity. These things are absent in Lakes State as things have gone from bad to worse. The blame for the occurrence of all these problems cannot be placed on citizens of Lakes State but on the President of South Sudan and the Governor of Lakes State. What is destroying Lakes State is not that leadership in South Sudan and in particular, Lakes State is weak, but because they do not have political will to restore rule of law in Lakes State. The point is that no matter how weak the leader is, a leader cannot be weak to the extent of allowing citizens to be killed even within the towns. The whole explanation of what is happening in Lakes State is that leadership wants to benefit at the expenses of the poor citizens of Lakes State. The government in Lakes State is both corrupt administratively and morally. It is the type of government that loathes the rule of law since it is only through confusion created by the government itself in disregarding the rule of law where it benefits from. The lack of the respect of the rule of law by Lakes State authority is the root cause of Lakes State problems. In order to briefly explain the point I have made above, I beg readers to digress from this topic a little. Lakes State problems are not hard to solve as many view them; they are simple and the only needs indigenous solutions because they are indigenous problems.
What makes them appear hard is the lack of political will from authorities both in Juba and Lakes State to solve them because leaders themselves have the same mind with those who create them. They have narrowed mind and the leadership without open mind is very dangerous to the nation. As I have stated in the above paragraphs that problems of Lakes State need the solution from indigenous approach, it is important to out that the major solution to Lakes State problem is to overhaul the whole system of government, then appoint the interim government with appropriate leaders whose work is to restore the rule of law in order to get some resemblance of peace. After that, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) should be established. The TRC is a form of transition justice which deals with restorative aspect of justice. The TRC will deal with all crimes committed in Lakes State before and after the independence of South Sudan.
The TRC will help to restore trust of Lakes State citizens in the government and brings peace among them and the respect of the rule of law and order, which are absent in Lakes State today. As soon as the peace is restored among the people of Lakes State, the State government should institute the commission of inquiry to investigate all root causes of the problems of Lakes State before and after independence and then the State government has to act on the findings of the commission of inquiry accordingly. After that, the cattle keepers should not be disarmed but should instead be called upon to write their own law on gun control, elopement of girls, relationship and marriages.
As soon as they have come up with the law under the guidance of advocates, the role of State Government is to adopt such a law and strictly enforce it with integrity, impartiality and honesty. For instance, in case where such law carries a provision that sanctions a death penalty, then the role of Lakes State authorities is not to change or question it but to enforce it in accordance with its procedures as provided in it. In addition, the payment of cows as a compensation for those killed (sometimes called apuk) should be abolished because it is one of the things that is exacerbating and aggravating crisis in Lakes.
These are simple but effective solutions to Lakes State problems. Coming back to the main topic under discussion, many people with shallow thinking have been viewing the cause of the problems in Lakes State to be guns, people, cows and tribes but none of these to my understanding is the cause of Lakes State problems. The major cause of Lakes State problems is the failure by the government to stick to the rule of law. For instance, some of the government officials in Lakes State are in themselves worse than cattle keepers. They are cattle raiders behind law enforcement. If one were to carry out the research in relation to what is happening Lakes State, I am sure, one of such a person’s findings would be that some of the officials in Lakes State government are complacent in Lakes State crisis.
As it has been reported several times, many of government authorities instigate tribal clashes among the people of Lakes State in order to give them a chance to negatively portray the governor and also to rob citizens of their cows in the pretext of restoring law and order. For instance, there are many instances where some of the commissioners in Lakes State are accused of being implicit in cattle raids. Some of the Commissioners are accused as such because they do not intervene when they hear that youth have gone to raid cattle in other states or counties but as soon as the youth have come back with cows, they demand their share from youth indirectly.
They demand their share indirectly in a way that when cows are raided by youth such commissioners go on tracking down cows that were raided not because they want to return them to the true owners but with the aim of getting their shares. Such action of conducting a raid within a raid indicates that greed has invaded Lakes State Government, which turned the government into robotic, insensitive and corrupt machinery that does not even have a heart for the citizens of Lakes State. In other words, the government of Lakes State is being run on robbery and stealing. Insensitivity in Lakes State government has thrown the whole States into slave trade centre where human rights no longer exist. For instance, the violation of the right to employment is order of the day in Lakes State.
In the year 2013, right to employment of the employees and citizens of Lakes State was violated when the governor gave illegal orders that resulted into the suspension of more than four hundred employees with no clear reason. However, as I discovered later, the reason for suspension of such a big number of the employees was a calculated move intended to give governor a room to get money to build his own tombs and a house in his village. The money of the employees that were suspended by Governor was used by governor in building personal skyscraper and tombs of himself and his mother in Rumbek East.
An action is a deplorable given the current conditions in Lakes State. Apart from suspension of the employees as stated above, many individuals have been dismissed from works by the governor without any valid reasons. For instance, Military Governor Matur has disregarded the rule of law completely. He is above the law since he can dismiss any person from work at his whim as he has been doing; he dismisses a person from work without any written document detailing the reasons for such a person’s dismissal. It is a peculiar form of dismissal. I have never come across oral dismissal of government employees in a country which claims to be governed by law. It beats the understanding of a reasonable person to see such things happening yet the President is just there watching helplessly. The oral dismissal does not exist anywhere in all civilized nations except Lakes State which is being run on primordial principles. People without care, are they people at all? This is the true description of people of Lakes State.
