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Grabbing of Juba University’s Land: Preserving our Learning Institutions for the Next Generations

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By   Ariik Kuol Ariik Mawien, Juba, South Sudan

Saturday, September 24,2022(Thejubamirror ) — The University of Juba was established in 1975 by the government of Sudan. It is considered one of the oldest institutions in the country’s archive when revisiting the historical background of the South Sudanese people. The university produced the most outstanding and brilliant leaders that fought for this beautiful country. For instance, the students of the University of Juba in 1980 became the first Southern Sudanese to acknowledge the value of the Nile water and stood firm against the construction of the Jonglei Canal.

Again in 2022, the University of Juba led the successful campaign for the anti-dredging of the Bahr el Ghazal (Naam) River, Sudd Wetlands, and the resumption of the Jonglei Canal Projects. It was one of the events that projected most of our leaders as pro-foreigners (South Sudanese-Egyptians) in their thoughts and actions, having too much greed for money, being less conscious about the future of the next generations (unpatriotic spirit), and self-serving individuals.

On June 19, 2022, Hon. Manawa Peter Gatkuoth (God Continue resting his soul in peace), the National Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation died in Egypt and his funeral prayer was conducted at Simba Square in Juba. The death of Manawa was a very sad moment for South Sudanese people within and outside the Country.

On the other hand, it was a brilliant opportunity for the Nile Water DEALERs to advance further their selfish interests, angrily revealed themselves with emotions, accused the general public over the death of Manawa and described citizens as “Social Media Criminals”, a term that went extra viral on several media platforms for more than a month.

From that time, we felt, our Country and valuable resources were under the custody of untrustful people and are experiencing potential threats within and outside the Country. For example, when leaders compromise the future of their Country and generations to come, decided to deal with outsiders and trade in common goods, the Nile Water and public land just to get a few dollars for survival.

Preserving the Land of the University of Juba and other Public lands is a collective responsibility of every South Sudanese Citizen. We don’t access public finance, health care, clean drinking water, electricity, favourable transport, reliable communication and stable security services. But, we continue to achieve dividends of education, though very little from our Universities and other Institutes of Higher Learning across the Country.

 

, JUBA, SUDAN : A classroom of the Juba university is full of students, Wednesday 02 May 2007, Sudan. ERIC LALMAND EricxLALMAND PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY x6631012x
In this case, the University of Juba admits the largest number of Students every year compared to the other four (04) public Universities operating in the Country. It has established a forum of becoming the mother of other learning institutions of Higher Education and a permanent Home of Wisdom for many South Sudanese seeking further qualifications.

Currently, the University has more than twenty-two (22) schools, numerous faculties/colleges and centres hosting over fourteen thousand (14,000) South Sudanese students. Imagine, there is a growing demand for more space to establish new schools, colleges/faculties for undergraduate and post-graduate programmes as well as specialised research centres, libraries and laboratories.

What does it mean when grabbing the Land belonging to the University of Juba?

Grabbing the land that belongs to the public institution, especially the University of Juba, privatising and turning it into an individual-owned investment asset, is a capital crime equivalent to selling the future of the Country and her people. In other words, registering what belongs to us in your own name, amounts to institutional crime and corruption and is punishable by law.

Any Authority doing this act is seen through the lenses of a public enemy, considered a perpetrator who committed a crime against the Country and her people. We must respect such old Institutions that existed for the length of forty-five (45) years, a period that is equivalent to or more than the age of some government officials currently serving in the Country.

We expect to add new things to the University structure not subtracting even the existing peripheral parts of it. This is a total mess for our people, how do we establish an informed Nation without respecting the learning environments, how do we produce competitive and talented human capital when the existence of the right-wing Institutions of Higher Education is under threat, how do we produce our own Teachers, Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, Economists, Accountants and Agriculturalists.

We will not drill our own oil and mine our gold, diamond, uranium, copper, silver and other precious metals without the existence of the University. We will not be able to undertake major infrastructures like building towers, tarmac roads, railway lines, airports, waterways and specialised telecommunication services without favourable learning environments.

We will continue to have a weak and substandard education system in the Country if we don’t embrace our higher institutions, protect their existence and help them improve their performances in producing capable, talented, dedicated and competent teachers.

