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SCRAMBLE FOR LAND IN "JUNUB" SUDAN

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BY JOSEPH JOHNSON.CANADA.

Since the signing of comprehensive Peace agreement [CPA] in 2005, the people of south Sudan are subjected to forceful eviction from their ancestral land by the government that supposedly fought the Arabs to protect the people and their ancestral lands. This acts pave ways for foreign investment and some power hungry politicians to build their villas with public stolen monies while the owners of these lands are not only robbed of their lands but uncompensated. We are left to wonder, if this is how South Sudanese conducts its business with her own people, if so as it seems, then what morals did they have to fight the Arabs all this decades to only behave worse? Given the territorial issues we still have with the North, how will we win the worlds sympathy in the struggle to get the upper hands in world opinion concerning Abeyei and other disputed territories, if we abuse human rights of the people that are under our jurisdictions?

In the capital city Juba, the most affected people are the indigenous Bari people who for time immemorial lived and enjoyed their ways of lives without seeing huge movement of different nationality starting from Japanese to Chinese, Americans to Europeans. Egyptian to South Africans, Nigerians to Ethiopians. Some of these nationals came to Juba to work with non-governmental organizations; others came to invest while others came seeking to improve their lives in search for jobs.

Yet another groups are criminal trying to escape the crimes they committed in their countries of origins, beside this group of criminal gangs you have prostitutes who hail from Uganda, Kenya, Congo DRC and Ethiopia just to mention a few, in addition, local prostitutes all which together have made Juba very chaotic and one of the most disorganized capital city in the world.

Recently I met a Kenyan lady who came to south Sudan as saleslady with her fellow Kenyan businesswoman who specialized in marketing Satellite phones. I was baffled when she told me she is going to start her own business, when I inquire how much capital does she have to start a business, her response was equally astonishing, that “ in south Sudan everything is possible and there is no business regulations to restrict foreigners with less or zero capital to invest in the country” She proceeded to disclose she had on her 500 U$ and she had already registered her business under the department of chamber of commerce.

I was forced to wonder if there are, indeed, no regulatory systems in place?  I mean rightful procedures to be followed by foreign investors in our country thus resulting into flagrant abuses by foreigners in order to flourish their businesses. If there are systems, what are the criteria use for some one to register a business under investment foreign sector? This inappropriate systems which qualifies to be called black marketing, is causing south Sudan each day millions of pound, the same way it happens at border crossings notoriously like in Nimule and revenue collection in every town in our beloved country that is literary bleeding when it comes to revenue collections from foreigners or nationals alike. Could this be because those in charge of registrations and collections simply wants any money from anyone, in anyhow, in their hands as they end up pocketing the monies anyways?

The other issues that caught my eyes are, the hotels. What are the criteria used to deter certain buildings to be called hotels or lodges? What about the qualities of services provided? In my opinion licenses of some of this foreigners ran hotels and restaurants needs be revoked because they don't meet the standard of foreign investment. They must be encouraged to build concrete buildings with quality that can promote the standard of Juba as capital city of our nation. Any business whose physical structure does not meet the standard of modern building should be tear down.

What is happening in Bangladesh should be an eye opening; left alone foreigners will abuse the system and endanger the life of indigents as long as any practice increases their margin of profit which is the bottom line for them. We are reminded as of recent in Bangladesh where international investors operating in buildings with poor structural conditions resulted into more than 1500 people instantly killed this year when it collapsed. We do not want to wait until such calamities strike our country to start talking about this and to put in and enforce safety measures in erecting and operating such buildings. South Sudan as a newest nation must brand itself with better quality investments than quantities.

Concerning the destabilizing effect of land grabbing let us take the journey through the affected regions to consider some few examples.

Today the Bari people are pushed beyond Gudele and other places and some have become homeless simply because their plots are confiscated by powerful politicians and army offices or rich people. Many Bari people in Juba have met their death because of the defiance they put in defense for their land. This is something the government of south Sudan must not condone and be timid about.

Yes I am aware about the need to improve our capital city, as Juba develops you have to improve the life of its citizens too, that should be the goal of our government, in my opinion if the government want the city centers to be left open for development mutual understanding must be reach between the land tenant and the buyers that the government have to play its part to regulate, be a facilitator and protector of the people not grab land and becoming the land owners.Land can not and must not be more valuable to this goverment than her people.

