Dr. RIEK MACHAR VERSUS CPT.MABIOR GARANG: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BETRAYED?
By Makneth Aciek
Betrayal, some would have us believe, is a gray area that is shaped by one’s point of view and emotions. Those people are wrong. Betrayal must be discussed in term of relational contexts. Over the past few days, laypeople around Dr. Riek Machar appeared to have firm views about how Cpt. Mabior Garang betrayed their boss and mentor following the KitGwang declaration, some even reduced themselves to muttering abusive epithets, pouring all unfounded dirt on Mabior’s personality.
Before arriving at any conclusion about who is betrayed between the two, it is important to appreciate the context of their relationship, how they met, the expectations of their union and how those expectations have been violated.
Long before Machar was fired as vice President, and long before the 2013 crisis, Mabior had already formed opinion(s) on the infamous direction the government of South Sudan had taken under the stewardship of SPLM. He sent a useful signal to the ruling elite that wrongdoing has taken place, the promises of self-determination to our people have been betrayed and the young nation is heading to abyss. This signal was echoed by some of civil society groups and used to fashion the call for reform in the country, more so within the SPLM.
After President Kiir dismissed Dr. Machar, and entire cabinet members, the country was polarized and the call for reform grew stronger. Machar and other sacked members of SPLM joined the call for reform. This is where Mabior teamed up with Dr. Machar; the driving force of their union was to address the predicaments of our young nation.
When war broke out in 2013 and the whole thing turned tribal following the Nuer massacre; Mabior, unlike other SPLM leaders, did not disavow Dr. Machar. When IGAD called for an emergency meeting to address South Sudan crisis, Mabior joined Machar without hesitation to resume what they had started, the reform agenda.
In the first meeting, quarrel ensued over the name SPLM as both factions claimed the ownership; the IGAD intervened by naming the regime negotiation committee as IG, and Opposition negotiation committee as IO. This is how the name SPLM/A-IO came to being; as a consequence, Machar had to call for a conference in Nuer heartland (Nasir) to consult with the white armies whether to endorse the SPLM/A-IO as an umbrella of their operations. Mabior went to Nasir although circumstances were not fashionable for someone of Dinka origin to do so, and the name SPLM-IO was endorsed. This is the absolute truth; it is backed by fact making it impervious to manipulation.
It is quite embarrassing to read Machar’s apologists peddling lies, manipulating the emotions of Nuer, playing on their basest fears and whipping up hysteria, that Mabior is out there to bring Machar down and destroy the Nuer community. Pathetic! If there is person who has to be blamed for the sorry state Dr. Machar finds himself in, it is the head of his inner-circle. In the context of revolution, betrayal means to deliver up to an enemy, to be disloyal or unfaithful, to deceive or mislead, to reveal secrets, to seduce and desert, and to disappoint the hopes or expectations of comrade(s). This is what they have done to Gatmachar.
It is Machar’s handlers who lured him to Juba on the basis of certain assumptions contrary to realities on which R-ARCISS was signed. Instead of pushing for the implementation of security arrangements during Pre-transition Period, they made deals with the regime; those deals are dubious and corrosive both for South Sudanese peoples and the political survival of Dr. Machar. Mabior became one of sacrificial lambs for those deals to materialized; knowing him so well that he would not accept anything mischievous, they relegated him to the periphery despite being the official Spokesperson for the Movement. His only fault was to have reminded them of the most important lessons of the most recent past; the chief of these lessons was that Machar could not havecome out of South Africa without help of army they just betrayed and abandoned.
It can be said Machar is an accomplice in the destruction of SPLM-IO because he surrounded himself with half-baked graduates and semiliterate that still believe in ethnic cocoons, mentally gated communities and tribal lanes. Their tribal suspicions and poorly hidden sectarian agendashave strangled the capacity of Dr. Machar and SPLM-IO to represent national image. Those who pay attention to details will agree with me that the Peoples’ Movement has ended up becoming a watered-down version of the thing it was fighting against in the first place.
It is an act of betrayal when a leader conjures up disorder together with the vision of order, dirt together with the project of purity. There are nottoo many occupations where one could amass a reputation for dishonesty and remain employed; interestingly enough, members of Dr. Riek Machar Teny’s trusted team are not subject to such lofty expectations! How strange that those residing in positions of such importance and influence are actually of lower standard.
It is by no means a matter of course that they can say in Juba ‘give peace a chance,’ when it actually is a war and hunger in the cantonments. It is not a matter of course when the associates of Dr. Machar create an impression that the plight of IDPs and refugees is nothing to be concerned with and that the source of all Nuer problems is Mabior Garang. If it weren’t such a sad commentary on the current state of our national awareness, it would be comical, instead it is infuriating.
It is sometimes difficult for people to accept the truth when the nonsense is oh so much more comforting; that is why the handlers of Dr. Machar profiled those who are honest in their submissions as bearers of bad news, ‘betrayers and impatience’, while those that manufacture the rosiest outlook, regardless of the absence of truth, are regarded as ‘patriotic and patience’. But all should be reminded that the kind of politics they have dragged Machar into is not a battle of value judgement, but rather something of a puzzle to be solved; no salvage can be found in name-calling and blame passing.
The incendiary language, and insulting rhetoricadopted lately by the people around Dr. Machar, exposed the brutal nature of their political vision. The narrative of describing Mabior Garang as someone that was picked up from the street has roots that run much deeper than mere belittlement; it confirms, among other things, the latent sentiment among Machar’s handlers that all Jieng who joined SPLM/A-IO are social-dropouts, worthless, opportunists and of low standards. This abstract nakedness of presenting SPLM-IO as Nuer cultural association is the biggest betrayal we can imagine.
When leaders fly blind, innocent people suffer; this is the fate of our people right now. Those who claim to be Nuer leaders should do some soul searching, and at least gather sense of values that can give Nuer community hope through this period of darkness and despair. Every society that has ever overcome crisis has had a big idea. What’s Machar and his group big idea? There are certainly many, many smaller ideas around: ideas for using Nuer community as political tool box. These ideas have turned the community into a hot spot for political adventurism, where political gamblers all over the country gather to try their luck at the expense of Nuer civilians.
It is an act of betrayal when suffering people in the POCs and refugee-camps are asked to exercise patience that there is a prophecy to be fulfilled. It is time for Naath to realize that they have hanged on with Ngundeng’s story of ‘divine intervention’ much longer than is fruitful. The story has become mundane and boring, it has now passed its use by date and is on the nose. For Nuer community to come out of this seemingly impossible trap, there must be new story; a story that contains educating capacity of Nuer culture, a story that has foundation in their combined remembrance of past experiences and common aspiration.