opinionBy Wani Tombe Lako
It is socially, morally, politically, and personally refreshing, to hear and see that, the government of South Sudan (GoSS) is engaging the international community (IC) in intensive consultations, regarding the purported national reconciliation (NR) in South Sudan (SS). It is not enough only to consult the IC for purposes of financial and other logistical supports; we have to abide by what the IC also tells us in the form of inputs in these types of fora.
The concept and practice of NR involves many other variables which ought to be brought on board. NR is not just a one-off political event that, the GoSS wants to host and then, it reverts back to old ways of doing things, and things which are grossly contradictory to the said concept and practice of NR.
If the concept of NR involves broad variables like harmonious coexistence with human amity and love; plus sincere human forgiveness; in a multicultural, multi-religious, multi-political parties, and multi-tribal human society like the SS, then, these broad variables ought to be entrenched as the foundations, upon which, this exercise of NR is to be conducted.
The GoSS cannot just embark on this process of NR as a political exercise, meanwhile, in various formal, and informal prisons, and detention centres in SS, there, rotting in solitary confinements, and other inhuman conditions, are sons and daughters of SS, who happened to have politically differed with the rulers, and not the peoples of SS, and there, in these dungeons, they decay, without proper due process of the rule of law, having been followed. Some are in these hellish and inhuman prisons, and detention centres, for alleged criminal offences, but, whose guilt, have not been ascertained and proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, as requested by the rule of law.
This pompously advertised NR shall become a travesty of true concept of NR, as known by genuine human rights communities internationally, if it is conducted with such shameful background of gross violation of human rights of the human person in SS. The GoSS must release all political prisoners, from all prisons and detention centers in SS. These sons and daughters of SS, kept in these prisons and detention centres for political reasons, have got relatives and love ones, and friends, who form huge communities of interests in SS. These peoples matter if true NR is to take place in SS.
Not only that, those sons and daughters of SS, and who are kept behind bars for political reasons, emanate from specific tribes in SS. The GoSS is talking loudly about tribal harmonies in SS. How do you achieve tribal harmonies in SS, if political prisoners are cherry-picked on the basis of tribal affiliations? That is, the majority of those political prisoners behind bars are sons and daughters of SS, emanating from specific tribes, and tribes which do not control all types of powers, and wealth in SS.
The GoSS must address this issue. The IC must pressurise and compel the GoSS, to address this issue first. Unless this issue is addressed, whatever this NR comes up with, as recommendations, it shall be building political castles in political air, and building political castles in political quicksand respectively.
There shall never be partial NR in SS. All of us in SS must be authors and owners of such NR process. Nobody wants to be an invitee to this NR process. The GoSS ought not to compartmentalise the peoples of SS through this process; and in fact, ends up dividing the peoples of SS more deeply, and widely, than they are now. Those members of the IC, who are interested in this process of NR in SS; ought to advise the GoSS to follow the right path in this crucial process of NR; half baked NR is worse and dangerous than no NR at all.
We do not want an ill-thought out process of NR, which is not inclusive, and which shall later be used by the GoSS to further target, and in fact, lynch those who have been strategically excluded from this NR, on the pretexts that, they are the enemies of the peoples of SS. You cannot exclude others by keeping them in prisons, and denying others citizenship rights, by refusing them nationality and passport documents, and then, you turn around that, the same excluded others are against the peoples of SS because, they did not attend the NR process, or because, they later queried the variables of this ramshackle NR.
We do not want any NR process which is in fact, a political tool for further exclusion of others, and the entrenchment of the political and other positions, of the ruling elites in SS, and within the framework of their tribal hegemony. The IC must understand the dynamics of SS political paradigms before it blindly endorses and indulge in praises of a process, saturated in ulterior inward looking motives. The variables of polity, politics, and policies within the remit of current GoSS are not properly conducive to embark upon this NR without proper preparation, including sincere and honest consideration of issues raised above.
