opinionBy Ateny Wek Ateny
Dear Mr. Paul,
I read your article which appeared on Juba Post Weekly tabloid, dated May 3rd - 7th 2012, volume 7, issue 123, entitled "as above" and it was spectacular reading it. Like always, your articles bear a very high degree of intellect, informative and straight to the point - I can't miss to read any writings that come from your end. In that article, you have highlighted some of very important issues that surrounded the recent Panthou/Heglig's withdrawal of our gallant SPLA forces. You also spelt it rightly; we had totally failed to make the international community listen to our side of story - the absence of our ambassadors in the diplomatic arena meant the absence of our diplomacy. It is also right to acknowledge the work of SPLM/A in liberating us from the yoke of the successive Khartoum regimes. You have cited the superb job well-done by Richard K. Mula, Steven Killiona Wundu, and the late Dr. Samson Kwaje in the course of pursuing our diplomacy during the war of liberation. During those years of war, our diplomacy was far better than after independence.
With that said, I would like to remind you that, apart from the above triple icons, there were couple or dozens of other capable war-time diplomats; Nhial Deng Nhial the current foreign minister, Pagan Amum, SPLM Secretary General, Deng Alor, Minister for Cabinet Affairs, just to mention few. Only during our independence did we become illusive. We think the international community is aware of the whole situation in every country, without need to recognize the fact that everything is done on case to case basis and on each merit.
The presentation made by the Sudan's permanent representative in the UN pertinent to the incursion of the SPLA forces into Panthou/Heglig might have made headway to Khartoum's advantage in the international community arena in the wake of total absence of South Sudan's representative at the UN. You are right! We think the whole world would automatically stand by our side, simply because Bashir is wanted in The Hague and the NCP is a bad regime. Otherwise, what does it take for a country that came to being for nearly a year to appoint its representative in the UN? So, to be honest Mr. El Hag, if you call all of these a 'failure' of the government of Republic of South Sudan, I shall have no reason to argue with you otherwise. However, I am shocked to see in your article this newly coined word "Dinkocracy" which stereotype and polarizing the Dinka as tribe. I don't expect someone as intellectual as you are to blindfold himself and walk to the dark-alley. Referring the government failure to be that of Dinka tribe was not only racist, but do not bring you to be better than whomever you think was failing. I am surprised you wrote this yourself.
You deplore the method used by the Foreign Ministry in appointing ambassadors. You also referred to the recently appointed ambassadors as "the worse brains' who lack neither quality nor qualifications". Unquoted, you are right somehow, the way in which the appointments of ambassadors were made had a lot to admire - and it might have been done on "who you know" rather than what you know. However, I disagree with you on the fact that not all of them that are bad, I believe the majority of the appointed ambassadors command some of very good qualities to land them in the world of diplomacy. Only less than 30% of the total of 91 ambassadors might have either made their way fraudulently, or installed by their uncles or in-laws. There is no way to stereotype the appointed ambassadors as whole. I know some appointed ambassadors who possess not only fluency in English and Arabic as the only two languages taught in what was Sudan, but also fluent in French, Italian, Portuguese just to mention few of them.
Therefore, your choice of Dr. James Okuk as an example of good ambassador, if he was appointed is excellent example. But, Dr. Okuk with his renowned background would still have been just only one ambassador, serving the Republic of South Sudan just in one country. There is no way to have Okuk everywhere in the world to serve South Sudan.
You said and I quote: "At the heart of all this is the fact that the Republic of South Sudan has a 'one-man, one-tribe, and one-party government' bereft of any coherent ideology, governance, skills and capacity. Whereas Republic of South Sudan has abundant people who are world class professionals in these areas, they are being deprived of contributing to the development of their country by seer Dinkoracy" unquote: instead Mr. Elhag Paul, it is your ignorance and insensitivity in recognizing the truth is what I believe is bedeviling your intellect capacity not to be mindful of the usage of some connotations. Ignorance breathes hatred. Indeed the Dinka people originate from seven states out of the ten states of South Sudan, and would at least make a constituency or two in the states in which they are a minority - and in a decentralized system of government, more than ten ministers would still have to come from Dinka whether Kiir is the president or Elhag Paul. During the war, the Dinka were not bystanders and you know it very well.
Notwithstanding the above, you might be aware the 'world class professionals' you are talking about do exist also within Dinka as tribe - there is no one single tribe that had all the world class professionals. But, mindful of your statement, don't you think some of world class professionals from Dinka are also left out? Republic of South Sudan is not the same thing as Dinka as a tribe, and President Salva Kiir did not become the first president of South Sudan for any reason other than he is one of the founders of the ruling SPLM and therefore the most senior. He (Kiir) had not bypassed anyone to become the president because that person was not a Dinka. The history had it, and you should take it
However, this is not the case. Government of Republic of South Sudan is not Dinkanized or Dinkoracy. The basis in which the government was formed had its source in what was the rebel SPLM/A, and what was in that organization is more than the mere Dinka as tribe'- adjust your eyes and ears and you will see or hear properly. Until the SPLM is taken out of power, if El Hag Paul beats them in the elections, everything there shall remain SPLM's - take it or leave it. In 1972 during the Addis Accord, Abel Alier served as the first President of the High Executive Council, and General Lagu as the Commander of Southern Sudan's Absorbed Anya-Nya forces until 1978, when the later replaced the former. And this, was simply because the Addis Accord did not give southern Sudan any greater autonomy in which to govern itself - otherwise, General Lagu would not have given way to a civilian to become the president. What do you think should be different here?