We can not be free from diseases, injustice, corruption, economic crisis and food insecurity if we don’t stop threatening our learning institutions. Without reflecting on career issues, we will continue losing our vital business, oil, health, construction and communication sectors to foreign nationals from Sudan, China, Malaysia, India, Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, D.R. Congo Ethiopia, Eritrea and Lebanon just to mention a. Why?

Because, we are not competitive, we are lacking knowledge and skills, our Universities are lacking necessary support and could not get enough resources (budget) they need to operate, we lack trust in our home education and could only trust Countries like the UK, USA, Australia, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and other Countries we believed to have better and standard education systems, we are seriously endangering and imposing major threats on our own institutions in terms of land grabbing, pollution and lack of cooperation from stakeholders (University and State government).

Thank God, our only son, Dr. Prof. John Akec Apuruot for transforming the University of Juba into the world standard level. This is what I exactly meant by the word, “adding new things into the University structure and avoiding subtracting the existing peripheral parts of it”. If South Sudan could get ten (10) more of Prof. John Akec Apuruot, our Country will drastically turn into a paradise on earth.

Since he became a Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba, we witnessed rapid development at the University, the number of lecture halls increased, the more qualified teaching staff was recruited, the salary structure changed significantly, and new schools, colleges and centres were established, the graduate programme increases, the academic calendar becomes regular, annual graduations take place, graduates receive their certificates and transcripts on time.

What a great transition from an underdeveloped and weak institution into a strong transformative and world-standard institution we are having today.

The University officials on their Senate Meeting No.122, September 22, 2022, Passed the Following Resolutions as hereunder:

RESOLUTIONS UOJ SITTING NO 221
Dated: 22nd September 2022

1- Calls on MoFP to honour proposal by Ministery of Higher Education to apply 120% salary adjustment rise for the financial year 2022/23

2- Calls on Central Equatoria State government to cease all developments activities on University Lands and withdraw all military personnel deployed on University premises

3- Failure by MoFP or Central Equatoria to resolve the above by Friday 29 September will lead to industrial action by UoJ staff.

We urge the Government of Central Equatoria State to distance itself from grabbing the land belonging to the University of Juba. It must be made very clear that, University is a public Institution and that its land must be respected and fully defended by every citizen. We call on the Chancellor, His Excellency, President Salva Kiir Mayardit to immediately intervene in helping the University restore every single inch of its land without hesitation.

The University of Juba is a public Service Institution that existed before this government and will continue to reign permanently for many generations to come. The University’s lands that are under threats of grabbing, including Custom, Hai-Thoura and other campuses that are yet to be disclosed in the future.

The author, Ariik Kuol Ariik Mawien, holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development and Community Studies (2018/2019) and a Bachelor of Science in Economics (2013-2017) from Rumbek University of Science and Technology (RUST). He can be reached via Email: ariikkuolariik@gmail.com or Twitter: @AriikKuolAriik or Skype/WhatsApp: +211 (0) 923 650 380 or Cell Phone: +211 (0) 928 187

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HUMANITARIAN STORIES

9.4m South Sudanese will require aid, protection in 2023: UN.

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November 27, 2022 (JUBA) – An estimated 9.4 million people or 76% South Sudan’s population will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2023, the United Nations said.

This, it said, presents an increase of half a million people when compared to 2022.

“Something has to change in South Sudan because the number of people in need continues to rise every year and the resources continue to decrease,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Sara Beysolow Nyanti.

The top UN humanitarian official said the deteriorating humanitarian conditions are worsened by endemic violence, conflict, access constraints, operational interference, public health challenges and climatic shocks such as flooding and localized drought.

According to Nyanti, the sub-national violence across the country has led to displacement, limitation of people’s access to critical humanitarian services and livelihoods, and disruption of humanitarian operations.

The protracted displacement, she said, affects more than 2.2 million people, many of whom have been unable to return to their homes for years and face major risks, including family separation and trauma.

According to the UN, severe food insecurity will affect an estimated 8 million people, or 64 per cent of the total population, by the peak of the lean season between April and July in 2023. In conflict- and flood-affected areas, people’s access to food and income sources is severely hampered, due to displacement to new locations, disruption of delivery of food assistance and trade flows. In some places, people’s daily rations have been reduced due to funding.

“Physical violence, rape and other forms of gender-based violence will be a reality some 2.8 million people will face in 2023,” added Nyanti.

