Dr. Achol Marial was not just a True Veteran of the SPLM but a man who played his professional role during the liberation struggle

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By: Abraham Majak Makur

Dr. Achol Marial, hailing from the presence Yirol area, joined the movement at his 30st and spent the rest of his life working for the movement. He was a thinker, hard working and an outright spekaer.

I met Dr. Achol in 1990st in Kapoeta area as the one in charge of health coordination and managing Kapoeta Hospital. Despite being a war-tone area, Kapoeta Hospital was giving wonderful services to the most vulnerable citizens and fighting forces. I became sick and Mama Marina Martin Legge had to take me at night hours, and we managed to find Dr. Achol inspecting patients and attending to them himself. He recognised Mama Marina and had to attend to me. I was immediately admitted and I think this saved my life as my condition was so worse then. I was suffering from bloody diarrhoea!

Dr. Achol Marial Deng worked for the people of South Sudan as Secretary of Health for the then New Sudan. All health centres established in the rebels held-areas or across South Sudan were through his interactions with health partners.

Back home, Dr. Achol opened Adior Health Centre which became like a regional hospital for the entire Yirol Communities and part of Nuer areas adjacent to Yirol or bordering Yirol. So that was Dr. Achol Marial Deng in history of liberation struggle.

How did Achol make it? It was through the trust bestowed upon him by the Late Leader, Dr. John Garang de Mabior. Leadership plays an important role in the success of his subordinates.

Dr. John Garang knew the importance of Dr. Achol Marial. Late Garang as the then political ideologue knew how to use his men and women (vaterans) in various fields for a purpose, unlike his successor, my boss, H. E. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, who focuses much on national issues without paying attention to the potential of his men and women. The difference between Cdr. Dr. Garang and now H. E. Gen. Salva Kiir is just little. Dr. John Garang was guided by vision of new Sudan (an envisioned united Sudan for that matter) while Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit is being guided by how to unite South Sudanese for an independence South Sudan after succeeding Garang amidst a challenging transition periods. Gen. Kiir must be commended for that leadership. This is the point here and not because Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit has lost vision and direction. How could he lose vision and direction when he was part and parcel of the foundation, formation and management of the very SPLM/A? How can he lost vision and mission when he was the vanguard of Dr. John Garang in all military operations and intelligence? The reality is that Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit is a result–oriented leader whereas Dr. John Garang was a visionary oriented, articulate and defensive leader! Gen. Kiir is only slow but sure in all aspects of his leadership. He is a man that you can underrate when approaching but when it comes to action, he always makes it to your surprise.

Garang knew every man that doesn’t mince his words in all aspects, in which Dr. Achol Marial Deng was one of the people he was working with to play his part in the liberation struggle. In this regard, political and moral will of the leadership to use his subordinates based on their merits works to get things done in the right way.

What is the dilemma now?

SPLM Members or veterans leaving it for other parties in one hand, whereas, oppositions including the armed ones leaving Oppositions’ camps for the very SPLM they left sometimes back on the other hand! What is motivating all these coming-ins and going-outs? I think that is a different story as the political situation is not that clear!

So my people, joining or creating a Political Party is not just a Choice but a Decision. Dr. Achol has decided to join Dr. Riek Machar which is not new thing in history of our struggle. People go and come. The same Dr. Riek was joined by Dr. Achol in 1991 and made it back in 1992, following Frankfurt Agreement in which Dr. Achol and the likes accused Dr. Riek and Dr. Lam of nepotism and lack of patriotism. He came back and was maximally used to boost and burst health programs in the SPLM liberated areas. A job he did to the best expectations of the leadership and for the benefits of South Sudanese during those dark days. This made him to have the full trust of Dr. John Garang. He for sure would have deserved rewards.

