Opinion: What do we know about Riek Macher’s interest in Ruweng Administrative Area?

By Santino Aniek,

Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the first vice preisdent of South Sudan who returns to bush to fight for democracy after Self-determination(Photo: file)

Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the first vice preisdent of South Sudan who returns to bush to fight for democracy after Self-determination(Photo: file)

April 2, 2020(SSNN) — The wondering of Riek’s interest in Ruweng Administrative Area is the enquiry of the moment, and all the moments that have led up to now, and the ones that are sure to follow. Accordingly, many South Sudanese worldwide are asking this enquiry with wondering and contortions of disgust, why Riek as a leader of SPLM IO is still after Ruweng, and what is the most troubling him about this particular area or especially great interest in Ruweng. Well, this Ruweng and the Riek has generated more discussions among South Sudanese academia, it is the most debated topic on social media, and in my own mind as well, I’m still having this disturbing lingering question what is really exceptional about Ruweng Administrator Area that is driving Riek outrageous everyday. As the wheels of negotiation wobble and spin into greater surreal dangers, between the government and the oppositions about who will own which states or Administrative Area, for South Sudanese there is a struggle to turn outrage into action.

The truth about Riek’s interest in Ruweng is more nuanced; it is true that when Ruweng became independent from Unity State, Riek felt like part of him has disappeared into a thin air. Rather than annexation of Ruweng back to Unity State, Riek’s initial goal in Ruweng is to secure oil in the entire region because power and money are in Riek’s fundamental and distinctive characteristic. As always the case, Riek interested in the things with distinct and independent existence, power and money are the driving force of his struggle started in 1991 until today.  Riek then believe securing Ruweng Administrative Area will give him upper hand to use these resources in building himself into power including his close culprits who have been supporting him every step of the way, which would effectively made him a powerful man in the country, with money, that allows him to identified long-term or overall interests, and the means of achieving his arousing pity goals in South Sudan.

However, most of the South Sudanese think what they are seeing is a conflict between two versions of Riek Macher and they are those who believe that the real Riek is the leader of SPLM IO that they think they know is the guy who fought Chairman John Garang and President Kiir in many battles started in 1991 to 2016. This phony view of Riek has been validated by the publicizes a particular SPLM IO organization supporters on social media and it is this fraudulent version that won him to be recognized in South Sudan politics. The other version of Riek that his supporters kept ignoring is the chronically incompetent leader with deep ties to organized crime through many rebellions. It is the same guy who rebelled three times and formed a bogus SPLM IO as a scam to conned his supporters while at the end converted the party into family business. In fact, the majority of South Sudanese believe that Riek’s supporters don’t understand that they have been had, they have been played for chumps and if we have time to asked Gordon Kongchol the former leader of Anyanya II, he will tell us that Riek is not a leader. Then again many Riek’s supporters still rebuff to believe that they were played for chumps by their leader, and remain desperately to believe he is still a good leader even if it means making excuses and ignoring his actions or lack thereof. It is worth considering what it would take to make Riek’s supporters to realize he is not the same guy they thought they were getting when he come the FVP and we can get a sense for how hard it will be to win over his supporters. Again, South Sudanese think the answer is to acknowledge that there are two Riek and that what we are facing as a country is the very significant question of which is the real Riek Macher they are dealing with.

Most importantly, the need to control Ruweng Administrative Area also has important roots in Riek’s historical memory, and his movement since 1991 to 2013. The interest of poor Riek Macher in Ruweng hits panic buttons, he thought to himself that for President Kiir allowing Ruweng to be independent area is a threat to all what he is doing in South Sudan, and to what he is planning to do in the future, because the people of Ruweng has destabilized Riek’s movement more than once. Perhaps the best way to explain Riek’s paranoia about the break away of Ruweng from Unity State and covetousness toward Ruweng now has to do with both oil and the independent of Ruweng. In my humble opinion, what we are seeing is a conflict between two versions of Riek and they are those who believe that the real Riek the leader of SPLM IO that they think they know is the guy who fought Garang and President Kiir in many battles. The particular IO organization’s supporters on social media have validated this fake view of Riek and it is this fraudulent version that won him to be recognized in South Sudan politics.

Nevertheless, when Riek appointed his son in law as a Minister of petroleum, his wife as a Minister of Defense, and the appointment of the Minister of Health, has appeared to run afoul of anti-nepotism statute. As it is known, the nepotism statute in the world specifies that the prohibition against employing family members in the government and that son in law, his wife is family members. Given the even closer proximity of the relationship between these three appointees, Riek has recently appointed seems to be an even more apparent violation of nepotism. This appointment of Riek’s family members into government key positions concluding that, based on nepotism, he Riek is not exempt from the statute when appointing the National Ministers or anyone else and this make him dangerously allow him to acquire Ruweng Administrative Area.