Some 3.7 million children, adolescents and caregivers continue to be at risk of recruitment into local armed groups and other forms of abuse, including abduction and possible trafficking, and will need life-saving child protection services in 2023.

Meanwhile, the Humanitarian Coordinator appealed to the government for leadership in increasing investments in peace and development, because only gains in these two areas will reduce humanitarian needs.

“Pivoting to development requires a two-pronged approach of investing more in development and peace but also saving the lives of those on the brink. Peace is a prerequisite because we cannot reach those in humanitarian need or implement the development vision without peace,” she stressed.

Since the beginning of 2022, nine humanitarian workers were killed in the line of duty in South Sudan. Across the country, aid workers – mostly national humanitarian workers – are affected by the impact of armed violence, bureaucratic impediments and targeted violence.

 

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Somali Forces Battle Militants For Hotel In Mogadishu: Police

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Mogadishu (AFP), Nov 28 – Somalia’s security forces exchanged gunfire with militants holed up in a hotel in Mogadishu on Monday after Al-Shabaab stormed the popular venue near the presidential palace and laid siege overnight.

Sporadic gunfire and explosions could still be heard after dawn around the Villa Rose, a hotel in a secure central part of Mogadishu frequented by lawmakers and public officials.

Police said late Sunday that government forces were seeking to “eliminate” a number of armed militants inside the Villa Rose after attacking the hotel in a hail of bullets and explosions.

National police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said many civilians and officials had been rescued, but did not offer further details.

Witnesses described two massive explosions followed by gunfire that sent people fleeing the scene in Bondhere district. The hotel is just a few blocks from the office of Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Al-Shabaab, a militant group affiliated with Al-Qaeda that has been trying to overthrow Somalia’s central government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a 20,000-strong military force drawn from across the continent, praised the “swift” security response to the attack in a statement late Sunday.

On its website the Villa Rose describes the hotel as the “most secure lodging arrangement in Mogadishu” with metal detectors and a high perimeter wall.

– Retaliatory attacks –

Al-Shabaab has intensified attacks against civilian and military targets as Somalia’s newly-elected government has pursued a policy of “all-out war” against the Islamists.

The security forces, backed by local militias, ATMIS and US air strikes, have driven Al-Shabaab from central parts of the country in recent months, but the offensive has drawn retribution.

On October 29, two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart in Mogadishu followed by gunfire, killing at least 121 people and injuring 333 others.

It was the deadliest attack in the fragile Horn of Africa nation in five years.

At least 21 people were killed in a siege on a Mogadishu hotel in August that lasted 30 hours before security forces could take control from the militants inside.

The UN said earlier this month that at least 613 civilians had been killed and 948 injured in violence this year in Somalia, mostly caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attributed to Al-Shabaab.

The figures were the highest since 2017 and a more-than 30-percent rise from last year.

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Dr. Majak D’ Agoôt: a victim of his own success”

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By Daniel Akech Thiong

Dr. Majak D’ Agoôt joined the SPLA as a secondary school student like many others who heard the call to arms in 1983 to fight for the liberation of South Sudan. He contributed to several fronts during the struggle including the reversal of the SPLA misfortunes in the 1990s in Equatoria, especially at Bunio, and in the Blue Nile in Yabus, Kurmuk, Geizan, Ora, Shali el Fil, Wadega, and Ulu. He was also known for his innovative skills in laying mines and his other major contribution was the training of the new forces at Bonga. He never stopped learning whenever he had an opportunity. He is mostly self-taught. When opportunities for distance learning began to open in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dr. Majak enrolled and obtained his bachelor’s degree. During the negotiation of the peace agreement from 2002-2005, he attended classes in person in London.

Dr. Majak D’ Agoôt is currently a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the African Leadership Center, King’s College London. He is the former Deputy Chief of the Sudanese Intelligence and South Sudan’s Deputy Defense Minister. He formerly held the role of Senior analyst at the Changing Horizon Institute for Strategic Policy Analysis (CHI-SPA). He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and think tank pieces in media outlets in Africa, the Middle East, and the West, covering various policy spheres. He holds an MSc in Quantitative Finance and a Ph.D. in Financial Economics from SOAS, University of London. He also has an MSc in Security Sector Management from Cranfield University and an MA in War Studies from King’s College London.

