By Deng Vanang
May 25, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— A lot of kudos goes to the SPLA. Reason, having been ranked the 18th among eighteen most powerful armies on the continent by Global Firepower.com, GFP.
Despite trialing last, the rating is such a great feat for the national army that has weathered several storms since its mutation from guerrilla to an autonomous regional army and eventually the national defense force in 2011.
The good news is a finger licking cake coming on the eve of its 33rd birth day. Although, the label remains a consolation at best for the army that is capable of garnering one of the top five, if not number one, were it not the opportunities it has wasted.
South Sudan being immensely rich and graciously blessed with most warlike tribes are the wasted opportunities responsible for dimming once SPLA’s bright star.
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And which are equally the same reasons making the rating more indicative of an army that is punching below its weight, apart from the irreconcilable contradictions that string along.
Post-liberation SPLA has been increasingly growing weaker and weaker than the rebel SPLA. Which is why during the heady days of civil war in 2014 it was literally levelled to the ground by Nuer villagers, the white army and at worst armed with personal light weapons.
Out of the enraged villagers’ devouring jaws, the alleged powerful army was bailed by poorly paid but well equipped Uganda ’s UPDF rated at 16th by the same GFP.
Sudan army which ranked 8th had been given a bloody nose by its rebel JEM until the same white army outgunned the latter and handed their captured generals to the former they had been alluded for well over ten years ever since 2003. With the exploit not being less than an extended long shot at Sudan army from the armed Nuer villagers.
While strangely SPLA’s saviors, the UPDF had been contained by Joseph Kony’s Lord Resistance Army for years until Azande boys with mere arrows emerged to halt their regular trek from South Sudan to Northern Uganda where they harassed smitten UPDF.
The stated annual budget of $ 545,000,000 for the SPLA, only second to Kenya in rating index, never translates into better quality among its personnel in life style, professional training and military equipment required to make the army powerful.
Let alone having no air force and sophisticated military communication tracking systems to qualify as one among the supper eighteen on the continent.
However, SPLA’s failure lies in its bad start. It started off as a rebellious child to its bewildering parents, South Sudanese. Its working relations with civilians have been quite appalling to the good normative values of local communities that birthed it.
Disgustingly remained disrespectful to both young and old from inception to date. Such unbearable trait lives to set people frighteningly on the run when its approaching sight is spotted away from a distance.
While it adamantly refuses to benefit from cherished norms of closely knitted good neighborliness and cooperativeness for which South Sudanese are known.
Labored the hardest to change traditional thinking pattern of the society with anti-social communist behaviors in its initial liberation years. Its prominent revolutionary anthem, inshala abuyi bediu talga, is an indicting evident of an army that wanted to turn society and its norms upside down.
It is this negative background that caught SPLA surprisingly flat footed when GFP billed it one among the strongest. Much to the dismayed army of critics who became unbelievably dumbfounded by the news that told them a different story from what they actually know about an undisciplined SPLA that muscles civilians into unqualified submission.
Despite being a huge sigh of relief that has plucked it from years of psychological depression for having been associated with all things that go weirdly wrong. From commandeering civilians’ food to gagging press freedom and rigging elections for the unpopular politicians of its political wing, SPLM.
And that being an accolade awakening it up from deep slumber is more tangible proof why it went wild in reveling cheers.
In these shortcomings SPLA has got its accomplices. Previously high flying SPLA is shot down by endemic corruption and negative ethnicity that served to dismember it into rag tags of armed ethnic factions. Which pursue vengeance against each other ethnic groups competing over state power that comes with resources. The vengeance and counter vengeance make them either holistically or separately smart from one scandal after another.
At time the army is wholesomely accused of being on hire by one ethnic group or clan against another. If it is not that one, its rival factions may be fighting themselves somewhere over spoils of politics that tore them apart.
Or be it one group disarming civilians considered dangerous by their rival civilians. At times it goes on rampage against innocent civilians to supplement meagre monthly pay thanks to senior officers’ heartless high way seizure of their salaries.
However, there is hope at the end of that long litany of crises. if it is completely freed from politics and clutching claws of corruption, SPLA could be one of the most lucrative exports country can send to the troubled spots in the region due to its known gallantry and healthy budget. Thanks as u stay toned 4 next topic- ‘’South Sudan Gender Revolution.’’
Deng Vanang is a political scientist, journalist and author. Reachable at:firstname.lastname@example.org
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