To sale the land, in actuality the best policy will be land leasing to big investors, not land selling, this must be the way forward and be encouraged to bring quality development services to the citizens and land tenants. If the indigents know their land is leased and they will benefit from it and in the end the land will still be theirs then we shall have less problems with indigents resisting giving spaces for development. Our government has failed flatly for not attending to the issue of Bari people who are forcefully being evicted from their land without compensation and relocation program. And I wonder where are the leaders of Bari people like James Wani Igga the current vice president of South Sudan and Alfred Lado Gore?

In, Yei I was told community chief who resisted this forceful eviction order by the government met his dead unexpectedly, and people who stand for the cause of defenseless people of Yei were recently labeled as supporters of M23 rebel in Democratic Republic of Congo and are awaiting their trials. I am not an expert in the politics of south Sudan, but I have my doubt, because it seems this false accusation brought against those who stood firm for their land in Yei is politically motivated meant to silence the vocal Kakwa people in order the grab their land.

If indeed these people choose to support M23, why is this south Sudan’s issue and what crime have they committed in South Sudan in order to be prosecuted? If this were the case shouldn’t South Sudan leadership itself not be prosecuted for supporting SPLMN or Darfur rebels,as alleged by Khartoum?

Otherwise it is widely known all over the world the supporters of M23 rebels in DR Congo are Rwanda and Uganda, this baseless accusation brought against our own fellow southerners, the kakwa people is evil, only meant to instigate land grab, particularly in Equatoria given, the strategic business points and vast availability fertile land for agriculture. This makes these regions vulnerable to this government's shameless practice of land grab in the name of investment.

This land grabbing is masterminded by the likes of late Paulino Matip, Rebecca Nyadenge the widow of visionary late Dr Garang, Salva Matok, who was implicated in Muniki plot 107, and  this is not a scret in the streets of Juba. The list of people who are involved in land grabbing ranges from president Salva Kiir .to state governors, from these high ranking officials to mere Mps and local businessman/woman who are the agents of land grabbers.

In the Madi land, during my recent visit to Nimule after the killing of late chief Ajugo of Nimule Payam. I met an elderly Ma'di man who is in  his 70s, he told me all what is happening in Nimule is because of the strategic business location of Nimule,  development of fula fall, Juba-Nimule high way, these and many other natural resources  rumored to have been found in the Madi land only  known to this government but kept in secrecy from the South Sudanese people and the Madi in particular.These ominousley hidden secrets, includes oil rich deposites, have made they the Ma'di to become vulnerable from losing their land and the rich Ma'di  cultural heritage, in the name of developement. Again life and cultures seems to be very cheep to this government.

The most revealing thing this old man told me was,  when president Kiir came to inaugurate Juba -Nimule highway A43 in 2011, before the independent, he asked the ma'di elders who were called to carry out ritual cleansing before the road official was opened, he asked the Ma'di to give him huge portion of land close to Aswa River. The Ma'di elders asked him what is the land needed for? The president said he needs the land for his cattle. Then the elders told him “today you came for inauguration program, about your request we will sit with our landlords and you will hear from us” but till to date he the president did not hear from the elders. The elder told me perhaps this is the reason why the long awaited and approved Pageri county has been held hostage by the president in retaliation because the Ma'di have rejected to give him/the president the land he needs at Aswa river for his cattle.

If indeed the president is holding Pageri county in revenge to Ma'di rejection to give him land this is unconstitutional, the approval of the counties should not be in exchange with community land. During my time in Nimule I have seen a lot of development and Ma'di are best in developing their place, Nimule is one of the fastest developing places today in south Sudan, I have also seen huge presence of Dinka special around Motoyo, Abila and custom area, local Ma'di people are complaining about the increasing number of the so called illegal immigrants from Bor, beside the presence of this illegal internal displaced persons, I have also seen huge number of cattle in Nimule some of these cattle are grazing in the land gazetted for National Park this is an issue interior minister need to be vocal about , instead of talking useless thing in support of his fellow Dinka.

The Ma'di I spoke to told me that their politicians in Torit and the likes of Dr Anna Itto have joined combined forces with elements within the Dinka Bor IDPs and others in Government to push the Ma'di harder to accept what they referred to as imposition of Nimule Town council, this was a move taken by Torit to upgrade Nimule, Torit and Kapoata into township, a move the people of the affected areas said was forced on them without consultation and proper compensation package to the affected people.