Following Dr. John Garang’s death, a new political situation emerged and those of Dr. Achol lost the ground, so that they continue using their potential for the benefit of the nation. The reactionaries and opportunists that Dr. John Garang had been accusing to hijack the SPLM indirectly, found it safe to push off the veterans in the name of unity. A thing all of us question at all times: Has Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit forgotten about his colleagues in the armed struggle and found for himself new friends in an independence South Sudan? This question is still being asked today and it would continue to be asked. My own opinion is that, there is no need to run away from the SPLM, for it carries our legacy. Let us fight within to move things in the right direction!

My difference with the people leaving SPLM is simple. The very people who instigated rebellion against the SPLM leadership were those who amassed wealth when they were at the helm. Instead to strengthen the SPLM-LED GOVERNMENT using their position, they opted to oppose it openly, betraying it to the outside world, using Kiir as a scapegoat. Their actions were motivated by quest for leadership. How can you be ambitious when you are not adhering to what is required of you as a leader? For you to be a leader, you should be selfless, proactive and visionary, which was opposite. Our very SPLM leaders opted to take money and when they have had enough money and built for themselves mansions outside the country, they thought of corruption rampancy. They thought their money could easily buy them leadership. How could someone who have taken with him million of dollars be holy to talk against corruption or against national vices when he is the champion of such vices meted against the nation and her citizens?

I know Dr. Achol, the like of Amb. Telar and the few who left for political reasons, among them, they felt betrayed and marginalised or being politically isolated for reasons known by the leadership and their close associates! Dr. Achol and the likes remain the few elements who didn’t benefit from their work, and I stand to be challenged here. For that reason, I sympathise with his action but my doubt is that, Dr. Riek would still marginalise him like the rest around him. If Gen. Kiir is made not to use his potential figures, likewise, Dr. Riek is also made not to use his able figures so as to add value to their leadership competitions. The rivalry between H. E. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and Dr. Riek Machar would have been used to shape the national political scape rather than to be continuous political wrangle as this is killing the nation’s socio-political fabrics. Therefore, the dilemmas continue to widen – hence precipitating the political arena!

For some of us who are not joining other parties, we believe that we have the role to play in order to improve things as envisaged in our revolutionary ideology. We believe that, one day, the same SPLM and its leadership would be sensible/sensitive to build the almost destoyed house to make it a prosperous place again! We believe that leaving the SPLM is not the solution, the solution is to remain put and make sure you are part of the leadership to continue building the house for the welfare of the population that have been sacrificing enormous resources and equally their lives for the last fifty years for this nation to exist today.

However, my calls to H. E. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan, C-in-C of the SSPDF and other regular forces, and Chairman of the SPLM; and Acting Secretary General of the SPLM, Cde. Jemma Nunu Kumbe: here you have seen, your potential veterans leaving the party for other parties; how would you be able to sustain a historical party like the SPLM without its founding membership fraternity? Have you decided to turn a blind eye about us, just to give a choice of “go or stay” policy? What a serious dilemma?

The like of Achol and the rest are strong figures to reckon with, now with the opposition or in the opposition’s camp is posing a serious threat among the population that believes in them.

For the remaining SPLM membership, use meritocracy to organise and retain them, otherwise, the number joining other parties even in silence mood is rising at an alarming rate and this would be disappointing during elections time.

As the political dilemma is precipitating, one is also cautious to stay focused so that this wind doesn’t move you uncontrollably! While peace is being implemented, the SPLM should also engage its membership to stay put for a national cause than to stay indoor, only to find its gates being occupied by wrong forces.

Finally, the SPLM Leadership should not be complacent to let us caught offguard by the opposition to whom we are always underrating their power: the R-ARCSS is a living example of a total take over of the country! Are we not learning anymore?

God bless South Sudan!

Hon. Abraham Majak Makur, was a Minister of Physical Infrastructure & Chairman of the oState SPLM Executive Caucus (May, 2018 – Feb, 2020) and Minister of Information Culture, Youths and Sports (April 2017 – May, 2018) of the defunct Eastern Lakes State – Yirol and Former National Executive Director of the Red Army Foundation, (Nov. 2016 – April 2017), Juba, South Sudan

He can be reached via gadmakuur@gmail.com or gadmakuur@yahoo.com

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