By Samuel Reech Mayen,
Nov 10, 2015 (JACKDIENG) —- Less than a month after the attack, killings and raiding of cattle camp in Jalle Payam, the Murle raiders again attacked and killed people in Baidit Payam. In the past, Murle raiders were known as mere thieves who shuffled into the villages and grazing lands to snatch and rush away with kids or cattle. There were no direct attacks of Murle raiders on the communities. Secondly, the Murle in those days hardly raid in the same area twice in less than two months from the day of the first raid.
From the series of the recent transactions, it is clear that the almost empty villages are infested with Murle raiders and they are living in those abandoned houses and byres. Despite, the fact that the people of Bor are in the army in huge numbers and in key positions, I am not calling for their intervention in this case, for it may result into another round of horrible ethnic violence which does not serve any justice. My focus is on the MPs we elected and sent to the parliament. Security issues cannot be handled by tribal measures but by national well informed decisions, unless South Sudan wants to embrace mayhem that can make a country another Somali in the region which is not acceptable.
Literally, elections are perceived as exercises in which the citizens entered into social contract with their political leaders. On this basis, politicians offer to deliver services to the public if they are elected into political posts. On the other hand, citizens examine the promises of the leaders and accept their offers by impliedly voting for the ones that convince them. It is the same exercise popularly known as campaign which can be defined properly by the 2010 general elections contestants. The 2010 elections brought Hon. Deng Dau, Hon. Deng-tiel, Hon. Thon Leek and Hon Makuei Lueth into the National parliament.
All these MPs from Greater Bor constituencies won the elections because of the trust people had in the SPLM and their merits as individuals. One of the promises these MPs made during the elections was to work closely with the government to provide sufficient security for civilians in these areas. This promise was accepted as a major term of agreement and they were all voted into the National Assembly. From the security point of view, nothing has been achieved as the land of Bor is now vacant and our MPs are representatives of collapsing, deserted byres and houses. The citizens of Greater Bor have fled to the Refugees’ camps while our MPs are busy lobbying for more political recognition in Juba.
Well, the dilemmas are clear. Following the 15 December 2013 political violence, Hon. Uncle Michael Makuei Lueth was delegated to the team of the Government negotiators. This new role of arguing with rebels’ delegation in Addis Ababa replaced the service expected by the community from a man who is not only an MP but also a long serving chairperson for Greater Bor. He is also a Minister for Information in the National Government; hence, he has to work hard to maintain his ministerial position.
Since there are no clear strategies in protecting civilians, the community is vulnerably exposed to Murle cattle raiders. These raiders keep attacking, raiding and killing people but no response from the National Government which has enough number of influential leaders from Greater Bor Community. Clearly, Hon. Makuei has taken the role of serving the central government more than the people who elected him into the parliament.
The other popular MP from the area is Hon. Deng Dau who won the 2010 elections massively. The trust people had in him propelled him during the elections into what he is today. Hon. Deng is also following the footstep of uncle Makuei. His key role is how to win favors of the SPLM leadership. After he was elected as the MP for Twic East, he lobbied for the Commission of Widows, Orphans and Disables that he headed prior to the elections. He is now the head of this Commission as well as Twic East MP in the National Legislative Assembly.
While holding these key positions and doing nothing for the security of the people of Greater Bor, Hon. Deng Dau has also started tiptoeing and craning his hand to grab the new opportunity of gubernatorial vacancy of the newly created state of Jonglei, carved out of the previous one. It is not clear whether he will resign from the other two positions. The truth is that Hon. Deng Dau’s energies and time are channeled toward wooing the SPLM leadership and gain recognition over others; paradoxically, he is slowly losing popularity from his constituency.
On this basis, the demanding question now is what should be done with the social contract that was entered into in 2010 with these MPs? In democratic societies, politicians serve the interest of their citizens to win the favors of their party’s leadership. This means that if a certain constituency lost trust in a certain MP, the SPLM’s leadership can also cast aside that specific MP for the interest of the citizens directly translates into the interest of the Movement’s leadership. The survival of the SPLM is in the hands of the suffering citizens not in the discretion of the MPs. Our leaders think that Murle is there to kill the civilians of Bor and nothing can be done about it.
I kept speculating too of the exact village Hon. Deng Dau hails from, and whether he can invite his colleague in Parliament from Bhar El Ghazal to visit his village of birth. I know very well that all MPs from Bhar El Ghazal and Equatorial regions have amazingly secured villages. They are more comfortable in their villages than in Juba. They have cattle, happy children, smiling women and laughing elders in their villages. Indeed home means home for them.
However, here are Greater Bor MPs who cannot find peace anywhere in their villages except Juba. Juba which is a headache to others is their haven. These leaders took arms against Khartoum oppressive regime in 1983. They poured into Ethiopia in the company of thousands for military trainings to liberate their people. In the process of liberation, these leaders lost most of their colleagues. They suffered in the bushes in pursuance of justice and democracy.
Nevertheless, after their nation gained independence, their villages turned into dark and thick forests where cattle raiders, man-hunters and kidnappers lay in waiting to destroy lives. Regrettably, these leaders tend to less important issues in the expenses of attending to their domestic problems.
Moreover, the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan under Article 57 (e) gives power to the National Legislative Assembly to adopt resolution on matters of public concern. Therefore, a parliament in which these MPs were elected to is constitutionally authorized to scrutinize issues that are affecting the citizens and agree on how such problems can be addressed. The question here is who can raise the issues of public concern in the parliament? The answer is simple; that MP whose constituency is affected can inform the parliament so that a comprehensive solution is reached. One does not expect an MP from Tombura or Cueibet of Western Equatoria and Lakes States respectively to raise the atrocities committed by Murle raiders in Jalle Payam in Jonglei state.
Just to learn from the neigbouring Uganda, the Karamojong in north- eastern Uganda had been worst cattle raiders in the region. The Government of Uganda through the resolution agreed by the Legislative Assembly took the issue as a serious security threat to the entire nation. It was adopted that the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) would fight this awkward crime. Subsequently, whenever cattle raid occurred, the UPDF would move in with choppers and sprayed these cattle raiders. Finally, these raiders got scarred and turned into law abiding citizens.
If the MPs from Greater Bor community and other MPs whose areas are devastated by cattle raiding raise this issue in the Parliament, an informed decision can be reached on how the SPLA can address this crime. It is provided in the TCRSS under Article 151 (c) that the SPLA shall protect the people of South Sudan. Therefore, there is no reason for the armed raiders to persistently massacre innocent citizens when the SPLA is constitutionally mandated to protect lives and virtually capable to disarm raiders.
The author is a student living in Uganda. He can be reached at: email@example.com or +256 772 727 857