Dr. Majak underwent military training in Ethiopia, Israel, and Cuba. These courses turned him into a military intellectual at an early age. Dr. Majak trained some of the best SPLA units and three officers’ cadet shields (5, 6, and 7). His hard work and discipline transformed him from a guerrilla commander into a productive and prolific scholar. His vast experience as a trainer and operational field commander has forged an avid tactical and strategic thinker.

A humane politics

His politics is mostly clean as he does not like to deal under the table. Years ago, a man who had been alleged to have worked against Dr. Majak found himself under the custody of a hostile foreign agency. The man was on a duty in a foreign country doing counterinsurgency duties. The foreign agency caught him and innocently accused him of spying on their country. They took him to a dark place where people rarely survive. Dr. Majak received the news, and he called a colleague of his in a high position (a defense minister) to immediately transfer this person to a military detention center. This was done and thereby saving the life of that person. After this transfer, the two governments were able to negotiate the release (this stage would not have been reached had it not been for the intervention of Dr. Majak). When I heard this story, I asked Dr. Majak why he saved the life of someone whom he knew as working against him. His response was impressive: I won’t know what to tell his children when I meet them in the future knowing that my intervention could have saved their dad’s life.

He also advocates for others. Years ago, Hon. Philip Thon Leek Deng was relieved as the Governor of Jonglei. The office of the President prepared a decree that appointed Engineer Bior Ajang Duot as a national minister in Khartoum. Dr. Majak saw the decree and went to the President and told him a story: Hon. Philip Thon Leek was the only person from Duk and he has been relieved if you give this position to another person from Twic East, our people of Duk will have nobody at the state level and at the national level. This would not be fair. Kiir reversed the order and appointed Hon. Philip Thon to go to Khartoum as a national minister. Dr. Majak, of course, had to plead with his own Twic East Constituency to convince people that his action was in the best interest of Twic East and that he had nothing against Eng. Bior, who would have a technical job at the Ministry of Petroleum.

A bumpy political ride

When I met Dr. Majak D’ Agoot Atem in 2012 in Dallas, Texas, I asked him, over lunch, about the political situation in Juba. There were rumors about his falling out with the President. He told me that the worse that he could do against the President was nothing more than resign from his government. Despite the toxic politics prevalent throughout South Sudan, he cared about the deeply personal relationship between the two of them built over decades of genuine comradeship. During the entire interim period, rumors of coups were commonly circulated, and the name of Dr. Majak had been mentioned a few times. For example, in 2009, Generals Malong and Gregory accused Dr. Majak D’Agoot (also a general) of planning a coup. This turned out to be one of the four false accusations that occurred between 2009 and 2013.

It has been an open secret that General Malong Awan Anei Tong, who had been a close friend of President Salva Kiir, had a beep with Dr. Majak. A part of this beeping had to do with the formation of the SPLA from 1983-1987. The actual formation of the SPLA became completed around 1987. Many familiar names [Pagan Amum, Oyay Deng, Deng Alor, Paul Malong, Bol Madut, etc] you know from the SPLA did not join the SPLA, in the same manner, those of Koriom and Muor-Muor joined: they had their own armed movements and with their own ranks, which all gradually built the coalition that we came to know as the SPLA. When ranks were converted to the SPLA ranking system in 1987, Gen. Malong had already been promoted to a Major, which made him an Alternate Commander. Dr. Majak was still a Captain. The first grievance started in 1991 when Dr. Majak and his entire batch were made commanders. Gen. Paul Malong was still in jail (detained by Commander William Nyuon Bany). This arrest caused Gen. Malong to forfeit his seniority, but he was later promoted to commander with those of Biar Atem Ajang, George Athor Deng Dut, and Pieng Deng Kuol Arop Biong. Gen. Malong had never accepted this guerilla injustice. But he would not have had any issue with Dr. Majak had it not been for other events.

The SPLA was managed at various camps called headquarters (that distrusted each other so badly that you might need to ask for permission to leave your camp to visit another camp). The most important headquarters toward the end of the war were that of the Commander-in-Chief Dr. John Garang and that of his deputy Commander Salva Kiir. Dr. Majak was a rising star and a trusted commander in Kiir’s headquarters alongside those of the late Gen. Dominic Dim. Those of Nhial Deng, Pagan Amum, Deng Alor, Oyay Deng, Gen. Bior Ajang, Gen. James Oth, Gen. Kuol Manyang, and others were prominent in Dr. Garang’s camp.