While in Torit Latoho took onto demonstration they too are angry they said the Torit Town mayor has been imposed on them without wider consultation.

In general the pain those in power and the rich are inflicting on the citizens of this great land can be characterized as scrambles for land and natural resources, to the benefit of the rulling tribe and what is happening today in south Sudan is a new phenomena of re-colonization of Great Equatoria and the imperialism of Dinka projecting power over other south Sudanese.

One leading human rights advocate of south Sudan once told me that Dinka are looking to be recognized as one of the tribes of Equatoria. This long time aspiration of the Dinka to recolonize other minority will cause unrest because the government of the day has failed by design to address this issue.

The derogatory phrases the Dinka are using is “ we liberate the country” if you liberate the country so what? The question that needs to be asked is what about the other tribes? Have they not participated in the war of liberation? If you liberate the country the main objective of liberation was to drive the Arabs out because they were enslaving us, but now what is happening in Junub Sudan the liberators have become enslavers and oppressors themselves and worse than the former.

 Majority of Dinka are also found of misquoting the land act of 2009, that is why interior Minister Gen Alue Ayieng Alue said and quoted here “ there are no IDPs in south Sudan, you can't be IDPs in your country”

This conveniently drafted land act by the Dinka government is with the same objectives as the infamous” Take the town to the village” This are result of Danka’s trauma with Kokora and means to grab lands of other tribes, in Equatoria in particular. I think seriously the section of the land act that that states “south Sudanese can chose to leave anywhere” should be amended so that the likes of interior minister cannot influence his fellow Dinka wrongly about the local government land act of 2009. What if a whole clan decided they would move to another tribe’s village is this also protected under this land act although clearly provocative and invasive?

 Is this land act section not referring to an individual movement rather than nomadic movements from North to South, an entire village abandoning their ancestral land and descending on other tribes territories, is this not a source of destabilizations for those who are not nomads?

This land act as interpreted by the aggressors clearly protects the interest and life styles of the Nomadic tribes chiefly the Dinka in expenses of the settled tribes of Equatoria regions who have been in their ancestral lands time immemorial! Why should this be allowed if we are serous about diversity and social stabilities? Will this not eventually result into Dinkanizations of the entire south Sudan as rumored by the Dinka agenda for South Sudan?

Recently when I was watching a program on SSTV, I saw chair lady of people with special needs with her administrator said there is need to amend the constitution because some of the wording are not precise in their meanings, she said for example “ I am an old lady, but I am not disabled, I can't be characterized as a person with special need” I quote. This interim constitution of south Sudan need to be amended and the issue of land must clearly be spell out,

In south Sudan the land belong to people not to the government, if the urban centers can be given to government and development, rural areas must be left alone for agricultural activities.

Investors and the government must adhere with the norms of the community who own the land and if needed must be leased by the community not sold. Doing it this way will remove reluctant indigents giving lands for development we all need. What we do not want is declaring by force certain area belonging to the government or declaring forcefully an area as a town, as a prelude for the Dinka expansion agenda of land grabbing as seen all over south Sudan.  This phenomena is easy to observe around Juba, Where there is Military customs installations in the roads leading out of Juba, the surrounding population is always settled by Dinka. This is using the state power to robe others of their ancestral land equating to cattle raiding with goverments help.

Today the non Dinka community in south Sudan have no voice over their land, Most people who complain about their lands being grabbed are none Dinkas and inversely It is only the Dinkas who are not complaining about their lands being grabbed by other tribes, this is because of two reasons, First it is because they are nomads and do not attach significant values to a fixed piece of ancestral lands, as do the eqautorians in particular, second, it is because they are principally the offenders.

Those behind this social engineering of utilizing state power, to plant Dinkas all over south Sudan, which must be made clear, is amounting to ethnic cleansing. These culprits should ask themselves, When they eventual succeed, will south Sudan be a better place? If this where to be the case, Why todays Dinka lands are the most unsafe and undesirable places to live in south Sudan and they are running away from it. The Eqautorian regions succeeded to keep their places relatively peaceful because they respect each other’s cultures, territories and not impose their presences at other peoples ancestral lands. For the sake our future together as a people, this goal of Dinkanizations of South Sudan and land grabbing must be brought to an end and the people of south Sudan must face this evil heads on and the good will Dinka must join in denouncing their kins in these destructive practices, otherwise together we are all doomed.

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