The government of Lakes State is the type of the government that civilized nations with civilized people cannot accept to rule them. In fact, the President is lucky enough to have people of Lakes State who are Dinka, if they were any other tribes in South Sudan, they would have claimed and fought for their independence or for a greater autonomy. There is no any different between problems faced by South Sudanese in Lakes State today and those that were faced by South Sudanese under Khartoum regimes from 1956-2005. Drawing such similarity only brings tears and regrettable thoughts to one’s mind not because of having got our independence but because of having the type of the self-centered government in Lakes State today.
It is regrettable to see the government who hypocritically claimed to have fought for the liberation of the people turning around to oppress and exploit its citizens. What is happening in Lakes State today is worse than what colonial masters were doing to Africans. At least, colonial masters had an agendum of transforming Africans whom they considered barbaric and backward. However, what is happening is Lakes State is unprecedented. It is senseless and a greed driven event. It is in actual sense like what was happening in New World or Americas during the Transatlantic Trade. During Transatlantic Trade people were used as machines in the production of raw materials for the Whiteman.
In the same way, the Lakes State government is using people of Lakes State as producing machines for benefit of the government officials starting from the governor and this is why State government is quick to suspend anybody who it deems to be contrary to its interest. The interest of Lakes State government is not to please and serve people of Lakes State but to please the president by trying by all means to silence any dissenting voice or character in order to show to the president that he is being loved by the people of Lakes State. For instance, the recent incidence that occurred after President Kiir visited Lakes State, and which prompted me to write this Article is of interest and needs to be known by the world. When the President visited Lakes State in this Month (July, 2014), the Governor issued orders that all the employees of the government should go out to welcome the President who was going to land in Rumbek Airport from Juba. However, when some of the employees in public service who were about forty out of ninety eight employees for one reason or another did not make it to the Airport to welcome the president, their salaries were cut.
The reason given for cutting their salaries was not convincing. The reason for cutting their pay as given was that they did not go out to welcome the President and by implication were considered to be against the president and the government of South Sudan. Is that a logical reason? Nonsensical! Any country that respects the rule of law would never temper with the rights of its citizens. The human to employment is human rights and is only realized when the terms and conditions of employment are respected. The right of employment can only be violated through lawful means described by law. There is no any rule governing the welcoming of the President. In civilized country, people have freedom to choose either to welcome the president or not. The coming of the president should be a burden to the people as it is the case in Lakes State. In Lakes State, for instance, whenever, the president comes for a visit to Lakes State all businesses are closed and all people are forced to go out and welcome the president. I have never, in this world seen or heard of any nation going out to welcome the president. The way governor of Lakes State treats people whenever the president comes tell exactly the understanding of the leadership by the governor of Lakes State. To the governor of Lakes, presidency is something outside people’s reach and must be worshipped like God.
It further shows that the government of Lakes State is no longer government people but the government of the president and a governor. Nonsensical! Forcing people to go out to welcome the president was done in bad faith and show the failure of the Lakes State government. It was done in bad faith because the underlying intention was to show to the President that the people of Lakes State love him, which is repugnant. It is hypocritical, deceptive, immoral and wrong. It is contrary to the rights of South Sudanese citizens guaranteed under the 2011 Transitional Constitution. It amounts to forced labor, slavery and slave trade, which are also prohibited by the Transitional Constitution. Article 13 (1) and (2) of the 2011Transitional Constitution provides that slavery and slave trade in all form are prohibited and that no person shall be held in slavery or servitude.
In addition, the Transitional Constitution provides that no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labor except as a penalty upon conviction by a competent court of law. Forcing citizens to welcome the president tantamount to forced labor because it is not stipulated anywhere in the law of South Sudan that it is the duty of all citizens to welcome the president. The action was only intended to please the president and tell him that people of Lakes State love him. In addition, it was only intended for the benefit of the Governor in a way that the president would be dubbed into believing that the role of the governor in Lakes State is great and it has helped to improve the image of the SPLM; hence, as a result the president keeps the governor in Lakes State indefinitely. What the President of South Sudan and the governor of Lakes State should understand is that people of Lakes State no longer love the SPLM government although they do not have any intention to rebel against it. Therefore, it is the waste of time by the governor of Lakes State to forge love of the people of Lakes State for the President of South Sudan.
Loving the president by citizens is the act of patriotism, which is only undertaken by the people willingly and they are not forced into doing it because forcing them to love the President or the country can change the meaning of patriotism and instead becomes slavery. Such action is an attempt by a failed leadership. Therefore, the action of the state authorities to order pay cut for forty eight public service employees is illegal and the authorities have violated the South Sudanese law. There is no law anywhere in this world, and in particular in South Sudan, that makes the failure to welcome the President illegal.
I think the logic behind the pay cut was not that they employees in public service had refused to welcome the President but it was just a pretext used by the State Authorities to get enough money to build their personal projects which have been left unfinished due to shortage of money. The authorities’ desire to exploit citizens in Lakes State has been persistently coming to the fore. For example, in 2013, the authorities in Lakes State increased taxes in which even taxi drivers were forced to pay twenty five pounds on every taxi, which by implication increased transport costs on poor citizens of Lakes State.
In addition, the greed by Lakes State authorities has made them disregard the rule of law that governs Lakes State tax system. For instance, Lakes State governor and his deputy used to go to the Market to collect taxes themselves due to suspicion that tax collectors were cheating them. Such greed is bad and immoral of any authority. In summary, the description of failed state as explained in this article fits the conditions of Lakes State and therefore Lakes State can be described as a failed state run by a failed government.
The Author is a Lawyer and a concern Lakes State citizen and he can be reached through the following contacts: +256783579256; firstname.lastname@example.org