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South Sudan's problem is leadership vacuumPublish Date: Jan 02, 2014
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By James Katongana

A lot has been said and written about the escalating war in South Sudan but death toll has continued to rise instead of international and regional interventions.

The cause of the war is very vague. The war stems from the excessive love for power and lack of political leadership.

The truth is not told where the infighting started from. Like one said, “In war, the truth is the first casualty”. Riek Machar seems to be obsessed with political power to the extent of sacrificing his countrymen. He claims that the war began with the presidential guard but how did the rebels immediately re-organise and started taking on the government?

It is only ego and ego alone that is driving Riek Machar to wage war against his country and himself. George Meredith said that” the stench of the trail of ego in our history. It is ego-ego, the fountain cry, origin, sole source of war.”

And basically, there is no reason why South Sudan should be at war with itself after two years.

The other major problem is the leadership vacuum which is common in most African countries. The leaders of these countries do not seem to understand the art of leadership. They are neither benevolent dictators, military tacticians, democrats nor absolute dictators.

A case of South Sudan, after independence, Salva Kiir did not endeavour to turn the rag tag army into a national army. He remained with the rebel army loyal to their commanders and that is why some ran away with Reik Machar.

Secondly, one factor we tend to overlook is the power of the language to rally the populace. Great statesmen use their oratorical speeches to move the masses. But Salva Kiir seems to be a “barracks man”. Even dictators like Hitler almost conquered the world by the use of speeches.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was/is a cornerstone of America’s history. His speech rallied a nation and created a foundation of American idealism for future generation.

Winston Churchill once wrote, “Of all the talents bestowed upon man, none is precious as the gift of oratory.” Indeed in an effort to boost public moral during World War II, Churchill delivered one of his most stirring speeches to parliament against Hitler and the looming Nazi threat and was able to rally support from Europe and United States of America.

Mohandas Ghandi, called for a determined but passive resistance against England’s continued occupation of India. His speech was/is considered a masterpiece for its ability to motivate and its effective message of non-violence.

 Nelson Mandela delivered a defiant speech during his trial that is still a powerful reminder of equality and justice that should be required reading in schools today. Suffice to quote here, “during my life time I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African People.  I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which am prepared to die. Subsequently, in all those cases, the leaders became victors.

South Sudan was born out of negotiations after the failure of the war. The use of the war in resolving conflicts is such a poor solution to any problem. South Sudan, as young and poor as it is spending its meager resources on war to advance their egos is in itself an act of backwardness.

The money used in buying guns and warships can build hospitals, schools and infrastructure. It is ironical that people can go hungry while the country is buying and using sophiscated weapons. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower, commented on this, every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who go  hungry and are not fed, those in the cold and are not clothed. This is exactly what is happening In Southern Sudan.

I think war will not achieve any results which should have been achieved through dialogue. War is never a solution, it is an aggravation. “War should belong to the tragic past, to history: it should find no place on humanity’s agenda for the future.” Pope John Paul II.

The writer is a pan-Africanist

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