On the administration of the three regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile, and Bahr Al Ghazal, the two power centers pushed their own guys into positions of influence. Commander Salva Kiir managed to push Dr. Majak up on the administrative leadership of Bahr Al Ghazal. Gen. Paul Malong who was fully back in the operations in the region might have viewed this negatively.

Then while Dr. Majak was in the administrative leadership of Bahr Al Ghazal, he opposed the slave redemption scheme, a project that Dr. Majak saw as a fraud while Gen. Malong saw it as a beneficial venture [this information is in the SPLA archive]. Dr. Majak’s position was not popular among the ranks, and he lost, but he took advantage of this to pursue his studies in the UK. When the SPLA was reorganized in 2005 into a slim force led by one active Lt. General (Oyay) and 15 active Major Generals, Dr. Majak’s name was not on the active list. After President Salva Kiir took over the leadership of the SPLA and the autonomous Southern regional government, he recalled Dr. Majak and gave him the security docket. Dr. Majak once again became the boss of Gen. Paul Malong. Gen. Malong managed to secure the governorship of Northern Bahr Al Ghazal, which relieved him from this uncomfortable position.

When the war happened in December 2013, Gen. Malong had tremendous power. Dr. Majak was among those accused of the coup. He was locked up along with many others. The situation divided people in Juba. There were those who wanted to harm those who were detained and there were those who worked hard to protect those who are detained. This was the precise point where those from Dr. Majak’s camp began to allegedly claim that some politicians from Greater Bor allied themselves with Gen. Paul Malong and sought to harm Dr. Majak.

There are indications that President Salva Kiir realized that there were different games at play. One was a competition within the Greater Bor Community among competing politicians, which quickly degenerated into a Bor County versus Twic East County online war, which was picked up by live video makers. The other was the SPLA commanders trying to settle scores from the era of the civil war under the darkness of the unfolding chaos. President Kiir chose to take a pause and he secretly began to protect Dr. Majak both in Juba and in Nairobi.

Gen. Paul Malong lost his influence. His space, which was more than just being the Chief of Staff, attracted competitors. One individual who initially emerged as the winner was Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial. Both Hon. Nhial and Dr. Majak had been in the administrative leadership of Bahr Al Ghazal during the civil war. They also came from two main power centers with Hon. Nhial owes his rise to Dr. John Garang while Dr. Majak owes his rise to President Salva Kiir. It is natural that they could see each other as competitors. It was an open secret that Hon. Kuol Manyang and Hon. Daniel Awet, two prominent members of the SPLM, favor Hon. Nhial. Given his prominent role in Greater Bor Community, this position of Hon. Kuol antagonized Dr. Majak’s camp. When Hon. Kuol came out in 2021 voicing his concerns about the direction of the country, Dr. Majak’s camp distanced itself from his message as a form of retaliation (the message was good, but the medium was viewed with suspicion).

Recent events leading to the dissolution of the Greater Bor Community Association

Considering the preceding anecdotes, Dr. Majak’s camp finally began to view the politicians who wielded control within the Greater Bor Community Association as people for whom reconciliation is impossible. They began to see the Greater Bor Community Association as a hot spot of hostility toward the person of Dr. Majak, with the help of social media, the Twic East Community began to view antagonism toward Dr. Majak (and equally toward Hon. Rebecca de Mabior) from the community lenses. Dr. Majak had to make a political choice: continue to support an association that has allegedly been working to bury him politically alive or join those who have been voicing complaints about this association and called to abandon it.

Future

Dr. Majak had resisted giving up on the idea of the Greater Bor Community Association for many years despite the pressure from his core support base of Twic East County. But if he were to remain a politician, he had to do what politicians do: realize that some constituencies can never vote for you due to a genuine communal grievance or a manufactured communal grievance, and it is okay to invest your energy elsewhere. There are 78 counties in South Sudan. If Dr. Majak ever decides to run for the Presidency of South Sudan or the Governorship of Jonglei State (which he has never ever mentioned), he can invest in counties where the negative campaign against his brand is less severe while leaving those constituencies that do not like him to his rivals. Even if one were to get 100% votes from the three counties of the former Bor District those will not be enough to guarantee one’s future in national politics. Politics is about ideas and not about clans or which community association you belong to. If your ideas are not needed in one place (including in your own village), you are free to market them in different places including outside of your country. If Dr. Majak chooses to just retire from politics today, his achievements would remain lofty.

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