Moreover, serving the entire key Ministers to a close family member raises a larger and more serious question about Riek Macher’s leadership and whether his son in law or his wife’s primary allegiance is to the bylaws of SPLM IO. In a dictatorship world, these interests of Riek may be one and the same, but not necessarily in a democracy SPLM IO have been singing all these years. Riek’s nepotism is especially concerning given to his request that Ruweng Administrative Area should be assigned to SPLM IO. Nonetheless, the SPLM IO as a party has already failed to take significant disciplinary action for a clear ethics violations by Riek of appointing his family members into key positions, and it is not known whether Riek has made an appropriate consultation before the appointment took place. Based on this track record of SPLM IO, it is even less likely Riek’s own family members would be held accountable of nepotism in the future. This appointment of Riek’s wife as Minister of Defense, his son in law as Minister of petroleum, and the Minister of Health, all has cause more concerning because of the high risk that they carry their own significant conflicts of interest.

Although Riek has not taken some steps to reduce possible conflicts of interest, he is still looking for ways of getting more States including Ruweng Administrative Area in order to employ his relatives as Governors or as Chief Administrators because what he has done is not enough and this explains to the entire world that he is not a leader, but a family leader. In addition, the fact that most of the SPLM IO Ministers appointees are related to Riek Macher that complicates the risks; under the applicable criminal statute they share any conflicts of interest that arise, and that conflict arises explain who is really Riek Macher is.

The fact that Riek’s financial interests overlap in some cases with this position he was dying to get during the negotiation with the government (the Ministry of Petroleum) further complicates the web of conflicts he may face since he may have duplicative and reinforcing to advance his interest by trying to asked the government to add Ruweng Administrative Area into his column. To avoid conflicts arising from these holding key positions by his relatives, Riek should recuse himself from a wide variety of issues likely to be addressed by SPLM IO as a party, and he needs to drop Ruweng now one and for all. If such conflicts of interest arise, which seems certain to happen given his wide spheres of influence of getting what he wants from the government, Riek may subordinate South Sudanese’s interests to his own and even open himself to criminal prosecution.

But however, I’m not saying that the appointment of family members into the government positions has never been done before, but what I’m trying to say is this, SPLM IO has a limited positions and if those key positions are given to one family as we have witnessed when the Transitional Government of National Unity was formed, no position was left to the SPLM IO as a Party. This make it very clear that Riek is not interested in selecting the most qualified candidates rather then family members, and also may violation of universal ethics. For example, both Riek’s wife, son in law, the Minister of Health have little experience in their expanding portfolio of assigned areas of responsibilities in the government. These appointments also are likely to prevent the ability of other government appointees to give candid opinions about policy proposals and personnel matters for fear of alienating Riek’s family members.

The concern that Riek’s financial interests in Ruweng and his official position in the government as Vice President where he can appointed Chief Administrator that will satisfy his needs is a well calculated. The appointment of his son in law, his wife, and others who seem to be related to him highlights the significant conflicts of interest he and his relatives will face and his susceptibility to potential violation of nepotism. Moreover, the public does not know the full extent of the possible conflicts of interest Riek has, his wife, and son in law and it is the very reason why few of his powerful Generals have defeated couple of weeks ago to the government side.

To conclude, I must confess the Ruweng people are humbly touched that so many of you have sought out the reflections of Riek Macher as an existence Nuer advocate instead of being the leader of the opposition. And therefore, Ruweng people are happy with President Kiir for hearing their voices and they are so proud of all the South Sudanese who support President for making Ruweng Administrative Area. It fills them with hope at the basic goodness and decency of their fellow citizens and the citizens of the larger world. I’m not an ancient Greece, philosopher, but just a simple citizen who happens to know Riek’s hidden agenda about Ruweng people and Ruweng Administrative Area. Whatever passes for knowledge, I can dispense is mostly a product of age and circumstance. I have seen Riek Macher in moments of pain and I firmly believe that forming visible of the future is still lies in our hands and for President Kiir to deny Riek of acquiring Ruweng Administrative Area will be a victory to the Ruweng people.

Santino Aniek is a concern South Sudanese lived in Upstate New York, U.S.A. He can be reached at santino.aniek5@gmail.com or santino.aniek@snhu.edu Find me on Facebook, Santino_Aniek, and on twitter @saniek

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