Analyses Politics South Sudan

South Sudan “Marching On Together” Again ~ Part A.

By Simon Elhaj Kulusika,

Associated Professor,

President Salva Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the First Vice President and leader of the SPLM/A(IO) posts for picture with the three Vice Presidents Taban Deng Gai, James Wani Igga and Rebecca Nyandeng (Photo credit: file/Nyamilepedia)
President Salva Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the First Vice President and leader of the SPLM/A(IO) posts for picture with the three Vice Presidents Taban Deng Gai, James Wani Igga and Rebecca Nyandeng (Photo credit: file/Nyamilepedia)

May 10, 2021 — “Marching on Together” is the watchword of a Football Club in England.  The assumption for its manipulation is that it may motivate people of South Sudan (SS) to mortify ethnicity and clanism.  To cooperate and act together for mutual benefits.  To walk together, while grieving the grim conditions people are facing.  To co-exist and unite, in order to triumph over some, if not all, causes of disagreements and violent conflicts in the new State.  A state, by oversight or deliberate, is called South Sudan.  This was known as Southern Sudan and described by foreign intruders, as the home of ivory, slaves and pagans.  People who were savages, killing each other.  They had no culture or civilization.  The architects of that name – South Sudan are surely perpetuating those distressful and odious images – shameful.  The name South Sudan must be changed.

People of South Sudan are praying for quick solutions to the problems they are facing, to prevent internal collapse that might incite forcible intervention by adventurous external power (s).

A gateway out of such evils, as the cynics would uphold, is for the present political leaders to relinquish power, and militants to abandon their projects to ascend to power by the use of force.  The cynics claim that the continued stay in office of persons alluded to is a threat to the sovereignty of South Sudan.  Because they have failed to lead, and they are good only in sowing the seeds of ethnic division and conflicts, detrimental to nation-build.

Claims of internal collapse, or disintegration and pretension about threats to sovereignty of South Sudan are really disquieting.  They are emblematic of loss of all hopes for a better future for South Sudan.  They must not be ignored.  They must be carefully assessed to enhance appropriate measures.

An entity, under international Law, is characterized as a sovereign State, if it has:

  1. A territory;
  2. A population;
  3. A government (effective);
  4. Secured recognition by States and international organizations;
  5. Ability to peacefully conduct international relations; and
  6. Full control over its jurisdictions.

South Sudan meets all these requirements.  It has not lost any one of the attributes of State sovereignty.

The attributes listed in the preceding paragraph may be lost without impacting negatively on State sovereignty. Good examples are Somalia, Syria, and Afghanistan. But the loss of attribute through aggressive external invasion, occupation and annexation as had happened to Kuwait, will drastically affect State sovereignty. The State in question will exist no more.  In contrast, internal upheavals, or armed groups occupying large parts of a country, does not necessarily result in loss of State sovereignty.  Such events erode the ability of the government to conduct normal governance business.  It may survive, or it may be overthrown, while State sovereignty remains undisturbed.

Arguments about sovereignty status of South Sudan should be reconsidered, so that attention is directed to addressing the problems of governance in the country, in particular matters relating to:

  1. Armed conflicts and how they should be brought to an end;
  2. The existence of multiple armies and various militias in the country, and threats they pose to the stability of the State.  The need to integrate them into one national army;
  3. The crises of ethnic economic stagnation, and rise of criminality; and
  4. Ineffectiveness of governmental institutions as detailed under.

The Peace Agreement (PA) of 2018 has created a body called Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU).  Within it there are, at least, six unusual entities.  Some call themselves ‘opposition’, thereby negating the norms of a single, harmonious, effective, central government in a sovereign State.

General Kiir’s institution.

It is dominant.  It is more equal than the other entities in RTGoNU.  It requires urgent reforms to avoid fragmentation due to dissatisfaction.  Its fighters, including militias, are predominantly Dinka.  These forces are called SSPDF. The Amba of the institution takes decisions and issues single handedly.  These are final and binding on all to whom they are addressed, including the Legislature and Judiciary.  Such actions assault the doctrine of separation of powers.  It is, therefore, questionable, if Kiir’s institution can make people march on together. 

General Machar’s organization.

The mentor is dexterous in plotting buildings and others enhanced by his profession.  But he appears to be sailing up-stream in the crafts of statesmanship. The organization claims universality, although Nuer is the language used in its corridors.  It does not tolerate directions from any entities unless cost-effective. Equality, fairness, etc, are absent from its vocabulary.  It has little respect for collective responsibility that has no place in the politics of South Sudan anyway.  How will it ensure “marching on together”?

General Gai’s corporation.

Being Falah, unless “Taban” betrays the General doing business in a corporate style should be the reason for the naming: corporation.  Its militias are predominantly Nuer.  It is ready to assume any roles, if that gives the leader an edge against other constants in the battle field of politics and economics, regardless of the agony of poverty haunting Odong or Moigo.  Can such a corporation urge people to “march on together”?

General Nyangdeng Garang’s invisible partnership

One tends to surmise that Garang’s partnership is the creation of Lady Dr. Gibril Bona.  Whatever, the case, the partnership is ambitious.  It has little military prowess.  But it is capable of assembling militias, aided by the spirits of the ancestors. However, Dr. Gibril remembers that the witches in Macbeth say, “Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair.  It is heartbreaking that Nyangdeng cannot win the hearts of people and make them “march on together”.

General Abdel Baghi’s Al Razaq.

It is a sanctimonious Order.  It draws its harmony and credibility from the Holy Qur’an, and support of some persons referred to as the People of the Book.  This enables the Order to gain respect within the RTGoNU.  Beyond that, it has to struggle to push people to “march on together”.

Gen Igga’s Agency.

It has more claims in public and within RTGoNU. In any of the two platforms, it has to identify itself as an ally of Kiir’s institution.  It can grow big, if it won over some O’jjo from Metu or Amica, to boost its survival.  No doubt it has challenges to stir people to “march on together”.

You can see why it is claimed, RTGoNU does not exist.  If it were in existence, it was born ineffective.  It would continue in that way.  All the entities within RTGoNU cannot together form a single government. A harmonious governmental institution, including politicians and civil servants, work in tandem and collaboratively.

Contrariwise, all entities of RTGoNU are pursuing contradictory agenda that aim to undermine a member or members of RTGoNU.

Calls for the departure or removal of certain political leaders, may be of benefit to South Sudan, but, such surrender of political power may not be a panacea to the intricate problems South Sudan is facing.  What is required is how the governing elites will establish another RTGoNU that is inclusive, effective, efficient, and capable of delivering services and encouraging people to “march on together” again.

In Africa political landscapes, political leaders, with few exceptions, do not ordinarily give up power.  Statism is the order, while ascendancy by ‘son’ is becoming habitual.


Professor Simon E Kulusika is an Associate Professor of Law based in Lusaka, Zambia. He can be reached through email through sophie.chibale@zaou.ac.zm

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