There is no way that, the peoples of SS shall in fact beneficently profit from any NR conducted now, if, the GoSS does not also sincerely change its attitude towards those whom, it has singled out as being its enemies. I have written many articles on matters of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. I have written to the President of SS, I have written to the Vice President of SS and to others in very senior positions in government of SS about these issues. These letters were delivered to them. Some were delivered by SS Ambassadors.
In those letters, I invariably asked them to lead the peoples of SS by example. For example, I asked the President of SS to forgive all those political others, whom he thinks are his political enemies, as long as they have not committed serious crimes like crimes against humanity, and other crimes falling within universal jurisdiction. All these appear to have fallen on deaf ears. I shall not give-up talking on behalf of all peace loving citizens of SS.
Now, the GoSS is asking the IC to joint it for consultations on issues of NR. Is the GoSS going to reconcile with the IC? If the GoSS is honest about this NR, why is the GoSS not interested in talking to those that it has hitherto identified as being against it? On the other hand, why is the GoSS not willing to respond to demands by those whom the GoSS has singled out as its enemies, but, in fact, those who are willing to sort things out with the GoSS so that, all of us concentrate on positive development, instead of concentration on hating one another? What kind of peoples of SS that the GoSS is interested in?
The GoSS has got a long list of those whom it identifies as being political critics and thus, opponents. Is it not true that such people are dynamos of NR as it were? Will it be logical to exclude these peoples from any NR just because the GoSS has deposited their names with all its security and intelligence agencies either for lynching or imprisonments? The GoSS must come out clean, and liberate itself from political hate. The success of any NR means that, the government of the day must always act honestly.
For example, selective issuance of nationality and passport documents, and outright denial of such documents to other sons and daughters of SS, is contrary to this campaign of NR. If the GoSS wants to convince all of us that it is genuine about this NR process, it must demonstrate that, it does not fear, and it does not unnecessarily suspect various sons and daughters of SS, because, they come from specific tribes, or because, some of the operatives of the GoSS are against such people, or because, such people hold different political opinions, contrary to those held by the ruling political party in Juba.
The GoSS must grow above all these issues. The GoSS is the government, and it ought not to fear individual critics. These are reflective mirrors for the GoSS. If the GoSS keep looking over its shoulders just because an individual South Sudanese is walking behind it, somewhere very far away, minding his/her own business, then, the GoSS can be characterised as lacking confidence in itself. If the GoSS is lacking in governmental confidence, then, it cannot positively look after the gains of any NR.
In economics, we have a law known as the law of diminishing return. Therefore, within the remit of the GoSS; and in the ruling of the peoples of SS, the more rulers stay on ruling, the more their efficacy and efficiency diminish with time, until they reach a point whereby, they will just be there as redundant bodies, with no further use value for the peoples of SS.
In fact, for every beginning, there is always an end. This can somehow, crudely explain the application of this economic law in governance. This process of NR ought to take this economic law into serious consideration. SS as a State must go on. We as humans shall fall by the roadside. This NR must take this into account. It does not matter how much powerful you think you are now. It does not matter how many bodyguards accompany you. When your time comes, you can roam the globe in search of excellent medical treatment, but, you shall always succumb. It does not matter how many bunkers you have, and how sophisticated your armed car is. If it is ordained that you shall succumb to a bullet, succumb to a bullet you will. This NR ought to take this into consideration. This NR ought to be approached with posterities in mind.
On the other hand, and at common-law, in Trust and Equity to be precise, there is a maxim that, he who comes to equity, must come with clean hands. Therefore, he who comes to this NR must come with clean hands. The GoSS must come with clean hands to this NR. The leaders of the GoSS must come with clean hands to this NR. All of us must come with clean hands to this NR.
President Kiir, come with clean hands to this NR; free all political prisoners in SS. Issue general amnesty to all South Sudanese; whom you think are your political enemies. Issue a new amnesty to cover all current rebel movements in SS. Officially invite all sons and daughters of SS, who cannot come to SS, due to threats of death from your national intelligence agencies, and you guarantee their safety in SS. Instruct all nationality and passport authorities in SS not to discriminate the issuance of documents to all sons and daughters of SS. President Kiir, come to this NR with clean hands. Lead with example.