Another disappointing episode of misleading connotation is found in your praises of Thabo Mbeki. You said "Thabo Mbeki is a competent African leader who understands African Affairs better than Dinkocrats themselves in Juba". You think being Dinka is weakness per se? If not, then why do you think it was necessary to connect the government's weakness with you perception about Dinka tribe?
Elhag, I believe you still have your mind; you are still sober, sound, resilient, intellectual, and professional as I know you back in London? Is there anything that would let me drop all this good adjectives about you? Convince me. Let me reiterate this again. Even if, the best brains are found in some tribes other than that of Dinka, the truth of the matter is that, in your future presidency of the republic of South Sudan (if you will make it) you may still need to have Dinka as your citizens, simply because they account for more than one third of the 2008's Disputed Population Census. By every standard, one third of population confined to stay at their homes because they don't have minds, brains, or not being classed by El Hag as world-class-professionals, may leave the wiser leader from the tribe of wisdom uncomfortable for the rest of his/her reign.
It is very interesting to note this paragraph of your article. You said in your reference to the SPLM and I quote "The Oyee Party needs to know that going to war is not just as simple as in the case of rebellion where one can pick up a bird rifle and go to the bush to make a point" unquoted - you are trying to teach SPLM or even lecturing them on how to make war, or what is the war...... What a laughable lecture my dear El Hag? May be, you need to ask your brother (the former Commissioner of Yei County during the war) who is also a member of the Oyee party, if I could borrow your words, to tell you the right thing about that party. What went wrong in the case of Panthou had more to do with failure in diplomacy, than in the military. SPLA is much better trained and disciplined army than SAF, and it would be blind act to think otherwise. I concur with you; our diplomacy is a bit in mess for being non-effective.
You referred to President Salva Kiir as the 'Emperor of Dinkocracy' and had only appointed his tribes mates and Oyee party apparatchiks as ambassadors even when such people have not got the qualities, qualifications, skills etc. The author is ignorant of the geography and the boundaries of this Empire. May be El Hag Paul is the right person to elaborate. As, I do not wish to talk of any other tribe - for as South Sudanese, I can't do without the 64th tribes that make what is South Sudan, my take on the El Hag's perceived Empire shall be limited. For me, the problem in South Sudan is not found in the existence of tribes per se, simply because tribes are there to stay for common good, but with tribal-minded-educated- class of South Sudan who thinks badly about Dinka. And, therefore your use of 'Dinkocracy or Dinka Empire' is nothing other than genocidal motivated thoughts. The genocide in Rwanda in 1994 was triggered by some stereotyping thought of one given community against the other - and El Hag may be calling for the same here. Otherwise, what could have made such a highly-educated person like El Hag Paul to utter those words such as 'Dinkocracy' or Dinka Empire, if the need was to exercise constructive critiques? May be El Hag is thinking of taking one step towards destructive South Sudan. I just found these connotations to be outrageous and therefore inciting on others to think the same.
Finally, given the above response, I have just scanned your article and therefore have responded to some parts only. I did not intend to respond to the whole article - for that would have taken me to be defensive on behalf of government of South Sudan which is not my wish. Therefore, my take was in line with the fact that, I am a Dinka by tribe (something designed by God) and your use of Dinkacracy didn't seem to exempt me. Conversely, critical of government's failure does exempt me in the true sense of the word. Within Dinka or any other tribe in South Sudan, all classes of society do exist; from corrupt, inept, nepotistic, crooks, bogus, transparent, professional, just and you name it. There is no anyway of connecting the above adjectives with just one tribe. As the government of South Sudan is vilified nationally/internationally for failing to observe proper way of controlling or curtailing corruptions, nepotism, my only optimism is found on the fact that one time the right people shall be taking right places. This is near to accepting your ideas of 'world class professionals' being denied from taking part in the nation-building, not by Dinkocrats as you said, but by 'organized interest groups' who came from all tribes of South Sudan. But, what if the Dinkocrats are replaced by groups of 'Shared-tribal-abhorrence' for Dinka? Would you anticipate any good outcome Mr. El Hag?
The author is the executive Director of the Policy Advocacy & Strategic Studies (PASS) a civil society organization, and a columnist in the now-suspended Destiny English Daily Newspaper, and for any comment or question, he could be reached by either; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or by dialing 0955911110 or 0921888929.